You know that feeling when you sit down for too long and your legs begin to become numb. You sit there in the middle of that tingling sensation anticipating the end of this uncomfortability, all the while knowing that you have to begin to move your feet and stand up if you ever want this unnerving sensation to dissipate. You tell yourself, one foot after another. Just begin to walk and eventually it will go away.
This is the head space I am in two weeks before I land in Africa. The irony is that it’s not due to my upcoming move to Rwanda or the nerves one would expect from moving to Africa, a continent I have yet to travel to. This feeling of suspension is contrarily due to a recent heartbreak that I did not expect to come.
Today, I got lunch with Dr. Thandi Dinani, a wonderful friend and mentor at Belmont, who also chairs the Lumos Committee. She encouraged me to be honest about where I am at personally in my blog and to avoid underplaying how I currently feel. So in all honesty I am in a phase of transition and pain.
When I received the Lumos Award I would never have seen this coming, and would have been shocked and a little disappointed by the position I am in now. But as life would have it, this summer did not roll out the way I thought it would. While this summer I was able to give myself space to breath after senior year, I also had a lot of unknown variables thrown at me that I did not see coming. So now as I step into this new chapter, I am in the midst of processing recent occurrences and the pain that I feel. But in the midst of this, I am beginning to understand why God decided to change my plans and rip the rug right out from underneath me. When I applied for the Lumos Award I had an agenda, and while sure I still have objectives and hopes for my experience, I am leaving this country raw and exposed ready to completely devote myself to fully experiencing the culture of Rwanda.
I have prepared for Africa in the sense that my bags are packed, I have taken all the necessary vaccinations and pills, I attended a workshop on trauma healing sponsored by the East African Leadership, and I have made contacts with non-profits in Rwanda as well as with Rwandans in the United States. I have done these tangible and critical things to prepare myself for this journey, but mentally I am in the middle of processing, ready for what comes next but a tad overwhelmed by everything being thrown at me all at once.
What are my expectations? I expect Rwanda to be a wildly vivacious place full of loving people who live life in color, in every sense of the word. In fact, my suitcase has almost every color of the rainbow in it, because that is the land I am going to. Full of passion and joy and pain and disparity and hope and faith. Full of purples and reds and blues and grays and pinks and yellows. I may be stepping into this raw and exposed but I am open-minded and ready for this adventure. I am proud of myself for being able to settle in my pain but also to acknowledge the growth and faith that is to come out of these uncomfortable circumstances.
All of this being said, each day that I come closer to leaving I feel even more of a spark of passion, excitement, healthy nerves and readiness. Rwanda has been a place of academic fascination for me for awhile, but now it is soon to become a place I call home. And I am beyond grateful that I get to call this place of a thousand hills home for the next four months.
On The Pulse of Morning, by Maya Angelou
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day,
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up, and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country,
And say simply, very simply, with hope,