You know that feeling you get just before you take the person you’re dating home to meet your family for the first time? The apprehension about what they’ll think of your home; the fear that something will go horribly wrong; the excitement of sharing a piece of your life close to your heart with someone new? That’s how I’m feeling tonight.
I’m not headed back to Versailles with a new beau, but instead, I am less than 48 hours away from going back to Yei (and the only things I have packed are my passport and malarone)! I will be introducing 11 others to one of the most meaningful parts of my life. And, to be honest, I’m as much nervous as I am excited. This nervousness is different than the times before when I feared landing on a dirt runway that might be full of goats, being eaten alive by Africa bugs, or using a community latrine (or even worse, having no latrine at all). I’m going into this trip knowing that there will be someone to chase away the goats, my net will protect me from more than just mosquitoes, and closing your eyes and holding your breath does a lot to make a latrine more managable!
The thoughts that keep running through my mind this time are about the others on my team. What will they think? How will they react? How will God work in their hearts? I hope they will quickly be able to look past the muddy roads filled with enourmous puddles with the fear of getting stuck and grab hold of the joy that comes while bouncing along for hours packed in a LandCruiser with people you barely know. I hope they will embrace the invitation to share a meal of unfamiliar food with people who don’t share the same language. I hope they enjoy the challenge of spending a week without running water and hope they don’t revolt when I tell them there is a chance we might be without electricity (I promise, team, I’m working on it!). More than anything, though, I hope they see the deep and precious beauty in a culture so vastly different than the one we live in. I’m looking forward to watching them peer through the poverty and brokenness and discover the deep rooted hope and the passion for meaningful relationships that lives inside of the Sudanese. I’m excited to watch them fall in love with the people of South Sudan and return to the United States with a piece of them in their hearts.
It would be naïve of me to think we won’t encounter difficulties no matter how prepared we are: long waits, miscommunications, culture blunders, and frustration. But I’m convinced that imperfection is what makes an experience real and will draw us together.
I can’t wait to hug my old friends, walk on the familiar muddy paths, and be called “Kawaja” by a hundred little kids. I’m excited to wonder if I’m going to have an opportunity to bathe, question what kind of meat is on my plate, and pray that we don’t get stuck in the mud, because they only thing better than an adventure is an adventure shared!