Saturday, July 30, 2016

Goodbye, Baltimore - Hello, Hangzhou

I'm leaving today.

What am I doing writing about it? Aren't I busy, busy, busy? Well, yeah, kind of. I leave from JFK at 2:00 AM, so there's a lot of time and space in-between there. And even though I went to bed around 1:30 AM, up late with the final packing details, I was wide awake at 7:00 with a thousand things battering my brain.

Baltimore, it's been a...hard but good three and half years. It hasn't been perfect, but God has been good. And that's life, friends. Not perfect - often rather hard - but God is good. I moved to Baltimore at the beginning of 2013 with the hope that I would be able to find a good church (I did), a good place to live (I did), a good car (I did), a good job (I did), and a pet (I did). It was a short list, but an important one. Looking back on God's goodness to me over these past few years, I know, once again, that God was walking with me. My work in particular wasn't always easy, and I definitely went through a lot of emotional turmoil at both schools that I worked at, but God was good. I made good friends in both places, I think I impacted students' lives in both places, and I grew more than I thought possible as a teacher and an individual. God was with me, especially in the hardest times, especially when I did not know what to do. How do I know God was with me? Because I made it. He is faithful. I don't mean this as some kind of glib platitude. I mean it: God is faithful, even when - especially when - I am not.

As I look forward to moving to China (today), I am hesitant and a bit anxious. I know that I have just put myself in the path of still more transition. I know that this move means at least a year before I feel comfortable and that I have a place. I'm not being pessimistic, just realistic - it takes me a while to warm up to a place and to form deep friendships. I'm scared of my own propensity to hibernate when it's proving harder to maker friends than I think it should. I'm scared of the challenges of starting over again, as much as I look forward to reentering the world of international education, and the expatriate life.

I'm also really excited. I'm excited to explore a new city and a new country; to get to know a new culture. I'm excited for the inevitable mistakes I'm going to make. Not excited in that I hope I'll make them, but simply that they'll be a good story to tell. I'm looking forward to trying new things, to travelling around the world. I'm looking forward to having a little more freedom in my finances. I'm looking forward to making connections with people because we share a love for international students and international education. I'm looking forward to the higher academic challenge of my new school, and yes, I'm looking forward to teaching generally well-behaved children again. I'm looking forward to hopefully spending time with my good literary friends again, and introducing them to my students. I'm hopeful for good friends, and laughter, and adventures.

Well, friends, I still have about eight hundred things battering around in my head - and they are tasks that must be done, and not written about.

This blog will continue while I'm in China (I assume...). Stay tuned and thanks for your thoughts and prayers as I fly away (with my little dog, Lucy) to China.

[Oh, and if you read this today, please pray mostly for the travel with the dog. I'm not too worried about myself, but I am anxious for Lucy, our two flights, for getting her through customs smoothly in Guangzhou, and then a quick recovery from the trauma I'm putting her through over the next few days.]