some of the floor rubbed off onto my pants–when we went to visit the home of the boy my family sponsors~I still have them in a bag, I can’t bear to wash them yet

Now that I’ve been back a full 13 days from the Compassion Bloggers trip to Tanzania (I’m writing this post the night before it’s published if you are wondering) I’m finding the most common questions I get asked are “What was it REALLY like?”  and “Can we hear all about your trip soon?” And the clincher “So, how has Africa changed you?”.  And I know these wonderful, caring people who ask me are lovely and genuine and I wish I had really great answers for them. It’s not them, it’s me.  The introvert in me just wants to say oh, I’d love to tell you all about it, here’s a link to my blog.  And sometimes I do say that. It’s a wonder I have any friends at all.

We went, and we wrote our hearts out. The highlight of the trip for me was getting to meet the 15-year-old boy that my family sponsors.  And I certainly cannot put into words, not even one word how Africa has or hasn’t changed me.  I can barely sleep past 4:30 am still. A big part of me just simply doesn’t feel like talking about it a whole lot right now.   I just want to be. Before I went on this trip I figured when I got back I’d write a really great post here at (in)courage but right now, I feel like I’ve said all I can.  If I write any more my words will just be getting in the way of the stories we saw.  So I’m gonna tell you the same things I tell the friends I still have (the people who can actually put up with me~I have the most wonderful friends) wanna here about my trip, want to hear what really happened?  Go read this:: Decorating Truths From a 15-Year-Old Tanzanian Boy because that post pretty much summed up the trip for me.

Also, Mary Carver did a lovely job of rounding up all the posts from the Compassion/Tanzania trip at her blog, stop by and check them out if you have a few minutes.

Who comes back from a trip and doesn’t want to talk about it?  Forgive me people of the world and thank you for putting up with me.

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  1. 1
    Southern Gal says:

    You’re right, you know. You summed it up so well in that post of yours that more words would only hinder. This trip changed my view of you. Not that my view of you was bad. It’s just that something in your writing about this trip made me see your heart in a whole new way. You have been changed for good and it shows.

  2. 2

    I’ve had a few experiences that have left me feeling very similar. When it’s a meaningful *thing* our soul wrestles with His spirit working in us. I think it’s in that moment when we’re quiet and just let it be that He is able to move in us. Our pride is stripped away and we can just receive what purpose He has for us in the story.

  3. 3

    God wires introverts to reflect deeply, hold tightly and take our time before we share things. Don’t be sorry for that! The blog post you wrote about your trip was beautiful, and plenty for everyone to chew on. Thanks for sharing!

    • 4
      Anonymous says:

      Amen!! (to both of you!) As a fellow introvert, I “feel” your angst…
      I lived in Zambia as a missionary for a full year, and came home so changed that I often felt at a loss for words… and frequently on the verge of tears! So, take the time you need to process all of the amazing these you saw and did. We will wait :)

  4. 5

    Your other post summed it up beautifully. Enjoy just being – God is molding me everyday to just be. Often I just do. This post is a gentle reminder that much is to be learned from just being. Thank you.

  5. 6
    Elizabeth says:

    I get it. I have lived in South Africa for 8 years after living in Oregon for 16 years. I returned to Oregon in 2010 for a visit (my first and only visit in those 8 years) and was met with these same questions. I still can’t tell you how Africa has changed me. I can tell you that I am fairly certain that my blood bleeds differently, and more often. my heart aches with rawness, and coldness, that I cannot explain with words. I will never the be same as I was in 2004, but I am not necessarily different. Innately changed, but inexplicably the same.

  6. 8

    You went through a lot and you took time and sweat to write it. I think it’s more than okay to tell your friends that you’ll never be able to say as well as you wrote it. Your words changed my life and I’m sure others too. So, why not send others back there. I love you and your introverted ways. But I do miss you. And I miss craft day and we should get together, not talk about Tanzania, but craft day;)

  7. 11

    I understand. When an experience is so sacred it not only touches our heart but ripens our soul, we share it not with spoken words but with subsequent life creations. Reflections, insights, ideas all need time to process and incorporate. Thank you for honoring Divine by holding it close to your heart and allowing the nutrients to grow you.

