I did a pretty bad job blogging while in Ethiopia and even since I have been home I have not had a chance to even reflect on my trip. The open suitcases and piles of clean, yet not put away, laundry should be reminders, but it really did happen so fast and really in a blur.
But today, I finally managed to take control of my to do list at work and at home (o.k., I am lying, I do NOT have a to do list at home), but my work list is organized and prioritized and a few of the deadlines I had were met, barely. And because my work is in order, that makes home a lot easier. I did not even take my work computer home with me tonight! (that is really saying something).
So, even though it is past my bedtime and I have to get up with NO snoozed to be to work ON TIME, I feel like a little reflection. I have a few worldly experiences under my belt at this point and this is my third trip to Ethiopia so there are really no major surprises. I think there will always be amazement with events, experiences and interactions that are so FAR from American, but the “shock value” is gone.
There is still a very strong feeling of belonging when I am in Addis Ababa. It really makes no sense as I am 10 shades lighter, 2 heads taller a few decibels louder and can’t speak Amharic to save my life, but I still feel like I fit. I spent three weeks in China, and it was a great experience and I was amazed and astounded every day at what I learned and experienced, but I never felt connected. My heart never felt at home.Same with Eastern Europe. It was life changing, it was fascinating, it was beautiful, but it was a trip, an experience, an education on how other’s live. It changed me in so many ways, but again, my heart did not fit there.
For a while I wondered if Ethiopia was my “true” home. I still do occasionally, but I know it is not right now. Just like I love the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of New Mexico and the excitement and pulse of New York City, I love the heart and people and way of life of Addis Ababa. If I lived only there, or only in NYC or Salida CO, I would miss what I know here, in West Michigan. It is just impossible to have it all.
So I make sure I get to Colorado and New York City often. I enjoy the beaches and the parks and sunsets, and quiet commutes and the comfort of my home.
About half way through our three day training a very kind and generous participant pulled me aside and said “God brought you here”. That was really hard to swallow, because I came for completely selfish reasons. I WANTED to be there, I NEEDED to be there. I started something that I wanted to follow through on. A project that I could have started anywhere, and walked away from anytime, but I got so much out of this experience, I knew that my motivations were (and still are) selfish. I need my colleagues in Ethiopia to help me grow and learn about myself. To teach me lessons that are impossible to learn in America.
If God did bring me there, He did it because He knows I need these people, these interactions, these experiences to be a better person. Not because I am the one person who can bring these social workers something. There are a lot of qualified and passionate and talented social workers that can provide these trainings. I am just so thankful that these people were put in my life.
I hope you, faithful readers, have your Ethiopia. I hope you have something that makes you want to be a better person. That gives you hope that the world can be a better place. That gives you motivation to press on and follow your dreams. I hope your heart is not tucked away in safety, but is spread throughout the world, knowing that it can be broken, but not caring because out of that brokeness will come something amazing. (yes, I know there are about 100 clichés in that paragraph…)
So there you have it, my mushy introspection for the night, I guess that is what happens when I stay up past my bedtime…