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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Next Step

In 90 days, I’ll bid America adieu for 2 whole years and start my journey across the Pacific. My final destination? The island of Pohnpei of the Federated States of Micronesia. This island contains a wealth of biodiversity and boasts an annual rainfall of 300+ inches. Pair temperatures that stay between 73 and 90 with high humidity year round and I’m preparing for 2 sticky, tropical years.

I’ll be teaching with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp at an elementary school in the capitol city. I’ll be living in an apartment on the Jesuit compound with 3 other JVs (Jesuit Volunteers) who’ve already been in Pohnpei a year. They’ll show me the ropes and we’ll all live together for a year before they head back to the States. At that point, I’ll welcome three new volunteers to the island and help them get acquainted. This offers us community and support, two essential elements if our service is going to be effective and we’re not going to burn out in the process.

I’ve always wanted to teach internationally – the only question was a matter of when and where. Now, I have a when and a where, which is both terrifying and exciting. As I’ve shared the news with friends and family lately, many people have told me some variation of, “I’m so proud of you for your faith and courage traveling so far away from home for so long.” I appreciate their words of affirmation, but I really can’t take much credit. We are all unique beings, and I truly believe this was one thing that I was made to do. I love teaching. I love immersing myself in new cultures. I love opening myself up to others - listening, watching, learning, giving others a voice. This is one of the most challenging and beautiful experiences I could ever say yes to, and I truly believe that this is where my deep gladness will meet the world’s deep need.

This does not mean it will be easy – living as an outsider in a foreign country means being ok with not always understanding what's going on and rarely having any answers. I’m not there to solve any problems, though. I (hope to) come with an open heart where others can come and go, with ears that listen more than a mouth that speaks, and diligent fingers that enable me to share these stories with the larger world. I don’t want to observe human beauty, an incredible culture, or human pain from a distance – I want to get up to my elbows in it.

Because I’ve learned over and over again that you’ll never regret investing in God’s bigger picture. He needs His people in every workplace, in every school, and in every country living for His glory and not our own. I’m thankful to be a part of that in a country that, 4 months ago, I couldn’t even point out on a map and I'm excited for you all to partner with me on this journey.