From jungle to jungle

Every morning I wake up excited. It’s as if the day were planted with 100 possibilities and it’s just my job to walk through it and pick them like wild flowers.

I’ve written these blogs before. My first re-entry blogs. And like this one, they’re usually plugged with pure cheese and a deep sigh of “It’s so good to be home.”

I feel like I savor my moments. Every hug from our kids, every Swahili greeting, every handful of local “fufu” (ugali) that I mix with sauce for dinner. My heart is so happy to be back.

It’s a quick trip this time. Two weeks in the Congolese jungle before I return to the concrete jungle.

During my days before I left, we planned and schemed how to best spend every minute I’m here. We didn’t want to waste a single second of these precious days. Now on the ground though and the result looks like generally, more meetings then I know what to do with!

Normally meetings can get semi-tedious, but I think because of the hype, I don’t feel that this time. I go to bed in eager expectation for the next one. Each is carefully thought out and strategically communicated on how we can continue building healthy foundations to expand and be ready to hold more kids, more staff and more funds. How can we impact beyond our current capacity? It fires me up.

Though, the side story. (Always a side story, right?) While trying to speed through two weeks, I feel I’m faced more bluntly with the “in your face” moments when my heart is bigger than my day-planner or my bank account.

My boys come to me “Sandra, we need new shoes. Our current ones are worn through to the ground.”

“Sandra, they cannot complete their studies well until they have a candle at night to work when it is dark.”

“Sandra, the children are studying but the classroom is not big enough. Some sit on stones.”

I wish I could fit in more home visits to each one to encourage them. Keep pressing on! You’re not alone!

I’m always impacted by how much you can do with so little.

For just over $100 we can buy every child in our village school a notebook.

“It is important that they have a new notebook” – my team tells me.

For some new kids to the school, this will be the first notebook they’ve ever had.

When we arrive at our city schools we look around and see the new desks we purchased for the teachers before Christmas.

Every educator now proudly grading students tests on it.

To us, a small detail, to them an entire shift in how they conduct their classroom.

It has been really fun to see our students lately. They’re doing so well. Some of our kids are at the top of the city in academics. Our children, whom many have been the first of their family to attend school like this, are thriving in their studies. Once displaced, most are the first generation that have settle in the city after running from war.

It’s like gasoline to our fire, and I wish you could join us at our kitchen table, drinking tea and dreaming how wars can be stopped. We plot school expansions, vocational training facilities and our upcoming de-traumatization meetings, believing that the small things will have big effects and that the cycle of conflict that has been repeating itself in Congo, or Iraq or Syria, won’t be passed on to the next generation.

Again- we’re dreamers. We can’t help ourselves. Testimonies are our crack.

Tomorrow our team is heading to the bush. Again- restricted by my day planner, the original 5 day trip is now minimized to THREE. I don’t dare blink in fear of missing it all. The far trek up the mountains is to our sweet village to check on everything, host more meetings and “extend my greetings” before my next flight.

Prayers appreciated as always! More stories and posts to come soon!