I Want to Linger With You

Live for moments I’ll always remember, with the people I’ll never forget

Today we are so blessed. We started with an amazing breakfast topped with cinnamon toast and “frog in a hole” (fried egg in a slice of bread…. not to “jump“ to conclusions). We also celebrate the 20 years of life our Brother Conner has blessed and keeps on blessing the world with. The Zam Fam here can agree he’s an incredible boy—now MAN—and we love him very much. He left his teenage years in America and will be returning a full adult; hopefully gaining his right of passage by what will be his first sacrifice of a goat… (Sorry Mr. Newman, Megan won’t be bringing back Jerry—at least not in his natural, alive, or undigested meat form). Aside from Conner’s birthday, May 30th also marks Day 15 of our stay here, with only six more days in Zambezi. Our bucket lists start to build as we try to soak every last moment we have with our new family and home found here in Zambezi and within our Gonzaga group. This morning a song lingered in the heads of our Zam Fam, a song taught to us by Zambezi children on our first day. It is slowly gaining so much more meaning as each day passes:

“I want to linger, uh huh.
a little longer, uh huh.
I want to linger with you.”

At the same time however, this bittersweet reality of leaving in a week means we are closer to warm showers, the beach (for those who live near the ocean), and the comfort of being surrounded by loved ones. Although I don’t think anyone is counting down the days until we are back on American soil, we sure have been thinking a lot about how nice it would be to have a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or to not worry about catching the Chindele Bug that has been going around. Thankfully, today marks the first day in a week in which everyone is healthy and doing well! We’ve been taking precautionary measure to eliminate the bug for good i.e. lots of bleach!!!!!!!!!!!

This yearning for what’s comfortable may have started during our Dipolata visit. I think I speak for the whole group when I say that at that point we had reached a period of major culture shock, past the honeymoon stage of new and exotic excitement. We have been feeling frustrated with our inability to enact or see immediate and sustainable solutions to local issues. We have been struggling to find energy and motivation to dance, sing, and say, “fine how are you” with the kids during our free time. We have also been struggling to ignore every single pair of eyes staring at us as we walk through the community, usually coupled with references of us being “Chindele!”. As I’ve learned in my Culture Psychology class with Professor Vinai, this is the period where a person new to a culture can develop major homesickness and potentially return to where they originated.

The culture shock really hit me on the drive back to Zambezi, and since then I’ve been in a slump struggling to ease my unrested heart. You see, not only was I frustrated with being out of OUR comfort zones, I was also frustrated that I was even feeling frustrated. I felt as though I needed to be present in the here and now. Yes, a warm shower would be nice after a Hanalei beach swim and shaved ice pit stop, however, while there, it would trouble me that those people who touched my heart just a few weeks ago, were still living their less than glamorous way of life. It is overwhelming and exhausting to feel that strength of guilt and unrest.

I try to overshadow those feelings with story book readings with John, time invested in the inspiring works of Mama Love and Sandu, or trying to create lifelong memories with my Zam Fam. Though the more I try to suppress the unrest, the stronger it hinders me from fully experiencing Zambia. It’s a frustrating thing to have, especially when we all come with the desire for this experience to be all positive and beyond incredible. I don’t think we anticipated any overbearing feelings of homesickness or the struggle not knowing the answer to the community’s problems.

I guess what I am trying to say is that behind the inspiring stories, the valuable lessons learned, and the smiles we exchange, there lies struggle and hardships that we tackle internally here in Zambia and, well, in all our lives back home. It’s these difficulties that we are so afraid of admitting, in fear that others may not understand and will overshadow the good this experience has to offer.

Western mindset influences us to push that which unsettles our heart to the back of the mind and then attempt to extract any positive lesson we can think of to reconcile the unease. We concentrate so much on the positives, that we become fearful to acknowledge our own weaknesses. Most times we don’t even know how to deal with it. The word “vulnerability” comes to mind, along with the stigma America puts on it. Vulnerability has become synonymous with weakness. But, as Brenne Brown says, out of vulnerability comes true strength. It takes real courage to acknowledge and sit with the hard stuff.

