My life has gotten so busy in the last few months, but I’ve been doing some reflecting on the last years of my life -my college experience so far. I must say college is pretty amazing, but since I transferred, I don’t feel the community so much like I did before. One thing I was thinking about was how I got all caught up in the “activist” spirit of being a college student. My first two years of college I kept hearing so much about human rights issues and how Christians don’t do much about them, that I began to feel fired up about “saving the world.” Throw in some environmental issues, and I pretty much felt like I had my whole worldview figured out. I decided I was a moderate politically, who would not classify herself as either conservative or liberal (since labels are bad) but would stand by what I believed mattered and try to have a lifestyle patterend after those values. After visiting Seattle in the summer, I saw so many homeless people and when I got home, put up a newspaper I had bought from one of them that had a picture of an 18-year-old homeless girl. Next to that I had a picture of people in India. Poverty in the US and abroad was a problemt I thought I cared about. I was interested in Invisible Children, International Justice Mission, and other cultures. Then I went to Turkey.
Being in a new place is never like you imagine it; at times it is better, at times it is worse. For me, I can never believe I’m actually there, that what I only read about and saw in pictures is right before me. This trip, though, was a service project and the goal was to help others. Something I suppossedly wanted to do. I had accepted that, through I wasn’t going to be working with orphans in Russia like I had wanted to, there would be a purpose for me in Turkey, and I looked forward to what that would be. But when the thermostat’s moving up there, and you’ve spent half the day on a crowded bus, and the only thing you’re doing today is painting, well, it’s hard to have that same feeling you had before you left. Suddenly, every motivation to serve is gone, and you’re wondering if you even really had that desire before, or if you just liked the idea of serving. Well, at least this was how it was for me. Though I did like many things about being in Turkey, even thinking I could probrably live there, I felt very discouraged and guilty that I didn’t have the same willingness to do physical service as my other teammates had. I finally felt a little better when I spent a few days teaching English at the home of two young Muslim girls, for at least here I was making some human connections. But I couldn’t share my faith with the language barrier, and it’s hard to explain verbs and verb tenses when it’s super hot in their room on the third floor, with no air conditioning and you’re sweltering (I finally have an idea of what this word means), and there are a hundred chickens on the family’s coop on the roof right there, not to mention the hanging guns and curvy Arab knives on the wall by the huge Arabic script painted over the door. A cool experience to say the least, but not easy. And no matter how many times you and your teammates discuss the challenges ahead, it’s nothing like you thought it would be now that you’re in it.
Since coming back I’ve come to terms with what I learned from the trip, and what I believe God wants me to take away from it. I have fond memories, and then…not so fond memories. It’s all part of the experience and I’m so glad to have been able to have it. I should point out that the emotionally moving pictures on my wall are down now, and my travel bug has taken its own vacation. I still care about many issues in the world, and I think that many Christians don’t care enough, but I’m content to be where I am, for once. I don’t feel the same pressure to save the world, but am seeking the Lord to see where He will lead me. I see that to have a true servant’s heart, I have a long way to go. Thankfully, the Lord has still used me in spite of me, and I’m praying I will be open to what He has in store for me every day of my life. That’s a lot of reflecting. I guess I hope my next years of college will…I don’t know what I hope for anymore. I just hope. “For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.” Psalm 71:5