It’s been two months since I got back from Croatia. I’ve been thinking about Croatia lately; all the things I saw, the people I met, and my students who became so dear to me in such a short period of time. I miss the hills around the hotel I stayed in and the river that wound around the roots of the hills. I scroll through the hundreds of pictures that I took and I see all the faces of the friends I made—American and Croatian—and I think about how badly I want to go back. Even if I don’t stay forever, I know I want to go back.
People warned me about this. Friends who had been on missions trips told me how badly they missed the countries they’d visited. I always listened and kind of nodded, not really understanding how deeply their journeys had impacted them. But now I understand.
Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream. One of those wonderful, rambling dreams that is real and wonderful and you never want to wake up. If it weren’t for three weeks’ worth of photographic evidence, I might think that I had dreamt it. But it was real. It was wonderfully, wonderfully real.
One of the girls who joined my society speaks German fluently. We like to have German conversations with each other, if only to have people stare at us as we talk about the weather. When I speak with her, I remember the hours of conversation I had with the Croatian pastor’s wife. I remember how blessed I felt to be a blessing to other people.
When I play in church, I remember playing my violin in a sweltering kitchen on my last Sunday in Croatia. I had played in church, so when two of the members invited us to lunch, I brought it with me. To my surprise, they wanted a concert, so I gave them one. It had to be one hundred degrees outside, and with the oven going, the kitchen was rapidly reaching the same temperatures. But I played. For some reason, the heat didn’t matter anymore after that.
And I remember my students. I hear one student’s favorite song on the radio, and I sing along. I remember how much fun we had together; how much fun it was to learn how to teach with such a clever and forgiving group of girls. I remember hours of playing UNO, and almost getting good at it.
I remember giving the Gospel to my students every day. I remember how one of them wanted Christ in her life. I remember how happy she was when she told me she wanted to accept Him.
I could write a book of all the things I saw God do. I would write it, then read it over and over again, just to remind myself that yes, it did happen. All of those wonderful things did happen. All of those wonderful people really do exist.
The first chance I get to go back—God willing—I’ll go.