Three months—that’s what today marks.
I was surprised that I didn’t even think of it much. It’s been a long week and a long weekend, and I’ve hardly had time to sit down and think for more than five minutes. Even now, I’m multitasking (my to-do list keeps shrinking, thankfully, but my calendar gets fuller and fuller). Even though part of me is overwhelmed at a busy summer, I’m also thankful for the craziness. If I had the time I wish I had, I wouldn’t use it to brush up my language skills or tackle that long reading list . . . as much as I like to think that’s what I’d do, I know I’d really make hundreds of Google searches and stress over what adapter to buy, when my visa is likely to get here, how many notebooks I think I’ll use up, and whether or not I’ll keep from hyperventilating on the airplane (just joking . . . maybe).
In the midst of all the busyness, I’m thankful for a lot. I’m getting to enjoy my family—I just got back from visiting Dad’s side of the family, and right now I have cousins and an aunt and uncle visiting; we had a beautiful—and convicting!—discussion about love around a fire last night (which we followed up with chocolate cake and a game of “Psychiatrist”). Many dear friends are back for the summer, and we’re getting to cram in a year’s worth of C.S. Lewis discussions, bridge games, and dances. I’m enjoying settling into my new church, an amazing Christ-centered family where I already feel at home. I’m able to work and save for travel next year, and I’m getting time to watch my horse enjoy her huge new pasture. And I’m thankful that at this moment, I’m not scared of next year at all.
What’s most amazing about this last week, though, is that after almost eight months (eight months!) of looking for a host family, I found who I’m going to live with next year. After receiving the good news that the church had three possible host families, I was able to start the process of finding the best fit. On Friday, via WhatsApp, I talked extensively (extensively here means: for more than two hours!) with the young woman who offered to host me. We get along splendidly, and I couldn’t be more excited to meet Yaciana in three months!
I take that back, though—that’s not what was most amazing about last week. The most amazing thing is that for the first time, I understood what it means to be a family in Christ. Yes, study abroad will be hard, Yaciana affirmed, citing her own experience, but she added that I won’t be alone—Jesus will be with me, and I’ll have my family in Christ, too. For once, words fail me! I can’t describe the warm love I felt as a near stranger assured me in another language that Christ loves me, that He will be with me, and that she and her church will be there with me, too.
I find myself wondering: if I’ve learned this much just from getting ready to study abroad, what will happen in three months when my plane takes off from the Omaha airport, headed east? Here’s one more thing I’m thankful for: even though only God knows the details about next year, I know the important things; a lot of stuff is going to happen, and even though some (most?) of what happens might seem difficult, God will be with me, and He, through His sovereignty and grace, will be changing me into the image of His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).