Monday, February 18, 2008

Afrikan Adventure: 525 600 Minutes

Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six-hundred minutes. There is a little musical ditty that speaks of the minutes of 365 days and begs the question, ‘how do you measure a year?’ And so as I sit here in these insomniac, jetlagged moments I ask the same question. I’ve been back in Abbotsford a week now and still can’t seem to wrap my head around all that has happened in the last year.

The past year was really nothing that I expected it to be. It was a trying year filled with frustration, confusion, heartbreak, pain, growth, joy, and love. But what would I have ever learned if everything had gone smoothly and expectedly, am I right!? I think back to some of my most content and unexplainably joy and peace filled times of walking down dusty roads, the sun shining down, greeting neighbours as they walked past and sitting in the homes of my friends, listening to their stories and laughing together. Or hanging out with the youth at Chisomo drop-in centre, being dragged by the hand by two 10 year old street kids up the stairs of the waterslides at our Christmas party and seeing them just be kids again. Or experiencing the unexplainable way of how music and singing together has the uncanny ability to transcend all cultural boundaries. Or traipsing around the bush with kids looking for snakes and scorpions (even though I’m terrified of them) skipping rocks and shooting slingshots where there is no need to speak a common language, and the way there is nothing more beautiful than the smiles of these children. It’s not raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but these are a few of my favourite things! And so maybe nothing I did there was a thriving success by my expectations or this worlds standards, but maybe that was the point. I didn’t change Zambia. Zambia changed me. Jesus changed me. And so as the aforementioned song suggest to measure a year in seasons of love, in that case this year was a success in a more powerful way than could have been imagined.

But now I find myself back home trying to adjust back to life here. Many tell me this is the most difficult part, much harder than adjusting to life in the new culture. Right now it has just been so good to reconnect with so many people I love and have missed over the past year. It feels like some kind of time warp because it appears many of your children have turned into giants in just one year. I don’t understand how a human being can add that much height in such a short time. Must be something in the chicken! But there is a part of me that doesn’t want to let go of Zambia and the people I love there. I’m afraid of forgetting. Forgetting their faces, forgetting their pain, forgetting their courage and strength, and forgetting the way it all changed me.

I’ve heard it said that you leave your heart in Africa; it gets in your blood. And as I shared in front of the whole church this morning, it probably is not only in my blood but in my intestinal track from all the things I ingested there! (Don’t worry I have taken precautionary de-worming medicine as we do every 6 months!). Boy, it seems I just have a way with words and eloquent public speaking.

So now I’m stuck with the question: what now? My answer: I don’t know. I would love to go back some day for a longer period but as to when that would be I don’t know. And what am I doing in the here and now? I don’t know! I guess I need to find a job of some sort. Feelin’ a little lost! But what’s new.

And so I guess this is the last letter of this Afrikan Adventure. I thank you all again for all your love and support this year. It has meant so much to me it is really quite indescribable. I would love to get together sometime and hear what you have been up to and share more about Zambia! Keep in touch. God bless you. Signing off.

Love shannon

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

1 comment:

Katie said...

Shannon, this is beautifully written. It's funny, as I was reading this, my daughter is watching "The Sound of Music" in the background, so I had to laugh when I got to your reference :)