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Thursday, June 26, 2008

30 days from today....

Its a little unnerving - to not really know who is reading your your written thoughts out in cyberspace, but even when people ask me to my face about how I feel about leaving soon for Peace Corps, I don't always entirely tell the truth.

Sure, you can only expect that I would be nervous, but...

I'll be touching down in Sofia, Bulgaria with my team of Peace Corps Volunteers; ready (or not) in less than a month to begin our 11 weeks of pre-service training.

I've spent the last couple of weeks enjoying some much needed "me" time in Florida. My aunt and uncle live on the Space Coast, south of Cape Canaveral, and I got to see them for a few days before dog-sitting their puppy, enjoying the gym, the beach, the pool, and entirely too many hours with a book in my hand or the tv on.

Since I finally had a chance to slow down a bit and process now that I am done with classes, internships, jobs, etc, I was able to resort to my normal state of overprocessing and overthinking EVERYTHING.

Its like all of the sudden this whole Peace Corps thing became very real.

People keep asking me how I feel about leaving the country for 27 months.

"Are you scared? Nervous? Excited? Anxious?"

And I am all of those things. But probably not for the reasons people would think…

I know reality will continue to set in for the next month and even after I step out onto Bulgarian soil, but I am excited about devoting myself to a new culture (admittedly, I AM nervous about the language, though....), trying new foods, meeting new people, seeing new places, and yes, being almost entirely on my own.... the aspects of leaving my home for over two years hold a lot of people back from even trying something like this, but in that respect, I'm ready for a new beginning. I'm ready to spread my wings and fly. And most importantly - to do it solo.

I can honestly say I’m not afraid of much.

I enjoy heights. I tend to thrive on small spaces. I can coexist with small creatures/insects/creepy things as long as I know they are there (I’m not known for composure when inflicted with the element of surprise). I love taking long walks at night. I got more of a thrill out of night shifts and drug busts as a police intern than I should probably admit. I'm often happier on my own than I am with a lot of people around, so independence is a comfortable thing for me even though I do value my support network.

i am, however, terrified of failure.

Last summer I worked for a camp that served inner city kids out of DC. Each week of camp was harder than the one before it (not because of the kids - but the camp itself), and while I have never quit anything in my life, I seriously considered walking away each weekend.

I never did.

Instead… I ended the summer exhausted, frustrated, and feeling like I let a lot of people down. While people will argue with me that I gave it my all and I made an impact I will never know the extent of, I still felt like I failed.

I'm setting out for the Peace Corps knowing (as well as I can right now), that my heart is here in the United States. Urban America, to be exact. I love the kids and people I have fallen in love with in DC and NYC, and I feel as though God has been equipping me to finally succeed and impact His kingdom. The Peace Corps has been part of my dream, but its NOT, my dream. Its a step that will change my life, I'm sure, but moreover, it is a path to get me where I ultimately want to be - HERE.

That being said, I'm afraid that I won't make the most of these next two years. I'm afraid that even though this is hardly even possible, I'm going to finish my term in Octover of 2010 feeling as though missed out on two years that could have been spent pressing towards my real dream.

But who ever said fears were rational?

I'm sure 27 months in Bulgaria are going to be nothing short of AMAZING.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

RECAP: 7:45am, Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"It’s a funny thing – sitting in an airport for over five hours and not actually going anywhere.

Yesterday around a quarter to 4pm, Mom drove me to Dulles to catch my 6:20 flight to Orlando. I was planning on spending a few days with my aunt, uncle, and little cousins before they leave for their trip to Puerto Rico, and I’ll stay at their home and hang out with Pancho – the newest addition to the four legged sector of the Zipf clan. In reality? I get to hang out with my little cuz’s (for the last time before I leave for Bulgaria), then spend the next week and a half engaging in lots of ME time. If you know anything about me, I love having time to myself like that. I’m not a stir crazy person who gets lonely after a couple hours of solitude. I’m the type that salivates at the thought of experiencing Europe someday with a backpack and not much else. Meet people along the way, sure, but spend most of the time doing what I do best – processing, reflecting, and yes, a bit of overthinking. J Anyway, I’m looking forward to the first real Katie time I’ve had in a long while, and the last I’ll get before the whirlwind of my last month in the U.S. begins…

