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All Moved In

As I type this, my family is all soundly asleep in our new home – a small apartment in Atlanta. It has been a crazy six weeks, but we are here and our things are unpacked. The kids were able to spend a few days at school; Jeff is accustoming himself to work from home and I’m in a sort of waiting.

You see, we are here but classes will not begin until the last day of August. I passed my NCLEX exam and am a nurse, but I can’t seem to find a job and am not sure it is the best use of my time to get one. I can get internet on my laptop sometimes from “free wi-fi” places, but I cannot make any updates to the website. So, I’m waiting.

Don’t worry, I’m not the type to be bored. It is just that this doesn’t feel much like the life I was leaving for.

About a week before the move I was enjoying a long walk thinking about the difference in what people perceive as a life of “missions” work, and the reality of it. Many people become very excited when they learn about what I do and why I am in school. They share about their desire to travel to far off places to do good deeds – it does have a certain romantic ring to it.

The reality of it is a little less exotic and a lot less romantic. We just moved 800 miles away so I could be trained for the job I am about to do. We had to sell a house we were comfortable in; we had to let go of half our possessions, we had to leave everyone we know behind; Jeff had to give up his job. And now we face a very long, lonely summer while we do our best to make new friends and wait for the fall to begin. And all this just to do it again in four years – all to leave everything we have been a part of to pursue the next piece of the puzzle.

I think romanticizing is common in just about every part of life. We see the people who have things we want to have and we don’t think about the pain and work it took to get there, we just see what they have. We want to be thin, but don’t want to exercise and change our eating habits. We want to understand more, but we don’t want to do the research and reading. We want to be a better friend, but we don’t want to give up any more of ourselves.

You may or may not be called to serve in Africa – and the truth is it doesn’t matter what you are called to. It only matters that you are faithful to that call. Do what you can now, however small it seems. Educate yourself with books or journals. Spend time with the people you feel called to serve. Chose to do one thing differently today that will get you a small step closer to your calling. My journey to serve in Africa began over 11 years ago, and it will take me at least another four before I am able to begin what I am called to do. It doesn’t happen in big leaps – it happens in small steps, the small steps you take every day.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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