Right before coming to Uganda, I lived in Utrecht again for a couple months. In a lovely house, with cats and plants and the 8-o’clock news. I had a really nice job in which I got to learn and experiment while doing the thing I love best, which is serving people through making the lives of thousands of volunteers a bit easier. And yet, I decided to leave it all behind. In the week of making that decision I went to the Domtuin, it’s a hidden garden in the middle of the city center, next to the famous Domchurch. It was cold, windy and rainy. Today’s picture is a #throwbackthursday actually taken a long time before by one of my dear camp friends visiting. When it was spring and summer dress type weather. Long story short. I’d like to go to that place on defining moments in my life. It has such an atmosphere of peace, a sense of timelessness and many, special memories. It’s a place where I just like to sit and ponder. Let my thoughts wonder and think about where I am coming from and where am I going. It’s too far away to actually go there now, or let’s say this weekend, but in my mind, I am going to that secret garden in my old city and you get to go along today.

In the week of making that decision I went to the Domtuin, it’s a hidden garden in the middle of the city center, next to the famous Domchurch. It was cold, windy and rainy. Today’s picture is a #throwbackthursday actually taken a long time before by one of my dear camp friends visiting. When it was spring and summer dress type weather. I’d like to go to that place on defining moments in my life. It has such an atmosphere of peace, a sense of timelessness and many, special memories. It’s a place where I just like to sit and ponder. Let my thoughts wonder and think about where I am coming from and where am I going. It’s too far away to actually go there now, or let’s say this weekend, but in my mind, I am going to that secret garden in my old city and you get to go along today.

Three-hundred-thirty-three days. And more or less that amount of blogs too. It really hit today that this is almost over. I am almost 25. I talked about with a friend this week, who is really excited about turning 25. I am not so sure yet. We’ll see when it comes. For now, I am just focused on each day as it comes. It’s been an interesting week so far. I can’t share too much, don’t want to share too much, but it hasn’t all been easy. Just like this year hasn’t always been easy.

I started this blog back in October 2017. A beautiful fall walk sort of got me the idea and then I made it happen. Set up my blog in no time. Little did I know that soon I would attempt to go to Ethiopia, which didn’t really quite work out as planned. Back in the Achterhoek without a job, without a real plan. My blog became a life line to keep going, to keep making plans and to keep applying for jobs. I ended up back in Utrecht only a couple weeks later. New job, new house, but in an old city with old friends. I wrote about all of it. Then the Uganda opportunity came up about 100 to 150 days into my year. I wrote about moving countries, starting a new job and a completely new life. And now I am about 5 months in of my first year here.

It’s been good. So very good to me.

And yet, there have been moments this year, when I just wanted to take every single piece of writing offline. Delete it all. Pretend that I hadn’t shared all of it with the world. More than ever I realize that my life is incredibly vulnerable. That my thoughts, emotions, feelings are complicated, delicate and that I often don’t even understand them. One of my favorite blogs ‘pure emotion‘ was one of those blogs in which I really challenged my own character while processing my first month of being in Uganda. Little that I then know, how some of these words would become a source of strength to hold on later. I keep reading it again and again, knowing that that’s the truth that I want to believe in. The love that I want to keep falling into and the faith I want to keep practicing.

“You don’t judge your feelings.

Feelings are meant to be fully felt and then fully surrended to God. The word emotion comes from the Latin for “movement” – and all feelings are meant to move you toward God.

And I will fall in love and fail at love and fall in my love, but I will never stop the practicing, practicing, practicing, the givenness and the receiving. For what is faith, what is love, if it is not practiced?

We in this vulnerable communion of brokenness and givenness, we will simply keep surrendering again to love because God is love and this is all that wins.”

Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

This week was a week in which I realized again how many mistakes I make. Like all the time. That I am probably my own worst critic. A bit of perfectionist. That I can keep pushing my body, but if my lungs are filled with fluids of some sort and my skin is flushed with a slight fever, I should just stay in bed and sleep and drink lots of tea. So that’s what I did today. Simply rest, because I wasn’t going to be of any use sitting behind my desk in the office.

Sometimes all I need to do to be able to look forward is to admit to the feelings that are there, at that exact moment. Or in the case of today, the tired and slightly sick body.

I believe you can’t focus on tomorrow if you are not ready to face today. You never really know where life it is taking you next. But today you make choices about where you are taking your life, right? I just talked to a friend, one month into a new job. When I spoke to here last back in June, she wasn’t doing all too well. But she made the decision to move on, to not let the past hunt her down and take up responsibility for her own life again. What she found out about herself was sometimes “ugly” as she described it, but she now sees how it helped her move on and move ahead.

I remember the day when I showed her the Domtuin. She had just moved to Utrecht. And told her about that place. Showed her my garden next to the church. In the heart of the city, which led us right back to the heart of reflection on years gone by since we first met, right back to the heart of a beautiful friendship.

And so did a day of sleeping and not feeling well at all, end up with a smile and healing reflections.