Today has not been my day. Call it bad luck, call it a series of unfortunate events, call it a part of growing up, but the past twenty-four hours I have needed a ton of extra grace.
What exactly happened, you ask?
Let me start with last night. I was downtown after volunteering at a preschool on the Westside (gotta love four year olds, even if they spend the whole time napping) and I decided to stay to watch a free outdoor concert at Millennium Park. Little did I know that at the same time I could have been seeing Death Cab for Cutie for “free” in nearby Grant Park if I stood on the lawn outside the fenced in area, but I digress. I stayed at the concert for half an hour until I found that the style of music wasn’t really my type (a weird combo of electronic and percussion that just sounded like white noise), and decided to head home. Public transportation from the Loop to Hyde Park is an interesting kind of beast. There are several options to get back south. The easiest and quickest is probably the Metra, but you have to pay extra for that since it’s a non-CTA train and it doesn’t run that often. Another option, which is fairly lengthy and out of the way, is to take a bus two miles west from the shore to the red or green line trains, and then take another bus from the trains back east. The best option, in my opinion, is to take the number six express, which goes to about three-quarters from where I live, not too far of a walk, and which often times is followed by another bus I can take to a stop only a block from the church. Given these options, I decided to hedge my bets and take the number six.
However, little did I realize that the Taste of Chicago, which is happening this weekend, would lead to hordes upon hordes of people trying to get back home after dinner. Luckily, I was able to squeeze myself onto the bus, almost directly against the front door, and several times I had to get off the bus onto the sidewalk so others could get off. In the process of getting on and off the bus, and being shuffled around, I lost my phone. That or it was stolen. I like to think people are generally good, and that my phone was crappy enough that no one would want to steal it, so I’ll go with the former explanation, that it fell out of my bag, but who knows. I hadn’t really put it away all that securely after I had texted to see when the next bus was coming, so either is likely. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed. The church doesn’t have a landline so I had to call my parents using my housemate’s cell phone (she’s the best) and explain the situation to them. Just a little background on this, I have never lost a phone in my life. Through all of high school, I had one of those prepaid trackfones that I held onto for dear life because if you lose it, you also lose all your minutes/contacts. Even when I got a real cell phone my freshman fall, I somehow never managed to lose it or have it break, despite all the times I dropped it and took it to places where it could easily have been stolen. So this was a first for me, and I think because of that, and because of the fact that my dad has lost his phone several times, and because, at the root of everything, I have such forgiving, gracious parents (who also paid for a two hundred dollar car accident I had back in January right after getting my license … that’s a fun story), they offered to pay the $150 for me to get a new phone today with contacts restored and all. So much grace. So much gratitude.
But that’s not all that happened to me last night. When I came back, I decided to log onto my World Vision account to see if they had posted the new updated picture of my sponsored child. I have been sponsoring a girl in Peru since August 2010, and despite all of the Western impositions of development work and problematic discourses used from an anthropological perspective, I really love my little two, almost three year old, and her family. I have loved shopping for her, sending socks, finger puppets, barrettes, and getting really sweet letters and drawings in return. I feel so privileged to be able to help in the very little way I can. However, when I logged onto my account last night, I found a picture completely different than that of Maribel’s. World Vision, despite just sending me a progress report on Maribel, changed my sponsored child without even asking me. I apparently now sponsor a one-year-old girl, also from Peru, but a different community. I was really confused when I first saw this. World Vision had told me nothing about a switch in the most recent letter, and I was just starting to see Maribel grow up. What happened? What changed? Did her family move? Did something worse happen? I spent the rest of the night wondering, and most of today, since I, of course, didn’t have a phone and couldn’t call them.
Once I did get my new phone downtown, I gave World Vision a call, and found out the situation. Apparently the community Maribel is in “graduated” and is now able to sustain itself. I have strong doubts about this statement, since it takes a lot more than fifteen to twenty years of fairly simplified development work to change global patterns of inequality and poverty in one particular community, but according to World Vision, enough had apparently been done in that community for their operation to leave, and go to a new community, the one where my new sponsored child, Rosaluz, lives. I’m sure I’ll grow to love Rosaluz and her family just as I grew to love Maribel and her family, and I’m excited to buy baby socks again (they’re the cutest), but it’s nonetheless bittersweet to know that I won’t be seeing Maribel grow up, won’t be corresponding with her and hearing about her learning in school and see the shakiness of newly learned letters or more well-formed artwork. I won’t see her hoped for future become reality, nor get to one day meet her family and community. It’s saddening and to tell you the truth I’m holding back tears as I write this. Attachment is tough to break, no matter how superficial or long distance it make seem. But, like I said, God is good, and Rosaluz’ community could probably benefit from some additional money and resources just like Maribel’s did. Oh, and since the switch just happened, World Vision is still in the process of sending an official notification to all of the sponsors in that community. It’s not like they completely failed to tell me…
And to add some humor to this rather long post about failings and changes, tonight, when I was pretty tired from being stuck in the pouring rain downtown, on buses for long amounts of time, and almost getting run over by car as I accidentally started crossing a crosswalk too early (Thank God a man put his arm out and stopped me), the garbage disposal in our kitchen decided not to work. I had just poured half a container of really old potato salad down the drain, and I didn’t want it to stink up the whole kitchen, so I texted the pastor. He called and said I should fish everything out, and press the reset button under the sink. I kind of, sort of did so with a spoon, pressed the reset button, and the disposal made a weird gurgling sound, but still didn’t work. So I tried again to fish more things out with a pair of tongs (I have a slightly irrational fear of sticking my hand down a disposal and having my fingers sliced off, even if it’s for sure turned off), and I ended up finding a pair of very bent, but still intact measuring spoons. I had baked cookies with my first graders this morning and though the cookies ended up tasting wonderful, the kids did an interesting job of cleaning up. Needless to say, when I pressed the reset button this time, the disposal worked just fine. Such is life.