The Post that Was Months in the Making…
but couldn’t be put to words until a 2 am rolled around without sleep.
Note: This one is long long long. But it is months of thoughts and late night desperation all in one post. Bear with me and note its serious tone but also understand that 2 am makes everything feel and sound worse. Technically nothing is wrong but it often feels that nothing is perfectly right either. Now that you’re good and frightened, don’t be and just read on…
Six plus years ago I was on my way to a safari somewhere a few hours outside of Cape Town, South Africa. The drive there was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. We had driven through the world famous wine country, traversed rocky hills, clear streams, high veldt, and evergreen forests. As we rounded the corner in a terrain that was extremely reminiscent of my real life “to grandmother’s house we go” drives of my childhood for major holidays it hit me, my heart was here, in this nation of South Africa. If I died, I wanted to be buried here. If I lived, I wanted to live here.
The feeling strongly affected me a few other times before we left after our three week mission trip. Another moment I remember feeling the same was just while waiting at a four way stop in the Cape Flats reading advertisements for potato prices at a nearby shop.
And then I left after just about 21 days, like a honeymoon of sorts. A me and Africa honeymoon. And it felt like I had finally found my own heart and then left it behind in South Africa of all places.
Six years went by, six years of desperately wanting to go back to this nation that had captured my soul, the continent that had stolen the most important chunk of me.
Only through the grace of God did the opportunity come and come at the truly right moment. I was no longer a seventeen year old with little to offer to a nation in need but enthusiasm and strong arms. I now had a masters’ education in a relevant field. I had real training, real skills. And I was going back to Africa, South Africa of all places, for five months, no longer a honeymoon but a real trial attempt at marriage.
But this time I came alone. There was no missions team, no newly close friends, or parental but loving leaders. Just me on the plane for twenty hours. Just me that first weekend in a mostly strange land with no one to greet my arrival but the shuttle driver for almost 48 hours.
Just me living alone now most of the time and feeling extra lonely when my intermittent roommate is around. You are never so lonely as when there is someone else near but who is not close.
And the work is fine. And the co-workers are very nice. And the church is good. And the view is great.
But the pieces aren’t ever fitting perfectly, the gaps aren’t closing.
Public health in this current style is not enough for me, I am not fulfilled. Trust me, it’s a great opportunity and I am blessed and thankful and have learned and continue to learn a lot. And I do want another internship with this organization in my remaining months of free time, but I don’t think I’ll be here forever.
I crave physical contact with people, with patients. I absolutely believe medicine will fill many of those gaps. I want to be an obstetrician/gynecologist who will have long-term patient contact every year for most and for a full nine plus months for women expecting children, each and everyone a miracle. I still want to do the public health role, to learn individual stories and find how to apply them to the community level to prevent others from going through such sorrows, horrors, or shocks.
But public health by itself isn’t enough and I don’t think I’ll be here forever.
There is more that is missing though for me here and I can’t even put my finger on it. There are times at night I just want to cry out because there is an unidentifiable gap. I can’t even mind the gap because I know it’s not the Underground Line but I don’t know what it is.
I waited six years for this! And it came, with ups and downs greater than one could imagine. And I waited six years for this–so what is missing? Is it me? I write these lists of plans for each week on Sundays-full of busy schedules, big dreams, etc but then weeks pass by before I realize I didn’t do half the things I hoped I would do. I let the mundane aspects of life run their course instead of fully living out the dreams and action I want to accomplish. This is made even more ridiculous by the fact that I have a housekeeper come in three times a week so it’s not even the mundane-ness of dish washing or laundry that is filling my hours.
I waited six years for this???
Loneliness, distance, disappointment, bizarre and unrealized expectations, fever?
There are wonderful things: I am making good friends (but no one here knows these thoughts of mine), my relationship with my Heavenly Father deepens day by day because for the first time I have nothing else to rely on but God so he gets his real rightful place, I get to travel sometimes (like this week even) for work and see different parts of Africa and South Africa.
I believe that nothing would be solved by going home though. And I do want to come back to the continent for another internship in 2009. I still have a month and a half here left anyways, I’m not finished. Which is good because there are things Africa and I are working out. South Africa and I still have business to conduct.