That’s the question I’ve been getting from a ton of people I know! I know they mean how am I doing, how am I adjusting, maybe even how is the weather and the people are. Well, Colorado is a beautiful place full of really nice and caring people. And its capital is full of a bunch of one ways streets and freeways that turn into roads! I am definitely not a city person. There are way too many lanes and cars for me to feel comfortable driving, but I’ve been doing it! My host family said that I’d learn my way around better if I got lost, and they were right! I’ve accidentally explored a lot of Denver. Now when I get out of work I think I’ll walk around downtown.
It’s so crazy to think I’ve only been here for four days and I feel like I’ve been here for so much longer. It’s definitely not a bad thing though, my host family has helped me feel really comfortable about being here. I really think I lucked out with this family. They are really helpful, nice, and overall good people. Knowing that they had a baby made me feel many things because of what I have just gone through. Its personal, but I will say that I just didn’t want to be around babies much. Being here with her has made me get over it, because I can’t help but smile at her, and want to play with her and make her laugh. She’s a good girl and I hope to see her start walking before I leave since she just turned one. My mom was right, she said I’d love that baby before I left, and woah I just got here.
I thought that work on Monday might not be go so well since the weekend in Highlands Ranch with my host family went great, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not too many things go great all in a row usually! I went to Denver that day to the Catholic Worker. I was nervous about driving in the city and did fine all through the different freeways until I got to the city…then I got lost. And my phone kept telling me I was in one place when I was positive I was not there. After I called my host family and they didn’t pick up I took a deep breath and relaxed. Then I thought about just looking for it “the old fashioned way”, I looked at the map on my phone and gave myself directions to follow. Once I thought I was close enough I made sure I parked in a place I wouldn’t get a ticket. I know to many people this is not a huge accomplishment, but me being a girl from the Central Valley who drives around small towns where all I have to worry about it passing up a tractor or speeding up past a smelly dairy, this was a pretty big feat! I walked around for a bit until I found the address of the house that didn’t even have a sign on it (which I later learned is so that guests feel it is truly their home and not just a homeless shelter).
From the moment I walked in, to the moment I left everyone was so nice to me. I got a lot of warm smiles, handshakes and hugs. I thought I would feel like an outsider when I first got there because the three workers that were there have been working there for years, but after a few minutes I felt right at home. After a weekly meeting, we had half an hour for prayer. For me it was more like meditation because we sat in the living room floor in silence. It felt so good to just sit there and take it all in, thinking about the past few days I had been in Colorado and what more there was to come. I thought about the many relationships I would foster, including one with a dog named Beer who sat right next to me during that moment of silence 😉 (I love dogs!) After that Marcus (my supervisor for this trip), gave me a tour of the house which didn’t look so big at first but has a bunch of rooms for the guests. All guests are allowed to stay until they can get back on their feet. They are required to leave the house between 9 am until 4 pm to look for jobs or any other benefits to better their lives. They have no obligations other than one weekly chore and one night a week of doing the dishes. It was pretty easy to take that part in. But I didn’t realize the people working their put so much effort into the house until a bit later. Every Monday they sort food that they get and organize everything so systematically, it took us hours to do it. Someone is also assigned to cook for a full house. Yesterday it was 10 people including myself. There was a lot of food on the table! At this house (its basically just a big house full of hardworking people that I forgot it was a house where some people that were homeless prior live) there is a lot of green things going on. I was impressed! They make their own laundry detergent which is so much cheaper than trying to buy a $12 container every week since they wash so much throughout the week and has like no bad chemicals. They compost food and even do vermicompost which I learned is just with worms. Everyone in the house works together to make everything run smoothly, it was great. Yesterday I got to interact with some of the guests and learned a bit about some of them, but I look forward to getting to know them better in the coming weeks!
Today I wasn’t so nervous for the drive because the Loretto Community is about half an hour away from my host family’s house. It’s in the city of Littleton and not Denver so I found it fine! I might slip down the stairs or something soon because I’ve had such good encounters with people so far! The first person I met from the Loretto Community (which is a sisterhood of religious women who believes in peace and justice for all) was a woman named Natalie. She spent some of her time in Mexico and Guatemala that she now knows Spanish and so much more. We’ve had really good conversations about the culture and some of the crisis that people in Latin America have encountered. She is such a nice person, she sacrificed her car to let me borrow it for two months and has offered to take me out a couple of weekends that I’m here so that I can enjoy Colorado! The second person I met was Anna, which lives at the Catholic Worker with Marcus, Kristen and the guests. That’s a lot of commitment. She has been living there for about forty years! She is really dedicated to it. I met more sisters today at the community and they were all really nice and welcoming. I’m happy to help them out with technology stuff! When I talked to my mom after work and told her about what I’ll be doing with them she asked why I’m not teaching her how to use the internet and things I will be showing them…ha she hadn’t asked me so I just hadn’t done it. But I think I will become patient with my mom after teaching the sisters. It’s a totally different environment from Monday, but the sisters will be fun!
As I’m sitting here in my host family’s living room listening to Kristin playing with Brielle and Roxy (their dog) sitting on the floor next to me, I feel pretty good. I’ve had moments where I’m like what am I doing here?! I miss my family and friends and it’s so odd knowing that they aren’t just two hours away like when I left for Saint Mary’s. But it makes me feel so much better having so many people here that want to make me feel at home. Natalie wants to take me camping since I told her I’ve never been. Kristin and Steven want to take me to Red Rocks and other cool places around the area. And everyone in Denver quickly made me feel like a part of them! I think I made the right choice in coming to Colorado. So to answer everyone’s question again, Colorado is great and it’s going to be better by the end of my two months here. I’m definitely going to want to come back!