Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Adventure Begins


Hey, everyone. Tomorrow my journey to Africa begins. Preparations have gone fairly smoothly. My luggage is still a questionable pound or two too heavy, but that should be easily handled. My passport is ready and waiting on my desk. I’ve already said goodbye to most of the significant people in my life within the last week. Some goodbyes were easier than others, and some were repeated several times. None of them were fun.

Today I am reminded of how important the people in my life are to me. I am so grateful for all the friends I am blessed with. The past five years have brought incredible people into my life that I am grateful to count among my close friends. I pray that I can be the blessing to them that they are to me. I am going to miss the hugs and the laughs and the prayers and the tears and the late night study parties and the nights we spend talking into the early hours of the morning.

I am grateful for my wonderful family – for my Mom and Daddy who have supported me financially and emotionally in my journey to Africa and in my journey through life. I am grateful for my siblings, Christopher, Stephen, and Lauren, who are always there for a laugh or a hug when one is needed.

I am grateful for my incredible boyfriend, Chris, who over the past six months has been my rock through the good times and the rough times. I have learned so much about life and people and God from him that I cannot even begin to fathom the impact he has made on my life. He’s my best friend, whom I care for deeply, and I am going to miss him dearly this summer.

So it isn’t the amenities of America that I am going to miss. I’ll be fine without Internet at all times or guaranteed showers or Chinese takeout. Those things don’t matter, and I suspect I’ll barely miss them. Geckos, Gaboon vipers, and tribal witchcraft – that’s nothing. It’s the people I am going to wish for when times are hard and I’m feeling low. But I know I’m in their prayers, as they are in mine, and they will all be here when I come back. I am comforted by the knowledge of how loved I am.

If you’re interested in my travel plans, they look a little something like this:

I’m flying Lufthana Airlines tomorrow at 6:30. I’ll arrive around noon the next day in Frankfurt, although it will be early in the morning stateside. After lounging around in the Frankfurt airport and pretending to be German for another (hopefully not tedious) 8 hours, I’ll hop on another flight that will take me to Johannesburg, South Africa. This one lands in the early morning the next day as well, although because of the seven-hour time difference it will be about midnight in the states. So even though I’ll be landing in South Africa on Tuesday, May 22, it will still be Monday, May 21 here. My final flight will take me from Johannesburg to the capital of Zambia, Lusaka. This flight is mercifully short. Either Meg or David or possibly both of my fellow volunteers will meet me at the airport. There will be a reunion and an introduction, with lots of hopping up and down and squealing on the part of the girls, followed by a quick taxi ride to a hotel. At some point during our overnight stay in Lusaka I’ll need to swing by Arcades, the Zambian version of Wal-Mart, and exchange my money to kwacha (Zambian money.)

The following day will involve adventures in a Zambian bus station, which always generate good stories. If I feel like it, I can pop out to the street outside and buy some peanuts cooked caterpillars to munch on during the trip. After waiting on the bus for an indefinite amount of time (Zambians are not known for their punctuality) my fellow travelers and I will enjoy a potentially 18-hour bus ride (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer) which will result in a reminder of why Zambian music isn’t more popular outside the country and a second reminder of how grateful I am for American toilets. If this sounds terrible to you, then you won’t understand when I say that this is going to be a blast.

If the bus ride is anything like the one from last year, we will arrive in Kazembe not long after dawn on Thursday, May 24. And trust me – what an arrival it will be.

Just because I like to seem like an intrepid traveler, that is a grand total of 78 hours of travel. Yes, you may be impressed.

If you’d like to pray, I would appreciate prayers for safety while traveling, both for myself and for the other volunteers I am working with. Their names are Meg, David, Emily, Mary, and Mary. (Yes, there are two of them. But we rarely get them confused.) You could also pray for the logistics of traveling. Although I grew up traveling the world, this is my first time doing it on my own. I am not at all concerned about safety, but I know others who care about me certainly are, so feel free to pray for peace and comfort for them as well.

And for those of you who are worried – don’t be. I will be safe and wise and careful. As Amy (the amazing woman who runs the orphanage) has told me many times, the safest place to be is right where God wants you. And right now, He wants me in Kazembe, so that’s where I should be.

If you want to get in contact with me while I’m away, you can add me on Facebook or shoot me an email at smh10c@acu.edu. Like I said before, Internet is not always a certainty, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

This is a long post, and I really didn’t intend it to be such a ramble, but it may also be the last time you hear from me for a while. So to everyone mentioned above – I love you all so very much and will miss you terribly. To those I will meet with soon – I hope you are all ready for an incredible adventure. It is going to be so totally awesome.

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