3/30/14

adjustment period #bloghope

photos via wanderingwithMary.com (follow her on instagram!)

I just finished my bottle of malaria pills. As I took the last pill, I told my husband.

"Yay!" he said.

"No," I told him. "This means that my trip really is over."

Taking that final, weird little brown pill felt like the last physical connection I had to Uganda. I've been home a week. A little over a week ago I was standing on the red dirt, the sun beating on my shoulders, the noises of birds and monkeys filling my ears. Today, I am home. It's raining. My power works, I had a hot shower and anything I need is within a few blocks away at not only one, but three different grocery stores.

People say Africa is hard, and it is, but what is even harder is coming back to America. I've had friends ask me about my trip and I stumble through my responses because I'm not even sure I understand how to talk about it.

The only thing I can say is that it was wonderful, way better than any of my expectations, yet harder and more heart-breaking than what I imagined.

Honestly, I was never an Africa girl. I have a friend and growing up she would always say she was going to move to Africa and run an orphanage. I always (secretly) thought she was crazy. I never had any desire to go to Africa. Yet, things fell into place and I found myself applying and then going to Uganda for a trip. What I did not expect is that I would become an Africa girl.

I did not think Uganda would get under my skin like it did. I did not know how much I would love the people, the culture and everything, despite its many, many, seemingly insurmountable problems. I didn't know how much I would miss Uganda when I left, and that I would cry talking about Uganda a few days later.

I am still processing. Still adjusting, still thinking about my short trip and I think I will for a while.

The other thing I didn't expect? I liked Sole Hope -- respected what they do before I left -- but I didn't expect to really fall in love with their mission and the work that they do. Sole Hope is an incredible non-profit, and I feel like a fan-girl/ambassador without any shame. Learn about what they do and how you can help.

xo, erika

7 comments

  1. While I haven't traveled to Africa, I do know the adjustment back to life in the US is hard. I had a difficult time readjusting after spending a week in Guatemala City. Consumerism and so many things we think of as normal felt so useless.

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  2. Like you (before you left), I am not an Africa girl. But I guess you can't knock something till you try it?

    It sounds like your trip was absolutely amazing. And I'm not surprised that it was. It's going to be something you tell you grandchildren about. Maybe something that changes your life. That is incredibly powerful.

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  3. This is really great, Erika. I have always been an "Africa girl" and finally went to Tanzania in 2007. Now, Tristan and I are gearing up to to Tijuana to build houses in August. I have never been a "Mexico girl" or "home building mission trip gal" and feel like it will be a good thing, but am not excited, per se. However, your post gives me hope that there's a reason I'm going, and the passion will come.

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  4. The best advice I ever drew from a recovery time after my mission trip to Brazil was to write it all down. It means you can look back and remember that shock of coming back to the States in a week, a month, a year and it will give you that perspective again that will shock you then as much as you feel now while you're readjusting but from the flip side.

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  5. So. Get out of my head. Feeling the same way. About all. Every bit of it. Part of my adjustment? Missing my sisters. I sure love you.

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  6. I went to Uganda in 2008 with a team to build a school house & spend time with orphaned babies. Unlike you, I was that 'Africa girl'. When I came home I remember being at work with a girl who was complaining about cleaning & I just began to cry while she stood there blabbering on. It's not easy, the transition back into life. It's really not. I journaled every day [both while I was there & as I returned home] and that helped me so much. When I read those pages every once in a while I am reminded how lucky they are. Their love of life... although sickness & death surrounds them, the joy they have is contagious. They are happy with so little & are so thankful for everything around them. I try and always keep that perspective, as well as to be reminded of how great my life is, and to pray for them always.

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  7. I felt that way about Haiti. Coming back felt wrong. Walking down a street that wasn't in Blanchard was weird. The fact that I got on a plane and flew just two hours and suddenly was back in the states was the weirdest thing of all. Like, no one around me knew what had happened or where I had been or what had happened or how it had changed me.

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