Thursday, October 3, 2013

365 days.

365 days, y'all. 365 days I have spent on the continent of Africa. 365 days away from everything I once thought familiar. 365 days of joy, tears, and every emotion in between. three hundred. sixty. five. days. 

One year ago I had no idea how in the heck I was going to survive the next year. Now, I can't imagine having spent the last 12 months anywhere else on earth. It hit me the other day how much I truly love this place. I don't just say I love it to make my mom feel better about her daughter living in some random country. I don't just say this to convince myself. I am really attached to this little piece of earth and the people here in West Africa. 

Each month has held something special, something that will forever be etched into my heart. 

In October, after two weeks of being in my "home" country, I flew to Burkina Faso to begin a month long training. This is the first time I experienced cooking outside over a gas burner. Little did I know how important these moments would become to me. Moments of sweet conversation made while cooking a meal.

In November I experienced my first stay with a local family. We stayed in this sweet baby's house in Ghana. This was the first glimpse I had of the hospitality the people of these countries have. These attitudes have taught me so much about selfless sacrifice.

 In December, I began to pick my way slowly through conversation. Hand gestures became a vital part to any conversation I found myself having. Thankful that this amazing woman stuck with me as I struggled through each word. She is the mother of a family who has become so dear to me.

  In January, I no longer found myself thinking this sight was strange. Going to the market became a weekly, sometimes daily task. I would soon get to know some of the women there on a first name basis. I was finding out that the market was not just a shopping trip, it was a social event.

 In February I turned 24. My birthday was celebrated with these friends, plus a few more. Days like this make it hard to be away from my family and friends back home. However, I saw on this night that I was making my way into a different kind of family. A family who looked nothing like me, but a family who I could celebrate the joys of life with.

In March I was able to be a tourist for the first time here. I stuck my feet into a pink lake, feared for my life while riding a running camel (I don't have good luck with riding horses and the like), and saw a few key locations in the capital. It was a good time to take a step back and really appreciate this place.

 In April I experienced my first wedding. I saw that it doesn't matter which country you are in, girls bring IT to weddings. It took me 2 hours to get ready, and I only had 2 possible outfits to wear. This is also the first time I experienced trying to drink water out of that bag I'm holding. Biting a hole into a water bag is more difficult than it sounds, trust me.

In May I found myself momentarily losing my head and running a 10k...which turned out to be 11.5k. This all happened at 4 p.m., amongst all the buses, motos, and horsecarts the city had to offer. I also experienced the water bags here. Trying to rip into a water bag after running a couple of miles in the intense Africa heat is a struggle I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. However, I finished alive, with new friends, and a t-shirt. So, worth it? For sure.

In June I took a 10 hour road trip with 3 other girls. I realized this country is really beautiful in it's unique way. I also realized I will never again take on a 10 hour road trip with no a.c. on African roads.

  In July I hopped on a little airplane, and made my way to the beautiful Italy. Over the next 10 days, I would travel all over that little country. We made our way to Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Venice, and Sienna. Another major plus was I hugged my mom and grandmother for the first time in 10 months. Such a sweet time, and such great memories were made as we hung out with gladiators, ate gelato, and fell in love with everything Italy had to offer.

  In August these five jokers showed up knocking on our door. So, of course, we welcomed them with open arms. They have been such a blessing to our team, and I am so excited to see what kind of work they will be doing the next two months they are here!

In September we were able to make our way out to a village, where we will hopefully begin to work in their school. I can't wait to see the types of relationships that are a result of these visits. So many new areas of opportunity are popping up, and I am so, so excited to see where they will all lead!

As I reflect on the past year, my heart is full. Were there tears? Yes. Intense moments of home-sickness? Of course. But, there was joy in those moments. The joy of knowing that I am exactly where I need to be. Now that this year has finished, I can look forward to the next 9 months, knowing that even greater things are going to happen.


  1. What a great way to reflect on your life here!! The longer you stay the more deeply you will fall in love with the people here. Praying for you sweet friend!

  2. Your life is inspiring. Glad you found my blog! :) Loved reading through your past year...what an adventure! Wishing you the very best the next 9 months full of amazing blessings! I am excited to follow your journey! :)

  3. Your year review is so encouraging and such a testament to the fruit of faithfulness. Reading about your life and adventures is such a blessing. Love seeing how this new culture is becoming your home :]