Friday, May 21, 2010

If there's one post you read, get a snack, and snuggle up for this one...

K lovers, brace yourselves. Okay, okay, okay, so you’re going to call me crazy…but I don’t care…put your reading glasses on, this one’s going to take you longer than just your morning coffee.

Essentially, a long-anticipated, five-week trip to Thailand with Meghan (:() is morphing into a three-month journey across the globe. This year, as I have stated repeatedly, has become a year of tremendous growth for me, gaining slow and steady trust back with God, coming to a step-by-step, hard realization of my own self-worth with him, and watching him show me how much he cares intimately about my life – dreams, conditions, relationships; when I began turning my mind again towards him, and allowed my heart to soften…things I have been yearning for with God have began to happen.

I know this is all over your heads, and you probably don’t get what I’m talking about – and I think most of that is how it is supposed to be….it’s personal – but I still want you to know the weight of all of this and what it means to my life and development because yes – it’s on the world wide web – BUT anyone who is reading this has shown some interest in the going ons in my life – and I want to make it clear that these things and our lives, are not for nothing. And though my words will fail to communicate, try to read between the lines! (And also, please know I’m honestly not trying to boast – though I’ve followed willingly and been open and up for working hard, the majority of this happened by faith, not by what I could have done…so please know I’m not shoving this in your face to brag – I honestly just love it when you guys get excited with me and share what’s going on in your own let’s continue).

I’m pretty pumped about this, so listen up!!

Until mid August, my travels will challenge me in most capacities; mentally, physically, spiritually, culturally – all the “ally’s,” you get the picture…it’s gonna be a wild ride, and I’m holding on tight with everything I’ve got.

I think HK is turning not into the destination (which it never was originally anyway), but the waiting ground for what is to come. It has become a place where I am mostly alone – learning with God only – establishing him first with no other person to distract me. And then, over time he has slowly been infiltrating other people and things into my life. I take back the ‘slowly’ – though the waiting periods have seemed to move like a snail, don’t get me wrong – but he is actually making things happen quite rapidly and quite intricately. It’s just mind-blowing for me witnessing it all begin to fit together; with random pieces being placed where they fit in the puzzle, and new ones presenting themselves all the time, over and over. Just when I think wow – this picture is incredible, and I think the puzzle is complete – he removes the flat edges, confuses me, and then adds more – making the final picture huge…and forever being worked on. But I love that. Because a puzzle isn’t random – as weird or insignificant as each squiggly piece may seem on its own – they all fit perfectly and snugly beside others. It’s just a matter of either finding where it goes, or waiting for its place to present itself more evidently later on.

OK – puzzle metaphor taken slightly too far. But do you get it? Or do I still sound insane? Meh, it doesn’t matter…more and more people are expressing their observations and their own place in my life, and the things happening in their own lives…and if not now, you will too! The world, and the hand that spins it, is appearing more and more connected than even facebook (possible?? ;)).

First, I want to introduce you to Julia. She is the wonderfully freckled one in some of the pictures I’ve posted (I’ll let you do the work and find the pictures if you don’t know her already). Basically, awesome girl, and we met at the View from Here while waiting in line for the washroom (a couple of months ago now?). Julia was an intern at Embassy, the church Laura, Aimee and I are into from this past school term. Okay, so we met there.

Secondly; Hannah. I don’t know if she remembers but the first night Laura and I went to Embassy, she came up and introduced herself…though I didn’t remember her name (sorry Hannah!) until we met again at Coffee Culture while she was working on a presentation on the Israel-Palestine conflict with Laura (not the roommie Laura), who I know through J-Lee. SO basically…we talked for a long time about the conflict, traveling, randomness, etc.

Then the next night (a Monday), I sit down at Hannah’s table to ask her some questions about this conference she was telling me about, which I wanted to go to but was pushing aside for a possible future venture another year (with Thailand coming up fast). She was sitting with Julia, the one I met in line for the washroom – so we all got talking – nothing major, just the engine starting.

