I pick up the threads of my story as two girls step off a plane into a strange, deserted airport on the other side of the world, in the dead of the night. The first few days were a blur of being introduced to strangers, eating strange new foods, moving into the barren dorm room that would be home for the foreseeable future, and registering for classes. We had only three brief weeks before our supervisors were to head back to the states for a fairly long leave, and orientation was a mad rush of meetings between classes.
I must skip back a few months here, and tell you about the boy. In June of last year, I used up my final weeks of vacation leftover from the job I was leaving to do something I long dreamed of — visit the Pacific Northwest. I had good friends here, and it promised to be a time of encouragement and respite from the emotional goodbyes already in progress back in Kansas City. The thing I least expected happened — for the first time in my life, I fell for someone at first sight. We started talking over the internet a bit, which turned into often, which turned into a question, just as I left for training. “Should we try?” “Okay, we’ll give it a shot. You’re out of your mind.” So was I. Chalk it up to the intense emotional turmoil of saying a slow farewell to everything I’d known, the closest, most loving community I’d ever been a part of, and thought I would not be seeing again for 2 whole years. So after two months training in Virginia, despite all odds, through late night emails and skype chats, we felt like this thing needed a fair chance. It was something we’d never experienced before with anyone else. He flew out to Kansas City for three golden days; met my family and friends. Then we said goodbye.
Coming back to my story — I was just beginning to figure out what to do with this unexpected turn of events when I arrived in that distant city that would be my new home. I only knew that, though my partner already knew about the boy, I needed to communicate the situation to my supervisor and submit to his guidance. [Moving right past the creepy patriarchal weirdness of this, which will be a blog post for another day.] So a week into our orientation, I mustered my courage and told my supervisor and his wife everything about the relationship. Silent uproar. This despite the Board’s clearly-stated policy allowing correspondence with members of the opposite sex during employment, the apparent subtext of which was “this is open to very wide interpretation at the whim of one’s supervisor”. Oh.
I’ve been on the field less than two weeks and now I’m already the Problem Journeyman. The one they’re considering sending home already, for not understanding all the nuances of the 300-some page manual of protocols I’d been given. Believe me, I agonized over this choice. As the disapproval unfolded, I begged the Father for guidance and clarity. My journal was filled with verses, with statements that I was willing to give up whatever I needed to and submit to the authority I’d been placed under, even if it meant not talking to the one I loved for 22 more months. [ ‘But would the organization really require that?’] It was acute mental anguish. In the end, though, I was willing to do whatever was required of my by the Board, so strongly did I believe God had called me to that place at that time.
[part iv coming shortly. thanks for bearing with me in this narrative. I miss and love each of you.]