  8. 12

    Yes, just *be*. Let things percolate and simmer in your heart and spirit. More lessons and words to share may emerge, but they may not … and that is ok too.

    From a fellow introvert :)

  9. 14

    I volunteer in the ministry of Missionary Care, and what you are experiencing is really very normal!
    Even for short term trips, we are impacted and changed in ways it can take years to figure out. We try to encourage those that go to come up with a 3 minute generalization to verbalized the journey, since that’s the attention span of most people. If we can write it and practice it, we can go through the speech not being hindered by jet lag or emotional exhaustion.
    How great YOU will have your blogs to rely on too, to remind you of what you felt “in the moment”!
    Congratulations on your journey! I’m sure it will inspire others to commit to children through Compassion!

  10. 16
    Christina says:

    I totally get it. I had the privilege to go to Kenya last year with The Kilgoris Project and I still feel like my words fail miserably in describing the whole experience. You did such a great job in that one post. Beautiful.
    And I can’t wait to meet you at Journey!

  11. 18
    Debbie Billingsley says:

    I too have been in Tanzania. I went with my husband all of our children, and four good scouting friends who were all part of a Venture Crew trip that was bringing school supplies to a small christian school in Moshi. We had 16 teens with us. That happened in2004, eight years ago, and I still find it hard to tell about and I still remeber it vividly. The woman from oregon who lived in Africa has said it so well…You are the same and yet you are inherently “changed”. SO were the kids that went with us it has been fun seeing how their trip manifested itself in thier lives as they have greon up gone to college and now (some of them ),gotten married and had children of their own. For most of them it has deepened thier faith and they are all seeking trying to figure out how in this world they need to be helping and caring for thier neighbors. Hard to explain but it is soul deepening.

  12. 19

    Oh, Nester so perfectly said. I get it. I really do, this place you are in. You have let no one down. You did what God called you to do. Your posts from Tanzania spoke fathoms. He used you in mighty ways. I pray for you to be comfortable and just be.

  13. 20

    wow………….brought back memories of my exact feelings from a past mission trip. Everyone was so interested to hear about the experience but the story was too fragile and fresh………………….but later……….. what a gift to share how God is truly at work………….especially when we think we’re the ones sacrificing and serving………..He shows us His love through the lives of people we may have never met but are forever changed because we listened!

    • 21

      “fragile” is such a great word to describe it! I don’t want to taint or ruin what was by trying to describe it over and over only to come up short

  14. 22

    I was the same way when I got back from my trip to Nicaragua. I just didn’t have much to say, not because there wasn’t anything to say. There was too much to say. My heart was struggling to process it all. In fact, I didn’t even where makeup for probably two months after we got back. I was scared that if I did too many “normal” things I would forget. I did, however, have a week to process alone because I caught a bacteria or virus from Nicaragua and had to spend a week in the bed. Blessings in disguise. :) Happy processing!

    • 23

      OH MY GOSH!!! I am the same way–I didn’t want to forget, that’s been the biggest struggle for me (which seems so dorky, shouldn’t I be struggling with the fact that I saw poverty? instead I’m afraid I’ll forget it) I didn’t even want to watch a movie because I was afraid it would cloud my memories. makes me really thankful that I did go so I could write about it all.

  15. 24

    From one introvert to another – I so get this sweet girl. And as far as I’m concerned you don’t have to write another word after that amazing post.

  16. 25

    I had these exact feelings when I returned from Guatemala last summer! It’s very difficult to put all the emotions and stories into words…and I found most people who hadn’t been there didn’t quite get it anyway. That trip forever changed me, but mostly it made me ache as a mother for all those orphaned and abandoned children…especially Emna, the little girl our family sponsors. I think about that trip every day when I look at her picture on our refrigerator and hope it won’t be too long until I see again in person.

  17. 26

    I call these “vacations of the heart”. No words necessary!

