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Friday, December 08, 2006

Going to Africa again

In less than a month, I will stand, once again, on African soil. I will breathe deeply the scent of fragrant blossoms. I will lick the sweet nectar of mangoes from my fingers. I will embrace the people who welcome me. I will sit with stranger-friends and hear their stories. I will sleep on the rough earth and not even mind if goats or roosters keep me awake. I will marvel at the majesty of wild animals. I will let people touch me. I will walk through their fields and let them show me their harvests. I will let the tears flow when I see the needs. I will let the joy fill me when I see their compassion and grace. I will soak it all in and let my soul be moved.

Almost exactly two years ago, I started this blog because I was preparing for my first trip to Africa and I wanted a space to process my feelings and thoughts before that trip. My first post was called "Going to Africa" and in it, I said this:

I will listen and let them teach me. I will open my heart to the hope and the hurt. I will tread lightly on their soil and let the colours wash over me. I will allow the journey to stretch me and I will come back larger than before.

Now, two years later, I know that I did indeed come back larger than before. I was stretched beyond my expectation, and I fell in love with a place that I knew would draw me back. It's hard to describe how a place like Africa moves me in ways I've never been moved by any other country. It got under my skin and into my heart. It becomes somewhat addictive.

How very, very lucky I am to be going back. I work for an incredible organization that supports food-related programming all over the world. I will be visiting 2 of those programs in Ethiopia. The amazing thing about traveling with an organization like ours is that we visit places that no tourist will ever see. We see the way people live in the remotest parts of the country where little if any "modernization" has touched them. We'll visit a region where we've supported local efforts to build irrigation systems to grow better crops. While there, I hope to see Elizabeth again. She's an incredible young Ethiopian woman (only 23 years old) who manages a large team of engineers and other labourers in the development of irrigation ditches and model farms. She is a powerful force for positive change in Ethiopia and I am in awe of her strength and wisdom.

This trip will have the added bonus that I get to enjoy the journey with an incredible travel companion. Steve Bell and his wife will be joining us, along with a small crew who will produce a video for us while we're there. I'm very excited about this project. Steve is an amazing musician whose depth and wisdom shines through in his music. You may recall a post a few weeks ago after I attended his concert with the Symphony. I've enjoyed getting to know him over the past 2 years, and I know that his presence will make the journey even more exciting.

In the meantime though, there is much planning to do, and my mind is going a hundred places at once. Planning itineraries, booking flights, getting the necessary immunizations, writing story-boards for the video production, arranging conference calls for the team, etc., etc. On top of that, there are Christmas presents to be bought, the family Christmas trip to plan - oh, the list goes on and on. In a month, I will relax, eat injera and lentils, and let the sun warm my cold Canadian skin. But until then, I have to try to get everything done while remembering to live in the present, enjoy my kids, and let the wonder of Christmas fill me.

17 comments:

Michele said...

oh lovely. i'm so glad this is one of the joys of your job.

Gina said...

Have a good time planning, try not to get overwhelmed. You will have such a wonderful time!

swampwitch said...

You write with such a lilt...I love reading your words. What a wonderful experience and to know you are going back for another one must be so exciting. I have a special post going up tomorrow and this post fits in so well, I plan to add a link to it. Will you be able to post from Africa?

Hope said...

I am so looking forward to hearing about this journey, the opportunity of a lifetime. It isn't often we are able to enter other cultures and learn from their wisdom. You are the perfect ambassador.

Joyce said...

could you bring me back a baby? I'm sure thats a politically incorrect thing to say. I would so much like to visit Africa, so many in my family have. And I really would love to adopt. That would require a large scale miracle, though.

Can't wait to hear of what you learn and experience on your trip.

Karla said...

What an amazing opportunity Heather. I too will be looking forward to reading of your trip and seeing pictures.

Linda said...

What a wonderful "perk" of the job. I wish you happy planning!

andrea said...

I want a baby, too! :) It would make up for the envy I'm feeling right now...

Robyn said...

Africa gets into your soul doesn't it? I am so jealous of you getting to go back. I stumbled across your blog from somebody's link, and added you to Google reader because I saw your first post and was intrigued that you were going to Kenya. I was born in Ethiopia and lived in Kenya until I was 15 and would LOVE to go back but it doesn't look like thats going to happen in the short term so I'd love to travel vicariously through your blog if you don't mind. :)

tlawwife said...

I know that jealousy is a bad trait but I am very jealous of your opportunity. However it is fine with me because I know that you will do a good work while you are there and you will be a good ambassador. God Bless your family while you are gone.

Thailand Gal said...

What an awesome post, as usual! :) Substitute "Thailand" for "Africa" and you could be speaking for me, particularly in the first few paragraphs. Thanks for writing it. I needed this today.


~Chani

Anvilcloud said...

Since we all come from "Out of Africa," maybe it resonates in some mystical way.

Liz said...

How nice for you to have something to anticipate beyond the Christmas season. I envy you.

Don't forget to stock up on the tea!

Can't wait to read about your adventures.

Pamela said...

Some are called.
Some are not .. or else don't listen.
(I'll be there with you in spirit)

I'm also wondering how often you will get an opportunity to post on your blog.

Coll said...

Oh my.. this is just the most exciting news. How wonderful!!

Janet said...

SO GLAD you're getting to go back to Africa!!!! I'm looking forward to stories and photos upon your return!

Janet

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