I'm walking down a cobblestone street in some random foreign city. Everything is black and white and feels like the1940's (not that I know first hand what the 1940's felt like, but I've seen Casablanca...). So I'm walking when someone points me down an alleyway. As I'm walking along I start to realize that I'm not actually moving my feet at all, it's the sidewalk that's moving past me. Along the street, moving past me are people I've known from different times of my life. This is when I realize that I am in control of how quickly the sidewalk moves past me- I can press a button to make everything slow down or speed up. Then I'm in a department store (still black and white 40's) and I have this strange feeling that I'm in Australia and I'm just waiting to go on this great adventure in the outback. I'm anxious and nervous and excited, but calm all at the same time, because I don't know what this adventure is going to be like.
Then I woke up.
Now I could probably blame this on the anti-malarial meds, but I know that it's more than just that.
I'm getting on a plane in 2 weeks.
I'm saying goodbyes.
And it doesn't seem real.
I've had so many times this year where I've wished I have a remote control for time. Sometimes I wished for a fast forward button. Like during the political crisis, when we were discussing evacuation packs and who would go in what vehicle. Mostly I wanted to hit "pause" and just soak it all up. Nights sitting under the mango tree, making popcorn with Mama Yeo. Or staring up at the stars with the other journeyers talking about life, joy, God, struggles, growing. I want to memorize it all. Sweet days.
Now we're talking about goodbyes, flights, debriefing, re-entry, and life after Journey Corps.
I know that this year has changed me. Some changes are more noticable than others, like how the sun has multipled my freckles innumerably and lightened my hair. Other changes will be unnoticable to many, like the fact that my heart feels different in my chest. I love this church, this family, this neighborhood. Leaving hurts more that I expected it to. They've tied themselves to my heart strings. The wonderful thing is that I know these relationship don't end with me boarding a plane- they're coming back with me. I'm praying that my french stays put in my brain so that communication isn't so difficult!
I went to my pastor's house to tell him of my departure date and ask for the road. Before he would give me the road (because you can't leave if he doesn't!), he said that they fully expect life updates. I realized that these people have shared so much with me- weddings, new babies, losing loved ones. They want to share in all of that with me too. Gosh! My family just grew substantially!
The family isn't just Ivoirians. It's this crazy team of mine, too. It's my community of english speakers, of life-sharers, of brothers and sisters who have become dearer than I would have thought possible 12 months ago. We're parting with some in Paris and then all grabbing separate flights in New York (after grabbing our first American meal together, of course!)... Okay, I'm not going to think about saying goodbye to them yet... one thing at a time!
Goodbye is hard, but how beautiful to have people to say difficult goodbyes to!
After I finished college, I started realizing that the future looked like a giant black hole. There could be so many different things ahead, but I couldn't see any of them. All I knew was that I was heading to West Africa for a year- even then I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Now we're on the edge of the unknown again, but this time it doesn't seem so dark and daunting. It feels like there are so many things waiting ahead. It feels like life is going to be a grand adventure!
I feel like this place, these people are a part of me.
I'm returning to another place, another people who are I've missed very much.
Life won't ever be the same. I can't speed up or slow down time,
but I feel ready for what God has next.