We’ve finally made it, and the tears that filled our eyes were proof of how awestruck we are to be here. Never did I expect the overwhelming feeling of love we received as we walked out of the airport. Kids had signs, they came in herds to hug us, and everyone was smiling.
I remember first walking through the airport doors. My team had to go through customs individually, so when I passed the line I was frantically trying to reunite with them. I knew what I was supposed to do. No taking to strangers just find my team. The minute I walked out the door though a man reached out at me to give me a hug. I was scared, and I didn’t know who he was. I wanted to pull away, but as he hugged me he said, “Thank you for coming! I am Pastor Celestin.” Pastor Celestin! I immediately regretted pulling away from his hug and smiled so hard my cheeks hurt. Here before me was the man I waited months to see. At that moment it hit me, I was in the Congo.
Coming into this trip I knew I hadn’t signed up for a five star vacation. I didn’t expect glamour or air conditioning, but I was not at all prepared for the reality of the Congo. Most of the roads are dirt paths, we fill up a bucket of water to flush the toilet, and we get light from a candle. Life here is opposite anything I’ve ever known, but I’m enjoying it. I’ll admit it’s a hard transition, and as soon as we get to the Washington DC airport I’ll probably hug the toilet, but this experience is what I need.
Every time I fill up the bucket to flush the toilet I’m more appreciative of my bathroom back home. Every time I light the candle at night, I’m more grateful for the electricity bills my mom pays that I’ve never once said thank you for. Every time I hop in a car and bounce up and down on the dirt paths, I think about how amazing our government is to build roads for us.
This trip is going to change me. I know it will. I too often take money for granted. I buy the things I don’t need, and I spend the money I don’t have. Here I am learning to be appreciative of everything I have. Travelling the world has allowed me to infinitely expand my worldview. It allows me to see things in a new light and know there isn’t only one way of capturing an idea. It’s only day two at the Congo, but my mentality has changed tremendously.