To Be Present, An Honor

For three days in a row, I had the privilege of caring for a dying man and his family. For three whole days, the room is filled with dreaded expectation. But it is also filled with beautiful laughter, rock and roll and a family, once broken, now together. Moments of breathlessness meet moments of peace as loved ones surround a bed in a dark and sterile hospital room. In this time, a family experiences the transition from life to death. They watch as their loved one passes through the door to the unknown. They seem to hear the knocking from the other side. When will it open? It seems as though each person waiting to walk through the door decides for themselves the moment in which they will open it and transcend from one life to another. 

On the third day, I open the door to the dark room to see five women sleeping through the most beautiful sunrise my six years in Washington have ever seen. The Cascades glow a brilliant orange and pink, reflecting off of the lake. One woman is standing in the middle of the field of sleeping bodies, wrapped in a blanket, staring at the glorious display of the sky. I put my arm around her, relieved that someone in this room experienced the majestic display, seemingly from God himself, that will welcome this family to the last day of their loved one’s life. It’s as if God sent his angels into the sky to welcome him home. 

I leave my twelve hour shift during his last breaths. Tears replace laughter as the reality of the end draws nearer. Many thanks are thrown at me. For what? I just waited with them, with honor. 

I wake up the next morning to a text from a special patient from years past letting me know that he and his wife continue to think of me for all I did for them and offering me holiday blessings. I can’t think of one tangible thing I did for them. This is when I realize that presence trumps advanced degrees, personal vulnerability and relationship are always worth more than orders followed. When the negative forces of the world try to devalue what we do as nurses, I remember these powerful moments of which I can recall countless. We impact lives from the first breath to the final goodbye. It is a powerful and blessed calling. 

 

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Hospital walls reflect on the view of the angelic sunrise

My “Walk in the Woods”

Bill Bryson chronicled his attempt at thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in the book “A Walk in the Woods.” This mission is not for the faint of heart; in its entirety the trail is  more than 2100 miles long and takes upwards of 6 months of torment to complete. The dangers are real, but generally anyone who attempts a thru-hike should be aware of the dangers. According to Bryson, only 10% of those who begin the trail will ever be able to claim they completed it. Bryson asked many people why they quit the trail and most said, “it’s not what I thought it was.” What did they think it was? A walk in the woods? They knew better than that. They knew they would have endless hours trapped in their own thoughts, many nights soaked through with rain, countless days walking on blistered feet with too heavy a pack. Yet they attempt it because who doesn’t want to say “I did it!”?

There are also those who complete the trail who “‘shoulda quit but didn’t. [One guy] was coming off the trail. He’d walked from Maine on his own. It took him eight months, longer than it takes most people, and I don’t think he’d seen anybody for the last several weeks. When he came off he was just a trembling wreck…just fell into his wife’s arms and started weeping. Couldn’t talk at all…I’ve never seen anybody so relieved to have anything done with, and I kept thinking, ‘Well, you know, sir, hiking the Appalachian Trail is a voluntary endeavor.’”

Bryson set out to thru-hike the AT and ended up section-hiking less than half of it. He quit. Not because it wasn’t what he thought it was, but because he learned about his goals, needs, and purposes from it. And none of those required completing what he set out to do.

In a way, I think signing up for the Peace Corps was my attempt at thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. You could say that I ended up with a walk in the woods. Not because it wasn’t what I expected, but because I learned enough about myself in the process to know when pride would have been the only thing keeping me going. It was something I felt like I needed to do: live in a village with the people I was trying to help catch up to development and improve their health for 2 full years. In my mind, 2 years was what gave this process legitimacy and sustainability. Anybody can go live in an entirely different culture for a few weeks or a few months. But it takes a special person to do it for 2 years.

I spent 4 weeks in Pretoria pondering what it would mean to go to a new village and continue on my Peace Corps journey, to finish what I set out to do. I considered the possibility of living with regret for not staying. And last Tuesday I made the most difficult decision of my life. I would return home from South Africa. I would quit.

