Best Supporting Actress

Who won best supporting actress at the Oscars last year? I live 5,000 miles away from the United States and Oscars Night was not on my to-do list.

El Oasis is less than two weeks away from wrapping up for summer break. Yep, they’re selling patio furniture and above-ground pools next to the Christmas trees at the hardware stores, we’re upside-down down here. Yet, so many of the Christmas decorations accompany fake ceramic snow and Santa’s that are fully dressed in winter gear making me wonder how they don’t think he’ll suffer from heat stroke dressed like that on Christmas Eve.

With very little time left of the semester, it only makes sense that student issues culminate like a giant festering pimple on the whole of the community, only waiting to collectively explode at the most (un)opportune moment.

El Oasis staff are like teachers to some students, the cool ‘upper-classmen’ to others, and possibly even considered peers by anyone else. It is so hard to play the role of teacher-friend-peer-mentor-guidance counselor. And it’s easy (for me) to see why it’s so hard, because it’s one of the reasons I decided not to continue working there. It was mentally exhausting for me. And I realized that in order to support Andrés better, it was smarter for me to support him from the outside. His future at the ministry was more obvious and palpable than mine. But my future with him as his wife was certain, and I wanted to make sure that I could take on the role of ‘best supporting’ under the most opportune circumstances.

Andrés has been the team leader nearly 3 years, and has served with Globalscope for 8 total years. He’s one of the Globalscope missionaries that has served the longest. So by the end of each semester, I can see that he is tired. He doesn’t feel well physically and he’s completely drained emotionally. He’s been trying to encourage the Christian students to grow a pair and invite their university friends instead of seeing them arrive week after week not interested in challenging themselves or their faith. This month he’s dealt with the student who is harassing female students on Facebook. He’s spoken with him once, then twice a week ago when it happened again and two girls approached Andrés telling them they felt uncomfortable. He told him he cannot come back to EO until he comes back with a plan about what he will change. Then the student decided it was best to garner sympathy votes publicizing on Facebook that he has chosen not come back to El Oasis because Andrés told him he couldn’t. Then there’s the student that was baptized last year and is now telling everyone at El Oasis they can “go to hell” in an obvious-but-still-not-obvious facebook status update, then proceeding to delete his facebook friendships with all but a handful of students.

Yeah, I’d be tired too. And the problem is is that these situations represent maybe 5% of what’s going on with El Oasis. The remaining 95% are happy, wonderful, positive stories of new friendships, baptisms, Bible studies, mission trips and  really awesome events that the staff work their a$$e$ off to put together. But, as they told me in grade school, you don’t get sent to the principal’s office for doing something right. I see how much Andrés loves those kids, but as with any kind of parental relationship, he get’s pegged as the bad guy because he has to be tough with them and open their eyes when they are out of line. And honestly, it makes me sad when I see a story like the kid who told everyone to go to hell, because in no way have I ever seen staff members shut anyone out of the community like he is saying they are shutting him out and spreading rumors about him. They are missionaries for heavens sake. Kids at EO tell stories of their churches telling them that they are not welcome because they are gay. While this makes me pissed at their church for being so un-Christlike, I am happy that they have found El Oasis because I know they won’t be turned away. Everyone is a child of God.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16

I am an active participant in my husband’s life, and these things that have happened with students recently make me want to grab them by their shoulders, shake them and yell “grow up and deal with this like an adult”. That’s just what I want to do, I know that the staff and Andrés will handle it with a little more grace. But I have discovered that it is my job to make sure that our home is a safe haven, a place where my job is to play Best Supporting Actress when he’s had a sh**ty day, when he’s tired at the end of a long semester, or when something spectacular happened and he wants to celebrate it. And this month, I definitely feel the need to turn up my game.

Oh, and Anne Hathaway won last year, if you were still wondering.

