I could never adequately express the joy I have found here. Not despite my surroundings, and not because of them, but because God continues to choose to reveal His infinite Love to me here. And in a way I have never so deeply experienced in my entire life.
I'm scared to go home. I don't want to be pulled back into the rat race. I know my own weaknesses. I know how hard it is to say no to people, no to other causes, no to all kinds of wonderful things. I know how easily I can slip back into my old life....running from job to job, racing into Starbucks for coffee everyday, getting whatever I desire to eat everyday, making lunch dates and dinner dates with friends. I will miss the quiet of Siberia. Soul quiet. I will miss the slow movement of time, the patience required for even the most fundamental activities. I will miss the lack of distractions from what is truly important. Most of all, I will miss the people I have met and relationships I have formed. And I will miss the closeness of the hand that God has reached out to me. Will it feel so close when I go home?
When I arrived here, I was thanking God every day for my being born in America and for the life of (relative) joy and ease I had been granted. Now I see each gift like that comes with a price, and I'm not sure I want to pay that price anymore.
There are things I can do to bring here home. I can work to stay present. I can pray more. I can walk slowly. I can be patient. I can simplify my life even more. I can continue to let go of all things that are not of ultimate importance and I can put my focus solely on the things that matter. It is easier to do those things here, but I am strong enough for the challenge now.
I do not know yet what life has in store for a few months from now, or a year from now. But I do hear a quiet voice asking me to commit my heart to this place, even if I am not here. I may be here later -- I am open to it. But in the meantime, I will return to America in a few weeks, but will keep one foot in Russia. I won't bring my whole heart back. Part of it will remain here in a very real way...not just words. Actions.
I am so grateful to Russia for bringing me closer to my true self, for teaching me so much, for embracing me and regaling me, and admonishing me and lifting me up. God has been using you, Russia, to transform me, and I feel so lucky to be here. So very very lucky.