The past three months have been a whirlwind. They included a ton of packing, even more giving away, the kindness of friends with spare bedrooms, the end of my career as a shopgirl (here’s hoping) and the selling of two houses. And so many goodbyes. I hate goodbyes.
Just a month ago I was spending my last 48 hours in Nashville and working my last day. I am still biting my tongue about that whole experience. I can say I learned a lot. Working under a tragic leadership style is a quick way to observe a better way to lead others. I moved all I had accumulated in two years back to Georgia. I unpacked every single box in my storage bin and threw half of it away and gave away the rest. I kept a few sentimental things; family furniture, a set of Limoges china, treasures from my travels and the Fiestaware set Carla gave me the Christmas before I moved to Africa. I never got to use it really. It was bizarre to go through the time capsule of my life, for two weeks, in my parent's basement. I was so naive. I found old journals and my To Do lists. I was so naive about the poor in my journaled observations. I found my old list from my first trip to Mozambique, “insect repellant”, “malaria meds”. That girl made me cringe. She knew so very little, she would go through so much. I gave away all my Capitol memorabilia. I had enough lapel pins to start a museum. I saved the peanut ornament I received when I went to Plains to meet Jimmy Carter. Mother had so lovingly saved birthday cards and Hartwell Elementary School achievements, but sadly I watched them fall into the large mixed paper bin at the recycling center and had to let them go. I have to travel light. It has become apparent that I will do lots of coming and going in life and I can hold tightly to very little.
I still managed to arrive in London with three suitcases. London greeted me with sunny skies, Wendy and a coffee. And the merriment and the unpacking began. I stuffed all I now own into a small wardrobe and wooden chest in the coziest room in Clapham. We have toured London like proper tourists and I am loving every second. Last night I sat in a breathtaking cathedral with two friends I have gathered along the journey; Andrea, a Brit who lovingly took over the Galeria dos Sonhos project in Mozambique, and Carly, a South African who came as a visitor to Mozambique years ago and recently came to visit me in Nashville. Andrea is just coming back to England and starting a Master’s program in Development and Carly quit her job as a fashion designer in Cape Town last year because she felt God say so. They both are living lives of extreme faith and of trust, knowing He has a purpose and giving their lives fully to His direction. I watched Carly wrestle with the letting go of her job, her security and her identity but knowing it was what was being asked of her. I even encouraged her to do it! And now here we sit at an event, listening to a lecture from the former COO of the British Fashion Council on “The Character of Fashion”. We sat in silence for a moment to soak it in, knowing each others past and present, our sorrow and our joy, our desire to help the poor. I know Andrea’s step toward an advanced degree and her understanding of poverty will have huge impact. I know Carly’s letting go and trusting God with everything will only be met by His kindness. And I can only assume I am in this company for a reason.
Carly and I stepped into a cozy pub with upholstered furniture on the way to the tube station afterwards. She shared more sorrows and more joys. We started to dream across the tiny table. The night’s event left us inspired. Social enterprises around fashion and design have been done. It is not an impossibility. How can we marry creativity, the arts and feeding the poor? We have ideas. Iron sharpening iron. It will need money, strategy, and revelation, but we have seen His deeds. I have no clue what I am doing in London, other than being a fabulous tourist. I have no idea what Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa will bring. Last night I got to see a tiny glimpse of why I am here. There are people I need to meet, conversations I need to have, chance encounters He has planned.
I am excited for conversations around tables and over tea and rice and beans. I am different now. I am not the girl with the silly long list and the REI outfit off for a grand adventure who read a few books and had an idea. I have read the book and I have lived in the pages. I have experienced so much heartbreak, deep fear, and witnessed horrific loss. I have starred hopelessness down. And I have danced on its head and celebrated life and provision across tables and on floors in tiny huts with my African friends. And now I am off to be with them because I simply cannot stay away. This is my life now. I know my time there will only take me deeper into understanding. And I am ready to turn the page.