Courage, dear heart

I am here. I am here in Zambezi. Many of you know that the journey to write those very words began for me in November of 2015, when I first applied and was accepted to study abroad in Zambezi for the summer of 2016. After some health complications, I said goodbye to last years group just two weeks before they departed on the journey we had spent the whole semester prepping for. The loss of Zambezi left me grieving and broken but it also asked me to find within myself the courage to do the work necessary to not only make it here but to make it here as the person I am today. A year and a half from the start of this journey, with the help of so many, I am here.

May 20th, 2017

It is my second night in Zambezi. I am walking from the convent, which houses us for our time here, to the house I will be spending the night at. “Balanced” on my head is a mat made of tied up sticks, which unbeknownst to me at the time, will be my bed for the evening. The first 30 minutes of the walk is fun, we walk through the market as everyone laughs and cheers for the chindeles pathetically using their hands to stabilize the large mats. Grace, my homestay buddy, and I laugh with them and at the situation we have found ourselves in just 24 hours into our time here. For the next 30 minutes, we walk deeper into the bush. With every step, I become increasingly aware that I have zero idea of what lies ahead of me tonight, all I know is there is a direct correlation between the kilometers walked and the amount of times “what the hell am I doing” goes through my head. Yet, the raspy voice of mama Violet is there to coax me out of my own mind, checking in to make sure the mat is not too heavy and cheerfully introducing us chindeles to her many friends along the route. It took a bit of time to calm my anxious heart but once I did, I could not have asked for a better family to begin my Zambezi experience with. The night brought with it so much comfort once we found a common language in dancing with the many children who gathered from the surrounding villages, killed the cockroach on the ground in our room, and shared in conversation with Mama Violet and Steven around the fire under the most beautiful, untouched by light starry sky.

And just like that, not even 24 hours in, Zambezi is already teaching me so much.

Do not look forward- It will only cause you unnecessary anxiety. Walk the unknown path with the kind of hope that does not equate to optimism but holds strongly to the idea that whatever finds you along the way or at the end has meaning. When the vehicle breaks down for the 100th time, use it as a playground, don’t sit counting down the minutes until you return home. Our days here are full and looking forward will only make it seem as though we will be stepping back on the tiny bush planes the second we stepped off.

Look forward- On the mornings when the anxiety attack happens the second you wake up and the days where you just don’t feel like you can be here anymore. There is a starry sky ahead, there is comfort from a world away in the comments read aloud every morning, and there is a cold Cadbury chocolate bar with biscuit waiting at George’s. You got this. Just don’t stay in the future for too long. You don’t want to miss what is going on around you.

May 28th, 2017

We have just returned from our weekend adventure in Dipalata (refer to Joe’s blog for a more detailed post about it). I walk into our backyard to find Grant sitting at the cement block, which has become the go to gathering spot for our group. Today, I walked out here hoping to put my headphones on and journal away my confusion, questions, and anger. But Grant looks up, offers me some tangerine, and says, “let’s talk. How are you?” “I don’t know Grant. How are you?” “I don’t know either.” “Why don’t you know?” and we began a conversation that would change everything about this trip for me. As our friends began to slowly join, we began to realize that we were not alone in the questions our hearts were holding. The courage to be honest, to be vulnerable, and to not have the answers opened up spaces in our hearts for the joy and laughter, too. From telling ourselves that we are a burden on this community, to asking “what the hell are we doing here”, and questioning if every relationship with Zambians is built upon the color of our skin and the country we come from, we slowly began to see our time in this community as more than our questions. Some of the questions are real but I am learning to not spend so much time seeking the answers. Instead, I am showing up to love the people around me in all the questions and messy circumstances of our togetherness. I know we will never stop seeking the answers but for now, I love that we have found small ways to allow ourselves to just be here.

Do not look back- there are lessons in those days you are not quite ready for. They are not yours to understand yet. Write long and hard about what hurts, write the questions, tell others you are struggling too, sit in those questions together. But do not get so caught up that you miss out on embracing the joy and beauty, too.

Look back- hold in gratitude the people who got you here, the place you left behind, and the journey that began far before stepping off the bush plane just 3 weeks ago. Acknowledge the answers that have come, rest in the peace of being right where you are suppose to be, let your heart fill with gratitude for those who came alongside you. Always look back to make sure the second car in the caravan is still there. We are a family and nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

Look around you, look at who is alongside you, look at what is going on within you-do not be afraid.

