Several times in the past week, I've wanted to update my blog but just couldn't find the words to say. I want to share stories of my experiences here, I want people back home to understand a little bit of what it's like, I wish you could all know the amazing patients and crew that I interact with every day. But sometimes I don't feel like writing heartfelt stories. Sometimes I feel like I don't have anything new to report. At the end of the day, it just feels like another day, nobody will want to hear about it, it would be boring to talk about it. You know - I got up, ate breakfast, went to work, took care of patients, got off work, took a shower, hung out with friends, read a book, ate dinner, called my boyfriend, checked my email, went to bed.... I have nothing to write.
Sometimes, even when there are interesting experiences to share, I just don't care about them. Sometimes I'm tired of having interesting experiences and just want to pack my bags and go home. I've felt like that a lot the past couple of weeks. And when I feel like that, I don't want to write because I don't want to be depressing. Did your mother ever tell you "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? I haven't felt like writing anything nice, so I haven't written anything at all. I thought, "nobody wants to hear me complain. This blog is to share my experiences in Sierra Leone, not to complain about things." But I want to share what God is doing, both here in Sierra Leone and in my own heart, and how I'm feeling about things is part of that. If I ask people back home to pray for me, but don't tell them my struggles so they can pray about them, well where's the good in that? Also, I don't want to give the impression that this whole Africa thing is a walk in the park. Sometimes it's easy, I relish each day, and the time flies by. And other times it's really, really hard.
I think I'm burnt-out.
Not completely. Not to the point of giving up and going home early. But to the point of having to take things one painstakingly slow day at a time, taking a deep breath every morning and going through the motions of work and meals and spending time with friends, feeling like I'm wading through jello with a bag of rocks tied to my back. Am I being melodromatic? I'm sorry. Don't get me wrong - I know this is where I'm supposed to be, and I DO want to be here. But part of me really wishes that it was December and time to go home. And another part of me knows that when December arrives, I'm going to wonder where the time went. Too many conflicting emotions! You'd think I'd be used to that by now. I think I've been more emotional in the past 3 months than I have been in the past 3 years. I've lost count of how many times I've cried since I've been here, when before I could usually count on one hand the number of times I'd cried in a year.
The easiest times are when I'm with the patients. Then I remember why I'm here, and that it really is important. When a man who has lived with a giant tumor on his head all his life comes back to the ward from surgery and I hand him a mirror, and see his eyes light up with delight when he sees his reflection...when I do wound care on a lady who smiles up at me gratefully and says "Tenkhi!"...when I go to the Hope Center and sing and clap during worship service, praising Papa God alongside people who are so excited to see me, and always tell me when I leave "you come back tomorrow, yeah?"
Some of my thoughts lately have been along the lines of "why is this so hard? I thought this was where God wanted me to be." Today in my homework for Bible study, I read this: "Some of us with little previous battle experience have no idea why God is allowing us to go through such difficult times in a place we thought was His will. He's trying to make warriors out of us! Rise to the occasion!" (Beth Moore) So...I'm trying to rise to the occasion. I'm still homesick, I'm still kind of tired of it all...but I'm thankful to be here, and I hope God is using me somehow.
I've read this passage over and over again this past week:
"But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel,
'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.'"
Kind of fitting, I think. "When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched." I feel scorched. But I know God is with me.