Monday, January 31, 2011

It's official

I leave Boston tonight, fly all night to London and spend Tuesday in London; fly all Tuesday night and get to Johannesburg, South Africa Wednesday morning! I'll try and post updates along the way. 

A bien tot! :)

I am officially a resident of South Africa!

(There is a chorus behind me singing "Hallelujah" as I write this, so pretend you hear them too...)

I got my visa! Like, I actually have it IN MY HAND!!

Flight updates soon to follow. :)

- E

Almost there

I really wanted to start this post with an update on my current situation and an alternative ending, but that would just be mean. So, here's the most recent update:

Last time I posted, it was Saturday, 22 January, and I was about to go to New York four days later to get my visa. I got there and talked to Rose, who informed me that I was most likely going to get it that Friday, 28 January. She had me a leave a money order so they could over night the visa. Friday morning, I get an email saying, "You can pick up your visa at 12pm today." Good news: I got the visa! "Got" as in "approved". Bad news: it was in New York City...and they wanted me to PICK IT UP. What?! After a series of emails and a dear friend in New York City going himself to the consulate, I was reassured that it would be in my hands the next Saturday, the 29th. Rose even called me a few hours later to confirm my address. Some alerts should have gone off in my head, when I realized that that phone call came at 5pm. Nonetheless, with shouts of joy, I immediately called my travel agent to inform her that I would have my visa the next day and could leave that night. She booked my flight and all was settled. 
But then it was Saturday. Noon came, then 2:30, then 4:10pm...exactly two hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. And did I have my visa?! No. Such a surprise, huh? I think a number of friends have started to believe that I'm not actually moving. I'm trying not follow in their steps. So now it is Sunday, and I am (still) sitting in Boston. 

To be honest, I didn't want to go to church today; I just didn't want to show my face again after having already said good bye five million times and announcing I was actually leaving that time, at least three times. I say that kind of laughing at myself and kind of serious. This whole thing has been exhausting. It's exhausting getting excited about something and then not getting it or having to postpone it. It's exhausting dealing with disappointment. It's exhausting explaining something to people over and over again. And I think that's true for everyone, regardless of the situation. Whether you are looking forward to a date with someone and then your date gets sick or a blizzard strikes that night (don't laugh - we've seen over 50 inches in Boston this month - that is totally possible); or, you're just really excited to go back and buy that fabulous dress you saw on sale three days ago at h&m, after agonizing over whether or not you should actually buy it, only to find out: they're sold out. Or whether you've been trying to get pregnant for a few years and your relatives keep asking you when you're going to be next, while holding your unbelievably adorable nephew. (This example isn't personal to my life, but I know many friends for whom it sadly is.) 

I also can just feel guilty for caring so much about this. I'm sure there is someone else out there, who if he or she was in the exact situation, would be totally fine - she wouldn't be crying about a missed flight and he wouldn't want to just hide in his apartment to avoid reality. But that's not me. And that's ok. I think the point of this is to learn not give into those emotions. Crying is fine, but I'm not going to wallow in self pity and I will enjoy the day. I've decided, undoubtedly, that I much rather be in a difficult situation and go through hard times and have a character with some gumption, than to always have things easy and have jello for an emotional and mental foundation. I think writing all this out, helps remind me of it all and make sure I'm actually living it out. (Btw, if you have a few extra minutes to read, I think my first post ever will be enlightening for understanding the general theme behind a lot of my writings: lemons.) 

Hopefully, I will have some very exciting news to report on tomorrow. In the mean time, get excited. I am. Really.



Joburg soccer stadium

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The beginning

"It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela

I don't quite know how to write the first documentation of such an epic adventure. (Yes, I do think my coming adventure is quite epic.) So, I figured a quote by the most famous man to come out of the country I am moving to would be appropriate. But before I go into that, I guess I should provide an introduction.

My name is Elizabeth, I'm 22. I'm a recent graduate of Boston University, a former Starbucks employee (but a successful applicant to over 50 "grown-up" jobs), and have been living out of suitcases for (going-on) three weeks, now. I decided four months ago that I would move to Johannesburg, South Africa to help lead a campus ministry at the University of Johannesburg. I was supposed to leave on 12 January, but thanks to the wonderful establishment of bureaucracy, I have been forced to postpone my departure. All my worldly possession were put in storage a few days before I was scheduled to leave; hence, the living out of suitcases. Today is Saturday, 22 January; hopefully, I will be able to leave by this next Friday.

Most of you reading this will probably be surprised to find out that this is not the first entry in this blog. I started this blog in the spring of 2009 and kept it while I was interning in Washington, DC that summer. I only told a handful of people though. It is ironic that the last post I made was a link for a preview of the movie "Post Grad". Anyone seen it? I loved it. I thought it was charming, funny, and all too realistic. I saw the film before I graduated from college, while I was still quite sure that I would soon be sitting at my desk in some fabulous downtown high-rise, in a J.Crew suit, changing the world...all with my first real job! Did you notice my comment on the link? God has a sense of humor. I started working at Starbucks Coffee as a summer job, convinced I would have a different job by the end of the summer. And slowly but surely, it was August, September...and now it's January. Now, full-time ministry has not always been my life goal, my desired career (and it still might not be...I'm not sure). But I applied to the campus ministry leader position in Joburg, the same way I applied to every other job: "Let's keep my options open...this probably won't happen either, but who knows." Then through a serious of events which I believe God was completely behind, by the end of September, I was filling out visa applications and collecting boxes to pack my things into. And here I am, four months later, begging the country of South Africa to let me in.

I chose the above quote by Nelson Mandela because it's kind of how I feel about moving to Africa. Many people have told me I'm very brave for going, many have just gawked at me and asked if I was joking. I don't  really know how to respond. I don't feel exceptionally brave and it can be hard to quickly explain how the love of Christ compels us to do things we could never imagine. But I do think it's like Mr. Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done." A lot of life is like that. This is also a perfect transition to explain the title of my blog.

(WARNING: slight movie spoiler ahead.)
Ever seen The Holiday? Christmas/New Years movie with Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz? It is one of my favorites! All the reasons why are irrelevant for here, but there is one scene...
Throughout the entire film Kate Winslet (Iris) pines for a man who does not love her and will not, but he keeps her in this toxic relationship that continues to give her hope for something more. Eventually, just before the new year, Iris comes to her senses and realizes how much of her life she has been wasting on this tool-box of a man. She tells him that this "twisted, toxic thing between us, is finally finished!" When he asks what has gotten into her, she responds: "I don't know. But I think what I've got is something slightly resembling, gumption." Yes! It is a scene that makes the viewer feel just as liberated at Iris does! Now, I know that might seem like quite a dramatic analogy to use in my life...I am not going to South Africa to free myself from some disastrous relationship...but the whole thing represents what I've wanted to be my whole life: brave. Have some gumption. Stand up for something. Be loud. I'm gotten better at it over the years and moving to Africa is another big growth spurt, but it is always something I will need help doing and will just have to make a decision to do/be. (See point E for further detail.)

Well, there you go. The first entry of the chronicles of a girl with something in her, slightly resembling gumption. Hopefully, I will have some updates and more exciting things to fill you all in on over the next well as, a more detailed description of what I'm actually doing over there. I didn't really give you that, did I?

Till then...