That lovely inbetween place between sleep and awake where Tinkerbelle is said to always love Peter is where I found myself this morning, lazily enjoying not having to leap out of bed to run or keep schedule, when it suddenly hit me:
To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I actually just ran in circles around the fellowship room at the church where I stayed last night, jumped on my bed, yelled to no one in particular and thrust Apollo in the air, asking him if “he was ready for this life-changing adventure”, while Tori laughed at me and I got a head-rush from too much jumping.
I think I’m ready for the trip (as ready an a 21-year-old American girl is to be in a third world country for a year), I knew I was going to go, I’ve been counting down the days and I miraculously packed a year’s supply of clothing, toiletries, journals, etc. into three bags:
Telling an hippie beach bum who only wears shorts and tanks, that would rather read than shop to find plain T-shirts and long skirts in a country that only sells sheer, off-the-shoulder, peter pan collared shirts with high waisted shorts…I’ve been stretched as a person the past four days, let’s just say that. As I rolled up a plain green T-shirt that I’m so thankful to have found (coincidentally I did most of my packing on the infamous American holiday that no one here even acknowledges), thought after thought bombarded me.
Do I have enough clothes for year? Oh shoot, I need to run out and grab toothbrushes! How in the world am I suppose to hike over mountains in a skirt like this? What if I want to climb a tree? Is that even allowed? What’s Swahili for tree again? Christina would be horrified if she could see my hiking boots, I look like a construction worker. I really need to Skype everyone before I leave. Do I have time for that? Does this green match with my terracotta skirt? Is my skirt even terracotta? What’s the point of being a girl if you can’t tell what matches? Not that it matters….I doubt the Africans will notice. I feel like I’ll be embarrassed by how much I have when I get there, but in this moment it doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t think I know enough Swahili yet. I wonder if I’ll see lions! Maybe I can find a baby and keep it. This isn’t the Lion King, what am I thinking? I’m going to miss my family. I can’t believe I won’t see them for a year. I hope I don’t get speared….do they still spear people in Africa? I can’t believe this is actually happening! Tarzan was in Africa, right? Will I see gorillas? I can’t wait to hold all the BABIES. What if I don’t know what to say? I need to calm down. No! This all has to fit in the duffel bag! Ah!
Not particularly deeply and mostly ridiculous, but there it is. I say all that to say: I have no real idea what I’m packing for and what I’m getting into; just assuming based on information I’ve gathered over the years. Stories from my Daddy about his trip to Kenya, stories from Tori, stories from my Grammie Elaine. The Lion King, Tarzan, George of the Jungle. Pictures I’ve seen from Compassion International and letters from our sponsor child, Linda, in Kenya. I remain explosively excited for I don’t even know what in the actual Africa, as it truly is, and I’ll be on my way in mere hours from now. I’m freaking out.
Our flight in tonight (Saturday) at 9:05 pm (8:05 am Saturday for those of you at home on Eastern time). We’re leaving Singapore and flying 7 hours to Doha, Qatar. In case you’re not quite a geography buff (I had to look it up, no shame here), Qatar is right beside Saudi Arabia:
We have a 2 hour layover there, then it’s a 5 hour flight to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania:
We’re spending a few days in Dar (after arriving sometime Sunday morning), getting supplies and that sort of thing. The team will be able to recuperate from the jetlag, although I’m not anticipating it being too difficult after have to adjust to a polar opposite 12 hours when I first came to Singapore; 5 hours time difference should be cake. I say that now, but I guess we’ll see.
After a few days, then we’ll be driving west across the country to Kigoma, which is where Tori’s parents live. It’s about a 20 hour drive, so we’ll be making it in two days:
I think we’re sleeping under the stars by the car, but we might be stopping in a nearby village. I’m still sort of hazy on the details. Once we reach Kigoma, we’ll be unloading our bags, enjoying a few more days of recuperation and then we’re trekking into the bush for two weeks. Tori wants to show us tribes where church planting worked, where it didn’t and just break us in for living in Tanzania. His reasoning is that if the first few weeks are really tough and we survive, we’ll be able to handle anything. I think I’ve gone camping about once in my life, but I’m okay with dirt and being outside (I say that now), but that’s a far cry from hiking over mountains and deserts and valleys and rivers for two weeks in the middle of nowhere. I’m such a filmie at heart, I keep picturing Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’ and imagining I’ll be looking like that, minus the beard (maybe).
We spend Christmas in Kigoma after the two week Death Hike (as I’ve started calling, for dramatic effect), and then move into our houses in Rukwa Valley after New Years, and get down to evangelizing and ministering early January as long as our work visas get approved.
It’ll be my first Christmas away from my family, so I’m anticipating many tears and feelings of awkward, “is this growing up?” loneliness. That coupled with all the thoughts I’m sure to have about my experiences out in the bush almost guarantees many posts to come; as for now, I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to update before then. Know that I’ll be filming/taking photos of everything I possibly can and that I covet your prayers. It means so, so much to know that people I don’t even know are praying for me, as well as my family and my out-of-this-world friends that I’ll miss so dearly during this year.
Probably my only ‘regret’ for this year is that I have to put my American relationships on hold as I need/want to be fully present in Tanzania, not to mention internet access (emails, facebook, etc.) will only be once a week for most of the 9 to 12 months I’ll be there. It’s really difficult for me to detach myself from everyone, and I want to be present like I have been, being able to drop things to text, skype, call at a moments’ notice, but this is my season to let go and be fully where and who God wants me to be. Just know that every day that I’m running around doing whatever it is that I’ll be doing in Africa, you all are in my heart and prayers. I love you so.
Additionally, can I just celebrate this miracle that God is doing right in front of me? How many people get to say that they’ve been wanting something since they were a little girl, aching in ways they can’t explain for a land they’ve never been, gone to school to learn about film with the desire to use it for missions somehow, wanting to simply love on babies and then been able to say, “And then God sent me there, took care of all my bills, gave me a camera to use, more babies than I could possibly imagine to hold, with all His favor and the love and prayers of those I love?”
These precious little ones! I cannot wait to be with them.
I don’t even have anything to say for myself or my life, except that God is really who He says He is, He’s better than who we’ve constricted Him to be and that miracles happen in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times.
7 hours til Tanzania.