As of today, we have been back in the states for ten days. These have been some of the fastest days of my life as I have worked to readjust to Central time, re-enter my daily life here in the states, finish final projects for Nadezhda Ukraine, complete post-internship reports for my fellowships, and prepare for the fast approaching semester. It has been wonderful and exhilerating to become reacquainted with life here. Though I was only gone for 11.5 weeks, my life in Ukraine was vastly different from my life here. Life here is much easier - clean water is readily accessible, electricity is reliable, transportation is safer and more comfortable, and I can communicate with ease. But life is also much busier. Already, my calendar has filled and my 'to-do' list of significant, time consuming tasks has stretched into the double digits. Already I feel that I'm falling behind... that there are not enough hours in the day and that I'll fall back into the chronic keep-up with life game so familiar to me before I left for Ukraine. When will I finish the reports? When will I have time for the profiles I've promised? When will I complete the PhD applications?
In the midst of all these questions, there are times when I wonder how I can so easily forget what I learned across this summer. Part of what this summer taught me was of the importance of setting and acknowledging true priorities. It is not that reports, profiles, and applications are unimportant - it's just that true priorities in my life are overlooked when the daily to-do lists run my life. Finishing the reports tomorrow versus today will not break any deadlines - nor will taking one more day have any lasting impact. But running life at breakneak speed will because I'll continue then to overlook what matters, and I'll continue to push to the side what I've learned and experienced this summer for finishing that report, profile, or application one day sooner. This is just one of the small lessons I'm taking with me...
A bigger question that has led Trav's and my conversations these past ten days is "what now"? We've been asked that question more times than I can count - in debriefing interviews and meetings, from our parents, from our family, from our friends... from one another. I've said this so many times across this blog, but it remains true: this summer has transformed us, both individually and as a couple. Though it's easy to get caught up in the daily routine of our lives (already even!), we are fundamentally changed. Our perspectives, our priorities, and our goals have changed - undoubtedly, this changes our future. So many doors have been flung open before us, from Africa to Central America to here in the Twin Cities. And all seem to be equally amazing opportunities to pursue. We know that this next year (at least) will be spent in the Twin Cities as I finish my master's program and Travis continues building his position at work and his ministry among men, but what the next five and ten years and beyond will bring is something we cannot yet see. Will we enter a PhD program? Will we move overseas? We know that our work will remain the same in nature and now more than ever, we have a heart and passion for global ministries that focus on sustainable poverty alleviation - in both temporal and eternal forms. And now more than ever, we have a desire to fight for human rights - those that are temporal and those that are eternal. What form that will take for us, and where it will occur are questions that remain before us. It is an exciting and challenging place to be. Exciting because we can see glimpses of amazing things before us. Challenging because it takes a lot of faith to walk forward toward the unknown. But for now, we are enjoying where we are at and making the most of the opportunities we have.