Packing today. Prague tomorrow. Home on Thursday. Wow. I can't believe my first year is over. Looking back on what life was like exactly one year ago brings to mind a particular word: CHANGE. While it feels like the year has flown by, so much has happened, and so many changes have occurred. Some are silly, some are serious. I don't think I can manage listing them all, but here is a snippet:
*I learned to survive without both air conditioning and ceiling fans. It wasn't easy. It still isn't.
*I can now kill bugs with my bare hands. Only small ones, but hey, that's something.
*I built meaningful relationships with students, other teachers, and youth from church and Young Life. I'm so glad to have another year with them. I really can't imagine saying final goodbyes right now.
*After one year without a car, I've all but forgotten how to drive. Let's just say that I'll be practicing my parking skills in the nosebleed section of the parking lot.
*I mostly overcame my fear of lighting matches thanks to the gas stove in our flat. It's still a little scary, but hey, progress is progress.
*I learned how to teach and managed to not bore my students to death! :-D
*I met my four teammates and learned how to live with them while loving them. We had our ups and downs throughout the year, but overall, I feel so blessed to be part of their team. I love you, girls!
*I learned how to use and rely on various public transportation systems. Boy, will I miss those in America. I rode my first train in August and have ridden them countless times since then. Such a convenient way to travel.
*I taught my first workshop...to teachers, no less! Yes, I felt totally unqualified, but it was a good learning experience.
*I developed a love for Czech people, especially youth. I never thought I would want to work with youth, and now I spend my spare time on weekends volunteering with Young Life.
*I learned how to speak some Czech. Since I teach English and live with other Americans, I don't think I'll ever be even close to fluent, but at least now I can confuse telemarketers when they call during dinner :-D
*I became very aware of how important it is to appreciate the little blessings every day, especially during the gray and depressing winter.
*Living in Czech has taught me to be more comfortable with myself. I can now go about my day without wearing a stitch of makeup, and it's such a relief.
*I went a whole year without using a dryer for freshly-laundered clothes. At first, I thought I'd die of S.U.S. (starchy underwear syndrome), but I've actually come to appreciate our humble drying rack.
*I learned a whole heck of a lot about myself, and some things were hard lessons to learn. However, I am grateful that God is continuing to shape and mold me into the person He wants me to be. I am continually amazed that while He doesn't need me at all, He still wants to use me. He has given me such a heart for ministry, and I feel so blessed that He chooses to use me in spite of myself.
This year has been quite a ride and I'm excited to see what God has in store for year two. Thank you to everyone who made my first year in Czech such a success. Friends and family (and dog!) at home, I'm so stinkin' excited to see you! To all my Czechsters, I love you and I'll see you in September!
P.S. Here's a picture for your viewing pleasure. It's of the main square in Krakow, Poland on a rainy night during Easter weekend.