May 29, 2009


I really don't know how to answer the following questions "Is it weird to be back?"; "Are you having culture shock?" and the like. The truth is far too complex to put into words right now. On the one hand, no, it's not weird- I got to hang out with friends in the midwest for the first week and a half, SO good to see you all. And home is home, and I love the food and long evenings before the sun sets, and going running, and laughing harder than I've laughed in a long time with people like Angela and Danielle. And no I'm not having culture shock. I've lived in this country for 20 years of my life, and I knew what I was coming back to, and I've done the Africa-to-America transition before, and it also takes a few months for the real subtle differences to sink in and you start crying. So I'm not sad, I'm not crying, I'm moving forward and excited for what's ahead. But on the other hand- yeah. I'm trying to learn to "be a servant, not a prophet," wise words that Doug Smethurst said years ago that have stuck with me. I mean the grocery store is so FULL of stuff, and so is my room- why do I have so many clothes and just other random THINGS? And the amount of water and electricity I can consume in a day here, and the amount of money I can spend-- it baffles me. More stuff in life complicates life, and I don't just mean it increases my consumption. I mean, it distracts me from the simple things that filled my life in Tanzania and made it so full: prayer, people, food, reading, outdoors, sleep. Those things are enough. But I'm easily distracted here in Laurel, by computers, organizing the too many things I own, random magazines to look it's weird. That's all to be expected, I'm not asking for sympathy. I think it's important to try to understand and reflect on my feelings now. I guess my biggest fear is that all these things that are weird to me now will become normal. I don't want that. For Esther, for Neema, for Antoh and Virginia and the kids in Mathare, for all my Maasai girls, for Mama Rita and Monika and Pauline and Zach and Simon Peter, for Christ, I don't want that.

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