There are not many places where you can experience a rainy day, a sunny-70 degree day, and receive 3 inches of snow all in one week. Sound familiar? Yes, all you Midwesterners out there, I did not escape moody and spontaneous weather in moving to China. Just days ago I was climbing mountains and marveling at the autumn preamble and suddenly the temperature has dropped 40 degrees and snow is falling. Wait…what season is it?
I have been struck by thoughts of other Global Mission Fellows with the theme of “changing seasons” and the transitioning that occurs with this experience. (I encourage you to check out their posts: October Devotional by Connor Kenaston and Autumn Leaves by Erin Hancock).
My experience as a Global Mission Fellow has been marked by rapid transitions. Graduation, training, commissioning, world-traveling, new relationships, visa-processing, new jobs, apartment settling…Uff-da, that is a lot of activity and mental processing to fit into the past 5 months. Metaphorically, I feel like I have skipped the seasonal transitions. Unlike the gradual coloration of the trees, I have jumped straight to winter with no time to rake the leaves, visit the apple orchard, or bake a pie. Suddenly I realize, I am here. Here in Guyuan. Now. For good. And while I feel settled in many physical ways, the insides of me are just starting to churn.
I can’t lie in saying that I don’t miss home in many ways, but autumn especially strikes a chord. I can’t help but yearn for a quiet walk under the colorful trees of my neighborhood, where people are not staring at me. I can’t help but feel jealous at friends who were able to attend their first alumnae events at Nebraska Wesleyan homecoming. I can’t pretend that everything is perfect here, but far from perfect. And as I think about the blur of the past 5 months, it is hard not to think, “Wow, how did I get even here?”
I agree with Erin when she states, “I’m learning throughout all of this is that life is not changing; rather, changing is life.” Of course, it is easy to recognize the physical aspects changing around us, especially when they are dynamic and fast-paced. But now that I am settled, it is much more difficult to see the changes that are slowing happening inside my soul. The soul is like that tree that you walk by everyday, its leaves changing so gradually that you do not even notice, until one day the sidewalk is covered in orange and yellow and you look up to its branches with new eyes. So I guess while it is winter all around me, my soul is pure autumn. I pray that the Lord will give me an open and seeking heart during this inner transitioning, recognizing that for every season there is “a time to break down and a time to build up” (Ecclesiastes 3: 3b).
For now, I lay snuggled into my bed wearing leggings, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a sweater, and a scarf, awaiting the heaters to kick on at the end of the month…or the next 60 degree day to come around.