It rained the last day we were in Iwakuni - big, black, billowing clouds.
It didn't rain the whole time we were there, which is somewhat surprising because monsoon season was barely finished.
But I was thankful.
I love the smell of the hot, rain on the lotus - of the humid air finally releasing itself to the earth.
It's funny -
everyone kept asking me how things had changed since I left...if it looked different or seemed evolved after a year away.
I never knew how to answer.
You see, so much has changed...the base is different, my students are taller, people have come and gone, and someone else lives in our little house - there are little prim gardens where our wetsuits used to hang out to dry.
But, almost most glaringly, I've changed.
I've completed a year of college at UNC.
I've struggled and studied, laughed and cried, moaned and rejoiced.
The Lord has revealed himself in so many new ways.
I have new friends, new dreams, and even a new way of working out - (I don't so much anymore haha).
At the same time, so much has remained the same.
The Lotus fields smell the same.
The seawall is still as quiet and spiritual as ever.
The little man at the gym is still there.
My students have grown, but they're still the same wriggly munchkins I taught last year.
7-Eleven still sounds and looks and smells the exact same way - they still have my favorite onigiri and egg sandwiches and chocolate crunchy things.
Iori is still herself. Junko and Hitomi have not changed a bit. They are still their joyful, beautiful selves.
The ocean is still emerald blue and the sand is still scattered with pottery and driftwood - rubbish and rocks.
Even the little fish at Hikari are still there - unfettered by anything but the changing tides.
Some things are constants.
And through the changing, I begin to let go of some things I once clung to.
This is not because I love them any less, but because I have learned that anywhere the Lord sends is good.
He remains faithful.
I knew that before - now I've seen it.
And I know that the most lasting most vibrant things in life are not confined to a physical place - they are untethered by the boxes we always want to put them in.
I know the Lord's plan is better and bigger...broader and deeper than I could ever imagine.
I could not plan it so well had I tried.
I found myself back in Iwakuni, after all.
And when it came time to leave again, I was not fearful.
A little sad, yes.
But not fearful.
I will always love and miss that place. But this time, I left Iwakuni with excitement and an eagerness for the future...with my eyes forward and hands much more open than before.
There are, indeed, great things ahead - all that my soul should know it's Savior more.
This I know for sure.
And for that, I am so very thankful :)