Service for a Peace Corps Volunteer lasts for 27 months, several months in training and then two years at you permanent site. September was my one year at My Refuge House (15 months down), which meant two things: 1) excitement and disbelief that I had officially completed half of my service at my permanent site, and 2) excitement and apprehension that I still had half of my service yet to complete. It may seem strange to most people but this one year of service has been my longest full-time job (ever) which results in pride, but also the desire for a change, which my mind has been conditioned for since I was four years old and put in pre-school. I have been in school ever since this age with one year off after my bachelors’s degree when I traveled for three months then had two different jobs before starting my masters degree the next fall. It has been a challenge living in one place and working at one job for a full year and I sometimes get antsy for the next new thing; but overall it has been a great lesson in being content and happy in the work I do here. It is teaching me follow-through, dedication, and commitment; all of which are character traits I desperately need to build. It helps that I work for an amazing organization that gives me free reign to develop new projects and programs. It is the perfect first job because it is teaching me to be an independent thinker, creative worker, and confident collaborator.
My first year at My Refuge House was a wisp in time and I can hardly believe that I have been here so long. (Where did it go?! What have I done with my time?! – questions that have been running through my mind). Looking at my one year left to go leaves me a little scared of how much time I still have, but also thrilled because I know I am not ready to leave. My work is fun and I am finally able to start seeing pieces fit together which have been in the works for a while – it is such a great feeling to see something come of all the hard work. My one year will end quickly, just as the last one, and I know it will be a wonderful ride. I would not substitute my time here in the Philippines for anything; I am constantly learning from the people here and am receiving a brilliant education from them, from cooking to program development. It is a mutual exchange of knowledge, contribution, and effort. Much of my time is spent in good humor, filling my days with enjoyable work, loving people, and relaxing hobbies. However, it is not always easy to be away from my family and friends back home, in fact it can be downright horrendous at times, but having their support in the good times and bad is a continual encouragement.
I have also benefited from my time here, not only professionally, but also personally. I have became more aware of what I value most, what I find happiness in doing, how to take care of myself well, how to be a better friend, what I no not enjoy doing, what adds stress and what reduces stress, how to live more intentionally, and how to embrace simplicity. I am in no way an expert at any of these, but it is satisfying to know that I am finding more balance and joy in my life because of them. Making time to reflect on various situations and experiences has helped me determine certain attributes about myself, but making a larger effort in growing closer to God on a daily basis has been essential. Being able to rest and have faith in God’s limitless love sheds so much uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. When I am dedicated to my relationship with God I feel less worried and more balanced, and this is a pretty great feeling to have.
I will be going home for Christmas (woohoo) for two weeks to visit, eat, rest, eat more, and share in community with the people I love. I have not experienced temperatures below 75 degrees in a year and a half so it will be a real treat, I am sure, to be thrown into freezing weather; but I plan on staying in front of my parent’s fireplace the entire time so if you want to visit me that is I where I will be found towards the end of December. Probably with a hot beverage in my hand and heating pad wrapped around my body. I also plan on eating somewhat constantly and have already given my mom a list of foods I would enjoy, half of which involves dairy in various forms, so I have already started praying for my digestive system which is accustomed to a rice and fish diet. I am pretty crazy excited for this trip and I think it will be a great day to begin the last nine months of my Peace Corps service, sending me back refreshed in numerous ways (and probably with 10 extra pounds of weight gained). See you in two months!
Go out and grab life by the lapels,