Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sometimes there is baggage.

I have to be honest. Not every part of moving to Africa has been sunshine and equatorial flowers. The other day I felt like a rotten mess. I was thinking about all the people at home who I will be missing- the last two weeks have been filled with an absurd amount of goodbyes- and how for the next two years I will no longer be a reliable resource for my friends and family. I won't be there to pick my girlfriends up at the airport when they get stuck, or pick up a hoagie to surprise my always hungry and lactose intolerant younger brother who is in college and always short on cash. I won't be able to keep my stepmom company as she runs errands, and I'm the only person in my family patient enough to follow my wandering father around the house in order to hold a conversation. I've been acutely aware of the moments I'll miss.

Besides what I'm leaving, I'm not even sure what I'm returning to in Uganda. It has been nine months since I've seen my friends and adopted family, and just like me, their lives have changed. There are new relationships- some of the boys have steady girlfriends now, and I'm sure they're wonderful because the boys who chose them are pretty great. I've been teasing a few of them that I should be packing a dress suitable for a wedding! One of my dearest friends and his wife have welcomed a new baby girl into their family. I'm sure she is beautiful, and I hope to spend lots of time getting to know her.
All of these things are truly wonderful, though it makes me sad to think that I have missed so much of their lives. But I will do the same thing to my family at home when I leave them.

Someone please tell me that NASA and Willy Wonka are still working on teleportation devices.

Really there's only one solution that I can come up with: feel awful about it for a moment, and then let it go. I have learned the hard way that crying and stamping my feet over things I don't like does not in fact accomplish anything. Shocking, right? So I put pen to paper and dump out all of the worry, offer up a rambling serenity prayer that Kerouac would be proud of, and put the thoughts away.

Now is the time for focusing on what I will be a part of. For this upcoming academic year I will be prepping four different courses. Three of them are high school English. The fourth is world geography. It's a good thing I love teaching, as my first few months will find me knee deep in course materials. I'll also be helping my Ugandan brother with his new project- partnering university students with Kampalan orphans in a mentorship program (more on that in a future post.) And lest we forget, my heart still beats with the children of Kanungu, my little village in Southwest Uganda. Once I'm settled, dear friends, I will be figuring out how to raise the funds for the region's first library and literacy center, and asking you for support.

Wow. Just Telling you about all of that has me excited again.

Last year, when I told my friends in the village that I would do something or that something was sure to happen, their response invariably was, "We will pray for it." At the time I thought it was their polite way of saying, 'yea, right.' But now I see the wisdom in it.  If you can't control it, don't pretend that you can. As a Westerner, it's a hard concession to make.
Consider me working on it.

Lots of Love,


P.S.- I got another sign of wonderfulness this morning. The church that I've done a theology refresher class with has just had two mission groups return from abroad. They had members of the congregation serving in Haiti and Uganda (their chosen Ugandan village is just a few hours north of my own Kanungu.) Today's service was the first Sunday that everyone had been back for. Since my plane flies tomorrow, I had been looking forward to catching up with my study group of friends (some who had been away on these trips,) and saying my last goodbyes. When I walked into the sanctuary, I was greeted by this sight: more than a dozen men and women adorned in bright Uganda Cranes jerseys. A small thing, but it felt like I was one step closer to home already. And I felt pure joy. I know I'm going exactly where I'm meant to be.

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