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It has been almost 8 months since my Dad passed away – 236 days.

In roughly 3 months, I will be getting married – 98 days.

And, in 3 days, I will embark upon my next international adventure – leaving Monday, November 5th to study Interfaith relations in Indonesia.

It’s interesting, how time works. Interesting, how certain life events can seem to almost stop the clock, and others serve to speed it up. As each day passes I move further away from March 10th – the day I got word of my Dad’s passing while attending a conference in Tanzania; and I move closer to February 9th – the day I will get to say, “I do” to spending the rest of my life with a man whom I love and care deeply for.

And, in the middle of these two events, life happens.

I have a mix of emotions as I plan out and pack for my upcoming trip to Indonesia. I am excited to visit a new country, to immerse myself in a different culture, to study Islam and Christianity in a place where the two live side-by-side. I am nervous about the language barrier, about various transportation details, about getting lost and all the other normal, international-travel-induced challenges.

And, I am also afraid

It is not a fear based on any tangible dangers or worries about my own personal safety. Rather, it is a fear mostly born out of the devastating way that my last international trip ended. A fear that something bad will happen while I am away. A fear that I will be alone and far from support. A fear that I will want to come home, and will be unable to.

It is a fear born out of irrationality, yet a fear nonetheless.

It is the same kind of fear one usually feels when approaching the high-diving board at a pool. A fear of dread, of “what-ifs,” of being outside of one’s comfort zone. It is a fear of the unknown, of uncontrollable circumstances.

It is a fear that I often feel before solo-travel experiences; though it has been heightened after my experience in Tanzania.

However, it is a fear that must be conquered.

I see these next few days leading up to Monday as a time of climbing that high-dive ladder. Of mentally steeling myself; of taking deep breaths and packing my bag one clothing piece at a time, just like I would be climbing one rung at a time on the way up.

Come Monday, when I board my first flight, it will still feel scary: big, unknown, out of my control. But I will take the jump, reminding myself of the lesson I have learned time and time again – that true transformation happens during the free-fall.

True transformation happens when you suck in that last breath, close your eyes, and simply jump. True transformation happens as your body soars through the air – weightless, falling. It happens in the splash, in the shock of cold water slamming against your skin, in the feeling of gravity pulling you under

True transformation happens when you thrust yourself upwards to the surface, when you take in that first gulp of air, when the realization hits that you managed to leave your comfort zone; that you managed to push past your fear; that you managed to jump – and that you came out on the other side.

And so, I ask for your prayers as I prepare myself to jump again this Monday. I ask for your prayers as I attempt to make connections and dive into Muslim/Christian relations in an unfamiliar place. And finally, I ask for your prayers as I continue on this journey of life – moving away from, and forward to, various events that will forever shape who I am and who I am becoming.