My thru-hike was not meant to be. I could have “stuck it out” like so many other PCVs do just to say “I did it!” But more important than sticking it out to me was my safety, my sanity, and most of all, using my gifts on this earth. Never do I want to be the person who “shoulda quit but didn’t.” I have learned very intimately what my strengths and limitations are as a human being. I am a nurse. I’m a NURSE! I am proud of that and I am blessed to have had the opportunity, education, and experience to be a great nurse. It took this experience to assure me that this is the right field for me. I am gifted for this field, not for community development, sexual behavior change or youth program management. I am not a gardener or an entrepreneur. I am a nurse, and the bottom line that I never wanted to draw is that Peace Corps was not for me. (The other side of that coin is that South Africa is far from what I hoped it to be and it’s quite possible that I would have come to an entirely different conclusion if I was placed in East Africa. I just trust that God is using all of this to lead me in the direction where I can serve the world best.)

“So do you feel bad about leaving the trail?” Katz asked after a time.

I thought for a moment, unsure. I had come to realized that I didn’t have any feelings toward the AT that weren’t confused and contradictory…

I have regrets, of course…But I got a great deal else from the experience.

It turns out that I went to the end of the Earth to learn that I already know who I am and what I am good at and to fall in love with Afrikaners and fellow Americans. And that is a road worth traveling.

No news is no news

Leaving my village was not easy. I was getting really excited about connections I had made and ideas for working with a gogo (granny) exercise group. I had secured a meeting with Africa Centre for Health and Reproductive Studies. I had a meeting lined up with teachers to discuss how I could work with their students to improve health knowledge. My new house was almost completely renovated which would afford me more space and privacy. My organization threw a huge party for graduating from Department of Health’s caregiver training. I was becoming invested. But I couldn’t stay there. So I was picked up by Peace Corps staff and brought to Pretoria.

I get a good laugh whenever someone asks me if the Peace Corps has found me a new site yet; I haven’t heard much since arriving in Pretoria 18 days ago. I doubt this is a case of “no news is good news” and am pretty confident that no news means little effort has been made. It could be that efforts are being made behind the scenes and the communication is just poor. Could be. So I wait. But if you know me, you know that I don’t sit around and wait well. I’m determined to make the most out of any circumstance. I am networking with other volunteers who come through the hostel I am staying at and using any connections I have to find my own new site. I’ve got some good leads.

I am having a confusingly good time in Pretoria (minus the current fever, tonsillitis and migraine). I say confusingly good because to be frank, meeting amazing white people in a metropolitan city was not part of my Peace Corps “plan.” People are always asking me, “but what are you doing?!” Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • My best friend from preschool who I’ve seen once in 19 years happens to live in Johannesburg. She picked me up and took me to a park in Pretoria for a little hike and a picnic by the river. Little did we know we would round a corner and run into 7 giraffes!
  • I was introduced to an amazing community of Christians who have taken me to church, Bible study, and dinner. I’ve been able to help them throw a street braai (BBQ), help someone move, and this week we’ll attend a benefit concert for a 3 year old with leukemia (you know how close that is to my heart!). We’ve cooked dinners together and they’ve joined me at my hostel for pizza night. I have found true friendship in them. Mari even invited me to her family’s farm about 5 hours from Pretoria for the 5 day holiday weekend where we harvested avocados, went swimming in a waterfall, went to a mountain biking race, ate more wonderful food than my short torso knew what to do with, drank “plunger” coffee (I’ve introduced the slightly more fanciful term “french-press” to them), took daily naps, walked through the macadamia trees, had long talks by the nightly bonfire, and played pranks on various visitors with a real-live lion head (ok, not live, but real-stuffed). It was a glorious weekend with beautiful people. I even picked up a couple of Afrikaans words and had a great cultural exchange with a white family trying to make their way in the new South Africa.
  • I even met someone who took me rock climbing at a huge outdoor wall at the University of Pretoria and I was beyond excited to put my climbing shoes to use!

It’s fun to experience universal things like climbing and Christian community when you are as far from home as earthly possible (Literally. I googled it. The farthest place on Earth from Seattle is South Africa!).

So while progress on finding a new site is slow, or possibly stalled, (can you stall if you’ve never started?) I am blessed beyond belief by a God who knows what I need to make it through each day without completely losing hope in humanity. Every day is a mental challenge and I’m so thankful for all of the people in my life who support me no matter what and for all those who point me back to Christ for peace of mind.

STOP THAT SNAIL…..

……mail.

