I am not sure how many of you know the story that explains why I joined BVS. It wasn’t because I wanted to change the world and meet cool Brethren. It was mostly because I was in a place in my life where I didn’t know which way to go. I had been through the storm, and wanted anything that would get me out of this awful situation. I had been placed in a classroom, student teaching that was as far away from the one that I had always dreamed about. This particular storm had caused me to re-evaluate everything that I had known up to this point. I was no longer sure that I knew where my life was going and suddenly wanted to run away from teaching. BVS sounded like a good option, a fresh start, a new beginning that would let me travel, and well I couldn’t complain about that.
Upon moving to Elgin, I found out what the job actually included: planning week long mission trips, doing a lot of leg work and sitting in an office, and for about four months traveling around recruiting, setting up, and executing these camps. I soon found myself begging for interactions with people, particularly children and youth. To help fill this void, I became a youth advisor at the local congregation and found myself enjoying being a part of something that was bigger than I was. While living in Elgin, I found myself living in a giant, old, Victorian house with two complete strangers. We quickly realized that each of us were looking at community living in very different ways, it also adds a very interesting dimension when you also work with the people that you are living with.
Community living took its toll on each of us, but we were always able to get together for a meal, devotions, and a good episode of Supernatural. Part way through this year, another person came and joined us in the house, and I know that I in particular was worried about adding another person into the house. It turns out that he was able to add a new dimension to the house and we quickly began spending more time together as a house, and now we were also able to hang out in pairs. Before long it was time for the summer, which meant we all went our separate ways. I remember feeling sad, knowing that it would be several months before we were all back together in our giant house.
This would have also been the time that I was supposed to be looking for a job for next year, but what did I want for my life? Did I want to try teaching out again? Did I want to pave a new path? I had no idea what I wanted, and quickly got annoyed by the question what comes next. I sure as heck had no idea. I happened to be sharing in a bi-weekly treats at the office, when my boss asked me what my plan was for the next year. I told her I wasn’t sure and was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. She asked me how I liked Elgin, my housemates and if I would ever consider serving another year in Elgin.
I thought long and hard on this decision and was convinced that my work in Elgin was not done. What I really needed was to still be in the same place that had become a second home to me. I quickly agreed to stay, but this year would be different. I remember planning things out for me, to find myself while serving others. I instantly began making goals for myself and the things that I wanted to accomplish for me.
This list included things like:
· Find my own inner beauty
· Keep consistent with my re-found faith
· Smile, Laugh, Love, Trust, Confidence
· Keep a journal of the things that I am thankful for
· Continue reading children’s books and coming up with creative activities
· Cook and Bake
· Run a 5K
· Don’t worry
· See my sister graduate from high school
· Have fun
· Accept my flaws
· Be creative
· Look for a job / apartment
During this year I spent a great deal of time planning two denominational conferences, one for youth and one for young adults. Now that I finished the second conference and wrapping things up, I find myself reflecting on just what the past year has been all about. It is always a little bittersweet to watch something pass you by that has been your baby for the last year.
As I look back to this list, this is exactly what I have done. I made time for me, watched my baby sister give a salutatorian speech, started applying for teaching jobs, made time to, “be still.” Now as I look back on the past two years, I have to say that I don’t regret one minute of it, along the way there were some bumps and bruises, but as someone famous once said, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
So what comes next? I am currently looking for jobs, and we will see what happens, but I am looking forward to a fresh start in a new location. Now is the time to start organizing, planning, and rejoicing for the friends that I have made, and looking forward to what comes next. Here are some of the goals that I have set for myself:
· Look to every new situation as an opportunity for something great.
· Enjoy decorating my classroom and home
· “Dance in the Rain”
· Love myself, and everyone around me
· Reconnect with old friends, while making new ones
We will see what happens J