Do not take shortcuts-you will break down in two different areas of the African bush. or maybe do. They have made all the difference in the coming together of our group.

June 3rd, 2017

Tonight we read a piece by Fr. Greg Boyle that took me back to my spring break trip earlier this year. While I was in East LA, I was welcomed into Ana’s home to share a meal and sleep for the night. All that she had, she offered to us wholly. And I immediately think to Zambezi and how Mama Violet and Steven welcomed Grace and I into their home for a meal and to sleep. And then again immediately to the many families who have welcomed me into their homes and families during the holidays. I don’t want to create barriers in my heart and life between Zambezi and the US. Both places have so much love to give and also so many ways they fail in extending that love to every one. It would be a disservice to not question the treatment of women, to not question the lack of access to education, and the lack of food that are very present in both of these countries I love. They have both taught me so much and deserve to be seen in all the light and darkness they hold.

Do not look up-there are way too many spiders on the ceilings. And you do not want to miss what is going on around you. No place is perfect. And we have so much to learn from one another. So I will hold both, without looking up to one so much that I do the injustice of not loving it enough to want it to be better.

Look up-there are vast blue skies and the stars blanket the sky in a breathtaking way. Remember how small you are.

June 5th, 2017

As I walk along the road with Ezra and Damien today, I’m asked a multitude of questions: “when do you leave?” “will you miss me?” “are we friends?” “will you remember me?” I pause after each question, trying to measure what I want to say against the weight of knowing I will never see these boys again, trying to sit with the truth that I am leaving them. On the wall in our living space is the poem “With that Moon Language” by Hafiz, it is a daily reminder that we humans have a longing to connect, to be loved, and to know that love exists. The pain that is left in the wake of love is so much better than the pain of not believing you are loved. So I reply, “We leave Friday, of course I will miss you. I will think of this place everyday. You are my friend. I love you.”

It is with the same courage that got me here, that I will say goodbye to this place and these people. The courage to acknowledge how much it has mattered, and how much they matter. The courage to sit with the questions it has left me. The courage to let it change me. The courage to embrace the joy and love that make it hurt so much more to say goodbye to. And the courage to say loudly, and with my whole being…

“I love you. And I will miss you, too.”

Kisu Mwane
Taylor(or Telah as it is pronounced here) Ridenour
Class of 2018

P.S. To all the people (there are so many of you and what a freaking tremendous gift that is), who came alongside me this past year—thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot wait to squeeze you.

P.S.S. ZamFam 2016-there is a photo in my journal that I took on our retreat together last year. It is on a walk and I am many steps behind you. I think of how symbolic the photo has become as I walk on the dirt paths of Zambezi, know you have all walked them before. I feel you here, each one of you. Know how loved you are by this community. I love you so much, too.

P.S.S.S. Anyone who has ever had a homestay with Mama Violet and Steven, they still have the journal with all your names and addresses in it. They are so proud of it and so full of love for each of you. It also made me feel so connected to this place and this long line of zags in Zambezi.

P.S.S.S.S. During our language lesson today with Mama Josephine, she asked us to share one of our songs with her. Our group quickly broke out into our fight song and G-O-N-Z-A-G-A. At the end of the latter, Mama asked “so what is the meaning of this song?” and we broke out laughing. And then Amazing Grace began being sung, all of us together, and if this moment doesn’t embody our group, I don’t know what does. A balance between silliness and seriousness, between light and dark, between business and stillness. I love this group so much.

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18 Responses to Courage, dear heart

  1. Riley Ramage says:


    The words to express just how proud I am are currently escaping me. As always, you have blown me away with your writing and your ability to share your mind with us through words. I have been waiting so long for this blog post – I think of you often and smile knowing just how lucky the people of Zambezi are to meet and know you. You are right where you are meant to be in this moment.

    Thank you for your vulnerability in this post and for your ability to articulate the contradictions and the tensions that come with both looking forward & back, and up & around. And can I just say that I love that you all sit together outside the convent and discuss the triumphs and difficulties that come with being a Zag in Zambezi – I can picture it so clearly and, as you have said, it is essential in these moments to support and rely on one another to walk alongside and show up. And you have always been so darn good at that – showing up to love others even in their messiness and confusion. This group is SO lucky to have you!

    Also basically sobbing at the pure joy I see present on your face in that wonderful photo of you dancin like a true Zambian. And the photo of your whole team working together to get the cruiser out of the sand. Thank you for sharing.

