After all the uncertainty of the past seven months, it's sometimes hard to believe that I'll be in Vietnam in just a little over a month!
As exciting as this is, I feel the need to focus on what all is going to happen between now and then. I've never been good at living in the moment. It seems that I'm always dreaming of the future or holding tightly to the past, but I struggle to ground myself in present realities. In the excitement and sometime frenzy of making plans, I think I've neglected to acknowledge the magnitude of the changes that are going to take place in a very short period of time. Last night, the good-byes started. Due to crazy summer schedules, it was the last night that Shannon, Heidi, Lynette, Abby, and I were able to spend a 'girls' night out' together. Over the past months, these wonderful ladies have formed the core of my social network here and I was reminded, as we sat and watched the sunset and night fall over Court Square, of just how much their support and encouragement has meant to me throughout this process. And this is just the beginning of the transitions. In less than two weeks, most of my material possessions will make the reverse migration to Pennsylvania. The apartment that has been home for the past two years will no longer be home, it will move into my past. While the trek is familiar, it is still diffucult. I must also say good-bye to those with whom I have shared my Mon-Fri, 8-5 life. While I have struggled to find meaning and purpose in the mundanity of some aspects of my work over the past several months, I have always been appreciative of those who with whom I work. We've often joked that rather than co-workers, I have acquired more mothers. In a way, it's true. I have been nurtured and encouraged by these women (and the men too). And I know that the months I've spent with them has helped to shape me into the person who now is able to step out beyond her realm of experience into something that is so largely unknown and mysterious.
It's going to be harder that I'd imagined to extricate myself from this Harrisonburg community. While I remain convinced that going to An Giang is the will of God revealed to me at this particular time and place, I need to acknowledge that following this path will not always be easy and pain-free. There will be moments along this journey when I long to return to the safety and familiarity of home. I will question why I made the choices I've made and the motivation behind those choices. The good-byes will overwhelm me and I will feel pretty alone. Acknowledging this doesn't make the inevitable pain of leaving go away, but it helps to simply stop and force myself to see past the naive dreams of the amazing potential of this Vietnam venture.
In the next days and weeks, I can only assume that the rate and pace of change will increase rapidly. I'm expecting that my visa and work permit authorization codes will arrive this week. In two weeks, my parents will come down to Harrisonburg to help me pack up the apartment. The week after that I'll finish up at EMU. The first weekend of August, I have a SST meeting and my commissioning service will be at First Mennonite church (in Johnstown) at 7 on August 2 for any of you that would want to come. From there, it's a brief week and a half before August 14 when I officially embark on this new and very fascinating stage of my journey.