Today I spent the afternoon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It was my third visit to this great museum and my first to the second floor. I admired Chinese, Japanese, and Indian art and statuary while listening to George Gao play the erhu in my ears. It was a rich cultural experience and the music gave the ancient forms an ethereal quality.
On the way home I stopped at the Sun Fresh Market to pick up some groceries. I am being very judicious about my purchases, avoiding over processed foods and anything that I can’t use in the next week and a half since I am moving from here. There was a man in the checkout lane next to me who looked about 100 years old. He couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds, including his powder blue jump suit. He stood there waiting patiently as the people ahead of him had run off to find cash since their card was declined. The checker was encouraging him to go pay at customer service since she didn’t know how much longer the vanished customer would be. He just stood there calmly. I thought about how people like him should probably have others bring in their groceries – then I thought about how it’s a great thing, a minor triumph, for him to be able to get out and buy his own. It’s got to be that attitude that has kept him spry. I looked to see what he was buying – two packages of ice cream. Perfect.
As you may have guessed, I am no longer in Kisangani, DRC. I have been back in the states for about three months and I have been too silent here. I will write about my departure from Congo soon – that was a crazy night. I may write about my close call with an airplane that crashed just a few weeks after I flew on it.
I came back after about 25 months in Congo. After about a year in, Kinshasa and Kisangani became very normal to me – home. Flying over that jungle felt more normal to me than flying over the Rockies. It was at times a hard place to be but I am thankful for every day I was able to live there.
People have asked me what I missed from my plate while I was in Congo. I always told them the truth: broccoli and Mexican food. The friends and family back here were on my heart much more often than the foods I missed, however. Now when I think of Congo the same is true and it gives me the encouraging thought that true friendship is universal and with work and time can transcend cultural differences.
While I lived in Africa I got to travel around a fair bit in that enormous place. I’ve also been on the road quite a bit since returning to the USA: to California twice, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Minnesota, and Arizona. I have been calling Kansas City my home during this time. I live a few blocks into Kansas and make frequent trips to Missouri. I have been a fledgling gospel pianist in an African-American church in this historic music town. I have come back from some personal frontiers in Congo to land near Westport, the place where wagon trains set out for the American West that I love so much. I learned to make some killer fajitas and tasted some luscious barbecue. I’ve met some great people here in Kansas City, some of the coolest kids in town. Best of all, I have been able to have some great face time with the one who drew me to this place.
I think I am going to keep the website going through this time of transition. I may change the look of things a bit in awhile. It feels strange to take the picture of Congo off of the banner – since Congo is marked on me now more than ever. Lots of people asked me if I am “done with Africa, like for good?” I am done with my employment with HOPE International and we’re all looking forward to the day when time and circumstances allow me to work for HOPE again, either in the USA or abroad. I can’t make any guarantees that I won’t go live in Africa on short notice again.