    I can’t wait to sit across the table from you at Ultimate Bagel and share these new memories you are making here. Proud of you Tay, of the courage and resilience you continue to show, both on your journey to Zambezi and now there with all of those wonderful people!

    Kisu mwane,

    P.S. Maddie Lebrun – You have a way with words lady, and it has made me so unbelievably happy to walk alongside you for these last four years and see the ways in which you have grown and changed. You truly were meant to go to Zambia. Beautiful blog post! Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Abby Kovac says:

    Taylor, Taylor, Taylor.

    Yesterday I took yet another look at the blog to see that you STILL hadn’t had your turn to post. I think the anxiousness really got to me because last night I had a dream about all you Zags in Zambezi and here I am checking the blog again and I see your name (and picture that so describes everything you are). SO YAY!

    Thank you for sharing all the emotions that have occurred during your journey to get where you are and the journey itself. You have a way at looking at your surroundings and taking everything in for exactly what they are. I feel so lucky to have you in my life and I can’t wait for your return when I can hear more about this incredible opportunity you are currently experiencing. Much love to you sister.


    Abby Kovac

    Kelen – I went into Hemmingson the other day and boy it just doesn’t feel right when I don’t see your smiling face in there surrounded by at least 5 other people.

    LeBrun – Your words are something like I’ve never seen before – thank you.

    Morgan – In some sense I related so much to your blog post – way to fight the constant battle, so proud of all that you’ve accomplished!

  3. Venezia says:


    You are truly a beautiful writer. I found myself writing down quotes throughout the whole post. You made me smile and choke up and I thank you for being so honest with us. Watching you grow over the past 3 years has been really cool because I think I seemed to catch you during the times that you were having “aha” moments or in the midst of trying to figure out the complicated puzzle of life. I have watched how people embrace you and how you return that love to others, yet make it entirely and beautifully your own. I took this line from your piece “instead, I am showing up to love the people around me in all the questions and messy circumstances of our togetherness” because
    1) it is just really great 2) hold this with you as you prepare to leave and come back to Spokane. It’ll be tough coming back but at the same time you will always always have this group to lean on. You’ll always have Zambia with you in your heart (and if you need a physical reminder, take some of the sand from the convent and stick in an empty Coca-Cola bottle and bring it back with you. And don’t tell any adults about it. Or the airport people. It’ll be totally fine)

    Thanks for letting us into your heart. I want to hear more about it when you get back please and thank you.

    Maddie- Your blog was also incredibly beautiful. I’m glad that you have been able to slow down and experience Zambezi and that she has gotten to experience you. You are deserving of peace and even a moment to sit down and chat or watch what’s happening around you can be productive. Don’t forget that. Enjoy your last few days in Zambezi. Also, when your a nurse traveling the world you should write about it all. More people should read what you have to say.

    Josh – I’m taking my driving test on the 12th. Just thought you should know. I’ve been tearing up the streets of LA with my mom and dad. I hope you are enjoying your time with your Zambezi family and dancing the nights away. Next time you chat with Fr. Dom, tell him I say HEELLLLOOO

    Kisu mwane friends –


  4. Beth Polacheck says:

    Taylor, I too have been waiting for your post! (And I am so excited that it seems I am getting here before Katie.) What beautiful thoughts and words you have shared. You brought me to tears. I am so proud of you…and know you will continue to do amazing things. All my love…

  5. Moira Andrews says:

    Hi my dear friend. I am lucky and privileged to not only have walked alongside you through this journey, but to also have you as one of my dearest friends. Thank you for once again sharing what’s on your heart with such beautiful and honest words. My home stay was not with Mama Violet and Steven, but I got the chance to know them through other encounters. Their love radiates through their every action, I am glad you got the chance to learn and love with them. In each and every blog post I can sense the bond your Zam group has formed. I admire y’alls ability to have those conversations so naturally, it truly shows the intentionality of all of you. Those questions are so so hard, I struggle with most of them still, but they are part of what make this experience so fruitful. I love how you are able to see the whole picture always, you take a piece of every experience with you, you are able to see the roses and thorns of all communities and shed the light that is needed on both sides. It truly is a gift Taylor. It really does take courage to say I love you and I will miss you too. It takes acknowledging the impact these human beings have had on your heart.
    Thank you thank you thank you for being courageous. Thank you for sharing what it means to not look forward, to look forward, to not look back, to look back, to not look up, to look up. They are all needed. I love you, your heart, your mind, your humility, and so much more. Thank you again for allowing us into the spectacular mind and heart of Taylor. Miss you lots, keep being courageous, I can’t wait to hear more from you.

