It suddenly feels very real that I am about to move to Bolivia. When I accepted this position last November, I knew only that I would be moving somewhere in the Andean region, sometime in the second half of 2010, and it all seemed distant and abstract. Since then I’ve been through mission personnel orientation and meetings for World Mission staff/regional liaisons, and I now have a ticket to La Paz and a Bolivian “objeto determinado” visa in my passport. With all this time to get ready, it seems like I should feel more prepared, but I find myself just a tad overwhelmed by the enormity of the step ahead of me!
The weather here in Los Angeles has taken a decided turn, with gray and rainy days and a chill in the air. It feels like autumn, a time of year that makes me simultaneously nostalgic and hopeful for the future, full of memories and possibilities. As I try to pack–carefully choosing the portable pieces of home that are most important to me, the clothes I think I will need, the books that I will actually read–I find it’s difficult to keep it simple! Although I have an ample excess baggage allowance from the church, I’m hoping to make it with just two checked bags, maximum three–I don’t want to show up with an ostentatious and unwieldy amount of stuff. I have accumulated a relatively small amount of possessions in my transient life, and it all fits in my bedroom (if barely), but it’s still hard to decide what will take the journey with me. Even more difficult are the goodbyes that are creeping up. I remember imagining, once upon a time, that this part would get easier, that eventually I wouldn’t be filled with tears when it came time to give my family a final hug before leaving. So far that hasn’t been the case, but would I really want it that way? The pain of separation is a very tangible reminder of the love that we share, which continues to support us while we’re apart.
I’m taking a giant step into the unknown, unsure of what waits on the other side. Worries creep in: will I find new and exciting ways to embarrass myself or put my foot in my mouth? (probably!–but that’s what grace is for); what if I can’t adjust to life at high elevation (around 12,000 feet)? what if I have trouble relating and making friends with the people I meet? There is an abundance of question marks swimming around in my head. But I also have a deep sense of confidence that this is the step God is calling me to take at this moment. I have a strong network of friends, family, and colleagues to help me keep my balance. And I trust that when I make this leap of faith, God will be with me, eager to introduce me to new brothers and sisters and a new path of discipleship when I get off the plane for the first time in that land I do not know which is to be my new home.