Being a FOCUS missionary is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Plain and simple. This past week marks the third anniversary of my accepting a call to be a missionary from Steve Pries. I remember exactly where I was when I listened to the voicemail he left me (crossing Regent Street on my way towards campus), and where I was when I called him back (at the bus stop in front of the Chazen Museum of Art). I remember him telling me they would like to "extend an offer for me to join FOCUS" and I said "Yes! Absolutely! I'm in." He asked if I had questions and I recall having none (except, probably, when will I be able to start breathing again??).
What a joy.
Last year I remember spending some time trying to think of how many people wouldn't be in my life had I turned that offer down. It's tough to think about! I've been blessed to meet countless incredible students at the Newman Center alone. Then there are the people that I've met through them (friends, roommates, girlfriends/boyfriends, etc). Then there are the friends I've been blessed with outside of NDSU. And their friends and families. Oh, and the families of the students that I've met (you Breens in particular). There are the Fargo Diocese priests we've been blessed to meet. Bishops, deacons, religious sisters, and other laypeople around Fargo. And that's just in Fargo alone! I didn't even start listing all of the amazing missionaries that have come in and out of my life! Wow, those are some holy men and women right there. Starting with the missionaries at the UW campus while I was in school, to the missionaries at my interview weekend in Indy (yes you, Jonathan), the women in my college my first summer at NST, as well as all the other "firsties" with me. Then there were the missionaries that I met the second year... and the third year... So. Many. Holy. People.
I am blessed.
When you hear people say that this is "the best job ever." We really aren't kidding. FOCUS Missionaries are some of the happiest people I've ever met and it will be a sad day when I have to say goodbye to so many of them.
That brings me to my next point: I declare this semester, Spring 2014, to be my last semester as a FOCUS missionary (cue Kelsey's uncontrollable sobs). I have grown so much over these past three years that it's difficult to imagine leaving. Not to mention watching young lives transform right in front of you on a day-to-day basis is pretty darn rewarding. However, I'm excited to announce that I will be moving to a new place and semi-starting over--that's right, I'm moving to the great state of Iowa!
Yep, that's right. I'm going to become an Iowegian. (That one's for you, Jenne.) Those are words that any true Sconnie thinks he or she will never utter. Luckily, Iowa is still a largely midwestern state and the people there are delightful. I wouldn't believe it if I wouldn't have actually gone and visited. Most of my pre-conceived notions of Iowans were wrong--hard to believe, right? From what I've noticed John Deere, corn fields and young engineers make up a large part of the state, but I'm excited to see what else is in store.
A few things I am particularly excited about with this move:
1) I will be less than half the distance to my family that I am now. Hopefully that will mean more time to see mom, pops and Kevin, as well as my adorable goddaughter and her big sister. FaceTime certainly can be fun, but for a person who prefers quality time above all else, it loses its excitement when you haven't physically been near the person in months.
2) I will be living much closer to Lee, in fact, and God-willing, in the same city! I can't even imagine how nice that will be. The long-distance relationship can afford many opportunities for growth, but let's be real, you can't do that forever. Plus, I really miss him.
3) Everything will be new. A new apartment, a new job, a new city. New, new, new. I slightly remember what it was like when I moved to Fargo and experienced the same newness, and I have a feeling this will be pretty similar. Who doesn't love a good adventure?
There is much to be done, however, before any of this takes place. Please keep me in your prayers as I make these transitions--right now it seems all hunky-dory, but as soon as I need to seriously buckle down and figure out logistics, I might go a little nuts.
For now all I can see is what's right in front of me: today. Our team has a glorious and much-needed day of recollection. That means we are taking the day to ourselves for prayer, spiritual direction, and anything that will fill us that we don't normally have time to do. If you call or email me and I don't answer today, I'll get back to you as soon as I can! Until then I'll be reading, praying, letter-writing and being spiritually directed.