It’s time for us to start packing again, seeing as we leave the Philippines in less than two days. We finished up the last of our village visits with International Care Ministries’ MCO program, which were a huge blessing in our lives. We are going back to our favorite restaurants and shops here in Bacolod one last time, and attempting to say goodbye to this corner of the Philippines that we have called home for five weeks.
However, this time we’re not heading to some new and exotic destination. The end of this chapter is not the beginning of some bold new adventure, or is it? We are heading back to the States, back to our homes and families and friends, back to a familiar culture and lifestyle that we once thrived in, and we’re realizing that it’s likely that we won’t feel quite the same as we did when we left the country nearly four months ago. Living in such different cultures for an extended period of time has left its mark on us and there is no doubt that we have been shaped and molded by the multiple contexts that we’ve been placed in. Thus, returning to that which was once normal, everyday life to us may seem nearly as exotic as any shift that we’ve experienced in the last four months. We are mulling over questions that will hopefully prepare our hearts and minds for the adjustments that it will take to call the US home again.
With all of that said, I would like to maintain the fact that I am not a completely different person from who I was when I started Kivu Gap Year. I am not a new creation. I simply have enjoyed more experiences, seen more sights, made countless memories and learned even more lessons over the course of this gap year. I have left pieces of my heart in six different countries. I have laughed with and shared priceless moments of life with people I will likely never see again, and some that impacted me so greatly that I will be willing to travel the numerous miles between our places of residence simply to share more moments together. I’ve become familiar with my strengths and my weaknesses, and I’ve come to know the person I was created to be a good bit better. In a way, I am more myself than I was before this gap year. I am Kara Crenshaw and I know more of what that truly means now.
I hold tightly to the belief that only when you stretch and challenge yourself do you really hear the honest beatings of your heart.
Through this gap year, I’ve gotten a taste of a delicious life, and I want to keep seeking out and devouring all the adventures this world holds. God didn’t call us to a monotonous life— the world is big, breathtakingly beautiful and diverse. I am going to see as much of it as possible, so that each new place I go, I experience more of my God’s creativity and have the chance to thank Him for it. I don’t want to live a “good” life simply because I was too afraid to do something unheard of, something a little bit crazy and filled with a lot more love than the life that our society has come to embrace and propagate to anyone who will buy into it.
All in all, I cannot express how thankful I am for this program and the people that have taught me through it. This year will be held close to my heart for the rest of my life, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to impact me.