May 5, 2016

Mustard seeds are small. So is my bravery.

This afternoon is sunny and warm. I just got back from lunch with my friend and her toddler and I've opened the windows so Mushu can run outside and chase the birds that circle around our blue concrete compound. I've pulled my backpack down from its perch above my clothing cupboard and I'm packing again. 

I've got the routine down now, after many months and dozens of flights across the African continent. Water is boiling in the kettle to be left for Mushu, a last minute underwear batch is soaking in the bathroom sink, I'm hydrating with my Nalgene full of water, emails are up-to-date since I'm not sure the next time I'll have internet, the essentials like baby wipes, baby powder, my headlamp, power convertors, and tea for my host are all packed. All electronics are charged and backup power banks are ready in case electricity is out at my destination - which it probably will be. Entry permits are copied, extra passport photos are ready to be passed out like candy, and my little pink pouch from Thailand is ready for another adventure. 

I've had this pouch since 2005 when I backpacked in Thailand with some crazy friends. Since then, I have kept my passport, passport photos, vaccination cards, boarding passes, and random tidbits in it as I travel around the world. In 2007, I took this little prayer card off the refrigerator at my parents house before I was to fly to China for the very first time. I've kept the prayer card in my pouch ever since. When I am packing, it is a gentle reminder that I have all the power of the universe inside me, if I just have a tiny bit of faith. 

Often, people who don't know me very well tell me how brave I am. It usually goes like, "Wow, Jessica, you, *insert random comment* , you are so brave and strong!" I usually roll my eyes. They don't know that I am actually afraid of a lot of things. I'm scared more often than not scared. I say, "I'm nervous!" probably 100 times a week. Having a life like mine doesn't mean you are unafraid, it means you have faith to face the fears.

This upcoming trip gives me an eensy bit of anxiety. I've been to dangerous places, but I've never been to an enemy of the state. I turned down the fellowship at a women's college in Omdurman, Sudan. It turns out the most perfect person ended up taking the fellowship and we became close friends. Tonight, the 3 Rwandan fellows are off to provide a week-long training for Sudanese teachers, a feat that is a small miracle in terms of international diplomacy and the education landscape in Sudan. Because of sanctions against Sudan, foreign education materials are hard to come by. But now, we get to take our bodies over there and do some teaching! I'm mostly excited, I know everything will be fine, but a tiny bit of fear is natural, I think. While packing up my purse and checking off items: chapstick, sleeping mask, ear plugs, e-reader, pens, travel documents...I came across my little card and it gave me some peace. 

Mustard seed faith. That's not so hard. 
Off to Sudan we go. 

Thailand pouch. Florida prayer card. Chinese Cat. Rwandan apartment. 

walk slow. xoxo. 

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