I am truly sorry to those who I have failed to keep in contact with. You are wonderful people. I want my friends to know: You are like family to me. I want my family to know: You are more than people I obligatorily call once in a while or see at large gatherings. You are also my friends. I'm sorry if I ever hurt any of you or frustrated you with my crazy ways. Thanks for putting up with me.
That being said, I thought I'd give a bit of a life update to everyone, which I don't think I have done for quite some time. My Junior year has been excellent. It flew by and I grew a lot through classes, people, and experiences. I honestly started out this school year with some anxiety and doubt in my heart. Although the summer was full of rewarding experiences, it was also difficult in some ways, and left me with some lingering questions and pain that had not been addressed. During the first few months back, I doubted God more than ever. I'm not really sure of the exact reasons, and I don't think they are too important to say now. I made mistakes, lost sight of hope and priorities, and struggled with being bitter, careless, and guarded, among other things. I may have strayed a little off of the path that some would wish me to stay on. And that's just it: I didn't really know who I was walking down that path for. This school, this work, my “faith,” my relationships...Who is it for?
At some point, (or several points) in a person's life, they have to look around to see if they live like they do because they have truly seen an empty tomb, or if they live with the mere acceptance that their parents showed them a great work of fiction that mentions an empty tomb. I'm not saying I didn't believe before this year, or that I have it all together now, but some of my previous values and assumptions were stripped away until I had to discover true faith and true hope. It was like a huge lightbulb had shattered and all that was left was this tiny little spark of a flame that God has helped me to protect. It's a small flame, but it is fiercely hot, and I am more certain of it than almost anything else. Because when everything else shatters, it flickers, but does not go out.
Meanwhile, this year I have prepared for my Human Needs and Global Resources internship that starts in about a month, and I am aware that more challenges and adventures are on the horizon. I have taken both difficult and easy classes, made new relationships and seen others drift sadly away. I grew close to people who were able to stick with me. It wasn't a terrible year. It was actually a wonderful one, that I always want to remember. I wrote my first screenplay and got my first piece of writing published in print. I wrote an entire rap album and had some beautiful conversations. My brother got married! And he's applying to med school. My other brother inspired me with his updates from Samaritan's Purse in Northern Japan. My sister and brother-in-law got settled down at their "grown-up" jobs, but they still know how to have a good time. (And I don't just mean Harry Potter marathons). Some friends got married and others are getting married. I spent time in like 10 different states and even a new country. I had crazy parties as well as times of tender silence. I watched the seeds of dreams in people get watered and begin to sprout. I had my life changed by some speakers, and had enriching naps while listening to other speakers. I got a tattoo. I had an awesome spring break. I was real with people. I played soccer, made lattes, fell in love with rap music, and toured my favourite building, (the Chicago Tribune Towers). I gathered with the Japanese community here to pray for our country every week. I met Man, the Burmese woman that I tried to tutor, but only ended up being inspired by her strength and making a fool of myself as I acted out various lessons. I changed my life plans about six times.
I learned that I don't have to be an Angel. I can be a "B"ngel or a "C"ngel and Jesus will still love me. I learned about loving all kinds of people and expressing myself in different ways. I learned about being joyful and thankful, even when it doesn't flow naturally, because having joy and hope, even when you don't feel it, or don't fully understand your life---that's what faith is. And when we have faith, God can accomplish super cool things. I'm not just talking regular cool things, I'm talking SUPER cool things. Even the regular cool things become SUPER cool when you see then through a faith lens. Just wait. Watch. Listen. Listening is so important. Don't stand still and let life happen around you. Run, leap, fall down, roll, stand back up, shake off the dirt, keep running.
All that to say: I am still alive, living for God as best I can. I have no real life plan, but I'm ok with that, so I hope you are too. My roommate, Frances, got a ticket to come to Japan with me for a week in May, so I am really excited to hang out with her at home. I will be home until early June, when I leave for Cambodia.
Once in Cambodia, I will be a communication intern at World Relief Cambodia until December. This means I will be interacting with people who are working with or being helped by WR's various programs for Child and maternal healthcare, HIV/AIDS prevention and support, micro-enterprising for those with less opportunities, agriculture, and anti-human trafficking efforts. I will listen to their stories, write about what is happening, photograph, and film. It's all still very vague, but I'm excited to get involved however I can and open to whatever God has to teach me through this. At the same time as the internship, I will be taking a few human development and anthropology courses by correspondence, doing an ethnography project and a communications independent project, and trying to learn and experience as much as I can. It has been a little stressful getting all the logistics together and corresponding between people while also trying to finish up classes here and prepare to leave all of my friends, but I am so glad for this opportunity. I would really appreciate prayer while I am there. I don't know a lot of specifics to pray for yet, but just having courage and resources to get there and start something new will be difficult. I will try to keep posting updates throughout my time.
I hope to be able to catch up with everyone soon. I love you so much.