On ending well

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Locals?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Coming to the end of things is always a mixed bag… especially where travel is concerned. There are blessings and curses, upright smiles and inverted ones, tears both of sadness and joy. These past few days have been filled with endings. The last time to walk through Endabash; the last visits to the homes of friends; the last trip to the buy eggs at the little shop in the center of town. Little things. Everyday things. Important things.

I am learning to tread lightly through my life, but with purpose… Trying to learn to let go of things that I can’t hold on to, but savor them while they are there. To avoid being incapacitated by change, while at the same time avoiding addiction to it. To be a responsible vagabond. To leave lives and places better for having been there instead of leaving a wake of broken promises and half realized dreams. To “keep my feet” as J.R.R. Tolkien put it.

It is commonly asserted that the traveler should make no lasting connections, no ties strong enough to bind them to a place, because if they should venture into this messy territory their traveling days are likely to end and restlessness is sure to follow. Either that or one goes around diving into the deep end, making promises that were never meant to be kept and breaking them and hearts in the process. I think that truth about travel (as in most things) lies in the middle. To grasp the fabric of a place lightly, but also to feel it’s texture and add a few strengthening stitches of your own; this is the secret to making meaningful travel responsibly part of life.

Lindsay and I have been doing a lot of coming and going since we got married and the way our careers are shaping up it may become the norm for us. We are trying to learn this art. Learning to put down gentle roots. To make promises we know we can keep.  To leave the fabric of a place a little richer and more durable than we found it. To align the stitching we add with the overall pattern; to ask the wearers themselves what type of pattern they prefer instead of imposing our own ideas of the perfect “garment” onto them. This is an art. We have made mistakes. We are learning.

We leave Endabash tomorrow for Arusha where we will spend a week “wrapping up” (with all that that entails). Leaving Endabash feels like the real end of our time in Tanzania. Technically, Arusha is still Tanzania, but it’s not REALLY… if you get me. A modern city only retains so much of it’s countries heritage. If one really wants to experience a country’s cultural fabric, getting out of it’s cities it essential.

Besides, Endabash has grown to feel like home for us.

We call our hosts Babu and Bibi (Grandpa and Grandma). The children running around call us baba and mama (father and mother). We like to think that we have become a part of the fabric of this place, if only slightly and temporarily. Hey, I even gave 15 back-to-school haircuts this morning (I had the best rate in town… free).

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Figaro Figaro

An update on the Indiegogo donation money…

We received a total donation amount of $8160, which has been an incredible blessing during our time here. Our commitment to our donars was that the first $5000 would go to defray the costs for our travel/living and working in Tanzania for 4 months. The remainder we were to put towards the sustainable development of the Endabash community.

The remainder is $3160. Which comes to just over 5 million in TSH. As was stated in the last blog the money was to go to the community group who submitted the most well thought out business/grant proposal. After reviewing the proposals Lindsay and I sat down with the World Vision staff and decided that the Nyota Njema women’s sewing group was to get the funding.

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Presenting the Certificate

Nyoto Njema have been in operation for 4 years, which gives them a measure of sustainability already. Their plan is to buy sewing machines, sweater knitting machines, and build a permanent place of business; currently they are depending on a rented space and rented machines which can be repossessed at a moments notice. Besides the obvious resiliency that these women already display, we liked the fact that they built alternate streams of income into their overall business strategy. Their plan is to also raise chickens, goats and do small scale farming as a group to supplement the income of the sewing business. This showed us that they already have a measure of innate business savvy.

A GHO certificate was presented to the secretary of the group on Wednesday April 24, 2014. The entire $3160 are to be dispersed to the Endabash World Vision Program Manager Gloria Mashingia, and the group will work with Work Vision on the implementation of their business goals. World Vision and GHO are not taking any percent of the $3160 (the Indiegogo fees were extracted from the $5000). We will keep you updated on the progress of the group both on this blog and on Global Humanitarian Outreach’s website (in the making).

We came across many other sustainable projects in Endabash, so stay tuned if you want to learn of some really great (and sustainable) opportunities to put your money where your mouth is. We love you guys and will see many of you soon.

