Saturday, July 2, 2011

Biggest Life Lesson - It's never as you expected or planned

A Safari Sunrise
I've been sitting here in front of this screen on and off for a few days now.  Whew....Where do I even begin? There are so many things I want to describe to you and events I want to tell  you about. I just can't decide where to start.  I know with the title of this entry you might think that I didn't have an amazing time. That's not it at all, It was just another reminder that nothing is as it seems and nothing ever goes as expected.  I told a few people before I left that I was having a hard time grasping what was about to happen because I had nothing to compare it to.  I had no reference point to begin the daydreaming of the events I was about to embark upon. I envisioned; loving on the children, playing with them and making personal relationships with a few of them.  I envisioned some big life changing moment where I would see clearly what I was meant to be in this life.  I was hoping the murky-ness of my life as of late would suddenly clear and I would know something solidly that I didn't know before.

It didn't happen quite like that. Things are still pretty mushy.  Life is still a bit confusing. But, in the mist of the mush I found some solid nuggets of happiness and joy.  The most solid nuggets of happiness and joy I have experienced in over six months.

I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the experience.  I know I am still processing all that I saw and experienced.  I set out on this journey in the mode of being the good little "christian girl" going on a Missions Trip!  I was going to go share God with the people of Kanderia, I was going to go be a blessing to them, I was going to impact someone's life, I, I, I, I......sheesh, when will I ever get over myself!

I had it wrong, God had plans,  and, as usual, I was rubbed the wrong way, I was uncomfortable and confused by what my mission really was.  I was worried I was missing my big moment.  I was afraid I was missing the point.  That was the underlying feeling of the week.  However, I took each experience with excitement.  I watched and pondered.  I jumped in and crashed through my comfort zone.  I put away my self conscious fears and joined in and interacted with the group I was with and LOVED every one of them, dearly.  I enjoyed myself, despite my internal struggles.  I loved every minute of it, even when some of those minutes resulted in an allergic reaction that nearly put me down for the count.

I was behind the camera most of the trip.  Which was good and bad.  I loved the capturing part of it.  Being behind the camera allows me to do what I do best.  Sit back, and watch.  It however kept me at times from interacting.  All week I was OK with that until I realized, second to the last day, I hadn't made any of those personal connections.  I hadn't held a kid on my hip and kissed them on the forehead.  I barely knew some of their names.  So, I had a little talk with God on the bus ride into the village that morning. "God, I am feeling disconnected, our time is almost up with these fabulous people and I haven't connected yet.  Please allow me just one connection today.  Allow me a moment where I know this was all worth it.  On a deeper level. This trip has been amazing but if you could allow it to be amazing on a deeper, more personal level, well, that would be good." 

We performed the tasks of that day (All of which, I'll go into deeper at another time.)  Just before we took off from the gathered group of villagers I turned around to see a woman probably my age standing there with a smile on her face and a child tied to her back. By this point I was able to at least greet them with a Luo greeting "Amosi" (greetings or hello in Luo) I smiled at the woman and then met eyes with the child.  I smiled. He smiled.  I reached out and touched his face and greeted him too.  "Amosi" I got a big smile in return.  Our eyes were locked.  I took his hand and shook it.  He laughed.  I took my fist and taught him how to fist bump, he laughed.  I then taught him how to fist bump with an explosion at the end, and we both laughed.  I looked up and we were greeted with a smile and happy stare from his mom.  I tickled his belly, we both laughed.  Not just a giggle laugh but we both genuinely laughed with each other.  My heart was melting the whole time.  My connection was being made.  I knew it, and I loved it. It may not be totally evident in this picture but it dawned on me that this little one had Downs Syndrome. (granted that is my assumption, it seemed evident in his facial features.)  This realization for whatever reason melted my heart even more.  I had struggled to get a smile or laugh from the kids earlier that week. I got to hold hands with some of the girls as we walked.  I tried to talk with them but, while those interactions were wonderful, I knew in this oh so quick moment God was granting my request.  We interacted and played for five minutes.  I roped someone into taking our picture and as I was whisked away to another task I was tearful with gratefulness, happy with pleasure and sad to leave them both so soon.

 I could have spent all day with both of them. I WANTED MORE. I wanted to stay indefinitely and get to know this woman and her child.  I wanted to experience life as a Kanderian.  I wanted to abandon American living and find this joy and hope that they seem to posses.  His little smile was burned into my mind.  I wonder if being apart from civilization this mother knows her child is different.  I wonder if my smile and laughter made as much of an impact on them as it did on me.  It doesn't matter really, they touched my life.  They shared God with me.  They blessed me.  They impacted my life.  I knew in that moment, I wasn't there to teach, I was there to be taught.  In that moment I was also made aware of other areas in the week that were meaningful.  I was looking for something else and in that search I missed some good morsels of lessons.  Good moments of connections.  Good moments of reassurance that I do have something to offer and I do have so much to learn.

I saw this woman the next day and despite the two times I asked her her name I still am unsure of her first name.  But I do know we share a Kanderian name.  Achieng.  I was happy to know that we had that connection.  I asked her that day  where the child was, I wished so badly to hold him on my hip and kiss him on his forehead.  She said he was at home today.  She said it with a tone that made me think maybe she didn't venture out with him very often.  (just another assumption on my part) I told her he made my day the day before and that I so wished I could kiss him goodbye.  With those words, her eyes grew wide and her smile along with it.  She hugged me tight and told me she would never forget me.  I was shocked by that, we had only interacted for a short time but I do remember thinking. . .  "The feeling is mutual my friend!" 

No, I don't know fully or to what extent our meeting is to mean in my life or hers.  I don't know yet if there is more to be gleaned from those short moment but I do know;  in that moment I vowed to myself I would be back next year.  I vowed I would learn more about her next time and hold that boy on my hip and kiss his forehead.  I knew I was leaving a part of my heart in Kanderia and I knew I would do all I could do to go back again next year.  I was hooked.  I was in love.  I was blessed.

Another Safari Sunrise


  1. This is beautiful. Thank you so much!

  2. You've shared your heart and touched mine once again!