Our group! Eating a relaxed lunch in the airport.
Our group! Eating a relaxed lunch in the airport.

Under the florescent lights and direct hallways of the Mexico City Airport, there’s quite a line of us YAGMs. Cumbersome is a word I’d use. Ten of us are hauling a year’s worth of belongings. Backpacking packs and suitcases, most of us are wearing a backpack on the front and back. I’m carrying 85.5 pounds, not including my trumpet and my carryon backpack. Shoulders sore. Living on two hours of sleep in addition to a two hour nap in flight, this simply feels heavy.

I’m carrying my beloved water bottle*, the Nalgene that has seen more of the world than most people ever will.

I’m carrying three pairs of glasses and a year’s supply of contact lenses. Two pairs of glasses, with up to date prescriptions, I purchased online without trying on. I’m trying to get used to how they look on my face, frankly. Regardless of what physical lenses I’m looking through, I have the strong desire to see. I am dedicated to really see my new place and how the spirit is moving in it without fogged up expectations and ideas.

I’m carrying my trumpet*, wrapped in extra clothes just in case my bags go missing. My greatest hope for this crafted metal tubing is for it to be the key that opens doors into lives and groups I’d never get to be a part of otherwise.

I’m carrying watercolors and paper. There will be days when words and language and thoughts are just too much to consume or produce anymore.

I’m carrying a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). All you at home who love me, pray for me, and are supporting me in so many ways are coming with me. I couldn’t do this without you. I wouldn’t be this without you. Thank you for helping me trust my journey, strengthen my faith, and bear my soul in joyful and painful times.

I’m carrying an absurd amount of Pepto Bismol and other anti-diarrheal medications. It will happen. It will be crappy (shamelessly went there). It already has happened twice in the last two weeks (also shamelessly went there). Bring it on, water and street tacos. I won’t go down without a fight.

I’m carrying responsibilities: To return home. To tell stories to paint pictures of realities that humanize rather than distance. To tell stories that provide diverse perspectives and multiple narratives to a people who often get blanketed under a single one. To represent YAGM, my country, women and all the other unavoidable identities as best I can. To be vulnerable enough and open enough to eventually get confused at what home even means. To be fully immersed in my community while maintaining relationships back in the US.

I’m carrying 6 pairs of shoes. After all, it’s my feet that will carry me.

I’m carrying fears. The last time I took Spanish was in 2012. I don’t need to say anymore on that. I’m terrified to loosen my grips on relationships that feed me so much life in order to open myself up to the possibility of new relationships. I’m scared to have stereotypes I hold broken and carry back knowledge that won’t allow passive or ignorant living anymore. With eye opening experiences come a possibility of anger toward the systems we adhere to and passion for change. I don’t know what that will mean for some relationships. I’m fearful to return.

I’m carrying hopes. I hope for a year of challenge, life, and growth in all my fellow YAGMs. I hope for beautiful moments and people that make life meaningful. I hope for a heart bursting with love. I hope for courage to keep trying when I just want to curl up and listen to familiar English voices. I hope for a new perspective on faith. I hope for another community that makes leaving a grieving process. I hope for a higher tolerance for spicy food. I hope for healthy minds, bodies, and spirits.

I’m carrying a really old, subpar camera*. I make no promises for high quality photos.

I’m carrying a lot of things, baggage seen and unseen. Yet this is where I start my journey, underneath the materials

Mis equipajes (My bags)
Mis equipajes (My bags)

I’ve deemed fitting and important enough to fold, roll, or shove into my blue suitcase and well-used backpacking pack. Somehow, after weeks of anticipation and orientation I feel light. Despite my hopes and fears these first moments in Mexico City have been therapeutic and encouraging.  God willing, I will carry this all with good faith into a year that will mark me forever.

*May these things not get stolen.