I am regretfully requesting that the sending of all love letters, CDs, care packages, cookies, coffee, etc be suspended. Wow, I have received THE BEST mail in the world so let me emphasize the word suspended. :) These things are priceless to me and have kept me smiling through many a tough days already. I’ve been showered with love. This temporary suspension will just give you time to dream big about what you want to send me next :)

Then you may be led to ask, “Why in the world would you ask us to stop?” and I would remind you that I asked you to suspend. 

I have been removed from my site after nearly 4 short weeks (who am I kidding, those were 4 very long weeks) due to concerns for my well-being. But no need to worry about me, I’m doing fine and am well cared for here in Pretoria. We’ll see what happens but for now I’m in complete limbo (limbo with free wifi!). I’m trying to stay positive so keep sending me those thoughts and prayers.

Stay Well!

Transition to “Lockdown”

4/3/12

Sanibona! Ninjani?

The Zulu classes are finished and I’m out in the real world now, as a sworn-in PCV! We were very busy in our training village at the end of PST, planning a community day, a host-family farewell party (where I was asked to give a speech in Zulu), making preparations for our swearing-in ceremony, and moving to our sites. One of my favorite memories of those final weeks was when my neighbors had a labola party. Labola is the price paid to a bride’s family by a groom. This party started in the afternoon and did not finish until well into the following day. By the time I went over, two cows had been slaughtered, their meat cut up and their hides drying on the rock. I was able to take part by passing out No-Bake Chocolate Cookies to the Gogos (they were a hit!) and witness the cow heads being chopped open.  It was an interesting scene–watching men who had been drinking for 24 hours take care of the cow heads. One I won’t soon forget! After that, we had an impromptu dance party at my co-Seattlites’ house and learned a traditional Ndebele dance that we would perform the next day at our farewell party. (There are 5 of us from the Seattle area and at least 9 from the PNW!) It was busy busy, but not too busy to enjoy a couple of afternoons relaxing by the river or to go bouldering on a rock my friend and I had been eyeing for two months. That final week at the training village was a highlight of my time here so far.

One thing I was not prepared for was how drastically every detail of my life would change the second I became a Volunteer. Training was a transition period encased in a culturally rich bubble where we had purpose, plans, and we all had each other. On March 23rd, that all changed when after more than 12 hours on the road, I was dropped off at my new home. “Cultural Integration Period,” better known as “Lockdown” was beginning.  My new family wasn’t quite ready for me and I quickly realized that with all the distractions of training, I was not quite ready for them.

Last time I wrote, I was just beginning my site visit. I had a difficult time envisioning this new village as my new home during that visit. Before leaving for PC, I had these exciting visions of establishing a new life in a village, getting to know the culture, and being free to be myself in a new environment. I have been at my site for two weeks now and I will say that these two weeks have been an incredibly tough mental game. But nobody said this would be easy. I just didn’t imagine it to be so difficult.

I can’t really explain what makes this so hard. I have been welcomed warmly and excitedly by my host family and host organization. Maybe I am just simply overwhelmed.  It seems that we are well past the days when HIV awareness campaigns had any effect on people. Programs and support groups which were once thriving are now relics of a once healthy fight against the pandemic. Apathy seems to be winning and I would be lying if I said my passion to help in this fight is not abated by the attitudes of the culture. There are some wonderfully passionate people at my organization and this is where I will begin to focus my energy. Schools are currently on a three week break for the Easter holiday and since we all know that children are the hope for our future, I look forward to school being back in session so that I can speak to kids and hear what they have to say about the state of affairs.


