Just recently, I began to sing an even newer song. Two weeks ago, I boarded a plane and headed to Eastern Europe to volunteer to teach English for a year. And boy has it been a ride since then! From the onset, there have been challenges. The day I was slated to leave my great love, Chicago, was also the day I moved out of my Hyde Park digs that I have so come to love over the years. I packed all the way up till leaving for O’hare.
I arrived at the airport later than I had originally anticipated and much later than I desired. When I got to the counter, I was sternly told that my flight was closed and that I would not be allowed on the plane, although boarding hadn’t started and there was some time remaining before takeoff. I headed toward the door, despondent, to call my ride to return to pick me up. Minutes later, an attendant found me, told me the flight had just been delayed and reopened and I was issued a boarding pass. I headed toward the gate and a short time afterwards we began boarding. When it was my turn, I handed the attendant my boarding pass to scan. The machine made a buzzing sound and I was told to step aside. Evidently, the flight was full and I had been given someone’s seat who had already been issued a ticket. Obviously, we both could not occupy the seat. It appeared that I might not be able to make the flight after all. Eventually a seat in business class was located for me and away I flew.
When I arrived in Georgia, my entire group’s luggage had been lost. I was horrified, because in true Sheena form, my carry-on was filled entirely with fly…SHOES! No shirt, pant, panty, brassiere, nor toiletry of any kind was present in that bag. It was Wednesday and the forecast for the arrival of luggage was Saturday. I waited patiently for our luggage to arrive the days that followed and when the rest of the group’s luggage arrived several days later, it appeared that mine alone was still floating someplace in oblivion. My luggage eventually came and I was ecstatic and everything about the world seemed brighter, then volunteers were given the specific areas they would be placed. Rather than being placed in a city, I was informed I would be placed in a rural village- precisely where I had been having deep conversations with Jesus about graciously not wanting to end up, great.
My host dad picked me up the next day and brought me to our house where I realized no one in my family spoke English, there was no resemblance of an internet connection, nor running water, nor indoor-plumbing. Yep, that means that I’d have to bring my obsessive-compulsive self to use an outhouse, and not one with a deep hole that refuse disappeared into forever, but rather one with a shallow hole where large clumps of decomposing poop could be seen quite easily and DEFINITELY smelt. And, I would have to shower in a cement room built onto the outside of the house with a makeshift shower that I’d often share with an assembly of bugs.
I didn’t last very long there and am happy to report that I have since found suitable housing with quite a lovely family. However, it took the traumatic experiences at my first house to really appreciate the comforts my current home offers. There is still an outhouse, but a much more bearable one. And believe it or not, I’m managing to use it without hyper- ventilating and fainting directly upon entry; go figure. There is an indoor tub, satellite television, internet access, a bedroom with a private entrance and an amazing view. I can see the Caucasus Mountains from my balcony. My backyard is a vineyard where my host parents grow their own grapes and make their own wine (I know some of you would be much more appreciative of this tid bit than I am, lol!) There are cows, chickens, lambs, turkeys (and even an occasional pig) everywhere and I actually like it. I’ve never felt so connected to the earth that the Lord created. While life is so simple here, I am taken with the grandness and beauty of sheer creation each day. My host parents are fabulous people; the father tells me that I am his child and that anything in his house, I can have (sounds like these could be words from another Father).
I don’t know what the end of this leg of the journey will bring, but I am excited. I know that there will be difficult days ahead but believe that those days will pale in comparison to the great days that surely lie in wait. I’m learning new things about myself most days and fortunately for me, some of those things I quite like. Those I don’t remind me of my fallibility and perpetual need for a Savior.
Life hasn’t always dealt me the kindest hand, but I’m so grateful that God has granted me the privilege of having a life wherein hardship and heartache do not exist alone but where there are great adventures with the lover of my soul at every juncture also. As the Georgia adventure progresses, I promise to keep you posted.