Be Where My Feet Are

I have taken a long hiatus from writing and have been feeling the quivering in my gut signaling the time to renew my commitment to my blog, and reconnect with those of you who have asked me to continue writing.

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Visit with dear friend Martha in VA

Since my return to the states in August, I have led a vagabond life, feeling much of the time like a wandering and homeless soul. I have spent a few months with my sister Mary in Boca Raton, a few months in Woodstock in 3 different apartments (long story) and returned to Africa twice for 4 weeks at a time to travel and dismantle my life there.

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Morning commute in VT, March

Living out of suitcases and boxes, packing and repacking boxes and hauling stuff in and out of storage has become a way of life for me, and though not thrilled about it, I continue to desire and prioritize the freedom that transient lifestyle grants me.

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Reunion with Kate, DC

The devastating loss of my dear Zoey in November lingers and I miss her every day. I truly believe she knew and sensed my longing to return to Africa and she has given me that freedom by passing on. I also am living daily with the guilt and angst of knowing that I probably caused her pain and suffering that irreparably damaged her heart and spirit with my absence. I continue to breathe into and work through that.

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Return to VT in March? What was I thinking

Happily, I have reapplied and been accepted to return to Africa and serve again as a nurse educator in the same program, Global Health Service Partnership within Peace Corps. My desire to experience a different culture activated my request to serve in a different country this time around. My placement is in Manzini, Swaziland at South African Nazarene University.

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Me and sister Mary

All was sailing along smoothly with the security and medical clearance (with the exception of 30 days of lost passport and fingerprints via USPS) until a few weeks ago when they announced that our program was on hold until the finances had been cleared and deposited. WHAT????

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yard saling with Deborah

Yes, 4 weeks ago we were told, “Well just hang on! We will let you know if this program will all happen or not in about 6 weeks time. “ Really? We are supposed to begin training in DC on July 17th and depart for Africa on the 27th! We have quit jobs, rented our homes out, put stuff in storage, sold vehicles, planned family reunions in anticipation of a one year absence!

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My little town, Woodstock

Putting life on hold for 6 weeks is challenging, gut wrenching, stressful, demoralizing, and scary. Most days I am able to roll with it. I show up for work at the hospital and benefit from the endorphins circulating after a long run. And oh, savoring spring in Vermont; the most colorful and vibrant I can remember, but also the most chilly and gray.

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Visit with Jackson, Carter, and Holt in Denver

Fortunately I am a month to month tenant, work a per diem job, and have no other commitments, except that I also recently applied to graduate school, another bee in my bonnet.

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camping with Zoey

And then into the midst of this tornado walks John…provoking even more mystery, distraction, elation, choices, and conflicting emotions. Read McDreamy, long distance, my prince. Really? Now?

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Barn ladies night out

All of this mandates that I be in the moment, every breath, where my feet are, right here, right now. No projections, no dreaming, no pretending. The most beautiful part of this journey is my ability to walk in with an open heart, fiercely committed to living my dream, my passion, my vision for what I believe my soul’s purpose to be. I feel the Universe supporting me and loving me through this.

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Shanti, my charge on returning to VT in late Feb

More will be revealed….I am grateful today for all that I have, all that I am.

 

Namaste

Returning 2

Many months ago I posted a blog entitled Returning during a dark and challenging time personally.   Today is my last official day as a GHSP nurse educator in Mzuzu Malawi.

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Two RPCVs in Malawi

The year has flown by. Many personal and professional successes AND challenges have graced my experience here and I am grateful for every one. I have transformed from the inside out in what I believe to be a miraculous and freeing transition. To use the metaphor of a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, though corny,  would be accurate and not too overstated.

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Team Malawi

The freedom from old patterns, rigid beliefs, and confining ways of just being in the world is a lightening and brightening of my spirit that has been a lifetime in emerging.

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Tanzania sunrise

During the last month or two of my service, I became acutely aware of how connected to and happy I am in this culture. Something about the people, the journey, the lightening of my spirit, the feeling of unfinished projects and plans begged me to reconsider my choice to complete my service without extending. I found myself frequently in tears wondering how I could detach and leave feeling so incomplete, having accomplished so much.

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Sadly returning my PC supplies

To that end, I requested, at the 11th hour, to extend and continue. Alas, it was not possible as the housing on campus is unavailable and had already been allocated to my replacement.   During COS conference in Tanzania, the heavy hitters from Boston and DC were in attendance so I extended my plea for them to assist in solving the housing problem and allow me to stay.