Day to day life
Probably of most interest to my friends and family are details of everyday living for me. The PC SA volunteer experience is as varied as the people and landscape of South Africa itself. I have friends living without electricity, 45 minutes from the nearest tar road and I have friends who are living in urban complexes, one of whom even has a maid. Needless to say this shatters the expectations most of us had in signing up for the PC: the expectation to live the village life of the PC posters. My situation lies somewhere in between the extremes. I currently have my own rondeval which, on the inside, is like any studio apartment in the States. It’s small, maybe 15’ x 15’ if a rondeval could have such dimensions, but it has more than I need. It even has a TV and sound system, which I immediately unplugged for various reasons including the fact that South African TV programming leaves much to be desired. I’m about five steps away from (and about 25 steps too close to) the main house where my homestay sisters and various kids live (I think there were about 15 people staying here over the course of the week). However they are renovating a small three-room house behind the main house for me to live in once it’s finished. I’m hopeful that this will give me the opportunity for more privacy which I didn’t know was so imperative to my happiness! In order to keep my Peace Corps Volunteer status, I would like to announce that I do poop in a hole and bathe in a bucket, even if that hole is covered by a plastic toilet and that water is heated in an electric kettle. Water is scarce here and I use as little as humanly possible to bathe. We are lucky enough to have a Jojo tank which we have to siphon water out of with a hose (“don’t forget to bang the hose on the tank before you suck on it; you don’t want to suck out spiders” was the warning from my sister). It collects the rain water from the gutters and if the skies fail to produce manna (aka rain) then the sisters will pay the city to bring a water truck to fill the tank, in theory. I went to the city to request a refill for my organization’s tank and we were told the city is out. I don’t know what that means. There is a borehole about a ten minute walk from my house where people gather to collect water in large drums. Last week I accompanied my teenage sister as she helped her friend gather water. First, we had to wait in line for about 15-20 minutes for our turn at the crank. Then we turned the crank, taking turns between the three of us, to painstakingly fill two jugs of water which took another 15 minutes or so. The friend put these jugs (which I could not even lift) into a wheel barrow and proceeded to wheel them uphill to her home. I tried to help on the flat part and nearly spilled the water. Needless to say, the fate of the water will not be left in my hands again. All that exhausting work for two jugs of water.

The pride of my village seems to be the tar road  which is only a 10 minute walk away from my house (which makes it really easy to get to town for shopping and/or beach transfers). Paved roads are a luxury to villagers, but standard necessity to the rest of the country. I interviewed each staff member at my org and when I asked what makes them proud of their village, many of them said “tar road.” Other sources of pride are the schools, the clinic, and my organization. There is one small “tuck shop” where I can only sometimes buy necessities like bread, but can always buy coke and cadberry eauclairs. As far as I can tell, that is all my village consists of. I crave the ability to walk freely about and explore my surroundings, but that’s not advisable here, so my understanding of the community will have to come in different ways. The landscape is quite beautiful. There are rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. The moonrises are spectacular and my sisters are confused by my excitement over the beauty of the moon. The weather has been really hot and humid but glimpses of Autumn are making an appearance. Last week it was 93 degrees and more humid than anywhere I’ve been before, but a mighty wind blew through and started a cooling trend.

A highlight of my placement so far is the proximity to great destinations. I went to the beach resort town of St. Lucia on my site visit last month and within five minutes I had seen hippos and crocodiles! The beach there is breathtaking and I look forward to exploring more soon. I am currently taking the holiday weekend to renew my soul with some friends in Durban (SA’s 3rd largest city, also a beach resort town). Not everybody can say they went to Durban for the weekend! So for that, I am incredibly grateful.

With time, I trust that the silt will settle and the muddied waters will become clear. I pray that I will understand how to work within the constraints of the current cultural and public health contexts in order to make my time here about more than self-improvement. There is a lot of work to be done.

Thank you for all of your encouraging words during this time! I’ve been able to read most of your facebook and wordpress comments (though I often cannot respond) and continue to feel waves of blessings from across the sea. I’ve received so many thoughtful cards and yesterday I even got an Easter basket from my mom and dad! I am trying to respond to everybody in some way or another, but I don’t get a lot of private time so bear with me as I figure out my boundaries in my new environment and an appropriate level of connectedness via my Blackberry.

For an entirely different (and refreshingly positive) experience of South African culture, visit my friend Kristen’s blog at http://www.kristen-sa.blogspot.com. She has a placement near the Drakensberg Mountains and shares lovely stories of the South Africa I hope to

discover.

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Abbreviated Update

Again, I fail my blog followers! I have a well thought out post just waiting to give to you all and alas, it is nowhere to be found at the moment where I can access the internet.

In short, I have moved to my permanent site and it has been quite a difficult adjustment for me. I have escaped to the 3rd largest city in SA, Durban, to enjoy the long weekend on the beach and hopefully refresh my spirit of adventure and excitement. I have a long road ahead of me and I am praying that the end result, whether I ever see it or not, will be worth it. In the words of the lovely Florence and the Machine, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Happy Easter everybody. May we be mindful of the most significant event in history on the day that Christ overcame death.

So, I will leave you with some random pictures for now in hopes that they will speak more powerful and uplifting words than I ever could!

