I should blog before Africa.
Those words have been running through my head for four solid days. Just like, “I should pack.” I’m just now getting around to both.
Well, I started packing over a week ago, but only little things and nothing completely. My bag is partially packed, my clothes are mostly cleaned, and I think I still need to go to the store.
God, like always, has really shown up. I wrecked my car in April and was able to use money I received from insurance to help pay for things like malaria medicine (that Amy wouldn’t let me leave with out, though I assure you I fought it. Paul got bit by a snake that time and was fine, so mosquitos are no big deal, right?) and skirts I don’t have and bug spray (again, the mosquitos) and snacks because it’s hard to leave the country without hoarding Cheezits and Sour Straws.
I’m nervous. I’m going with two people – Amy and one of her friends. And I know I’ve left the country before, but it’s a little hard. It’s like falling off your bike and getting hurt pretty bad, vowing to never ride your bike again, and then taking your first bike ride two years later. You know how to ride a bike, obviously, but you’re still a little nervous that things will go awry. It will be weird to experience Africa without Cait and impossibly long travel days with way-too-heavy packs, but it will be fresh and new. I can’t wait for deep breaths there.
So, I’m excited. I’m excited to be in a place that’s so strangely familiar – a home that is not my home, but still snatches knots in my heart. I used to think that people who loved Africa as a whole so much were silly, like they were just trying to check another thing off their list to be a better Christian – like Berry girls with Chacos, Enos, and Nike Shorts – but once you press your toes hard into your shoes and feel the grit of that red dirt and your hands hold the hands of people who dance and sing because they were born to, you just can’t let go. It does something to you, sends shockwaves to your heart, and you feel alive.
The airports, too. I may be more at home in an airport than I am in any house, apartment, or hammock. I know them all like the back of my hand, even if I’ve never seen them face to face.The familiar red and blue of delta, bag check, security lines, and standing awkwardly in the scanner arms high will welcome me like home. The people are always the same amalgamation of every different thing. The food is unique. The coffee is worth pursuing, and there’s something in the rush of moving sidewalks and waiting patiently with people with such different dreams and lives for the exact same journey with the exact same destination.
And airplanes. I will catch up on movies I haven’t gone to the theater to see, books I haven’t finished, and sleep like it’s my job. I’ll sit next to people I don’t know, use tiny bathrooms, and sleep in contorted positions because that’s what works. I’ll have tiny Cokes and probably eat some weird food (and lots of pretzels). I’ll pack a change of clothes or two in my carry-on because a seasoned traveler never leaves their entire wardrobe to the lottery of “did my bag make the right flight” even if you’ve never fallen prey to losing luggage.
Most of all, I’m preparing to fast from over-consumption and using my hands more for checking my phone than actually seeing my surroundings. I’ll probably let my mom know I’ve arrived safely, but that’s it. No searching for weak wifi signals. As much as this is an opportunity for me to serve others, it’s also an opportunity for God and I to do some serious team-bonding sans distractions. No analytics to check, no news about what’s going on in the world, no baseball (I know..), no Netflix (again, I know..), no decisions on which clothes to wear or how to do my hair or who I haven’t kept up with like I should.
And, truthfully, it won’t be that easy. My mind doesn’t stop whirring even in the night, so I’ll still think about people at home and wonder about life decisions, but when there’s more room to grow and less information to process, intentionality comes like breathing.
See you sweet friends in two weeks.