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Me and Bodmas, Level 2 student

So this blog, Returning 2, addresses my intention to return to Malawi and extend my service for another year. I have the full backing of PC and SEED and am waiting for DC to reinstate me after the new volunteers have been settled in their respective sites in country.  At that time, they will find a house for me somewhere in Mzuzu.

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Level 2 clinical students

Of course, my heart is still in complete angst about my lovely Zoey and the thought of leaving her behind for yet another year.   Yet my heart is so intent upon returning that I cannot let go of that mission, knowing she is fully loved and cared for in VT and am still slightly considering bringing her with me to Malawi.

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selfie at Mayoka

Secondly, I will be foregoing time at home to spend with my girls and mom. However, I will be flying home for 2+ months at end July to spend time with everyone and rest and rejuvenate, hoping to return to Malawi around October 1, if all the PC hoops can be negotiated.

Thank you all for your support and kind words of love and encouragement. It helped during the rough AND the good times.   I do hope some of you will come and visit and partake of this lovely and warm heart of Africa.

Namaste

Lessons from a Dog

My dogs have taught me very powerful lessons about life and living. I believe they come into my life to teach me, that they have a particular way of being and behaviors that exemplify lessons important for me to embrace, that contribute to my development in a very positive and powerful way.

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Cabot

Cabot, a black standard poodle, died 4 years ago. His guidance, while not necessarily relevant most of his life with me, exemplified a way of being that I actively examine and appreciate as I make decisions in my life today.

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Dogs rule

He was a very free spirit.   Porcupines, deer and coyotes enticed him and he would take off and the chase would ensue. We lived on 85 acres of wild land in Vermont.  When he returned from his little jaunts, he would often have quills deeply imbedded all over his head and facial structures, or proudly carry a deer leg in his mouth and drop it at my feet on arrival. I was beside myself with worry until he returned.

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Once he disappeared at dusk and took Jackson, his younger “brother”, with him on a deer chase. They were gone overnight. In the morning I found them, having crossed a busy road, lying in the sun at 6am in a neighbor’s driveway, about ½ mile as the crow flies. ARGGHHH!

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Jack

Another fall evening at dusk, he disappeared for 45 minutes. Frantic, I had a strange prompting to get in the car and drive to the next farm, about ½ mile down the road. Sure enough, he had jumped into the bucket of the tractor parked in the driveway and was gorging himself on the deer entrails that were ready to be dumped in the field following the evening’s activities during hunting season. GROSS!

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Cabot

Cabot taught me about freedom and choices…

Since my arrival in Malawi I have experienced extraordinary freedom on deep levels of my being.  I was raised in a traditional WASP family in suburban America. As the eldest child of four, I was expected to “tow the line”, be the good girl, and conform to my parents’ principles which were narrow and unimaginative by today’s standards. I don’t fault them for this. I had a terrific childhood and chose to conform for their acceptance and praise rather than break out of the confines and risk criticism or rejection.  On reflection, I lived much of my life in a self made straight jacket.

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My grand dog Twister

While living in Malawi, I have had the opportunity to emerge from the rigid confines with which I have held myself all my life. I have observed that the expats who choose to live here are, for the most part, extremely independent, almost defiantly autonomous, and deeply committed to living a free life. That is why they choose Malawi. The culture and the laissez faire government support complete freedom, unless of course you kill someone, well, and even that goes largely unpunished. I have made some choices that have released me from the bondage of tradition, responsibility, familiarity, comfort and expectations, and that is incredibly liberating.

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Carrie and Cabot

Cabot taught me that while choosing freedom, others often suffer. The people that love you and rely on you may worry about your safety, your choices, and miss your physical presence.

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Cabot, lap dog

The art of balance is the ability to choose freedom and to walk through the discomfort of knowing that others are suffering on some level as a result of that choice. To be able to set yourself free and live with the understanding that we can’t always make others happy with our choices. Not always an easy path…

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The trio Cabot, Jackson, Zoey

I am battling with myself and my choices today. On every level of my being I want to stay in Africa and continue the journey of discovery. My sense of responsibility and desire to take care of and be with family, friends, and Zoey compel me to return to the states. The desire to be free and the desire to please others are continually at odds with each other. Often the best choice for me may mean pain and discomfort for someone else. That is a tough life lesson to learn, how to navigate through the choice and the consequences.

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Jack and Cabot

The only way I know how to solve this is to pray, to surrender, to wait for the direction that will ultimately appear, but only after a lot of angst and internal distress.

