Friday, November 27, 2009

Loving being here while missing there

Though in Africa, schoolwork does not cease to exist. In our final week of classes before finals with five papers due on Friday, I am enjoying the last 30 minutes of "breathe time" I've allowed myself.

With the slight exception of Thanksgiving break, I find myself in a very similar position I would be if I were in America right now; procrastination followed by scrambling to finish everything while enjoying the last few moments with everyone before we leave again. The stark contrast (aside from surroundings etc) is that I won't inevitably be meeting with these people again.

That reality hit hard last night as Dani and I were hanging out with a few of our brothers. Now that they are out of school with time on their hands we have been laughing and enjoying each others' company more than in the past several weeks. I'm going to miss it here; far more than I realize. But I am thankful for that awareness, at the very least, prior to my departure.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we had a fantastic fiasco here in Mukono--the Americans, Canadians, Europeans and African internationals all got together at the Bartels' house for a cookout. With the expectation of a "make-shift" celebration, I was blown away to find grilled turkey, mashed potatoes and ROLLS; things which have been a foreign concept for quite some time now. Following dinner with a SMORGASBORD of desserts and a showing of Charlie Brown's Christmas, we all went to bed with smiles on our faces and stomachs that had far surpassed the point of satisfaction.

In spite of the genuine good times, it did not cease to be a time which reminded me of "home." Regardless of how fun it is, celebrating Thanksgiving is simply not the same without those who have been closest to you throughout life. I am increasingly confronted with the intentionality that is required to maintain relationships over time; especially from a distance. But in the midst of that realization and in light of the holiday, I am thankful beyond expression for the genuine relationships in my life. It is impossible for you to know the number of times that you all have been the hands and feet of Christ in my life; I only hope that the same is true on the other end of the spectrum. We need each other, undoubtedly.

Here are a few pictures for your own enjoyment, even though the boys were a little camera shy. With a BEAUTIFUL sky, who would have thought that Dani and I would have to teach Africans what it means to star-gaze?

One of my endless siblings Peter. Oh, how he makes me laugh...

Friday, November 20, 2009

People come and people go.

It's funny how we never realize the significance of our time with people until time somehow manages to escape us. I have failed to mention that Mia and Pernille have been staying with us for the past seven weeks. From Denmark, they are in their interim between High School and University seeing the world in an attempt to decide what they want to do with their lives.

Though in Africa, it has been interesting to have such a global home: Africans from various tribes, Europeans and Americans all living under the same roof. Obviously this implies varying world views which is grounds for intriguing conversation. Unshakable faith, a faith that questions and atheism/agnosticism have occupied the same space. In addition, a people that are aware of global issues, a people that try but are somewhat ignorant by means of society and a people who are concerned with solely what is before them is also represented. My point is not to say one world view is better than another but simply highlight some of the most obvious generalizations. To reinact conversations would be both difficult and unnecessary, but it has been challenging (in a positive way), to say the least.

And I am convinced that conversation and communication between extreme views, when done in a healthy way, is always positive. The world is a large place and to assume for a moment we can begin to solve its issues alone is both prideful and ignorant. May we be humbled and continually reminded we are part of a people group beyond ourselves.

And so as I say goodbye to Mia and Pernille, not knowing if or when I will see them again, I am thankful for the time we've had and encouraged by their eagerness to seek genuine meaning in life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A word of Wisdom from my Mama

"Wisdom is crucial but wisdom is not enough. Wisdom is essential...and insufficient."

That's all I have today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home can only be one place? Impossible.

Excerpts from my journal...

...It is undeniably true that my eyes are taking in the most beautiful vision they have ever seen as I sit on the slopes of Elgon in the backyard of my home this week. Never before have I been to the mountains (aside from flying or driving through) and I now understand why my mom misses them so much...

...I have felt at home this week--SO at home. And while my humanness questions why I am only here such a short time when I would love to see Peace, Joanna and Esther grow up, I am learning that questioning why I have the opportunity to encounter so many incredible people is somewhat ignorant...

...For the first time, I know I will miss Africa when I leave. And it will always be a piece of home for me. I don't know if I ever will be here long-term, but I am open again...

...My feet are cracked, my nose is blistered from the sun, my hands are growing calloused, my clothes are torn and I have scars on my legs. Oh, and I can't forget about the recurring stomach issues that are inevitable...but none of it bothers me. Last night Joanna touched my feet and was struck by the fact they are the same as hers, hard and cracked. It was a beautiful moment...

...Life is hard here. In the words of my brother Henry, "It is much like survival. While initially I negated this statement, it soon becomes reality when you really put yourself in their shoes (or lack thereof). But in the midst of that "survival" there is great depth; depth that even they don't see…, home is right here in Kapchorwa...

...I pray this vision will forever be imprinted upon my mind. And yet I wonder as I look down the slope and see people endlessly working to simply live if they even know just how beautiful their home is. Dominated by nature, they are forced to comply...from an objective view, God is impossible to miss...

...Until a moment ago, I genuinely thought I could survive the African life. “Juliet!” called Lilian. Upon coming to the kitchen from which I heard her voice I was caught off-guard to see something green and sloshy all over the ground.
“Ah, Lilian! You spilled the spinach!” I said to which she responded, “Yea!”
The next moment revealed she clearly hadn’t understood me when she pointed to the ground with a bright smile saying, “Cow!”
My disgusted face and “ah, Ah, AH!” simply made her laugh beyond control.
I finally managed to say “Keiitabon!” (well done) and was thankful she didn’t make me join her. Perhaps one day I will be brave enough to immerse both hands and feet in cow dung for a greater cause, but today I will admit my defeat in not being an African woman...

…I slaughtered a chicken and I don’t know if I can ever eat meat again…I was literally praying the entire time…sounds ridiculous, but I’m the girl that cried when I hit a raccoon on the highway!!...

It is a remarkable thing to know you genuinely have family all over the globe. The number of people I address as Mama and Papa now surpass the numbers on my hands and I know at any given moment, home would be with any one of them. I’m continually learning what it means to be fully present in every moment; something so simple, but so so difficult.