so here i am in new york city.
it's been over two months (?!) since i've been back to the states. as always, i apologize for the late update.
but just to give you a quick overview of my life right now:
i moved to new york city. i'm currently pursuing graduate studies in public health/epidemiology. i live in washington heights, but living in this part of nyc, i think i'm actually closer to new jersey than The city. but i must say, though i'm a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of true city life, i have a great view of the hudson river and george washington bridge from my apartment.
as for the transition back to the states, it's been interesting, to say the least. this move presents yet another transition in my life, and though i've had my fair share of transitions, the first few weeks were a bit tough. but... so far, so good?
optimism is key :)
how has this past year gone by so fast? what happened to all my hopes, fears, doubts, and frustrations about this past year's mission trip? what happened to all my expectations fulfilled and unfulfilled? what happened to me?
i don't know.
it's funny when i meet up with friends and family. the first thing they say is something along the lines of, "it feels you were gone just for the weekend."
what does that mean?
in many ways, i'm still digesting all that has happened this past year. i look back, and i can't say that i've done much or done little in terms of the world's expectations.
but i can't stop thinking about carlos. i can't stop thinking about the volunteers in mozambique. i can't stop thinking about all the work that has yet to be done. i can't stop thinking about the children who are too busy surviving life. i can't stop thinking about the patient who was left alone in the gondola hospital to die.
though this past year has been one season in my life, it's been one season that has dramatically changed all the forthcoming ones. i don't know if i've done much or done little, but i can say this much:
i've learned a lot.
i've learned that one does not necessarily need talent or professional skill to impact another. jesus called the fishermen to bring God's message to the world. he chose the humble. he never asked us to be perfect. he asked us to be obedient and willing. he asked us to listen, trust, and follow. i can't stop thinking about rubatano's volunteers -- people who give out of their own poverty; people who simply listen, trust, and follow. i fell in love with their hearts.
i've learned that one does not necessarily need to be articulate in speech to be a good communicator. sounds obvious, but one touch, one glance, or one's presence with another may be enough. i can't get that image out of my mind: a tiny, frail, haggard man, only skin and bones, wrapped up in a sheet drenched and stenching with his own stool left to die and die alone. who said death was the scariest part? more than illness, poverty, hunger, or death itself, desolation, isolation, and utter hopelessness scare me the most. it may be enough just to sit next to him during such a state and time.
i've learned that one does not necessarily need the world's goods to be satisfied. again, sounds obvious, but who truly believes that in such a society as ours at a time like this? everyone wants a new toy, everyone wants to get ahead, everyone wants to become somebody; it's human nature. but when i consider the families and children who do not own a single thing and yet express genuine joy, i wonder.
i've learned that one does not necessarily need to have all the solutions to experience the peace of God. in fact, one may well experience it in circumstances of the contrary. i was worried about my family, i was worried about my relationships with others, i was worried about this trip, i was worried about the people in mozambique, i was worried about the future; i was anxious about anything and everything, but i didn't lay it before Him. i still struggle, but i realize that only when i surrender these things to Him, He brings forth clarity and grants me peace.
the list goes on and on, and i can just sit here typing all the things that have truly pierced me. but one thing stands out among others: i've learned that God is love. so simple, but so true. nothing is possible without this truth. how many times did i struggle to love other people? how many times have i come to the conclusion that certain situations are hopeless? how many times have i struggled with even the idea of seeming injustices of the world? i can't love on my own; i can't rely on myself. the world needs only one thing. God is love.
i don't know with certainty that i'll be returning to africa. but africa has become such a big part of me; i have a feeling that i will.
though i'm reluctant to bring this chapter to a close, i know there's more in store for me; there's always more to learn. who knows what will happen next?
only God knows.
and that's enough.
simple (and somewhat choppy) slide show recounting my mission trip to africa (south africa, mozambique, zimbabwe), 2008-2009.
thank you all for your prayers and generous support. i couldn't have experienced what i have without you.