After a train ride and two flights back to Minneapolis, I finally arrived in the USA on January 29.  I’ll admit that I’ve had trouble writing anything since my return.  My trip had a bittersweet ending, like most, and my arrival in the United States presented me with one of the hardest things I’ve had to face yet: saying goodbye to a loved one.  I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with my grandmother in the days following my arrival in the US. Her passing has been incredibly difficult to handle all while starting my new adventure as a student teacher at Brandon Valley High School.  I learned to have confidence in myself when traveling alone in India, the kind of confidence my Grandma Rachel had.  Sometimes that confidence gets me into trouble, like when everyone thought I was missing in India when I decided to carry all my bags off the train platform at the central station in Delhi and climb the stairs to the entrance to meet my driver.  I didn’t know I was supposed to stay on the platform…oops. I was fine the whole time, a little nervous, but I knew if I got scared like everyone else it wouldn’t do any good.  I made it back, right?

Saying goodbye to my family in India was incredibly difficult, and coming back to fit myself back into the puzzle of my life here has been even more difficult.  My roommate, Claire, who embarked on an equally ambitious and life changing journey to the Philippines in January, described this feeling so well.  When you leave a place and travel to a world filled with people seemingly so different than you, you are a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit.  You have to learn how to fit into the puzzle while you’re away, and the same happens when you return.  My Grandma Rachel had a gift of getting to know people. She had confidence and grace when facing the challenge of making friends in new places.  I realize that I’ve been channeling that confidence for quite some time, and have needed it even more as I begin student teaching.  I don’t think I’ve quite got the whole grace thing down yet, but I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a little awkward.

Travel changes you, and I find myself not even sure how to describe my trip.  It was wonderful, it was amazing, it was beautiful, I loved the people.  Those words can never really do justice to my experience.  I had a unique experience that I’m not sure anyone else can ever fully understand, and that’s okay. That’s what makes travel so great. Part of you changes and part of your heart will forever be part of that place you had to gain the confidence to fit into and understand.

My Grandma Rachel did so much in her lifetime. She battled Carcinoid Cancer for over 21 years, kidney failure, and high blood pressure.  Those ailments, however, were not who she was.  She worked on an airline, something I never knew, worked at Northwestern Bell telephone company and was a pioneer for women as she worked where only men worked.  She was a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a friends, and loved travel.  As I said goodbye to my grandmother, I wasn’t altogether sure what I was reading as I stood in front of our family and friends.  I was just reading.  The words that stuck with me are found in Proverbs 31:25.  “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.”  I know the coming months won’t be an easy adjustment and are full of change.  It will take a lifetime for me to live with the strength my grandma did, but I know she is watching over me.  It’s time to be confident.


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