I'm sitting in between two worlds now. There is the strange space of time in which nothing concrete seems to exist. It's not just that I'm unemployed. It's that I'm poised on the verge and not really certain when play is going to be resumed. In the meantime, I want to keep living. To find ways to really exist in this space between.
I realize I have yet to actually finish talking about my visit with Julie. There are some things I really want to post about from that time, so I'm not quite ready to give up on it just yet, but I thought it'd be wise to do a little flash forward and take care of some more recent events first.
After Julie left the end of school really kicked into gear. The last month of school is generally my favorite. Of course this year it was mixed with crazy nostalgia as I realized it was really the end. Always before I knew I'd be back in September for another round. True, the daily students are always new, but just knowing we'll all continue to breath Czech air made it easier. This year, everything was coming to an end. Not only my time at Winfield, but everyone's time there. Winfield itself will cease to exist. What will remain will be split in two between two different schools, and nothing of what has been my home will remain. The hardest part for me is knowing that, not only will I be out of their lives, there will be no new ESI teacher coming. The general ESI model is set up so that we're all just links in a chain of influence. We can pass over the students we've prayed for and done our best to share our lives with to someone else who will come in and continue caring about them. But this time, that's just over, and that has added a fresh pain to this goodbye. Not wanting to allow myself to get overly emotional just now, I'll do my best to move on and just share some of the events of this past month.
It's kind of funny because I posted 7 times I think in the month of June, and yet basically none of those posts have anything to do with what was happening in that month itself. And believe me, it was a busy time indeed.
On a personal note, I spent a lot of my weekends doing some crazy hard work in the garden with Mark. There was a massive pile of dirt and rocks that needed to be shoveled into a wheelbarrow and hauled to a new location where it was dumped over a steep wooded bank. Here is a view of the hill after we'd already worked on it for at least 4 hours:
Let's just say that by the time we got it to look like this:
I'd earned ice cream on several occasions. It was a serious job, and now I'm just curious what Mark's dad will come up with for us to do next.
My favorite memory from the time spent working there was when we got to enjoy some tasty treats from the garden. Throughout the time there I was instructed multiple times to pick strawberries, but I usually only had time to eat one or two in the midst of work. At the end of the day, however, we had some time to just pick and enjoy. I'd gathered quite a few for myself, then Mark came over with a brimming handful and added them to what I already had saying I should just eat them all. I had nothing to put them in, so there really was no other choice. As Mark wound his way through the pea patch, filling his mouth with the sweet green vegetables, I sat with a handful of sun warmed strawberries, letting the hot juice sit inside my mouth as I slowly chewed each one. Unforgettable sort of moment.
In June we also had our end of the year retreat. We went to Konopiste, a castle not far from Prague. We didn't go on a tour inside the castle, but we enjoyed views from outside. True to usual form, I went on early morning walks alone (okay, this is typical Sarah behavior only on retreats when I generally end up "sleeping" on really hard beds and therefore give up before most people are ready to get up) so I had a lovely view of the castle all by myself. I'd heard that we were located literally in the parking lot of the castle, but wasn't sure exactly where it was at. I went on this walk around the lake and watched all the early morning fishers who had no doubt been out for quite a long time already by 7 AM when I was making my rounds. It wasn't until the walk back that I got a view of the actual castle, but I was quite impressed.
Later on we had more chances to explore, and I got some more lovely shots throughout the weekend.
It was pretty strange knowing that this was to be my last ESI event. After three years these events have just become something that I count on happening, and now they're over. The fact that I'm not likely to see most of those people ever again is quite strange, but at the same time part of the usual pattern of my transient life.
The end of the year is my favorite because this is when we get to just let loose and have fun with the students. There were day trips to Jesenice where we played beach volleyball for hours, a fact my right arm continued to remind me of for some time, seeing as how I don't serve very often in my regular life. There were also classes outside where we were able to sit and talk and just enjoy time spent together. Sadly a lot of students weren't around any more at the end of the year so most of these final classes were small, but it's quality, not quantity that counts, and I fully enjoyed every chance I had to get to know these amazing people a little bit better.
It all felt a bit odd, however, knowing that even though I'm done with my job, and moving on to something new, I'm not actually leaving the country just yet. Generally speaking, I leave the country as soon as the school year is over, but this year I find myself still here, waiting around to find out what will be next. All the same, I doubt that I'll see many of my students again. So we're not so far apart, and yet it's still over. Just strange.
The final Winfield party was part end of the year party and part a tribute to all Jarmila has done throughout her ten years as the manager of Winfield. It is so hard to believe that she's really finished with it, and yet I'm thankful she'll have a bit of a break after so many years of work there. It was a lot of fun, and despite the crazy thunder storm in the afternoon, the skies did clear and we were able to have it outside at Krajinka as planned.
After school was officially over I had a few days to work on pulling things together before my next move. Tammy put together a very nice party that I was able to invite friends and colleagues to, so that was fun. Always nice to have an excuse to dress up every now and then. It was a good way to end my time in Cheb as well.
On Thursday last week, that would be July 1st, I finalized all my packing up and Mark and his dad came to move me to their place in Marianske Lazne. So for the past week now I've been working on adjusting to my new life here in transit. We're still waiting and waiting and waiting for information on the visa situation, and in the meantime trying to really enjoy this time we have together. We're not sure what all we'll be able to do this summer, but I'm looking forward to having this time for us to really get to know each other better as we prepare for what God has in store for our futures.