Today I met 20-year-old El Refugio intern Kayla. She is tall, blonde, and outgoing. We got to spend some quality time together in the kitchen attempting to communicate with the cooks: Anhaelica and Anita. I took one year of Spanish in high school and decided to take French in college. I am proficiant in French and understand more in Spanish than I thought I would. But cooking vocabulary is a bit out of my league. Therefore, Kayla and I attempted to learn together a new set of vocabulary words. I understood more than Kayla and often translated the part I understood. Then I’d figure out what the cooks were saying and I’d get the job done.
During my hours in the kitchen with Kayla, I got to know her a bit better. She is the third child of four. She has an older sister named Katie, (23) an older brother named Joe, (22) and a younger sister named Kara (19). Kara just got married on May 10. Kayla is in a serious relationship with a man named Nick and expects to be engaged not long after she returns to Michigan. She got to Calacali last weekend. Kayla will be here until August 15 and is excited to spend her 21st birthday here on August 11.
Kayla took a little Spanish in high school, but doesn’t know it well. With the Spanish tutoring that is provided for interns, she hopes to be able to have small conversations with Ecuadorians before she leaves. Kayla is one neat 20-year-old! She knows how to weld and to change her oil. She helps her dad with his work and didn’t go to college. Instead she spent two semesters with LIFT program in New York. She discovered a passion for ministry and can see herself living in CalaCali someday.
Kayla can be quiet, but when she says something it is important. She first visited El Refugio when she was 13. Her dad was helping build the “Discipleship House,” where I am staying, so her family took a vacation here. After her first time here, she was hooked. Before arriving here as an intern, her longest stay out of the U.S. was 16 days. This time she will be here for 2.5 months. Kayla really likes being outdoors and hiking. Yesterday she hiked around the ridge of the mountains and it took her under two hours.
I’m sure I’ll learn more about Kayla as the days go on, but for one I’ll leave you with one last tidbit about this girl. Kayla and her brother are very close. When he was here with LIFT in the spring, he left her two hiking surprises. He described where to find the treasure and then made her take a long hike to find it. In total, he left her two surprises and she gets to open one each month. I hope that someday my brother and I do something special like that. This small act seems to signify their close relationship. It sounds like they are as close as David and I.
Today I am subbing for Mrs. Knutson, a teacher’s aide who focuses on helping students with math. I’ve met her before and she’s pretty wonderful. Today I got to work with a student named Natalie, who blessed my socks off. As soon as I entered the room, faces perked up and each one said something to the effect of, “Hi Miss Lunde!” I received lots of hugs and smiling faces.
As we walked down the hallway, Natalie told me. “I really just love you so much Miss Lunde. You are so nice and you care about us. You are patient and I want you to be our substitute teacher forever. Can’t you just tell Miss Kelsey to pretend to be sick? I love when you sub. You are great at Miss Kelsey and as Mrs. Knutson. You are great. I just love you.”
Well at this point if I had any reason to be sad, my day was immediately turned around. No need to be crabby ever when you have kids that say things like that to you early in the morning. Man, I just love being a sub! Throughout the last few months, I’ve been substituting a lot. I’m realizing that I have a passion for working with kids and each experience strengthens that passion. Sure, there are very difficult days, but the better days outweigh the hard ones. I know by being consistent and by helping students with homework, I am making a difference in their lives. Let the subbing continue!
Today I spent the day at the Berge household in Eagan, Minnesota. I met the Berges back in 2012 when I went on Inspiration Point Day Camp to Community of Joy church. Our host family was the Berges. Sara, the mother and I connected right away because of her patience, words of wisdom, and passion for seeking the Lord’s will. One evening we even stayed up past 1:30 am sharing stories and adventures. Since then my love for the Berges has only grown. John, Sara’s husband works at Target and leaves early in the mornings. Back in 2012, he challenged me to do Insanity, but only the 20 minute version. I survived, but just barely.
The boys, Tobias (5) and Samuel (2.5) are a real joy. Tobias has a lot of energy and likes to talk very loudly. He’s a very smart kid and is curious about the world around him. When we played soccer, he kept score. He didn’t cheat and give himself extra points or not count the points I scored. I expected a bit of that, but was pleasantly surprised when he kept the real score. Samuel is talking quite a bit now, although I can’t always understand what he is saying. His words are there, I just haven’t been around him enough to understand them.
Today I met their neighbor Ru and his daughter Katana. Ru was curious why I was living in Wisconsin. He also is very good with a rock. By that I mean that he can throw it at a goose perched on his roof and not miss. This made the goose leave and Katana shouted, “Why are the geeses leaving?” Katana is a real beautiful 2-year-old with dark long hair, dark skin, brown eyes, and long eyelashes. Although she is two weeks older than Samuel, he talks more. But when Katana does talk, she says complete sentences that make a lot of sense. We played with chalk, warmed our hands by the chalk fire, and drew smores. We also had fun with bubbles and the soccer ball. I pulled her around in the wagon and spun her around until she got dizzy. Although I didn’t get to talk to this little precious girl very much, my time spent with her was wonderful. Now I have another reason to visit the Berges, just because of a simple play date with the neighbors.
Today I met Kathleen who was one of my students in my applied engineering class. I asked how she got her name and Kathleen shared that she was named after her grandma.
Kathleen is a sophomore who wasn’t really interested in taking this course. However, because she is only a sophomore, she didn’t have first pick with classes and therefore it was one of the only classes left. She didn’t really have another alternative. She’s made the best of the situation though and still does her best on her group projects.
As we waited to test her tricishay, (not sure how to spell that) she told me that she is a thrower in track. Despite this being only her third year, she competed in a meet in South Dakota last year and got first place. This took her to the junior national competition. She can throw the discus 115 feet and the shot about 40 feet. I’m sure she’d improve a lot if the famous Mr. White was her coach. I told her a bit about him and said if she ever needed some advice to give him a call.
Today I met two women that said they were from New Mexico. I didn’t get to ask them a lot of questions because I took their order and made their drinks, but they surprised me with their kindness. The thing that caught me off guard is when they were trying to say Nakita’s name without messing it up. Once they got it, they asked my name. I told them it was Kaia.
“Kaia, we believe that people in coffee shops are real people not objects, so it is important for us to ask and use people’s names. So it’s nice to meet you, Kaia.”
Awe! I was so touched. They told me their names were Billie and Sam and then had to leave. Day made for sure!
The Sioux lost on Thursday night to the Gopher hockey team. I was quite disappointed, but had no one to sympathize with me because of I live in Wisconsin. I was surprised to see a man wearing a UND Fighting Sioux sweatshirt at Backroads. This started a conversation about North Dakota. This couple, Tom and Pam, lived in Crookston, MN for quite a few years. Pam got her doctorate degree from UND. When they heard how I came to Hayward, they encouraged me to check out Holden Village (http://www.holdenvillage.org/about-us/). I spent some time researching on their website about summer opportunities in the Cascade Mountain range in Washington state. It would be beautiful to spend a summer there. Tom and Pam explained that to get a Holden, one must ride the ferry for 50 minutes and it is very secluded. It is a Luther ministry retreat center. They are looking for teachers for the school year to teach the families that live there year-round. Holden Village has been around for 50 years. It began as a mining for copper and gold community. Before Tom and Pam left, they gave me their business cards and told me to contact them with any questions that I had. They lived there for many years and have lots of connections.
After spending some time on the website, I realized they only have volunteer positions available for this summer, but I will consider it for another year. I was thankful that Tom wore a Sioux sweatshirt because that gave me the courage to start the conversation in the first place.