This is the final installment on my series about a mission trip to Providence, R.I., I took with my university. It has been fun telling you about my time in the good ol’ Ocean State.
Our final morning approached too quickly, and my heart was heavy when I thought of leaving this dedicated community. They drove us for the last time to the airport and after several hugs, promises to visit each other and hints made for us to move to Providence, we dragged our luggage inside. The trip back was not as painful physically as the first had been for me, but emotionally I was not ready to leave the Ocean State. Spending a week caring for people instead of laboring over my studies was the best decision for the last spring break of my life. But it made the idea of returning to my desk and lonely bedroom miserable.
I was happy to discover I was the only roommate back from traveling when I dropped my bags in my living room that afternoon. Being alone allowed space and quiet to realize that being on an emotional high for seven days, although it is enthralling, drained me. My last desire was to spend more time with people, but I could not pull myself away from joining in my neighbors’ conversations about their perils and pleasures from the past week. The fact that food was involved was not too bad either.
Although rest was what I should have strived for, one more social event was on my calendar. Two of my teammates, now close friends, from my week away decided to go see “The Hunger Games,” a movie I had been anticipating seeing for months, and I was not particularly ready to dive into the assignments I knew were waiting for me. So I joined them at the least fancy theater in town for one more time to gasp and giggle together. The sun had sunk by the time we left the theater, and my top priority was climbing under my covers. Reflecting on the lessons I had learned would come tomorrow.
Being back in my own church community was like falling into the arms of my father after breaking up with my first boyfriend. I was comforted and felt at home, but I knew I would never see the service the same way again. Rhode Island and Grace Harbor showed me how dear my fellow believers are and what a real community looks like. They eat together, study together and bear each other’s burdens together, and these actions did not happen just on Sunday morning. They lived daily together. I found myself wishing for what I did not have in the South: blunt but completely dedicated brothers and sisters.
With the passing of the morning hours, I had to face the mounting pile of homework and unanswered emails because I did not bring a single book or check for urgent messages the entire time I was away. I wanted to be swallowed by the fellowship I knew I would find in Rhode Island, and that meant often leaving my phone behind and even ignoring messages from my parents or professors. I stepped away and dedicated all my time to those around me and contemplated on what I was called as a Christian to do. The hardest part was returning to the daily grind of rising early, staring at my laptop most of the day and lying down late. The first and last part of my day I could handle, that comes with being in your early twenties, but the middle was what wore on me. Oh, how I yearned for the middle to be filled with people and laughter and hearty meals instead of papers and interviews and classes. Maybe once again it will.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! Keep coming back for some more stories…