The Year I Didn’t Expect

Reflecting on 2015 reminds me that I have no idea where I’ll be taken or what will happen in the upcoming year. My year started in one country and ended in another. It allowed me to see and experience poverty beyond my imagination and then live in a “hip” neighborhood in a capitol city in the U.S. It has brought new emotions, feelings, friends, foods, cultures, occupations, and education. It has reminded me to be constantly thankful and to count my blessings. It has taught me that education is a privilege. It has taught me how to love and when to walk away. This is a year I didn’t expect to have.

Bangladesh is where 2014 ended and 2015 began for me. I flew south for the winter and was forever changed upon returning to China. When I returned to China in January there was something different about my “home”. It was reminder that words are hard and roads are long and that it was time for me to return the U.S. Leaving both Bangladesh and China, I knew I’d be leaving pieces of my heart strewn across Asia. I knew my heart and my eyes and my life would be forever changed. I knew that I would not be able to be the same person again and that many people would not understand why or how or when I changed. Nor would they understand that I never wanted to be who I had been before.

Upon leaving China, I had to travel for nearly 48 hours and then had to be rerouted due to weather. When landing in the Little Rock airport, I had no idea that would soon become my home. That I would be leaving my friends and family once again for a new adventure. I’ve found that the way my year begins is often a good indication of what the year will look like and the places it will take me will mimic those first new days. This year was no different, 2015 was a year of adventure. A year of change. A year I didn’t expect.

Jonesboro became my temporary home, yet again. I came and went and realized it wasn’t where I was meant to be at the time. I had applied for so many jobs I had to keep a spreadsheet of where I applied, the position, and other valuable information. As answers came slowly trickling in I would mark off each idea or location. Then I interviewed in Little Rock. I drove in and knew. I knew I was coming to my next home. I drove past the capitol, past the university, past the places I would soon be a regular. Excitement and nervousness flooded me all at once. Things were changing again. Things were new and fresh and I would be moving, yet again, for the fourth time in the year. I would have to move one more time before I was in a house with one of my best friends.

Only 2 ½ months into my new job I started applying for a master’s program thinking I wouldn’t start until January. I was accepted and put into the August cohort. I started attending a new church and made more friends. I began realizing my passion is working with people and building community.

This past year has been a wild crazy ride. It had adventures to new states, making new friends, and trying new things. It had heart break and parting with favorites. It had joy and laughter as new favorites entered and new places in my heart began to open. It had smiles and tears. It had successes and fears. It was the year I didn’t expect, but the year I needed more than I knew.

As I pray, think, and plan for 2016 I know that anything can happen and that my journeys will be new. I know that there are things I fear and things I can’t wait to jump into. There are so many unknowns, and yet, I am eager to be part of to see and to do. I can’t see the future, but I can go into it eager and willing and ready for anything.

2016, I am excited to see what you hold and where you will take me and the faces I will meet. I am eager to see, learn, and grow.

2016, I am ready for you.

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