The title is from "Boston" by Augustana.
I have this friend. Except that "friend" really doesn't describe us. It's more like Hermanas.
It really isn't possible for me to talk about Tijuana without mentioning her. I met her on the first trip to TJ because she was one of the (lucky) ones who got assigned to our car for the 15 hour ride down there. FIFTEEN. In a minivan. With my little brothers. And 7 people's baggage. And miraculously, no one murdered anyone else. Anyways, whoever made that carpool list had to have been in tune with the spirit because making her acquaintance was nothing short of a miracle. Allow me to explain.
*It definitely wouldn't be fair to talk about TJ and Hermanas without talking about our other hermana, Lexie, but this post has a different focus.*
If you read my post entitled "It'll Take More Than Just A Breeze To Make Me Fall Overboard" you will see that the pre-Tijuana version of myself was having some struggles right before this trip. Weird mental lapses and self-induced perfectionism woes were taking their toll on me. It was one of those times (which I think every person eventually has) where I had to really decide what kind of person I wanted to be. I could either continue whatever it was I was doing and keep being miserable, or I could change every mental aspect of my life and see where it took me. And I know it seems cliche to say that because I was only 16 at the time, and who really knows who they are/are going to be when they are 16, but it seemed like a really big deal at the time. And I guess it kind of was because when I look back, i'm so glad things worked out as they did. I really do not want to even imagine how different things could be if certain things (like meeting incredible people, having life-changing experiences in TJ, really getting into the gospel) hadn't come into my life and helped me change. I hope that made sense.
A big thing that needed changing was my self-reliance. *It's important for me to note that i'm extremely grateful for everything that is done for me. I live in a comfortable home, I have everything I need and quite a few things that I merely want, and heck, I even have a car to drive and a parking spot in the garage for when it snows. I don't think I appreciated all these facts before, but that's just part of the beauty of what has changed.* It wasn't so much that I thought I could do everything better myself. It was more like I knew that if something went wrong, I would know who needed to be fixed. The best way I know to say it is that I didn't know HOW to trust people. Or maybe I didn't know how to trust myself. Well, I don't know if you have ever tried to do everything by yourself, but it doesn't work. Honestly, it just doesn't work. It just wears you down to the point of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Needless to say, there were definitely trust issues involved. One more minor detail, I was a hard core perfectionist. It wasn't enough to get A's in all my classes, I had to get A's on all my assignments and all my tests in all my classes. I couldn't just do the dishes, I had to clean the stove and take out the garbage and then clean out the sink once the dishes were in the dishwasher. I couldn't just clean my room, I had to make sure my brushes were in the right drawer and that my jeans were folded the right way. (Maybe a little OCD combined with perfectionism?) Now try doing everything by yourself to perfection. That's where I was.
I feel like this is gonna be too long if I don't get to the point sometime soon. So here it is. Before I went on the first trip to Tijuana, I didn't know how much I didn't know. And to be honest, I don't think I even knew how to learn. Sure I could do school things, but that was different. I didn't know how to let things affect me. I thought that being strong meant not letting myself feel things, or at least not letting people know that I felt things. I thought emotion and passion were for the weak. And if I never felt passionate about anything, I certainly wouldn't be willing to change for it, much less learn from it. Well, enter Holly Rindlisbacher and Tijuana Mexico.
I know I need to be careful because I know Holly will be one of the only ones who actually read this and I don't want her to feel awkward. And this will probably seem a little bit stalker-y, so forgive me. But here's the truth. Meeting her changed my life. She's just one of those people who you can literally feel the goodness emanating from. She was just so accepting and friendly right off the bat. I mean let's get real. If I were in college, I wouldn't exactly be looking at annoying 16 year olds on family trips as prime new friendship material. Which is why i'm convinced the Lord knew that I needed an example in my life right at that moment. And i'm so incredibly grateful that she was living her life in such a way that He could use her to be that example for me. I still don't fully understand how it all worked out for me at the time, but seeing how she treated people (especially me) and her attitude and just the way she went about living made me want to change. And it taught me that there really are people worth trusting. And not only would it not kill me to trust someone else, but it could actually improve my life.
Here's the real kicker. I somehow came to the conclusion that all this happiness/goodness that I was seeing was a result of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Holly and I never really had any deep religious conversations or blindingly spiritual moments on the first trip. Maybe it was because we were serving the people in TJ whom we had never met with our own hands on our own time and I recognized the overwhelming spirit that comes with that. I really don't know for sure exactly what it was that made the connection to the gospel. But I know that when I decided to change, I knew that the change would have to involve the church if I wanted it to make a difference. If I wanted to have joy, not just fleeting satisfaction or temporary happiness but real joy, I would have to turn to Christ. And I think that if that's the only thing I ever learned from Holly, that alone would be enough to make us Hermanas. Because an Hermana is kind of like a half peso - they make you want to be the best version of yourself, the TJ version of yourself :)
So I did it. I turned to Him. And I still am turning to Him. And I will continue to do so. As long as being on His side gives me this joy and comfort and peace, I will continue to be on His side. Not to say that turning to Christ has made my life perfect. But He makes it worth getting though all the imperfections. And I didn't say 'as long as my life is peachy and he makes sure my life is easy i'll be on His side". Because that's not what it's about. He's not here to make our lives easy, because easy is meaningless. He is here to help us through the hard times because those are the things we learn from.
There is a song that I must have listened to 7 or 8 times everyday for the first month or two after getting back from TJ the first time. It's called "Getting Into You" by Relient K. Allow me to share a few lines because there is no need to paraphrase what was already put so perfectly. This song is directed toward God and I don't think I could have said it better myself.
I'm getting into you
Because you got to me, in a way words can't describe
I'm getting into you
Because I've got to be
You're essential to survive
I'm going to love you with my life
As if this post doesn't make it obvious enough, i'm very grateful to Holly. For being an awesome friend, for making me laugh til I cry, for swindling her grocery money so we could get matching t-shirts, for the endless amounts of tacos, for the horrible Dwayne Johnson movies, for counting all the lamest things I say, for the validation, for being willing to try to read the Libro de Mormon en espanol with me, for putting up with me when I act 17, for trying to help me (the most musically inept person on earth) learn to play piano, for helping me find Home and what that really means, for NETJD pictures and coming up with mexi-stache smiley faces, for her patience, for helping teach me SO many crucial lessons, for our talks on the roof of la clinica, for showing me the way to find joy, for many many many more things that I could keep listing until we take our families to TJ, but mostly for being a true Hermana. For being MY Hermana.
So in conclusion, I have this friend. Except that "friend" really doesn't describe us. It's more like Hermanas. And for that, I am eternally grateful.