Sunday, June 09, 2013

Kristina

During my life I've had more than my fair share of nicknames.  I've always been a fan of them.  They hold great meaning to me and often if I am called by a name someone else has already called me before I get possessive for the relationship that established the nickname in the first place.  Most names are fine by me, except the name Kris.  That one is a no go and I will generally not hesitate to ask you to stop if you insist on using it.  There were many years I was rarely called my full name except professionally.  I'm fine by that.  I like my name a lot but I can't think of a single nickname I've been given that I don't like either.

But one in particular has special meaning.

One of the most important and influential people in my life was my Great Grandpa James.  I understand I'm lucky to have known a great grandparent (let alone two, one of which is still living) and that in itself makes Grandpa James valuable.  But it was his love of Jesus and his joy in sharing that with me that was so important.  That and his love of baseball that now runs so deeply through me because of his influence.  He was a master pie baker, something I always attempt to duplicate but never have the success he did and he loved the game of dominoes.  He was know to yell "Domino by Ned" whenever he would win.  I have memories of multiple wins by Grandpa.  He didn't just let you win - another thing I greatly respected despite my competitive nature.  When you won against Grandpa you earned it and that had value.

There was something about having Grandpa James in my life growing up that was comforting.  I loved him in a way I don't love many people and part of that was because he loved me just as much.  As an insecure middle schooler knowing someone who wasn't my parents loved me so much gave me confidence that I was worthy.  I can't walk into a baseball stadium without feeling that confidence wash over me again.

When I was in The DR Grandpa was around in my memories and on my mind a lot.  Pretty much anytime I am around baseball he is on my shoulder but add in the focus on Jesus' love and the people in The DR's favorite game being dominoes and it was a pretty constant reminder.

Then on top of those things Angel, one of our interpreters, started calling me Kristina.  The only other person in my life that has ever called me Kristina is Grandpa James.  Honestly, I think Grandpa thought it was my full name but I never minded.  The fact that he had a name that was mine and we alone shared was impactful and cherished by me.  At first I considered asking Angel not to call me Kristina but then I realized it actually was very meaningful that not only was I already surrounded by reminders of Grandpa through activities which already made me feel like I was at home, but then a man who I was spending most of my waking hours serving next to started to call me a name that made me feel at home as well.

So, instead of asking Angel to stop calling me Kristina I told him about Grandpa.  We talked at length about him and Angel said he would be honored if I allowed him to continue to use the name, so I did.

I have never been somewhere that wasn't my home or a former home that felt like home as quickly as The Dominican Republic.  I still today, a full five weeks after I left there, shed some tears over some memories; feeling homesick.

My heart belongs to The DR, fully and completely.  In unexpected ways, things like Angel calling me Kristina and conjuring the most influential, loving, Godly man I've known when I was already feeling aware of him, it was confirmed to me that God has something more for me down there. I wish the answer of what that "something more" is was more easily ascertained.  I'm currently sitting in my bonus room with my dog at my feet and I realize she can't be a DR dog so I'm grounded for a bit.

But am I supposed to live in the DR doing full time ministry?  Am I supposed to find ways to work full time for ILB here in the States?  Am I supposed to volunteer for the organization and do what I can in my current position?  Would there even be a place for me within ILB or COTN if I felt that was what God was calling?

It's frustrating to be in a place where I know God wants me to be active but I don't know what the action looks like.

So for now I will do what I can.  I will volunteer with ILB.  I will work with Rotary on projects in Barahona.   I will wait and pray and I will work on my Spanish.

Adios amigos.

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