A brother of mine told me that it’s okay to have these troubling thoughts, essentially encouraging me to sit with it. I think the beauty in the brokenness comes when you find others to pick up your pieces for you, maybe not to fix it, but to just be those supportive hands that scoop you up when you feel so fragile.

I may have a hard time knowing I won’t hear words from a family member as blog comments are read every morning or the fact that I haven’t been home since January. But it is something beautiful to know that here I can find comfort in the faces of my brothers and sisters who reassure that the work of the leadership course is motivating them to build Zambezi up. I find it in the hand of John, a little boy who plays outside the convent and has stuck to my side literally since the first second I stepped foot on Zambezi soil. I hear it in the comments from friends I hold close to my heart (Mahalo Nui Loa Hikaru and Brady for your love). Most importantly I find it in the brother sleeping in the same room as me, or the brothers across the hall, and the sisters we share a bathroom with and the sisters across on the other end of the convent pillow talking. These people have become a part of my family, a part in the museum of my heart.

The strength in vulnerability comes from the courage to acknowledge the hard stuff, to sit with it, and to not allow it to hinder any other precious aspect of your life. The beauty comes when in that fragile state, there will be someone willing to receive you if you ask for it. No matter how broken a community or individual can feel, there is always someone pushing behind, leading in front, or right there sitting beside you, who is willing to just hold you in your brokenness and reassure you that it is okay not to be okay.

We have less than a week here, and I hope we can put our words into action:

“I want to linger, uh huh.
a little longer, uh huh.
I want to linger with you.”

Kisu Kisu Mwane,

Jason Iloreta

Class of ’14

 

Hikaru- I’m happy to tell you Teo fulfilled your birthday wishes for me… every single one of them.
Bread- I cannot wait to go to Zola’s with you!
Thank you both for filling my life with smiles and love. Returning it to you now in forms of sweet lullabies.. haha. I love you both!

 

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33 Responses to I Want to Linger With You

  1. Larry Newman says:

    Can’t say much now because my computer demands my time on a very important spreadhseet so I’ll keep it brief but I just wanted to be first today.
    Gotta go,
    Larry

  2. Larry Newman says:

    By the way a “spreadhseet is a new excell feature in Windows 8.1

  3. Lynda McCann says:

    …and like that I have a new favorite! Jason…thank you for sharing so deeply your honest and heartfelt feelings…the lump in my throat brought on while reading your blog makes me want to jump on a plane and come and give each of you the biggest hugs…THANK YOU all for being so wonderful and like I said in one of my earlier comments, for each having such special hearts to be able to add the Zambezi chapter to your lives! Each one of you has found a special place in my heart and have inspired and pulled at my heart strings. I’m sitting here at home smiling thinking about Larry wondering if Megan was bringing the goat ‘Jerry’ home, and Ive convinced myself that Kaitlyn is going to tell me she wants us to adopt a little child from Zambia and how could I say anything other than yes, YES! …I love each of you for taking the step to make the difference, for being there for each other, for loving, for teaching and for spreading the hope! Jason thank you for writing beautifully I completely agree with Conners Mom Andre,….you should all write a book together…!!! I’d stand in line to buy a copy ;)

    Katie…I spoke to Uncle Lou this morning, he’s very excited to see you and Conner and hear all the stories. He said he does have his conference at the same time you 2 arrive in Geneva so to just follow the signs at the airport to the train station and take the train into Geneva and he will meet you guys there…have your cell on and thank you Conner for traveling with my girl! I know you guys are going to have a blast…I told Lou you’d love to go to Gstaad and Jungfraujoch (the top of Europe)…keep taking pictures and soak in the adventure! I love you so much! (((Hugs)))and loves to all…Xoxo