Then the wheels began turning, though I didn’t know it at the time… all that week, the two of them were meeting at Coffee Culture to interview for volunteers for a trip their doing to Haiti, and I was spending my long hours studying for exams there (sometimes with Nicole…this isn’t too significant to the story except that I love you Nicole and miss talking to you about all this! You humour me…and I guess you are pretty significant ;) ). Anyways, so we would talk about traveling and what we are both up to, they’d give me tips and…eventually by the end of the week, we parted ways.

(I also want to mention meeting Carissa while working at Welcome Home that one time, and she knows Julia as well, and we are spending a couple days together in HK next week, which is sweet!)

Anyways, SO… the Saturday before flying for Thailand which was going to be the following Wednesday, the T-land build was cancelled completely. The funds raised for that build were set aside to a future build at a later date of my choice. But as much as I searched the globe; nothing seemed to come up in Asia during the scheduled time period. Although… I still felt led to go somewhere. So I called and e-mailed all over…and the only response and contact I was able to find on such short notice was the former CEO of Habitat China, who my Aunt and Uncle are close friends with. He lives in Hong Kong…which is twelve hour difference from the T-dot (W-dot/B-dot)…so basically I was waiting (weirdly peacefully and excitedly, you’ll just have to trust me on that one) until the wee early morning hours on the Monday to find out if anyone had read our e-mails and was willing to take me. Alfred (my Aunt and Uncle’s friend) was not only willing to take me and help me out, but he found two schools for me to volunteer at (my intention was to do work overseas, so that’s what I was asking for), AND he called up Vivian to take me in. Neither of them knew me at all, and they have been INCREDIBLE and provided soo much, it’s ridiculous.

Anyway, so though I was willing to change my original flight to anywhere in the world that Saturday, the only contact was from Hong Kong – the place Meghan and I had booked our flights too. Perfect.

Monday morning, Mom and I raced around to to figure China out. Seven months to prepare for Thailand; two days for China…good times.

While here and teaching, things have been amazing, I’ve been learning so much, but I was getting discouraged with the prospect of traveling mainland China alone (I would have gone before and after a HfH China build I am doing there next week). Not only is rural China pretty sketchy for a young, single girl – but it’s also not nearly as amazing when experiencing new things with company.

SO Julia sees on FB (remember we had only spent a few days “together” at coffee culture at this point.) that I am in HK, where her and Jessica (travel buddy) were camping out for a few short days and wanted to meet up. So I tagged along and we actually all got to know each other…and realized with our travel plans that they were going all the places I wanted to go on the mainland (and more) on dates that worked out after the HfH build in China. Furthermore…they were participating in the conference in Israel-Palestine that I had been interested in through Hannah – who is also going again (she’s more involved with it). The only issue presented was A) I have a job waiting for me back home and B) If I was to travel Asia with them, and the conference – what would I do all of July as I wanted to volunteer still, and couldn’t afford backpacking the whole way (they are going to Russia in between; we’d split July 1, and meet back for the conference on the 20th).

SO…I started thinking and praying…because not only did I want to travel China not alone, and with them (because they’re alright), but I also had wanted to participate in the conference from back in the Coffee Culture days. But it just didn’t seem to all fit. So I got back on the HfH Canada website, (because remember the Thailand build money is still set aside for me) and there is a build in Macedonia (which is a perfect flying location if I have to get over to Israel anyway), from July 4-18. Perfect dates and locations for getting over there, and getting to the conference. I began to get excited.

When I e-mailed the team leader for the build, she said she had JUST accepted a father and son which filled the team…I didn’t give up….two days later, one person dropped the build for a different HfH build, and they accepted me onto the team….and my application to the conference was also accepted!

SO…everything was falling into place…the battle is still a financial one, but the way things have happened (and there is SO much more than what I am telling you because let’s be real, you have other things to do in your life than just read my over-thought adventures), that I can trust that I will be provided for – because God already has. I’ve learned to start praying bigger, and specifically, and tried to focus on what I am praying for and work on my intentions with it… and I am learning so much and watching awesome things happen. Like everything from being provided with a cell phone without even asking for one (though I needed it), an extra camera at one point when my camera was acting up (didn’t ask anyone, just given), not to mention Alfred and Vivian who were thrown into this without realizing how much they were doing – and their contribution is a major one and a whole other blog entry as well. And so much more; Food, shelter, company, people, e-mails, travel plans/dates, so much is starting to fit is weird, and it is awesome.

