A week ago, I received an invitation from the Peace Corps to teach English in Namibia.
The first sentence of this post are possibly some of the last words I ever anticipated writing. Back when I started applying in February in the midst of a lot of refinement, I did it on a whim thinking it was an exercise in trusting God more. And then I kept making it through to the next stage, and the next stage. Yes, the possibility tended to hover in the back of my mind, but I never actually expected to get to this point… So now I have to decide to go or to stay: yes or no. Two simple, single syllables that change the trajectory of my life. Not a big deal or anything.
Do you know where Namibia is? Or in the words of my friend Janna, “Nablablabla.” I barely did. It’s actually located here:
I’ve spent this week yo-yo-ing back and forth, repeating affirmatives and negatives one after the other in every language I can think of. I told my family first – my mom was 150% on board and already planning her visit; my dad told me I was making a huge mistake. I feel torn between two “ifs” of what my life could be.
And to be honest, I am afraid.
I am afraid of leaving Boulder, Colorado, even though I love to hate it here. I’m afraid of all I’ll miss out on, of how being in Nablablabla until over two years from now changes what I have planned. I’m afraid of not being safe, I’m afraid of having my heart broken by people I’ve never met in a country and system I can’t do much to change. I’m afraid of forgetting what and Who is good. I’m afraid of being a cliche twenty-something that has to go spend time living in another country to find themself. I’m afraid of managing a classroom after listening to adorable, precious horror stories from my teacher friends. I’m afraid of not pleasing my parents, of not building my resume, of not being who I keep thinking I’m supposed to be. I am afraid.
Yet as I do more research about this, see more pictures, read more books, talk to more people, my fear doesn’t seem as front and center. It begins to transition to the back of my eyes, sort of like a migraine, but only noticeable if I move too quickly or hope too much. And I am at a loss. See, I applied for the Peace Corps never expecting to get in. I applied on a whim because a friend was applying and I had no idea what else to do with myself. Even when I received my nomination back at the end of August, I really didn’t expect to be here. Yes, I want God to be sovereign and to be in His will and all that jazz, but really what was laid bare in my heart by the words “Congratulations” and “Namibia” is that I really want God’s will to agree with my idea of what my life should be like. I really want God to play it safe with me and to teach me how to trust Him on my terms.
But the thing is, to say no to the Peace Corps, you have to write a statement. Like an essay saying why you are declining the invitation to service full of insightful and logical reasons that can be stored in a filing cabinet somewhere for forever. Every day since I received the invitation, I have started a new version of that essay. One rendition discussed inability to commit due to lack of family support, another concern about safety. One started out saying that I just lost interest and wanted to pursue another path, another described financial concerns. But the problem with an essay is that it has to consist of more than two sentences. And thus far, I have yet to write the third sentence. It’s like the words get stuck and I can’t think of anything more to say.
I have a tattoo on my foot that says Joshua 1:9. That verse is near and dear to my heart and remains absolutely and brilliantly true.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Even if it’s to Nablablabla.
So all this blogging comes down to one word: yes.
Yes, I am going to Namibia with the Peace Corps. Yes, I am stepping into more of what it looks like to trust Jesus with my life. Yes, I am going to choose teaching Namibian students rather than fight for a salary with benefits. Yes, I will be learning another language in a place I never expected to go in a million years and doing something I never expected to do. I’ll be leaving in late July for Pre-Service training and then getting placed at my site in September until September 2015.