Friday, April 29, 2011

The Story

Here is the story of my Peace Corps assignment and acceptance. I'm just copying and pasting from an email I sent a couple of weeks ago.

I am writing to update you, either as a friend or a family member, about what's next in life. Most of you are aware that I have been in the process of applying with the Peace Corps for the past 14 months. To those of you who have been blindly unaware, I'm sorry to just be breaking the news to you! I am writing to let you know that I finally received an official offer in the mail yesterday! I have not kept very good track of what I have told to whom, so sorry if you already know the following information.
I've been offered a position in The Gambia. It's a tiny country that's surrounded by Senegal in West Africa. I will be in a position of elementary teacher training in a country where there is 40% literacy ages 15 and up. School ends after 8th grade. Teaching resources are scarce and limited. Though there is no declared national religion, I've been informed that the nationals are predominantly Muslim, and the Islam rituals and culture are a major part of the education system. The climate is tropical and the industry agriculture and tourism.Throughout this whole process of applying and thinking through if this is really what God wants right now for me, I've had two major fears/reservations: safety and loneliness.
Upon receiving this offer, I called a family friend  who is all up in politics (due to the nature of his job). I told him a couple of weeks ago that I wanted his honest opinion about wherever the PC placed me. He gave me a quick run-down of The Gambia's political and cultural history, and his response was, "Well, it's not the worst place you could go." I wasn't sure how to respond to that one. He informed me that the American military has a presence there, which offered a sense of comfort. Then he mentioned that he has a friend who has connections in The Gambia & would put me in contact with them. Additionally, he promised to contact his friends at the Pentagon and see if there's any information I should know that isn't necessarily public information. Duh. Why didn't I think of calling friends at the Pentagon?!

So here's the climax of the story. Not even ten minutes within hanging up with him the friend called. His name is [censored]. [Censored] has an uncle who has businesses in The Gambia and Senegal. He has extended family and a place to live there, too. In fact, his uncle is in The Gambia right now attending a family wedding. Basically, [censored] told me to consider them, effective immediately, my family also. He did most of the talking, about how they will have me stay with them whenever I need, that if I am ever in an emergency, they are there for me, and if the PC or the Embassy isn't doing their part to keep me safe that his family will be there in a heartbeat. He pretty much gave me no other option than to be considered one of them.
I am still processing all that he proposed. And beyond that, how God truly does provide. In the midst of being submerged in Hebrews 11 with church, I cannot begin to compare myself with Abraham and his situation on Mt. Moriah with Isaac, but I think the underlying principle is the same: trust where God is leading, and He will provide. In Abraham's case, God provided the perfect sacrifice. In my case, I'm still not sure all that He is providing, but for starters, He is providing peace and assurance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quietly Searching

Jessica was my first best friend. We became friends in fourth grade when she invited me to her birthday party. It was my first friends sleepover party. I matured in a lot of ways that year, and Jess was with me every step of the way. We became 3rd and 5th daughters to each others families. We stayed friends through elementary school, became bratty pre-teens through junior high, and gradually grew apart in the middle of high school. Eventually, Jess and I found different  desires in life. As we moved on into college and post-college our communication dwindled to the annual birthday card in the mail. However, her friendship was not something that quickly left me. As God would have it, we have become close friends again. Though 450 miles separate us geographically, there is not much on earth that can separate our memories, hurt feelings, first boyfriends, lame school dances, and a sense of belonging.

Recently her mom wrote a response to my going to The Gambia (have I mentioned Gambia yet?). In it she said, "I know you've been quietly searching your heart for what you feel God wants you to do." Thank you, Victoria. That's exactly what I've been doing. Now the time has come. Time to be faithful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I said my first goodbye today

while wandering through the administration buildings at Master's College. I was merely trying to find a shortcut to the library since the whole front of the campus is under construction. Instead of finding an alternative route I found an old friend.

He was one of my college orientation leaders almost 6 years ago. We finished school together and have, more or less, only kept in touch through friends and the occasional social gathering. I started telling him about the process I've been in for the past 14 months with applying for the Peace Corps and how God has worked through every detail of it. Before I knew it, he jumped out from behind his executive-looking desk and gave me a hug, saying "goodbye" for the next 2 years. I was a little surprised, but thankful for the friendship.

Most people think 2 years sounds like a lifetime. Maybe it's just me, but 2 years sounds like enough time just to get started. Don't quote me on that; I will probably regret those words. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward with anticipation to the next 2 years.

More to come...