 

A picture’s worth 1000 words

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We thought you might like to know what we have been up to lately. Rather than tell you, we thought we would show you with a few pictures. But, here’s a brief overview…

Working towards lasting change… hopefully

We have been doing a lot of trainings lately. We call these TOT’s (Training of the Trainers). So far we have done multiple trainings in how to use a simplified business proposal and how to write a grant proposal. The purpose of these is to fight against dependency by training community leaders to train the rest of the community on these, and other, essential development skills. Historically, a rural village such as Endabash would rely on a large Governmental or Non-governmental organization to write a grant or business proposal for them. Things are changing though.

 Jeremy and I (and other development authorities) believe that the people we are working with are more than capable of raising their own standard of living. Many times all that is needed is some skill building and education. In this way we are trying to avoid the dependency syndrome that manifests itself in many aid-reliant countries. We want to encourage real sustainable change and empowerment.

Since we have extra funds that we were able to raise through GHO (Global Humanitarian Outreach), we gave both the business proposal group and grant proposal group a deadline to submit to GHO for those funds. They don’t know that we have anything to do with GHO. We just presented that we know of a NGO that was excepting proposals. This way these groups can practice their new skills in real-life application. It’s also a win for us because we know we’ll be giving our extra funds to a sustainable cause. Its all very exciting and we know both these groups would use the funds well.

Educating towards a preferred future… preferably

This first set of pictures is a training we were a part of on how to write a simple Business Proposal. We did it with a group of ladies who have been running a tailoring business. They have been through incredible hardships, but have been in continuous operation for 4 years. These women are truly amazing and are looking for additional funding to expand their business so that they will be able to better provide for their families.

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This second set of pictures is from a Grant Proposal Training we undertook. The group being training is the Endabash Region Group in charge of income generating activities. It is comprised of various community leaders from the Endabash area.

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This last set of photos is us on the weekends. I decided to do some painting (with Q-tips for brushes) with some of the kids we live with. Jeremy enjoys swinging in his hammock with a good book. As you can see, we have temporarily adopted two little fur balls. The smaller of the two is Asali which means honey in Swahili. The taller one is Tanga (short for Tangawizi, meaning ginger in Swahili) Stoney Tangawizi also happens to be the name of Jeremy’s favorite soda here. One of our favorite local dishes is Ndizi which means banana. Here they take the unripened bananas and cook them. It tastes really similar to potatoes, and there is a multitude of ways you can prepare and eat it.

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Finally we leave you with the voices of Endabash. Aren’t these children beautiful?! Enjoy🙂

Mirror Mirror On the Wall…

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Last week I looked in the mirror… It’s a small, red, hand-held mirror I had purchased in the market after realizing it had been well over a week since I had looked in one. What?! But what if my hair was a mess all day last Monday, or what if I had a giant zit on my chin last Wednesday? Lets not even talk about the possibility of my eyebrows falling out of place.

I held the mirror up closely and looked at my eyes. It had been 2 months since I had worn any make-up.

My hair was up in its usual braid and I was still continuing to sprout the occasional white hair here n there. I looked at what I was wearing. I was wearing the same thing I had been wearing for the past three days. It was still good for another day at least. It was decently clean if you looked past the few smudges of peanut butter on it from yesterdays breakfast. I took off my mismatched socks, looked down at my toes, and wiggled them. My two big toes were the only ones left with a few splashes of polish on them.  I smiled at all of this because this is the most beautiful and content I’ve ever felt about myself.

This would not have been the case a few months ago. When I would wake up I would head strait to the mirror to see what last nice rest brought me. I’d probably tell myself something like “eh, same old same ole” or “Good heavens girl, get some sun on those cheeks”. I would then proceed to attack every white hair I’d see with a pair of tweezers.  When picking out what I was going to wear for the day, it would need to be something I haven’t worn for at least two weeks. To be honest my toes would probably look the same.

Taking a break to soak in all of the Serengeti

Taking a break to soak in all of the Serengeti

Why is it that I own my beauty here in bush Tanzania, but reject it when I’m back in the states? I’ve come to the conclusion that mirrors only reinforce what you think about yourself. You’re going to see what you CHOOSE to see. Women in general struggle with this. We are supposed to be perfectly coiffed, have the perfect hour glass figure, and stay up to date on current trends. If we don’t have all of the above then we buy it! Why? Who are we really trying to please?

WHO IS OUR MIRROR?

You see the real mirrors we carry or look into are people. Maybe your mirror is your co-workers, maybe its your peers, maybe its your spouse or significant other.  Regardless of who it is, we all sub-consciously and sometimes willingly hand over our mirrors to someone else. We ask others what they see, and allow them to tell us who is the fairest of them all.