  18. 28

    This seems totally normal to me – you are emotionally exhausted from this trip. It is right for you to rest, “to just be,” for a while. I hope you get to do that this weekend.

  19. 29

    I’ve been in that sort of place. Thanks for staying true and not just pumping out words for the sake of a post. I loved your post on 15 year old Topo. And as one introvert to another, I get you.

  20. 30

    Your heart is filled with so much–guard it. It is so okay. I have been to this place emotionally. It fills like it will crack open and spill out and be less of what it is or was if we try to speak about it. You will know when you are ready. Its like the experience is taking deep root somewhere inside, to speak too soon will be…. well too soon. Can’t wait to hop over and read on your blog what you have shared so far.

  21. 31

    Sometimes there is just too much to say and too overwhelmed to say it.

  22. 32
    Christina says:

    I love that your “just” being! Enjoy.

  23. 33

    I was the same way when I got back from being in Zimbabwe for 3 months. It made some people angry. I still can’t talk about it much and that was 8 years ago. Its nice to know I’m not the only one who has this issue! Blessings!

  24. 34

    My husband went on a missions trip to India 3 years ago and to this day I still really haven’t heard anything about it, let alone seen any photos! I was expecting a huge day-long run down and constant conversation about it, and was a little disappointed at the time I will admit – but your post has made it all clear to me. He’s an introvert too and sometimes just living it is all you can cope with. And I think I would be the same if I ever had the chance to do something that life-changing. So thank you, for clearing it all up for me – and I agree with everyone else, the “Decorating tips from a 15 year old boy” post was all you needed to say, just incredibly impacting :) xx

  25. 35
    Christie says:

    I loved your earlier post …. decorating tips from a 15 year old boy … really, it was the perfect image to sum up your nester blog. Lovely insights.

  26. 36

    I love your insights into being an introvert! So many wonderful thoughts I have never considered! I had a friend recently come by to chat for a bit…I was tired and didn’t really feel like opening up…and she said, “you always have something about yourself you are learning or working on.” And yet I had nothing. In my heart I knew I had something…but like you said, I just wanted to live it. I didn’t want to talk about it. Because I still needed to process it. And just not talk for awhile. “I just want to be.” I get it Nester. And I am so glad you get it as well…because it is a relief to me that I am not the only one this way! Sometimes we just need space. And that is okay.

  27. 37
    Paulette Curry says:

    As one introvert to another….thank you!! We sponsor 2 children & I have always dreamed of meeting them. What a wonderful experience God blessed you with.

  28. 38

    I went to El Salvador in August 2011, and I still can’t put it all into words. And I’m a chatty extrovert! :-) Maybe some things are meant to be pondered in the heart rather than discussed.

  29. 39
    Virginia says:

    I can not even begin to imagine all that you saw, felt, and experienced on your trip. What is very clear to me is that God gifted you with that precious time to connect with the children and those whom you met, and you need time to savor all that you experienced. You will never be able to put on paper that which God wants you to share until you allow Him to help you crystalize what you experienced.

    Thank you for your honesty and your resolve not to “give the people what they want”, but rather to wait until you’re sure of what it is that you want to share. I think your not wanting to wash out your pants spoke volumes.

    Blessings and peace to you!

  30. 40

    Your heart/spirit have grown exponentially, and you need you physical body to sorta catch up and process it all….I think the Beatles said it best-

    “Let it be, let it be
    Let it be, yeah, let it be
    Whisper words of wisdom
    Let it be”

    namaste

  31. 41

    Some things just ARE what they are and need to settle in your heart and take root. I appreciate your honesty, and not trying to come up with a brilliantly worded piece that would say the proper things but would not quite be real. I went to the link and read about Topiwa’s Decorating ideas! Awesome.
    May the Lord our God bless you as you continue to minister in WORD and DEED! :)
    Thank you for this! ♥

  32. 42

    I spent two years teaching in Brazil. When I came back I found that people expected me to be the same person, and I was but… I wasn’t. And they didn’t get it because they couldn’t. They had no place in their minds to hang what I had experienced even if I was at my most eloquent. Unless you have had a similar experience, you will never be able to grasp the depths and nuanced and intricacies of a cross-cultural experience. Especially one to a third world country. Those of us who have “get it” with few words. We just “know”. Every once in a while, find one of those people and exchange a look or a word and feel connected both to them and to your shared experience.