The Name Game

I have never thought that I would want to be one of the parents that announce their baby’s name before it was born. Two reasons: changing our minds and unwanted opinions. Plus, I’m always a fan of suspense, even if you’re not. Of course, this is easier said than done. The top two questions I get are, “How are you feeling” (to which I almost always respond, ‘fine’ or ‘pregnant’) and “Have you chosen your names yet”. Yes…and no.  I usually give people a couple options we’re thinking of, but I have even stopped doing that because I come across the name we’re aiming for, and someone pipes in, “I like ALL of the names except that last one”. And that last one is our favorite. So thanks to those special people, I now usually just say “Nope, we’ll wait to meet the baby and a name will just come to us”.  It sounds nicer than, “Yes, but I don’t want to tell you because you’re going to tell me that there’s someone you know with that name and you hate them.”

Choosing a boy name and a girl name has posed an interesting challenge for us being a couple with families that speak two different languages. With two different languages in two separate countries come two cultures, pronunciations, and a general complication of a good name for your child that is acceptable for both places. Our options are limited. Actually, on the boys side, it seemed to be much easier to set a name in stone. We both liked Biblical boys names, and lucky for us, most of these names are spelled the same and pronounced similarly in English and Spanish. Gabriel, Tomás, Samuel, Benjamin are all good, strong names both in English and Spanish. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to guess if our favorite is in there somewhere.

On the other side, we’re running into all sorts of issues with our girls name. When we first started talking about names a few months ago, I told him some really pretty girls names that I have always favored: Charlotte, Scarlett and Jocelyn. He promptly told me that none of these options are viable because they’re all ultra-ghetto names in Chile. Actually, he said, pretty much any Chilean with a Chilean last name that has an American/English name will be chastised and branded ‘flaite’ (means ghetto/white trash, pronounced fly-tay). Plus, he was ever so kind as to repeat all of my pretty girls names in his Chilean flaite accent, which did its job in making me hate the names. To further scorch any dream I had of ever using Charlotte, it’s also a brand of ice cream here (Charlot). Not even good ice cream. It’s the cheap crap you buy when you have to bring a dessert to your mom’s house and there’s no special company coming. Put a fork in those three names, they’re more than done.

Then, we ventured into Spanish/Italian names that can be pronounced in English. Andrés liked Josefa, but I told him it reminded me of Mufasa. I have always loved the name Isabel, but my cousin and his wife recently named their baby a variation of that. Magdalena was also proposed, but I vetoed because it’s a type of cookie or a muffin. I liked Madeline, but that’s also a cookie. Plus, it’s another flaite name in Chile. Double-veto. Julianna/Julianne also got thrown in there, a variation of my sister’s name. But unfortunately I don’t like the way that it is pronounced in Spanish (hoo-lee-anna…and that only makes me think of a hoo-lee-hoop).

There is another issue with names that start with ‘E’ in Spanish because it is pronounced like the English ‘A’. So, even though we liked Emilia, I thought that the poor girl would have her name be misspelled her entire life in the United States inevitably turning into Amelia. Same went with with Spanish name Eva…pronounced and spelled Ava in English. The Spanish ‘I’ is also pronounced like the English ‘E’. This gave me an interesting idea. I liked the name Ivy, a little different, but I think if we have a daughter she could pull off a name like that. She’ll already be cool. I especially liked it because it is pronounced ‘Evie’ in Spanish, my grandma’s nickname. Unfortunately, we had to veto that one because it’s a little too confusing. We could only imagine how many people come up to us and ask, “So, how do you say her name then?” “But then, how do you spell it?”

Finally we had settled on a girls name, and it had been that name for several weeks. It is an identifiable name in English, and a common name in Chile. Plus, it’s pretty. All bets were silently placed until yesterday when we found out that some of Andrés’ ex-coworkers (and friends) are using it as part of the name for their girl that has the exact same due date as our baby. Awesome. It’s the price we pay for keeping our mouths shut on names and not finding out the gender. I will refrain from saying the choice name in the case that we decide to ‘not give a crap’ in the moment and name her that regardless because we both really liked it. For the sake of not being branded as baby name thieves, we cracked back open the can of worms to relive some of our previous options. I guess Mufasa is back on the table.

Boys really are less complicated in all aspects of their lives, aren’t they. However, given the simplicity of choosing our boys name and the certainty we have of using it, I’m wondering if irony will show up in the delivery room and say, “Here’s your girl! What the heck is her name?!”