America, we meet again.

Before we left we discussed the issue of reverse culture shock and the difficulties we will have as we transition back to life in America. One of the main things we talked about is that we will be angry. Our emotions and confusions will find an outlet through our anger. Sometimes at the weirdest and smallest things. For some people in the past it has been walmart or lawns. I am sitting in the airport in Washington D.C. and have already dealt with my share of culture shock and I haven’t even left the airport yet.

So I’m going to let you guys know what those things are that are making me angry. They might be a bit ridiculous and they aren’t necessarily ‘right’ in thinking, but it’s how I’m feeling.

Everything is huge. In the airport there was this gigantic wreath on the wall. I think my words were something like, “Why is that stupid wreath so freaking big?!” It just seemed so obnoxious. The airport is monstrous and I have had to walk all over this thing. Last, but not least, the people. This may sound really mean, probably because it is, but Americans are fat. I literally saw one overweight person in all of Africa. I can’t even count how many I have seen in this airport alone. It is disgusting and embarrassing once you have seen people literally starving to death. Like I said, this is a little cruel, but I’m just letting you know the thoughts that have been going through my mind.

A vending machine for electronics. Are you kidding me? Who on earth has the money to just buy an ipad from a vending machine. How exactly does that go? Like they are walking by and go, “Oh, I’ve been wanting one of those. Here let me put $500 dollars in this machine and I’ll get one right here.” Or is it more like, “My ipad broke on the plane, good thing they have this vending machine so I can buy a replacement immediately!” I mean, come on!

iphones. I am so annoyed by iphones. People act like it is their source of life. If you don’t have one you are like a lesser race. And there is this ridiculous software that all you have to do is talk and your phone will practically make you a sandwich, pick out your outfit and drive you to work. It’s obnoxious! Is it really that difficult to press the buttons? Reading a text message is just too much work, someone has to read it to you? That thing is not a cell phone. I wouldn’t even call it a computer. I don’t know what it is.

Since you guys have shared this experience with me I figured you should share in the difficult transition of returning home also. It’s not all sunshine and roses. In fact, there is hardly any sunshine.

I’ve been home about a week now and still struggling with the transition. There are some really great things about being home, but then there are some really hard things also. I’m taking it day by day. The best I can do is be incredibly thankful for how I have been blessed and try to see how I can take the changes that God did in my heart in Africa and bring them into my life in America and share them with others.

This is probably my last blog post seeing as how I’m home now and blogs just really aren’t my thing. I want to thank everyone who read this. It means a lot that you were interested in what I was doing and I am glad you got to share in my amazing semester with GoED. I hope you learned something or at least enjoyed reading these posts. Know that I appreciate your support. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again one day.

I’m not done with Africa yet.

Who even likes bittersweet chocolate anyways?

Bittersweet. That word pretty much sums up my thoughts about going home. As my semester here begins to come to an end my heart is filled with this confusing mix of sadness and excitement.

I am going to miss all the amazing people that I have grown to love, but I am so excited to see all of the ones I left behind.

I am going to miss our little GoED family, but I am excited to be home with my family for Christmas.

I am going to miss eating mandazi (sweet, fried bread), but I am excited to eat donettes and voodoo donuts.

I am going to miss drinking orange fantas everyday, but I am excited to finally have some Dr. Pepper again.

I am going to miss playing football with the local kids, but I am excited for intramural indoor soccer.

I am going to miss having class on our front porch, but…..well, let’s face it, I’m not excited to be in a normal classroom again.

I am going to miss being able to buy a pineapple anytime of day for only like 80 cents, but I am excited to eat froyo anytime I want.

I am going to miss baking in the kitchen with Aidah, but I am excited to never have to worry about running out of chocolate chips.

I am going to miss the wonderful warm weather, but I am excited to go snowboarding.

I am going to miss being able to sit out on the porch at night in shorts and a t-shirt, but I am excited to live a life without ruthless mosquitoes.

I am going to miss being able to barter over any price, but I am excited to not have to worry about getting ripped off everywhere I go.

I am going to miss being able to take public transportation for only like 25 cents, but I am excited to have my own car again.

I am going to miss Aidah’s excellent food, but I am excited for unlimited ice cream at the bon.

