Monday, April 11, 2011

Here We Go Again

We've been here before, just eight months ago: everything packed up into a few bags that necessitate last minute decisions about what we really can't do without (this time: no, I can't do without my stovetop espresso maker. Seriously), awkward moments with friends when we have to figure out how to say goodbye while trying not to let despair creep into our tone of voice, counting down hours and then minutes until we get on a plane, and this sense of anticipation but also anxiety - we tend to live our lives so fully enmeshed in community, and now we're going back to a place where friendships are few and far between.

I would submit that for me at least, the second time is harder. The first time I didn't entirely know what we were getting ourselves into, the kind of internal anguish we would encounter, the battles we would have to fight in advocating for children who have been neglected or overlooked, the long hours and days when Sarah and I would hardly see each other, the intense heat, the chronic loneliness.  Going back, I have to remind myself that it doesn't have to be like that.  I have to remind myself of that over and over again.

And I would submit that this time will be different.  Eight months ago, we knew exactly what we wanted to do.  We had programs and timelines and goals and objectives.  Oh, and folly.  We had that too, but we didn't really know it yet.  In just a few weeks we will pass on the administration of the children's home, and we will be left to our own devices.  What we have this time are ideas and hopes and values.  We have a couple programs we started, which were not a part of our original plan.  Our goals are more like, "try and work less than 60 hours a week" or"make time for cooking together" and less like "develop sustainable, replicable programs in literacy and microenterprise." What timelines we have are loose and flexible.

I still want us to be sustainable. And replicable for that matter.  I still want us to do work that reaches as many people as possible...but I've found myself trapped by that desire and neglecting the individuals and small groups of people right in front of me.  I like lots of the ideas that we had a year ago for programs, but I don't want to neglect the small ways that I can serve and enrich the life of one of my neighbors when that doesn't fit cleanly into a program.

Last time we were leaving, I hadn't been in Sudan in over 2 years, but I was confident in my ideas of how everything would go.  This time we're returning after 1 month away and 7 months of living there.  Ironically, this time I feel like I know very little about what life will hold for us.  Ironically, I have more hope for this nebulous hope than I've had for anything in a long time.  I don't know exactly what we're about to do, but I believe in it deeply.  I believe that over the next several months we will participate in the strengthening of a community and the enrichment of people's lives.  I'm pretty sure we'll see some kids learn to read and some people who have lived on the margins of society come into their own.  I know that it is worthwhile, without knowing exactly what it is.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully expressed, Seth. Praying for you and Sarah on your continuing journey in Sudan.