So, I am saying goodbye to Sydney for the next 2 weeks & saying hello to the Solomon Islands. I was supposed to get to Honiara today, but I don’t have the best luck when it comes to flying. My Sydney to Brisbane flight was delayed, so I couldn’t make my Brisbane to Honiara flight. It’s all good though, the airline put me in a hotel for the night and rebooked my flight for tomorrow morning. Brisbane is an awesome city and I’m happy I had the day to explore! And look at this food…… totally worth a 24 hr layover.
Anyways, back to the Solomons. There are a lot of unknowns regarding this part of my fellowship, but that makes me all the more excited. I know I have so much to look forward to – I just don’t know what it will be. I know this experience is going to be unlike anything I have ever done or will ever do again. I am going to be faced with lots of new things, and probably some challenges. I am not nervous, though. I am hopeful. I am happy. I would say I am ready, but God would laugh at my certainty. I think I am ready (?)
When I was planning my fellowship, it seemed like I would be staying in Honiara for the full 2 weeks; however, Sister Rose Mary would like me to spend some time in a neighboring island, Auki. Knowing about past fellows’ incredible experiences in Auki, that news was SO exciting. I was recently told that the boat is not running (‘the boat’ is as ambiguous to me as it is to you), so the other day I booked a round trip plane ticket Honiara –> Auki Wednesday the 13th to Wednesday the 20th. I will be staying with sisters in Auki and traveling to a few schools. When I return to Honiara I will be doing the same thing with different sisters. But… that is extremely likely to change. This is all about being flexible and being open & I am all about it!! I can’t put into words how excited I am to meet the sisters & Archbishop Chris!!!!! Ahhhh!!!!!
Since my last blog post, I had to say goodbye to my students and host family. I’ll be back in Sydney for 2 days after the Solomons, but the see ya soon thing was still pretty hard. On my last day at St. Lucy’s, my class THREW ME A SURPRISE PARTY. How thoughtful is that?!!! One of the teachers sent me to make copies in the library and when I came back, the deck was decorated and the table was full of food from all the kids’ parents. The best part was this card. Each of the boys drew and colored in hearts to be put on this card for me with the most adorable picture of them. That’s the first thing going up on my wall when I get back to school.
The kindness of the teachers is something I will take with me forever. They were such admirable examples of the type of leader I hope to be. Each one is incredibly gifted, and it shows in the way they love, support, and teach each child. I was especially touched by Ms. Monica, a woman who spent recess with a group of kids who needed a little extra support. I think she is a behavioral specialist. This woman is beyond amazing. She is SO intelligent, compassionate, and strong. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my last conversation with her. As I was saying goodbye, she said, “These kids will change your life. Three weeks here is life altering.” I was taken back because this woman who has spent her whole life working with people affected by mental and physical health issues acknowledged that 3 weeks is enough to change a life. What she said is 1000% true. These kids changed my life and my life has been altered. The phrase ‘life changing’ makes me uncomfortable sometimes, but Ms. Monica put things into perspective for me. Yeah, those fast 3 weeks and those 9 boys undeniably changed my life. I was excited for school every single day. My class turned me into a morning person. Those 3 weeks confirmed that that is the type of work I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t necessarily want to teach, but I hope to follow a path similar to that of Ms. Monica. Back to our conversation, she told me, “If there is one thing you take away, it is that each child has potential. You need to recognize that potential, treat every child with respect, and they will feel safe with you.” She wasn’t just talking about special needs students. She was talking about kids who are in prison, suicidal, pregnant, have eating disorders, etc. She has worked with such a wide array of people and her advice is not exclusive. Ms. Monica is no pushover. She uses the words ‘stop’ and ‘no’ and helps the kids to understand. But she also loves. She treats each child with dignity. She strives for every child to be the very best he or she can be. That’s something worth dedicating your life to.
I have had some pretty awesome company on this trip. On Thursday, Adrianna and I checked out Bondi Beach. It is beautiful and covered with surfers. Like I said before, I have a special thing for the beach and was ecstatic I got to put my feet in the water before I left. On Friday, I brought Alice and Christopher (from my host family) out to meet up with Yucca and Odie. These dudes rock & made my trip even better!!
On my last full day in Sydney, the most WONDERFUL Alice took me on my last (sad) Sydney adventure. She made sure I was extra touristy and took pictures in a poncho in front of the Harbor Bridge. Too classic. We walked along the water and ended the day at an Italian restaurant at the Rocks. I am forever grateful for this girl for being so welcoming, generous, & obviously a lot of fun. You the bestest!!
I’ve been super blessed with all of the opportunities and people Sydney brought me. I have soooooo much love for my host family (Mr. & Mrs. Randall, Hillary, Alice, Emma, Christopher, Sally, thanks for EVERYTHING – especially the Aussie words, dinners, and philosophical debates), my class (students and teachers), and all the people who made me feel so welcomed here in Australia. Next stop: Honiara! Please say lots of prayers for me. Thanks x a milli
Still missin you people in the US of A. Sending infinite virtual hugs