I’m back from New York City! For our second week of training we all packed our bags (again) and headed to the Big Apple to practice entering into a new situation, with new people, and with new everything!
They said that we would be busy, but to be honest, I didn’t believe them. I’m an East Coast girl. I’ve been to New York, like, twice, sooooo…I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed or anything.
Most of our days began at 7:30am with a trip to get some bagels and usually didn’t get back to our apartment until midnight (if not later). Subway rides, new cultures, meetings, debriefs, practicing conversations, on and on we went, almost nonstop. I can’t remember the last time that I learned that much, that fast.
And I loved it.
Sure it was challenging. I could have used more sleep. I wish I had been less grumpy. But even amidst my failings, I loved learning from my teammates. I loved doing things that were hard and surviving (funny how sometimes being anxious is way worse than the actual event you’re anxious for).
And it was fun! I liked running into new friends on the subway and having a conversation about their religion. I loved being in a huge city where everything is at your fingertips! Have you been to a public forum about genetic modification? How about Scottish dancing? Where else can you do both randomly in one week? New York City of course!
Where else can you find such beauty and diversity? Where else can you feel darkness and see palpable loneliness? The men and women we talked to were surprisingly honest about the needs they saw in their communities. They desire peace. Unity. Connection. Things that might seem accessible being surrounded by millions of people, but it’s difficult to find and hold on to.
“You seem different. Braver.” Such a simple statement said to a friend and I, one that was surprisingly encouraging. I wish I had had time to tell her why.
The Father knows. He was there before me and He’ll remain long after I’m gone. For now, I was just a piece of the puzzle in His plan.
Do I seem different to you? It’s probably the tan I got from a week at the beach with my family! (Cue laughter at me trying to pretend I can tan.)
Maybe it’s my hat that both fulfills my dream of becoming a hipster and also looking like a well seasoned traveler! (Thanks Mom!)
Possibly it’s that I had a birthday and am now on the north-side of 25! (Holler atcha girl! Made it to 26!)
Or probably it’s the obviously squinting eyes that won’t completely open (despite the fact that there’s no sun out) because I’m so stinking excited – that training starts on Monday!!! Woohoo!!
Almost exactly a year ago I began the application process to go overseas. A whole year has passed of inner city teaching, applications, supplications, and a lot of anticipations. A whole year of waiting and waiting and now-here we are!
But before I “peace out” from North America (as this old-timer* would say) I’m going to go to training and continue to let the anticipation build and let the supplications continue, but don’t worry, I’m resting easy. At this point of waiting what’s another few full and crazy months?
I’m in a family of overseas travelers, so y’all forgive me if I say that I’m just “par for the course” by now. You can blame my mother who raised us with her tales of life in Japan and then you can ALSO blame my two older brothers who traveled before me.
So my journey to “cross the pond” (as this Englander** would say) began pretty early. It was in high school that I knew that the Father was calling me to go beyond desire to travel and to commit to action–to serve Him. Desire changed to willingness. Willingness then becomes waiting for His timing.
Because first comes high school. And then comes college. And then comes….MEMPHIS!
So not exactly overseas, but in some ways, it felt like I was oceans away from home, and the learning curve felt just as steep. I learned about serving others and how racism and poverty are shamefully connected in our nation. I learned about myself and how broken I was in the midst of other broken people in the midst of cyclical broken systems. I learned about weakness, specifically my weakness, but I also learned what strength looks like in that weakness. I learned what forgiveness looks like. I learned what parents do all the time. I learned about grace, both to accept it for myself as an underserving recipient and how I can give it to others. (cough…specifically cranky children…cough)
Memphis changed me. (I mean I type y’all now! Who does that if they’re not from the south?? I’ve bolded it above in case you missed it.) Or at the very least, Memphis opened my eyes to the world around me. I asked myself multiple times in this past year if I was really ready to leave, because the Father is working in Memphis. He was working in me in Memphis. But I asked Him to send me, and amazingly enough, He is! Obedience to share with others isn’t dependent upon location, it’s dependent on our change in heart. He has called all of us to share as we go. Yes, it’s an amazing opportunity that I get to change my location in a new an exciting way, but my directive is the same now as it was in Memphis, as it was in Ohio, as it was in Maryland. And if you share in that same good news, then you share the same call as me, regardless of what state/country/continent you find yourself on.
How cool that we get to share in this adventure together! Even though we share the same calling, I’m not gonna lie y’all (there it is again!) I’m really glad I’ve got a few weeks of training to help me transition to a new location. This East Coast girl has got a lot of Western Culture to sort out before getting to SEA. I’ll be a regular fish out of water. A square peg in a round hole.