Coastal winters in Baja are artists of subtle change. A few stormy days bring precious inches of rain to farms in the valley. Rolling hills turn green next to muddy brown roads. Like the shifts in season we too are finding a natural rhythm in gradual change. Learning, connecting, serving, adjusting: the path to find one’s place in a new culture and community rarely follows a straight line. Some days feel like the hill turning green. Other days feel more like the muddy road.
The past few weeks have been more of the slogging kind. It’s pretty normal for culture stress to hit a few months into immersion once a person has passed the “honeymoon phase” of being in a new country. Jess has experienced more of this lately. Her still beginner Spanish makes it tough to connect with locals and on top of that she’s been fighting ongoing pain related to her neck surgery 4 years ago. Despite some hard days we are comforted knowing that moments of uncertainty and loneliness are part of the journey. As the saying goes ‘poco a poco’ (little by little).
The most exciting update is that we are now officially a part of Aleph Surf International (yeeeww!) It’s a decision that we have been considering and praying about for the past several months with the Aleph founders, Red and Vanessa, but just recently the board met and voted to bring us on as the leaders of a new chapter: Aleph Baja. We have known and loved Aleph since the summer of 2012 when I (Dustin) first met Red in San Diego. The following year I moved to South Africa and worked as an Aleph surf mentor through the end of 2014―one of the most impactful and formative experiences in my young adult life. It’s also how Jess and I met! Since then we have remained inspired by Aleph’s grassroots, relational approach and simple mission: Restoration through Recreation. (For more info please check out alephsurf.org)
We see enormous potential for Aleph Baja to have a positive impact in the lives of youth and families in La Misión. That said, we are still new in the community and have a lot to learn before we plan to launch our own programs. Over the next several months we are looking to continue part-time volunteer work with Siloé Clinic while gathering resources and building the framework for Aleph Baja programs. Volunteering with Siloé for the past two months has been wonderful! The team is amazingly warm and patient with our ongoing efforts to learn Spanish. Volunteering with the clinic has given us a unique window to better understand some of the underlying physical and mental health challenges in the area, a valuable perspective for envisioning how working with youth could also support community health by encouraging active lifestyles in the outdoors.
In this ongoing season of learning and adjusting we are especially grateful for your prayers, love and support. Our trusty old Subaru is still running, but we are still hoping to find a solid truck in the near future (so let us know if you hear of any leads!). Please pray for Jess’ neck and for opportunities to build deeper connections in the community. Drop us a line, we love hearing from folks!
Jess & Dustin