May 19, 2011

where YOU lead: the blast off

"it's a dangerous business, going out your door. you step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to." bilbo baggins, the fellowship of the ring

approximately 48 hours ago i began what is already turning into a life-changing experience. i boarded a plane with 10 other master's speech-language pathology students, 3 SLP supervisors, 3 pharmacy students, 1 pharmacy supervisor, and 1 of our professor's sons named ian whom i affectionately call "it." we boarded our plane in memphis with eager anticipation and excitement only to be told that the leader of our pack, dr. beckie weaver, didn't have a seat. it turned out that a woman had boarded our plane accidentally, and of all the people they could have tried to kick off, they had the audacity to approach dr. weaver.

we all made it onto the plane, however, and flew from memphis to chicago to d.c. where we spent the night. on our flight from chicago to d.c. we met the most entertaining flight attendant i've ever met in my life. he fondly called himself "karlitos" and wore a llama pin as his emblem. he sang for us, offered us free gifts, and escorted us off of the plane with napkins containing every possible means of his contact information including his facebook and twitter. we thanked him and then kindly threw his napkins into the trash when he wasn't looking.

this morning...well, i'm not really sure at this point when this morning was...we boarded ethiopian air to fly 13 hours from d.c. to addis ababa, ethiopia. naturally upon arriving in ethiopia, i immediately thought of acts 8 and the ethiopian eunich, wishing i, like philip, could inspire others to ask the question, "what prevents me from being baptized?"

seeing africa for the first time was the most incredible feeling! stepping onto african ground to be surrounded by trees straight out of "the lion king" was unreal. meeting african people so interested in and encouraging of you made the thousands of miles so completely worth it.

since i am in the habit of never meeting a stranger, i made 5 new african friends on our flight from ethiopia to harare, zimbabwe to lusaka, zambia. the reason that i titled this post "the blast off" is because 2 of them were little, toddler brothers who kept calling our flight "the blast off." the other 3 were african women named sandra, christine, and ethel. sandra, a woman in her early 30s, was from zimbabwe, and when i told her why we were coming to africa she asked, "why are you not coming to zimbabwe? we need you there!" christine, an older woman, works with children of various african nations and was thrilled to hear of our work, and ethel, an african girl around my age, and i sang american pop songs together on the plane and exchanged email addresses before the flight was over.

we finally arrived in lusaka to a huge zambian bus that took us here to our hotel. we are all happy to be on the ground and glad for this night of rest, but we are all eagerly anticipating leaving for namwianga in the morning! thank you for all your prayers for our successful "blast off!"

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