    My goodness wow. Despite not knowing you very well, I have always admired you. And you just made that admiration sky rocket even higher, which I didn’t know was possible. Even though you like to keep busy, it does not keep you from showing care and love for others. You took the time to message me after Zam Slam and watching you this last semester work at Sacred Heart was lovely. You care so much about people, it shows in your thoughtful reflection on your experience with the women sewing menstruation kits. It takes so much courage to accept and acknowledge thorns with grace. I admire you so much for that, it is something I am really struggling with, thank you for reminding me of the importance of grace and thorns. I wish you well with the rest of your adventure. Sending lots of love. Thank you again for your words.

    Thank you for reminding me of one of the many things I miss about the humans in Zambezi. In every conversation I had with a community member, they were always 100% invested, not distracted by anything, just simply, as you said, wanting to be with me. Although I do not know you, I know some people who are lucky to be friends with you and they have told me about the truly intentional and loving friend you are. That you take the time to ask genuine questions that help you actually get to know someone. Chidata sounds wonderful, I am glad you got the chance to share that moment. Being able to just sit with someone, get to see them for who they are, and enjoy the company despite few words being exchanged, is something I find so beautiful about being human. Thank you for your words and reminding me to “just be”. It is something I need to carry with me more often than I do.

    Much love and kisu mwane,
    Moira Andrews

    PS: I am wishing you all well on these last few days in Zambezi, they were the most joyful but also hard days for me last year. Have fun and be spontaneous. Love you all.

    PSS: If any of you have the chance to let Moses and James and Mary (the tailors) know that I love them, miss them, and think of them often I would be very grateful (:

  6. Katie Polacheck says:

    Okay my mom is wrong. I read your post before she did, but I’ve been at a loss for words all day and didn’t quite know how to respond. But Beth is right about the love. And so right about being proud of you.

    Tay, you come from dust & the universe was made for you. Your post does a wonderful job of recognizing the big and the small, future and present, here and there. Zambezi, like any other place, cannot be reduced to some easy or simple definition or experience. Some of the most beautiful Zambezi moments are a mess of that perfect in between. I hope you are holding on to the beauty that happens every day and trusting in those who walk this journey with you. Of course, my mom (and gram) and I are so proud of you and the path you’re on. You have a family in us wherever you are.

    Zags, recognize the beauty in Zambezi today, for there is so much all around you–smiling students in your classes, purple bougainvillea behind the convent, the chaco prints of other Zags who traversed the path to the market before you, that damn 5am honking, Violet’s wonderful laugh and “okay, okay, thank you,” and so much more. I hope you’re paying attention.

    Tunsakwilila mwane, Taylor
    and kisu mwane, Zags,

  7. Ashley Osler says:


    I was secretly checking the blog all day at work with the feeling that today would finally be your day. And right when I got home Moira texted me Ally and Hailey that you had posted! Oh how the spirit of the Lidge misses you.

    Ok. this raw emotion articulated so beautifully had me in tears and I’m so proud of you and everything you have overcome. I’m also so proud of the challenges that you continue to battle with courage and the heart you put into life. I wish that I could articulate better how much of a blessing you are in my and so many others lives. I’m so glad that Zambezi is shining on you.

    Lastly, this picture is everything and reminds me of my favorite bible verse: “she is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.” I hope that you laugh today. I love you so so much.


