Moments like these.

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Do you ever have those times in your life…when you know that everything is changing and history is in the making!?

I just had one of those moments.

Change has become inevitable in my life. I’m not saying I necessary love it, or that I am good at being flexible, but I am getting better.

Sometimes there are things in our lives that we don’t deserve. Favor. It does not depend on outside circumstances, it’s divine. I had a divine moment.

Just after Mwita and I decided to return from our East African rendezvous, I was asked  by my mother-in-law, Regina, to represent Teamwork City of Hope with her at a nursing conference in Tanzania, all expenses paid. A chance to come back to my favorite land and talk about one of my favorite things!? Sign me up! I gladly accepted! I had no idea what it really entailed, I just knew I wanted to be a part.

The first weekend in February I boarded a plane solo and headed back to my land, East Africa. And meanwhile my loving husband was packing up our things and moving to the DC suburbs. (Yes, I am a terrible wife, no I did not plan that on purpose! I give him so much credit for moving without me!!!)

The conference was about potentially utilizing the nurse practitioner role in Tanzania to get healthcare where it is needed most, in rural Tanzania. In an area where 11% of the world population live with 24% of the global disease burden and just 3% of the world’s health workers, something has to be done!

I was so privileged to be a part of the conversation that was going on. So honored to be a piece in the history of healthcare in Tanzania. So excited because I consider them my people. I love that country like it is my own. I was sitting in the room full of amazing people and knowing that this country would never be the same.

I believe so strongly in Tanzania, in nursing, and in the ability that providing healthcare has to change a nation. I believe in the dreams of youth, in the strength of women, and in the compassion of those that dedicate their lives to helping others! I met fascinating people, sat in a conference with the deputy minister of health, and was awe inspired as I saw Tanzanians fight for the health and wellbeing of their people. It was a beautiful sight.

I am having trouble even putting into words what this week meant to me. Members of parliament, local government authorities, Tanzanian nurses who have dedicated their lives to their communities, Ghanian and Botswana nurse practitioners traveling half way across the world to make positive impact on the health and lives of Tanzanians. It was powerful and so amazing to see!

To this day I still do not know why I was so privileged to be a part, but I know I will always carry it as an honor. As we sat under the shadow of Mt. Meru the excitement was almost tangible. The Tanzanian sun shining down on us and smiling as we set our course to change a nation.

Regina and I traveled back by bus from Arusha to Nairobi. From the hills of Mt. Meru to the roaming lands of the Massai. I actually really enjoy traveling by bus, the sun beating on my back and the wind in my hair as I sip coke and nibble on fresh cashews from the border stop. It’s a great way to meet locals and adventure hungry travelers, like me! And it is never a dull ride. The views breathtaking as I gazed upon wildebeest, zebras, and hundreds upon hundreds of the Maasai’s precious cows. It never fails that I get a lot of questions about my last name as I receive a new stamp on my passport. “How did you get that last name? You aren’t African!?” And then I speak up in my best Swahili and tell them the story behind it all, they are surprised and usually delighted. The American speaks Swahili and married a Kuria man….well half Kuria man, anyway 🙂

As we entered back into Nairobi after the conference was finished, I had so many emotions going through me. Excitement about the conference, joy for being in East Africa again, and a twinge of sadness because I knew I would be saying goodbye to this land once again. Nairobi is so familiar to me, I know the roads, the different parts of the city, and I am beginning to understand the traffic, as well. There are few places in Nairobi that don’t bring back a memory… getting lost in the rough part of town with Chase and Audrey while Mwita was running around trying to find us after his phone died, a delicious nyama choma place we ate with friends, the restaurant where Mwita and I had our first real date many years ago, making new friends just about everywhere we went, Wilson airport where I boarded the little plane as I ventured to the bush of Tanzania for the first time, or the countless roads Mwita and I walked or rode down (via bus, car, matatu, or motorbike) with camera gear in hand as we explored.

I got to the airport last Saturday feeling so happy and so sad. Airports are always a hard place for me. Already saying goodbye to those I love in one place, but not yet able to greet those waiting in the other. It’s like a gateway between two worlds, and sometimes those worlds are hard to choose between.

I am happy to be home, though. Reunited with my husband and settled into our little apartment. It’s a whole new adventure here. Though the lands of East Africa are far away, now our adventure begins in a new home, new city, with new friends and opportunities just waiting to be found. I have a few ideas taking form in my heart, and we look forward to what this next step will hold!

Do you ever have those times in your life…when you know that everything is changing and history is in the making!?

I just had one of those moments and I’m not going back 🙂

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