Friday, June 3, 2011

One Year

The tiniest things trigger it...
-The smell of the Cherry Blossom Wild Bamboo body wash that is currently in my shower.
-When it gets even slightly humid in Provo...(which is rare, I know).
-When I clean out my closet and see my Tevas.
-White, v-neck tees and spandex.
-Eating angel hair pasta.
-Seeing beautiful black children around town.
-Walking by rancid smelling dumpsters.
-Oregano and silver.
-Playing Nertz.
-Standing fans.
-Hearing Michael Jackson.
-Drawing with chalk.
-Peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
We looked so good when we started out...not for long! :)
'It' being the memories and the longing to be back in Kpando village with my kids. And then sometimes, I do really dumb things, like looking through ALL my pictures. Don't worry, there are just like 3,000 of them or something. I end up crying, laughing, and then crying again when I do it. Then I will read through all my emails and be reminded about the little moments that made this the experience of a lifetime.

One year ago today I returned home from the best and hardest experience of my life. I was changed for the better and will never again be the person I was before I went to Ghana. How has it already been 365 days?! I don't understand it either. 

From the first email I wrote home, "After trying to connect to the internet for the last 20 minutes (no exaggeration in any way!) I finally was able to connect to gmail and actually be able to write. This is exciting. I AM IN AFRICA and I am safe!!!!  Getting here was SO long. I slept about 20 minutes in like 36 hours. I was feeling dang good when I got here... not! ;) As I sit here, in the 100% humidity, I am sweating out of every pore on my entire body and did not even know it was possible! Sweet right?! I have already learned so much in this mere 24 hours that I have been here. My children are absolutely beautiful. I have 19 of them and I am already completely in love with all of them. They pretty much have us all wrapped around their fingers. It is day 2...good luck leaving in 27 days Kendra. They range from 16 to 2 and there are two sets of twins. If you thought African's were hard to tell apart before...try telling apart African twins!"

From my good friend Kailey Morin: I saw things that I am tempted to say, I wish I never saw. But it isn’t true. Because in Africa, you take the good with the bad. The bad strips you of what you thought you were, it takes off the layers you had grown from a lifetime of living. There was no remote control to change the channel. It was raw, and it made you raw. It broke you down into something you didn’t know you could be. But the good, you see,  it healed you. It showed you why the sadness is worth working through, it showed you how something raw can become something beautiful and alive. It showed you that the smallest little moment can contain more happiness in it, than the largest space of sad. So I took the good with the bad, and it stripped away everything I held, and gave me back something more than I ever could have imagined.

Another email home:
"I sometimes feel like I am on a "save the children" commercial. Its devastating and completely heartbreaking to realize we know so very little about the world in the U.S. We are so privileged. I could go on for hours, but I wont. I hate that I can't do more. Its driving me insane that I have nearly nothing to give them, but I know its a good thing I am here. At least that is what I tell myself. Just giving these children love and attention and human contact means so much to them, and its changed the person I am. Their smiles are contagious and their eagerness to learn is refreshing. They don't see their lives as miserable or hard. They see opportunity and life in everything. Its beautiful. I wish I could give them the world, instead they've changed mine. They also do not sweat..which I am very jealous of. haha They laugh at us everywhere we go."

My last email home; Back to being the Majority...
"We leave Africa in 3 days. Holy cow. I have no idea how to put into words the feelings that I have experienced over the last 4 weeks of my life. Quite certain the English language does not have them. I have never experienced more of an emotional roller coaster (a roller coaster that never goes down) and had such a constant pool of tears coming out of my eyes as I have since I began this journey. And when I say that, know that the tears were not always sad. In fact, they were most frequently tears of joy. These kids have made me feel more feelings of euphoria than anything ever before. I have never experienced so much joy and sadness, fatigue and energy, heat and…well more heat, than I have while being here. This has been the longest and shortest trip ever. I do not remember what life in America is even like, and am not bothered by that at all. I have learned so much about myself and changes that I need to make to better myself. Teaching children has taken on a whole new meaning and making the change from teaching in Africa to teaching in the states is going to be a whole different ball game. Students in America have SO much. Pencils and papers to write with and on, actual work books so you can take your homework home with you and not have to copy down every problem and instruction written in all subjects. Drinking fountains where you do not have to pay to get purified water. I have taken so many things for granted in America, never again. I decided something last night, as we were discussing our flight plans and the plans of leaving this amazing country we have come to love. I could never move to Africa. I could never accept that fact that single handedly I could not change this country. Sure, one person can make a difference…but only if every person thinks they are that person. I am so glad that I could be one of those people that hopefully is remembered down the road with fondness."

 I miss it every day. Seriously. People always talk about the physical pain a "broken heart" has caused them. Maybe, I always secretly thought they were crazy? That was, until I came home from Kpando. My heart was in physical pain from leaving my kids behind. While I was there, I stopped holding back. Holding back that I had been doing as to protect myself from such a feeling of heart ache. Then I realized how unfair that was to the children, and gave them everything I had. Was it worth it? Was it worth the pain and hurting I have since then experienced? Absolutely. From posts such a as these, you would expect that my Africa experience was just a whole lot of sadness...but it really was not. I think I was laughing hysterically for more than half the time I was there. During the delusional parts of the day, or when we would all be awake at 3:00 in the morning randomly and tell a funny joke. It was a little piece of Heaven. In all reality, it made me a more grateful person. Grateful to know that we ALL have a Father in Heaven that is completely aware of all of us. My kids in Ghana and everywhere else in the world. He knows them and loves them so much. They know it to, which is the amazing part. 

"This place is amazing, and terrifying. Heart wrenching, and heart warming to the point of tears, and tender. Sometimes it is so hard to be here. And yet, it still encompasses perfect."



Love this.

The Harrison's

This is an amazing post Kendra! I can really tell just by reading how much you really loved these kids.

I hope to be able to do something similar, maybe not to this extent, like this after I get my nursing degree!

Bobbi & Lance Hinton

Kendra, you are amazing. This post is amazing. It seriously made me cry. I think it is so great that you guys got to go over there. I would love to do something like that someday. You're awesome!

Maddie Miner

Kendra you really do amaze me, you have such a good good impact on people. Including me, and including these beautiful children, and including honestly everyone you meet!


Dito (or however you spell it)ha but, yeah i got teary eyed. You're amazing, and so are those beautiful children! You're gonna be a great mother someday! Love ya girl!

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