September 1, 2019
I pulled out of my parent’s driveway that day with a lump in my throat, a spring in my step, and hope in my heart.
I thought back over the past couple of weeks. To my last group gathering with the Cornwall crew, after which I took stock of where all of our group was or would be going.
Ireland. New Brunswick. Australia. Portland. Though not part of that friend group, I also had family in South Africa and Malawi at the time. And then there was me, preparing to load up my little car with all (or at least most) of the stuff I needed to jump start a temporary life in California. It just seems crazy how geographically diverse my friends and family have become. Maybe this is part of the “going into the nations” that Jesus talked about?
I thought back to creativity sessions with my little sister while she was in Cornwall, which have quickly become one of my favourite things to do while we’re together. I thought about her genius repeating of a super appropriate Winnie the Pooh quote in response to my musings about my imminent departure:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Thanks for the endless well of wisdom, little sister!
I thought back to my last meetup with two of my closest friends, Josh & Josh, filled with the requisite youtube videos, church talk, future plans, and prayer. As always, I left with a well-fed soul, feeling like a ship that just caught the perfect gust of wind, sent gently but firmly with a beautifully aligned trajectory. Friends like these will make you stand up taller and straighter, and fill you with confidence.
I thought to my last time with a small group of young worship leaders, and prayed again that what I started would grow far beyond my wildest dreams.
I thought back to the last campfire at my house, the light sources limited to a torch, dying embers, and the occasional flash of distant lightning as I strummed my friend’s ukulele and let my voice fill the night air with words of hope and heaven.
I thought back to the countless, seemingly endless goodbyes. Some of them surprisingly easy, and some of them equally surprisingly difficult. I thought about how there isn’t any perfect way to say goodbye, and about the people I didn’t get to see before I left. I thought about how I had learned that frantically trying to check off all the boxes wasn’t the best way to enjoy my dwindling time at home, and instead to let the stress roll off and simply enjoy every moment as best I could, even if I didn’t get coffee with every one of my friends or do all of the Canadian things.
I thought about my last service at my home church, the one I had attended since it started some 16 years ago. Certainly I had visited other churches in that time, but, my goodness, it was going to be a strange thing for me to attend another church on a weekly basis.
I thought about some of my last moments packing, running around my house collecting last-minute things, and thought about how God had been preparing too. He hadn’t been idle. He had already gone before me, thoughtfully planned out every aspect of my learning and growing during this time at Bethel’s school, and even on my road trip to California. As excited as I was to arrive, God was probably even more so, more excited to start revealing all the things He’d been preparing for so long than I was to see them.
I thought with excitement and anticipation about the road ahead, the days of driving through the beauty of Canada and spending time with my dad. I thought about the rockies that I would be driving through later in the week, their towering peaks filling anyone around with an undeniable sense of awe.
Jump forward almost two weeks, and I was driving again, only things were a little bit different.
I had finally changed the time zone in my car, along with my watch and phone. The digital speedometer in my car was now reading in miles, as was my phone’s GPS, and my passport was stamped. British Columbia, Washington State, and the city of Portland were somewhere off in the distance of my rear view mirror, and I had just seen the sign.
On the right, the sign read 122, now a measurement of miles instead of kilometers. On the left, in all caps, a simple word that managed to make me feel all sorts of jittery butterflies: “REDDING.”
I breathed in deeply and definitely didn’t start tearing up or anything.
God is so good and so Faithful and so gracious and so kind. To bring me safely across much of the continent to a beautiful city to fill me up with all sorts of Spiritual goodness over the next nine months… It’s hard to contain the thankfulness. I suppose maybe that’s the point.
“Bridges & Hearts.” “The Cool Kids.” Harvest Christian Fellowship. My house, my job, my cat, my friends and family. So many things left behind, if only for a time, and really a rather short time in the big scheme of things. Somehow, in that moment at least, it didn’t seem so hard.
I kept driving through the night, feeling like I was swimming in the goodness of God.
Since then, I’ve attended a Bethel church service, attended three different sessions of school worship team auditions, met with my “Revival Group” (a group of 70-ish students intended to build community outside of the massive 1200-person main sessions), and planned out my first adventure to the nature surrounding Redding.
I know that Bethel isn’t perfect. Redding isn’t perfect. The school isn’t perfect. But I will say that I feel an immense sense of peace and joy, and it seems like every day holds some brand new revelation of how good God is, every time in corporate worship deeper than I feel I’ve gone in years.
Maybe this won’t last the whole nine months, but for now, I’m gonna enjoy the moment.
So yeah. I guess I'd say Bethel is pretty darn neat. More updates to follow 😊