Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wifi and Art

The opportunities to post here are slim these days. Why? Because my computer is not connecting to the campus wifi. That seems like a simple issue, right? The solution has not been so simple though. I have taken my computer to the IT Desk on campus three times, and it still doesn't work. It's frustrating, but it's also forcing me to be more intentional with the time I have online too. I can connect to wifi on my phone for basic e-mails and such, but it makes schoolwork more difficult, yes. 

Would you pray that this issue can get fixed in the next week? As the semester picks up, I will really need my computer for basic school assignments, and it would be much simpler if I didn't have to go off-campus in order to work on those projects. 

But going off-campus doesn't have to be a bad thing. Today, the need brought me to the Art Institute, where I still have a student membership for the rest of the year. I can stroll past Renoir and Monet on my way to their cafe, and that's pretty special. Despite the difficulties with a computer, there's always a bright side. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

I'm Back - Final Semester!

It has now been a week since I arrived back to Chicago. I have attended classes for a week, started back at work, gone to my regular grocery store, and visited my favorite coffee shop here in the city. This is normal life here in Chicago, and it's always a strange paradox of a sense of comfort and familiarity being back, as well as a sadness over the loss of nature and a sense of "normal life" in other places.

You know college life never really feels normal, right? It's incredibly unique and wonderful, and has its own stresses as well. I mean, when else are you surrounded by only peers but during college? This means lots of friend opportunities, but it's weird too. I loved serving with families and kids this summer. It was refreshing. Then there's the aspect of constant transition in college. See the example below:

Our couch is out in the suburbs, and we are currently working on figuring out how to get it back downtown (none of us have cars). So what do we do in the meantime? Set up storage tubs where the couch is supposed to go, cover them with a blanket, and put pillows on top to make it at least feel like we are more settled than we actually are.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the living room, this is the view:

More tubs. Oh, and those are pictures that we have on the floor because we wanted to try out a layout for then hanging them on the wall. We don't want to hang them until we get our couch though, so we wait.

Not only is our apartment constantly in transition due to it still being student housing (which means we have to move all of our stuff out for the summer), but student life constantly changes every semester. It's strange to have familiar faces graduate in the spring and to know you may never see them again. It is a transitional community.

My friend and I have nicknamed college the "Train Station", for people come from all over, stay in the station for a little while, and then book their tickets to the next place. Is it possible we'll board the train at the same time as someone else we know? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That's the joy and sadness of the train station.

I'll be buying my own "train ticket" this semester as I figure out where I'm going next in January. Until then though, I'll mingle and enjoy the people who are in travel mode too before we all go on to what is next. I love this train station though, and I will miss it too, so I'm soaking up all its sights and sounds, and the slight sense of home that has been established here.

Final semester, senior year, here I come.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

At the River

There's something about water and summer that just goes together. Yet after three months, today was my first time outside to enjoy the water, and with the best of company nonetheless. Caleb and Haley took me and their dog Sofie to the river not far from their house to wade, swim, and let Sofie get all her energy out. 

You know that feeling when you warm up again after a crisp summer swim? It's the best. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

So Long 'Springs

My suitcases were almost packed when I was called down because "the neighbors came to say goodbye". I hurried down, curious who might feel so connected from the neighborhood that they would know I was leaving today, and found this sight in the front yard.

There was a buck and his doe right in front of the house, enjoying the rays of sun and the little grass that's offered. It was like Colorado itself wanted to say farewell.

Speaking of goodbyes, after saying goodbye to everyone on staff and the kids and their families yesterday (sad, yes sweet at the same time!), this morning was the time to wrap up the last nostalgic pieces. There is this one place that I went to almost every single morning before work to walk, pray, read, and get my heart ready for the day - Fox Run Park.

It's not very "capture-able", and I'm ok with that. It remains a special treasure to me, a place of rest and renewal where I often met with the Lord.