I am going to miss walking everywhere, but I am excited to be able to go out in public without feeling like Justin Bieber in a crowd of teenage girls.

I am going to miss the amazing ways that God is working in my heart and the changes that are occurring, but I am excited to see what more He has to teach me at home.

Part of me absolutely cannot wait to get off the plane at 8:52 on Saturday and see the people I love, but another part of me absolutely does not want to get on the plane at 4:00 on Friday and leave the people I love.

I’m scared.

I’m scared of that horrible feeling that is going to come into my gut as soon as I step on the plane and leave Rwanda. The same feeling that is going to double in size when I step on the plane in Washington D.C. and say goodbye to the other students. I’m scared because I know it’s coming, but I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to prepare myself for that heartbreak.

I’m comforted.

I’m comforted because I know that I will be overwhelmed with joy to see my friends again. To see my family. To bring the changes that have happened within me back home to share with others. To be a part of my George Fox community again. I’m comforted because I know that God is always with me, regardless of what country I am in.

Along with the fear comes the love. Along with the sadness comes excitement.

Someone at our Owning Poverty session said, “Wherever you are you have to believe that you are exactly where God wants you to be. That there is no better place for you to be at that moment.”

It’s a constant battle between those things that are bitter and those things that are sweet. It’s an annoying feeling. Nobody ever wishes for it. It’s not like you would sit around and think, “Man, I hope today is a really bittersweet day.” But, that’s life. I know that I just need to focus on the positives and appreciate the experiences I have had, live in the present and enjoy each day as it comes. To know that God has placed me exactly where I am because that is exactly where He wants me to be. For today is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it (In the Bible somewhere).

life in the village.

Last week we spent a day with an organization called Azizi Life. This is an awesome organization based out of Gitarama, Rwanda. They work with local artisans to export their crafts to places around the world in order to expand their market. They are starting a new tourism part of their business in order to bring more money into the communities and also to give people the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Rwandan villager. If you want to know more about it you can go to their website: http://azizilife.com

We arrived in the village sometime in the morning and split off to two different households. They prepared us for our day of work by dressing us in the the traditional wrappings. They gave us a piece of material to go around our waist and then put a head wrap on us. We headed out to the fields. We cultivated a field and planted Irish Potatoes. This was a tough job for my non-calloused hands. I had two decent sized blisters after only about 10 minutes of digging. The sun was beating down on us and we were working up quite a sweat.

this is the life.

my weak hands

Then we went to cut grass for the cows. I was unaware that this was death grass. I reached in and just got right into it. After my arms started stinging and burning I thought I was going to die from an allergic reaction. Then I found out that it was just cuts from the sharp edges of the grass. We each gathered a bundle of grass, put it on our head (duh, it’s the African way) and walked back up to the home. I’m really starting to master this art of balancing things on my head and I totally see the benefits of it! Africans can carry anything and everything on their heads. I saw a man walking in the street with one boot on his head. Just one. Anyways, after feeding the cow we went to fetch water. Thankfully, the borehole (a type of well) was not too far away. We waited around for probably 30 minutes to fill all of our jerry cans. Then we put them on our heads and walked back to the home. This was much more difficult to carry than a bundle of grass, that’s for sure. I thought my head was going to explode or I was going to topple down the side of the mountain because of the weight of the water.

gettin some wata.

When we got back we had a lunch of beans, rice and sweet potato. It had only been a few hours and I was exhausted. I have always known that the women here are hard workers, or “husslers” as my friend James likes to say, but until that day I did not realize just how tough they were. I admire those women so much. I couldn’t do half of what they do. And they still are filled with God’s joy and love. Amazing. We spent the afternoon sitting on mats under the shade of a tree and learning how to weave. We each made our own rings, with the help of the ladies of course.

our rings!

All in all, it was a day I will never forget. I got to get my hands dirty in the Rwandan soil and truly understand what the life of a African village woman looks like. Not only did I gain even more respect for these people, I have a whole new appreciation for the blessings I have been given.
Check out Azizi life online, it’s a great cause and their products are beautiful. There is a pretty good chance I will be selling some of their products when I return home, so let me know if you’re interested! Also, my blog is stingy and wants me to pay to upload a video so you can watch it here instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIJCZ82zgVE&feature=related