When I was preparing to come to Croatia for this 2018 year, I anticipated missing people: family, boyfriend (now fiancé), and many friends. I knew I would miss things like birthdays, a couple weddings, and a few holidays. Anticipation does not make leaving any easier. However, I knew that my time here in Croatia will be exuberantly beneficial and I could not possibly have any idea how much I would grow during this year. Those that I love were excited for me and encouraged me. I am tremendously thankful for each person that stands behind me on this journey.
With anticipating being away from Columbus, Ohio, where my family lives, I had a slight fear… “What if something bad happens?? What if this or that or whatever?? What will I do with not being there? Will I be able to return? What then will happen to my studies/ministries I am a part of??” and so on and so on… it’s really a snowball effect of worry. Unreasonable worry because things will always happen. This is a reason why I, despite any distance, am always praying for my family, friends, and fiancé.
THIS DOESN’T MEAN IT DOESN’T HURT
During my first week in Croatia, I had a best friend of ten years, lose her father to cancer. It was heartbreaking and I knew there was no chance I could give her the hug I knew she needed.
Next, a month ago today, my other best friend of eleven years, lost her mother to a battle with depression and other mental challenges in a way no daughter should lose their mom. I called my friend and we simply cried together. She was a woman I looked up to and I loved to laugh with as she was often a second mother to me.
*Update* Coincidentally, as I was writing a blog post about how I cannot physically be there like I wish for these friends, my great-grandma passed away. She was 93 years old. My family is doing well as far as I can tell through phone calls. It runs as another life event that I feel I am missing.
I was not able to physically be there for either of these friends of mine or my family, so I had to and continue to find new ways to be present. I thank God for technology because being able to call a friend or family thousands of miles away via phone call or video chat…. wow. So. Thankful.
On the complete upside of things, I had one of the most amazing weeks of my life just three weeks ago. My best friend of five years and also boyfriend of nearly a year and a half surprised me and proposed! I said yes! I then got to show my fiancé some of the amazing things that I have fallen in love with about Zagreb, Croatia. It. was. incredible.
It was still weird though… it’s an adjustment to experience these life altering events without my closest friends and family. It’s definitely a side of missions, volunteer work, studying abroad, and simple travel, that I did not ever prepare for. I’m not entirely sure anyone knows how to anyway.
To push things into another aspect, our ministry team here in Zagreb has welcomed two groups of short-term students/interns for volunteering and education. I was privileged to be on the receiving end of these groups. I have been able to witness countless wonderful moments that their own family and friends will only be able to hear about. It’s an interesting side to look at it.
I have been in Croatia for just over 100 days and I know that I have grown in ways I do not even realize yet. I am still excited to be here and am continually discovering new things about the amazing city of Zagreb. Truly, I know I have made the right decision in volunteering here. God continues to prove this to me through the relationships I am making here. I am already trying not to think about December, when I will leave this place I have grown so dear of.
To my reader, do you have any thoughts on this aspect of being away from “home?”
Peace and blessings,
This blog is devoted to Jackie – may you find True Peace.