|Patrick and Julie on Guatemala trip (even with them there, I dreaded it!)|
I (usually) present the image of an upbeat optimist to the world. But, inside, the evidence is irrefutable: my go-to reaction to a great many of my life’s future events, is dread. I dread my every upcoming obligation, be it teaching Confirmation or going to the dentist (not that those two activities are comparable, though there HAVE been times when a shot of Novocaine would have helped get me through an excruciating class on “Judges and Kings.”) Preparing for every worst case scenario is exhausting, and a real joy-killer, but it seems to be hard-wired into me.
I also dread household chores of all kinds, dealing with close quarters or high places, and Halloween (I know, but seriously, my lifetime supply of manufactured delight in Minions costumes is all used up. Luckily, Steve loves opening the door and chatting up the little ghouls and goblins before doling out the M&Ms. Who am I to deprive him of his fun?) I dread, as we all do, mammograms and colonoscopies; but equally, I dread getting responses from editors to essays I’ve sent out (I’m always sure they will be big fat No’s).
A major annual source of dread for me is our summer church mission trip. Oh, I talk a good game during the long run-up to departure. “I just can’t wait!!” I carol, when asked about this year’s destination. Truth? I can wait. Preferably forever. At least there’s variety in my anxiety triggers: sometimes it’s making connecting flights with large groups of teens (I recall the mad dash from gate to gate in Minneapolis with 40 youth, with minutes to spare, when ALL the girls peeled off to use the ladies room.) Sometimes it is the work we are slated to perform. I try to get out of manual labor if at all possible, while at the same time hyping it to the kids (“We’ll get to hang drywall! It’ll be awesome!”) but often I’m stuck.
I dread the many unknowns about mission trips. Will any of my charges get sick or hurt on my watch? Will we encounter huge scary bugs? (Answer in Costa Rica: yes). Will the kids who are dating have a painful breakup, involving dark moods and tears?
We are headed to Puerto Rico in July to help, as the residents continue to recover from Hurricane Maria. We’ll be working with a new organization, and I was ready to dread every minute of prep. But, so far at least, Praying Pelican Missions has assuaged all of my fears. Booking flights? They have their own travel agency! Kind of work we’ll do? We will have lots of choices! Driving rental cars in strange places ranks as my Number #1 mission trip dread. They’ll provide all ground transportation for the week!! Their staff is cheery and seems very competent too.
For the moment at least, I have nothing to dread, and honestly? I don’t know what to do with myself. I am actually looking forward to this trip.
|I had to drive one of these in (very mountainous) West Virginia! Ugh!|