    Ps I can’t stop repeating the lyrics…”I want to linger, uh huh. A little longer, uh huh. I want to linger with you.” …and I can’t sing but for some reason i am, (thank goodness no ones home;)

  4. Lora Trujillo says:

    Just a short response to let you all know we continue to follow each day. Jason thank you for your entry today. I have taken each of your reflections to heart. Here in Flagstaff while I work through our St.Vincnet de Paul Society I carry many of the lessons you are sharing with us. Thank you, thank you!
    Hey Mateo, Will is in town! XOXO

  5. carole marti says:

    “I want to linger a little longer with you…” – I can only imagine the different emotions you are all now feeling, now that your time in Zambezi is running short. Getting back to comforts of homes and the arms of loved ones, but leaving a piece of your heart behind in a place that you probably wish you could stay longer – ah yes the whole deal is a tough one at times in the mind! And trying to make that difference while you are there. And having internal struggles with each of you being vulnerable is totally normal and very much ok. It is just hard when you are trying to live in the moment and then have those moments of self doubt and then you feel guilty. Again, a totally normal feeling and one that all adults struggle with at various times in their lives. You are just being exposed to this juxtaposition of feelings earlier in your lives due to the very adult-situation that you are in.

    You will all look back on this in several months or even several years and realize that this Zambia experience has shaped you into the person you have become and the person you will continue to be. Let yourselves be vulnerable, cry, sing, dance, let those emotions hang out – be who you are.

    Oh i cannot wait to hear the stories. And i miss you my Shaun Marti and I hope you have taken lots of pictures and written some type of a journal! Enjoy and treasure the time remaining and keep Jesus near at all times in prayer and thought and word and deed!

  6. Tom Hobson says:

    As an aging former Peace Corps volunteer (Korea ’71,72) I remember those feelings of homesickness and frustation. You guys won’t be in country long enough to accomplish a lot, but you are making a difference! As I mentioned to Michael a couple days ago, you are there, and that says a lot. You have studied and worked hard for this. Keep expectations reasonable. Enjoy your last few days in Zambezi!

  7. Melanie says:

    Hayley M…. News from your significant!! Although his camera came into malfunction, he figured out a work around, has taught his group leg wrestling ;-), doing well in fact the email said, “wonderfully” PTL!! He wants to get a pedicure with his sister when he gets back!! And mostly, he wanted us to send you a message that he misses you MUCH & loves you even more!! Take care! M, C & B

  8. Christian Hoag says:

    CONNER HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! That’s pretty special to spend your twentieth birthday in Africa, I hope you have, (or had i guess), an awesome day my man!! Can’t wait to see you when you get back.
    Enjoy your last few days in Zambezi and make em count! Can’t wait for you guys to be back… Katie, I love you! Thinking about you constantly! Be safe everyone,
    God bless!
    Christian

  9. Christian Hoag says:

    Oh katie!! by the way, I thought I would let you know that I’m reading the art of racing in the rain! and I’m going to finish it before you get back :) Thought that would make you happy haha I’ve also started listening to city and colour a lot, because they remind me of you and they are actually really good, you were right ;). I love you Katie McCann!

  10. Larry and Lori Newman says:

    Lean On Me by Bill Withers

    Sometimes in our lives
    We all have pain, we all have sorrow
    But if we are wise
    We know that there’s always tomorrow

    Lean on me when you’re not strong
    And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
    For it won’t be long
    ‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

    Please, swallow your pride
    If I have things you need to borrow
    For no one can fill those of your needs
    That you won’t let show

    You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
    We all need somebody to lean on
    I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
    We all need somebody to lean on………

    The song goes on longer but that’s enough to make the point. I presume there’s a reason you are all there together. It would be immeasurable harder to be there alone when you need a pick me up from someone. There are times in all our lives when we’re vulnerable and need someone to lean on. Here at home it can be hard to show vulnerability (such as now as I realize that cute little Jerry isn’t coming to Seattle, I was starting to get kind of attached). It’s a real valuable lesson for all of you to be able to show vulnerability and to be both the leaner and the leanee.
    Look for the good and take lots of pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Megan, we miss you tons. Any chance of procuring another goat?

