Sorry not to have written anything pithy lately - as usual, returning to the US from Asia is more physically difficult than going was!
Yesterday - having only had three hours of sleep the night before - I went to bed at 7:00 pm and slept until 5:00 am today. Much better. Getting caught up on sleep makes a big difference in my ability to approach life with energy and hope, rather than being tired or discouraged. This is a lesson I learned in Central Asia - that even though my life there was on the boring side in some ways, it did include going to bed at 10:00 every single night and getting up at 6:00, and that made me a whole different person. It's a habit I've tried to maintain, ever since. Do you remember the old Marti and how grouchy she was? I like the new one a lot more. But more than a few times over the last six years the old one has returned...
While tidying up my room this morning I found something important which I thought I'd lost: the steno notebook with 50 pages of detailed, handwritten notes from interviews, interactions, and formal sessions at the conference I flew so far to attend. Nice.
Although I'm glad to have found it, I'm happy to say I passed the test of accepting its apparent loss without freaking out. Don't quote me on this, but I =think= a couple of guided times of prayer this winter have broken some of the remaining rigid places in my personality, so that failure (mine or others') is not bothering me as much as it was before. Still more 'work' to do but it's good to see some progress.
Here are a couple of conference highlights, for the record:
Friendships. I knew more people in this group than I realized I did. Almost 20 of them had been part of CP staff, teams, or projects over the years; I went to college with another and met his wife when they were preparing to go overseas. Spending more time with folks from our agency's Orlando team was great, too. I met a number of Kiwis, Aussies, and other people who tend to look at the world a little differently, and I always enjoy that, too.
Random / Divine Encounters. The warm, African man who, on hearing what our ministry had been through in the past year, shared how he'd wept over changes and losses in the last year too, and went into African prophet mode, assuring me, 'God will not waste your life!'... Another man who came to my workshop and told me how extremely informative and helpful it had been, that he and his wife had taken pages of notes and debriefed it all afterwards... The strangers who came up to me to tell me how much they'd loved my book... A great face-to-face meeting with people I'd known about for years but did not really know, who want to see something happen in one of my favorite Central Asian countries; working together I think we can do it... the chance to really listen to and encourage a few people who really needed to be heard and encouraged.
Don't get me wrong, I still struggled with social anxiety every day I was there - after all, it was a huge group of strangers, even if they were nice strangers. But every day had great conversations too. And the public speaking and teaching parts? No problem. I won't say my heart doesn't race a bit when I get up in front of hundreds of people, but that's much easier for me than milling about with hundreds of people! Guess I'm funny that way.
The warmth and sunshine was also nice; I kept forgetting it was January. While some of those there live in the tropics, many were coming in from colder places and glad enough for a chance to warm up. Mid-Asia has had a tough winter, and a real cold snap had come through right before this event. We figured the folks who came down from Mongolia had a 120-degree temperature change. But none of them were complaining.