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Big road trip to Florida with Zo

I am heading to the ICU today to work with students. There is only one ventilator in the hospital for critically ill patients. Talk about choices! Mine seem miniscule and unimportant compared to the decision of who gets the ventilator to sustain a life.

 

Visit with the Chief

Sindika has been asking me for months to visit his home village in the mountains north of Mzuzu. Malawians are proud of their home villages and have very strong connections there though they may be living long distances from “home”.   Sindika works in my garden and does my laundry so is a VERY valued person in my life and I have become so fond of him and his endearing nature.

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Sindika with the eggplant from my garden

My friend Sara and I drove Saturday morning with Sindika north to Chitimba where we left my car and hired transport to ascend the mountain to Livingstonia, one of the most historical places in Sub-Sahara Africa. David Livingston, the British missionary/explorer, brought religion, healthcare, and community to an incredibly remote but spectacularly beautiful area in Malawi, in the late 1800s.

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Chalet at Lukwe

Willy, a friend and native S African, about 65 years old and crusty as they come, drove us up the zig zag, heavily rutted, rocky, craggy mountain road in his beater of a truck. The journey takes an hour, literally straight up the mountain, and is harrowing and bumpy; no guard rails, fences or safety nets for the hairpin turns overlooking steep cliffs.   Many a vehicle has plunged off the road due to careless driving on this dangerous pass.

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Homemade bricks ready for firing by wood fire in the holes below

Willy gave us a complete historical account (an hour of non-stop talking) of David Livingston and the history of the area.   We dropped our bags in Lukwe, the lodge we booked for the night, and I journeyed on to Livingstonia with Sindika and Willy. Picture we are miles and miles away from any paved road, up on the top of a mountain, traveling to a remote village, no electricity, running water, stores, shops, anything!  Just people, houses, and crops.

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Village kids

Arrival in the village was uneventful, though I was met with the usual stares.   Not too many white people venturing this far back into the wilderness. Sindika HAD to show me his primary school (he is now 42) and I suspect that was a silent plea for funds to repair the outrageous condition of the building. The children sit on the cold and broken up concrete floor.   There are no light bulbs or window glass. No desks, no chalkboard/whiteboard. The faded, wrinkled lessons taped to the walls looked like they had been there for a year; a very sad and depressing classroom.

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Village classroom for elementary kids

We then journeyed further a field in the truck to the village itself. Met by the 3 “brothers” I was escorted around the village for a tour of the maize bins, the crops, family homes, and cooking areas. The women were busy drying their potatoes, pulverizing the cassava, and drying cassava and maize on huge sheets of plastic. Dogs and chickens were everywhere.

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Woman pulverizing cassava

Coffee, bananas, cassava, maize, okra, coffee,  and sweet potatoes grow abundantly. Acres and acres of crops surround the village and a small bamboo hut sits atop the neighboring hill with an attendant to chase the monkeys away from the crops. I suggested scarecrows. They had heard of this practice and were amused, but not motivated!

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Cassava drying

The dramatic finale to the visit was meeting Sindika’s father, the bwana, the chief of the whole area. I am guessing he is my age and has been ill. Greetings were exchanged and he held onto my hand for the entire visit, only to release it when I gave him the banana bread I had baked and toted around for 2 hours.

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Typical village home

We exchanged pleasantries and I learned a lot about the role of chief: he looks after everyone, he mediates disputes, has people arrested for crimes, is fully in charge of parceling all the land to people who need or request it, is the highest form of government in the village and generally supercedes the police.

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Sindika displaying the coffee plants

Dressed in a suit jacket, cotton button down shirt,  brown trousers, and special head cover, he was not the chief I had imagined from the Lion King movie.  Hard to believe that in the 21st century one acquires land by visiting with and gaining the respect and trust of the chief. Forget about the agents and the nightmare of 10 page contracts.

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Stoking the cooking fire

Willy drove me back to Lukwe, I crashed in bed at 8:00 after a delightful al fresco meal overlooking the valley. The arduous journey home began in the morning after a luscious meal at Mushroom Farm, a backpacker’s lodge on the mountain. We waited there for our transport for about 3 hours (it’s Malawi). We were not expecting to share the ride with 30+ boisterous men and women going to a soccer game in a flatbed truck packed to the gills. I couldn’t look going down for fear we would plummet over the edge, packed like sardines in the truck bed (will not discuss this with Hector, our PC security).

