As the time for my family to leave for Zambia neared I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. There were so many things going on – work, school, gatherings with friends and family, that there wasn’t enough time to process it all.
In early November the last week arrived. That week was an emotional-packed week. We continued unpacking everything from the house but there was more finality this time. I kept thinking, “In one week they’ll no longer be in the United States…”. Sobering thought.
On the day a close group of friends came to help us do the final unloading. Eventually everything was ready. We got in cars, riding in groups over to the Lansing airport. This was it.
Close friends gathered together. We sat, stood and cried as each of us said our goodbyes. My four younger siblings said goodbye to me. I knew I’d be visiting. I’d see them again in a month. Everyone was crying except me. Why?
I had never been very emotional. I like to think of myself as a realist in the practical sense – never blowing things up more than they really are. I knew I’d see them again. I wonder what others thought of me. Did they see me as heartless, emotionless, or did they not even notice?
As they went through the first checkpoint I watched them sadly. I didn’t want them to go. I wanted them to stay with me. I was 18. I thought, “I’m ready to take on the world.” But as they went up the escalator for that last time, waving and drawing tears I suddenly wasn’t so sure.
I shrugged it off, knowing I’d see them in a month. I talked to grandparents and friends. We all went our separate ways once the plane had gone. “Next step,” I thought, “finish my classes and get over there.”
Over the next month I finished my four classes, and worked – I worked my butt off. I was working 40-55 hours per week while juggling four classes that were nearing finals. I liked it. The business was less time to think about my family.
Eventually classes ended and I said goodbye to my friends at Cracker Barrel. I threw away my work shoes, which were crusty with all that food I had been making.
On December 19 I left for Africa. I arrived 1 day later. Hugging and kissing we got ready for the upcoming holiday: Christmas. I don’t know many people who have had Christmas in Africa. But I guess there are over 1.2 billion people who do it every year.