One of the most common questions I get asked by people who know I'm going to Africa is if I am scared. I say no, but I guess a more truthful answer would be that no, I'm not scared of the typical things you might expect. I'm not scared that something bad will happen. Terrorism, plane crashes, the long list of strange diseases they warned me about at the travel clinic, those things don't scare me so much because they can happen pretty much anywhere. I don't like to pass up experiences like this because of what might happen, that's just not the way I prefer to operate.
What I'm scared of is that I will not be able to come back from Africa and just go on living the same way that I'm living now. What I'm even more scared of is that no one will fully be able to understand my emotions after the trip. When I returned from Honduras, I found myself at a loss for words whenever anyone would ask me how my trip was, and it was so very frustrating. I want so badly to express the emotions that trip brought out, but they never seem to come out quite right. You don't come back from an experience like that and just pick up where you left off. It's almost as if you're living in a new reality, where everything around you is just as it always was, but the way you perceive it, the way you react, has shifted because you've had an experience that completely changed the way you see things.
The intensity of that experience is something that I never did learn how to translate, but at least I had friends who had the same experience, so we all can share an unspoken understanding. This time, it's just me, and that's what scares me the most. Not because I'm afraid of travelling alone, but because I'm afraid of feeling alone. I'm afraid that one day I'll be sitting around talking with friends, and I'll mention Africa, maybe a person I meet there or an experience I have, and they'll just smile and nod and move on. Not because they don't care, but because they don't realize the depth of my feelings because I've learned not to be so outwardly intense all the time.
This week, I've been way more on edge than I usually am. I've been short tempered with people I love, and I'm not happy with myself about that. Looking back, I wish I had explained that everything just feels very intense right now, because I know I'm about to experience something huge. I'm not mad at anyone for not fully understanding the way I feel about mission trips and how they affect me. I don't expect anyone to understand an experience they've never had, and I know that even people who have had a similar experience will most likely express their feelings about it in a different way. I'm just learning to accept that. Please don't read this and think that I am just being dramatic. One of the reasons I hesitated to write it is because I don't want to sound like I am complaining about nothing or trying to get attention.
I am so excited to go to Africa, and I truly believe that this is God's plan for me right now. I may never know why I am such an emotional person, but I hope that I can learn how to express that part of my personality in a better way. More than anything, I hope that I can get to the point where it truly doesn't matter if anyone else understands, because I am doing what I believe God has called me to do. Maybe, that's one of the lessons this experience is going to teach me. I hope so.