The hour ride down was painful, but we made it and walked another ½ hour to the car, another 2 hour drive home to Mzuzu.

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Our mountain transport, yikes

All in all, another incredible memory and cultural experience. Loving Malawi!

 

 

BEACH DAY

Close your eyes and imagine what the process would look like for a teenage girl choosing a bathing suit for her debut at the beach, first time ever….

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First time at the beach!

I imagine it like this….3-4 different stores, at least 20 suits to try on, first alone, then with friends to narrow it down. Gawking, preening, “my body’s not this, my body’s not that”, this one is over my $75 budget. Probably hours and hours before the momentous decision. Am I right women and mothers of teenage girls?

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Things are different in Malawi. Sister Martha and I planned a day at Lake Malawi for the girls. These are orphan teen girls that the nuns at the convent mentor and I see in a group once a week as well. All but 1 had NEVER seen the lake or gone swimming, do not own or ever worn a bathing suit. How was this going to work, and of course there is no money for any of this.

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So much happiness here!

The used clothing market in Mzuzu is AWESOME, but it is becoming winter here and temps are often 50 on awakening so would they even have bathing “costumes” as they are called here? Friday was D-day and Sister Martha headed for the market to do other shopping and briefly scouted the clothes. She found a vendor with TONS of suits and immediately picked and bought 10, for 500MK each or roughly 70 cents each,  SCORE!

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Sister Martha going for it!

Ok, so we have a nun picking out the suits? Imagine that back home! She met with the girls in the afternoon and doled them out as the girls sat eagerly waiting, politely and with no fuss over who was getting which suit. If the suit fit, they kept it, if not, they traded. Everyone was thrilled and eagerly awaiting the 2 hour car ride in the morning.

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Kande Beach

We made it to the beach by 9:45, overcast, very windy and cool enough for a sweater but it did not deter them. After a vigorous game of kickball where they all ignored the rules, we were sweating and ready for a dip. Since no one really knew how to swim, they were instructed on safety and chose a buddy to stick with. 11 girls, 2 nuns, and ME!

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Falless, Jenna, and Ruth

They clamored for the water and crashed, plunged, dove, ducked, dipped for 2 hours before we had to haul them out and take a quick break before lunch. The water was delightfully warm, thank you Africa, and they couldn’t get enough of it. What teenage girl brings her washing to the beach? Alinafe…

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Alinafe washing her clothes

Most have never been to a restaurant. We had lunch prepared for us and all sat at a communal table in the café: chicken, rice, greens, okra and of course Fanta and Coke. They inhaled lunch and followed with a craft project donated by Carol, my site-mate and colleague. They thoroughly enjoyed this and got all glammed up with the jewelry they made.

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First restaurant meal

Sister Jane was celebrating her 33rd birthday so we sang Happy Birthday, about 25 times, and gorged on birthday cake, yes from Shoprite. They also did an impromptu choir rehearsal in preparation for tomorrow’s service.

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Unimaginable beauty

I hit the shower and all the girls headed for the lake for another swim. When I emerged from the shower area, the girls AND the nuns were all lathered up from head to toe, shampoo and body soap and were bathing in the lake, mostly tops down, bottoms covered. Yikes! The security guard chastised them for the lathering, not the nudity, and directed them to the changing area but they all ignored his directions and continued their ritual, oblivious to men, women and children walking nearby.

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Girls are girls everywhere!

Does any of this matter? You bet….I was in awe of everything about this day; the beauty of the lake, the humility and grace of these girls who so lovingly accepted their used and ill-fitting bathing suits without a blink, the bond of friendships we share in such a short time, the contrasts between teen girls in Malawi and the US, the simplicity with which we can do life, their smiles and laughter….all of it pushes my heart open wider and wider.

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Clowning around with Sr Martha

I am able to pause here in Malawi, to clear the decks of “things to do”, of time to keep; to take in and appreciate the little things, the joys, the laughter, the heartache behind the silence and simplicity. It is bittersweet for me now as I count down the days to completion of my service here.

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Grace

But is it complete? I have been drawn into this culture like a moth to a flame, like steel to a magnet, and I am not done. I don’t know how, when or what will bring me back but I am returning because I am having too much fun and this is just too darn interesting, deep, and meaningful to let go of completely.

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Loving the lake

 

ZOEY, Journey of Faith

The longer I continue my service in Malawi, the more I realize the journey and the learning have less to do with my actual job than the lessons I am learning about faith, and my relationship with God.

