Overnight I became a single mother of four children- kind of. Last week my oldest sister Tracy and her husband took a much needed, five day vacation to Mexico. While they were relaxing on the beach, I was running their 11 -year-old to softball, begging their 3-year-old to take a nap, dropping their 9-year-old off at basketball camp, catching their 6-year-old as she jumped off the diving board and toting all four of them to bible school! Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I would never admit (especially to Tracy) that taking care of my sweet nieces and nephews was much more exhausting than I ever expected. So I won’t.
In the midst of all this running from one side of Versailles to the other, I became reacquainted with the town I grew up in and the wonderful people who still inhabit it. At Bible School I taught alongside my past art teacher, at the swimming pool I sat with a former teammate, and at the softball games I cheered with an old coworker and friend. Each time I got into a conversation with someone from my hometown, I became anxious thinking about how to explain why I would want to leave this place of comfort and go to the other side of the world. I am happy to say that most of the time I was able to steer the conversation elsewhere and avoid trying to give an explanation that I didn’t fully understand myself.
After checking the last ball game off of the calendar and saying goodbye to my wonderful nieces and nephews, I settled into a peaceful (no radio, no kids asking to watch a movie, no fighting over who would sit in the front seat) drive back to my home in Kettering. For the thousandth time I was trying to figure out why I feel so pulled to pack up and head to a country full of people that look, act, and think so different from the way I do. But then, out of the blue, it hit me.
The people in South Sudan make a living by farming. These people understand the importance of and place high value on education. The villagers know what it means to work hard. They know each other by name and often introduce someone by telling who their mother, sister or uncle is. They look out for each other and are wise enough to know that secrets don’t keep for long. The most important word to them is community. If those same things don’t paint a picture of Versailles, I don’t know what does.
It might still be hard to explain to someone why I’m trading my bathroom for a latrine or looking forward to cleaning my first chicken, but at least now I understand why a place thousands of miles away feels so much like home.