Since being here in Tanzania I’ve just stopped caring… I’ve stopped handing my mirror out every day. To some that would be considered “letting herself go.” On the contrary. I’ve taken my mirror back. My mirror has become so precious to me. I used to hate seeing pictures of me without make-up on. Now I’m blasting them on facebook! I’m also surrounded by a culture who is more concerned with whether you have shoes on your feet, are warm enough, and have the parts of your body covered that need to be. Matching is not an issue. Make up is not an issue. Hair fixed perfectly everyday is not an issue. As a result I can put so much more focus on things that actually are an issue

Some of the sweetest moments I’ve allowed myself to take in are when Jeremy shows me his mirror and how he sees me. In his mirror I see him smiling so big as I braid my hair and put on my peanut butter stained shirt. I also see him hurt when I see a beautiful women walk by and I compare myself to her. I see him taking mascara out of my hand, throwing the high heels in the trash, and asking me to slow dance.

Our back yard,  the Ngorogoro Crater

Our back yard, the Ngorogoro Crater

Almost 2 years ago I went through a life-changing workshop called True You (beyourtrueyou.org). Through that workshop I developed a contract for myself. I am a Virtuous woman.  I pulled it from Proverbs 31:10-31 and my desires to be that women. I always have been that women and I have found such value and worth in claiming it. But, I only thought it applied to my inner beauty. Not until my mirror-less experience here did I realize the richness of claiming it for my outer beauty as well.

When I return to the states I know old habits will want to creep in. I’m sure I’ll begin to put on make-up again and pluck or possibly dye a few white hairs. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing bad about make-up, or wanting to look nice. Some of us have an artistic flare and we like to express it through the way we present ourselves. I encourage that. I also encourage everyone, male and female, to ask yourself who’s holding your mirror.

We were made in the image of God. Short, tall, frizzy hair, small chest, acne, big ears, knobby knees etc…. Whoever held your mirror and said change this about your body was only listening to whoever held THEIR mirror and told them to change. God designed us and we are B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! Psalms 139:13,14  “You made all the delicate parts of my body and knit me together in my mothers womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous. How well I know it!”

Trepidatious Tanzanian Transportation

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Boda Boda Arusha

The transition is upon us. Lindsay and I have been in the village of Endabash for a week now. If you are wondering where that is I’ll tell you how to get there in explicit detail…

Take a plane from your nearest respective airport bound for Kilimanjaro International Airport in Moshi Tanzania. Board that plane (a most docile and sterile environment that acts as an sedative on most travellers) and after you land and proceed through customs and immigration, find some manner of four-wheeled transportation in the general direction of Arusha (there is only one road going that direction, you can’t miss it). I will now give you a brief overview of your varied options for getting yourself from here to there in Tanzania.

And there is a variety….

If the illustrious Baskin Robbins moved to Tanzania and went into the mobile ice cream business, he could assign each one of his flavors to be dispensed on separate and individual forms of transportation and still wouldn’t need to double up. I will give you a brief overview of the most noteworthy land yachts cruising these proverbial waters.

Lumbering Bus

Traditional method

One possible option would be a large lumbering bus, belching diesel fumes and being driven as if it were a much smaller and more agile vehicle than its obvious size unsubtly alludes to. These buses are generally made for about 40 or so patrons, but are routinely pressed into schlepping twice the biomass precariously down the road. This is a very cost effective option provided it doesn’t break down, but not necessarily the most olfactorally pleasing one.

Dala Dala

Cultural Experience

Another option would be the ever-infamous dala dala (matatu if your in Kenya, mini-bus elsewhere). These small rolling sweat boxes are also driven at rates that might qualify them at the Nuremburg Ring, but at least their size and maneuverability are better matched to these sort of white-knuckle endeavors. The drivers of these heroic vehicles have must have very large b…ravery centers in their brains. They will pass when and where they please, heedless of all good sense, signage, or congestion. I will say that they do get a person from point A (All is well) to point C (Coronary) faster than they probably should be gotten there. Speed and “the experience” are the upsides. Stress induction, shared body heat, and possibility of death are potential detractors. I will say that most dala dalas are decorated in a most ‘creative,” if not contradictory, fashion. I rode in one recently that was festooned with the face of the last Pope and effigies of the crucifixion scene, while the rear tailgate was juxtaposed with two large Stars of David. I presume they were trying to cover their liturgical bases so they would be dually prepared for the afterlife in the event that their racecar driving proclivities proved not to be adequate.

