So, the suitcases are fit to bursting with Cadbury’s chocolate and potent smelling insect repellent (note to self: do not get mixed up), Moses the cat has jumped in and out of them a few times, my visa, passport and tickets are safely tucked in my handbag and a “last supper” of fish and chips is on the menu. The funny thing is, I’ll probably be worrying about rice and bean withdrawal symptoms in 7 months’ time!
I can’t believe that after months of planning and dreaming, I am actually off to Brazil tomorrow. My stomach has been dancing the tango with my oesophagus all day. One second I am dancing around merrily flinging sun cream into my bags whilst smirking at the miserable rain outside, and the next I feel an inexplicable urge to burst into tears rising in my chest. When I think of how hard it will be to say goodbye to my Dad and brother tomorrow afternoon, after more than a fortnight of farewells, I get a little ache and sit down with my umpteenth cup of tea. I have been away before; this is just another suitcase in another hall. But somehow I get the feeling that this challenge will be the greatest one yet, socially, spiritually and linguistically, and that God will transform me more deeply than he ever has before.
When I tell people that I am going away for seven months, on my own, to teach English, work with Brazilian students and underprivileged children, the reactions could not be more varied. They range from “oh yeah, my niece did something similar on her gap year when she went to work with dolphins”, “call the vet ‘cos your mum must be having kittens”, or “it’s great that you’re doing something so worthwhile, I bet you’ll really find yourself”, to (my favourite): “I really think you should take a gun. A girl like you needs to look after herself!!” Whilst there may be a certain degree of truth (ahem) in all these assertions, they kind of miss the point. Firstly, I’m not going on my own. From the moment I step through that beepy detection thing in the airport, I am going on a journey with someone who will hold my hand all the way and never let me down. Not only that, he is preparing the way ahead for me so that everything will work out just as it should. Secondly, am I going away to help people, to do something good and worthwhile, to make a difference? Absolutely. But this journey is about so much more than that: it’s about following where I am called, listening and learning, and most importantly, serving - saying thank you to the one who has given me so much to be thankful for.
Thirdly, with the armour of God, I’m pretty sure a gun would be entirely superfluous and quite a lot of trouble. Although perhaps it would come in handy for my first encounters with all these snakes I’ve been having nightmares about lately…
Anyway, thank you readers for all your love and prayer support, I need you more than you know. Hopefully I will be safely tucked up in Viçosa, Brazil when I next update this! :-)
x x x