“The best things in life are unexpected—because there were no expectations.” –Eli Khamarov
I enjoy not having expectations. It’s not that I’m afraid of disappointment if my expectations aren’t met; it’s that I like being surprised. I like experiencing things without the shadow of my own preconceptions. But, I’m human, and, in spite of my best efforts, I still end up expecting some things as if they’re a certainty.
For example, I had expected to spend this past weekend making lesson plans. Yesterday, Monday, I had expected to celebrate being in Fianar for a month. This week, I expected to start teaching English to the students at SALT. I expected the first week of November to be my first official week teaching at FaFaFi. I expected my first day at Amboaloboka to happen the week after. Three weeks from now, I expected my schedule to be solidified and my days to be filled with teaching.
Instead, I spent this past weekend cleaning my apartment and packing. Yesterday, I spent the day in a car with two of my fellow Madagasgals as we road-tripped back to Antananarivo. This week, all of the Madagascar YAGMs and our country coordinator will be flying to South Africa together. We will have our first retreat in South Africa, during which we’ll process and discuss our experiences thus far. Three weeks from now, we’ll hopefully be returning to Madagascar and our host communities.
Obviously, reality did not match my expectations.
For those of you who don’t know, for the past couple of months, cases of plague in Madagascar have been on the rise. Plague is endemic to Madagascar, which means there are cases every year. The difference this year is that there have been cases in cities; normally, plague affects the countryside. Additionally, the strand currently spreading is the pneumonic plague, which can be passed relatively easily via coughing. Because of these factors and others, the YAGM program has decided to temporarily relocate all of the volunteers in Madagascar to South Africa, where we will have time to assess the situation. We plan to return to our host communities in mid-November. I want to emphasize that none of us were in immediate danger. I never felt unsafe or afraid in Fianar. Our relocation to South Africa is precautionary.
“The best things in life are unexpected—because there were no expectations.”
I’m not saying that our temporary relocation is the best thing that could have possibly happened. I’m not saying I’m happy to leave my host community. I’m definitely not saying that I’m glad the plague happened so that I could travel to another country. I am, however, embracing the unexpected. While this is not how I expected to spend the third month of my YAGM year, I am hopeful and excited that it might just exceed my expectations in ways that I never could have imagined before. I am grateful for the reminder that it’s okay when expectations aren’t meant. I trust that God has a plan. And I am ready for the unexpected.