    Gotta go, Dad

  11. Rooooooobz says:

    I’ve been waiting for this one! And I couldn’t have expected anything less from you, baddah! I think it’s amazing how we always talk about this feeling of homesickness – especially when we’re at school – and just witness you go through so many different levels of it and express it. I appreciate that you have this amazing, superb, wonderful ability to just step back and be like, “whoah, what’s happening”… Alright, I could have just said be “reflective”! Nonetheless, I appreciate it – your ability to have such deep thoughts and your talent of putting them down on paper. YES! You are an amazing writer sir!

    Anyway, I know that you are having an amazing time – learning so much, seeing a lot more than I ever will, and just sharing your aloha like you always do! I really can’t wait to see you and hear about the beautiful scenery, the interesting people and conversations you’ve met and held, and just see how you have been doing! Keep doing what you do, because you are amazing at it. Everyone loves you, forreal! It’s a gift that you have, I totally believe it!

    Kisses,
    Ruben

    PS – Happy late birthday! Your photo on my instagram got me 61 likes! So Happy late birthday x 61!

    PPS – I apologize if this message conveys any of my awkwardness (as I’m sure it has) and if it has, oh well. SHOOOOOOOOOTz!

  12. Rooooooobz says:

    Forgot the most important part! ISLAND VIEW!

  13. Paul Brajcich says:

    Jason thank you for the heartfelt post. The end of the time in Zambezzi is near but the impact it will have on you and the others in the group is just beginning. The care and selfless loving the team is experiencing follow in the footsteps of Aloysius Gonzaga, a man who turned his back on lavish wealth to care for the victims of the plaque in Rome. Thank you so much is helping us share in your journey.

    Michelle we are all so proud of you and the whole “Zam Fam”. We miss you very much and I look forward to hearing all the stories. Of course I just might accidentally embellish them a bit when I share them with friends and family. Love Dad

  14. Amber Siciliano says:

    Happy Birthday Conner!! I know you probably have no idea who I am, but I am one of Katie’s best friends and since I read every single one of these blogs I think I owe you that at least!! :) I hope you guys are still all having an amazing time changing lives and making memories that you will never forget!

    Katie!!
    B to the E to the S to the T FRIENDDD!!!! I miss your beautiful face!! I cannot wait till you get home and we have a girls night sleepover where we get to eat junk food and I get to hear ALL about your life changing journey!! You have such a beautiful heart and soul and I know for a fact that you have touched the hearts of so many Zambian people and I am sure they have touched yours too <3 Have a blast and enjoy your final days in Zambia!! I still look forward to reading your post ;) Love you and miss you best friend!! Xoxoxox

  15. Sherie Crha (Ally Crha's mom) says:

    Wow one week left, I feel like I have been there with you through this amazing journey, Of course Allison you know I wish I was ! Except for the camping part, I might not do so well…. This trip has made such an impact on all of you, and your blogs each and everyday are written with such passion and emotion. I too can’t wait for you to get home, and of course it is almost June 1 and I still don’t know who we pay the rent too in Spokane…… In case you don’t have a place to call home in the Fall, maybe one of your fellow Zambia mates will have an “extra room” for you! Love you mom!!!!!!

  16. Teague Hatfield says:

    TAMRYN! I hope you are taking as much out of your journey as you can, I cannot wait to hear from you when you get home! I love you!

    - Teague

  17. Mikaela Medeiros says:

    Jason,

    This is a great reflection! I find myself saying that once again, but it’s true. Your post is filled with such raw emotion and genuine reflection on one of life’s very difficult issues, and your outlook and manner in which you express it is very impressive.

