This week, I've been tossing and turning and list making at night because I am headed out into yet another travelling adventure. As much as I love to travel...I work it all over and over in my head and heart and stomach long before I ever hit the airport check in counter.
In just a few weeks, I am heading to Cambodia. I had to look at a map to ensure that I knew where it was that I would be landing and to be honest, having never been to Asia, it looks mighty far away and removed from anything I've ever experienced.
I am going to be going with a small group of Canadians, none whom I know, and we will be travelling with Marie Ens, who is an amazing woman of 78 that has been serving and caring for the Cambodian people since the 60's. Not her 60's...the 60's... which means she has been part of the Cambodian story through some of its most horrific history and that she is part of it now, in an era that again wreaks havoc on the people she serves. Marie has returned to Cambodia after various absences again and again, with an urgency to serve the most vulnerable in that country - orphans, impoverished and the elderly.
She is part of a beautiful group of Cambodians who have established and serve at Place of Rescue, caring for orphans and destitute grannies, single mothers and those who are living with AIDS.
Truthfully, I feel the same emotion thinking about going to Cambodia that I felt when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. There is such excitement, love, and anticipation but there is also that undermining sense of dread for the pain of labour, the feeling of having your heart broken and filled simultaneously, and the long, sleepless nights with a thankless infant for company.
In many ways, I feel like Zambia is my first born. My first trip changed me as dramatically, much like changing from a woman/wife into someone's mother. From living basically for my own self to living to care for and raise another up. There is a responsibility that comes with it that is life long and evolving. There is love and heartache and teaching and learning. There are moments of competence and many more of ineptitude in the face of child rearing. The more I learn and love the people of Zambia, the more the things that challenge and hurt them do the same for me.
I remember looking at Aidan, nearly three when I was due with Easton, and wondering how I could open my heart to another child the way I did with him. Aidan held this place in my life that I felt no one could share or measure up to. Yet, in that miraculous way that babies do, Easton burst onto the scene and established himself firmly in all corners of my heart and stretched into new ones as well. I didn't trust that it would be possible but it was and is.
As I think of flying for days to reach a destination, part of me wishes that it was going to be Zambian soil that greets me and the familiar red dirt of Ndola that rises up to cover my feet. Yet, I know too that I am ready to be stretched in new and different directions and that, as with my first born, it won't diminish the love I have for Zambia or those I love most in that little epicentre of my world, called Mulenga. Easton taught me things that Aidan never did, and for two boys that came from the same parents, they also come at things from completely opposite sides of the spectrum.
If I think of that, it's so exciting. The lessons I have learned in Zambia and those I'm about to learn in Cambodia are about to teach me about living life here in the middle, right here in Canada.