Hi all! So you may have noticed that I made some changes to the blog in recent weeks, including updating a variety of sections and including a list of goals for 2015-2017. One of the items that has been on my heart and mind much of the time in the last few weeks/months has been the call that I've felt to "go" and do service work abroad. Thus beyond changing my name back this year, I finally put my dream out there to try to make it happen. I've been working with a life coach to help hold me accountable toward achieving this dream and I also posted on social media asking my various friends & family to help support with prayers, ideas, suggestions.
So how did this all come about? For years I have felt the desire to go to Africa to do direct service work with kiddos or in the health community. If you've read my blog from the very, very beginning then you know that originally I was incredibly moved by the movie Blood Diamond. Moved to the extent that it shook my core, made me take a hard look at everything we take for granted, and really changed my life in a lot of ways. While in high school I felt drawn toward international fields which is what led me to be an exchange student for a year between high school and college (during which time I also did volunteer work while there). My initial intent upon graduation from my undergrad program was to go directly into an international focused MSW program that was on the east coast, but when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer I curtailed that original plan. The draw toward doing service work abroad and especially in Africa has never dissipated however and when I first got married one of the things I remember telling my ex-husband was how much I wanted us to work toward pursuing his needs/goals but how I also wanted to have the opportunity to follow my dream of volunteering abroad also. Zoom to two years ago when in the height of my separation, I had the money, the time, and I even had a contact at a medical clinic in a region in Africa...but I panicked about the full amount of unknowns in life already facing me and I just didn't follow my heart and do it. The months following that led to some of the darkest parts of my life thus far and in hindsight I wish that I would have trusted something greater than myself and gone on that trip. That same winter on one particular snow shoe outing, I remember feeling so lost and frustrated about life, and on my way back to the car, I sat down on a snow embankment and started just trying to talk to God about what the heck was going on with my life and what I was supposed to do about it. Interestingly, I feel like I never hear a direct line from the dude upstairs...but I swear in that moment all I heard over and over again was "just go." I knew where and what S/He meant...but I've been confused about how to make it happen ever since (financially, pets, rental, work, etc)
Fast forward to this fall, when again, I was pulling myself up by my boot straps and trying to self-assess and make sense of a few things. During that time period, I had someone ask me what my life would look like if I could do anything that my heart desired without anything holding me back...and my response was "Peacecorps like...." I also attended a different church with an acquaintance during that time period that included a sermon about letting go of fear and moving forward (the church was an incredible experience...but that's a post in itself)...and for the first time ever I literally got ballsy and when they asked for people to lay their written burdens down at the cross..I took my slip of paper that included Africa and every other thing weighing on my heart at the moment...and I left it laying at the foot of the cross...trusting that doors will open and prayers of support & encouragement would flow. Big steps and probably the most important one.
Because that afternoon I posted on FB regarding the desire on my heart and asking for support...and I had four people volunteer names and suggestions. I have another friend who put me in touch with at least one of her contacts so far and I know countless people are praying. I also decided that I want to take the next few months to explore career options in the international field to try to see if it's possible to move into that field and if that's what God is calling me to do really and truly. I've been making contacts and arranging meetings/coffee dates.
The first coffee outing was 2-3 weeks ago with an international field worker with Doctors Without Borders. I have a meeting with the dean of an international health program and a coffee date arranged with a current employee of the Gates Foundation both next week. I'm in email contact with the volunteer placement coordinator at Medical Teams International. I've applied for a part-time position with one international non-profit in Portland and am currently staring at two other amazing job announcements with another Portland-based international non-profit. My sister's missionary friend who is in Africa is trying to make contacts that might pan out for a 6-8 week placement next year. And I haven't even begun to touch the list of other international non-profits that are located in the general area. I have no doubt that this whole scenario might play out way differently than I could have ever imagined...but I'm continuing to move forward trusting that the right doors will continue to open, certain windows will slide shut, and that I need to just keep shuffling & jumping along to discover just what might be around that next bend. But honestly, I'm so amazed at the movement that has already been happening...and I'm looking forward to what's coming ahead.
Keep ya posted :)