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...


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