  33. 43

    You said volumes through less. Appreciate this, and your honesty shines!

  34. 44
    LaVerna says:

    I read your blog of your visit to your sponsored child – very moving – on several levels – to be thankful for what we have – to proclaim that in the Lord we have everything we need!! What a testimony this young man is to us in the Western World. And the other impact is that we can change the world one child at a time! Thank God for organizations like Compassion and World Vision!

  35. 45

    I really hope you read this. I almost just read your blog and moved on with my day — getting through my internet stuff and needing to move forward. But, the Lord tugged on me to post this: “Luke 2: 19 … But Mary treasured up these things and pondered them in her heart.” The shepherds were running around telling everyone what they had seen — the angels, the Christ child — and there is nothing wrong with that. They were giving God glory and it is recorded for all of us. But, Mary, not Mary. She treasured. She pondered. She didn’t go out with a trumpet and run through the streets. She was left speechless and calm and in awe. I love the fact that she was so taken with the presence of God in her midst, and she was humbled and changed to be sure. What wasn’t changed? Really. And, for you. The same. You were in the midst of God’s work and much more and you are treasuring things up in your heart and pondering them. There is a time for sharing. There is a time when sharing diminishes the holiness and preciousness of God’s touch in our lives. You never need apologize for being what you were made to be — an introvert who is capable of holding things in your heart and allowing them to settle into deeper places. The overflow will come in time. Savor the residue of this gift to you of this trip and all it was and will continue to be.

  36. 46

    I was so moved by that post that I told my husband about it. I keep thinking about the 23rd Psalm painted on his little mud home. The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. I agree – that moment that you experienced and passed on to us — it says more than enough. It continues to resonate and challenge and make me smile.

    • 47
      Lauren L. says:

      Just reading that sentence again brought chills. The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. Thankful to be touched by this boy’s faith thousands of miles away.

  37. 48

    It’s hard to explain…having been to Guatemala twice. Like everyone said…”just be.” There are absolutely no words for how you’ve been transformed and no one will understand until they walk what you’ve walked. Love you girl!

  38. 49

    I so understand your desire to “just be”, Nester. It is my desire as well and one that God continues to draw me to. Just being. The act of living fully and freely from my heart and all he has done and continues to do there. It’s the meaning behind the blog (beandkeepbeing.blogspot.com) I write if you’d like to read more.

    All that you experienced and shared from Tanzania was enough. More than enough. You don’t need to write any more. Your words made a lasting impression. My entire family followed your blog while you were there and we now plan to adopt a child with Compassion because of what we experienced through you.

    Rest and just be.

  39. 50

    Relax.
    You need time to process.

    God is trying to help you understand some things that only HE fully understands.
    He is showing you things through HIS eyes.

    Your (merely) human head and heart…might not have words for what you saw and how you feel.

    Stew in it a while. Journal. Cry. Talk to your sis…
    Make no major life decisions, if you can help it.
    (No selling cars, homes, moving across the country…for now.)

    Then, when you can…share.
    We’ll be listening :)

    Blessings,
    Dana at Cooking at Cafe D

  40. 51

    It was so great for me to read this post. After spending 2 1/2 weeks in Africa, I came home feeling the same way. We spent our first 9 days in Gabon, where we are serving as a non-profit and then the rest of trip in Kenya, with time in the slums of Mathare Valley. We took our two boys, ages 11 and 8 at the time. I came back and wanted everyone to let me be. Where do you start? How do you share with friends around the pool what you saw and how it changed you? I did the same thing – blogged. I wrote the whole time while we were in Africa and shared my heart. It made it easier for my friends to understand what I had experienced without me having to talk about the stories and diminish their meaning to me. Our family got to spend a day with one of our Compassion children in Kenya – what an amazing experience. The time changed our boys forever. Thanks for your honesty.

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