Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inadequate Words

I'm sitting in my dorm room in Iowa, tired, sore and sweating. With the help of my father and several friends, my stuff has all made it into Hildenbrand Hall and I start Resident Advisor training tomorrow. It's crazy to realize that four days ago I was in another country, continent, and hemisphere. Everything that's happened since landing in America has been a blur. I feel disconnected, like a brainless robot performing tasks but unable to truly think or feel.

One of my family members asked me the other day if Swaziland had been an unbelievable experience. The truth is that it wasn't unbelievable, not at all. I have never felt anything so incredibly real as I did during the few weeks I spent in Swaziland, I have never felt so alive. The experience that's unbelievable is returning to America, returning to a place that I once called home and realizing that my heart is still in the rolling hills and mountains of a country far away. What's unbelievable is waking up each morning ready to spend the day at a carepoint with smiling, wonderful children and realizing that it will be at least another year until I can be in their presence again. What's unbelievable is spending my time away from my loving and fantastically supportive teammates who, in a matter of hours, became my family. What's unbelievable is coming into a world where we complain about five extra minutes in traffic, a broken air conditioner, hair in the sink, too much grease on food and a million other minute details. Swaziland was real. The shock of America is what's unbelievable.

As I adjust to existing again in my native land I feel, as my friend and teammate Sierra would say, like I'm on "The Struggle Bus." Friends and family members alike have been asking me countless questions about my experience in Swaziland and as I recount story after story to them I realize how incredibly inadequate my words are. I can describe my horror and pain witnessing the children's ward of the hospital we visited, I can describe the landscape and how many children came to the carepoint barefoot, some traveling three or four miles on roads of dust and rocks. I can describe the crumbling huts made out of branches and mud that many children come home to with no dinner on the table or parents waiting to care for their needs. I can describe so much of the pain and suffering I witnessed and experienced alongside the people of Swaziland but it's inadequate to just tell these stories without being able to describe the unspeakable joy and peace that permeated the entire country and its people.

I don't know how to describe in words the source of the light that shone out of the children of Ludlati Carepoint. I don't know how to explain their gratitude and contentment despite the grave odds they face. I don't know how to explain their resilience, their kindness, their bravery, loyalty, or beauty. I don't know how to convey to people how inexplicably happy these children are, how blessed they are to be able to survive on God's grace alone and be constantly thankful for even the smallest blessings. I can't explain how much peace I felt holding little Danele against my chest, or the excitement of a chat with the animated Colile or how my heart shattered into a million pieces as sweet Kholiwe called out to me, "I will pray for you all year!" as I walked towards the van on our last day.

My words are inadequate and that's hard. I want so badly to tell everyone the stories of my trip but nothing I describe can truly bring that place justice. I am on The Struggle Bus and don't know if I will ever be getting off. I can only take peace in the fact that while my words are inadequate, God's love for these children is not. I rejoice in the fact that while so much about the lives of these kids is broken, their spirit remains strong. They are an indescribable blessing that I can only make feeble attempts to put into words.


  1. Hey Alexandra ... your passion and fight for justice is evident. Thank you for sharing this. If you would like to take another step deeper - I'd love to talk with you about interning at HopeChest next summer. wcrooks@hopechest.org

  2. Alexandra, welcome back! I am a volunteer coordinator for a care point in Ethiopia, but live here in Wisconsin. I feel your pain. Thank you for reminding me how I felt coming back and really getting back in the swing of this culture. It is hard to share without sounding "wrong" to others, but once you have done a trip like this you really understand. Use your experience to make it last for not only you, but all those that you inspire! BTW, which college are you at? Sounds like my college, Luther, 1991. Enjoy your year INSPIRING!!