Thursday, August 12, 2010

Farewell to Africa

I write from the cabin of a South African Airlines flight home; our plane just swung over Bermuda as we wing our way back to the United States.

The last week was incredible. I had planned goodbyes, and I made them, thanking the wonderful people for the love and support I have been almost universally shown.

But Africa had a series of goodbyes for me as well. I was surprised and pleased to be asked to pray in a Baptist Youth group; I was humbled and honored as a Baptist pastor prayed for me in my last Sunday morning service, I was shocked and shaken when I passed an accident walking to LDS meetings.

I arrived seconds after the accident happened, in time to see the headless body still lying in the road. He was about my age. But there was no fear – only sadness, shock, and a little nausea. I arrived in the stillness after the accident, in the dazed quiet for those who had been involved. I was not part of that scene, but it shook me.

Three and a half hours later, I attended the baptism of four souls; new life in the Lord. There were three women and one man; he was about my age. There was only joy and peace, excitement.

In one day, in one trip, death and rebirth.

O Africa, continent of my soul! From the starving, smiling children, to the praise and worship in the churches, to the headless body in the street: I love you! I weep for you! I pray for you!

Here I have come to better know my God. He lives, He loves me, and He answers my prayers.

Here, I have been loved and taught to love, by my hostess, by my colleagues, and by my new friends.

Here, I have come to know what I want in my career, in my relationships, in my life. Here I found who I am and want to be.

I was almost not allowed to leave this place of change; I spent Tuesday running through South Africa's Department of Home Affairs, sprinting through airports, and catching flights where I was the last passenger and the plane had waited for me. But I have come through, and am on my way home. I feel I completed my purpose here; it is done.

And so I say: Farewell, Africa! Until we meet again!

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