Boda Boda ride

Adrenaline laced option

The most maneuverable choice by miles (or kilometers depending on your perspective) is the moto-taxi or boda boda. This hair-raising option is not for the faint of heart. The experience is this: You wave down a passing motorcyclist and simply hop on the back. Be sure that your death grip is sufficient to withstand the intense swerving necessary to pass vehicles on the shoulder of the road while dodging fleeing pedestrians. If you are lucky you will get to experience the “center lane pass.” This cute little maneuver involves veering dramatically into the center divider (note: this is not a lane just the line in the middle of the road), upon the moto-taxi driver’s realization that there is indeed oncoming traffic he proceeds to continue the pass maneuver unperturbed allowing the passenger on the back to simultaneously high-five both the passenger on his left and the driver on his right. This transportation option is not four wheeled, and hence has a distinct advantage in traffic situations (like say if a cow or goat herd is leisurely crossing the road and creating a traffic jam). The shoulder is always a viable option to any self respecting moto-taxi driver. The downside is the possible need for a fairly large skin graft and the ensuing rehabilitation.

You could always take a privately hired taxi: air-conditioning, speed, relative safety…. boring. Avoid if possible.

Once you have determined which mode of transportation best fits your exacting requirements, proceed past Arusha, taking a left towards Ngorogoro crater as you exit the city. When you reach the large village of Karatu take a left on the dirt road. Proceed roughly another 35 kilometers on characteristically hellacious dirt road (popularly known as an “African Massage”) and you will find yourself in illustrious little hamlet of Endabash. Karibu friends.

I’m curious…. Which mode have you taken? What was your experience? If you haven’t been to Africa, Which WOULD you take if you had the choice? Why? Reply in the comments…

Home Sweet Homesick

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Dual Emotions

Lately I have been experiencing two opposite emotions about my current state of residence, the first being that I love it here in Tanzania. I am absorbing so much from this culture, I am peaceful, and as I mentioned before it feels oddly like home. The Second feeling is that I am dreadfully homesick.  Usually you are one or the other of these two. I was also under the impression that, whether a person gets homesick or not determines where they will choose to live the rest of their life.

When living overseas, homesickness is to be expected. It’s natural to miss your family, friends, and the normal comforts of your culture. I knew this and awaited its arrival.  I’ve grown up traveling a lot and have always been adaptable to my surroundings. I can pretty much sleep anywhere if I’m tired enough (Insert childhood picture of me sleeping in the dog bed with a beach towel over me). What I didn’t anticipate on this trip was simultaneously feeling homesick while also feeling at home.

My own Green Gables…

I always knew that Jeremy wanted to live abroad and I thought I could hack that for a year or two. I always said my ideal scenario would be to have a home base in TN we lived at for part of the year, and then lived abroad for the rest. I have dreams of living on a small self-sustaining farm. I want to have chickens, and goats, and horses. I want to have a garden. My own Green Gables… with Jeremy as my Gilbert (Jeremy would roll his eyes at this, he calls Ann of Green Gables my form of crack). I want my kids to have a big field and woods to play in. I want to live a hop skip and a jump away from my family. How will I see these dreams come to life if I am forever globetrotting?

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O-H-I-O! Even here in Africa

I also have deep rooted dreams of working with refugees, sex trafficked children, and orphans. I want them to experience real freedom, real safety, and real love. I want to walk side by side those that I am helping and be there to celebrate the fruits of their labors with them. I have dreams of my children seeing the pyramids themselves, instead of in books. I don’t want my kids to just know that mommy and daddy help poor people; I want those poor people to become their extended family. How will I be able to do this if I never make it past my white picket fence?

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Gods dreams = my dreams

I have recently been reading a book called Inspired to Action by Rebecca Pratt. It’s about experiences she had while working with Mercy Ships for two years. I highly recommend it.  She pointed out that she believes that the desires of our hearts are actually Gods desires. He put them in us because he knew we would be the perfect person to facilitate them. They are HIS dreams for HIS children.  This is both comforting and frightening to me. Comforting in knowing that God has dreams for my family and I. He wants to play with my kids in the woods and he wants to work with me in the garden. Frightening because He also wants me to rescue his precious babies from slavery and abuse.

