It’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been up for a couple of hours, struggling to get back to sleep. I should take advantage of this day that is mine to sleep and regroup and get unpacked and resettled, but my body or mind or something won’t let me. So instead I lay in bed and think, a dangerous activity so often.
I got back to Namwianga last night with my cousin Emily in tow. This is her 4th time now to visit me in Zambia, and we get to keep her for a solid two months this time. I’m thrilled on so many levels, but one is that she’s made and will continue to make the transition away from family and back into Zambia so much easier.
Roy and Kathi picked me up from the airport, we did a little grocery shopping, and headed back to Namwianga to offload everything. On the way, we stopped by Zimba Hospital where Chabilo, our 6 week old is admitted. She arrived while I was gone so I don’t know how to compare how she looks now to how she looked before. But she looks so very sick. It surprised me how shocked I was to see a baby that looks like her in my arms again after all my plump, healthy nieces and nephews the last two months. Say a prayer for her healing, and I’ll try to keep you posted.
We got to my house to find such a fun surprise—my great friends Jason and Cintia, along with Kathi’s help, built me a new couch for my house, fixed all my curtains that allowed anyone who wanted to to look inside, and sewn many pillows to make the house more homey. It made the room look completely different, and it totally made my day. I was so hoping to someday get rid of the nasty thing we called a couch, and now it’s gone! Their friendship is an answer to so very many prayers, and they also do all these amazing things for me, ALL THE TIME. I’m blessed by them, and I had missed them all so much.
Once we got unloaded and ate something, Em and I headed up to see the babies and aunties. It. Was. Perfect. We screamed. We danced. We hugged. It was as if I’d been gone way longer than I had. The babies were huge, of course. I still can’t get over the difference a couple of months makes. I can’t wait to show you all their new looks and tricks. I drove away thinking, well, there’s still a job to do. And I’ll keep doing it.
We came back home last night and greeted Patrick, my night watchman. He caught me up on what has been happening (not much thankfully). I showered in a freezing cold shower, and determined I’m not quite ready for that yet. America spoiled me into thinking the water should at least have a little warmth to it. I put on clothes from my closet here and instantly missed the smell of my clothes in America, fresh from a dryer with dryer sheets, not smelling like they’d been hung out to dry all day. It will take a few days before gritty shower floors and plentiful bugs and power outages become normal again. It will take a few more days to shake the memories of carpeting and nice roads and TV and fast food and fast internet out of my system. It will take a little longer for the sting of missing those who hold my heart on the other side of the world to lessen, too.
When I’m in the States, it is increasingly evident to me that I don’t fit anywhere perfectly. In The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver writes, “Africa, it seems I only know myself anymore by your existence in my soul.” That line has stuck in my mind for years and years as I’ve traveled back and forth time and again. I honestly can’t remember the me that was before I’d lived here, before I’d experienced so much joy and heartache and come to appreciate a new normal. I don’t remember what it is like to be completely at home in America, without having to look at everything I see through a new lens, one that would be easier to just remove if only I knew how. I desperately try to look at America and all its beauties and flaws without judgment, but it’s impossible. I know the struggle is good for me, helping to refine me and give me new eyes and perspective on important matters.
And on the other side, I come back here to a world that I’ll never fully fit in either. I’ll always look different, I’ll always speak differently, and I’ll always initially look at something from a different worldview. I chafe under the differences sometimes. My American upbringing will make me ever incredulous when the water won’t work for no explainable reason or when there is only one choice at the grocery store for what I’m looking for. I will probably never come to grips with the injustice that is the healthcare system here, or the education system. And I’ll desperately try to look at Zambia and all its beauties and flaws without judgment. I’m just such an imperfect person, living in an imperfect world.
Well, these are the ramblings of a jetlagged person. All in all, it’s good to be home. I’m blessed beyond measure to be able to say that and mean it about two very different places. I’m even more blessed because I realize these longings and feelings of discontent are just reminders of a promise of heaven, a perfect home.
Hopefully more soon. But you know me... :)