The End (for now)

Well, this will be my last post from Jubilee. Hard to believe, but May has arrived and time here is winding down. No one is particularly excited for the transitions we will all be experiencing (even though many of us are going to great places and on wonderful adventures in the near future!). Just to keep things interesting, I like to “go out with a bang,” so this time, I’ve injured myself. While playing a great game of soccer on Saturday afternoon with some other volunteers and the refugee kids, I thought it might be a good idea to slide tackle a player to prevent a goal from scoring. The goal was blocked! The bad news is, though it has been described as a spectacular play by witnesses, I’ve hurt my knee, stretching my MCL and possibly the other ligaments in my knee. Don’t know all the details for sure since an MRI would be needed to see all the damage, but after two doctor visits it’s confirmed that in fact I’m not making it up. I do know that I’ll be hobbling in a knee brace for 6-8 weeks. Awesome. Guess that means no hiking in the Tetons, huh? So… while I’m trying not to throw myself a pity party about how I move at about a quarter of my normal speed, I’ll share a few more things that have gone on here at Jubilee.

We’ve all done a lot of reflecting on what our time here as meant, living in community, working with refugees, embracing a simple lifestyle, etc. My time here has been truly beautiful and I’m grateful to have spent these last months here. Last Thursday we gathered together as volunteers and Christina, one of the partners, facilitated a discussion on things we’ve learned, rituals/practices we want to take away from Jubilee, any revelation we’ve had, questions that we now have, etc. It was very broad, we could make personal lists and share whatever we felt we wanted to. So I thought this would definitely be something good to look back on, and perhaps others might enjoy seeing things I’ve been thinking about and learning. This is merely brainstorming, some are just brief sentences or fragments, some may seem incoherent or perhaps refer to an inside joke of sorts, but below is the list I wrote myself.

-Apparently it is possible to live an alternative lifestyle without losing your mind.

-Settling down is possible, roots do grow (sometimes even when you don’t want/expect them to) and they are good.

-Time is incomprehensible and invaluable, shared conversation and experience are irreplaceable.

-Experience vs. Lifestyle

-The South is tolerable—maybe even fun?!

-Small(er) town is positive/preferable

-What does it mean to know someone?

-Serving really is the least I can do.

-Slow down and listen.

– Money: Stop spending it, Clothes: Stop buying them, Gossip: Stop saying it, Cell Phone: Stop talking on it/ put it down and stop texting, Fast food: don’t eat it.

– I do not need Starbucks.

– The people you are around are the most important people.

– Lifetimes of faith/service: Coffee, Don, Robbie—levels of commitment beyond understanding

– Give, even when you don’t want to/think you can’t.

– Keep running, it feels good. (Note: I would just like to reflect on the irony of that one now in my current state!)

– Have a conversation about a book—for fun!

– Make it work, go beyond the surface, plunge deeper even when it’s “stickier.”

– Communication is only sometimes about words.

– Farms can be beautiful, not boring.

– More is not more.

– Community is not simply a group of people.

– Feed others, then feed yourself.

– Monday hugs.

– Greens can taste good.

– Strip malls hurt my soul.

– Shut up every once in a while, give your two cents only when you know that it’s worth two cents.

– Pretending hurts, so stop that right now.

– Worship is wonder.

– Clean up.

– Look around.

– Inefficiency is good?

Happy Times

Fun Afternoon!

Originally uploaded by lizpurdy05

Time at Jubilee is running short and, though I have a lot of thoughts about leaving and how difficult it’s going to be, I don’t particularly feel like thinking or writing about it (at this point, the other volunteers and I are resorting to denial). So instead, I’ll just continue to share the happiness of this place with you and attempt to convey the joyful flow of life here.

This past weekend’s biggest hit was the slip n’ slide. With a family of eight that arrived two weeks ago, the five teenage kids absolutely loved it. The run and jump technique was mastered by even those who looked hopeless in the beginning. At least two hours of Saturday afternoon were spent at the slip n’ slide, constantly adding more soap to keep it slick, and crashing into one another as we all piled up at the end. It was simply beautiful. This was of course followed up with another water activity: a jump in the pond. The slip n’ slide was significantly more refreshing, however, because the water from the hose was actually cold. The ponds have really warmed up and don’t quite offer the cool dip they once did. The only cold water found in the pond was at my feet when I jumped in and felt the deeper layers hit my toes. Otherwise, think warm bathtub water.

