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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Settled Change

It's been a few challenging days for me. I don't deal well with change, yet, ironically I have placed myself in a ministry position that constantly invokes change. Students returning, eating in the cafeteria again, unsure whether I'd be teaching, new volunteers, have all contributed to the feeling of being unsettled. I was encouraged, though, to read articles on culture shock and adapting. They reiterate that culture shock comes and goes in waves, depending on the person and the situation. It's encouraging to know that eventually the feelings pass and life resumes its normality, whatever that is.

The last couple of days I've come back to my room after work and was startled with an unpleasant scent memory from the first few weeks. I remember best when the senses are involved. For example, smelling freshly cut grass brings me back to climbing trees and running on the lawn at Newbold College when I was a kid. But this time the smell of summer reminded me of not feeling at home here, of wishing I could go home because it wasn't fun to be here. I'm thankful those memories are long in the past now. Even as I work to find my place, I know I'm a lot more comfortable being here than when I first came.

After a while, life settles. The highs disappear, the lows smooth out, and life becomes fairly average. It can be disappointing. I'd expected to always have a full social calendar with a close-knit group of friends to go everywhere with. The reality is that I'm still building the depth of connection that I already have back in the US. But I'm not in the US anymore, I'm here, so I need to invest the energy into community so my heart can settle too. Life may settle but if my heart is restlessly wishing for the past, as it has done for far too many years, then I will never be able to fully embrace the experience.

It's one small thing at a time, really. Today, I walked my 10,000 steps and did more than my hours of work. A dear friend cheered my day with photos of her babies trying pureed vegetables for the first time and another dear friend sent me a box of maple cookies all the way from Canada. From accomplishment to blessing, each moment I want to weave into a ladder that connects my past to my present and allows me to enter this new reality while keeping a hand in the past in a positive way. For if it hadn't been for my past, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. This is the good side of change.

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