How do you reassure your 7 year old that you WILL be safe, that you WILL return and that it’s not SCARY to go a place like Chad, when you’re not so sure yourself? As I’ve been focused on my never-ending packing list of water purification tablets and mosquito nets (we’re not at DreamWorks anymore Toto!) I’ve been trying not to think about the reality of this trip. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched “The Last King of Scotland” the other day or read the powerful story of the child soldiers in Africa. It’s really been the nights, those long quiet periods over the past month when my thoughts go to the “what-ifs.” And the thing that gets me is when well-meaning people say things like, “You’re so brave to go there!” I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “I’m NOT brave so maybe I’m not the right one to go!” But I am.
The other thing that has me concerned is how this experience will affect my view of my own life in this city, in this community, when I return. How can one come back from seeing the kind of abject pain, poverty and injustice we will see and then return to driving carpool, listening to Radio Disney and mediating the never-ending battle over where we should go out to dinner? How will I be able to take the lessons learned and integrate them in a meaningful way, without judging or preaching to my family, my friends, my community?
This is a trip I never imagined I would take. I feel like I am being lead into a dark cave with absolutely no idea what or who is inside. I’m told this will be “life-changing,” and I supposed any new experience has that potential. But since I have absolutely no frame of reference, I have to just be open to soaking it all in and seeing where I come out on the other end. And hopefully, I will have done something meaningful for me, my family and my community. G-d Willing, tu, tu, tu.