Monday is looming, and I still haven't quite accepted that I am leaving here for 12 months. Probably won't until I'm on the plane. Right now I'm feeling a mixture of anticipation, excitement and a little guilt. Not nervous or scared, quite possibly because it hasn't sunk in, but the guilt is related to the stress, worry and general frustration my mum has been dealing with over the past few months with her mother. As the only child left at home, I've been trying my hardest to be supportive and make it easy for her. It's been unnecessarily busy, and my parents and I have been like ships in the night, so I haven't had much quality time with them lately. It's very hard not to resent unforeseen circumstances for this, especially when they could have been avoidable and largely the result of whim, but the time has flown for whatever reasons and there is no going back.
I still live at home, a move I strongly advocate for anyone trying to save money, and I'm pretty close to my parents - I like living with them (usually...). We don't always see each other during the day, and the news is usually on during dinner, so our longest conversations are at night with them in bed, and me leaning against the doorframe at the foot of their bed. It's not unusual for Dad to put his pillow over his head in an attempt to tell me to shut up, but Mum and I keep going until one of us can't remember the words any more. Sometimes I'll get home at 10pm intending on going straight to bed, but not get there until 12:30 because I've just been debriefing with my parents, in the kitchen or their bedroom.
I'm telling you this so you can understand my sense of guilt at leaving them. I feel a little like I'm abandoning them when things are tough. This trip has been in the planning since well before stress arose, and my parents want me to go, but it's always hard to leave the people you support when they need it the most.
This trip is going to be great. Probably a little scary at times, but I can't think of anything that might realistically happen that I can't handle, although I'm intentionally not imagining too hard. I'm pretty certain I've got God's support for it, which is a huge blessing, and I can't wait for a proper winter with snow. Finding a new church, and fitting into a new community will be exciting, as will getting to know my flatmates. My biggest concern at the moment is finances - currently I don't have quite enough money, but I have several solutions for this, so it'll all be good. Who knows how I'll go with culture shock or homesickness, but my intention is to keep off instant communication (facebook, phone, skype) as much as possible especially in the beginning, because I know from experience these don't do anything to help. Letters, emails, blogs will be my communication of choice, so please post any comments here rather than on the facebook post of my blogs (I have it set up to automatically post my blogs as notes on fb).
If you're a praying person, please pray for youth group, as I leave it and it takes a new form of leadership - there is potential for it to crash and burn, but with prayer, support and dedication by the leaders it will be fine until a new youth worker comes along. Please pray for my parents and anyone else whom I support, entertain or distract. Please pray that I'll settle quickly, happily and without too much fuss, and that I won't worry about money. Please thank God for the opportunities I'm getting - studying overseas, working at Iona (7 weeks in the shop over the summer holidays), travelling around, meeting new people, and for the work God's doing in laying the foundations - phenomenally fast acceptances, unexpected money, random (yet very handy) connections.
And that's about all. I have 5 more sleeps until takeoff, an enormous amount of clothing to cut down on, and Christmas to survive. My bedroom is a pigsty, and I know that if I leave it messy, the mess will just wait 12 months. I still have presents to buy for Christmas, and baking to do. I have no idea if I've filled out all the correct utas forms, or if I'll get snotty letters. If I were told I had to leave tomorrow, I'd probably fail completely at taking anything useful, but who cares. I'm going to England for 12 months. I'm going to study medieval history surrounded by the stuff. I'll see my new niece, travel around Europe, make new life-long friends, and have an adventure with God by my side. Who can ask for anything more?
If you're reading this on facebook, add my actual blog (http://jabberingfool.blogspot.com) to your rss feed - it will update quicker, and you'll be able to comment on my posts rather than my facebook notes (better for posterity and for my reminiscing in the future).