I woke up early (before 7am) this morning and just laid in bed listening to all of the sounds. The hum of the bugs. Birds singing--today is a new day. Traffic passing on the highway. Horns. A child crying. Footsteps. Momo talking loudly to his wife on their porch. Chickens. A hammer. Gates opening and closing. A motorcycle zooming down the road. Gentle rain begins to fall on the tin roof. This is my early morning. This is my Liberia.
I roll over and take in the view from inside my mosquito net for a minute. I'm thankful that the next time I sleep in a bed, I won't be surrounded by a net, and my feet won't be hanging off the end. I take mosquito inventory. There was a breeze last night, so my net came untucked. Three mosquitos! I kill all three and wipe the blood from my hands. Then I pray that one of them doesn't carry malaria.
I untuck my net to exit. Slide my feet into my flip-flops. And just like that, my last day in Liberia has begun. So many thoughts and emotions. My mind starts racing; thinking about all of the little things I need to take care of before I leave. I think about going to say goodbye (I prefer "see you later") to the kids at Frances Gaskin in a few hours. That's pretty much going to suck. I think about that last stroll across the tarmac, that last inhale of sweet Liberian air, and that last glance around...red meets green meets blue. And then I will be inside that freezing plane! I will wake up flying over the city lights of Atlanta. I'm leaving home to go home. How does that even make sense?
It's hard when your heart is torn and wants to be in two places. Two places thousands of miles, and one big ocean, apart. I'm leaving the land of black, lush jungle, huge sky, bright stars, laughter, noise, beauty, ocean waves, sunsets, waiting, change of plans and simplicity. I will land in the land of white, tall trees, electricity, running water, hot showers, salad, real milk, carpet, quiet...sometimes, too quiet, air-conditioning, hectic schedules and iPhones. That world is different. So incredibly different.
I will miss the children. I will miss my teammates. I will miss Momo. I will miss our Liberian staff. I will miss walking to the beach--the salty breeze on my face and the instant 'ahhhh...' that the ocean gives me. One of my favorite things to do is to watch the sunset. The sun sets perfectly over the ocean here, and I love watching that last sliver of sun disappear below the horizon. I can't help but think, 'another day complete.' Eventually I will miss Ma Mary's cooking. I'll even miss my dog One Love. Soon life will be quiet, and sometimes it will feel boring.
I am anxious, excited and expectant. There are thoughts of doubt, fear and worry; but honestly, God has really been giving me His deep and underlying peace. The final sentences of this chapter are being etched on the page. But I am so looking forward to the page turning and the new chapter beginning. Those first few sentence will be sweet! I will land in Atlanta [and most likely drive-thru Chick-Fil-A for breakfast--hello, welcome to America!] and go straight to meet my new nephew that was born on Thursday! I can't wait!!
I would greatly appreciate your prayers over the next several days and weeks. I am ready for the rest, quietness and comfort that awaits me. I can't wait to celebrate a precious new life with my family! I'm looking forward to catching up with friends, creating, enjoying, sharing sweet fellowship, gathering around the table with loved ones...all of those simple things that I really miss! But I will also need stillness. I need to hear His voice. There are so many ideas, hopes and dreams that God and I need to wrestle with. I need wisdom, discernment, guidance and clarity. Pray for those times that my heart aches for Liberia, the children and the people here. Pray, pray, pray! But also join me in being thankful. Thanksgiving brings joy! I am thankful....so, so thankful! God has been incredibly faithful over the past five years! The great news is that each and every new chapter will be full of His faithfulness!
I have so many stories and photos to share with you over the upcoming weeks. And I know that once I'm home, God will stir up new thoughts, stories and reflections too. I look forward to sharing those with you! I am thanking God this morning for ALL that He's done and for ALL that He's going to do!
[I wrote this this morning, but for some reason it didn't post. So, now that I didn't make it on the flight and I'm back at my house, I'm posting it. There's a reason why I didn't make it on tonight's flight--I'm holding on tight for the ride!]