    H, on a different note, I was just talking with Dad, and I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the bad news: he has been enjoying the blog posts and commenting on them but “finds it strange that his messages are still in the box at the bottom of the page after he clicks post comment.” I found it strange too, because that doesn’t happen with mine. So, I checked to make sure he has been typing the letters in the picture above post coment (the security captcha box), and well, you guessed it, he hasn’t been. So, unfortunately those posts have been sitting on his computer screen and haven’t been making it to you in Zambia. :( The good news is: he knows what to do now, and you can expect a post from him very soon! I speak for all of us when I say we love you and miss you so very much! We can’t wait to hear from you and are excited to see you soon! <3 xo

  18. Brady says:

    My dear friend Jason (or perhaps, following suite with your beautiful spirit, dear brother),

    Your words have brought back memories of feelings concerning hopelessness, frustration, and immense culture shock that left me crippled with sadness for days in Zambezi and upon my return back home. These thoughts and outlook can be quite the disheartening experience; know that I am empathizing with you and that so many who love you both in the United States (because SO MANY PEOPLE DO!) and in Zambezi are always here to support you. Always.

    I was having a side conversation with my boss at work today about the future and which path my heart would lead me to and I made a comment about how I was not worried for what would come in the upcoming years, but rather, anxious about which direction to turn toward. And that was almost worse — the anxiety of the unknown, of not knowing what to do. He responded, stating that “Anxiety is paralyzing. Give your mind time to work thing out as it should.”

    It would appear your brother (I have significant suspicion to whom you are returning ;) ) gave similar advice.

    There was a quote which surfaced during our trip that articulates the feelings you describe: “How can broken people possible try to fix a broken world?” It is a weighted question and one that can leave many paralyzed and pessimistic. Yes, we are all broken, and yes, so too are many aspects of our world. As you beautifully wrote, “We concentrate so much on the positives, that we become fearful to acknowledge our own weaknesses.” The most important realization that you have found, however, is that when we are understand we are broken together, and stop trying to fix someone else’s brokenness, we will find the supportive hands to scoop us up” — as Hiks would say, remembering that “we all belong to each other.”

    Jason, I know with all my heart you will process these emotions and this experience with the utmost care and intentionality. Your writing has given me much to contemplate and question as I recall my time in Zambezi. The frustrations and cynicism you are describing are too be expected: the Gonzaga-In-Zambezi program is designed to be challenging; it is messy and complex, as is the “rollercoaster” of life, as Ally mentioned. But t is also beautiful in so many ways. Find the beauty and hold onto it through the heartbreak.

    During your last few days in Zambezi, be broken and “let us walk together…”

    Love love love,
    Bread

    PS – Don’t yearn for Ben and Jerry’s just yet! There are some of us who would do anything for some of Mama’s sweet potatoes, banana bread, or just good old nshima. Indulge in it all while you can!

    Connor – I am SO SORRY I forgot to say happy birthday yesterday! HAPPPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I am sure it will be one you will forever remember. Also, don’t feel pressured to kill the goat. It might be an, uh…intense…experience…

  19. Kate Mulvaney-Kemp says:

    Jason!

    I’ve been waiting for your blog post and somehow once I read the title I just knew that this was yours.

    Ever since we experienced East LA together I have been amazed by your ability to reflect on a thought or situation. Where I often felt like I struggled to put into words what I wanted to say, you were always able to convey what your heart was feeling. And your blog post did not fall short of that. Somehow, your struggles of feeling unable to live in the moment seem to show me how in-the-moment you actually are. To truly soak up the experience you must acknowledge all the emotions, good and bad, that you are feeling and I think you are doing just that.

    Say yes to every hand that reaches your way, sunset walk and early morning run even when all you want is a nap.

    I can’t wait to hear all your stories when you get back!

