10 years

      One of the many things I am grateful my parents gave me as a child was the gift of travel. I saw a lot of the world by the time I was twenty one. One of my earliest memories is my first grade teacher calling my name out in the middle of class. She said it was time to go home. I knew it was time to go to Israel. Whether it was traveling with my family or encouraging me to travel with 25 strangers to Australia, I will be forever grateful to them for allowing me to experience other cultures, taste new foods, sleep in fancy hotels and sleep in families homes. I've sang songs of praise on Easter morning at the empty tomb and flown over the strip of land where Jim Elliot was last seen alive. I've cruised the Atlantic, built a church for the Bahamians, prayed with weeping woman for a dying man in South Africa, sang Edelweiss by guitar in a Mexican garage, yodeled in the Canadian mountains, swam with dolphins off of the coast of New Zealand and preached the Gospel to strangers in an Australian mall.

      When college graduation was approaching I had to figure out what to do with my life. Having a major in Youth Ministry, my life was most likely going to be played out in a church somewhere. I had seen the world and wanted to see more of the United States. I didn't want to move back home to Cincinnati and Chicago was becoming too busy of a city for myself. I wanted something new. I wanted a new adventure in America.

      My friend from college was moving back home to Washington state and encouraged me to look for jobs there. That's all it took, really, for me to start applying for jobs in a state I had never been to. I chose four different churches. The application process was long and phone interviews were intense. One church even said they never opened my application because so many had applied. Down to three. It became quite clear that Harbor Covenant was where I wanted to be. Five people left to choose from in the interview process and the man interviewing me told me I knew someone else in the running. Matt. Ha! This guy I had sat through so many classes with was trying for the same job I was thousands of miles away. I had to step up my game. Matt was good.

       The two available openings for the internship were offered to both Matt and I. Whew! Before I accepted the position I flew out to Washington to spend Easter weekend with my friends family. It was gray and misty the first day. Did I really want to move here? I was assured by my friends mother that gray and misty was as bad as it got and it didn't rain as much as everyone said it did. She was mostly right. We drove down I-5, west on 16 and right after the bend in the highway at the Jackson Ave exit there it was. The Narrows Bridge stretching across the Sound with the Olympic mountains glowing majestically along the horizon.  "Look, Randi, look! The mountains, the bridge, the water, the boats, the train tracks. Look!" But she couldn't look. She was driving. There was only one bridge then. One slip of the wheel and you were either headed off the bridge or in to oncoming traffic.

      Once in Gig Harbor we drove around. Planning ahead, looking for possible places to live. Getting excited about the quaint downtown, the Harbor, Novak street, the million dollar homes, the little fishing houses, and the slow, relaxed pace.  We drove around the Harbor until we came to the end. We got out of the car, walked to the edge and looked out over the Sound. The fishing boats, the blue skies and there, there was Mt Rainier, in all of its glory, towering high as if it to look over the Northwest as it's protector. This is where I want to be. This is where I am supposed to be. Needless to say, I accepted the job.
       That was ten years ago. Ten years ago. It really does seem like just yesterday that I was moving into my dorm room. Figuring out this big new world known as a college campus. It seems like just yesterday I was boarding my flights for my world adventures. But, here I am. I've created my own adventures. My own traditions. My own world. So much can happen in ten years. So much. Yet if you let it slip by you, like I did for a few years, a whole lot of nothing can happen as well.

     I've been through many seasons while in Gig Harbor. Seasons of loneliness and of community, of building and of tearing down, of loss and of gain, of hurt and of happiness, of confusion and clarity, of spiritual longing and spiritual richness, of friendships lost and friendships made. I've come to really know and love this town, just like I have come to know and love myself. I feel a lot like the city itself. Quiet and slow paced yet bursting at the seams, ready and needing to grow. I feel like the little fishing house I once lived in; old and in need of many repairs, yet untouched because of what it represents. So much history to hold on to, yet so much life to live as well. In ways I feel enclosed, suffocated almost, like the tall Evergreen trees have a way of making one feel. Yet not far down the road is the wide open expanse of the Puget Sound, it is then that I feel free and vulnerable. Then there are the mountains. Off in the distance, beautiful yet haunting. When I am on the water soaking in life, the mountains remind me that rough times will come. A tough climb is ahead. But have you ever climbed a mountain?

    There was Table Mountain in South Africa. Three paths to choose from. We chose the easiest, or so we thought. The climb was tough, much tougher than we imagined. I was in the middle of the group, like I've been my whole life. Rarely leading and rarely behind. Some charged ahead never looking back. Others struggled to take the next step, struggled to breath. I was torn, like I've been my whole life; I had to keep going, if I slowed I would never make it. If I didn't stop to help then others wouldn't make it. We all made it. And oh what a glorious sight at the top. The rocky terrain behind and the ocean ahead, stretching far beyond what our eyes could see. A place to rest. A place to reflect on where we came from. A place to admire what we struggled for.

   What started for me as a simple acknowledgement of the fact that I have been in the Northwest for ten years has turned into a bit of a memoir, if you will, for myself.  I sit here today on top of a mountain I've just had to climb. Today's mountain is more like Mt. Rainier than it is like Table Mountain. I'm reflecting on what God has just brought me through. I'm reflecting on all God has in store for me. I have never been to the peak of Mt Rainier, but I've been high enough to see that it is surrounded by other mountains. I'm gearing up for more climbs, but knowing there is a gorgeous ocean to view at some point I will gladly continue this adventure.

Lead on, Lead on
   My God, My God, 
Lead on, Kindly light. 
-John Henry Newman

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