Can you believe that I'm starting up my fourth year in China? Crazy! Here's a quick update.
Life in general- I've made some changes this year, partially because I'm trying to be more disciplined, partially because friends have moved away or moved to other places in the city, partially because I can't go through another year exhausted- physically, relationally and emotionally. So, I spend several nights a week at home or at least in my apartment complex, having dinner with friends and still getting home at a decent hour. Having a dog has also encouraged sticking closer to home, and I LOVE it (both having the dog and being closer to my bed). I'm not coaching volleyball this year, and although I miss the sport, the free time it's given me has radically changed my life this semester. I spend a lot of time outside walking or hiking or hanging out with friends. This has revolutionized my devotional life. Communing with God out in nature has been so refreshing for me. It's a wonderful thing to talk to the Creator while sitting on top of a mountain He's created. I'm taking guitar lessons, I've joined a new Bible study, I'm early-to-bed-early-to-rise these days, and I'm finally 100% healthy.
My job- My job is awesome. I have great students, I get to travel all over the world, I get to plan stuff, it's full of variety. Seriously, a fantastic job. And the people I work with and the organization, couldn't ask for better or more. Often, I have a hard time remembering how blessed I am. God has really been working in me, that I would be thankful for this job I have, even though it keeps me so very busy.
I'm still teaching MUN classes and I've added College Prep and dropped World History. I'm planning trips to Korea, Singapore and Italy for our international trips. And we've got our big conference that we host coming up in March.
The people I work with add joy to my life every day. I spend a lot of time laughing throughout the day, just enjoying the humor, stories and perspectives of my co-workers. What a great thing to work in a place where you can laugh and pray and cry and do life together.
Church- I'm still pretty involved with my fellowship. I lead worship once a month and do a few other things every once in awhile like women's worship or singles group. Things have kind of slowed down in that area or at least for this time. And that's okay. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be involved in this year, where my focus is going to be.
Relationships-The thing about living internationally is that relationships are fluid...whether you want them to be or not. Every six months or so, friends leave and new people come in. Letting go of old and familiar and close, letting in new and different and unknown is extremely difficult. This system basically means that you're often mourning loss, always adjusting to new, and never really in the familiar. This summer, some really good friends moved back to America and it's probably been one of my hardest adjustments thus far living in China. At the same time though, new, deep, heart-filling friendships are springing up all over the place. I am so excited about what this year holds, relationally speaking. Allowing the Holy Spirit to use the people around me to reveal sin in my heart, to hold me accountable, to sharpen me, to lift me up, to give me wise counsel, to love on, to grow with, to know and be known, it's a wonderful and beautiful thing. Often hard, but so very worth it. Even in this ever-changing community.
Dreams- There are so many things I want to do. I want to live in Africa and work with orphans. I want to go to Mexico and feed homeless kids and learn Spanish. I want to stay here and help people connect with each other, and learn how to live in community together. I want to go back to school and get a degree...in something...worship or Biblical studies or community growth. I want to live in Wyoming on a horse ranch and breath in the blue skies and wide open spaces. I want to move with a group of my friends who have the same passion for people and live out Christ together, teaching and helping and loving those around us.
So, clearly, I don't have a plan yet. But it's exciting to think about all the possibilities.
Summary- God is good. Last year was a difficult year for many reasons but I am so thankful for His goodness and kindness. This year is filled with potential. I'm looking forward to the adventures and lessons and growth in front of me.