unexpected lessons/East Africa update

Despite the fact that it’s impossible to expect the unexpected (and 95% of this semester abroad so far has been unexpected), there are some things you expect when you leave home.

I expected that there would be culture shock. I knew that there would be an adjustment period. I knew that I would eventually grow used to being surrounded by a different language, that I would figure out the bus systems. Maybe on day I’ll actually be able to identify euro coins by their shape and color instead of having to flip everything over to check the money amounts.

Basically: you expect study abroad to be one big huge learning experience. But it’s turning out to be a learning experience in some ways I didn’t expect.

I figured I would learn about Maltese culture and history. I would learn the euro coins and the bus system. I’d learn my way around campus, around town, around the island. I would learn how to be independent, how to be on my own the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.

But as it turns out, my semester is going to be a crash course in all those things I don’t like to learn.

Patience, when the buses are never on time. Service, when that means washing a sink full of dishes that I didn’t use. Love, even for those yelling outside my window at 4 a.m. Kindness, when all I want to do is snap at the people driving me crazy. Humility, because the wind here makes good hair an impossibility.

Here, asking God to guide my footsteps takes on a new meaning when I’m lost in the turning, twisting, unfamiliar streets. I’m learning how to find peace in the Lord at times when it doesn’t exist in my surroundings. I’m asking for strength to the face the day, every day, because there are times when all I want is to not be here.

I’m learning how to depend on God completely and wholeheartedly, because there’s not much else to depend on. I need Him to be my guide, my protection, my strength in ways that real and raw and entirely different from at home.

Over the past three weeks, two thoughts have stayed in my mind.

  1. I’m so much more excited to go to Africa.
  2. I’m so much more terrified to go to Africa.

Now that I’ve had a taste of life outside my comfort zone, and all the joys, challenges, and lessons it involves, I’m looking even more forward to a month dedicated to serving the Lord and growing closer to Him. And I’m scared of it, because being out of your comfort zone is plain and simple uncomfortable. The lessons I need to learn usually aren’t fun ones. These five months, and that month in Africa, are going to change my life in ways that I can’t expect. That’s overwhelming, and thrilling, and nerve-wracking, and lots of things besides.

but God is good, and He is dependable, and so I am depending on Him to change my life for the better.

and now…update time!

while this isn’t 100% set in stone, I am most likely going to be in Rwanda or Uganda come July. I’m excited. time to start Wikipedia-ing those countries.

as of today, I’ve raised $1,583.51. this is just under 40% of my total. thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has donated towards my trip, has prayed over this adventure, or has offered encouragement. I couldn’t be doing this without your help, and I’m incredibly grateful to all of you.

if you haven’t donated – would you prayerfully consider supporting me financially? I still need to raise the other 60% of funding for the trip and deadlines are going to sneak up on me. all of the nifty information and links can be found here on my support page.

once again – thank you. I can’t say it enough.

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