gringo

One Monday morning, when the sun was blasting its awful heat down upon us, my little V and I took a train ride out to Central Islip, Long Island.

so very excited

Have I ever told you how much little V LOVES train rides?  She is always asking to go on the train; it doesn’t help that we live across the street from the train station so we are always seeing trains go by.  Her exact words, “I want go Choo Choo.”  This specific day, when we usually take the train west to NYC, we took the train east for a very special occasion.  Once we arrived at Central Islip, we hopped on a bus (little V’s very first bus ride!) and headed towards the Federal Court House.  What  I don’t have a picture of is a crazy woman running with her child in her hands for this said bus because she aimlessly wondered around too long trying to even find where to catch the bus.  The poor woman.  She was all sweaty on this miserably hot day.  I watched her running up to the bus.  Really, I did!  Why don’t you believe me?

Once we arrived at our destination, we walked to the FARTHEST building possible.  I would like to point out here that it would have been nice if someone would have told us to walk to the farthest building possible.  It would have saved little V and I from waiting in line, going through security and checking my camera in just to find out that I needed the FEDERAL building (the farthest building possible), not the Family Court building.  However, I hold no grudges.  Even on miserably hot days.

The Federal Building is quite different from most government buildings.  You can feel such a different aura when approaching.  It was a very BIG, all white building with a very COOL lobby!  (At the moment I was more focused on the coolness as in weather than coolness as in appearance.)  Once V and I made it through security, I literally ran up the stairs, tripping on my dress and almost throwing my own child head first into the stairs.  Not a pretty picture.  Thankfully no one was around.

We arrived at our destination just seconds before they closed the doors.  It was a large room full of people.  However, the people were somewhat seperated.  You could see about 150 people sitting in the front seperated by a low border from the rest of the people, the audience.  A judge approached the front and began speaking.  Little V and I spotted the reason we were there, Juan.

On Monday, July 12th at about 10:30 am, my husband, the Colombian, became a United States Citizen.  Velda and I got to be a part of this joyous ceremony.  There were people from all over the world ranging from the Middle East to Europe, Asia to South America all gathered for one reason.  To become a citizen of the United States.  I believe that us naturally born citizens sometimes, not purposely, take for granted what we have been born to.  How special it is to be a citizen in a country of freedom.  While the judge swore in the new citizens and shared a personal story, I thought about Juan.

Juan, around a year and a half, with his mom

Juan & Maria in front of Primate Cathedral (right) and Justice Palace (left) which was burned down by guerillas.

Juan with his sister, cousins and great grandmother

Juan was born in Bogota, Colombia and lived there till he was 16 years old.  From there, his older sister Maria and younger brother Javier came to the U.S. together, without parents, and lived with his dad’s sister till his dad was able to come to the country, about 6 months later.  A year later Javier went back home to be with his mom.  He was only 9 so it was a little too hard for him to be away from mom.  I can understand.

Juan, Javier and Maria on their last day in Colombia

Juan’s life growing up was so very different from my own.  I don’t even know what to tell you about it because it spans such a vast array of circumstances.  He has stories of his family traveling and camping in the Amazon (some wild stories there) as well as stories of when his family was split up and the kind of living conditions he was in.  Stories of when he first started teaching himself the drums and how he came to know about God.

San Felipe Iglesia first and only church Juan went to in Colombia

He has memories of leaving Colombia when his newest little sister was only a month old and not seeing her again in person till she was 15 years old.  Memories of coming to America with $20 in his pocket and spending it in the Miami airport so his siblings and him could have lunch.  He has some wonderful stories of assimilating to America, in school, the snow (his first winter here there was a crazy amount of snow on the ground), learning english and the family he found in his church, Tabernacle of Joy.

Omar, Pastor Sal, Juan and Jorge

Some of my favorite stories are when he met the most beautiful woman on the planet and I cherish the stories he shares of what he is learning on this new journey of fatherhood.  I am giving you a brief glimpse at Juan’s 33 years of life.  There is so much more, so much depth to what brought about the man he is today.  I am thankful that he grabbed a hold of God and never let go.  I am thankful he allowed God to heal his heart in areas where he was wounded and listened when God showed him areas where he messed up.  Mostly, I am thankful for the life he lived, is living and is going to live.

We all have a journey in our life and each one is so vastly different.  I thought of Juan Monday, July 12th and all the good, bad, hard and not as hard times of his life.  However, there were other families thinking of the one they were there to share this joyous occasion with.  What journey brought them to this day today?  People walked away crying, smiling, laughing, waving (as if they were in a parade), hugging, kissing and beaming.  I am forever grateful that little V and I were there to witness our love becoming a United States Citizen.  What an honor and joy it was to be there.

I am also thankful for the reminder of how unbelievably blessed I am.  To walk freely, talk freely, worship freely.  To have a bed, a shower, running water, multiple pairs of shoes,  a closet FULL of clothes, money to buy Velda whatever she needs and/or wants.  I am thankful to have a husband that loves me, parents that show me what marriage truly is, friends that pray for me.  A reminder that I am not in want, a reminder to be thankful, to share, to love, to pray and to be active in helping others.

I am thankful.  That’s all I can say.

Congratulations my beautiful husband!!

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6 thoughts on “gringo

  1. I just read this wonderful story to Connor and Corban and showed them all the pictures as we approached the end I was reading with tears in my eyes and a frog in my throat as it is so emotional for me to see Juan holding his US Citizen Document. I can’t say how proud I am of Juan and how much we all love him. When I read the caption of the picture of Juan and Maria in front of the palace and how Gorilla’s burnt it down Connor thought real Gorilla’s burnt it down:)

    1. Thanks so much for reading it to the boys!! That means a lot to me that you would share this with them as well! Glad they can get to know their uncle Juampa a little bit more. Did you show Connor the picture of him on the water slide? He’s famous!! Well…as famous as my blog is. Ha ha!! Love you guys!

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