- Since the last time I wrote, I've hosted an MUN (Model United Nations) conference here in Qingdao. We had 9 schools, 2 from other cities in China and 2 from Korea with a total of 170 students and teachers involved. It was a 3 day event and included an opening ceremony, hundreds of snacks and lunches, hotel rooms, formal debating, sightseeing, several trips to the airport, hundreds of phones calls, thousands of papers being printed, a lack of sleep and some serious stress. After spending about 6 months planning it, things went fairly well. There is a long list of improvements to be made for next year but it was a huge check off my list of things to do. Yay!
- I've been leading worship at my fellowship and am really enjoying it. I had a friend recently ask me why I didn't end up doing something in music and I said, "I never really thought about it." She looked at me like I was an idiot but it's true. I never thought about doing anything in music. It was always something I was passionate about but, I don't know, I just never had the guts (maybe?) to do anything with it. Anyway, this leading thing is a great growing experiences. I have an amazing band that is good to forgive me when I screw up and everyone's super flexible...I don't know, it's just fun. A lot of fun. It makes me want to do it more often. Who knows what the future holds?
- I'm going to Europe this summer. It's like a third of the price to go there than to go home. And since I make about 1/4 of what I made last year, it's all about saving as much money as possible. So, I'm flying to Vienna, Austria and from there, I'll train to (as of right now) Prague-Czech Republic, Krackow-Poland, Budapest-Hungary, and Bratislava-Slovakia. I'm backpacking for two weeks and the plan is to stay in super cheap (but safe, mom) hostels. I'm really excited about it. It'll be nice to get away and have some time really reflect on/evaluate this last year.
- We have 24 days until school is over. That makes me happy. This has been a crazy year.
- I get my own apartment next year. I cannot express the joy that fills my heart when I think about it.
- I'm missing the conveniences of America. There's this one side of me that loves the fact that I don't have a car- no maintainance (big deal for me), no payments, no insurace, that I don't pay my own bills (the school does it for me), that I can't understand what's being said around me...and then there's this other side of me that HATES that I don't have the freedom to go when and where I want to, that I don't really know how much of my check goes to bills, that I can barely communicate with the millions of people around me. It drives me crazy that I can't just call and order a pizza. Or that I can't just "run" to the grocery store (or Walgreens). Everything's this big process. It's frustrating sometimes. Most days, I don't even think about it, it's just my life. But yesterday, yesterday, not so much. I miss being able to go for a ride or being on my own or ordering in. I know, that's all trivial stuff. It's just, every once in awhile, the inconvenience hits me right in the face.
- My language acquisition has completely halted. It's dead. I have stopped learning new words. Not purposely. Just between the crazy travel and the insane business of my life, I haven't had time. I'm so excited about our intense language training this summer. Seriously, two hours a day, five days a week for four weeks, it's going to be crazy but so totally worth it.
This is going to be a hard summer not coming home. I actually chose this fabulous trip to keep my mind off of not being there. So much change is happening. We all move on with our lives which is of course, expected. But soon, we've moved so far from what it once was, it's no longer familiar to those who've been absent. I have friends getting engaged, getting married, having babies...nothing new I suppose, except because I'm not there to witness it, it's almost like it never happened. Until I see them in a couple of years and then there's nothing left in common except a few fun memories.
When I moved to China, that's one of the things that hit me the hardest, mourning for the things that will be lost by being so far away. I'm missing out on all those new memories. Yes, I'm making new ones of my own, but they're with a whole different group of people. My old life...it already seems so far away. And I hate it. I hate that a couple of my closest friends are getting married and I won't be there to see it. By the time I do see them, it will have been a year. Old hat. They'll be moving on to babies and families and I'll still be grappeling with this new reality.
Why don't I come home, you ask? Besides the money, it's just easier this way. Too many people to see, too many places to go and not enough time. It would be a whirlwind of unsatisfying activity. It wouldn't be restful or easy. A day or two here, a day or two there...I think it would hurt more than it would help. So, instead, I'm going on an amazing vacation and pretending like it's not all happening. I'll just deal with it when I come home next summer. Super healthy, I know.
Oh, and please don't misunderstand me. I'm happy for my friends and family that are starting these new adventures. I'm just being completely selfish and don't care for the idea that life goes on without me. How dare it! :)
On another note, I've been looking at cities in western China. Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar...who knows what'll happen after my contract is up here? I have no idea if I'll resign or not. I work for an amazing company and it's a great school but whatever God wants, I'm in. Just keeping my options open and myself informed. I'm hoping to go out there next fall or winter to visit, maybe meet some friends of friends. It's never too early to start networking.
A totally different note, spring has finally sprung. It's time. We haven't had temps above 40 degrees since early November. Finally, on Friday it was in the 60's. Now, if you know me, you know how much I love winter. I'm all about snow and cold but this has been going on way too long. Even in Colorado, we have beautiful weather for a day or two of and on in the winter. Not here. No such thing as a break. So, as much as I love winter, I'm more than happy to say "Farwell, old friend". I need to get my tan on!
One last note, and I realize there are only two of you who've made it this far...I have tomorrow off of school. My only plans are to go grocery shopping, maybe do some grading and go to a friends for dinner. :) Happy day.
And seriously, one final note...I realize I've used the word "happy" about 20 times. Deal with it.