It is 10:23 a.m. local time and I am a little better than 12 hours away from boarding my international flight to the U.S. I'll be States-side for 3 weeks doing a little visiting with family and friends, and a LOT of work for AMF. I am officially in awe of those before me who have started and maintained non-profit organizations. Doing so takes an unbelievable amount of time and even more patience (which I don't always have a surplus of). Of course, the load has felt a little less demanding since I gave up teaching and now work full time for the mission.
The biggest surprise of the morning, as I pack and mentally prepare myself for 24 hours of traveling, is the heaviness in my heart; I am a little sad today. If you've been reading my blog since June, you know that I arrived here under duress; I was already counting the weeks and days until my first visit home, as the pain of saying good-bye to my family and friends was greater than I ever dreamed it could be. Then the mission teams landed and the busyness began and I didn't have time to think about missing home. But I dreaded the day the final team left, for then I would be all by myself and real life for me in this country would begin, like it or not, and I assumed homesickness would set in and I would again be urging time to pass rapidly. Fast forward 13 weeks and the time certainly has passed rapidly, yet not at my insistence, and other than a few random moments when loneliness has gotten the best of me (though I'm not sure why because I am NEVER alone here), I "settled in" without realizing that was what was happening.
To combat today's melancholy, I keep telling myself that I'll be back in a very short time - not like the previous summers when I would arrive in early June, leave at the beginning of August, then, other than a brief 2 1/2 day jaunt in November, not return until the following June. Even Villa and the dog have been acting funny this morning. For awhile now Villa has been telling me that he would be glad when I left for the U.S. because he would finally get a day off; he says I'm a slave driver - that I forget he's Peruvian and work him like a gringo. But today, he came to work early (odd, because I can typically count on him to be at least 30 minutes late), and when I asked the reason he said, "To be here for whatever you need today since you are leaving." Tamy (my German Shepherd) has started moping too, tail between her legs, refusing to eat this morning. Villa said, "She knows in her heart you're leaving." For all practical purposes, this is home now. I put clean sheets on my bed and clean towels in my bathroom in anticipation of my early morning arrival on October 11 - I am coming back soon.
Throughout this whole process of hearing God's call, trying my best to obey, quitting my teaching job, working at fundraising, and taking the leap of faith and actually coming here to live, there has been a constant battle in my mind and heart. More than in any other situation in my life I've had to learn to stay the course regardless of how I felt (and let me assure you that my emotions have been off the chart in every conceivable direction). I've had to focus on that night in July 2008 when I absolutely, unmistakably heard God tell me, "It's time," and press on. It is a powerful experience to stand firm in the decision to trust God when your only instructions are to follow Him (nothing more, nothing less), then watch Him faithfully deliver everything you could ever need, one day at a time. It is a lesson I hope I don't forget any time soon.