Sight-seeing. Not for the faint of heart.

August 28th, 2015 11:30am in Tana, 4:30am back home

5 days ago the plane departed my home country and left my heart behind like lost luggage. Today, here I am with a full heart as I await arrival of the Africa Mercy (AFM). What a joy it is to be surrounded by people with the same faith and table manners (nurses universally talk about the most disgusting things at the dinner table)! The waiting room, though frustrating at first, has turned into a source of gratitude as we recover from jetlag, sight-see and learn some broken French. I am thrilled to say that I will have some new travel destinations in my future- getting to know these nurses has placed a new drive in me to give more selflessly, learn more voraciously, and TRAVEL! I absolutely MUST see more of this wonderful world God created.

Yesterday, 13 of us (nurses, a dentist and a dental assistant) took a van ride to the Lemur Park where we got up close and personal with 5 varieties of lemurs (all exclusive to Madagascar) and a few tortoises. However, as exciting as the park was, I believe the drive through the capital was actually the most enlightening. And by enlightening, I do not mean necessarily that our eyes were opened to something wonderful, but rather to a thing quite awful. Utter poverty. I braced myself for it, but couldn’t (and still can’t) keep the tears from my eyes. What probably made the experience worse was recognizing that we were not better than them. We were the same. In all cultures and classes, babies are shamelessly curious, boys do silly things to impress girls, and teenagers still try to be cooler than their parents. Observing this certainly didn’t make it any easier to say no to the children running alongside our van pleading for money. One particular girl came running up to my window with a baby sibling bouncing on her back. I would have given her a small fortune to stop running next to our spinning tires- but it only would have made it worse. Those 15 minutes of begging were the most silent our van had been all day as we sat, misty eyes-forward hoping for traffic to move faster.

First and last

Throughout the last week of preparation for my departure to Madagascar, I have been experiencing many emotional “lasts.” Last church services, last hangouts, last games with friends, last hugs and kisses, last wake ups, last goodbyes (or as my boyfriend prefers to say, “see-you-laters”), last meals, and last sights of home.

However, through all of these little emotional events I have heard a still small voice saying “Kirsten, if only you knew all the “firsts” I have in store for you.”

It is for this reason that I can confidently take my last steps on US soil and leave the continent for the first time in my life.

God is giving me crazy peace as I take these crazy steps.

In the words of Madagascar’s national anthem, “I like to move it, move it.” Haha…kidding. I’m kidding!

Until next time,