I had to chew on this for a few days. I would have to choose to walk by faith and not by sight. As I write this I am again experiencing two emotions. God is breaking my heart for what broke His. When I think about it I cry for all those little children whose innocence had been ripped from them. I cry for the dreams that they too have, but may not ever come true. Then a different thought hits me. I grieve deeply for the precious time with my family that I know I will be sacrificing in the future.  It’s kind of hard typing that actually…. I’m so incredibly close with them. (Its ok mom, go grab a tissue). They have been nothing but supportive of Jeremy and I, and the future we are choosing. My sister told me last night how proud of me she is and how much she brags about us. I know it’s a grievance for them too.

I’ve taken time to pray about all this and ask God what all this means, or what he is wanting me to gain from this. My dear friend Shonna taught me to ask God this question, “When You were on earth, when did You feel the way that I do now?” Wow.  I know God loved being with his creations and seeing them grow. He created Earth so I’m sure he felt a sense of “home”. But…. he left heaven. Heaven! I can’t imagine how deep His longing for home was. His longing must have been that much harder because he wanted to take everyone with Him. He still does.

“Comfort zones”

When people say things like “development work just isn’t for me” or “ it takes a special kind of person for that” I cringe. It’s a lie that someone, maybe even yourself, has been feeding to you. Every single person has been called to it. The difference is that some are more willing than others to break out of their comfort zones.  Development can be in your own neighborhood, or in neighborhoods an ocean’s length away. Who is it that has been laid on your heart? Where would you find these kinds of people?

Another difference is lack of knowledge.  Countless people have no idea what development work actually is. And many more think that you’ll be broke the rest of your life if you choose a career in this field.  Financially, development work is the 6th largest global industry. Jeremy and I never got into development for the money, but we are excited for all the great projects we will be able to contribute to as a result of it.

Leap of faith

Will I one day have my farm, garden, and chickens? Absolutely! Will I be able to help rescue innocent children from the hands of those that hurt them? You betcha! It’s called a leap of faith for a reason. If it were a skip of faith, many more would be able to do it with ease. Learning to trust God in his plans to use me, and to fulfill the desires of my heart is a daily choice. I challenge you to really dig deep and ask yourself why you have the desires that you do for your life. Ask yourself what it is you are really afraid of that could be keeping you from these. You have the dreams that you do because no one is more capable of doing them then you! (you’re welcome Dr. Suess).

Why I Quit Medical School

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Jeremy and Lindsay

Me and Lindsay

It hit me. Sometime around the time I was filling out my secondary application for medical school during my senior year in college… it hit me. It felt less like a swift slap to the face and more like a creeping, slinking hollowness… perhaps akin to a small but persistent elephant sitting on my chest. We’ll call him Chester. I would be able to shake this persistent pachyderm for days, perhaps weeks at a time, but he would always return. Scramble up my leg, nestle down just below my left collarbone and take a nap. Deep breaths wouldn’t make him go away.  Long runs wouldn’t shake him. Most of the time he was barely perceptible, but present nonetheless. Doubt.

Excitement and Doubt

The acceptance letter came. Rejoicing ensued. But halfhearted, fraught with thinly veiled concerns and flimsy self-assurances that this was the path I was destined to take. The letter was like a steroid injection to my ego and my newly muscled ego chased Chester away for a month or two. If medical school wants you, how can you say no to medical school. It’s a privilege, an honor even, to be one of the few and the proud… and it genuinely was. And yet, after the newness had worn off, Chester slowly slunk back to his customary perch. Doubt.

The crazy plan…

It was around Christmas break of this same senior year that my friend Bjorn Harboldt shared with me his seemingly laughable plan to travel from one end of the world to the other… in a year… quite literally. His plan was to start at the furthest southern city in South America Ushuaia in Cape Horn. Travel up through South America, Central America, and North America to Alaska. Find a way across the Pacific Ocean. Continue through Asia, up into and across Siberia to Eastern Europe. Down through Eastern Europe to the ancient shores of the Mediterranean. Cross that sea and traverse Africa to the farthest southwestern corner and the Cape of Good Hope. Quite ludicrous. Ostentatious even. A truly excessive bit of traveling.

“to live a year intentionally…”

At the mere mention of this trip Chester fled. My heart beat with a strong and assured thud at the thought of such an adventure. I did not have delusions that this trip would drastically change anything. I didn’t believe that I would “find” myself because I didn’t really feel lost. I didn’t believe that the trip even made “sense” in the traditional “sense” of the word. My parents and many friends thought that I had perhaps been given over to depravity of a most irresponsible, albeit innocent, sort. My thoughts were simply that this is what I wanted out of life. To broaden my perspective, to live adventure instead of only talking and dreaming about it, to follow the strong and clear thud of my heart, to live a year intentionally instead of following the prescribed plan, to take ownership of my actions.

