Friday, August 5, 2016

what do you do with more

Emotional jet lag is for real. I texted this to two of my Kenya-team-sisters and we commiserated about how hard it’s been to muster up the motivation to get back into our normal routines. Work feels dull, regular schedules are burdensome, and – the worst – making small talk about our trip seems impossible. “So how was it?” is a question without an easy answer.

I’ve been hard on myself about all of this, partly because it’s just made life difficult and I wish I could snap out of it and just get on with things. Instead I find myself moving around my apartment without really getting anything done and sitting in front of my work computer staring at open files, not remembering why I opened them. My journal has been mostly untouched over the past week because I can’t find words to put to anything. I need to make time to sit and stare at a wall, is how I followed up that first text to my friends. Ugh, me too, they both texted back. At least I’m not alone.

More than we ask or imagine is a phrase that, leading up to the trip, repeated as I felt prompted to pray and ask for things, and that now I use to describe the trip. I got to do things I never even thought to ask for: interview a young Maasai girl around her boma (homestead) for our documentary, and shape her story and that of another boy we’re featuring into scripts for a monologue and coach them through reading it for our audio. I looked at photos taken by students I’d met just hours before in a school in an informal settlement and felt such intense pride and honor at the opportunity to know them and watch their creativity at work. I sat at a table with my friend and our mentor who leads our partner nonprofit in Kenya and while at this moment I don’t remember her specific words, I remember what peace and power I sensed in her presence and know that I gained something from just being with her. I received a new name: Nosotwa, which in Maasai means peacemaker, and also means that a people with a strong and isolated tribal culture has welcomed this tall white girl to be part of their community. I learned a deeper love, the kind that trumps all the half-good things I was somehow able to pull off and lasts after I leave a place and a people. Yes, is all I could say in response to each of these things. This is what more feels like.

Now, afterwards, more feels like this: disorienting. The ways I learned to move in Kenya don’t fit the paths I know here. Everything is still getting re-routed. Because more than we imagine is a greater good than sometimes we’re ready for. My friend keeps telling me that all she can do in this phase is give thanks. Yes, I think, although there’s so much I don’t know where to start. So much more than I imagined…

(photo: writing monologue script with Benson, Kenya 2016)

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