From all of this, the desires that I entrusted to God have shown themselves ten-fold in the events that have taken place. In three months this is what will go down (condensed version)…

- Three weeks teaching English in Hong Kong
- A Habitat for Humanity build and mentorship deal with an English speaking high school group from Beijing
- Traveling to soo many cultural and historical sights WITH company (providing safety too – Mom ;) )
- another Habitat for Humanity Build with the Canadian affiliate in Macedonia
- Educational/Historical conference in Israel Palestine
- more traveling after that to amazing things I’ve wanted to see since…maybe grade 5?
- and also things I never even thought of…just as cool
- meeting and making relationships with dozens of people and learning countless lessons I never anticipated.

Three months:
- 4 continents
- At least 9 countries
- At least 17 cities (including Vancouver, because I had never been there, and actually visited and toured and stuff – Canada still matters/counts!)
- Countless cultures, people, languages, FOOD

Not only does this all fit into my degree and desires that have been growing in me for years and years now – but it’s greater than anything I could have expected…I will posted a more detailed itinerary once things are more set in stone (are they ever set in stone…I’ve learned no).

I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to strive for higher things. Not necessarily a greatness in terms of our Western measures – but a bettering of yourself – a confidence (not a cockiness) in yourself and self-worth, in combination with a constant, intentional improvement of that same person. As Loreal lovingly reminds us – you’re worth it…and we can add that so are those around you.

I’ve said it before – maybe those who are close to me are getting sick of hearing it – but the last twelve months of my life have been insane, though much of that was within my own sphere, which was needed – but now…I suppose it’s on the web. Yes, my words and language will always fail to express the personal thing I’ve got going on (which trust me, is good you don’t know everything, obviously). But I still feel so compelled to challenge you to not just let life happen to you. Become’s important. I hope that throughout this whole blog you’ll be inspired and encouraged by at least one small thing I write, if not more…and if I say something ridiculous and dumb – call me out on it…seriously. Question your values, your character, your relationships with others (even the randoms). What is important to you? Is that GOOD? – not just seemingly good….but truthfully, wholly good in the grand scheme of things. I hope – for the sake of us all – that it is. And if it isn’t, do something about it; grow some balls, and work on yourself…it’s all for something greater – trust. And also a sincere thank-you for those of you who have taught me this over the years – your lives are honestly inspiring – don’t stop because people notice even when you least realize it…and your example reaches farther than you may know.

What does all this mean? Not sure yet…it’s all being figured out as I go…but I know my waiting has not been in vain…

Till August – keep it real.

And I will obviously keep blogging whenever I have the chance, I’ll be able to continue hardcore for about another 5 days but after that it may be sketchy, don’t know yet. I’ll keep you posted.

LOVE YOU ALL and thanks sooo much for the support and prayers – please keep it up – I’m going to need it more than ever. I not only want to do, learn, and contribute much – but I would like to arrive home in one, healthy piece. I’m sure my parents and roommates would appreciate that too.

“You don’t have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.”
- What does this mean to you??

(p.s. this message was NOT sponsored by Coffee Culture…but you should go….Brampton girls, we’ll need another CC date back home after this too!)


James said...

Thanks for the time you have taken to journal and process your thoughts and feelings along with the activities of your life, Carolyn. Know that our prayers continue to be with you! And, that we, too, believe God is so much greater and more loving than we could ever give praise for!
Love, Auntie Laurie & Uncle Jim

thegraylife said...

Thanks!! It honestly means so much having people get excited with me..this trip would be a lot more difficult without the reminder that people care back home and are also up to really cool things. I saw your Paris pictures, by the way!! Hopefully I'll get to go there sometime soon enough (although don't tell Mom and Dad that, they might worry I'm just going to take a year or two off school to travel at the rate I'm going!!)

Hope your summer is going well thus far! Love you