It’s been a year. My husband commented that I am still feeling the effects of my trip to Rwanda. I think he was referring to the fact that I’ve got a month to go on my INH treatment for dormant tuberculosis. I have a countdown going to a big forbidden feast involving lots of chocolate and cheese. Avocados too. My family is counting down too. One of the side effects of the meds is irritability. I’m so sorry. Fun times.
When you drive into the compound in Gisenyi, Rwanda that houses the clinic and school, children smile and run. They follow the truck down the dirt road yelling and waving. I’ve never felt so welcomed and humbled and inadequate and loved and overwhelmed all at the same time.
Thoughts of Rwanda still hit me randomly and with full force. Travel anywhere does that. The memories pop up at the oddest times. My life is intertwined with visions of Rwanda. Last night I was scraping leftovers off plates into the garbage. My inner dialogue kicked in and was reminding me to breathe deep, pray for a good harvest in Rwanda and not yell at anyone who didn’t eat their full portion. I know it’s not completely rational. I recognize that you can’t mail leftovers overseas. It still hurts to think of hungry kids and food in garbage.
When I held a child who had no parents and who could not speak my language, my heart grew. I hold my own daughter tighter now.
When I sat in a field surrounded by banana trees baking in the sun and sewed buttons on rags it put a perspective on my own clothing budget that didn’t shift quickly when I came home.
When I ate mangos and avocados ripened on the tree it makes me grin at the inferior fruit here. I miss the tree tomatoes too.
When I hear Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone, I’m instantly transported to a church with a tin roof and loud rain pouring down. Choir practice in the dark swatting mosquitoes. My single most embarrassing moment and a personal triumph over pride. The term fools for Christ takes on new meaning.
When I see someone who traveled with me, I am grateful. Their eyes have seen what I saw. When someone agrees to help with a fundraiser I am grateful. When I get an email from Rwanda and see progress on our projects, I am grateful. When I take a shower and the water is warm and clean, I am grateful.
My spouse is right. I’m still feeling the effects. Some good. Some painful. All worth it.