I’m sure we all could have guessed that I would be writing this blog much later than I originally intended.
I was hoping to write one while I was in New York and then again at home before heading to Lake Junaluska for the summer. But, like it always does, life got a little too busy for that to happen.
It’s hard to believe that I have only been in the US for two months. Some days if feels like I’ve been back much longer and other days it feels like it was just yesterday that I was saying goodbye to my family at ARI.
My last week on the farm was great and I will always remember the people I got to know while I was there. Part of me wishes I was still there, but I have to remember that eventually I would have had to leave. Some of the participants asked me when I would be back, thinking I would return before they leave in December. It was heartbreaking to tell them I would not be returning to ARI anytime soon.
The experiences I had while I was at ARI are ones that I will not soon forget. I learned so much about the world, love, and myself. My eyes were opened to so many injustices that are present around the world and now I just hope that I can help make the world a better place and fight some of these injustices. Before living at ARI I had never really been exposed to people of other religions, and as much as I hate to admit it I always kind of viewed them in a negative light. I think that’s easy to do when other religions from around the world are portrayed as something so awful by the media. I also gained a lot of knowledge, too much to actually process all at once, on organic farming and sustainability. These are things I hope to one day incorporate into my ministry, whatever that may look like.
I flew into NYC the evening of April 29th. I was originally upset that I had to have end terms in New York for almost two weeks before I was able to return to NC and see my family and friends. But, having end terms in New York before returning home was a true gift…and it allowed me to get over jetlag before returning home! Sharing experiences with my fellow mission interns and getting to hear how they spent their past 2 years was inspiring. This was most likely the last time we would all be together in the same place, but thankfully we have technology and the ability to skype and stay connected through the internet.
On May 11th I finally flew home to North Carolina and was happily reunited with my family and friends. I only had 2.5 weeks at home before I had to head up to Lake Junaluska. I will be at Lake Junaluska until August 15th to finish up my program with GBGM. My first weekend at home was spent at my cousin Meredith’s house with most of my family and some friends. It was a great day to catch up and see people I hadn’t seen in two years. My first Sunday back at Zion UMC was absolutely wonderful. There was a covered dish for me after the service, but getting to see the church that has supported me over the years was the best part. I am so grateful that I have had such a strong church family praying for me since I have been gone.
Some days are harder than others when it comes to getting back into the “groove” of things in the US. Knowing that we waste so much of what we have, from food to other resources is something I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with. I have also found that some people ask pretty generic questions about my time away and expect an answer in a minute or two, something that is rather impossible to do. I am learning how to summarize this entire experience in a short enough time, but that has taken quite a bit of practice.
At Lake Junaluska I am working on the youth ministry team and really enjoying it. I am working with other young adults who are passionate about youth, the church, and the direction it is headed in. It has been a great place to be as I finish out my program. My favorite part would have to be the beauty of the nature that is all around, something I have enjoyed looking at during my morning runs.
I would like to share with those of you who may not know yet that I have finally decided on which seminary I will be attending. August 29th I will move to New Jersey where I hope to obtain my Masters of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. It’s about a 9-hour drive from Monroe, but I figure if I lived across the world, a drive like that won’t be too bad.
I ask that you continue to pray for this period of transition, moving from Japan back to the states and then from NC to NJ. I am excited to see where God is taking me and look forward to sharing that journey with you. Thank you again for all of the prayers and support you provided while I was away.
Be a blessing!