On Saturday, I got to celebrate American Thanksgiving with my wonderful group of friends/’alternate family’ here in Cochabamba. The lovely Barb and Kimber hosted and cooked a delicious turkey and the rest of us brought a dish to share. Potlucks are a very wonderful, important part of my life back in Hamilton, Ontario so it was very exciting to participate in one again. After working at the girls’ home Saturday morning, I went right to Pedacito de Cielo to use the kitchen and cook with Kelley and our friend Breanna. I haven’t cooked fully on my own since I got here, which is quite strange, since there are always meals at PDC and CDP and my host family cooks for me as well. So it felt good to get back into cooking/experimenting mode, and I had fun baking a broccoli/bean/carrot casserole with LOADS of cheese.

It was an incredible meal with wonderful company, and I’m very grateful that Kelley suggested we do the cheesy go-around “this is what I’m thankful for” activity later that evening. I know that I am very grateful to be here, especially for the second time. Coming here two years ago made me involve myself very differently in my city when I returned to Canada… I realized my need for community, to be part of something much bigger than myself, much bigger than any university degree or ‘profession’. I realized that I cannot go it alone. I realized that I need to immerse myself wherever I am, and because of this I’ve developed absolutely wonderful relationships here in Bolivia with my diverse group of friends, my host family, the kids and the tias. I’ve also been learning more about life here in Bolivia, about the harsh realities and also the beautiful ones. I find myself very attached to this community, which is going to make it very hard to leave in January, probably even harder than last time. It’s weird, being in love with two places in very different parts of the world, geographically and culturally. I’m trying to figure out how this might look in my life, in years to come.

But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, or distance myself to make it ‘easier’ to leave. I am grateful for the strong sense of community I feel here and in Canada. Being in Bolivia two years ago also helped me learn to be o.k with uncertainty, with ‘not-knowing’ about a lot of things: the mystery of God, the absence of justice in the world, how to truly love your neighbourand your enemy, how to figure out where to go next in life. I am constantly seeking and learning and as frustrating/confusing as it can be I think it’s the best way to live.

Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday meant a lot to me. It also meant a lot to feel so loved and celebrated by friends and family in many parts of the world last week, when I celebrated my 22nd birthday. Life never ceases to catch me off guard, and while I’m at a bit of an awkward place in it right now, I still feel content and very grateful.

The sunsets here every evening are always amazing, so I guess I will end by sharing a photo of the incredible sky Saturday evening. I am always in awe of the sky, and the sunsets are just one of infinite ways that we can experience God, or that ‘something bigger than ourselves’, which gives us faith amidst uncertainty.

Peace and love,