the haunting

While in Africa, there were moments where I longed for comfort. For toilets instead of holes, paved streets instead of dung-dirt streets filled with trash - I'd lie in bed dreaming of long hot showers, iced mochas and snuggling with Russ.  And then I would sit down and look into the eyes of the kids, and suddenly all of my comfort seemed silly. Now I am back in America trying to get acclimated to my own life. I feel like an outsider. I know life goes on - and soon these experiences will be a sweet memory instead of something that captures every thought. But for now, I'm dwelling in the possibility.

I knew going on this trip would change me - but I never anticipated the haunting.

I can't get away from the faces. I close my eyes and think of Rose and her new glasses, of Isaac's smile and Vincent's obsession with taking pictures on my phone. The faces are everywhere and the last thing I want is to get away.

The last day in Kibera, I posted on facebook that I would be leaving pieces of myself behind. I'm learning this is more than true. I'm also learning it's increasingly difficult to accurately describe the chasm left because of my experience in Kibera. I will try - because that's what I'm called to do. The stories of this trip are powerful and heartbreaking and need to be shared.

In Matthew, Jesus speaks of stories and their purpose. He says people can stare at truth and not see it. Stories though - stories nudge others to receptive insight. So this week, I will share the stories of three year old Kenyan girls dancing with American teenage boys in the middle of a slum. I will share the stories of orphans and God's provision and late night prayer sessions. I will try to describe the smiles of women finding hope through a trade, and the sound of the call to prayer reverberating through my room every morning before the sun pulled back the night sky.

But most of all, I will try and tell you of this haunting - of the faces and sounds that captured my heart and won't let it go. I will tell you of Adah and her quiet smile and Swahili lessons written in my journal. I will tell you of Benjamin's alligator tears and Rose's laugh. I will tell you of the children jumping into our arms and holding our hand down the trash-filled path - helping us across the make-shift steel bridge. I will tell you of presents and letters and dance parties.

And then maybe, you too will understand. Maybe you will find yourself going to see firsthand.

Posted on June 28, 2010 and filed under africa, reagan2kibera.