As I sit here in my hotel room, its crazy to think that my 10 week placement in Tanzania has come to an end. The 70 days that I have spent in Tanzania have been life changing. Literally! I can remember the moment when I first stepped on Tanzanian soil like it was yesterday. Anxiety was building, nerves were racing, and I was beginning to sweat, as I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I never knew that what I would find here would be greater than just an experience; I found a new home. A home away from home, where I have a family that loves me and colleagues that support me. From that moment when I was standing outside of the airport 70 days ago until today, God has changed my life. I have been blessed to meet some of the most amazing people from all around the world and have some experiences that I will forever cherish in my heart.
One of the hardest parts about saying goodbye was looking into the eyes of some of my best friends and knowing that I may never see them again. Nothing is for certain of course, but if there is one thing that I have learned about myself on this trip, it is that I HATE goodbyes.
I remember about a year ago today God planted a seed in my life, which led me to apply for the Lumos award. 11 months ago I felt like God was calling me do something amazing! I had no idea where I would go or who I would do it with, but I just knew, in my heart that He was calling me to do something greater than myself. That’s when I found the Lumos Foundation. It was as if God had literally laid this in my lap and said “Go.” Don’t think about it, just go! Since that day, I was persistent about planning and preparing for a life-changing trip. That was August of my sophomore year at Belmont. As I am about to start my junior year at Belmont, I can whole-heartedly say that I have grown as an individual because of this amazing opportunity. I can say today that every single minute and every single ounce of energy that I spent planning and preparing for this trip was 100% worth it because I wouldn’t trade the experiences that I have had for anything. If given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.
A lot of people laugh or are a little cynical about “World Changers.” I guess to some people that term may just seem too “big” or too optimistic. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel as though I have changed the world in this past 70 days that I have been in Tanzania. It may have been so minute that nobody can tangibly see the change, but I firmly believe that God used me to change the lives of people in the small area of Arusha that I worked in. Call me crazy all you want, but to me every single dollar is worth it if I can even change one persons life for the better.
Although my placement at my project is over, there is one more thing I came to do before I go back home. Kilimanjaro! An experience that I think will be one that will last a lifetime. Tomorrow morning I embark on an 8 day and 61 mile hike that will definitely stretch my boundaries and hopefully be an incredible experience. Hiking Kilimanjaro will be a perfect end to a perfect trip.
Here are some of the incredible friends that I have had the pleasure of meeting on this trip.
I am incredibly blessed and forever grateful for the Lumos foundation and all of their support. I also want to thank all of my family and friends for their endless support and love.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Steve Jobs,
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them, but the only thing you cant do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”