November 29, 2008

Sweet Success: Mission Accomplished


There is something amazing in earning a college degree, and in growing your first vegetable garden. There is something amazing in resilience after a time of tragedy, and in mentoring a kindred spirit into a place of maturity.

These leave one with profound fulfillment, a refreshed sense of self, and a new empowerment to realize one's potential. It is the hope of accomplishing such a dream that gives me the zeal to seek tomorrow.

Right now seeking "tomorrow" for me means finding a vibrant life in Ecuador. Your dream is entirely different, but with the same purpose: to live who you are called to be.

I am delighted to say the greatest endeavor I've ever set out to accomplish is complete. It wasn't finishing my degree at Willamette University. This was a feat, but the scope of my project was far bigger than this. Did I find a good husband? Not yet... This will come in good time. Hang in there, Grandma!

I started Project Digno three years ago.

I savor the knowledge that I gave my all in this endeavor. In completing this project I have been working on I am blessed, and more importantly my life blesses others.

Project Digno is a documentary based on the message of Philippians 2, that God has called His church to agree with one another, to love one another, and to serve one another not only as individuals, but as the Church at large. Digno is the Spanish word for worthy, an adjective which truly embodies the heart of the project. We're asked to apply all these principles to interacting with the entire community. God is truly worthy of this.

The 12 minute DVD is a compilation of interviews I conducted with thirty-three Salem residents who represent the ten major Christian denominations in the Salem-Keizer area. We spoke of faith, of our call to be active citizens and active servants, and to do so in an organic, pure manner. The film is not flashy; it is a simple discussion with others of many flavors of spirituality who agree on the core of who we are as both followers of Christ and as humans.

The last three years of my life were not only influenced by this project, but were formed around it, in where I lived, and how I allocated my free time and resources. I thought I would finish the project in six months. I had no preconception of the hundreds of hours that I would invest, or the people I respected who would let me down, or of the literally thousands of phone calls I would place, the meetings, the letters, and the all night editing sessions.

And I didn't expect the many tears that would fall as I stared into my Mac monitor at 3 am after struggling to edit another segment of the DVD.

Accomplishment is never achieved without struggle. Hope begets courage, ambition, and action. These beget both support and resistance, which prompt persistence – And, as we know, persistence begets triumph. It is faith in God, persistence, friends, and a sense of deep fulfillment which helped my accomplishment come into being.

The project's initial scope was intended to show at the 10 locations I shot, and, in my ideal world, at a citywide youth rally called See You At the Pole. The DVD never showed at the youth rally, but it premiered city wide at the IKE Box, at the region's annual Pastor Appreciation Breakfast (several hundred faith leaders present!), and also at a gathering of almost 100 youth leaders. Then there were the print and radio interviews, the newspaper articles (including one paper distributed as far north as Seattle), the stellar website, the video was posted on websites internationally (unsolicited by me!) and response from this audience, the support from repudiated city leaders, and even more.

Sometimes you dream big and do your best, and you succeed. One of my all-time favorite quotes is:

When you really want something, the whole universe conspires so that your wish might come true.

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Project Digno was under girded by the major interfaith and Christian groups that are encouraging inter-church, and community wide interaction in the Salem-Keizer area. These primary entities are: Dynamic Life, SalemNet, Salem Leadership Association, IKE Box, JC Town Reporter, and KPJC AM 1220 radio. CCTV assisted by loaning equipment.

If you have not yet had the opportunity, I encourage you to spend 15 minutes online watching the project ask me for a copy of the DVD. The video can be found streaming at

At times a friend would approach me saying, "You have all these wonderful life opportunities. They just fall in front of you. And then you pursue them, and you succeed." And the person bemoans their lack of fortune and the inevitability of their failure. This, my friend, is a self fulfilling prophesy at its best.

I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

- Thomas Jefferson.

I truly believe that this project would have never materialized if it were not meant to be . So many friends and strangers offered much needed encouragement, skills, and resources at the precise moment I felt completely inadequate and defeated.

So often we give up on our dreams simply because we are too afraid we are inadequate to accomplish them.

The night after the citywide premiere I was ecstatic, and I was exhausted. I chose to watch what I thought was sure to be a cheesy Christian flick The Second Chance. Michael W. Smith plays the rich, vain pastor who is sent out from his church to work with an inner city church. "Same faith, same city, different worlds." Michael's character finds people with real hardships and with a real need for God – He is immediately struck by the need to directly help drug addicts, those in true poverty, and those in abusive situations. The film resolves with the two churches working together to serve each other and the city... just as Project Digno promotes. The day of my premier was a long one, but I felt refreshed. God does that, you know.

Friends, I cannot thank you enough for your deep love and support during this immense time in my life.
I love you.

Miss Rose

November 10, 2008

I finally did it.

I did it.

I took that step... You know, the one you are way too scared to take, because everything will... CHANGE.

This evening I applied to be a tour guide in Central America.

Who knows? If I'm accepted, maybe I'll be sludging through mud in the rainy season (OK, this is guaranteed.) Or maybe I'll be annoyed with one of my tour members, or ill from eating street food, or sick of sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, or homesick (also guaranteed.)

Who knows? I do know that true adventure awaits us in every moment of every day. It is our choice to delight in the small moments of life. And the big ones. Because if they hire me, I'll be wandering barefoot on sand in 80 degree weather in December. And I'll be helping others in my group discover the joy that is in endless availability. Savoring the local food, befriending the local Latinos, soaking in the local sun...

Who knows?

I submitted the application with my eyes closed. I squeezed out a little prayer as I tapped the "submit" button - "Jesus, I hope this is the right thing!"

And I do know that if I walk in pursuit of Him, in pursuit of my calling, and in pursuit of peace, then my path will be steady, I will be fulfilled, and I will possess an inner strength that exudes true wisdom.

My steps are known.

I'll keep you posted on the application status. I will leave the country three weeks after they hire me. (Fingers crossed!)
You will be notified of my departure date as soon as I know, and I will give you a date for my going-away party as soon as I can.

I am richly blessed. Thank you for loving me. My friends are a tremendous strength to me.
As I complete this email, my iPod serendipitously plays "Blessed Assurance..."

- Srta. Rosita

(Meaning "Miss Rose" in Spanish)