I sat and journaled one last time at the very first picnic bench I sat at back in May when I found this park. It was later in the morning, so the magical glow was no longer there as it was every morning I visited here during the summer, but I soaked it in all the same. 

I gathered the last of my things (it didn't exactly fit in one suitcase), and my host family helped me load up the car. We were all grateful for one another this summer. They became my Colorado Springs home, and I can't thank them enough for inviting me in like family, even though I was a complete stranger until I met them in May.

Final hugs. Then the car stuttered as it started, but got going despite its reluctancy to leave. We waved goodbye. I pulled out of the familiar grassy parking spot on the side of the driveway.

Goodbye Forest Lane home. Goodbye MTI. Goodbye Colorado Springs.

I drove up to see Caleb and Haley for a few days before flying back to Moody on Thursday. These days will be transition days, down time days, and days to catch up on internship documents required for the Moody side of things. I'm hoping to spend some time remembering the Lord's faithfulness too, and recounting all the way He has provided. He provided above and beyond this summer, not only with things like a home and through all of the car troubles, but with his strength and love too.

I can't believe I can now say that I have completed my internship at MTI. The Lord knew that this is exactly where I needed to be this summer, and I'm excited to see what surprises he has in store next.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Coming to a Close

I only have three more days left at this place that I have called a temporary home for three months. I'm not sure how this time has already flown by, but here I am, nearing the end. 

Would you pray that I would be able to stay fully present, say good goodbyes with the kids (and staff!) and also pray for the two full days I'll be responsible for teaching two different classes of kids (on Thursday and Friday)? Thank you!

In other news, as part of my Moody internship requirements, I needed to find a "special project" to benefit the organization I'm serving this summer. After brainstorming a few different ideas, my special project ended up being providing new photos for MTI's website and newsletters. This involved finding out what the needs were, gathering a group of volunteers for the photoshoot and editing the photos to give to MTI for future use. 

I'm really excited about how the project unfolded, as the Lord provided just enough people and great weather for the photoshoot day! Here are just a few from the day, since I can't share them all. 

P.S. You might recognize a familiar face in these photos! Yep, my mom happened to be here in the area on the day of the photoshoot, which was just great. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Olympics (Comments of a TCK)

The Olympics make sense to my Third Culture Kid brain. All countries come together and unite for one single event, representing where they've come from and seeking to bring forth their very best to make their people proud. I get to cheer for the U.S. during one event, and then for Czech in the next, and then for other countries my heart is fond of like Slovakia, Croatia, and places where my friends are currently living depending on the day and event. I rarely have to pick and choose between my home countries, and that's refreshing. 

(From left to right: 1. Emily brought her Olympics mittens from the last Winter Olympics, 2. Yozhek the cat thought the best view o watch from was the top of the bookshelf, and 3. the parade was long but so worth it)

Possibly my favorite part of the Olympics though are the opening ceremonies. The parade of nations makes me feel settled, as I watch country after country coming together and carrying their flags. The beaming faces of people from all around the world warm my heart. 

Throughout my childhood, my family was almost always traveling during the time of Summer Olympics. We used to catch glimpses of the opening ceremonies, and occasionally would get to see a good portion of them, but the event is nostalgic all the same. We didn't really watch sports much as a family in Czech, but the Olympics were often on in the background if we were home at the time. I'm sure you can imagine then the excitement I have for this year's Olympics!

Some of the MTI staff gathered for the opening ceremonies last night, and it couldn't have been a better group to watch with. We had people who had spent a significant portion of their lives in everywhere from Lithuania, to Germany, to Senegal, and of course Czech! We all enjoyed cheering for each others' countries and seeing them all in one place. Like I said, this feels so right to my TCK world. The Olympics are my favorite. 

Side Note: One of the MTI staff hosted us in her apartment. She lived in Lithuania and Germany for over 15 years total, and her apartment reminded me so much of Europe. The finishing touch was something we have in our home too. Can you spot it? Yep, Polish pottery!!