Hello Zag family and friends!
The last couple of days in Livingstone have been a much-needed reset after our long period of travel. Our time has been filled with bartering at the market, taking a second trip to Mosi-Oa-Tunya for ‘adrenaline junky’ activities, sitting by the pool, and very serious pool tournaments (S/O to Daniel). Tomorrow, we leave for the main event, our time in Zambezi.
I titled this blog “The In Between” because this represents my existence in Zambia thus far. The in between can be interpreted in many ways depending on the situation. I define it as the space where tension exists because conceding to one truth or the other does not accurately represent the full truth. This can be said in regard to a moment, relationship, feeling, etc.
Transactional versus transformational relationships.
Coming in to this experience, many of us geared up for the cultivation of deep, meaningful relationships with Zambians. However, this proved to be tricky when it came to a market setting, where relationships are assumed to be transactional. But why is it not possible for them to be both? For example, this man named Ice Cream, yes, Ice Cream like the food, on the bridge most of us jumped off of today (hence, the ‘adrenaline junky’ activities mentioned earlier) was there to sell trinkets to tourists like ourselves. The foundation of our existence in relation to his was completely transactional. Until, he saw one of our group members, Ellie, freaking out about the fact that she was about to jump off of a 364 ft. bridge. He offered her an empowering pep talk which brought her peace and courage amidst the nerves. That is totally transformational even though he was still there to get us to buy his overpriced knick-knacks.
Bungee jumping – the waiting period.
Eight of the people in our group decided to bungee jump. Two others ziplined and four went on the swing. I decided to bungee jump mostly just to say that I have bungee jumped at one of the seven natural wonders of the world (which is also why I bought the overpriced T-shirt), but also because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. My classmates and I spent the half hour waiting period suspended between suppressed nervous energy and elation.
There is no one truth to history.
This morning we visited the Livingston museum and were presented with the opportunity to hear about the history of Zambia from the Zambian people. Too often, we are exposed to the history of Africa from the perspective of the colonizer, with little to no consideration of the fact that there is another party involved. Exploring this museum offered us a unique chance to gain access to another, less common perspective. Reconciling these two truths proved difficult at times; this difficulty brought me to the realization that, sometimes, understanding history requires the acknowledgement that there is no one truth. The truth exists within the tension of multiple truths.
The bittersweet departure of Father Dominic.
I could go on and on about Father Dominic and never truly capture his essence. There is a unique, exuberant light about him which I have never witnessed. His heart for service and tenacious faith cannot be contained. I have gained more wisdom from our conversations than I realize, and I find myself in another space of tension regarding my feelings toward his departure tomorrow morning. On the one hand, it brings me hope to know that other people will feel the warmth that is his nature and the joy that is his spirit; I also cannot help but feel the empty remnants of loss due to his leaving. Father Dominic, if you read this after your long, and hopefully less bumpy, bus ride back to Lusaka, know that you are a true inspiration to me and many others. You represent the divine mission unlike anyone I have ever met. Thank you for taking the time to welcome us into this beautiful country and spreading joy and laughter among our group. You will be missed, and we look forward to your return.
Learning to live in these moments of tension has proven to be a process of denial, resentment, curiosity, and frustration. Black and white is easy and superficially preferable to people like myself. Grey area forces thought.
As of tomorrow, we will begin to leave our footprints in the Zambezi community. We are eager to see what this journey holds.
“The footprints – marks we leave behind as we go about our busy lives – serve as a metaphor for the journey each of us takes during our time on this planet…The more I interacted daily with Livingstone’s people, both real and imagined, and left my own footprints in the sand, I found that this beautiful, unfamiliar land had begun to feel like home.” -Ruth Stanford.
P.s. To my family and friends, I hope you know how much I love and care for you. See you later love:)