Scott's Journal Entry #1

"The Fish"

We've said all of our tearful goodbyes.   We've talked at length about how much we'll miss our family and friends.  All of the going away parties are over.

I thought I would be scared or anxious.  I thought I would be missing the taste of Hooter's Hot Wings and Mac-N-Cheese.  I thought I would be lamenting the easy access to tap water that won't churn your intestinal tract.  Instead, I am 36 hours from leaving for Guatemala, and all I feel is READY TO GO!  Gabby and I are voluntarily turning our lives upside down for the next year in hopes of discovering a little more meaning in our own lives.  It promises to be a wild adventure.  

Remember when you were a kid and your mom or dad took you to Wal-Mart to pick out a fish for the fish tank?  You walked past the guinea pigs, hamsters and mice to the tanks displaying all of the really cool fish.  You dipped your net into the water and corralled a handful of guppies and dumped 'em all into a clear plastic bag.  There was hardly any air in there.  You would slosh the bag back-n-forth, poke at it, hold it in front of the pet cat as a tease... and even swing the thing over your head a bit just to test your "Do Fish Get Dizzy Just Like People?" theory.  Naturally, the fish felt really ticked off, and probably felt a little like puking (if fish puke, that is.  Must test another theory here).  They felt trapped, but knew they were headed to an exciting new place.  Maybe they were going back to the sea?!  Maybe they were going to a river?!  Heck... even if they were only going to another TANK, at LEAST it might have one of those cool bubbling plastic frogman divers and a treasure chest that opens and closes.

Well... right now, Gabby and I (as well as the other volunteers) are the fish in that bag.  We're in this weird transition period in Chicago.  It's called Orientation.  The people who have already done what we're getting ready to do (the alums) promise us that our next 12 months will be really cool.  But, while we're here, we are run from 8am - 10pm every day.  We learn about stomach churning stuff like the harsh realities of globalization, the insurmountable odds that poor people face, and the nearly impossible job we now have to try and affect change for the better.  To top it all off, they wave us in front of the cat by telling us all of the wild cultural changes we have to be aware of (what?  My diet may include CHICKEN FEET?).  We just want to open the doors and  GET ON WITH THE ADVENTURE! 

Still, we know that this transition period is necessary.  Just like you put the sealed bag of fish into the tank to equalize the water temperature before opening the bag and letting 'em out, we need this acclimation time as well.  This week, we have attended a ton of lectures and seminars.  We have learned SO MUCH about the way the world works, and our role in helping to make it a better place.  We've learned even more about what it means to be true to what you believe.  Through it all, we've come to realize that we have a long way to go before we figure out the meaning of life.  I guess that class costs extra.

The funny thing is, tho... we were also told that while we may help some people this year, we shouldn't expect to change anything. Instead, this year is about being in community with fellow human beings that may have a drastically different view of the world than we do.   It is a mission and a ministry of presence.  It's about seeing the face of God in the eyes of strangers.  Through this, WE will be the ones who are changed.  It sounds to me that we won't really figure out our place in all of this until we are several months, or even years, away from the experience. 

I am firmly convinced that my life up to this point has been a series of small choices and decisions that have brought me here.  While some may see this year as a crazy leap off the deep end, I know that it's just one small step in a long journey.   What comes next will be even more exciting, meaningful, and adventurous. 

So... stuck here in my clear plastic bag, I am now feeling OK.  I am at peace.  I can see that God has His hand on the twist tie, and won't dump me into the tank until I'm good and ready.  In fact, I think I see that bubbling plastic frog-man now.  Time for a swim!