  8. Hello CS Lewis!!! says:

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”- CS Lewis

    Praise. The. Lord. Haha Taylor, you were never meant to stay in the comment section. I remember last summer reading the blog posts and scrolling down to the comment section to find your name. Even that summer you showed courage. Courage to support the people you love and the ability to hold onto the “now, but not yet” idea. In other words, “now”- I will love my friends/ family and the joy that they are experiencing abroad, and “not yet”… I can’t be there now but someday I will. Well! YOU. ARE. HERE. With full force, full heart, full soul, and full mind. Like these lovely people have already stated, I am so proud of you. I am incredibly overwhelmed with joy for you right now. Taylor you are so gifted at stepping back and loving people. It somehow just naturally overflows from your whole being haha and it is so beautiful. I hope that you realize in these last few weeks abroad that you are just as loved. You deserve 4X the love that you give so freely to those you surround yourself with. And I hope that you truly truly truly feel that.
    Your blog talked about the tension between looking around, but also staying present. I have a question…why do you think it is easier for us to gravitate towards one end of that balancing scale? We get more easily distracted, anxious, and engulfed in the 100 things that do and can go wrong verses the 101 things that go right in our everyday experiences. I see this with my elderly patients to. Common remarks are “ I can’t do anything any more, I don’t want to be here, why am I still here.” As many times as you listen or quietly respond, “you can still do a lot of things, that is why I am here with you, you are here and I am here can we work together?” they still get engulfed in frustration. Do you think it’s a human thing to gravitate towards one side of the scale that ultimately prevents us from fully experiencing the weight of our experiences? Why do we do that? Do we just have to practice? Practice taking up courage. Practice taking up present joy and love. Practice sitting in discomfort and choosing to look back, to look forward, but also to choose to be in the present?
    Hm? Regardless. You, my friend, are out of the comment section and into the world! I am so proud to see you do it courageously. I see that you are carrying CS lewis along with you and that too is a beautiful thing.
    Taylor. I admire you. I am proud of you. You are full of love and light that spread just as easily over there as it always does over here. You were the girl freshman year with the little circle mirror that read “home.” Now. I think you might need another mirror. One for Zambia because I am guessing that a piece of your heart and the love that you have given/ taken will remain there forever.

    You are so loved. O so very loved.
    A friend that will always admire your courage.

    PS. I never heard THE story this year. You know. The man that is in some sort of flood and is praying to God to rescue him? The one who passes up the man in the boat, the man in the plane..etc? I think that was a good story to remind both of us of vulnerability. I am hoping that you forgot to tell me because you no longer needed to hear it. Which means again, that you have truly taken up courage.
    PSS. Sorry for making this long.
    PSSS. Praying for you and can’t believe that my question of “does it feel real yet? And you know it’s happening…” will become “so, tell me about Zambia.” Wow. Crazy struff. You. Are. Loved.

  9. Katie Barger says:

    Taylor Taylor Taylor,
    I am racing against the clock to write this comment as I know you all are waking up very soon- or at least getting out of bed as I’m sure the roosters woke you up hours ago- and sleepily wandering to the makeshift table to nourish your bodies with come jungle oats, eggs, bananas, oranges that look like limes and taste like lemons, and reminding one another to take your malaria pills as you sit down to read this story today.
    I hope I am not too late, but if I am, I will follow Elly’s advice and trust that chindende chindende these words will find you well eventually.
    First and foremost Taylor, will you please write a book one day? Your words always captivate me and find rest in my teary eyes.
    I am so proud of the your courage in this long journey, and especially by the thorny grace of path you’ve walked. (Maddie, I don’t really know you, but I absolutely loved that and your blog post, I will remember this phrase for a long while) I’m still not totally sure but I like to think things happen for a reason, and I as I read your post and the stories of your family everyday, I grow more and more sure that you are exactly where God wants you to be right now.
    Thank you for speaking truth into me and all of us back home as well as your Zam Fam, and for letting us all into another piece of your story.
    And thank you Taylor for loving me, for going on crazy Alpaca adventures, for dancing to Taylor Swift, going to the Scoop for a second time in a day, and for making this world a better place with your ability to speak truth and give love, especially when it’s hard. I love you friend. And remember, don’t look back, forward, up or down. And never forget to look back, forward, up and down, and TBIYTC. Keep loving greatly.
    Kisu Kisu Mwane,
    -Katie Barger
    P.S. That picture of you dancing is precious and I think we need to put it up on our wall in our house next year. Keep dancing you crazy chindele.

  10. Lindsey says:

    Hi Taylor,

    Wow, I’m standing in awe of you, sweet friend. How much courage and love you hold…in all the hard places that you have been to and have been in you. I have watched you hold on, fight, and choose goodness and life for 3 years, and I know has never been easy. What courage it takes to wake up and BE there, the same courage it took to wake up and not be there a year ago. Your courage has softened me and inspired my own courage in the face of my own pain. I don’t have a great memory, but I still do remember glimpses of your freshman year and getting to hear your story on a bench at the river, on my couch. I was inspired by your courage and resilience then. Now I see an even more mature and refined courage that chooses to seek love rather than choosing to seek answers, being justified, or an image of self. I can only hope to choose full life and real love more often too.

