Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chapter 14: Bon Voyage

I look at the clock: 2am.  The house is dark, and my sister is sound asleep.  I roll over trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach.  Finally I give up on trying to sleep and quietly go downstairs.  I put on headphones, turn on the stereo, and start working on another mix tape to take with me to Africa... my new home starting tomorrow.  In 24 hours I will be taking my first step onto the hot sands of Africa!  Ugh, there goes those butterflies again.  I can’t eat; can’t sleep.  I’m on the brink of the craziest adventure of my entire life, and it’s all I can do to just keep still and work on this mixed tape.  The missionaries encouraged me to bring something from home that could provide some comfort when things get homesick, so I started compiling some of my favorite songs onto tapes.  My sister actually started recording songs off the radio complete with announcers and everything so I could close my eyes and be transported home for a little while.  Why I’d want to be transported home, I couldn’t imagine, but I did everything the missionaries suggested to prepare.  I watched the sun rise.  I had already said all of my good-byes to family and friends.  My dad had even taken me to Busch Gardens for one last hang out before I left, just me and him, and I will always cherish that time.  This is the longest I would ever be away from home, so I spaced out my good-byes to avoid getting too overwhelmed.  I didn’t want a big send off like when I left for Scotland, so we agreed that my sister would be the only person to take me to the airport.  My mom promised to come visit.  With the help of one of my best friends from high school, I crammed an entire year’s worth of clothes and supplies into one suitcase, one backpack, and my guitar case.  I even loosened my guitar strings and shoved like 3 shirts inside.  I was ready. 
I got all checked in, and then my sister and I just sat there watching the clock.  I was surprised that I was choking back tears, but this was it.  The final good-bye.  I think she could tell I was struggling because she pointed out this guy who had fallen asleep in his sleeping bag right in the middle of the airport.  All of these people were trying to make their way around him, and we just laughed.   
You can tell he was on a long trip.  I thought, that could be me in 14 hours.  So tired I just fall asleep right in the middle of some foreign airport.  I guess any huge adventure like this comes with some fear and sadness.  But as soon as I said that final good-bye and boarded the plane, any sadness or fear was completely replaced by utter excitement.  I was finally on my way to Africa…

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