This week, The Harrington Times was finally able to catch up again with the Harrington's and extract some more information regarding Travel Preparations. This week, Melissa focuses in on preparing emotionally for upcoming travel experiences.
Well, first, I feel it may be appropriate to reach back in our memories a bit to a comment left regarding our last Travel Preparedness post. One reader commented: "in regard to preparing mentally, how does one wrap their mind around being gone for such an extended period of time?" Essentially, you can't. However, we have had conversations about the things we expect to miss out on, things that occassionally happen in a year and whether or not we feel that is something we can work through. So, considering we will be gone about 14 months, we recognize we will miss Weddings, Births, Celebrations and perhaps some Deaths, in some ways this brings the time-span into perspective. On the other hand, a year can end up seeming like a very short period of time, and in the span of our lives, we'd rather take a year or five to explore and experience something other than our norm, knowing that upon our return all that we had missed out on will await us in new stages and seasons, but await us nonetheless. So, in many ways, this is not only a mental preparation, but also an emotional preparation.
Our emotional preparation has also included being intentional in our relationships. Having friends and family over for dinner, meeting up for coffee or to meet newly arrived infants. As mentioned previously, we recognize we will miss out on many things, therefore, while they are within our grasp now, we work a little harder at embracing special moments. Upon hearing the news of a dear friends bringing life into the world, Melissa promptly called in sick and drove 2.5 hours to meet the dear child. Even a year ago as we considered teaching, we thought about the youngest Harrington sister, her upcoming graduation and decided to stay in Laramie so we could enjoy this year, her freshman year, with her as well our other Harrington sister. I've said often that I just want people to know that we're leaving because we so desire to leave and have that experience, not in any way because we don't cherish and love them, our friends and family.
Melissa recently penned this note to some great friends, she recognizes it doesn't so much deal with preparing emotionally, however, it does deal with the emotions of preparing:
It's becoming increasingly real as Mike and I interview with 'placement coordinators' regarding Korea. As we start to firm up plans to meet Doris in Guatemala (our sponsor child). As we firm up places to stay and even have occassional skype conversations with one of our South African CS hosts. As we slowly but surely start packing things in boxes - to sell, to store, etc. It's becoming real and I can feel myself boarding the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies these times, these seasons. I often just want to shout with joy at what is to come, then in the next minute I want to growl at the intimidating amount of crap we have accumulated, then I'm ready to cry and melt down a little in regards to all the wonderful things we are choosing to leave behind. Every time we have Mirhetu in our apartment I think about how he'll adjust and if he'll still holler our names down the stairs or come look for us down here and how long it will take before that wears off and he realizes we've been demoted to funky images broadcast via webcam and skype.
Everything comes to me as a potential 'last' or with a knowing that there will be a 'last' of such-and-such in the next few months as our season of living in Laramie, domestically sees us off into a different world, a different experience. I feel so incredibly blessed by the way God has orchestrated things and that we have the good fortune of travelling with friends: (Mark will likely go to Guatemala w/ us, Abram, Mallory, Ryan and Andrew will be with us in South Africa, Some great friends of ours have family in Asia that we'll likely see and then we have our friends Matt and Jen waiting in Korea with some seemingly great friends as well). I mean, how can you feel like life is going to be unbearable when all throughout the journey we'll be with real live, touchable friends?
So, in a nutshell, to prepare emotionally: we cling to our community and anticipate the one to come. We spend time with local Laramie-ites, have dinner dates with sisters, we become aware of some great long-distance relationships we've established with facebook and other online arenas, and we invite friends to join us in our journey, we look to go where friends are already placed. So when the emotions get the better of us, at least we'll have someone by our side.