    All my love to everyone,
    Kate

    p.s. ruben’s post=hilarious. i miss that guy

  20. Molly Baker says:

    Jason what a beautiful, emotional, and truthful post. Your writing is so heartfelt. I look forward to the posts everyday day. I hope you all know that the whole Zam Fam is in our hearts! I can’t wait to meet all of you.

    Hailey B. We love you! Can’t wait to hug you!! We think about you everyday. Blake says he misses you and looking forward to going running with you!

    Mom and Dad!!!

  21. Teresa Baldwin says:

    My Lucia bean
    I send warm love and greetings from me your momma, your dad and sissies and jack. He is most concerned that he has lost you and has not been able to round you up. We try to reassure him. Days pass and you are having these life changing times. This story, Connor, makes a momma,s heart tremble…but you seemed cradled in God’s care and surrounded by people who showed up for you. That’s the thing, we try to show up as needed, when we have something to offer another, when we have a good joke to tell, when it’s our turn to make dinner. God calls us to show up with all of our heart and soul, and that is what you’re doing there. The impact may be hard to see now, but do believe that it is there. Human eyes can miss a lot.
    As you begin to think about ending your time there, we will pray for you. Your reflections have all been so beautiful and tender, and your words resonate with us at home. Take heart, all that you do matters. Every small act of kindness matters, no matter how daunting the challenges that you see.
    Love and prayers shooting your way as quick as we can send them.
    Love momma and dad Baldwin

  22. Monte Marti says:

    Patience ~ Love ~ Understanding ~ Comfort

    You make me smile. GOD BLESS! Monte

  23. Hikaru says:

    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. Actually a better question is HOW. How is it that you have me teary-eyed, wiping my nose (ew, I know, but you get it) with my Coughlin sweatshirt that I still wear to bed every night all the way across the WORLD?!?!?! I was hoping today would be the day. CONNER- HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY! You are getting Olllllldddddddd! Knowing Conner’s last name is House, I was sqwintching my face thinking the I’s are getting reallllllll close! Anyway, the picture didn’t tell me who this blogger was but reading the part of you being frustrated about being frustrated, I was thinking this must be Jason. Trying to deal with the current emotion but being distracted by the frustration, it’s like you want to put 100% to what you’re feeling but there is 40% being taken over by, I don’t know, chemical imbalances in the brain? I totally made that up. But I get it. Maybe not exactly, but something similar perhaps. During my time in Zambezi, I missed blueberries and froyo like crazy, but guess what. Now I miss the mini-bananas (which I just found at a local produce store, took a picture of it and send it to Constanza, WHATTTT mini-bananas!!!) and gigantic avocados, Mama’s beans (yum!!) and RAPE! I MISS RAPE! Chiki-sauce anyone?!?! Indulge yourself in what you find tastey now because the reality is… time moves forward. It’s moving forward as you read this. That day we go to Jack and Dans together is approaching, and it will be the present someday sooner than we think. But this time that you sit around the convent reading this, isn’t forever. Enjoy it, linger in it. By the way, love the word linger.. so beautiful.

    Jason, I walk along side you when you anticipate the day you hear from your family. I waited a long time until I heard from them. Although it was exciting for me to hear from friends, there was a part of me wanting to hear from my parents more than anything. I was broken in that, but there is no doubt in my mind that your family is thinking of you each and every day. It may not come up as a comment, but YOU are in their thoughts. You are on Josh’s mind for sure. That’s what I held on to while in Zambezi, that my family was thinking of me. You are being thought of by them. You are, Jason, you are. And without a doubt, you are SO loved.

    Tamryn can tell you about it, we learned it in Christian Marriage. The point where we face difficulty is the point in which we grow the most. Meddle in the brokenness because when you heal, you will find growth. Cry to a Zambian, cry WITH a Zambian. Be broken… that’s okay. I bet many of you are tired and want to be grouchy, burst in to tears and that’s okay. Sit with it, be honest with it. What’s present is not easy but you are being shaped and molded, AMDG, Jesuit Education.