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Vermont spring

Last week I received news that Zoey, my beloved dog and 24/7 companion for the last 12 years, had become very ill. After a few days of watching and waiting for tests, I decided to make the trip home as the vet said she was most likely suffering from advanced cancer, somewhere.

Peace Corps quickly gave me permission to travel and use my last vacation days plus some “without stipend” to make the 7000+ mile trip home. For some, this seems absurd, but those of you who are animal people get it. I arrived home to a thin, weak animal who couldn’t even get up to greet me or wag her tail. I was sad and scared but grateful I had returned. I had prayed the whole way home that she would hang on til I arrived.

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Me and mom

We spent the 9 days with my dear friend Deborah and her 2 dogs, Dexter and Akeelah. Between continuing tests, checking on mom, caring for Zoey, and taking care of myself, it was a pretty stressful and emotionally exhausting experience. After multiple blood tests, chest and abdominal xrays, abdominal ultrasound, tick titers, Coombs test, urine tests, trials of antibiotics, and IV fluids we still have no answer or diagnosis.

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road trip

My team of healers went to work quickly. Marcia, Martha, Deborah and I were pretty much talking, consulting, and trying different homeopathic remedies from 7 in the morning til 10 at night. Zoey continued to run very high fevers of 104-105 pretty much all day and night and nothing seemed to work. She was anorexic and would eat only tiny amounts at a time from my hand (chicken sausage or ground beef) Her kidney function was good and she was able to drink enough to keep herself hydrated.

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Grace and Precious

We all believe (well except for the vets) this mess was caused by a severe reaction to a vaccine she received earlier in the month. There is just no other explanation. Regardless, I was faced with the possibility of putting her down after my caregivers backed out and would not take her back. Who wants to care for a dog that is sick and could die on your watch?

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cooking nsima

Everyday I prayed for guidance, for direction, for an answer to the dilemma. Committed to finishing my contract in Malawi, I did not see staying home with her as an option. She was not strong enough to make the trip nor would a vet sign off on a health certificate to bring her to Malawi with me. No answers or people were presenting themselves, we still had no diagnosis, and I was becoming panicked and discouraged.

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swimming in Delray

Yesterday I scheduled the appointment to have Zoey euthanized. I had run out of options and she continued to run the high fever but was comfortable and eating a little. I had arranged for her to be buried on my farm in Reading (that I recently sold but they agreed that she could be buried there with the other dogs and cat and rooster) My neighbor Bill was planning to dig the hole this morning with his backhoe. The vet was coming at 2 pm to euthanize her right there in the field, LOVE VERMONT

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Mt Tom trail in spring

This morning I was guided to take a walk in my sanctuary, Mt Tom, with Zoey. When I looked into her eyes, she was bright, alert and clearly not ready to depart this life. I just could not bear the thought of making this choice to end her life when she still appeared to want to stay, with a pretty strong vital force.

I stopped at the market to get a scone (craving baked goods) and ran into a dear friend. When doing the “woe is me, no caregiver” routine, she suggested the name of a mutual friend. Perfect, I thought, and drove the 2 miles to where she was orchestrating the Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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Canoeing

After a brief reunion, I reviewed the situation and asked her if she was at all interested or willing and she said YES! Now bear in mind, this is 4 hours from the scheduled appointment time with the vet in the field. Needless to say, after introducing her to Zoey who was with me in the car, she confirmed that she would take it on. I just broke down and wept with relief and joy at the miracle that had just occurred.

I say miracle because I truly believe God intervened on our behalf, and at the 11th hour. The timing, the synchronicity, the circumstances, the solution, is indeed a miracle.   I am learning the lesson of patience, of waiting, of faith. Never did I expect this outcome to occur as it did. I could not have planned or orchestrated everything any better. Yet, I was hanging on by a thread, impatient, discouraged, frustrated.

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visit with the girls

I got to see that the answers and the solution will not come one minute before we are ready, before the highest good of all is determined. I am learning to trust that this time of patience and frustration and discouragement is the ripening and cultivation of faith. It happens with more and more frequency, the more I practice, trust, and the closer I stay to my higher power.

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Tomorrow I head back to Malawi to complete my service that ends on the 30th of June. I am eager to get back and finish some important projects and reconnect with my peeps. In the meantime, I have to trust that whatever happens with Anne and Zoey will be as it should be, and I have done all I can to support Zoey and her healing, and keep my commitments in Malawi.

 

 

Kaapstad

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Just another coastal shot!

