Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Final thoughts, goodbye Malawi

It's a fitting end I think. I am sitting here in my living room watching the sun go down. The sky is beautiful of course, a sundowner (Kuche Kuche beer ) to accompany the view. It never gets old. My wonderful wife and children are probably in line to board a plane that will transport them back to home.  It is sad to leave this place. But good to get back home.

It has been a wonderful year. It has been a challenging year. I’ve learned alot .. 

Such as - It takes time to feel comfortable with new experiences. Moving across the world (to Africa) is not easy, and takes patience… But it’s good to do and worthwhile.. I leave here as I left Botswana.  Feeling like we’ve accomplished something . I leave here with a greater appreciation for this part of the world. I leave here feeling lucky to have this time under my belt. My kids will benefit from this, not necessarily immediately, but in time. They have learned that there is a whole other world out there , and that people are pretty much the same wherever you go, no matter what color or what high school you went to. I’ve learned that again too.. It’s a good thing to be reminded of.. I learned that in order to make a difference, doing it on an individual level is probably best.  I've learned that kids can do anything. That kids feed off of how we perceive things.. If you talk bad about something, they will do the same. If you embrace an event (such as moving across the world) they will embrace it. They feed off of us.. and when you hit them with a life altering experience as this, they will do as you do. 
I’ve learned that I would have never done this if it wasn’t for Michelle. She is the one willing to take the jump. She is driven that way, and I love that about her. But I’ve also learned that I love my life back home and I hope to find a balance between the two.. I love my friends, my family and my home .. This is no earth shattering fact. We are lucky on all levels. 
I’ve learned that I’m a pretty good father. As Michelle was pulled in all directions due to work, it was my job to keep the ship afloat. And I think I did. I was the facilitator .. I kept the kids smiling(sort of), kept them fed and was their companion every single day. I am grateful that I had a job that kept me close to them all day every day. I will miss hugs in the morning , listening to “Take it to the Limit “ with them on the way to work.. and singing Boston and Journey songs.. I will miss bragging on my 13 year old daughter,  who missed graduation , summer camp with friends, 8th grade experiences with friends she’s had for years, so that she could come to Africa again to fulfil her parents itch to return to a place she may utterly despise. And yet, she was a star. She never complained.. Instead, she stopped by my classroom each day (many times a day) to say hello and to tell me  that she loved me. 
I’ve learned that we can learn from this part of the world.… People come here to preach, to teach , to give to a place they think needs help.. And it does… But probably not like we think they do. … They don’t want what we want. They don’t necessarily want what we think they want.  They understand life, understand time and understand peace. People here are amazing. 
I’ll miss the absolute natural beauty that surrounds us here every day .The sky, the sunsets, the breezes you can hear for miles .. Ill miss seeing people who live off of the land, who use and reuse  everything..  Ill also miss the gritty, dirty, smelly, human existence that is life here. beauty that is unlike home. … garbage on the ground, ants on my plate, burning debris, burning tires, body odor, strange food smells,  rats in your ceiling, snakes , bats, bugs , spiders the size of your hands, sleeping under a net, no running water, power that goes out for hours, … Ill miss all of it. 
I will love saying that I lived here.. we are lucky.. Ill go home, slip right back into the day to day routine that is home.. And Ill love it.. But there won’t be a day that will go by without thinking of this place and the people I was lucky enough to meet. And that is the hard part about these things.. 

Kids got to go to a school where shoes were optional.. They took malaria medicine, were surrounded by people who they would never otherwise have been exposed to.. They were the minority for once. It was good. 
Michelle saved lives, taught others to save lives and made a difference every single day. She’ll hate to leave this job. But she’ll be back.. Many times. 

So, I say goodbye to Malawi, to Africa, to a place I hope to see again. I hope this has been a worthwhile read. It’s been great to keep in touch this way and share some of what this place is like.. 
One last thought- If you’ve ever wanted to come to Africa, do it. It will change your life. And once you visit this continent, it will never , ever leave you.
See you on the other side... Ill leave you with the great song from Malawi.. It is by a local artist named Lawi... I heard it once when Michelle and I went our for a night on the town..  I dig it..