    I am SO glad you are finally here (and wow, almost gone?! too now). I know how much you have wanted this and for how long. Great job braving out those spiders, and of course my fellow Scoop lover would also love the Cadburry chocolate (are you a cranberry nut kinda girl too?!). You look so happy dancing in that photo, and it brings a smile to my face knowing that you are having deep-belly laughs and star-lit nights of conversations with people who make you feel human and understood. I want that for you always!

    Thank you for your big heart and for all of its love. Thank you for sticking with me through a rough semester and reminding me of my own goodness and worthiness when it felt so far away. Thank you for so much more than I can say. Mads is at training now and is pretty busy, but I know she would send all of her love to you (and Morgan x2 and Elly). I’m proud of you, Taylor! And I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for your blog post, so I’m so glad it finally came. Keep struggling, keep fighting, keep loving, and keeping showing up. Sending a big hug your way…hope you could feel it at the breakfast table now!

    Love always,

    P.S. (I won’t be able to outdo you in P.S.’s but here’s a few)…I listened to this past weeks Branch’s podcast, and it was great! Made me think of you, Elly, and Morgan! Here’s a fav quote from Nadia Bolz-Weber, the very Branchs-esque type of lady aside from the fact that almost the entire church she is the pastor at are ex-convicts, retired and current drug addicts, and members of the LGBT community that have been kicked out of other churches.

    “The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up. It had sounded like a people who simply would not believe that violence wins, a people who knows the sound of the risen Christ speaking our names drowns out all other voices. It drowns out the sound of the political posturing, the sound of cries for vengeance, the sound of our own fears and anxieties, and the deafening uncertainty.”

  11. Emily Handy says:


    This post is beautiful and so is your heart and so is your story. It makes my heart so happy to know that you and Grace got to home stay with mama Violet and Steven. They made Zambezi home for me and I hope they did the same for you. You are overwhelmingly loved and I am so proud of you for getting to Zambezi and living deeply there. Your courage brings light to those around you. Thank you for sharing that so beautifully here.

    All my love,
    Emily Handy

  12. Jeffrey Dodd says:


    Look at this line of people who love you!

    I hope you’re collecting colorful pens that you’ll use to keep writing about all you look upon.

    You really captured the tension of all our gazes and gazing. Look. Don’t look. Look. Don’t look. It’s crazy-making.

    The underlying wonder, of course, is that any of our experiences finds its fullest form in the ways we bear witness to it. You are a natural born witness.

    You also got me thinking about the tensions of object permanence, the ways we learn to know that something is still there even if it slips out of view. In babies, it’s peek-a-boo–the joy in knowing that mom’s smile will reappear when the hands slide away. Of course, peek-a-boo gets more complex as we grow. The light’s there even when we don’t look upon it, but so is the dark. The future’s there for us, as is the divine, the past and so much more. None of that helps our struggle to remain in the present. You’ve done a really nice job digging into the complex emotions of being and knowing.

    Keep bearing witness to all you see, and those things that defy seeing.

    See you soon!


  13. Jim Ridenour says:

    I finally found your blog. I have been patiently waiting for you name to appear at the bottom of the many blogs I have read the last 3 weeks. Last night Mona pointed out that I could search your name. So here I am. So glad to read in blogs that this adventure/mission has met the expectations (both known and unknown) that we had talked about. This trip has taught you a love and a desire and a sadness that so so many us could not possibly learn. So proud and so happy that this could happen now in such an absorbent part of your life, this -as you already know- will be a memory that will last a lifetime. A memory to add to the special ones you already hold in your heart and many many more that will constantly be added. Enjoy (savior) what remains of this trip/adventure/mission that you are on.
    Love ya

  14. Kurt Guenther says:

    Taylor + Zambezi,

    I so appreciated your reflection that started from the beginning of your trip to the present. It is so cool that the trip does home stays now with families of Zambezi. When I was there in 2011, they had not started that yet, but it is a great blessing. I am happy to hear you finally made it to Zambezi a year after you had expected to go. I know the timelines don’t always line up with our expectations, but I admire your courage and not giving up on your dream. That same passion will follow you the rest of your life’s journey.

