I'm a city girl at heart. While Richmond is a relatively small city, it was a bit unnerving, wondering how I would feel going from that, to living in Dornoch, Scotland. It is a town with a population of less than 2,500, way smaller than my Church Hill neighborhood.
We've committed to spending two years in Dornoch. I've found that I feel a huge responsibility to be as successful as possible during that time. It's a constant struggle of mine: remembering that I don't have ultimate control of what happens, that it's totally up to God's planning. Regardless, I feel an urge to know, and have an affect on, a huge amount of people. (I remember having the same desire when I first got to college. But that was purely for social reasons; now I have a greater desire for the people I meet.)
I've realized the size of this town is a wonderful benefit, and it's one thing that will keep me from getting too overwhelmed. I can be sure that every time I go to the "downtown" area (which is about three block's in size) I'll see someone I know or at least recognize.
Here's an example of one of those trips:
I jogged down to the main area of town on Friday, stopped at the ATM, and got in line behind a neighbor I had just met yesterday when I dropped off a carrot cake for him. Leaving the ATM, I put the cash in the wrong pocket of my jacket, it fell to the ground without me realizing it. A kind man behind me let me know, and while I was expressing my gratitude, the neighbor man drove by in his car and offered me a ride home. I declined since I was jogging (and because, even though there's virtually no crime in Dornoch, he was essentially a stranger and you never know). Then I turned around and was greeted by our friend Stuart. Stuart and Shirley are a retired couple who have been incredibly welcoming to us since we've arrived. We chatted while walking toward his car, and as I jogged off to my house, I saw another neighbor I had just met two hours before when I took him some chocolate chip cookies. He and two of his friends were dressed in their traditional Scottish kilts, headed to a wedding at the Cathedral.
I go into the shops in Dornoch all the time, most of the time it's because I actually need to get something, from the market or the hardware store. But sometimes it's just because I want to see the people, and I know I'll see at least one employee I've met before.
Our work here is mainly relational: we meet, spend time with, and get to know people. It's wonderful to be able to see, and become friends with, these people during our regular life activities. It doesn't get much realer than that.