One week from today I end my career as a healthcare consultant. Ho.Ly.Crap. In case you were wondering to what I was referring in my last post about this whole "my last two weeks" at work thing... well, I will tell you. It's funny that the single greatest "event" in my life in the past, say, 7 months, has not made it onto my blog yet. Probably because as much as I have been on board with this great plan for many months, it becomes actual true reality when you put it out there for THE WHOLE WORLD. And by that I mean the several hundred people who read my blog.
So here goes.
I am leaving the wonderful Big Apple to venture into new lands. Some would call said lands Wasington state and Romania. And now I have probably really confused people. You're going to Washington AND Romania? Yes. As it goes, I am heading to Romania in early January to assist my friends Dave and Erin who are starting an international student ministry based out of a medical school in Iasi, a city of 350,000 people in the northeast part of the country (20 miles from the Moldova border- weekend trip!). This med school draws students from all over the world, particularly the Middle East and North Africa, and the classes are (mostly) in English. Dave and Erin (and their two lovely children) moved to Romania in April and have started meeting students and assessing interest/need, holding weekly Bible studies, getting acquainted with the city, etc. What they have come to realize is that there is most definitely a need for an English speaking church for Christians. Among other things, this is one of their big goals. So, I am going for 6-8 months to help them in whatever way I can.
Prior to this little venture I will be in Washington State for a four month program run by the organization under which I will go to Romania (Great Commandments Ministries). This will essentially be a fourth month "spiritual sabbatical" with 10-12 other students around my age living on an apple orchard in the bumblevilles of Washington. We will spend our days in classes on various (spiritual/Biblical) topics, prayer, solitude, service, team building, and generally learning more about our faith, ourselves, and our God. The final month (of the four) will be a service trip abroad (locale TBD) together.
My current plan it to apply Early Decision to Columbia for both an MBA and an MPH (public health) for the fall of 2009. If they accept me, I'll come back from Romania for that, and if not... well, then the field is wide open for Plan B. Stay in Romania longer? Come back to the states and get a job? Something else entirely? I'm game.
As it goes, Iasi happens to be a pretty sweet city. First of all, 60K of the 350K people in the city are students. Which is awesome. The city is home to the opera, botanic gardens, philharmonic, national theater, and a whole host of other great cultural entities. Iasi is also home to a (the?) Public Health Institute of Romania. Which means great potential for volunteering or otherwise getting involved with public health of some type while there.
I am unbelievably excited. The process to get to the decision took many months, and it's entirely too long to write in detail. In short- I received a "support letter" (Christianese for "I'm going abroad to be a missionary and need money from you to help me live") from Dave and Erin last fall and from that moment on could not put to rest the desire to go help them. Thinking it was perhaps a passing unhappiness/discontent with other things in my life, I ignored it. Because it seemed SO crazy. Go to a country I could barely locate on a map let alone speak the language, with two people who I only know through older friends from college, to do student ministry (something I had never considered, ever)?? And leave my great job, church, apartment, friends, and city? Um, no. But the urge stayed. And sat. And wouldn't go away. We're talking months.
Now, until this point when I heard people talk about experiences where one day they woke up and simply felt they HAD to go do X (ministry abroad, total career change, move somewhere, etc), and they felt "called" to do so with no other explanation than it coming from God, I basically kind of dismissed it as at best exaggeration and at worst a misreading of the situation. Let me say with complete transparency and honesty that I can now state without a shadow of a doubt that it is exactly what happened to me. Be it a "calling" or whatever name you want to put on it, I am unwavering in my conviction that this is nothing short of God reaching into my life and into my heart and placing this desire into the very core of my being. I could go on about the (literally) dozens of big and small things that have affirmed and confirmed this belief in the past 3 months, but perhaps in another entry. But every step and inch of the way, the path has been laid out before my feet, not of my own doing, and the kind and nature of "coincidences" that would all have had to simultaneously come together defy even the most skeptical person's odds. It has been awesome to see God at work, tangibly. And I feel truly in awe of a God that we all too often put inside neat little boxes. And incredibly humbled, since I know without question I could never have done this all on my own. But in the interest of ending an already long entry, I will leave you with a picture of my future home- Iasi.
Ready or not world, here I come.