Whatever is good for your soul... do that.

October 6, 2016

For those who don't know, I served in the Peace Corps in Botswana as an HIV/AIDS volunteer from 2012-2014. Everyone's experience in the Peace Corps is different, but mine was absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to end up falling in love with a new country, a new culture, and a welcoming group of people to call my family.

This post is not intended to be a reflection of what I loved or disliked about my service. This is a brief post about my recent visit to Botswana. Feel free to check out my other blog, Bulletins from Botswana, if you're interested in my thoughts/writing throughout my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

During my service, I fell head over heels in love with the people I'm going to introduce to you. They took me in as family. They loved me, cared for me, and made Botswana home. My heart is going to be tied to this family, this village, and this country for the rest of my life.

* * * * * 

Let's back track a bit... I was free from medical school responsibilities from June 6 to July 25. M & I set the date to get married on July 2. But my heart was aching to get back to Botswana. I remember calling Michael in February and asking if I could head back to Botswana before the wedding & the answer was a loud HELL YES. I found a great priced ticket and with M's approval, that was that. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love him? He stuck with me the whole time throughout the two years in the Peace Corps - - and two years of that kind of long distance? He deserves more than one or two awards.)

M agreed to handle wedding things whenever they came up so that I could go back to visit Botswana and my sweet family there before our wedding. The school year ended on July 6 at 12 PM and I was on a plane by 4 PM. (Talk about passing out on the plane...) I had a FULL TWO WEEKS in Botswana right at the start of my summer and before my wedding.

Is that madness? I don't know. I don't think so. M didn't think so either. WHY? Because that's what my soul needed. It broke my heart not to be able to have them fly back to the USA for our wedding, so at least I could go visit, show them pictures of my dress, kiss their sweet faces, and enjoy some much needed time with them.

I'm slowly figuring this all out, but really.... WHATEVER IS GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL... DO THAT. And that meant that I was going to Botswana right before my wedding, because that's the only time I had off to do so.

* * * * * 

While I was looking through recent photos and getting ready to write this blog post, I started reminiscing on old times in Botswana. I started flipping through old photos from my time there and comparing them to my visit in June. My heart MELTED. If photos aren't your jam (specifically lots of photos of me with my Botswana family), scroll past this section. I'll add more thoughts about my visit after the photos. (BUT SERIOUSLY, oh my goodness. My kiddos are two years older, two years smarter, and at least twice as confident than the last time I saw them. My heart is all mush.) All photos on the left are from my Peace Corps Service and all photos on the right are from my recent visit in June. 

Same girl, same attitude.
Some of the girls I taught at school 
Dino & her sweet family
Mma Pego
My sweet family 
* * * * * 

I'm planning to write one more blog post about my visit to Botswana to outline more of what life looks like there on a day to day basis. But for today, this is all I have time for. 

I remember a friend from the states asking me WHY NOW? Why not wait to visit until we are finished with medical school? (That certainly would have been more convenient.) 

My answer was this: you know that feeling you have when you're home sick? Like whenever you've been abroad or the furthest away from home you've ever been? You start to miss your home, the people, and all the familiarities that come with it. You miss the smells, the food, and your normal routine. There's something so sweet about being home, and something so heart breaking about being away from home for long periods of time. 

I feel homesick ALL the time. Day in and day out. If I'm in the states, I'm homesick for Botswana. If I'm in Botswana, I'm homesick for the states. And no matter what... I'll never have all of my family and the people I love in one geographic location (or country for that matter). My heart is scattered, quite literally, around the world. 

Botswana is home. I was homesick. And so I needed to go. I needed to wrap my arms around those sweet kids and remind them that Auntie Boitshepo loves them. I needed to go check on all the kids I worked with at the local schools to see where their dreams and goals took them. I needed to drink tea with my elders and hear about their health, their wisdom, and advice. I needed to slow down, take some deep breaths, and be reminded about what truly matters. 

It was oh-so-good for my soul. And exactly what I needed. 

Ke a go ratja ditsala jame.
I can't wait to step foot in that beautiful country again. 


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