This afternoon, a bunch of us went to see the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. As the movie ended and the credits came up on the screen, the closing music suddenly brought back memories of when I watched the first Pirates movie in the theater. I started thinking back on where I've been when I've seen each of the three movies in the series. (Ok, this sounds a little cheesy, but just go with me.)
July, 2003. Denver, Colorado. I went to see it with four girls who'd become my good friends during a program in publishing at the University of Denver. I was just finishing up the program and anticipating the beginning of my career in the publishing industry. I had no idea where the next few months and years would lead. They ended up leading to a job in the Bay area, where I was for the second Pirates movie...
June, 2006. Palo Alto, California. I went to see it with my roommate Joyce and some of her friends. I was questioning career decisions in the midst of changes at work, and rethinking life direction in general. I was also in the middle of the application process for NieuCommunities, which led to me coming to South Africa for ten months, where I am now for the third Pirates movie...
May, 2007. Pretoria, South Africa. I went to see the movie today with apprentices, staff, kids, and friends--to celebrate the birthday of Kyle, one of the staff kids. I'm in the middle of this year of exploring a calling to mission, and again have no idea where the coming months and years will lead.
I've always had a thing for looking back. I'll often pull out old journals and look back at "a year ago today," to see where I was, what I was doing, what I was thinking about, what God was doing in my life. Well, a year ago at this time, I was right here in South Africa. I came here for two weeks on a "Road Trip," hoping to further explore a calling to mission and to see if this place and this organization was something God might be calling me to.
Coming full circle--on Monday, five Road Trippers will arrive here at Pangani, for a 2-week experience of their own. The next two weeks are going to be really, really busy, since we're keeping up with all our usual community and ministry activities. Sometimes we'll join in with the Road Trip activities, sometimes they'll join in with our ministries and apprenticeship learning conversations. And sometimes both will be going on simultaneously. I'm looking forward to this time--to seeing the ways God will work in the lives of the those who will be here for the Road Trip. At the same time, I'm looking back at my time here last year, thinking back on all that God did in my heart and life during that time, all the things that added up to bring me back here, to where I am now.
A common question among the apprentices in the past few weeks has been: "What do you think you'll do at the end of the year?" Pretty much universally, the answer for all of us has been: "I have no idea." Ok, we have some ideas. But none of us know for sure. That kind of unknown quantity always unsettles me. But this week, I've been surprisingly contented with, and even excited about the unknown.
I think one reason I like looking back so much is that it helps me to see glimpses of how things fit together. When I reflect on all of the pieces God has put together so far in order to bring me here, it gives me hope in the moving forward. I know that where I'll be a year from now is in His hands and that He's drawing me there even now, though I can't yet see exactly what or where "there" is.
And I wonder: will there be a fourth Pirates movie? Where will I be then?!