The words that so commonly come after I tell someone of my plans to move to Chile. “Wow, you’re so brave…”
Am I? Am I brave? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. This decision was a very gradual, slow burning process that I didn’t even like to talk about for the first few months it was in my head. See, once you start saying something out loud and letting people know, it feels so horrible to have to go back on it. It was like my security blanket…the less people who knew I was considering it, the better.
Then, after I had already informed my coworkers and my principal of my decision to leave the country (which means I would have to resign from the district), I had a moment of near-meltdown, sheer panic. It was after midnight on a Sunday night (still during the school year I might add) and I was still awake after getting lost in research on the country and the job search process. Suddenly I was thinking, What am I doing?? I know, I’ll just tell everybody I was kidding and go running back to my district asking for a job next year. Haha, what a big joke that was!
In that moment, no other living soul I knew was still awake, so the only person I could talk to was my Jesus, in frantic, fervent prayer. I like how it worked out like that. Having no distractions really forced me to pray and I needed the peace and clarity that came from it.
One huge thing that I realized that night that really calmed me down was the plain, simple fact that God is everywhere. Just because I leave the country and dive into a foreign culture doesn’t mean that I’ll be alone. He created them just like He created me, He knows their culture, and I presently have a very narrow view of the world. It’s such a silly thing to realize because it’s so obvious, but this is completely new territory and I was freaking out!
So why did I even decide to go to Chile in the first place? There are several factors that led to this decision, but I’ll focus on some of the most recent.
I minored in Spanish in college, and I loved it. I really wanted to pursue the language further, but a minor was the highest level I could achieve at my university. My professor had a lot of confidence in me (which was really my driving force to take so many Spanish classes) and he told me all I needed was a chance to immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking culture, and everything else would kick in making me bilingual in no time.
I have had no opportunity to do such a thing, besides a failed dream to study a month in Spain, which had to be given up when I didn’t get any scholarships for the program. After I graduated, I didn’t look into any more options because I was no longer a student and, frankly, very busy starting out my career.
These past two years I have had the privilege of teaching at a school where over 90% of the students population is Hispanic and the bilingual classes far outnumber the general education classes. However, even being in a world where I hear Spanish just about every time I walk the halls, I found that my own Spanish wasn’t progressing even in the slightest. That was just…depressing.
This past year was difficult for many different reasons, and one of the things that added to the mix was an autistic student with Spanish-speaking only parents. How I longed to just be able to speak freely with them! Without the use of a translator. We were able to communicate a little, and I used some Spanish when I spoke with them, but it wasn’t nearly enough to do so without confusion and frustration.
Something had to be done. I was tired of saying I’d studied the language but then getting embarrassed from not being able to use it. Something drastic had to be done. And so here I am…5 days away from boarding a plane to Santiago.
Maybe a part of me is brave…or just plain crazy. This whole thing feels crazy. But honestly, I’ve received so much encouragement from just about everyone who has heard that I’m going. People are “so excited” and many older folks have shared, “I wish I would have done something like that when I was young”.
Live without regret, right? But more than that, this is the biggest act of faith I have ever lived out. I actually waited until the last week in May to resign from my district because I knew that in doing so, I would have nothing to fall back on. I was telling people I would be spending the next year in Chile, but I still had a contract in Grand Prairie, pending my signature. The time came when I forced myself to take the risk, formally resign, and step forward with no back up plan.
Getting on a plane, by myself, with so many unknowns looming ahead, is not anywhere near my comfort zone. In fact, this is so unlike me, that sometimes I wonder how I ended up deciding to do this. Knowing that God’s got it all figured out is the only source of my courage. In that truth, peace is found.
It’s actually pretty funny how timing has worked out – my roommate found someone to replace me who moved in just after I came back from Europe, which helped me save a couple months worth of rent. My 2 year cell phone contract ends in August, so I don’t have to pay any early termination fees. My sister’s 2 year lease on her car is ending and she’s buying mine. This is the off year for our Thanksgiving family reunion cabin getaway, so I don’t have to miss out on that.
See? He’s got it all sorted out. And for when I do start to grow anxious, I’ll dwell on these truths to ground me:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. -Proverbs 16:9
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11