On Connecting with Our Hearts

We arrived in Africa after 54 hours of travel. It was supposed to take 26 hours, but, as Greg messaged me shortly after my arrival, “no plan survives contact with reality.” It turns out the ice storm in Brussels was very, very real, which meant six hours sitting on a plane that would never take off, six more hours of waiting in line to rebook, and three more countries added to our routing – Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia – before we arrived in Uganda. But arrive we did, so WOOHOO! AND, most importantly, my traveling companion, Martha Holley Newsome, CEO of Medical Teams International, UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF COFFEE, so it’s all going to be OK. We’re here. We’re safe. WE’RE GETTING COFFEE REGULARLY.

We’ve spent our first two days meeting with the Kampala staff of Medical Teams International and with the Uganda Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, a man named Bornwell with a beautiful smile who walked me down the stairs after our meeting. I asked him why he does this work — why he’s done it for 28 years, which is his entire professional life — and he told me it is his heart. “If you do something not connected with your heart,” he said, “you are in the wrong job.” Which, amen, right, friends? Amen. Being connected to our hearts would save the whole world. Connected to our hearts and connected to each other.

Tomorrow, we head to refugee camps to visit our momrades there who are fleeing South Sudan to save their children and, thus, themselves. I won’t have time to write a lot while I’m here, but will try to update you as I have connectivity and a minute to spare. Bear with me if it’s slow and sporadic going. I may only be able to share a few snippets — a “thought for the day” — and personal photos since I’ll be focused on my work with MTI, but I want to keep you in the loop and have you join our world here as much as possible.

I’ve only been in Africa two days, and yet I feel a little like I’ve come home. Growing up in SE Asia has its similarities, I suppose, and I find myself at ease in the developing world in ways I never quite do in America. As though America is the cross-cultural experience, and the developing world understands what’s important. Food, water, safety, health, and a future for our kids. I just feel so… distracted… in the States. Like I’m chasing the strangest things and pretending they’re important. Status and stuff and an entire aisle in the grocery store devoted to nothing but cereal; what an odd way to live.

Sending love, friends.


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9 responses to “On Connecting with Our Hearts”

  1. Wait! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and yet I didn’t know that you grew up in SE Asia. How did I miss this? Have you shared this part of your story somewhere?

  2. My aunt says she sometimes wishes her house would burn down (in a safe way!) so that she could start afresh without all the clutter. If only there was a way to find a happy balance – all the people with too much stuff/choices and the people with nowhere near enough stuff/choices.

  3. FYI – I admire you! I also wanted you to tell Greg that I am quoting him in a presentation I am doing for teachers on Friday. Love this: no plan survives contact with reality. Isn’t that the truth! Take care and be safe.

  4. Yay, you got there!
    And boohoo, you were SO CLOSE TO ME when in Brussels (though I was on my way through the icestorm in Germany to get back home…) and I didn’t even know!!

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