Saturday, June 16, 2018

Travel Schedules

Last week, Aidan was in Thailand, wrapping up his six months of travel and enjoying every minute of it. This week, he's home and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I'm thankful for the clothes on his floor and the fridge and pantry depleting at an alarming rate and all of it. Something feels like it's set back on the right track in my world when both the boys are in their beds and I in mine...and the dog is snoring on the floor.

I have a small window of having both boys at home this summer. While Aidan settles back into work, Easton is winding up his school year and has taken a leave of absence from his job. He was selected to be part of an exchange program that will take him to Montreal, Quebec for six weeks where he'll be working for a non-profit that caters leisure activities for people with physical and developmental challenges. He's looking forward to being on his own in the big city and I, once again, have to allow one of my kids to spread their wings and go out and experience what this amazing world has to offer. It's never easy and yet, I love that they are willing and active and driven to find new paths to follow.

I've had to make my own decision about travelling as well. I've been invited to travel back to Zimbabwe and Zambia in September. Normally, this decision would be an absolute no brainer and there would be little reservation on my part about it. This time, in this stage of life with so much insecurity about my future alone, it's been an anxiety ridden decision.  I love being with our Hands at Work family in both Zimbabwe and Zambia - I truly feel it's been such a privilege to witness the incredible work that is happening amongst our communities in these two countries. I've been travelling to Zambia since 2009 and I can honestly say, I feel very much at home there. I love being in the community of Mulenga, I love our friends there and I miss them daily when I'm away. The friendships are deep and they stand up against time and distance and that's not something I would ever take for granted.
I first visited Zimbabwe in 2012 with our family and we stayed for a month with Farai and Mildred and their family, who generously shared their home with the four of us, never having met us!
They are family now and I get teary eyed thinking about being in their home again and spending time with them because I know that these are the kind of people I aspire to be like. I can only hope I can absorb some of their wisdom and goodness in the time that I get with them.

I have decided I'm going. It's risky. It's overwhelming. It's daunting to think of the things that need to fall in place for it to all come together...but I'm doing it. I told myself a few weeks ago that I was going to be the best version of myself in these coming years. I've written down goals and some characteristics that I know to be true of myself and I've also listed the types of things that get in my way.

One of my goals was to stay deeply connected and invested in my relationships with our friends in Zimbabwe and Zambia. I had to write it down because although I know that when it's time to go to Africa, there are a million and one reasons why there are other things to spend my money, time and energy on. And I wanted to prioritize being invested there because I know that it is the place where I feel like the best version of myself. I feel slightly out of my league in Africa, very far out of my comfort zone and entirely out of my normal routine of doing things myself and not asking for support from others. Africa chases the fear out of me and reminds me of how very small and insignificant I am in the world, yet how very integral every one of us is in creating a better life for ourselves and others when we serve selflessly. It also reminds me that I'm just the smallest, eensiest part of something incredibly big and beautiful that is happening across the globe as volunteers ease the suffering of their neighbours and friends and family in their own communities. The examples of love I see in these communities come to me daily when I'm here in the middle of a Canadian prairie city - thousands of miles away - and they continually challenge me to live differently than what social media, advertising and the North American mindset say are the things to chase after.

And so, I'm finding flights, figuring out travel, sorting out the boys' schedules and ensuring they are confident in their roles here at home. I'm worrying about the finances and ensuring I have enough money in the bank to cover my expenses at home while trying to figure out how and when and where to find the funds for a plane ticket and two weeks in Africa. The entire venture will probably cost about a month's wages for me and yet, just today, I had an update that already in my Hands at Work account, there is a third of what I need for the trip. And so, ever mindful that I have to jump the hurdles of my own excuses much the same way that I encourage others who want to go have to...I am getting things together to be in Zimbabwe for a week in September and then a week in Zambia to follow.

It's been two years since Easton and I travelled to Zimbabwe with Dawson and Bill. Two years since Easton did his medical clinic tour of Zimbawe and Zambia. Two years since my dear friend, Charlene, came and saw for herself the place that she believes changed me forever. It's been two years and I don't think there's been a day that has gone by that I don't think of, long for and pray for our friends in these communities. Knowing that my life is so incredibly different that those I miss keeps me focused on being the kind of person who continues to live with their example before me. It's been an incredibly challenging couple of years. This past eight months has been a stage of life I would wish on no one and yet, I'm reminded that if I am who I believe I am, this trip is the right way to stay engaged at a deep level with the communities I love and learn so much from.

So, stay tuned as I figure it all out. Work it all out. Cry it out. Wonder and doubt it all out.
But hold me to it, I'm going.
I can't wait to be standing in the airport and seeing Uncle Chips (Farai) waiting for me.
I can't wait to walk through the streets of Sukubva and see the places and faces that come to me in the midst of a busy day - a reminder to stay the course and be focused on larger things than what the world is dangling in front of me.
I can't wait to wander into the yard at Elizabeth's and sit on the floor and stir the soup and listen to the kids' voices as they gather for their meals.
I can't wait to spend the days - dusty and tired - thoroughly spent with the stories and the examples of those who suffer and those who ease their suffering simply with their presence.
I have wondered in the past eight months if I would ever be ready to go back again. If I'd be whole enough. Secure enough. Strong enough. Worthy enough.
The truth is...I'm none of those things and all of those things. And I'm going.