|They actually are here!!|
Last week my two worlds, two things that I hold close to my heart, met. These two worlds came crashing together and resulted in so much joy and happiness. My family finally got to experience a place that has held my heart for so many years now. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my parents would ever come to Africa, but sure enough, they hopped on a plane and came to meet me for a week. It was a week full of memories, laughter, and plenty of love. A week that I will always cherish and remember.
|Eating some African food at Mama Africa|
As much as I would love my parents to see where I've been living and working for the past year, the reality of that was a bit harder to figure out. With the current situation still being so unstable and the village where I work being so remote and difficult to get to, we decided it would be better and easier to meet somewhere else. But that's okay because I still got to see them. So my parents and sister came to meet me in Zambia. We spent a few days in the capital city of Lusaka just walking around and exploring. Although it's not the rural Africa where I live, it still gave my parents a taste of typical life in Africa along with some startling realities of daily life here. It was interesting to hear some of their comments and observations about the environment and people because those things have become so natural and normal to me.
|Celebrating my 23rd with a half marathon|
After a few days in Lusaka we traveled to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It was an absolute beautiful little town. So quiet and peaceful with the most friendly people, and we all really enjoyed spending the majority of our time there. We explored the magnificent Victoria Falls, went on a safari in Botswana, ran a half marathon, and celebrated my 23rd birthday. It was a jam-packed week, but I was able to see and do the most amazing things with the people I love he most. And I enjoyed every minute of it!
|Exploring Victoria Falls with my dad!|
Spending this time with my parents and sister after almost a year of not seeing one another really gave me so much perspective and appreciation for their presence in my life. It's not easy to go a year without a face-to-face conversation with your dad or a warm hug from your mom. While it has been difficult, I've realized that the empty space I've felt in my heart by missing their presence in the past year has been replaced. The empty space has been packed and overflowing with love from my new family- my new family complete with over 800 kiddos. Their hugs, their actions of love, their kind words, their smiles and laughter have reminded me of the true meaning of family-being there for one another and loving each other unconditionally. And that is exactly the relationship that has developed with many of the sweet children in Maridi. I'm so blessed to be able to leave my parents and sister and return back home to be with my South Sudanese family. Its in the times that they call me their mother, when I wipe away tears from a child's face at the clinic, when I snag babies to hold and love, when the kids bite me or chase me with bats as a sign of affection, when they reveal their hopes and desires to me…it's these little moments each day that make me know this is my home and these kids are truly my family.
|Hanging out with the Elephants in Botswana|
Getting away for a week to spend with my parents and sister came at the perfect time. It gave me a chance to step away from this mission and reflect and process the past 11 months. I am refocused, refreshed, and renewed. I cannot wait to get back to Maridi and hit the ground running again for my last couple of months.