Monday, April 04, 2011

Arriving Back to the United States After a Brief Stay in Nuru International's Kenya Project

The photo above was taken in Amsterdam near Centraal Station during a brief stopover I had between flights as I returned from Kenya. It says, "Terugkomen is niet ketzelfde als blijven" which means "Returning is not the same as staying."  My friend Eric Asp pointed out the sign to me as we were making our way through this beautiful city during the early morning hours Sunday morning.

The sign is incredibly true. Returning I am a different person than I would have been had I simply stayed. Sure I would continue in the work I am doing for Nuru and in telling the stories that I have known about what Nuru is doing, but now things are pretty different for me. The time spent in Kuria has made this issue even more central to my life, my mission, and my purpose on this earth.

I carry the dust of Kuria in my clothes and on my shoes now, and the people of Kuria in my heart. Last night, as I slept in my own bed for the first time in several days, I found myself awakening confused and disoriented and wondering where I was. I woke up twice in the night to go to the bathroom, and felt around to crawl out from under the bed net on my bed only to discover both times that I was not under a bed net. Because of the place in the world where I live, I don't have to worry about a mosquito bite causing me or my children to suffer and die. (I do have to take anti-malaria medication for the next week though just to be on the safe side). When I woke up this morning, I had planned to take it easy today, and to adjust back to life here slowly, but I feel a tremendous burden and a great urgency to engage others in confronting the crisis of extreme poverty and help our global neighbors to lift themselves out of their condition.

I know that returning is not the same as staying, and I also know that the opportunities that have been afforded to me to witness both tragedies and triumphs in Kuria firsthand are not that readily accessible to everyone. At the same time, I hope that my life experiences and the stories I tell can help others get a better grasp of how they can make a difference in this world and awaken to the need as well as the opportunity to serve others and love our neighbors well.

I hope to share more stories of some of the wonderful people I met while away, either in this blog, or in face-to-face conversations with you and others. In the meantime, I will continue to reflect upon my experiences and adjust to life back here in West Virginia.

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