Growing up moving back and forth between different parts of Texas and Washington, I learned quickly how hard goodbyes can be. I would always leave the state grappling for my friendships, saying things like, “Write me! Email me! We’ll keep in touch! We can call every Friday!” Those solutions would work for a few weeks, but most of the time, a few months into the transition I would be discouraged from a text or email that was left unanswered. (No matter which side it was on… keeping in touch can be hard work.)
Maybe around the time I got to high school, I realized that sometimes it’s okay to say, “I understand that we won’t really be able to keep in touch, our relationship will never be the same, but thank you for the impact you’ve made on my life.”
I sometimes tell people that I have this “mural theory:” That our lives are just like murals. People will come into our lives, and people will leave our lives, but they will always leave a mark on our lives. I imagine that “my life” is like a giant, beautiful canvas that everyone I interact with gets to leave a mark on. People like my momma, who’ve spent a lot of time raising me and pouring into me, have huge sections where their brush strokes can be found. (Purple is my mom’s favorite color, so I imagine my canvas is pretty purple right now.) And some people, who I spend less time with, maybe someone I was friends with for only one year, have left a smaller mark on my life- but they’ve still contributed to shaping who I am. Even the cashier at the grocery store the other night left a teeny tiny mark on my canvas that contributes to some manner of the way I think or act towards people.
I’m glad that God revealed this to me in high school, because it’s come in handy several times over the years, but especially this last month of October, when I had to say goodbye to about 20 or 30 kindred spirits.
I met them all at the beginning of October, here in North Carolina, for a class on Cultural Equipping at the Center for Intercultural Training. We bonded from participating in class together every week day from 8:30-3:30, some outside of class learning opportunities, and from voluntary camaraderie and fellowship. (Maybe for the 1st time in my life, people didn’t look confused when I joked that I feel “homeless” or that I have “many homes!”) I was so encouraged to hear everyone’s stories and just to see their character demonstrated through their everyday actions.
After GoCorps training in Minnesota, I left feeling like I had friends all over the world (9 new ones to be precise,) and after this training here in North Carolina, I think I’ve added 44. (Let’s go see the world!!!)
During our time in October, we learned so many things together. Some of our topics were: Transitions, Characteristics of Effective Teams, DiSC (personality types), Ethnocentrism, Views of Culture, Tools for Cultural Awareness, Spiritual Warfare, Cross-Cultural Communication, What is Truth, Worldview, Contextualization, Self-Care Across Cultures, Family Matters, Team Dynamics, Conflict Resolution, Team Simulations, Multicultural Teams, and Reentry. ... Just to name most of them. I keep hearing people say the phrase, “like drinking from a fire hose,” but I’m not sure why… Honestly, now my worry is that I won’t even be able to explain to people all that I’ve learned. It’s a lot to take in.
When I first learned that I would be required to train for 7 weeks in North Carolina, I was upset, thinking of literally how much time that would take, when I could be spending final moments with my family. Of course my perspective has changed, and I am so very thankful for the opportunity to be here and to be with these people.
Over and over I found myself saying, “I never would have thought I would one day find myself in Union Mills, North Carolina, taking a cross cultural equipping class, surrounded by all these people who- when I’m with them, I feel more at home than when I’m at my own family reunions.”
I feel so blessed! I feel so lucky! I feel so thankful!
- 1 week left here in North Carolina- now studying Second Language Acquisition (Phonetics is so fun!)
- Then I’m headed back to “home” (wherever that is) for the holidays with my family.
- Working on paperwork, packing, raising the last bit of support, and then still hoping to depart for Costa Rica in January!
- Oh yeah, reached 95% of commitments this month! What a blessing! That means I only need $133 more in monthly commitments to reach 100% (I’m praying for 110% to be completely secure by leaving in January- only $395 more of monthly commitments for that goal.) God is so good.
Go in peace y’all!