The past month has been so busy!
So Thanksgiving and Christmas both have huge meal events, and at Christmas we also had a Santa Store where moms and kids could pick out gifts for each other, it was so awesome! Of course, both of these events needed 100 or so volunteers, and I got to be in charge for the day at Thanksgiving which was scary but thrilling! I figured that out around 12th grade when I started staffing the Jeremiah Project: I never get over stage fright, but once I start going I love it!
Besides the big events where we served around 300 people at Thanksgiving and 500 people at Christmas, we also had some great volunteer-run events each week during the holidays, which brightened up our season. For a lot of people in life, the holidays are hard because they are a recognition of who may not be with us this time, but for the people at Mary's Place and others who are dealing with homelessness, poverty, and brokenness, the holidays glaringly remind them that they don't have parties to go to, their families may not want to or cannot visit them, and they may not have gifts to give or receive. We had groups come to do cookie decorating, arts and crafts groups to make holiday decorations, lots of musicians, and even Santa Claus himself! It was really a warm place to go, physically and emotionally!
I was super pumped to help plan and engage in all of these activities, but then I slowly caught an up-and-down sickness that kept me out for about 2 weeks. That was really hard to deal with because I usually never missed school, even when I was sick, but I probably had the flu and that's not worth passing on to the staff or members of Mary's Place, so I frequently got sent home.
So I did what I could from home, went to the doctor who couldn't tell me anything, and had 2 days where I couldn't get out of bed except to grab some food, and then I was off to Colorado Springs! That was a cool experience, but it was hard to adjust to. First of all, I walked out of the airport and came face to face with my twin. Like no joke, the teenage boy version of myself. Daniel and I have looked similar since his birth, but we're finally the same height, and he had the almost-mullet thing I had going on earlier this year. Walking next to him was like watching myself, it was so weird! Once I got over that, it was strange to see that my family were the same people, but they had a new life they had lived in for 6 months that I knew nothing about. It really made me feel like I had no earthly home since I'm torn between Seattle, Colorado Springs, and Williamsburg, all of which are changing and are new for me to experience. It's kind of a cool thing, but then it's also scary because for someone who is all about control, I really have to trust God on where my life is going because EVERYTHING is changing!
It was also hard being with my family because I only had 6 days with them, 2 days of which were for travel, while my sister Laura had double the time I did. I was pretty sad having to leave and knowing I couldn't see them again until this summer, and I was worried that it would be hard adjusting back to Seattle life. But wow, was I thankful for Mary's Place! They really are my family here, and everyone welcomed me back after being gone nearly 3 weeks, and the love I felt there kept me grounded.
Then my friend Kris came to visit, and we saw SO MANY MUSEUMS! It was exciting, but I don't know how I survived it! Normally I am lacking for time when I get home from work because the bus ride home takes a lot out of my free time, but while Kris was here we also tended to do some kind of sight-seeing after work, then went home and cooked a real meal, and then watched a movie and THEN I went to sleep! Phew! It was cool having him here though because his family is like my second family, and I learned a lot about living with another person in a tiny apartment. It seems like I'm good at having a sense of direction for my life so that I can get things done the way I want and have to, but that really doesn't translate to living with another person because I have to let go of a lot so that both of our ideas are heard and employed.
I was also worried that when he left I'd be pretty down since I'd just seen parts of both of my family briefly and then I'd be back to my new normal life. But again, I got to see how much the past 5 months here have really impacted me! Between work, church, and friends, I really am loved here, and I'm really glad to have been sent here! At first it was hard to connect the excitement and hope I had developed from training with actual life here in Seattle, but now that I'm more comfortable here I'm feeling the yes-this-world-can-be-different spirit, and I'm fully embracing it!