To New Beginnings (and a lot of them!)

There is no appropriate place to begin telling the story of the Peace Corps experience. I could record a detailed account of my first 6 weeks in South Africa. I could attempt to express the variety of emotions I’ve experienced, or some of the existential issues I’ve contemplated as I fall asleep each night. None of those things would do it justice, and it’s only just begun. While I will surely fall short of aptly painting a picture of my life here so far, I will try my best to begin to share some of the pieces of this experience which are necessary and some of which are dear to my heart.

I can’t say I’ve experienced much of South Africa outside the bubble of Pre-Service Training (PST). But very soon that is all about to change. Most of my time thus far has been spent at training with the 33 other volunteers (2 have unfortunately made the difficult decision to return home) who make up “SA-25,” the 25th class of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to serve in South Africa (SA) since the program opened in 1996. While all volunteers grumble at the idea of PST, I know that we are blessed to be the recipients of so much attention, education, and wonderful leadership that we’ve been shown by our Peace Corps Staff.  I live in a village with a wonderful homestay family. The cows, goats, chickens and pigs (yes mom, adorable little pigs!) roam free here. I was trying to walk to school once and a bull started running towards me. With nowhere to go, my brother ran to my rescue. He started throwing rocks at it while another kid was hitting it with a stick until they could direct it into a gated area. Talk about a good excuse for being late! Other facts-of-village-life are the threat of spitting cobras (I watched 2 be killed at our school), ungodly sized spiders and cockroaches in the toilets, and an unfortunate newfound fear of dogs. While we are only 2 hours from the capitol of Pretoria (which happens to be the “whitest” city in all of Africa), our village rarely has access to running water. We do, however, have consistent access to electricity. It’s hard to understand how the locals must feel when they travel to Pretoria for work and see incredible wealth but return to their village at night and can’t even get water out of the tap in the backyard.  We just went 2 weeks with the water shut off. All of our buckets of stored water ran out. My mama was very distraught. She knows there’s a way to get it, but she also knows the injustice inherent in the fact that the next village has water and her family does not. That night, the water came back on and she was filling buckets until midnight. (Some families have JoJo tanks which store tons of water but my family does not. Anybody want to donate one?!?) This is a terrible cycle and I may never be able to identify or understand its drivers, but I trust that people here are beginning to demand change. Here’s where I could go on and on about apartheid and internalized oppression. I won’t for now, but I do ask that if you are reading this, then you take the time to become informed on the history of apartheid in order to understand some of the attitudes and frustrations I’m sure to encounter.

I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful Gogo (grandmother) who takes excellent care of me and 3 beautiful kids in my family, one of whom runs down my road with arms wide open as soon as she sees me coming home in the distance.  I wish I could bottle her constant joy and energy. I can’t begin to think about how much I will miss her when I leave this village. She not only brings joy to my arrival home each day, to my backyard workouts, and to each meal we take together, she is also my biggest ally in my plight to learn isiZulu. That’s right, folks, I’m trying to learn to speak Zulu–clicks and all. While I desire to be fluent, I’m not sure how that is going to go. That will probably depend on how much English is used at my site (where I will be from March 23rd until the end of my service). My homestay family speaks a slightly different language called Ndebele but they do their best to communicate with me in Zulu.

Our training has taken place in Mpumalanga Province. Apparently there are some really amazing sites to see here, but we’ve been contained in our homestay villages (except for a trip to Johannesburg to see the Apartheid Museum and a trip to Pretoria to see the Peace Corps offices and the Voortrekker Monument). This location has provided some interesting difficulties that I hadn’t anticipated. There are many little things I loved about Tanzanian village life that don’t exist here because of the way development has occurred here. There’s no roadside fruit vendors or women selling brightly colored cloths to sew into custom made outfits. People just buy clothes at the store in their “shopping town.” Young people here dress mostly like Americans with a twist (one twist is the fad of wearing brightly colored sandals that look like fluffy slippers) and you have to go to town for the roadside fruit stands. There’s nowhere to buy street food and no old ladies cooking chapati to sell to passerbys. It’s been difficult for me to cope with the incessant heat here. Three weeks of having to choose between waking up in a pool of my own sweat or waking up itching all the bug bites I got from sleeping with the window open was enough and I finally bought a fan. Apparently I’m a wuss and it is not that bad in Mpumalanga (Limpopo Province can reach 47 degrees celcius) so I prayed for a cooler site placement. Speaking of which, we finally found out where we will be spending our next 2 years!

dun-dhun-duuuunnnnnn-daaaaaaaaaaa (that’s my drumroll).

