Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home...Is where the heart is?

Well, I am home. It has been 12 days since I left my second home that I now so fondly call Ghana. More specifically, Kpando Village. (Pronounced Pan-dough, for those of you not reading our other blog) I miss it more than I care to admit, and the question "How was Africa?!" got old way quicker than I imagined it would. Not in the sense that I do not want to answer, but in the sense that how can I tell people about the most amazing, life changing, hardest, most heart wrenching experience I have ever been through in a few short seconds that I am sure they are expecting me to answer in. How, without the help of slide show footage and hours of time, that I am sure they do not want to give me, portray to people that I am forever a different person because of this experience. I can't. And I somehow have to accept that not everyone is going to understand the experience we had in Africa. Which I guess that is why it is a good thing I went with two of my best friends, and made one in the process, so we can forever remember and remind each other of it.

So with that preface, I am sorry I even got your hopes up that I was going to write a blog post about my African experience. ;) One of my new best friends, Kailey Morin, she is Canadian, but still American because she is from North America after all ;), that was in Africa with us is an English/Philosophy major. That equals really smart and incredibly good with words. She wrote something that I would like to steal...meaning I give her complete and full credit for it because we all know I can't write like maybe try to help you understand what it was like.

"It took a while for me to get here. Here; figuratively, I mean. Here; like in this existence. I finally understand what it means to understand. There is no other way to explain this, than through paradox. That’s part of the understanding, and part of the here. I knew I would get here, eventually. I didn’t think I would have to travel across an ocean to do it. Because if here, is figurative, then so should the travel. But it didn’t work out that way, because I traveled, in the literal sense, to get here. Here; figuratively, of course. But I did it, and I was scared. I threw myself at a continent and let it have it’s way with me. I flew over millions of people. I met a lot of new faces, and I stepped on more than a few dusty roads. I clucked my tongue at too many baby chickens, and ignored my physical body as it was driven 150 km/hour down a pot-holed street. I held tears in while holding sick children, and let tears go when I couldn’t anymore. I laughed purely from the delusions of heat, cried purely from just being. I played scrabble with an amazing young man, who I promise you, will be a doctor one day. I kicked a soccer ball with a determined young man, who I promise you, will play for Barcelona one day. I had my hand painted by a creative young man, who I promise you, will be a pilot one day. I learned that the biggest dreams grow out of the driest dirt. I held a young, precious little girl, who cooed softly in my ear, I counted little fingers on a little hand on her little twin brother. I caved to two dozen brown eyes, and I broke over hundreds more peering outside the gate. I questioned what defined sadness, what defined fortune, what defined brilliance. I learned the power of a hug, the power of faith – regardless of who you’ve put it in, and the power of an individual in an overwhelming and desperate continent. I’ve discovered that there exists a place where I can wake up at dawn and literally beam with appreciation for just being alive, and for just being able to experience every second I experienced. I soaked in, stored away, remembered, wrote down, and appreciated – truly appreciated – even the worst parts. I miss that feeling. I miss the smiles, the smells, the sounds, the indescribable beauty, and the love. So, much, love. Africa is where you go if you want to feel apart of humanity again. It will redefine every definition you’ve ever been taught. It will bring you here. And remember, here – figuratively. And remember, here – is absolutely, unbelievably, beautiful."

Yes, my friends and family. It impacted us all in that way. I miss it so much. I miss being surrounded by beautiful children who want nothing more than for me to hold them, sing with them and read to them. Just being around them and showing them attention was enough to make their day. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. It changed me in ways nothing else ever could have. The 115 degree weather and the 100% humidity making me literally sweat from every pore, to the breaking of my heart as I had to watch kids get beat at school by their teachers at least once every day for things such as wearing flip flops, or having their hair to long, or just because the teacher was bored and on a power trip. Despite all of this, I have never met a happier people. They have less than some of the poorest of America, and you would never guess that by the happiness that they exuberate every day. We have SO much and are such materialistic people and people are still constantly wanting more.

I am sorry this post is a whirl wind of craziness, and does not begin to describe the last month of my life; but I think it is time to end. Expect random stories and tid bits of my trip throughout the next couple months of my life. As they will probably be appearing frequently. I love Africa and I will be returning one day. I miss my kids more than I have ever missed anything and am amazed at how instantly I was able...or forced by their beautiful brown eyes and huge fall completely in love with all of them. I am so blessed. Not only with the many blessings that I have in my life here, but that I had the opportunity to go to Ghana. To be amongst these spirited people and be changed for good by their every action.

I would love to answer any questions anyone might have about specific experiences I had, or just questions about Africa. Just leave me a comment or email and let me know! :)

Peace and Blessings!