A new family arrived this weekend as well, parents and three children. We have said hello, but have yet to spend much time with them since they are just settling in. They joined English classes today and were already singing English hymns after their orientation. Seems like they should be a fun family to spend some time with. Things are pretty full at the Welcome Center once again with these two new families. It is of course bittersweet for all of us volunteers, however, with these new families arriving knowing that we are going to have to leave part way through their two months here at Jubilee. Our English classes have entirely changed with all the newcomers, and I am now teaching Sai Meh (who has been my student the whole time I’ve been here) and Jun Paw, a 21 year old. He previously worked as an assistant in the medical clinic at the refugee camp in Thailand and has fairly good English skills, but with big gaps in grammar. So though he can’t really write a correct sentence with a plural noun, when asked to describe a medical condition that might refer to someone holding his stomach, he doesn’t just say, “stomachache” like Sai Meh. Instead, he responds, “You have severe abdominal pain.” It’s almost hard to not laugh when he says things like that because they come as such a surprise! Teaching certainly comes with a set of surprises each day. So with his varying interests and levels of English ability we are having to get creative in order to cater to both skill levels in this same class. Jun Paw (note: in case you’re reading that name and think it sounds slightly like John Paul, that’s because it does. He was named after the pope, but because people frequently can’t spell or speak with accurate pronunciation when filling out paperwork to register as a refugee, many names get lost in transition, and upon arriving in the United States they legally become named things like Jun Paw when that wasn’t exactly the original intention) has lots of varied interests that we’re trying to incorporate into class like learning how to drive, learning geography, and playing music. These, however, are slightly different than Sai Meh’s (a 30-year old mother of three) interests. But when I heard Jun Paw playing “Hotel California” by the Eagles on his guitar during break time last week, I discovered an opportunity. For Saturday morning’s class I printed off the lyrics and brought my iPod to class to play for him while he unscrambled all the different lines. It was a highlight for sure.

This weekend was also celebrated with a great mother’s day lunch prepared by Josephina, one of the wonderful mothers here at Jubilee. We enjoyed incredible food and sunshine as we sat out on picnic blankets. And I can’t forget to mention the homemade ice cream we churned on Saturday night. It really doesn’t get much better! And yes, I will be needing to go on more runs with all of this great food recently.

So though I only have two more weeks here, I’m still trying new things as often as possible and I really feel as though I’ve been growing more into my southern name, Lizzie Haas, as time has progressed. I started small, first hanging out with goats occasionally, learning how to chop wood, planting sweet potatoes, and now I have volunteered to bottle feed the baby calf that was born  almost two weeks ago. Which means, I get up at 7:20am, throw on some jeans, put on my boots and head out to spend about 60 seconds offering the calf a bottle slightly larger than a Nalgene with a giant utter on it. He’s pretty cute I must admit. There was a list in which the community could suggest names for the newborn calf, but the actual privilege of picking the name from the list was given to Emily, a high school student who is the daughter of a partner family here, and me. Together, we took the list out with us when we fed him one evening, tried out the names, and both agreed that Oliver was a perfect fit. So Jubilee now has a happy cow family: Rhoda the mother, Elsie (last spring’s female calf) and Oliver 🙂 After feeding Oliver in the morning, I walk down to the donkeys, Maybell and Jack, where I fill their water buckets and give them a little morning brush. Maybell and I have bonded already. Jack and I still need a little work, but it’s precious. Stay tuned for pictures.

The weekend before last, the other volunteers and I headed to Vogel State Park in the North Georgia mountains for a camping trip. Though we weren’t in too deep, I got my first little taste of Appalachia and we did cross the Appalachian Trail . . . in a car. Maybe one day I’ll do it on foot. It was a rather rainy weekend on and off, a little more like camping in the Northwest actually, except when it rained it was hot. And I must say hot rain is not really a concept I’m familiar with. We went on a modest four mile hike on Saturday and did camping type things: played cards, made s’mores, sat around the camp fire, etc. We may have gotten the car stuck in a ditch while attempting to leave the campground. But fear not, because the maintenance man was working on Sunday and we made his day when he had to go get his tractor to pull us out (literally, I’ve never seen someone drive a tractor that enthusiastically). We were smart enough to have reserved two walk-in campsites also so as to avoid being next to RVs and having cluttered neighbors among the woods. Turns out we made a great decision. RVs were plentiful at the drive-up sites and I’m pretty sure there were some people at that campground who didn’t even step foot on dirt that weekend. As we walked back through the campground we passed a giant RV with the name “Bounder” on it and a little logo of a cute kangaroo.
“Bounder?” I said cynically to Leslie and Caleb after a brief rant about Americans’ “Take it all with you on a get away weekend” approach to camping/traveling. Caleb responded saying, “Yeah, doesn’t it just look like a giant . . . metal . . . bounding kangaroo?!” It was just such a fitting comment to capture the whole absurdity of the situation that I found it particularly funny. On the way back to Jubilee last Sunday, we stopped at Tallulah Gorge, which was really beautiful, but I felt like I was in the Amazon. Humid, cloudy weather, lush vegetation all over . . . Ok actually, I’ve never been to the Amazon, but I imagine it being somewhat like that. Point being, it felt very tropical and come to realize, in fact, I’m still in Georgia. Who knew?

So that’s basically the report. Things are very good. Humidity has set in, my hair will never be straight again in Georgia, runs are a lot sweatier, evenings are all the more enjoyable when the heat of the day is over, particularly in a hammock :-), everyday I discover some new, scary looking bug that I didn’t know existed before and I usually kill a few spiders before bed. Snake sighting count: One (and hoping to keep it that way). Much love to all. Thanks for reading and being interested in my time here in the South! I’ll be heading north soon, but for now, I’m still soaking up as much of southern life as possible.