    Great to hear that Mama Josephine is still teaching you guys Luvale. I laughed out loud hearing about the GONZAGA chant you all did for her – so great. Hope she still makes you guys sing the song Twaya Mwanta. She gave me the privilege of singing it alone in front of everyone when we first had learned it! =/ She is an amazing woman. As I am sure you all have done, use the Luvale as much as you can. I remember the kids loved it when I would call them random words in Luvale! Little Kasumbis!

    Blessings to all of you, I have read a number of the posts, and they consistently bring me so many feelings again. Thank you for each of your passion, commitment, and love for one another and Zambezi. It certainly changes the way you will experience life, but always be open to changes and growth that come in Zambezi and afterwards.

    Kisu Mwane,
    Kurt Guenther
    Gonzaga 2013/Zambezi 2011

  15. Nico says:


    For so many reasons, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing post to read and such beautiful reflections on ways to embrace the dissonance of what’s often felt. Don’t look back, yet also look back.

    My heart is so full reading about the experience you’ve had and how it’s impacted your perspective on not just the trip but the past year of your life. Crazy how beauty can do that, right?! I cannot wait to hear more about the strength, courage, and love you encountered!

    You most definitely have got this.

  16. Sophie Anton says:

    I have been waiting for your blog for so long and it is more beautiful, honest, and eloquent than I could have ever imagined! Those first words “I am here” brought such a sense of peace in my heart because I have been wanting to hear that from you for so long! You are an inspiring writer and your writing brings me such joy and relief knowing you are in Zambezi! I have been imagining you walking down those sandy roads and meeting the incredible community, and I am so happy to hear all of your Zambezi moments in your own words. The theme of courage throughout your blog is exactly how I see you as a person. You are one of the most courageous people I know! I remember hearing all of your comments on our blog last year and thinking about the courage it took to share your words with us when you should have been alongside us throughout the journey. I remember thinking all last year about the courage it took for you to prepare for Zambezi again after knowing you had been going through the same steps the previous year. And I remember saying goodbye to you a few weeks ago and thinking how courageous you were to go into this experience with such an open heart ready to fill with so many memories and relationships. You inspire me Taylor in so many ways, and I want to thank you for sharing so much of your soul with me. You are one of the most incredible people I have met at Gonzaga, and I am counting down the days until I can give you a post-Zambia hug and hear these stories from you! I love you so much Taylor and am in awe of the joy you have brought me and so many others. Have an incredible last few days in Zambezi! I will be praying for you and thinking about you the entire way!


    P.S. I was so excited to hear that your homestay was with Mama Violet and Steven! They were the first two people that made me fall in love with Zambezi’s community! Also, did you meet Talent? He is so wonderful! Please give them all my best if you have the chance!

  17. Kate Mulvaney-Kemp says:


    I have been waiting and waiting for your post. You made it to Zambezi!! I am SO proud of you. I remember when you came into my office last spring with the news that you wouldn’t be making the trip last summer; it broke my heart. But I also knew, without a doubt, that you would be there to make the trip this summer. You, my dear, have a great deal of courage.

    Your reflection is beautiful. Being in Zambezi is not easy, nor is it meant to be, but your words embrace the great many directions you often feel pulled in, and embracing that tension is where there is so much to be gained. Returning home is not an easy task either. Remember to embrace all the new directions you feel pulled in when you come home too.

    I love you!

    To all of you I may have worked with in the Study Abroad Office–it’s been a joy to read your words and learn that you are a part of this crazy adventure called Gonzaga-in-Zambezi.

    Kris–You’re in Zambezi! What a surprise it was to see your name appear on the blog. You are lucky to have such an incredible group of students with you. Much love.

    Josh–So happy to hear you are in Zambezi this summer. I’m sure it was an emotional return and I hope that you are rekindling relationships with the many Zambians you know. Don’t worry, I texted Shawna and everyone is still alive 😉

  18. Katie Kenkel says:


    I so hope that the words from all of these comments have found you well. There is so much love being poured out for you here, and you have so many people loving on you and rooting for you. Your words are so beautiful and courageous- thank you so much for sharing.

    Taylor, you are so wise. Look back, do not look back. Look forward, do not look forward. Look up, do not look up. I love it. I pray that you continue to look around you and soak in every beautifully messy moment that you find yourself in. Leaving Zambezi is hard. But I know that she loves you just as much as you love her. Just as she will live on in your heart, you will live on in hers and in the hearts of every soul you’ve touched during these three weeks (and knowing you, there are countless souls you’ve touched).

    You are so loved, dear friend.



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