Next Stop…

I wish my luggage had an odometer, because I would love to know how many miles I have traveled over the last two months. I laughed to myself this morning when I realized that I was in Entebbe on Halloween, Aweil on Thanksgiving, Versailles (Ohio, not France) on Christmas, and will be in Nairobi on New Year’s Eve. For as long as I can remember I have claimed that traveling is my favorite thing to do. The irony in this is that packing is my least favorite chore; I told Susan just the other week that I would rather wash dishes, clean the bathroom, AND do all my laundry (if you know anything about me, you know I put off doing laundry as long as possible) than pack. So yesterday I began the process of packing, which really means doing everything I can to avoid packing. I have cleaned my room, swept the floor, and washed all of my laundry. I reorganized my closet, fixed homemade tomato soup, and sorted through the box of things I cleaned out of my desk last summer. After all of that, I have one of my three bags packed. I fully expect that by the time I zip up that third suitcase my car will be clean, my checkbook will be balanced, and my dog will have had a bath!
The month that I have spent here in the US has been jam-packed and wonderful! In addition to receiving hundreds of hugs and enjoying much laughter with friends and family, over the last thirty days I have taught an IAG II lesson on Parabolas to my students from last year, enjoyed the Nutcracker with my dad and grandma, watched my niece and nephews at Tai Kwon Do, shared pictures with the senior Government classes at Versailles, shopped with Michele and Stacy, struggled through homework with my niece, sweated at boot camp with Penny and Hollie, served dinner at Ginghamsburg, played trivia with colleagues from WCMS, snuggled on the couch during a blizzard, and spent countless hours jamming to my American music while cruising down smooth roads. I have eaten breakfast with Chad, Melissa, Jeanne, and the bus drivers at Versailles. I’ve shared lunches with Kristin, Matthew, Stacy, my mom, my grandma, Rick, Brooks, Regina, Anna, Kaytie, and Tabitha. I have stuffed myself at dinners with Michele, Sherry, Peggy, Susan, Tracy, Jeremy, Taylor, Jordan, Lauryn, Alex, Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary. I have finally reached the point where there is no food I am craving and 100 degree temperatures sound heavenly.
Yesterday afternoon I got phone call from a Sudanese number. I answered to hear the voice of Rosaline, a student in the catering class at Yei Vocational Training College, asking me how I was. As soon as I responded, telling her that I was good and asking her how she was (one of the few phrases I know well), I heard the voice of Nancy, another student at YVTC. She also asked how I was and then handed the phone to Susan. The girls, who are my neighbors, each took a turn saying hello before Rosaline came back to the line; Rosaline speaks better English than the rest of them, so I’m sure it was for this reason that she ended up with the phone. “Eliza, when you coming home?” she asked. The question warmed my heart and made me smile. I’m looking forward to being with these new friends again as well as cooking in my own little kitchen and even relaxing on my not-so-comfortable couch. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but I feel like I have a little bit of home on each continent.
Sadly enough, I have already started the process of giving last hugs and answering the question “will I see you again before you leave?” (I like to answer that question with “probably” even if I am fairly sure we won’t, that way neither of us feels like we are really saying goodbye, and I avoid the awful feeling that always comes with those words.) I gave the littlest of my nephews an extra long hug, knowing that there’s a good chance he’ll be out of his cuddly stage when I return. The ones that are a little older promised to email, iMessage and FaceTime and Lauryn told me to make sure I “have fun at Africa!” Leaving those kiddos is the hardest part of being away.
Saying goodbyes aside, I am excited to go back to Africa. In just six days I will be in Tanzania with some new missionary friends and we will start the five day trek to the highest point on the continent! Our goal is to reach the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on January 6th. We will start for the summit of the peak at midnight on the 5th; prayers will be much appreciated on this day! It’s going to be a great way to start the year!

2 thoughts on “Next Stop…

  1. You’ve got all of my prayers heading your way! I’ll be praying for safe travels, both back to your home in Africa and on your way up that mountain! I’m praying you won’t run out of Slim Jims to feed the guy that’s probably going to end up carrying you half of the way there! 😉 I’ll continue to pray for you throughout these next several months you’re going to be away, for safety and comfort. I’m so proud of you!!!!! Thank you for all that you do, sunshine. I’m a better person for having gotten to know you, and you’re just such a blessing to me! I hope we’ll continue to stay in touch because I can’t wait for your updates!! I’m incredibly excited to hear about your experience at the highest place in all of Africa because I know you’re stubborn enough to make it! I love you tons and tons!!

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