    Jason, you are wonderful. Love you to Spokane to Seattle to Heathrow to Lusaka to Zambezi back and to Rio and to Hawaii to San Francisco. Let’s cry together when you’re back :) teehee.
    Mateo, YOU ARE BOMB-DIGGITY. Thanks for fulfilling my wishes and can you and Jason just hug and gah pretend that I’m there group-hugging you guys? Wish I could be part of this bro-hug.
    Delaney, glad you found brothers and sisters among Zags. Hope you’re having a wonderful time.
    Josh, *hug!
    Fr. Baraza, *hug!

    With Love, Always.
    Hikaru

  24. Monte Marti says:

    Here is a little cut and paste from a previous comment/reply:

    “Yes, you are all on an awesome journey. Not just this short journey to Zambia, but a life journey. What I sense is that you are all embracing this opportunity and reflecting on this opportunity. I am not surprised about the roller coaster ~ our life journeys are full of ups and downs – valleys and mountain top experiences.”

    You make me smile! GOD BLESS! Monte

  25. Dr Joshua says:

    Yo Hik-a-freak.

    Raymond Reyes, yes.
    Fr. Baraza, no.

    Thanks for all the love you’re sending.

  26. Erin Dorsey says:

    Jason,
    Thank you so much for your post!! There is nothing more powerful than a person telling their truth. Stating “what is so” for them without concern that it may make others uncomfortable. I loved your honestly and courage to say what you are personally experiencing. Delaney’s Dad and I read the posts daily at dinner. I leave each post with such a longing. Longing to bring you all home safely, to send Sandu a bike, to save that goat. I love that you refer to your Zam Fam (that’s going to stick) as your brothers and sisters. Since Delaney is an only child, there’s only good news there for her. Caring and compassionate leaders show their vulnerability. There is no way around the frustration and homesickness. The only way out is through. Step by step. Good leaders also know that are not to do alone. The Zam Fam is being carried by the love and prayers of your friends and families. If you get quiet enough, you’ll feel it all around you. So…I’ll leave with two thoughts. First of all, Happy 20th Birthday Conner!!! For the rest of your life you will always remember where you were and who you spent your 20th birthday with. And this for Jason: Generosity brings joy; honesty brings peace. Thank you for your amazing post.
    Love to Delaney.

  27. Andre House says:

    Jason- such an insightful reflection. Question: Conner didn’t have to kill a goat did he? He does bird hunt……….goats…………….not so much!!

    Enjoy your last week in Zambezi and keep sharing all of your energy, joy and compassion! You guys and gals are truly amazing folks!

    Conner- It was quite strange not having you home or not being able to verbally communicate with you on your big #20 birthday- I’m certain this particular birthday will be tough to beat! Love you dearly and so look forward to seeing your smiling face.

    Love, Mom, Dad and Chad.

  28. Christina says:

    Lauren Bledsoe! We miss you! That’s all…so much love!

  29. Rob Medeiros says:

    Jason,

    Your message is powerful and you expressed it beautifully! You are where you are for a reason.

    H, sadly, my earlier posts never posted. I miss you and hope you are enjoying your wonderful adventure. I love you. Dad

  30. Anna Hester says:

    First, lots of love to the Zambia Gold crew and especially to Jason!! Happy (super mega belated) Birthday!! FINALLY you’re 21!!! Happy Birthday to Conner too!!

    I have literally been stalking this blog waiting to read Jason’s post! Jason, I was so excited when I first found out that you were going to Zambezi and were going to be filled with this experience that is still hard for me to put in words. You are an incredibly gifted and talented individual…don’t you forget that. I loved reading your reflection and I remember facing those same challenges. While you may not see immediate changes, just know that your presence along with the rest of your Zambezi-GU family has made an impact. You may not see it or recognize it, but just know that SOMETHING has happened. Keep on embracing the challenges of vulnerability and battling with the ambiguity. I know it’s easier said than done, but I truly believe in you. :)
    I’m so excited with the other adventures you are going to experience!!! I’m going to miss you next year!!! Keep on playing volleyball Jason!

