Sunday, September 8, 2013

Is it really worth it?

Life is full of many ups and downs.   This week, I was reminded of several things that my fellow YASCers and I will learn to deal with in a new way during our year abroad.  It’s hard to be away from home when these things happen.  It can be even harder when you know that you can’t be there for quite a while afterwards.  Life seems to go on DESPITE the fact that we are away.  You could look at the things you miss and ask yourself “Is it really even worth it? 

This week, one of my YASC friends lost his grandfather.  It wasn’t a really unexpected loss, but that doesn’t make it any easier to be in a foreign country, away from family and friends, when this sort of thing happens.  Another YASCer was able to virtually witness her sister’s ultrasound which showed the new member of her family that will arrive in the near future.  Though she can be connected through the wonders of the internet, there is nothing quite like welcoming a new family member in person.

And speaking of new family members, my cousin got married this week!  I wish them both the best! I have not met his new wife (my cousin-in-law?) or even seen him for several years, but I was reminded that weddings were some of the things that other YASCers mentioned when we talked about what we would miss during a conversation at orientation in New York.  While weddings of friends and distant relatives may not be as hard to miss, weddings of close friends and relatives would be.

As humans, we long to relate to one another and this is especially the case on important days.  Births, weddings, and deaths are moments in life when we wish to share each other’s joys, sorrows, and memories.  When we miss out on these moments, it is easy to become discouraged.  We may say things like “I wish I had been there when my niece was born,” or “I can’t believe I missed their wedding.  It’s the most important day of their lives!”

There are little things we will miss out this year as well.  We have been talking about the holidays a lot lately around the school.  We are making our Christmas plans and the other Americans and I have been dreaming of Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and mashed potatoes.  It will be hard to be away from family at that time of year.  For the first year that I can remember, I wasn’t around to help my mom set up her classroom for the new school year.  That is the thing that always made me feel like summer was really over.  My baby brother is using my car for the year.  I got my car used 8 years ago, and it has taken me on many adventures.  He gets to be the one to see it hit 100,000 miles, a momentous occasion for any car owner.  This year, I will miss snow, trick-or-treating, Easter egg hunts, the Super Bowl, fast food, the Winter Olympics, my dog, Black Friday sales, new movies, and all of my favorite television shows.  The list goes on and on.

But you know what?  I don’t care.

I could spend a year dwelling on the things I’m missing, but it wouldn’t do me any good.  It wouldn’t do anyone any good. 

Instead, I think about all the things that get to happen BECAUSE I am here.  Personally, I get the opportunity to live in another country and to experience life half-way around the world.  I get the chance to learn and use a second language, even if it isn’t exactly fluently, to communicate with others who don’t speak English.  I have met and get to work with fantastic people who come from all over the world: Tanzania, the US, Northern Ireland, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and the UK.  I get to learn first-hand about a new culture.  I also get to experience a different type of worship on Sunday mornings and am surrounded by fellow Christians who freely share their spirit and enthusiasm.

I also get to share my experiences with the world.  One of my favorite features of Blogger is the map I can see that shows me where people have checked in from.  It is fun to see what new countries have joined me each week.  Some of the countries are expected.  The US, Canada, Tanzania, and the countries where other YASCers are seem to come up a lot.  Other places such as Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, and Poland surprise me.  I am so grateful to each one of you for sharing with me.

I am also able to connect my kids with parts of the world they know little about.  My students in Tanzania have become pen pals with the students in Wyoming I have worked with for the past few years.  Together, they will learn about each other while practicing writing skills and correct English grammar. 

So, is it worth it?

Glad I don't get to miss this!


  1. Thanks for the reminders. Because we moved across the country, not even out of it, I have missed weddings, funerals and the births of all but one of my grandchildren. When I fly back 'home', I get to enjoy the beautiful colors and most of my family and friends. See it is this distance that showed me who was a true friend and who was a sometimes friend. My first trip back I had to decide in a short time who I could visit. But when that plane lands in Cody I FEEL HOME!
    Enjoy your time away, appreciate all you are experiencing. It is this 'missing stuff' that make you appreciate all you really have and all that is truly important!
    Oh, I hope those pen pal grammar lessons go both ways, as I am often appalled by poor grammar here! :)
    Thanks for sharing. We'll keep an eye on your folks for you and when my car turns 300,000 shortly (only about 10,000 to go) I will think of you!

  2. Heidi! This was a wonderful post! It encapsulates how each one of us is feeling perfectly! Thanks for sharing and putting yourself out there. P.S. Glad to know i'm not the only one getting readers from Poland and Russia. haha

  3. I miss you, Heidi. I'm not gonna lie. You have become such an incredibly amazing human being. Your wisdom, courage, and flexibility helps me get through those Pizza Thursdays we used to spend together, the very rushed trips through the fabric stores I now take, and the escapes from hours of cello practicing. You inspire so many people every day, both in your presence and your absence. I wish I could be more like you.

  4. Ok lil sis... I know it's not the major point of the blog... but I'll update you on a couple things... Ziva is leaving NCIS... and I'm getting married next week... ok the second isn't true... but I miss you... and Love ya

    this is Ben BTW

    1. Just so you know, you can't tell me she's leaving and not tell me why... that's just mean.

  5. I miss many things from home and family too.. totally relate to what you wrote. And I totally love your focus on all the adventures that you are having and going to have this year because you are being obedient to Christ. I for one am already blessed to be serving God alongside you here at CAMS and I KNOW that the students will be changed long term because of you coming.. i know this because it happened to me here at the school because of my teachers being obedient to God and coming to serve him here. I first met Christ here. Much Love.. Maria xXx p.s. we can certainly work on some of your list of things you are going to miss.. new movies for sure!!!

  6. You're amazing Heidi! I know you must have a rush of feelings going on daily. Keep journaling because a year from now you will go back and relive all of the incredible moments over and over. Know you are loved by your family and an amazing God!
    Keep the faith. :0)
    Aunt Kelli