Gambling on an Experience

South African Sunset

When I found the position with the ELCA as a global missionary I almost lost my breath in disbelief that such a job would exist.

The description was exactly what I had studied as an undergrad at CLU. The job was in one of my favorite countries I visited when I studied abroad with SAS. The organization was through a church that I am proud to be a part of. It was a dream job.

When I found out that they wanted me for the job, I cried pretty heavily in a Starbucks. I had to read the email more than once to double check that it was real. I called my family and friends immediately after and cried some more, and then had a moment of panic. Crap, I am moving for two years to go work for an organization that may not be anything like I think it is, and I can’t just quit and move home if I don’t like it. I will have a ton of people to answer to if things go wrong, I will be thousands of miles from home, and I have no guarantee of being successful.

Almost a month in, I am currently experiencing a rush of feeling content. My apartment is wonderful, my car is safe, my office is lovely and the staff are all caring and hard working. I am so thankful for every single moment so far. I’ve had to stick my foot in my mouth a few times, I’ve had close calls while driving, I’ve cried once or twice, and I’ve missed the comforts of America briefly every now and then. But this whole experience has been a jackpot.

Not all graduates are this fortunate. The competition for employment is tough, and I was able to find my niche by what I would call divine intervention, while some would call fate, or some would call luck. No matter what it is, I feel secure in the most unfamiliar place.

I recently have been blowing through books on my Nook that my mom gave me before I left. The books are all works of fiction with adventurous and lively characters that seize life without any regrets, or if they do have regrets they work them into reasons for why things happened the way they did. When I look at my day to day routine, it’s nothing near glamorous, but it is not plain. I drive on the left side of the road, I fight with the internet connection, I wait for mail as the post office is currently on strike, and I hear three to four different languages spoken each day fluently.

My days are being seized in wonder and observation. I was told during my training in July that I will want to write a book about everything I see and learn from being abroad. It’s true, and in my emails to my parents they get a full report of new things. But what I want to remember from this time is not the differences and experiences that seem strange. I want to remember how the people enriched my life, and how I may be able to enrich theirs.

I want to remember that moment in the Starbucks when strangers were avoiding staring but curiously peering at me while I had tears rolling down my face and my hands on my head. In that moment, I was not paying attention to the doubts and regrets. The fear was secondary, while the seizing of life was primary. That’s what every day should be; an eager pursuit of life and giddy heart reminding me of how fortunate I am to have gambled on this experience.

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Author: allihoff

An asthmatic ginger searching for justice & peace in the redwood trees with coffee in one hand, a pen in the other, and Switchfoot playing in the background.