Simultaneous to the news of his trade, Dame D.O.L.L.A. dropped his "Farewell" song which has some meaty lyrics. While I'm partial to the line "I learned that a wolf could sometimes resemble a husky/ Swear that they your dog, then they sell you shorter then Muggsy" for reasons beyond what a fan of 90s NBA stars can understand, there's also loads in there in the end of the rap that resonates with my recent move. (I also should say that I won't be linking to the song as the admitted struggling Jesus follower includes a lot of language that isn't the PG rating that I try to keep my blog.) The one other super significant line in the song that hits pretty deep for me is "I continue leaving trails, but won't be for the Blazers/ To the fans, man I love you, its unconditional."
Last week, one of my former students reached out after reading my post and celebrating with me the move to a place where I get to share the Gospel with young people eager to learn about the transformation possible in Jesus though that also means that there are people in my previous context who will miss out on the classroom experience with me that he had. I won't push the analogy too far here, but I did think this was an apt link to talk about my week. As a Blazers fan, I won't get to have new Dame time celebrations (though I guarantee that I'll still watch the 0.9 on days I feel sad - it brings me unlimited joy), but Milwaukee gets a great new point guard. I won't be watching any Bucks highlights or games anytime soon just like I haven't kept up with the Pelicans since they acquired CJ McCollum. According to the internet, however, Dame and CJ are still friends since CJ left the Blazers.
Here's the thing, I've built a lot of bridges to people who have moved away from me or whom I have moved away from. I may not be teaching to get those nine kingdoms and two dynasties, but this past week, I had connections across time zones with some of the most delightful Jesus followers in France and Guatemala. While I was calling two precious humans living in South America and being introduced to their baby daughter, another one of my former students was asleep in Europe. After I enjoyed my day, I woke up to a message from the woman in Paris telling me she'd had a dream where she was talking to the guy in Guatemala where they talked about me and that there was something related to my healing; she used it as a motivation to check my blog and pray for my recent requests. I was stunned to wake up to that message myself because she had that dream around the exact time I was calling that guy and talking about my physical healing.
Those Jesus connections are wild and beautiful in my life, and I love seeing how God is maintaining some of these precious bridges in my life. I was sharing with Nick about how I'm praying through how I responsibly maintain bridges with so many people while also being fully present in my ministry here. This week was such an exciting opportunity to see some small fruit of the ministry work I did in Germany while getting to plan and pray into the start of term for students in New Zealand. My meeting with Matt on Friday kept extending hour by hour, and I got increasingly excited about the opportunities before me. I know I won't do everything perfectly as I continue to learn this role, but I'm genuinely so pumped to be a part of sharing our youth group values with a new group of year 8 students and to lean into celebrating this youth community as a place where people are welcomed in and experience transforming hope as they encounter the love of Jesus.
This role on staff at RCC is only 20 hours a week, and I'll admit to being frustrated at how quickly that time goes by because I love what I get to do so much. However, I still have other things to occupy the rest of my time as I care for my body well and transition into a holistically healthy life in New Zealand. No leads on permanent housing yet, but I'm still so grateful for the breathing room I have currently. My body still needs lots of care, and I've been getting lots of sleep to help with that. The next step in my transition is to reintegrate the quality exercise. I'm sure I'll have plenty of good physio stories in months to come, but I haven't scheduled any appointments yet. In the mean time, we'll keep praying for God to show up in new healing in my body and to protect my feet from blisters as I start walking more.
As I wrap this up, it's Sunday evening in New Zealand, and my friends in Germany are all getting ready for church while my friends in America are all asleep. While it would be much simpler if I stayed in Portland and the Trailblazers roster kept Dame and CJ (along with Aldridge, Batum, and Matthews), the NBA keeps shaking things up just like Jesus moves me to new contexts. I'm doing great here, and I'm sure Dame will thrive in Wisconsin too. A couple of weeks ago, another one of my favourite humans from this same graduating class as the kids in Guatemala and France posted this incredible blog where she reflected on home as interactions rather than as place. She then encouraged me to read the academic article that inspired a lot of her thoughts, and it blew my mind. There was some researcher out there who interviewed dozens of adults who chose to leave their home culture and to live and work somewhere else and discovered some wild trends. Like so many others feel, there's a sense of never being able to return "home" to the place where I grew up, but I'm also in good company in the opinion that I wouldn't trade this for the world.
I have the gift of friends all over the world. I love that at any given moment, I have friends awake in random time zones who I can call up and catch up with. I really, really love that. I also have to go to sleep relatively soon because after a wonderful morning at church, coffee with one of my youth leaders, and a family dinner at my flat, I'm tuckered out. I love being fully present here too. I'm also probably going to call Korea after I post this blog and see if I can catch up with another precious alumni, but it'll be a brief call. I hope whatever time zone you're in that you get good sleep tonight.