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in the course of a year


One year ago today I woke up at the dreadful hour of 3:30 am, boarded a plane and moved to Haiti. Has it really been a year since that day? I remember the moment I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac with no idea where I was going – knowing only that when I got out of the airport I was to look for the tall white man. Crazy? Absolutely. Then together the tall white man (Dan) and I would travel to the guest house where the rest of the whites were, and wake up the next morning only to hop into a blue taxi van and travel to an island where I would make my home for the following six months of my life.
It was on that island where I learned to be content with where I was, what I was doing, where I wasn’t, and what I wasn’t doing.
On that island I couldn't go anywhere alone. I made wonderful friends – some whom I could easily communicate with; others, mmm, not so much.
On that island I learned a new language – seventy-five percent Haitian Creole, twenty-five percent “make noises and hand motions until they know what I’m trying to tell them.”
There I went without the Internet, a phone, television and radio, and sometimes electricity and running water.
Sometimes I think my life was completely crazy.
From that island I boarded an eight-passenger boat with twenty-five other people, four suitcases, a keyboard, a giant bag of charcoal and a pile of tied-up chickens; then watched as the shore got farther and farther away and the man behind me quickly bailed water from the boat with a five gallon bucket.
Perhaps “crazy” isn’t an adequate enough word.
This year on that island I fell in love with an orphan girl named Mari Tarez. She stole my heart away with her broken spirit and her deep, lonely eyes. Through her I was humbled. With her I learned a sliver of what it means to have God as my Papa. Because of her I feel as though those six months of loneliness, frustration, restlessness and growing were completely justified and worthwhile. I’d do it again for her in a heartbeat.
On that island I learned that wonderful security and comfort comes in the simplicity of a mosquito net.
This year I walked the fence between principles and love. What kind of thorny fence is that??
This year Acts 3:6 has made me dance with joy and weep with brokenness. “Silver or gold I have not – but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.”
This year I spoke the following sentence: “Mom! When I get a bowl of cereal, I don’t have to look for worms in it before I pour the milk!” Funny, the things we get used to doing.
This year I went on a fantastic road trip with my best friend all over New England. Together we spent a day driving & $30 in gas to find a Ben & Jerry’s so we could get a free ice cream cone for lunch, only to wind up at a sketchy gas station in Maine. On this trip we went to Yale. We camped in Cape Cod. We slept in the parking lot of a gas station just inside New Hampshire because we hated Vermont that much. We saw a show on Broadway. We got lost in Boston. We had the time of our lives.
This year I graduated from college. Before April, I couldn’t even remember what it’s like to not be in college.
This year my roommate got married. My sister started college. My best friend moved to Asia.
And I started living my dream.
This year I took up residence on a bus with twenty-three beautiful African children and seven other adults.
This year all the things that God has given me passions for have come rolling together to form the first stepping-stone in my life as a “grown-up” – and it is happening here, with the African Children’s Choir. Music, children, traveling, global ministry, choirs, it’s all here in this one thing. Could it get any better than this??
Looking back at where I’ve been in the course of just twelve months, I can’t believe the kinds of things I’ve done & learned. I feel as though I’ve become an expert at sociology & ethnographies (it’s amazing the kinds of things you can tell about a person by their car). I’ve slept in so many different places & houses I often wake up and have no idea what town I’m in – let alone where the bedroom door is located (an extremely odd, semi-uncomfortable feeling…).
This year I am thankful for opportunities, for the people that God has brought into my life, for the things I have learned, and for the places I have been.
It has certainly been quite the year.

a little language lesson (for me)


Admittedly, I have a teddy bear on tour. He is a Koala bear, and his name is Kwawa. I've had this bear for as long as I can remember, and yesterday one of the girls I was staying with noticed him in my bag. She asked the name of my doll: I responded (boldly and unashamed): Kwawa.
She laughed, giggled, laughed some more, then proceeded to tell me that in Luganda, "kwawa" is "here" - as she pointed to her armpit. That's right, my bear's name is Armpit. I suppose that if I ever travel to Uganda, I should change his name.
Funny, the kinds of things that humble us...