Here’s a hint about my placement: If you plan on visiting me, you will need to pack lots of sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a beach towel :) I won’t name my village here, but I’ll be very near to Mtubatuba, which happens to be very near to a resort beach village called St. Lucia in the province of KwaZulu Natal (locally referred to as K-Zed-N). The sad thing about telling you all is that you will instantly be able to know more about where I’ll be living than I will for a while. So here’s my request. If you google it, please send me one awesome or interesting thing that you find out about anything near my new home. I likely won’t secure good enough internet access to do broad searches for a while (or ever, probably) and I’d love to find out what you guys think is worth knowing about anything in or around Mtubatuba! I will be able to read emails and comments left on this blog soon. Here’s the only facts I know about my beach town: Over 90% of SA’s natural crocodile population lives here; there is “extraordinary” deep sea fishing; rhinos roam the streets. My main shopping town will be Richard’s Bay and I am only 2 hours away from the major destination of Durban!

More importantly, though, is the work I hope to be able to accomplish. I’ve been told that the organization I’ve been paired with for my primary project is running on passion and that the workers are hungry for knowledge. I could not ask for anything more! It’s a Home-Based Care (HBC) organization which means that there are “carers” who work for little or no money to provide very basic healthcare to community members. They may be caring for people with hypertension or diabetes, those living with HIV/AIDS or TB, or bedridden patients who need to be bathed and fed. These organizations usually have a drop-in center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) to come to after school for food and a safe place to play. My org. is next to a clinic and near two schools. My job does not come with a description; I will find out as I go where my service will be most useful. I imagine I will set up a caregiver training program but only God knows, quite literally. I will visit my site this week for 5 days and then return to my homestay for a final week of safety sessions, language review, and my final language examination. Then I will go from being a Peace Corps Trainee to a sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteer on March 22nd!

To my mom, dad, Holli, and the Requets, I thank you so much for sending me mail! It takes a while to get here because until I get my own PO Box, it must go through the US Embassy. But when it does get here, I can’t tell you how much it brightens my day! I’m about to enter “Cultural Integration Period,” better known by PCVs as “Lock Down.” For 3 months after swearing in, we are not allowed to leave our villages except for a couple weekends away within our respective provinces. This will surely be a lonely and frustrating adjustment period so please, please send me notes, quotes, or love letters :) Whatever suits your fancy will surely suit mine. It costs $1.05 to send a letter. But your encouragement is PRICELESS.

I’m contactable now via my blackberry. My phone number is (country code 27) 0793776180. Omit the zero when using the country code. I’m on BBM so if you have a blackberry, we can text for free. If you have another type of smart phone, if you download “What’s App” we can text for free, though I haven’t been able to figure that one out yet. BBM pin: 292A17EE. I do have the internet so I can check emails and facebook periodically. However, it is extremely slow and unreliable so don’t be offended if you see a comment from me somewhere, but not a response to your comment.

Don’t forget to leave comments about my new home. And hug someone you love today! (and thank God for a stable supply of water).

 (I wrote the above post about a week ago. Currently I am finishing up my site visit. I am thrilled beyond belief by the wonderfully passionate and lovely people at my organization. They mostly deal with orphans and vulnerable children, but I hope to help them expand and improve their home-based care sector. They have treated me like royalty and I have a lot of pressure to live up to their hopes for my time here. My homestay family consists of 3 women in their 30′s, 2 14yo girls and a 4 week old baby boy. They have provided me with a beautiful living space and I feel quite guilty about the arrangements they have made for me. But I must trust that I am supposed to be here with them for some reason and push the guilt aside so that I can begin my new life here. People are making sacrifices for me when they don’t have much to sacrifice and it’s very humbly. I will see the beach town of St. Lucia in about an hour with all of the other PCVs in the area. I believe there are currently 4 working here plus or minus myself and my friend from training.)

Thanks again for all your comments and encouragements. I thrive on them as this is the most trying thing I could imagine throwing myself into.

 

Much love to you.

Cara