Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just a little post-it note from the big ole TX

You may have gathered that my life is pretty nomadic at present.  I have to stop and think before I can answer common salutory questions.  It didn't used to be this complicated.

New Acquaintance: So, where are you from?
Me: Um... Can you be a little more specific?
NA: What?
Me: I mean, do you want to know where I was born?  California.  My permanent address is in Washington, but I spent the last school year in Guinea.  And even though I'm in Texas now, I'll be staying in the Canary Islands next month before I sail down to the Republic of Congo (not the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the littler Congo just above it).
NA: Oh.  Where's Guinea?
Me: West Africa.
NA: That's cool... *awkward silence resulting from the fact that my new acquaintance can't think of another question to ask that won't lead to another long and complicated answer*

I'm borrowing a friend's laptop to write this entry.  (My dad gave me his Nook which can also connect to the internet, but it's a touchscreen--and the font is like the size of the fine print on a sketchy pill commercial--so I can check things, but writing stuff is a bit of a challenge.)  It's strange, but living in a dorm with twelve other women has not been nearly as challenging as I thought it would.  It's actually been rather fun.  I wonder sometimes if I wouldn't have made a great nun.  Hmm... I guess the Good Lord has his reasons.

This weekend I get to go to the mall (!) and then I'm going to see a movie in the theater (!), two things I pined for when I lived on the ship.  I don't know why malls suddenly make me happy.  They used to depress me.  Maybe I just like the prospect of hearing the delightful hum of English and Spanish being spoken all around me.  I really missed hearing Spanish.

And speaking of languages, I'd better get back to studying French, which is what I'm supposed to be doing on this computer.  :)

I'll write more as soon as I can.  Plus I have a surprise coming that will thrill and delight you all!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Letters from Texas, part 1

Imagine with me that you are a droplet of water tumbling through the rapids of some impressive river.  Careening off rocks and fallen trees, you bounce and bubble along.  Whatever is happening at the moment is so exciting and complex that you can't afford to think about what just happened a moment before.  Before you know it, you've gone over a massive waterfall, and all the water that was behind you is suddenly on top of you, pounding you under.  You'd be peeing your pants if you'd had any time to think about what's going on.  And then... the slow drift of the lake at the bottom.

That's what my summer vacation has been like so far.  Two days after graduation, I flew from Conakry to Seattle (via Dakar, Brussells, and Newark).  Two nights in Sammammish, one in Mount Vernon, and one in Seattle, and then off we went to Kaua'i for a week.  Thence to Ridgecrest.  Three church services, three trips to the pool, one to the movie theater, and a whole lot of spinach later, off I go again to the airport.  Now I am in Lindale, Texas, at Mercy Ships International Operations Center, and I can finally take a moment to process the great adventure that was my summer vacation.  It was a lot shorter than what I usually have (two and a half weeks instead of two and a half months), but I seem to have crammed a good summer's worth of visiting into it.  And it was lovely.  I'm sad that it's over, but I have a fresh appreciation for the wonderful relationships I have with my friends and family at home.  With all  the busy-ness of my Great African Adventure, I think I may have begun to take for granted all the things my friends and family have poured into me.  Also, I have to admit that a tiny part of my heart was afraid that all the wonderful people who helped make me who I am might have turned into strangers after a year of separation.  Happily, that was not the case.  I am so grateful for all of you!

Now that we've transitioned into the slow quiet of 'the lake at the bottom', I also have a bit of time to think about the future.  That part is a little bit scary.  Of course I have at least one more year of teaching on the Africa Mercy.  That's all settled.  But what to do after that?  I have no idea.  Several impossible ideas float through my mind.  I could teach at an international school, either in the US or abroad.  Having experienced the delicious chaos of West Africa, I am eager to see what the rest of the world is like.  Europe would be interesting indeed, and I do not want to leave this world without first having spent some real time in New Zealand.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching, but I'd like to try doing it in a university setting somewhere.  Only, I'd probably have to go back to school for that.  Going back to school is problematic, not just because of the funding issue (I'm still paying off those pesky school loans), but because I don't know whether I should throw myself into studying English, Linguistics, Counseling, International Relations, Law (that's out of left field, I know, but the thought has crossed my mind once or twice), or just go to Seminary.  The old dream of finding someone and making a family has not gone away either.  *sigh*  I have no answers.  I guess I'll just have to keep praying and see what opportunities come.  I just hope I'm bright enough to recognize the good ones.  Sometimes I get the feeling that my 'impossible ideas' aren't quite impossible enough.  Hmm...  Well, the Bible is full of dim characters whom God uses despite obvious flaws.  Maybe I can be one of those.

Well, the Gateway (a.k.a. On Boarding) program has officially begun.  That's why I'm in Texas at the moment.  Already, I've met some marvelous people from such exotic locales as Norway, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Portland.  East Texas is greener than I expected (I always thought Texas=Cowboys=wide open spaces and lots of dirt), and dreadfully bug-ridden.  Also, there are wild pigs (!).  The classes have been good so far, and not as redundant as I  thought they'd be, considering I've already lived on the ship.  Plus, the salads come with good ranch dressing (not that gross stuff-in-a-bottle, but the mix that my mom used to make).  All in all, I believe I'm just exactly where I need to be right now.  It will indeed be interesting to see what comes next.

I hope that your summers are shaping up to be just as interesting (in a good way)!