A few days ago, as Dave and I were studying our Hausa language "to be" verbs, he looked at me and said, "Do you realize that in about a week we'll be in Niger?" I thought about the upcoming days and it hit me! The long awaited departure to Niger with the Peace Corps was just around the corner and it was a bit unsettling. Soon we'd be leaving our comfortable home near the coast of NC where the ocean has been a calming influence as well as a powerful threat. We'll miss our cups of coffee, reading the newspaper and watching the hummingbirds flit from feeder to feeder as they prepare for their own long journey. There'll be no more symphony concerts, opera, volunteer work, movies, or dinners with our friends. We'll be further away from our daughter in Wilmington, our son, other family and friends. Each activity of the past few days has become "the last time we will......." before leaving for Niger.
But, yes, soon we will be starting a different , stimulating life with new peple of all ages and soon we'll be meeting our welcoming Nigerien Host family .Wonder what they will be like? Will they like the small hostess gifts we are taking them, as encouraged by the Peace Corps? Doors will open to fresh experiences many people will never be have a chance to try, with opportunities to serve in a totally different manner. We are not turning our backs on our present life but are seeking to build upon our experience and enrich both our lives and those of other people in the world. As I think of embarking on this journey it makes me want to study harder to learn one of the local languages because if we can't communicate with local villagers, how can I educate people on healthier living practices or how can Dave teach others to grow more sustainable crops for their families in an arid village near the Sahara Desert?
After thinking about all these changes and turns in our lives, we proceeded with our fairly well planned steps to prepare to leave the country ,such as vacating our home, giving vehicles to adult children, registering to vote on-line for 2 years, dealing with mail issues and Visa payments. Then on October 11 my 91 year old Mother peacefully died in a nursing home in TN. Though not unexpected, this event too, was unsettling. Was this a sign for me NOT to continue with the Peace Corps commitment with Dave? What would Mother say? As we traveled to attend her memorial service we learned that a niece in New York had given birth to healthy twin daughters on Oct. 13. The seasons were turning----from death to life, just as fall turns to winter which turns to spring then to summer and starts all over again. The answer was there as if my Mother had said it---life goes on, things change, decisions are made based on pressing forward , taking things as they come and yes, enjoying the turns that occur. Yes, my Mother would want us to continue with our Peace Corps dream and relish in the fact that we'd be serving during the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary year. Many volunteers from the 60's have voiced amazement at the fact that the Peace Corps persists and is even stronger, larger and offering service to more countries than ever imagined when President John F. Kennedy initiated the idea and call to service.
Dave and I are in Philadelphia right now and will meet our fellow invitees to Niger in a couple of days. Keep an eye on our blog as Dave will describe our group and some of the happenings as we move to departure on Thursday. His perspective will be thought provoking and probably a bit humorous. To, sai anjime. Okay, see you later. Judy