When I visited Maui in 2007 I was so touched by the Haleakala volcano and the energy of the island that I cried when my plane took off to return home. Today I am filled with a similar experience of sadness, wonder, and anticipation as I depart the most beautiful city on earth, Cape Town, South Africa.

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Knysna heads

My 11 days in this magical place have completely captivated my spirit and nourished my soul. Everywhere I look I see beauty, majesty; nature in its rawness and splendor. My sadness in leaving is about my journey back to Malawi, my home for now, but a place of suffering, poverty, and blandness. Though my life there is enriched by my relationships and friendships, I have craved “civilization” as I know it.

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Grooming duet

For 11 days I savored fresh croissants, juicy burgers, gelato, fresh salads, and calamari direct from the sea. I slept with the windows unlocked and open, under a down duvet, listening to the Indian Ocean waves crashing in the distance. I delighted in running along the ocean in tight fitting Nike shorts with a tank top, my bare legs showing for the first time in 9 months and no one was staring. Well, maybe they were but not in the same way….I attended 2 AA meetings, my first since leaving the US in July, which I desperately longed for and thoroughly enjoyed. Wi-fi, cell service, and a rental car that didn’t rattle over every bump in the road. Wait, there were no bumps or pot holes!

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Very docile camels

Hiking alone up Table Mountain was challenging, invigorating, inspiring. The views from the top were unbelievably beautiful and impressive, overlooking the city as well as strands of white sand and turquoise water. I also fulfilled a life long dream of surfing, albeit short, as I crashed and burned on my first wave, suffering an open dislocation of my index finger requiring an ER visit.

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Surfing digger

I reconnected with Roy, a native Cape Towner who so graciously chauffeured me around, viewing Cape Town through the eyes of a native. He also served as my ambulance and braiied for me in the quaint cottage I rented by the beach. The 2 large ridgeback dogs and the elderly cat at the cottage provided me with the cuddling and connection with the animal world I am craving. We even stopped to take in the course walk at a 3 day event (equestrian) being staged in Noordhoek.

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Roy and me Boulders Beach

We journeyed up the wild coast , mesmerized by the landscape. Endless rolling hayfields undulating into the jagged mountains reaching skyward on all sides, their peaks encased in white fluffs of clouds under a deep blue sky. Cage diving with the great white sharks was thrilling and frigidly cold, even in a wet suit. Robben’s Island moved me to tears as I listened to the experiences of those housed with Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners during their quest for freedom from apartheid.

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Christa Brand, Mandela’s prison guard, and friend

From the moment I arrived in this magical land, I was enthralled with the energy, the vibe, the beauty. I have felt my soul nourished and my spirit renewed. It was an experience of complete and utter joy!

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Proteas, the national flower

For years I have prayed to be led to a place that feels like this. But really? 7850 miles from my home and family? It is a challenge for me now to return to Malawi and keep my wits about me, completing the service to my program and my students with dedication and the commitment they deserve. But I am ready…ready to investigate with all my heart, the opportunity to live and breathe in this energy, at least for an extended time, at some point in the near future.

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Cage diving with the great white sharks

As many of you know, I am impulsive by nature and practice. As a result, I have prayed a lot over the last few days for a sign that this desire, this longing that I feel is somehow right for me.   Yesterday as I was returning from Robben Island I toured around the waterfront area, eating, shopping and just taking in the sights and sounds.

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View from Table Mountain

From a distance I noticed 2 massive red poodle sculptures lining the waterside. I smiled and commented to myself that Cabot and Jackson had decided to join me in Cape Town. I got the chills.   Of course it was orchestrated by Hooper. It didn’t occur to me until today that perhaps that was the sign I was looking for. That my beloved poodles were there waiting for me!

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Fat and happy

Tomorrow I will return to my site in Mzuzu; to the hand laundering, boring food, gaping wounds, and yes, the sweetest of friends. I will be launching a very big project at the hospital to improve pain management so will be busily engaged in work and service. But not too busy to begin my investigation of what may be the next phase calling me.

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Cape Town waterfront

My plan is still to return to Vermont in July after Kate and I travel for a few weeks following completion of both our PC service. While in VT I will have a chance to breathe, walk in the woods, visit with family and friends, and love all over Zoey. I also look forward to visiting Carrie in Austin and Tina, Lauren and the grandchildren. In Denver and Chicago.

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Sideways opening drawbridge

I look forward to that time of discernment and I will do all I can to approach it with an open mind and heart. But really, I want to continue on to the next adventure, wherever that will take me. And I really hope it is back to Africa.