The map says it all: from school and home to Japan and South America...

map of my travels
The story begins 3000 miles away from my home in Los Angeles at my 
school, Swarthmore College, in the Philadelphia area. I had planned on 
going abroad to study in Japan during the Spring '98 semester, but 
Swarthmore no longer offered a single semester option. Going away 
for a whole year would make it tough to complete my biology major on 
time, but I had enough credits to take a semester off. Since I have 
family in Japan I decided to go there on my own.
During winter break I learned that I could only get a 3 month visa since I wasn't enrolled in an official exchange program. Because I had hoped to stay for a full 6 months, I had not made summer plans to work at home or anything. For the first time in my life, I faced having nothing to do!
As I got over the initial disappointment, I figured this was God's way of telling me I was always too busy and this was my chance to rest. But the thought of having nothing to do made me even more restless! My side of the conversations with God started to sound like this:I'm not sure I can handle not having something to do, but I'll trust you with this...
A week later, I got an e-mail from Nicole Barrios, who is the woman for the South America division of JEMS: ...we're working on putting together the team for summer ministries in South America...sent a team to Paraguay for the first time last was a Spanish speaking team... Japanese speaking might be more effective there...I hear that you speak Japanese...what are your summer plans?
It was too perfect, as if God was directly challenging me to go to Japan for 3 months, learn some proper nihongo, go back to LA for training and then apply what I learned in South America. How could Amy say no?

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