This last year was a big one. I made a pretty big move, started learning a new language, learned to drive a stick-shift on the crazy roads of West Africa, made new friends and got to roam the earth quite a good bit (collected stamps in my passport from 9 different countries!). A friend asked me last night if my nine months here have felt long or short. My response: “Depends on the day”. Though there have been crappy days and incredibly awesome days, I would trade none of it. The Lord has been good to me.
The first of the year, I packed up all of my life into a giant wooden box. It was chaos trying to figure out how much space I needed, what was going where and making sure EVERYTHING was catalogued. It was an awesome and sad realization that everything I owned fit into 200 cubic feet plus 4 pieces of luggage. I was blessed that Mom was there to really keep things moving. She saran and bubble-wrapped the heck out of everything (which made for fun times 9 months later).
At the end of January, I packed up the winter clothes that didn’t make the Africa cut and headed to Virginia for a couple months of training. Being the 2nd time through, I found it a bit more relaxing than the first go-around! You learn a lot in all of the classes, but the thing that really sticks is always the friendships. To be surrounded by so many who share your heart is incredible. In those two months I drank lots of coffee, played lots of Settlers of Catan, fellowshipped with folks headed all over the world, heard the stories of many and set tentative plans for a Christmas vacation of a lifetime! It was a fun time back at the Farm.
Easter weekend I moved to my new home, Burkina Faso. It was a whirlwind of an arrival with only a week spent in my city before heading to Zambia for a month-long training. 40/40 was an experience that I enjoyed immensely. I got to experience a little of the African life and what the work might look like in my context. The highlight of the month was getting to spend two weeks in a bush camp. It brought back good memories of my time in the jungle.
The months following are kind of a blur.
Most of my time All of my time was focused on language learning. It was and does continue to be a humbling experience. When I go to communicate with anyone in Jula, I’m once again reminded that it’s never going to be what I can do here…it’s only going to be the Father working through me that will accomplish anything of significance.
In August, I finally received my crate! It was a happy day in West Africa for sure. The box made its journey across the Atlantic and made it to my front door with no damages. Unpacking it definitely made my place feel more like home. So, if you’re ever in Burkina come on over!!
The year wrapped up with lots of travel. In October, I traveled to Niger to play in a softball tournament. The ex-pat team from Ouaga played the team in Niamey. Yes, I travel internationally for sports. I think it’s crazy too!! In November, I had the opportunity to travel to North Africa for a conference and got to see some pyramids while I was there. And remember those plans for the Christmas vacation of a lifetime? Well, it all came together and it was an incredible time. After nine months on the field, catching up with friends in the same place in life is always good for the heart. While we traveled all over the place, saw a million sights and hiked up some extremely steepy (you’re welcome fellow travelling buddies!) hills, the Lord used it to encourage and refresh me…as well as giving me an excitement for this coming year.
When I look back on last year I can’t help but think how the Lord has indeed been good to me. I am blessed.