52 hours in airplanes
coast to coast
visited two countries
countless hours on the road
moved to Tanzania
learned a new language
worked with orphans
came back to America
made new friends
worked three different jobs
took college classes
graduated high school
filled three journals
took countless pictures
A lot can happen in a year. And those are just the highlights.
That first time I went to an African church and we were escorted to the very front in hard, wooden benches. I remember the enthusiasm in their worship and the little girl who was across the isle who was the first to steal my heart.
I remember the first time I saw Davie, the little neighbor boy who you hear about quite often. He was the most hostile, quiet, sad, misbehaved little child I ever did see (except for his brother). But his transformation was amazing.
I remember the first time I saw our house, and all the mess of it. The broken toilet and shower, ugly yellow cracked walls, broken doors, un-level floors, cockroach infested kitchen and all. The yard that needed mowing. The water pipes needing fixed. But we had a house, and that's all that mattered.
I remember going into town with Kat and dala dala rides. When all the young men said we were to be their wives and we told them they "really wouldn't want to live with us". When the street vendors tried to charge us twice as much and were surprised to see us refuse. When everyone wanted to touch the wazungu and be our friend. And that street food was the best I've ever tasted.
I remember the first time I set foot into the orphanage where a couple hours each day would be spent. The chaotic mess inside that compound sent me out the door as fast as I went in. My dream of working in an orphanage was shot when I saw this place, but at the same time I couldn't give up on those kids. They needed me more than anyone else because they needed Jesus' love and that's why I stayed.
I remember singing with the kids and swinging with the kids. I remember running down the streets and laughing till we dropped. I remember cleaning up Junior's vomit and hugging teary-eyed Saguta. I remember laughing with the ladies in the kitchen and trying to cut tomatoes with the dullest knife in the world. I remember playing Frisbee and doing homework with the fifth graders. And I remember when Lalente informed me that "No, Speto (even Africans can't pronounce the "sv"), you can't leave."
When Saidi told me she would just have to go to America with me if I couldn't stay. That was the first time my heart broke. That was when I decided that my life would include lots of little black faces in the future, but in a time that they can call me "Mom" and I will never have to leave them.
This year brought me to new places and meeting new faces. Falling in love with lots of people and my heart broke with a pain I never want to endure again, but I would never trade this year for anything.
A year ago I set foot on an airplane and I had no idea the change it would bring.