Monday, October 26, 2015

ON THE OTHER SIDE

We have been in a weird state of transition for a while now. If I take a step back, the transition stage goes even further into the past than I usually think about. Ever since David and I got engaged over two years ago, I have been in some version or another of a liminal, in-between stage.

I came to Denver for a service term with AmeriCorps and Urban Servant Corps to work with Denver’s working poor and those experiencing homelessness downtown. The work was hard and draining for many reasons, but it made sense in light of who I am and how I understand my calling. Shortly after my program was over, David and I got engaged, and I began to look for what was next for me as David finished his degree at Denver Seminary. We both knew that we wanted to serve overseas together after we were married and after David was done with seminary...but what to do in the meantime? How was I supposed to prepare, wait and also be fully present where I was?

I took a job that turned out to be nothing like I had hoped for. I learned a host of skills that I knew would help me tremendously in the future, but I also felt like I was merely biding (and often wasting) my time. I finally bit the bullet and found another job, even though I didn’t think I would be there for too long. I loved the job, but just as I was getting my sea legs under me at the new job, David and I began exploring options for serving overseas. He had graduated, and within a few months we accepted positions to work and live long-term in Cambodia. I continued working in that job for over a year, loving the people I worked with, but also knowing I wouldn’t be there for too long.

Accepting these positions in Cambodia set off a year of training, fundraising and preparing. Preparing, waiting and doing our best to be fully present where we were. We left Denver at the end of September (which seems like both yesterday and a lifetime ago now). The entire month of September was one long goodbye after another. Leaving jobs, parting with friends and community and dealing with all of our “stuff” (it turns out even if you have a small apartment, you will find more things in there than you can imagine!). Just over a month ago now, we sold our bed and we have been living out of suitcases since then. 

It was off to Texas from there. We had beautiful time with family and longtime friends over the last few weeks, but we were also in a state of mind somewhere between holiday vacation mode and vagabonding. We lived out of suitcases for almost a monthwith our bags spread out between in-lawsand never seemed to know where the possessions or clothes we wanted were at any given moment. We were preparing, waiting and also trying to be fully present. (OK, and we were also eating a ridiculous amount of chicken-fried steak and Blue Bell ice cream…)

Transition. I’ve been thinking about it so much lately that I’ve found myself singing a made up song in my head about it (rhyming along with Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof: Transition!) Two full years of transition.



We arrived in Cambodia safely and with all our suitcases late last Friday evening. The heat and humidity is a bit shocking to our systems. The noise, bustle and grit of the city surprised me, even though I have been here before. It is jarring as ever to be tall and white in a place where that means you have no chance of ever blending in.
But do you know what is really surprising me?

I’m no longer in-between. I’m no longer waiting. We are here.

Now, we are still living out of suitcases and sleeping in beds that aren’t our own. We still have no real idea if we will actually be able to accomplish any of the things we hope will happen in our time here. But...we are here. We can start the work of learning.
That feels so strange and so good.