Through high school and in my first couple years at Ozark, I heard everyone say how an overseas mission trip has the potential to be incredibly impacting. It's true, as I learned when I went to Honduras with a group of four other Ozark students last March. It's possible to have a pretty good understanding of the world while never leaving the U.S. due to the influence of globalization and the accessibility of information, pictures, and videos. But it really is another thing to actually see it. To see the sick people shoved in a hospital bed with next to no attention, to see the people hanging out on the sides of the broken streets winding up the mountains, to see the multitudes of kids at school chasing my teammates around in a Gulliver's Travels reenactment-style game of tag. There were also times of many laughs, such as I had the perfect outline of my watch marked on my skin due to a sunburn, or hearing the Hondurans try to differentiate between saying "beach" and cussing. Also, Honduras is maybe the most beautiful place I've ever been with it's combination of mountains, beach, and Domino's Pizza. I also had the best Chinese food I've ever tasted in my life, and for that reason, along with all the others, Honduras will remain a place very dear to me.
I'm a big kid now. Or at least that's what my driver's license says. Due to this, it's no longer acceptable for me to spend my summers at home sleeping till noon and watching reruns of King of Queens all day (but thankfully, that still flies for winter break). So instead, I spent last summer doing an internship at University Christian Church in Manhattan, KS, and it was definitely a blessing. I had actually always wanted to do my internship there, so I was very grateful that it worked out. I learned all kinds of things, like how to prime a floor, use a caulking gun, and how to address and stamp stacks and stacks of mailings. But hopefully I also learned something about God and ministry. It definitely helped my self-esteem being able to walk around with a giant roll of keys to all the parts of the church.
In other parts of the country, the Midwest can sometimes be characterized as one vast farmland. Because I'm from Topeka, KS, I'm supposed to wear overalls every day, get my water from the pump out back every morning, and smoke a corncob pipe. When I realized that I was so culturally deprived, I decided to take a vacation to Southern California. I had never been before, and I had a lot of fun eating sushi for the first time, attending an obscenity-strewn improv comedy show, being the happiest I've ever been at the Happiest Place on Earth (though Disneyland isn't as good as places like Six Flags (also, In-and-Out isn't as good as Spangle's)), and awkwardly noticing two bikini-clad women wrestle at the beach ("Well, there's something you don't see in Kansas"). So I returned to my little house on the prairie that much more street-wise and culturally educated.
So that's more or less been my year. As I look back on what I've written, I realize that this is maybe the most self-centered post I've ever posted. So now I have to think of a way to make all of this somehow redeeming. First, once again, I'm thankful for all of you out there that helped make this year a good one. I've gotten to know a lot of my friends even better, and I've made new friends that I am also thankful for.
New years are filled with all sorts of new possibilities, dreams, and goals. This is a good thing, I think. It gives us a chance to refocus on what's important. So let's use the next year to love God and love people to the best of our abilities. I know a lot of my peers are going to be graduating this year and going out to serve God all over the world, so it'll be a really big year of change for them and for me. So bring it on, 2010! Granted, it's looking like a distant possibility of the year starting with another Steelers Super Bowl victory, so how good of a year can it really be?
The biggest question on everyone's mind, though, is whether we will refer to the oncoming year as "two-thousand-ten" or "twenty-ten." I'm in favor for the latter, but I don't know what the worldwide consensus is. Nor do I know who decides such things. But as influential at this blog is, I'm confident that tomorrow morning, we'll all be wishing each other a Happy Twenty-Ten.