Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pictures from Portugal and vacationing in England


This is the local fort just by my house.

Leslie, João, and I went bowling at Colombo.


Some of the Christmas decorations in Sintra.


Some more decorations.


I helped make that. My first Yorkshire pudding.


An authentic thatch house just outside of Ely, Eng.


Percy, Joy, and I out for a walk on Christmas day.


Charlie and I at Cambridge.


Me in front of some Cathedral in Cambridge.


I liked this because it shows a Lisbon taxi.


One of the street performers on the South Bank, London.


Big Ben and me. And my nose hairs.


Ummm... yeah.


The entrance to the Natural History Museum in London.


Hard to see but it says Knightrider street! Ha!


A grainy picture of the London eye.


A blurry picture of one of the bridges crossing the Thames.


Christmas dinner complete with cracker hats!


Tom killing the leftovers.


Ely Cathedral


Maribeth and me. And the as yet unnamed reindeer.


Making Christmas cookies with my kids.


Lucas in a Santa mask with me and the reindeer.


Xiao Feng trying to eat the camera.


Yotaro and Erdem are my best artists.


My kids at their Christmas concert.


We're still working on the straight line bit.


The monastery at Belém.


An example of the beautiful sidewalks here.


Me at Belém Monastery.


Me at Belém monastery...again.


Belém monastery... without me.


The tribute to the Portuguese explorers.


Affectionately known as the Golden Gate bridge II


The statue of Christ overlookings Lisbon.


The view from my balcony.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dance Performance

I have written that I am finally getting the opportunity to dance again. I have had a really good time getting to know the people I dance with, trying to figure out the Portuguese instructions for what I am supposed to do and where I am supposed to do it, and generally just getting to move again.



We had a performance on December 20th and I was able to get a friend of mine to record it on my shiny blue camera that mom got me for my birthday. Hope you enjoy!

video

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thoughts

A friend of mine from Sierra Leone is thinking seriously about moving back to England, where she is from. She still loves Sierra Leone, probably as much as anyone I know. But she has been thinking a lot about roots or in her case the lack thereof. She is worried that she is losing touch with her friends. She doesn't want to become one of the world travelers that we have seen that move all over the world but don't have anywhere to call home.

It has raised interesting thoughts for me.

I would say that the vast majority of the time I am very happy with the choices that I have made that have taken me to first Freetown, Sierra Leone and now Estoril, Portugal. I have made a conscientious effort to make decisions that I will not regret. And I don't. I love what I am doing. I love the experiences that I am having. I love the people that I am meeting. But...

But last night was New Years Eve. And as I hung out in a small English pub wishing my one friend, her two friends, who I got on well with, and a host of strangers a happy New Years I kind of just wanted to go home. I have had a fantastic holiday but you know that point where you are kind of spent and are ready for your own bed, a normal routine, and all the rest, well I reached that last night. But as I threw more darts and thought about wanting to go home I realized that I'm kind of without that at the moment. This isn't the first time it has hit me that I am kind of homeless but it really struck hard last night.

The United States... I lived there for 25 years. I still have a lot of friends there. My family is all there. But people keep asking me things about the US, you know like movies, singers, t.v. shows and I can't answer them. And it isn't just that I'm not plugged into pop culture. It's that I really don't have much of a desire to go back for any extended length of time. I would love to go for holiday, but that's about it at the moment. I figure I could go back if I wanted to. I could get a job teaching or enroll in school somewhere or do just about anything, but I don't really want to. And I guess you can't call a place home if you don't want to be there.

Sierra Leone... I spent the past two years there. I still have several close friends there. I am sure that if I wanted to go back to the school they would LOVE to have me back. I could probably even move into my old house and sit on the same hammock that I left there. But my time there feels done. If I would have stayed another year I am sure that I would have loved it. But I made the choice to go. And I don't regret that choice. There are a lot of frustrations that I have glazed over in my six months of not being there. A lot of people that I knew and who made Sierra Leone what is was for me are now gone. God led me away from Sierra Leone and I followed. Freetown is different and I am different. If I went back I would want it to be like it was and I would have a hard time adjusting to how things are now. Add the fact that I don't really have a history there and Freetown isn't home.

Portugal... Live there now. Have a flat that I love. Have made some great friends in the past few months. Absolutely love my work. But a place cannot become a home in five months. It just can't. I'm all about the idea that home is where you lay your head and I guess that has kind of been the way that I've lived my life for the past bunch of years. I can't call Portugal my home yet. I could see it growing into a home. Actually, pending my ability to learn Portuguese (which has been highly frustrating thus far), I could actually see me being there for a very long time. But for now, it's not home.

So... ummm... I'm not real sure where that leaves me for the moment. Surely without much of a home to speak of. But the big question and the center of my thoughts has been, "What do I intend to do about that?" I certainly can't make this a quick fix. But what do I intend to do? I have at least a year and a half left in Portugal, which I am really quite happy about. I still think my big big goal in life to teach on every continent is a good one and something I plan to stick to. The timing is what is in question now though. I could, quite easily I imagine, continue doing two year contracts until my goal is achieved. Actually, it doesn't even have to end there. I could keep moving around forever if I chose to. And I have to admit that the idea is vaguelly appealing. Always moving around, living in new places, making friends all over the world, seeing sights that others only read about in books or don't even hear about at all. It's exciting, it's adventurous, it's an idea.

Or... I could make my life goal into more of that; a LIFE goal. I could take my time. Spend more than two years in a place. Really get to know the language, the culture, the hidden places that tourists don't know about. In this situation it's easier to see myself attaining my other big big goal in life which is to have a family. Depending on how well you know me or how often we've talked you will know how desperately I want to be a part of a family. I think it would be the most incredible thing I ever do to find someone who will love me forever, hope, pray, and beg if needed for her to marry me, and then have children, love them sooooo much, and be the most amazing father, husband, family man I can possibly be. It's a bit difficult to see this happening with my round the world tour kind of lifestyle, not impossible but difficult. However, if I find a place that I really like, stick around for a few years, maybe that could be a more attractive trait than the "Let's move EVERYWHERE", approach that I've been trying but failing with.

So, again, what to do... I guess I don't know. I guess there are times when everyone isn't overjoyed with their lot. And I guess that I have a lot to be thankful for and during times when I feel like I'm missing out on something I ought to keep in mind the absolutely fantastic life I've been given.


Still, it would be nice to have somewhere that is "home".

But that to will come in time and maybe this is just another opportunity to learn what has been my biggest struggle in life.

Patience.

Happy New Year and God bless,
Justin