Africa tales | an evening I'll remember forever

19 July 2014


Discussion Group 2 (see my prior post of the daily evening debriefings we had in Africa):

We ate dinner, and gathered for another discussion group.  Josh led this one, and he asked us to write our most haunting question on a piece of paper.  We all had to go around the room and share a huge trial we had gone through; it was humbling and bonding to hear everyone open up.  Then Josh told us to go around the room with each other, share our questions, and write down everyone's input.

Kelli and I, sitting with our arms around each others shoulders, first conversed on our most pressing questions.  After realizing ours were extremely similar, we decided to stay together as one.

First we talked with Lucas.  I shared my question on how to not let other people's opinions have so much influence in my life.  Lucas is a tall walk of wisdom.  He told me that "every person's judgments are their own rationalizations of thinking they know more about your life than you do.  But of course YOU know more.  So you just have to keep that awareness."  Boom.  Question answered.

Then he asked me about staying in Missouri to open the door for a relationship with a girl he loves or move to NYC to pursue his education.  We talked about that for awhile.

Then we continued on with talking to other people.  Makele and Ryn are chatting on the floor.  kelli and i slide over to them to join their group.  Then Audrey and Angelica slide into the group.  Some of the girls began sharing their vulnerabilities.  How to forgive people who have really urt you.  Angelica tears up and shares the infidelity of her father.  Makele shares the infidelity of her mother.  Kelli and i share the disloyalty of past boyfriends.  We all discuss how we've overcome pain.  Angelica shares that it helps to wake up and "set intentions" while looking at yourself in the mirror.  "I intend to connect with someone today."  "I intend to feel joy and happiness around me."  We all shed tears as we realize the power and comfort in sharing with each other.  Just six women crying on the floor together.  Totally awesome.

After discussion group is over, everyone simultaneously runs into the kitchen to hoard on sugar.  We're all hungry from days of hard work.  Or we're all emotionally compensating.  Either way, most of the group packs up all the items to go make smores in the bonfire.  They all leave and who is left standing in the kitchen?? Dan, Lucas, Heather, Kelli, and I.  We look around at each other and burst out into laughter!  "How is it ALWAYS us five that end up together?"  We laugh and laugh, each munching on our own snack choice.  Lucas is standing by the fridge eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon.

After awhile, Dan and Lucas to outside to shower.  Kelli and I are sitting on the far counter in front of the toaster, and Heather is cleaning up the kitchen.  "Heather," I say, "I'm curious about your life.  I imagine it can't be easy in our culture to be older and single.  Do you feel like you have a strong support group?  Do you find the fulfillment and joy that you need?"

Heather dives right into her life and tells me all about what it's like.  She tells me about her family, her pains, her questions, her hopes, her comfort in God, chocking up a little bit.  Then she turns to me.  "What about you?  After what you shared tonight, I'm guessing you were married once?"  "Yes," and because I'm in Africa, in a house far far away, where I feel so safe and loved, and with Kelli right by my side, I open up.  Not just the brief story.  But The Story.  The full story that I've only shared with a handful of people, sparing no detail.  Heather comes closer, and closer, as I talk.  Her eyes tear-stained, and her voice shaky everytime she asks a clarifying question.     Her shock and disgust and sadness is evident.

I had been talking for a long time.  Then Josh comes through the kitchen door, and we stop talking.  "Sorry ladies," he says, "I feel like I'm interrupting something."  "It's okay," we say.  I tell Heather that I'll finish another time, as more people are trailing in.  She tells me that she's just in shock - my story rings so closely to the fears and reactions and natural attempts of every woman.  And so much of my story aligns so closely to experiences she has with men, only mine is amplified, and yet here I stand!  She tells me that from the start, she knew I had a different type of energy than everyone else, and she could feel it. I'm full of peace, full of light.  And now knowing this, "it's astounding," she says.

I don't even know what to say.

Kelli nods.  And I feel so overwhelmed and humbled.

Heather goes to take a shower, then later tells me that she couldn't stop thinking about my story the entire time and had dreams about it that night.  It really affected her.

Kelli and I stay up late again, so I can process all the vulnerability and realign back to my present life.  It's so hard for me to go back into the past and come back out feeling like I have to make sense of things all over again.  Kelli helps bring me back into my current state of peace and happiness, reminding me over and over again that I am safe.

That night in the kitchen of Swasiland, pouring out my soul with Kelli and Heather, will go down in my memory forever.  It was really special to me to feel so safe, so known, and so loved.

I appreciate these two women forever and ever.

Upward and onward,

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