Is it strange that even six days into the new year, 2016 already feels like it's way behind us? Today I had to go to the town hall in Ostrava to work on some Czech citizenship documents (you can be praying that the process goes smoothly to finally apply for a Czech passport!), and when I signed my name with the date, it seemed so natural to write "6.1.2017" (our month/day order is opposite from the American system of 1/6 - confusing, right?).
The three of us...wait, four of us - Dad, Mom, Kaylee and I - arrived back home to our snowy hometown on Wednesday evening, and I've been simply catching up on life post-travels since then. Now, almost a week into the new year, I present to you my annual year-roundup of photos and memories. It helps me to mark the years in this way, and somehow brings closure too.
This is only a snippet of the past year, but here goes nothing...
I left my foggy and woodsy home to return to my skyscrapers and streetlights home. This was the last time I'd be leaving Czech to return to Moody as a student.
For the first time, my Czech-home world and my Chicago-home world collided when a Czech friend from my hometown happened to be in the Chicago-lands for a couple of days, and came downtown to visit me, which meant so much. Terka - thank you for taking the time to come downtown! You are a treasured friend, and it made me feel like a complete person to have both worlds collide together in one day.
My mom gave me the sweetest gift for Christmas - a student membership to the Art Institute. The Art Institute became a refuge of sorts during the year of 2016, and it is now the most dear place in Chicago. It was a quiet haven, a place of reflection, beauty and history. There was also a member's cafe downstairs where I would sit and do homework while surrounded by others who felt the same fondness towards this place.
I lived in the Little Byt all year with such wonderful roommates. This place, too, became a refuge, but also a place to welcome people into. Hospitality is something I missed when I lived in the dorms, so getting to offer even just a couch, a bowl of soup, and a cup of tea to my friends actually brought me so much joy.
I worked with my team at Event and Guest Services to coordinate ushers during Moody's Founder's Week. Us three friends and coworkers were head ushers, and although we worked long hours and late nights, it was still fun somehow.
I spent Spring Break alone in Chicago, because I needed to complete an online class for Moody. What I learned? I miss people when they're gone! What I loved? A week of setting a schedule, exploring the city, and being able to complete my Romans class.
Easter was spent with these three Patty's up in Deerfield, IL. Lara's parents were there too, as well as some of Tyler and Lara's friends. Tyler and Lara moved from Chicago to Tennessee in late Spring, so these memories of spending holidays and weekends together in the Chicago-lands are especially precious.
I registered for fall semester classes for the very last time! This was one of those moments where I realized that my "Moody career" was on its way towards the end. This felt like an accomplishment to get to this point, but was sad too. I loved my classes at Moody, and was excited about the ones that were coming in my last semester too (Apologetics, Internship II, Marriage and Family Systems, Genesis, and Theological Issues of Missiology).
The Children's Ministry seniors planned and hosted the NEXT Children's Ministry Conference at Moody. It's quite the task to plan a conference, but it really is the team that makes it a joy to put on a big event like this.
Caleb officially graduated from Moody! Well, technically, he graduated in December, but he came back to Chicago to walk in the graduation ceremony in May. All of us Patty's were together for about 24 hours to celebrate this occasion. There really is something special about a ceremony - it brings closure and marks transition. I'm glad Caleb came back to walk, even though he and Haley had already moved on in Colorado. Caleb, I'll say it again - WELL DONE!!
My Children's Ministry Internship finally rolled around! I was in Colorado Springs at Mission Training International for three months. This summer was a confirmation of where the Lord has been leading me during my time at Moody. It was a delight to serve missionary kids-to-be in the COMPASS training program, and to debrief with missionary kids upon their return to the States.
During my internship, I got to make connections with family in the area as well. I was only an hour's drive from Denver, where my Patty grandparents live. It was one of the sweetest parts of the summer to be able to see them more often!
My France grandparents came to visit in Colorado too! Loved getting to spend time with this many members of my family throughout the summer, including Caleb and Haley too!
One of my most influential classes this semester was Apologetics. It forced me out of my comfort zone, made me think through things I had never really questioned before. This spot in a coffee shop I love gave me space to process the class and write a paper that was worth 50% of my grade. Talk about pressure! The same day I handed in that paper, I also took an exam that was worth 30% of my grade. That means that 80% of the grade for that class was determined in one day. Whew! Thankfully, it all went smoothly though, and I learned a lot in the process.
Haley and I took a trip to New York - a graduation gift from some dear friends of ours. We didn't even get lost, which was quite the accomplishment, seeing as I have a history of not being great with directions. Google Maps is almost my best friend now.
This was my last assignment I ever turned in at Moody. Sigh.
I packed up all of my belongings into tubs and suitcases. Finishing up at Moody was bittersweet. I'm ready and excited for what's next, but it's strange to leave something so meaningful behind too. The way that the Lord taught me to love Chicago still surprises me. It really did become my American home, and I'm so grateful for Moody and the city!
I didn't have a graduation ceremony (they only have them at Moody in May, which I plan on attending!), but Tyler did! He graduated from Trinity Evangelical School of Divinity this December. Get him talking about Old Testament theology, and you'll see his face light up. It's so much fun hearing about his field of expertise!
Finally, I flew from Chicago to Croatia with Mom and Dad, and spent Christmas and New Years on the island of Hvar. Besides my own homes, this is my favorite place on earth. It's peaceful, unpretentious, a bit wild and rustic, but refreshing and beautiful. It was the perfect transition place between college life and future-post-college-adulthood-life.
The Lord is a God who pursues. He keeps calling us back to himself again and again, showing up, blessing, providing, and loving. He astounds me. This was a year of learning, growing, being stretched and pushed and surprised.
What's next in 2017? I hope to be able to share that soon. I'm in the process of applying for a position. I'm pretty thrilled at the opportunity, so I'll keep you posted!