I learned a few things on this trip.
1. I still don't have it all together. I'm not above making poor choices, needing to ask forgiveness, having to learn from my mistakes. I hate to learn things the hard way. But sometimes that's the only way. Hopefully, they are lessons I only have to learn once.
2. I have a lot of people all over the country that really love me. Not just because I'm the "fun one" but because they value me. That...surprised me. I mean, I love them. I appreciate them. I wanted to see them. But it blew me away, the effort that was made by many to make sure they saw me. People took off work, cancelled plans, drove hours back and forth every weekend, came home from college, bought me gifts, made me meals, worked out special plans, let me choose how/what/when/where, paid for movies, dinners, gas, coffee, wrote cards...loved on me. They loved on me the way I needed to be loved.
3. I hate cars. More specifically, I hate car problems. If you've known me long, you know that I've had some HORRIBLE car experiences. I had about a year while living down in Florida where my car was in the shop at least twice a month or more. I've dealt with blown engines and transmissions, broken radiators (helped change it myself), more flat tires than anyone should ever deal with (I popped three during my first month after I got my license), oil leaks, car accidents, broken windows and trunks...needless to say, I've been scarred for life. Anyway, the day before I left South Florida, the car (which up to this point had been perfect) began doing crazy things with the oil pressure. After a mini-freakout, a tow, a good look-over, and an oil change, I was back on the road with the assurance from the car guys that everything was fine. But it wasn't. The car continued it's craziness for the rest of the trip with a hope and many prayers from me that it wasn't anything serious and that I wasn't ruining the car by driving it for another 3,000 miles with the oil light on. Long story short, I got home and it wasn't anything major. Praise God. But after living with a knot in my stomach for two weeks every time I turned the key, I was glad to give it back to the parentals.
4. Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them. Remember when you thought that was the best song ever? Seriously though, this trip has reconfirmed that when you have a spiritual bond with someone, it just makes it easier to pick up where you left off. There's something about having God in common that makes things like time and distance inconsequential.
5. Saying goodbye is always hard. In some ways, saying goodbye this time was harder than it was the first time. I think it's because I really don't know when I'll see many of them again, if ever. I'm not sure if I'm coming back next summer and when I do finally return, I doubt I'll do the US tour again. Things change, people move, people change...who knows. And that makes me sad. Really sad.
6. I love my life in China. If you've read this post, then you know that one of the most FAQs is "How's China?". I was probably asked this question or some form of it at least 200 times on this trip. A little irritating but also helpful. Being asked the same questions over and over helped me to really figure out how I feel about my life in China. To process through my thoughts, feelings and experiences from the last two years. What did I figure out? My life in China is awesome and I'm super content there. God has provided for me in every area of my life, in the big and small things. He has blessed me so much more than I deserve. And honestly, I can't wait to get back to it.
There's more to add but I'm still working through it.