So, around 5:30 yesterday, they made an announcement that our plane hadn’t even left Boston yet, due to a ground lock from weather in the north east. A woman across the aisle from me seemed flustered as we all listened to the announcement. Oddly enough; she was the whole one in the entire waiting area that appeared at all frustrated. It quickly became apparent to me as she looked around and managed to grab the attenion of the gentleman next to her, that she didn’t speak English and only caught pieces of the loud speaker. The next thing I know, he was repeated the message and was working hard to help her understand. Not only was it awesome to see someone take the time to help someone out like that, but he didn’t stop there. I watched in amazement as he moved away from her, took out a cell phone, and started explaining our flight situation to someone on the phone. It got so much better when I heard him say, “so, this woman sitting next to me doesn’t speak English, so I was thinking that maybe you could talk to her and translate what I just told you into Farsi?”

Farsi! How awesome is that? It breaks my heart that so many people are so unwilling to barely go out of there way to help someone out, yet this guy (who was wearing a cap from my brother’s ship in the Navy!) went way above and beyond to make sure she wasn’t left in the dark. Kinda renews your faith in people a little bit, doesn’t it?

About 45 minutes later – it still wasn’t on its way to D.C. Long story short, at about 8:30, countless delays, one bag of chips and a Coca-Cola later, I made my way up to the gate counter to see if they could get me on the next flight to Orlando in the morning. While I was rather enjoying chatting with those around me, working some Sudoku puzzles, talking to my big bro, playing some Mario, and ACTUALLY working on my Bulgarian lessons, the later I left DC, the later I would be arriving into Florida, and the later I would need to be picked up in Orlando. Considering no one in my family would let me crash any longer in the airport if I tried…

So now, here I sit. Back at gate B70 in Dulles airport after 5+ hours here yesterday, a shoddy nights sleep, and an hour at the ticket counter this morning. Turns out the flight didn’t even get into DC until 2:30 am…. Go figure. ;p I will be in Orlando, God willing, by 11:30am today to begin my vacation. He’s good, isn’t He?"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I've spent the last two weeks at home trying to majorly clean out my bedroom and the things I've used at school the last four years. You would think that if I haven't needed the stuff here in my Virginia house since I left for college, that I wouldn't need it at all. Funny, that doesn't seem to be the case at all...

The goal is to clean out everything I don't think I'll need or want to deal with in two and a half years when I return to the American civilization of "muchness."

Kinda scary, right?

I have a hard time envisioning what to expect in the next 47 days until I leave for Bulgaria, much less what will happen during my 27 months of service.

But what about after all that?!?!?!

I know what you are thinking.

One step at a time, Katie. One step at a time.

But I've always been a dreamer. Not really an unrealistic sort of dreamer, but one just the same. I love to think about where God is going to take me next, and what sort of things I can do to ready myself for what He has in store.

Don't get me wrong, I am SO excited to live, learn, and love in Bulgaria over these next couple of years, but there is this part of me that also sees my time in the Peace Corps as a stepping stone to the next great adventure.

God brought me to Elon where I got involved in Service-Learning, where I started to work at Boys and Girls Club, which lead me an interest violence prevention, which sparked a desire to work as a police intern with the gang involvement, which lead me to Camp Brown (which was, lets face it, a MAJOR learning process!) and then BACK to the Burlington PD before heading off to New York City to combine my love for youth ministry, the city, and service!

I mean, judging from where I have come in the last few short years, I can't help but get excited about everything that will happen in the NEXT few years.

But seriously, I don't need so much of this STUFF I have been hoarding.

But YOU try to enision if you'll need that sweater, or this kitchen item, or those DVD's in two and half years.

So much is going to change between now and then, and I can't wait to see whats going to happen.