Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Itch for Africa

Our first trip to Africa was in 1999. We thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we thought we were doing it mainly for our teenage kids. Near the end of our three-week stay, a co-worker who had grown up as a missionary's kid in Africa warned us that we would have to return. He said, "Africa is like poison ivy on the brain, and the only way to scratch it is to go back."

He was so right. Twelve years later I know that Africa has infected not only my brain, but my heart as well. There is always a part of me that is itching to return. There is always an empty place in my heart--an Africa-shaped hole that can only be filled with the people and places and craziness of Africa.

And tonight I'm starting to scratch my African itch. I'm overnighting in Johannesburg, South Africa, on my way to Namwianga. This trip is mainly to work with the sponsorship program--I haven't met the students who are new to the program in 2011. I need to meet with them and also check on how Rajiv is managing the overwhelming responsibilities I piled on him.

But George and Jason are part of the itch as well. I can't wait to have their little arms around my neck and hear them say, "I love you, Nana!" I'm sure Jason knows most of his alphabet by now, and he'll want to impress me with his new knowledge. George will have to show me his usual cute antics, and there will be other toddlers to love and hug on as well.

Meagan Hawley is at Haven III for the summer, so I'm looking forward to some long talks with her as we compare notes about our year of re-entry and get caught up on our lives in America. I brought along some Beginner's Bibles, so Rodgers Namuswa and I will head out into the bush somewhere to train Bible class teachers. Mrs. Moono and I will have tea and discuss our families and the chickens. I hope Webster will bring our temperamental cat around, although it's too much to hope that the cat might be glad to see me.

And who knows what else might be in store? The only thing that's certain on a trip to Africa is that there will be some unexpected, unplanned, and maybe slightly crazy adventures along the way.

There are few things in life that feel as good as a scratched itch. Africa, I'm back! And it feels so good.

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