I just spent the last half hour reading my journal from my very first international trip. In April 1990, I participated in Mission of Peace, sponsored by the Northeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, to the Soviet Union. It was my first flight (from Bangor Maine to NYC to Helsinki!), the first reason I needed a passport, my first long trip away from home.
I had spent the previous 8 months raising $3500 to fund the trip. I would spent the year following visiting the many groups around Maine (mostly Methodist Women groups) sharing my experience over 40 times.
Reading my journal was a little disappointing. I was a junior in high school, and even though I like to think better of myself, I really was all about the hormones and drama. On this trip I had my first beer and my first vodka, and liked the way they made me feel. I had a crush on a guy but played the role of ‘little sister’ to him, listening to all this woes. I was incredibly aware of the dynamics in our group of 40 high school kids. I was struggling with my relationship with God – mostly that I wanted to have fun that I knew would not bring my closer to Him in discipleship. I was worried about leaving my little sister at home. (That’s what I wrote, but I think I probably just missed her.) There were very nice people there, and there were terrible people there. I wasn’t afraid except of black marketeers (whom we could get arrested for associating with). I loved, loved, loved the Moscow Circus and wrote that circuses would never be the same for me. (This is true.)
Communism and the USSR was becoming unglued at this time. At one church service we went to we heard speakers from East and West Germany talking about the reunification process.
One of the most vivid things I remember about my trip (not in my journal) was how the sky was blue in Moscow. After growing up in the cold war, but also paying attention to humanitarian appeals that featured tones of sepia and overcast skies, I was shocked at how vibrant blue the sky was – just like ours in Maine.
I’m not sure what to do with this journal. I don’t think I want to read it again, or that I want my family reading it. What does one do with journals like this? There must be some kind of parting ceremony?