I've woken up in basement bedrooms on freezing Canadian winter days. Groaning, I climb out of bed to bundle up for school and classrooms full of strange strangers. My brother and I walk to school through the biting wind when I am 9. When I am 14 I have to walk alone. I wear earmuffs since my ears are always cold. Davilyn Atchison is the only girl I know when I am 14. She was a sort of friend in 3rd grade, when she wore Grease pants, but now she is unfriendly. Bleached blonde hair, paled face, and super tight zipper jeans- she is one of the wraith crowd. They remind me of the Pink Ladies. I dress like a grownup- the principal thinks I'm a substitute when he sees me in the hall. When a boy asks me to go out with his cousin, I shoot him down, thinking they are making fun of me.
I've woken up on the hard ground inside tents- in Canada, in California, on the beaches of the Florida Keys, and in Orlando, at Teen Missions boot camp. The former all have an element of fun. This last one is pure hell. Although it's summer, the mornings are biting cold, and I have no luggage. My duffel bag, having flown no problem from Bogota to Miami, gets sent to the Dominican Rupublic instead of Orlando on the last leg of the trip. My teamates lend me a sheet and I buy socks and t-shirts, but every morning I dread waking- it is so cold. The only thing I can do is pray, and it helps me get out of bed. Every infraction of the rule leads to a "special blessing" punishment. I am not bad, but cannot get a hold on time, so I lose free time. I am miserable. The days are hot and muggy. We train in puppetry and attend church services.
Our team flies to Luxembourg, then takes a bus to Paris. Fireworks explode in celebration of Bastille day. We try to sleep in the train station, but they don't want us to. We are exhausted. On the train to Gibralter we sleep. That night we disembark in Iruna?, lay our sleeping bags right on the platform, and sleep. The boys take turns keeping watch- it makes them feel like strong protectors. Another day, we're sleeping on the train, packed tightly into a Pullman. I awake to see a red sun rising over a walled city set on a hill. I shake my friend to show him the beauty. He is angry with me.
In Gibralter we've changed from sleeping on tents in the beach to sleeping high on the hill in a milatary encampment. There are two rooms underground- the girls get the larger and the boys the smaller. Our married chaperones get a Quonset hut above, next to the kitchen. There is a shower below that 15 girls must get through in 1/2 an hour. The outhouse is high above. We drag ourselves off the hard floor early in the mornings to do exercises on the bare ground. The long walks down to town and up again are just not enough. When the military come to do their training exercises one night, we are required to stay below, out of the way of their bullets. Even the married couple come down. In the day time we go to town and witness to the tourists and locals, practice skits on religious themes and perform them. It feels awkward and strange.