October 8, 2014

Saying Goodbye

The time between my blog posts has gotten pretty excessive, so I apologize about that.  As the end of my service nears, it seems that blogging has become far less important, and spending time with friends and family in Messica has become far more important.  I have just about one month left in Messica; just over 5 weeks left in Mozambique.

I attended COS (close-of-service) Conference in the first week of September.  It was awesome to be with all of my Moz 19er friends again, but it also proved to be very difficult saying goodbye at the end of the week.  Some of my closest friends live nearby, but others live far away and I have no idea when I'll be seeing them again.  I know that I'll make it happen at some point - my sister and I LOVE road trips - but the fact that I don't have a date or a plan when I'd see them again really made it difficult to say goodbye.

Maggie, Helen, and I at COS conference!

I face this same difficulty when thinking about despedir-ing (saying goodbye to) my friends and family here in Messica.  Of course I am beyond thrilled to get back to the US.  I'll be able to call my friends whenever I want to!  I can spend time with my family, see my nephew, celebrate the holiday season, and give so many hugs!  I've missed home like crazy over the past two years, but I've also grown to love this place and call it a home away from home.

When I came to Mozambique, saying goodbye to friends and family was difficult to say the least.  It was unfathomable that I'd be away for two years, missing birthdays, graduations, weddings, and the birth of my nephew.  I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that everyone's lives would continue...just without me in them.  Of course I communicated with those I am closest with through emails, whatsapp, facebook, and skype, but receiving pictures from a friend's wedding is not even close to being there. Sometimes seeing pictures of what you're missing out on just makes being homesick worse.  But when I left the US, I knew it was temporary.  I knew a time to expect to be home.  Even though that time was a long way off, the promise of going home was there which was somehow settling.

I have a countdown on my computer until I come home.  Right now it reads 38 days, 12 hours, 5 minutes, and 40 seconds.  That's how much time I have until I see my family again.  But that's also how much time I have until I leave this beautiful country until God knows when.

When I think about leaving Mozambique, the absolute hardest part is not knowing when I'll be back.  I will mention to someone that I'm leaving next month and they promptly respond with "DE VEZ?!" (FOREVER?!).  I normally respond with something along the lines of, "Well I'm going to come back to visit!" And when they inevitably ask me when I'll be back, I have no answer to give them.  I don't know when I'll be back this country of beautiful, inspiring, hospitable people and that thought tears me up.

My best friend Otilia has been through a lot since I've been here in Mozambique.  She almost died of malaria earlier this year, and ever since then has been very sick from what I think are stomach ulcers.  She is on a very restrictive diet and has lost at least 20-30 pounds over the last couple of months.  Her husband was recently in a car accident and had to stay in the provincial hospital for 6 days, suffering from 5 broken ribs, a wound to his lung, and countless other bruises and scrapes.  Along with caring for herself and her needy husband, Otilia also cares for her sister's child, Dininha (3 years old), who has been infected with lice twice in the past 3 months.  Life is not easy for Otilia. A lot of times what gets her through is her friendship with Sarah and I and her faith.

Otilia and I on our way home from the hospital when she was malaria-free!

I encourage Otilia that God brought me here for a reason.  He brought us together to be friends, and he is putting her through this suffering for a reason.  Though we don't see it now, He knows what He's doing.  She always agrees, but it's easy to get overwhelmed and scream "WHY ME?!"

To add to the pain and suffering Otilia is going through, I will be leaving in a month.  She knows I have to go.  She knows it's what's best for me.  But that doesn't change the fact that I'm leaving, and she feels that she'll be alone in her suffering.  She is my family here in Messica, and the thought of leaving her breaks my heart.

So, if I don't write a blog in the next 38 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes, and 30 seconds, it's because I'm soaking up my lasts in this adventure.  Coming up, we have the celebration of Teacher's Day, Elections, my first and last trip to visit some PCVs in the bush, and lots of going-away parties.  Soon my time in Moz will run out.  Until then, I'll be praying the rosary with the mãe's from church, going shopping at calamidades with Otilia, and encouraging my students to study hard for their national exams instead of cheating.

Messica means the world to me, and I couldn't ask for a better second home.  On November 15th when I arrive back in Cincinnati, the gaping hole in my heart that was left by friends and family back home will be filled, but another whole just as big will be there from all that I left in Mozambique.

But if a broken heart is the price I have to pay for my Peace Corps experience, I can say with my head held high and no doubt in my mind that it was worth it.

It was all worth it.