After two weeks of travel and three East African countries, I am ready to go home. I hardly slept last night because I couldn’t wait to see my family. I love travel, and I love all the stories and people, but I am now at that place where the different cultures, the long plane ride, and the 14 nights in hotel room reminds me how far away I am. It’s been a great trip from the Rift Valley of Kenya, to the country side of Ethiopia, and the city of Entebbe, Uganda. I have many stories swirling in my head, and the faces of beautiful children embedded in my heart, but I look forward to being back in the comforts of my home, and in the arms of my children and husband. As I travel, God has given me an ability to relax and let Him control things, however, I still manage to sneak in some anxiety, and probably do things wrong, breaking cultural rules and who knows what. As much as I want to be African when I am in Africa, and sing and dance like an African, I really am the “white lady from America awkwardly dancing” swaying to the music of African beats, while little children laugh at me.
Sometimes my hotels seem familiar with their English speaking employees, who smile at me with sincere friendliness, but as we drive through gated and guarded entrances of the hotels, then walk through security scanners, I am reminded that I am in a different part of the world where threats are constantly made. Yes, it happens in America too, and my friends who come to America from other cultures are sometimes as nervous about our country ,and the threats that exist, as we are to go to their countries. I think being in an unfamiliar environment always feels a little more insecure. Not knowing the right direction to run in an emergency, makes one feel vulnerable, and being completely dependent on others to help navigate your way makes one feel like a child.
Yes, travel is fun but there are elements of travel, that require an extra measure of patience and endurance, when you feel far away and disconnected to family life, and unfamiliar with all the cultural norms and systems.
I am ready to go back home now and grateful for lessons learned in the journey. Some not so fun, moments where things went wrong, when the stories of children felt unbearable, and the sites and smells were overwhelming. It’s tempting to let my heart go numb to it all, and pretend everything is ok. But, I can’t because it’s real, and I see children suffering, and it hurts my heart over and over, then I go back to a nice hotel and try to sleep and be normal each night. After awhile, I can’t feel normal and the sadness of it all wears like old shoes on a rocky road.
Then there are exhilarating moments where I can’t believe the joy that surrounds me with celebration and music and I see God in all is glory at work in the lives of people who miraculously fought back and won victory over the darkness of poverty…and I feel overwhelmed by the joy and I want to stay in that moment forever.
God reminds me, in all the emotion, my home on earth, is temporary. He has given me a refuge and family full of love, but the world still carries it’s burdens, and I still have those same stories swirling, and memories that fill my mind, of sin and darkness not only in the world, but that which exists within me.
Travel reminds me that this life is temporary. I am grateful for a Savior who by His death and Resurrection provides a way for us to find Home. Our everlasting home will be a place of joy, where celebration will happen and we won’t feel awkward, we won’t feel lonely and we won’t feel out of place, but for now, I am just really really excited to go back to my little home in Vancouver, and see my peeps and find refuge in a familiar place.
It’s time to go home.
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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