Figuring Life Out? Maybe.

Don't you hate it when people ask you how you've been when they really don't care at all how you've been? There are always people who do that. They ask you how you're doing passively while glancing over your shoulder, looking for someone else to talk to.
I always wondered how amusing it would be to totally be honest with someone like that.
"How are you?"
"I've been terrible!"
The look on their face might almost be worth it. Anyways, on with the point. I am going to pretend that everyone who is reading this just asked me "Hey Emma, how have you been?"
Well, this is my answer.....I've been great! I mean, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. I have been step-in mother of five this weekend, no way of transporting them to and from soccer practice, soccer games, choir, play rehearsal, etc. Cooking and cleaning and cleaning and cooking.....guys, appreciate your mothers. They've got their work cut out for them!
Yeah, it's been stressful but it also helps my relationship with my siblings alot. They seem to have much more respect for me when I am in charge, thus I can show them more affection when I'm not having to battle them for the upper-hand.
I have been absolutely splendid lately. I mean, this past week hasn't been without its downsides. I had a few strange days where all I wanted to do was get on a plane and go home, but moreover I had a really touching, encouraging week.
Last weekend was the Staff Retreat for Camp David, and it was not really retreat weather. It was cold. It was rainy. It was cold. It was windy. It was cold. It was cloudy. And it was cold.
But it was such a perfect time to be with people and to just huddle together in sweaters and steal each others' hats and just....talk.
I had so many wonderful, direly needed one-on-ones with people. Moonlit walks. Crazy capture the flag. I sang a Colbie Caillat song with Twila Grace in the talent show. We even played football (my football which many of you call "soccer") in the freezing cold rain and mud. It was worth it. Totally worth it.
But it was today that put my life into perspective big time. So here it goes.

There is a thing in Rolla called the Celebration of Nations, and it's a big festival that pretty much just celebrates the diversity in cultures due to the international students and I was asked to carry the Ivorian flag in the parade. It was a huge honor....it may seem silly to some people but to me it was like they were asking me to carry the torch at the Olympics. They need two people, one to hold the flag, one to hold the sign, and so I asked Austin, of course, and he said he didn't want to. So it ended up being Twila and I, and we got there at 9:00 a.m. like we were told....the parade didn't start until 11:00 and we were grouped into continents. So I got to spend 2 hours surrounded by guys from Benin, Congo, Botswana, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
I got to sit and talk to them for two hours, speaking French, having them tell me how Ivorienne I sounded, talking about political problems, arguing with the Nigerian. They're just so accepting, so willing to just bring me into their African family that they've formed. They all were just so....so...African! There is no way to explain it. It felt like home again. They all called me "Petite Soeur." and then gave me the nickname "Ivory Coast"  and invited me to play with them when they have "African Football Games" and invited me to watch English Premiere Leagues with them.
Like I said, I felt like I was home again. And I absolutely loved the way Twila took it all as an honor and a learning experience with grace and sweetness.
I can't even begin to explain the way my heart sang when I stood with that beautiful flag in my hands, looking out over the sea of people, all different colors, religions, languages, uniting as one people. My soul came alive at the sight of the dazzling, shifting kaleidescope of colors, the breeze pulling each banner out. It gave a whole new meaning to the part of the Revelation Song "Clothed in rainbows of living color".
I could see the pride in these students' faces as they raised their countries' symbol and honored their people, and all I wanted to do the same.
They are all so brave. They left everything they ever knew, everyone they ever loved to come to this place that is so cold, so intimidating and they have made a way for themselves, still relying on each other and reveling in the comfort of familiarity but never being afraid of this new world they've entered. But still, they don't lose that part of them that will always remain different from Americans. They don't lose their roots, the essence of their very spirit. They inspire me.
The whole world inspires me. If they can be so brave, so willing to just step out and risk it all for a college education, then I should be willing to step out and be brave for faith.
They make me want to be better. They make me want to be stronger, find the joys in life here. Find the joys in community here....but never lose that part of me. Because that is truly all my Africa-Emma is....it's just a small part of the Whole-Emma. There is so much more to me now, and so much more to come!
It's exciting, this new prospect. I mean, I have experiences here I never would have had otherwise.
Take Josh for example. He is the older brother I never had. (Of course, I have an older brother I adore) But Josh is honestly one of those people I really needed lately, and one of those people I never wanted to admit I needed. He is helping me understand this whole guy thing....something I never was very well versed in. And I never would have met him if I hadn't moved here.
If I hadn't moved here, I never would have gone to Camp, led those little girls to Christ, met those amazing people, grown in my faith.
If I hadn't moved here I never would have discovered the true meaning of family. Sometimes they are the only ones who will always be there for you.
If I hadn't moved here I wouldn't have met Twila. The girl who brings waffle batter and orange juice to your house at 7:00 a.m. and then comes home with you at 9:00 p.m. to do your dishes and fold your laundry then collapse in comfortable silence on the living room floor.
If I hadn't moved here, I wouldn't have grown. There are always going to be growing pains, and life is always going to hurt, sometimes it will hurt almost more than we can bear, but I know the heart of life is good.
Once again, disclaimer....I don't have it all figured out and I never, ever will. But for once, I think I am actually getting close to being at peace with the season I am in.

That's all from me tonight. It's time to actually get a bit of sleep.
Peace

~me

2 comments:

  • Zhenya C. | September 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Wow, that's really amazing Emma. I love your writing. And if you never had come to Rolla, I would never have met you and I wouldn't be reading your blog and, and... it's too depressing to think about. And guess what? Since you met us, you will someday get to travel with us in the magic school bus and fulfill your Gypsy longings along with me. *Happy sigh*.

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