Wednesday, November 20, 2013

goodbye and hello

I lay awake in my bed staring at the blue mosquito net surrounding me and think of how I'll never need one again. Glancing at the clock, I see that it is 5 a.m.. Across the walls I can hear Daudi and Philip, to 14yr. old neighbor kids, just getting up; they spent the night at our house so that they could "escort" us to the airport. Daddy comes down the hall to make sure all are awake, telling us we've got 15 minutes to get ready. Then it started raining. It was November 12th, the day in which we would leave.

I thought of a dream my sister Susanna recently had. "It was just before we were to leave and it started raining, and raining, and raining. It wouldn't stop and then it flooded...and then we couldn't go to the airport." Leaving our little home in Nyakato, Tanzania has been a hard move for us to make. In the meantime my father, Daudi, Philip, and our friend, Baraka (who drove) left, with all the luggage, for the airport. 

Philip, Daudi, and Max
My sisters, brother, and I then had a horribly long wait for the car to come back and take us. I could hear Mama in the kitchen with her best friend, Neema, as they talked and prayed. Fr. Muheta waited in the, now bare, living/dining room. "Grandpa" Kipili came up with my little brother, who often stayed at their house, and waited with us. We all talked a little, but mostly tried to hold back the tears. We were all happy to be seeing family and friends in the states again, but not knowing if we'd ever see these beautiful African family and friends again made it difficult. I once wrote in my journal "Our family was made for Africa." and I still hold that statement to be true.

I kept waiting, with what I thought was just false hope, that someone on the compound would wake up before I left. Maybe Eric, or Mama Davie, or Davie himself? Just as the car pulled up I looked up to see Davie, his mom, and his brother at their door. I dropped my bags and ran down to say goodbye. I scooped Davie (a child that has stolen most of my heart...) up into my arms and told him that I loved him and would never forget him and don't forget to ask God if I can come back someday. He looked at me and then hit me. Then he hit me again. Whenever Davie is mad, he hits. It's not a "I hate you" hit, but, rather, a "Stop. Don't tell me that. NO!" sort of hit. He held on to me as if he was holding on for dear life. I had to pry him off. I gave his mom a hug and walked away. To this day I can't think, talk or read about Davie without tears coming. 

We had a short wait at the airport before we boarded our first flight. It was a short one, only an hour and a half, to the big city of Dar es Salaam where we were greeted with horrid hot and humid weather. We spent the night at a Catholic retreat center, and I think we drove our "neighbors" crazy with us going in and out of our two rooms and the doors echoing down the hall each time we opened a shut them. 

The next day we set off, from the Dar airport, with our first flight being only 6 hours. You will see soon why I say "only." Once in Dubai I tried to get a little sleep, to no avail, and then we set off for the last and longest flight...14 hours. Watched movies, slept, watched movies, ate food (surprisingly the airplane food was pretty great!). Emerites treated us like royalty; I can't imagine first class. 

Waiting to get checked in

Enjoying some tea and a movie before catching some sleep.
At 8 a.m. on Thursday morning we arrived in DC. Our friends in that area picked us up and my brother and his friend came up a couple days later. I didn't have much in the way of culture shock or jet-lag. That was a surprise. We headed home on Monday morning. Twelve hours later we pulled into our driveway to be greeted by Kat's family and some of our family as well. My sister had put together a meal and we all gathered around the table. The first "reverse culture shock" I had was when I stepped inside our house. "Yikes! This place is huge! Oh my goodness, look at all the white people! Is this really home? Wow." I wanted to run and hide.

A brand new day dawns
So now we're home. Well one of them anyways. I don't know if I'll ever return to the beautiful land of Tanzania, but in the mean time I'm excited to see what life here will bring my way. God is good. 


  1. Sveta, When I read about you and Davie, I get tears too. I am so thankful you connected so well with this little boy. If God wills you, you will meet again, and know this, that the love for this little boy will last forever. Love never fails. Momma

  2. I understand deeply everything you say. It has lasted years for Patricia and me. All we need is a picture or music from the Movie "Out of Africa" and the memories flood our consciousness. The people, the land, the food, the life, the smells, the sounds, the music - an indelible part of our history.

    Fr Francis & Patricia Wardega