Saturday, January 7, 2012

Africa (Blog 3): Brave - It doesnt mean you're not afraid, it just means you do it anyway.

I'm at the airport.
I made it through check-in, although I dont know if my carry-on will fit on the plain.
I'm still a little bit nervous, but more confident than I was yesterday.
When I signed up for this trip, I only thought of my upcoming adventure with excitement.
I didn’t realize that as the time go nearer, I’d have moments sick to my stomach with apprehension and the thought of leaving my loved ones for a month (I don’t know how soldiers or PeaceCorp volunteers do it).
Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed with love that it is difficult for me to control my emotions.  (I blame this on my mom.  She always used to cry during sad, or just kind of sad, movies and me and my sisters would laugh.  Now I think I’m worse than she is.  I just cried during “Waiting for Superman” last week, albeit that was a documentary.)  I received calls from my mom, Jim, and Sandi.  My uncle bought me a book on Kili and altitude sickness.  Jerecia gave me a hug.  Marie stopped over the house before schools to tell me she’ll miss me, giving me a teary eyed hug.  I received well wishes from so many others.  Steve hasn’t been himself all week.  As he dropped me off at the airport, I can’t say I didn’t let a tear slip out.

But, I walked through the doors.

This is the most alone I have ever been in my whole life-but I am loved; so, I guess alone is relative.  (Yes, I know Im a bit of a baby- there’s college students here- but I am who I am!)

This is going to make me stronger, more confident in myself.

Yesterday, while I was running on the Plateau Trail (my last run at “home”), I realized a lot of my anxiety and negative feelings still came from some feeling of slow self-worth.  There are still times I don’t feel good enough, not accomplished enough. (It funny what we can uncover if we are truthful with ourselves).  For the first time, I realized what “unconditional love” meant.  That despite my “failures” or my self-conceived short-comes (especially in comparison to others), my loved ones still love me, and think nonetheless…and this time, I believed it.  So, what I guess  I need to do, is love myself unconditionally.

Right now, I know where my thinking is misguided (step 1). I hope this trip to Africa will help me grow and strengthen as a person, for my family, friends, and me.  Then, I can take what I’ve learned and spread my happiness to the rest of the world.

Safari Njema.

I’ve made it to Africa!

As I knew it would, the plane rides, were exhausting…but I met some interesting people.

At the Washington-Dulles airport, a contractor from Kuwait sat down at Starbucks with me.  He was from Cincinnati.  He had a hangover.

The plan to Addis Adaba (or something like that) was huge!  It was  like the one in the Wedding Singer where Adam Sandler starts singing to Drew Barrymore down one of the aisles while dodging her fiancĂ©. There were a ton of people going to volunteer.  Of course me seat was right next to some from strong Baptists from Tennessee.  The group was very nice.  The woman basic, as nicely as she could, told me I was a sinner and needed to have a stronger connection with Jesus.  She then prayed for me.  That was very nice of her.  But, I don’t like people enforcing their religion on others.  That’s why I picked a volunteer group without a religious affiliation.  I think all religions have beautiful pieces to them.  Whatever you believe, I think that’s great, as long as you’re a good person and you’re happy.  However, don’t push it on me, thank you.  Anyway, there was also to Lost Boy on the flight, going back to help build a school in Sudan…how cool is that? 

At the Addis Adaba airport ( I was in Africa!) I found a fellow CCS volunteer, Janet who has traveled all over the world and is a retired special ed teacher, and woman from Africa who teaches nursing, and college student from Sydney, Australia volunteering at an orphanage, and a woman from Denver teaching at an international school.  Just a reminder of how many good people there are out there, and so many great things being done (which may confuse you if you watch the news a lot).

Finally, a very groggy me made it to Kilimanjaro Airport (I do have to say I was pleased with Ethiopian Airlines). Thank goodness Janet it was with me.  No one told me I need a yellow fever paper (somehow I slipped by without it).  I was also told it was very important I get my CTA stamp, which the workers their said I did not and shoed me away with all my paperwork (I have a feeling Im going to have to go back and get one).

The drive back to the volunteer house was so neat.  Donkeys lined the street, old Land Rovers and old motorcycles/dirt bikes were common the road (and to my American mind, we were droving on the wrong side of the street and the wheel was on the wrong side of the car).   Many people were walking about, some selling fresh groceries, some just hanging out.  The woman were wearing beautiful dresses, and I saw a few balancing baskets on their heads.  The landscape was mostly fields, with small and shabby houses, and mountains in the background.

The volunteer house is very nice…I would post pictures…but I forgot the cable to do so. Dang it.  Maybe I’ll see if I can borrow someone’s. Dinner was delicious.  Looks like I will be having a lot of fresh local food…yum!  I kinda feel like Im back in college with roommates…but all the people seem really nice and interesting.  Im still a little apprehensive because I don’t know anything about my location, but tomorrow we will tour the city and have orientation, so hopefully that’ll relax me.  (And, I asked the other girls, I should be able to run!  And, Kili is for sure on my to-do list.)

Anyway, I think I’ll go get ready for bed (it’s 9:07 here, so a little after 1 in the U.S.).  Plus I still have to tuck myself in…aka put the mosquito net around my bed.  Here’s to not letting the bed bugs bite!

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