Last year, I took a six-month Leave of Absence. I was burned out, depressed, and beginning to suffer from panic attacks. I did not know how to fix myself. I was scared, and for the first time, I asked for help. Thanks to the graciousness of my Kolkata community and incredible support from many of you, I took the time I needed to begin unpacking my years being witness to trauma and pain, and experiencing it first hand. I attended a retreat center in Michigan called Alongside whose focus is on burnout. I began to let my heart soften. I began to rediscover who I was created to be. I had the chance to breathe, to rest, and to be…I write so honestly, because perhaps many of you understand this vantage point well…and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that hiding is the opposite of freedom…
My leave of absence, gave necessary space to examine the dark places in my heart that I’ve refused to visit in the past, it allowed the grace to rekindle faith, and dream. As I emerged from those six months, I felt like one who had been awakened from a long deep sleep. One of my realizations was the dormant dream of becoming a counselor, which aligns with my passion and my giftings. I have longed to move our Sari Bari community forward with a mental health and counseling focus, but I have never felt fully prepared or properly trained for the trauma and difficult situations we encounter. My dream is to hone these skills and offer the best of who I am to the women and men around me.
To pursue these dreams, I have made the decision alongside my community to return to school for my master’s in trauma psychology starting in the Fall of 2014. I will be going on Sabbatical starting this August and will be resigning from WMF after my sabbatical is done in April 2014.
It is with great emotion I write this. Though we reside in distant places, there is a sense of camaraderie and partnership that has come through years of partnering together. Your prayers, encouragement, and extreme generosity has moved and upheld me. Thank you for your voices, your prayers, your sacrifices on my behalf. I would have never dreamt that seven years in Kolkata could instill such depth of value for community, honesty, and the desperate need for celebration. I have grown up here, discovering more than I could have ever asked or imagined…and for the pain and the celebration I am profoundly grateful.
In these last two months, I am working to wrap up many loose ends, from moving out of my flat to transferring my work responsibilities, and spending valuable time with the women and staff of Sari Bari…mostly over LARGE plates of rice and various forms of chicken…
I will be flying back to the US to begin my Sabbatical on August 5th. I humbly ask that you consider continuing to offer your prayers and support of me through the next 6 months…it is an honor and gift to be able to receive Sabbatical after seven years of service in India. I will begin my Sabbatical by hiking the Way of St. James through Spain, in Sept/Oct and then relocating to Jacksonville to spend my remaining months preparing for school.
I will be hosting a raffle at the end of June on a special blog to raise money for various aspects of my Sabbatical. More details to come!!!
Although I am leaving Kolkata, I am still planning to stay in partnership with Sari Bari by advocating and speaking on their behalf through the next few years. If you are interested in having me share about Sari Bari at your churches, small groups, or colleges during my Sabbatical I would be thrilled to!
I covet your prayers for my transition in these last two months, and for my Sari Bari community who will be sending me off. I cannot help but think of the parable of the seed that must die in order to reveal new growth. It is in this posture I am moving forward, hopeful in the promise of newness that lies ahead.
My email during sabbatical and further into my schooling will be email@example.com.
To make donations to my personal account or the Sari Bari ministry: send checks to WMF, PO Box 70, Omaha, NE 68101 (on a separate paper, please note for Beth Waterman or Sari Bari ministry.) Or donate online at https://portal.ftnirdc.com/WMFW/Checkout
Much love to all of you,