16 November 2006

I left my heart in Africa.

It seems I’m missing something. After I returned from 10 days in Kenya and Uganda on November 5th, Steven and I immediately left the next morning for our short vacation to New Jersey and New York City. Now that we’re back and “real life” has set in again, I think I'm just now starting to process what's happened. I find myself wandering around our new home aimlessly…searching for something I can’t seem to find. Not in the bedrooms, not in the office. Something is missing, and I think I know where it is.

I have several friends who have been to Africa, and it's common to hear them say, "I left my heart there..." with a distant look of longing in their eyes. And I never understood it, really. Sure, I left my heart in Italy in the magical piazzas or on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, but in the slums of a third world country? At an orphanage where I wore the same clothes for 3 days and washed my hair in a well? Yet, it's true.

Now, I can’t get Kibera off my mind. I can’t stop thinking of the putrid smells of the slums mixed with the intense joy of the people there. I remember the moment of driving up to Mercy Home and all the children flooding the car, eager to grab my hands and tell me their names. I went there to love and serve them, but I was the one who was loved and served.

I saw Jesus so clearly there...in the brilliant sunsets, in the faces of the abandoned babies just wanting to play and be loved, in the singing voices of the kids at Mercy Home. And certainly in the face of Margret Harriet:


In Africa, stress and anxiety weren’t even an issue. My only job each day was loving people, and my face hurt from smiling. I realize it was only a short-term trip. And I don't want to bash life in America, because we are very privileged and provided for. Just trying to make sense of it all. With such deep contrasts – the greatest joy amidst the greatest poverty and struggle – beautiful landscapes and horrific slums – children redeemed from their circumstances and those still living in violence - it seems whenever I try to describe it, it comes out as...not enough. So hopefully my photos and video will do a better job than I can:

My photos.

Video of Mercy Home children singing.

2 comments:

Kristin said...

Hi! I don't even know you- found your blog through another blog- but just wanted to let you know that your stories have been very encouraging today!! Thanks for sharing.

Natalie Corn said...

Christine, you write so beautifully. Almost a month later I am reading this and it still sums it up so perfectly that my eyes filled up. I'm talking about the trip tonight at youth group and I think I'm going to read this entry as my into. I hope you don't mind. ;) Of course I'm telling them where I got it.

Ah! I miss Africa. And the whole team. If you're ever in Nashville, will you tell me you're coming? :)

-Natalie