Nearly every day, I have the opportunity to share with someone else about my upcoming move to Papua New Guinea. The reactions vary from genuine excitement to pure shock and disbelief. When the girls in my middle school small group at youth group found out that I was leaving in July, they shrieked with disappointment. Only by reassuring them that I would still have e-mail (although no cell phone or texting), was I able to calm them slightly. Admittedly, when I think about the people I will be leaving behind, I am tempted to wail aloud with them.
My brother Nathan is hands-down my best friend. When he stayed in Pennsylvania for an extra year of school after I returned home, it was a night of many tears. Even our good friend and mentor, Jenni Cox, said she couldn’t bear to look at us that night. Living for two years without him will be rough. That’s not even mentioning Hannah or Josh, who fit right in there with Nathan at my most-needed-friend list.
My parents have always been there for me, even when I physically and emotionally push them away. They offer medical advice, financial support, and a voice of wisdom when I’m tempted to rashly engage in yet another wild adventure. I’m more okay with long-distance communication with them, as it was not too hard when I lived at school. At the same time, this will be different. A thirteen-hour time change is vastly different than a seven-hour drive.
The friends (and near-family) I have here in Fort Wayne and across the United States are a huge part of my life. Some I have known for most of my life, some are dear brothers and sisters who I know have my back, and still others are recent acquaintances who have already become close friends. I know people from church, college groups, school, Miracle Mountain Ranch, children’s conferences, work, etc….people who have crossed my path and stopped to talk and become friends. When I made a road trip last summer, I visited friends that I had not seen in as many as six years–and loved it! Even as a high school student, I dreamed of making a country-wide road trip to visit all my friends from years of serving at Miracle Mountain Ranch. While that road trip could still eventually happen, the late-night calls and texts to West Coast friends will be impossible.
The girls at Pathway who I lead in the middle school small group time are an amazing group of girls. We have been walking through the Creation account and connecting it to Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection and it has been cool. They ask incredible questions that force us to seek Scripture for truth to apply to our every day lives. I will miss our awesome (and sometimes random) discussions on Wednesday nights.
Since starting to volunteer with Campus Life back in September, the people I work with (volunteers and students) have become a huge part of my life. I look forward to Monday night club and how God will lead our conversation into sharing, fellowship, and growth for His glory.
I absolutely love my volleyball friends. The people that gather at various gyms around the city are a cool bunch of people with a love for volleyball. More than that, the guys and girls who come to Brookside and fellowship in prayer and Bible study before playing hold a special place. I will miss you guys even more than I will miss playing volleyball–and that’s saying something! 😉
Since I started student teaching last fall, and now that I’m teaching this semester, I have developed a relationship of sorts with many of the high school students at school. It would be fun to see the freshmen move through high school and the sophomores become juniors and seniors. People come up to me at least once a week mentioning that they have eighth graders moving into high school who might be in my class next year. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.
I could go on and on, but it is evident even in this summarized list that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who impact and influence my life on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are one of those people that I am indebted to for being the person I am today…and who I will miss in some way or another while living overseas. As I reflect over these people, I realize more than ever that it is the here and now that matters. Time and time again, individuals have taken slight moments out of their lives to invest into my life, and in that single moment, a relationship was forged. What relationships am I creating now? What relationships am I growing and maintaining? It is true that each of us have a ministry, that each of us are missionaries in the truest sense of the word, right here and right now.
It is easy for me to get distracted by “July.” “In July I’m moving to Papua New Guinea.” That is big. That is crazy. That does not excuse any negligence in living for Jesus right here and now. The Lord has given me an incredible breadth of ministry now, at school, at work, at youth group, with Campus Life, at church, at college group, and with friends near and far. I am so excited to see Him use me in even this little time I left here…and it is my prayer that I would “leave it all on the court” when I leave in July. The Lord will provide and fill me for the ministry there…but for right now, I must be here with all that I am and all that He is in me.