Although I usually oscillate precariously over weighty decisions… It didn’t take me long to lay my cards on the table and tell Bjorn that I was “all in.”

Planning, saving, selling possessions, successfully attempting to get companies to give us equipment and unsuccessfully getting companies to give us money, getting medical school deferrals, graduating from college, packing, dreaming. It all happened so quickly. And then suddenly… we were getting off the plane in Chile with packs on our back, no reservations, and no real plan except to get to the Cape of Good Hope.

“It opened me up to options and ways of existing that my narrow mid-American worldview would never have even entertained.”

Traveling around the globe by any means possible...

Traveling around the globe by any means possible…

I will not regale you with the details as they can be read at http://www.thewholeworldround.wordpress.com. Suffice it to say that that year of mad capped traveling opened me up to a more global way of thinking. It opened me up to options and ways of existing that my narrow mid-American worldview would never have even entertained. I met people who were living, really living. Not just talking about pedaling a bike from Istanbul to Vietnam, actually doing it. Not just talking about riding a motorcycle from Boston to the bottom of South America, actually doing it. Not just talking about opening up a little hostel in Thailand…. Actually doing it. I met a lot of dreamers… that were actively turning their dreams and interests into realities.

The open road... the ultimate education.

The open road… the ultimate education.

First year of medical school

Chester was mostly absent during this year of exploration. The next time he showed up was the summer after I returned from the trip. He stayed with me all the way through the first year of medical school. He grew into a full-blown tusker of doubt. Doubt about the path I had taken. All the while I created a million well-crafted reasons why I was on the right path. People around me re-enforced this thinking. My own ego re-enforced this thinking. The self-denial was spread thick. I almost dropped out at Thanksgiving break, at Christmas break, at spring break, but my carefully constructed rationalizations kept me around until the end of the year.

It was around this time that I met Lindsay. She is now my wife. I did some hardcore re-assessing during this summer between my first and second years of medical school. I went to an intensive, interactive self-improvement workshop. I read a lot. I prayed a lot. I began telling myself the truth. I did some very hard and very personal growth work. And then second year medical school began….

“I realized that my life was not going where I wanted it to go.”

Two weeks in it all came to a head. The thin veil was lifted. I stopped lying to myself. There were no more rationalizations. I realized that I was in a place I didn’t want to be in. I realized that my life was not going where I wanted it to go. As strange as it sounds, I realized I had gotten there by default. I had gotten there by letting life happen to me. I was not happy. So I made a very difficult decision… I quit medical school.

“…taking ownership for my future instead of just floating towards a sensible default.”

I wish I could say that my life purpose instantly crystallized and it has been all rainbows and sunbeams since I made that decision, but that wouldn’t be true. There was an instant flood of relief once the decision was made, but it has been difficult to let go. To picture myself in the future as something other than a medical doctor. To start taking ownership for my future instead of just floating towards a sensible default. To take steps toward living more wholeheartedly. At some point during this process I realized that Chester was shrinking. Taking ownership for my path in life was causing the change.

Lindsay was with me through the whole process of leaving medical school. She was with me through the doubts, the valleys, the indecision, the oscillating, and even the tears. Six months after dropping out of medical school we were engaged.  Three months after that we were married. We had a lot of long talks and earnest prayers about what we wanted our life together to be like. Global development and humanitarian work was at the core of who we both were. We both love to travel. So we made the decision together before we even got married to do a Master’s in Global Community Development that would begin the fall after we got married. We decided to follow our interests and take ownership for our path. We decided to attempt to turn those interests into a sustainable livelihood. We decided to do this together.

I am writing this from Arusha, Tanzania. I am sitting next to my wife in a little bungalow on the grounds of the Colobus Lodge. We are in the second semester of our Master’s program. We are preparing to go to a rural World Vision project to work on building the capacity of the local office and community there. I can say with complete integrity that this Master’s program is the most fulfilling formal education I have ever had. We have some awesome prospects for international internships. I am seriously considering doing a PhD in International Development. The possibilities seem endless.

I don’t recall the last time Chester was home.

This post was written by me, but it was originally posted on www.culturemutt.com. Go check out his blog. It’s really good.