    Thank you to all of the blog writers who have taken me back to this journey I went on a whole two years ago! (I’m feeling old!) Lots of love to everyone <3

  31. Bbo says:

    JASON!!!!
    I’m sure I missed the “read comments out loud party” with this one, but I hope you get my love anyways!

    I’m at work and not supposed to be on here (hehe) so I have to be kind of short (when I want to write novels like Heeky and Brades did), but I just want to tell you that I’m constantly amazed by you. First of all, the song you quoted brought back memories I forgot I had. I always sang that song with two of my favorite little Zam homies, and it broke my heart to hear it in my head again (in the best way, so gracias!). Your reflection in this post was so deep and honest; you have a unique ability to share your stories and allow people to walk right alongside you because you refuse to leave anything (good, bad, or ugly) out of them. You’re someone who knows that sometimes we have to see/experience/deal with the ugliest stuff in order to become more beautiful versions of ourselves, and that really came through in your post. Even though you’ve had some hard times in Zam, I know you’re living it to the fullest and appreciating every moment, and dang I have a lot to say but I gotta hustle my muscles so let me just leave it at:

    KNOW YOU ARE LOVED. So loved!!!! It’s beautiful that you’re getting so close with your Zam Fam like I remember getting with mine last year. Every human in humanity deserves to know someone as incredible and inspirational as you, so lucky them for getting you/ lucky you for having them too. I hope you’re sharing your dope a** voice with all of Zambia & getting inspired/depressed by the effin amazing (and impossible for Americans to imitate) voices you’re hearing in Zambezi!

    PS tell Katiegirl that I miss her and I hope she’s having the greatest time in Zam. I’m holdin down the fort in the office right now…..don’t snitch on me lol.
    PSS Tell Teo I miss him mucho too & I hope the Zambian sun’s shining the best of vibes on his now naked head!
    PSSSS Josh- tear it up on the Zambian dance floor for me sometime before you leave. I’m really missin’ Zam life right now…if you could build me a little hut right next to the river before I come again and never leave that’d be pretty great.

    Zee bosses are coming, but I love you all, even if I don’t know ya!!! :)

  32. Your Sister says:

    You know that I am not one to voice my feelings in a place where everyone can read them. I think you called it “vulnerability.”

    As I sit in my office and stare at the screen for what seems to be the whole day and I wipe the tears from my face, I picture you at the tender age of 2, ponytail intact. At that age, you had no “frustrations” and “brokenness.” Just pure JOY! For all I wish, is for you to fulfill your duties and share your heart with the world. It is easy to look around you and compare lives, wondering why and how, our lives can be so different and yet the same. The same in which, we all share the same senses. We feel, hear, taste, smell, and see. You see, when you tear down the walls and strip them of their emotions we are all ONE.

    After, waiting days and days for an entry from you, you deliver a masterpiece.
    Not only am I am extremely happy that you are enjoying your time there and learning a lot about life, but I am very proud that you are able to “find others to pick up your pieces for you, maybe not to fix it, but to just be those supportive hands that scoop you up when you feel so fragile.”

    All of this probably doesn’t make much sense to you, but I need you to read between the lines. I need you to know that I AM VERY PROUD OF YOU and it is “OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.” How fun would life be if everything was simple and perfect?

    I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU KNOW!!!!

    Holly

  33. emma iloreta says:

    Jason,

    Amazing story, we miss you vry much and cant wait to see you, we are in belgium and heading to germany today, we are doing great joshu doing great since day one, he misses you dearly, you take care yourself there we love you son, joshua said he loves you, gotta go; love you;
    mom, dad joshua

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