Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa, was 15 hours long. As the plane flew closer and closer to the destination, my mood grew brighter and brighter. By the time I stepped into the Joburg airport—AFRICA—I was nearly giddy. Africa—my home—not even Zambia yet, but still feeling like home. The faces are familiar. The air is crisp. The billboards are in African colors and proclaim World Cup Soccer and African brands. It feels right.

I remember feeling like this another time. It was December, 2006, and we were returning to the US for our first furlough after 18 months in Zambia. Stepping into the Dallas airport produced that same excitement, that giddiness, that feeling of being home again. The Lone Star flags everywhere. The Texas accents. The friendly faces. It felt right.

So where is home? Is it Africa? Zambia? Texas? Mt. Vernon? Or am I just homeless? A woman without a country?

A dear co-worker once said, “Africa ruins your life. Once you’ve lived in Africa, you’ll never be at home in America. And yet you know you can never be truly African either.”

I live in the pull of two worlds. When I’m in Africa, I miss America. When I’m in America, I miss Africa. I love them both.

Maybe it’s like having your second child. You can’t imagine that you could love another child as much as you love your first. And then that second baby is placed in your arms and your heart expands a thousand times. Suddenly you know that your heart is plenty big enough for this new baby.

I think my heart is big enough for two homelands. Africa will hold me in its grip for the next three weeks. And then I’ll head for home again.

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