Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thoughts on getting ready for our trip

It is Sunday, November 2, 2008 and I am just suddenly realizing in a very physical way that we are going to be leaving for Africa in two days. The many, many immunizations didn’t make it real. Picking out the clothes to pack didn’t make it real. But reading some of the writings Eric Cherry, who has coordinated all the planning for the trip, has provided for us has finally gotten through to me, in particular the writings by the Rev. Brian Kiely for his blogposts during his trip to Nairobi, Kenya for the ICUU Africa Leadership Conference.

Brian eloquently describes his impressions, conversations, and, most importantly for me, his fears and his inadequacies. He admits that his knowledge of Kenyan history and politics is not deep. It is an understatement to say that my knowledge of the history and politics of the six countries we will visit is inadequate. I can only hope that I can bring to this trip the eyes of a mother and a social worker. My hope is that I will be able to remain open to all the new sights and experiences I will encounter.

My past experiences of meeting Africans from many countries have come from attending gatherings of Religions for Peace. The most recent was the G-8 Summit for religious leaders in Sapporo, Japan in July. The language used at Religions for Peace meetings is that these are gatherings of brothers and sisters meeting together to promote peace and greater understanding in the world. I am very fond of that language. I feel that it speaks to the effort to promote our commonalities, not our differences. I hope to be able to see these commonalities during our travels and be able to relate them to those who read our blogposts.

One last thing. I didn’t get a chance to go with Bill and our daughter, Danielle, when they went to India and Chad, so I am especially grateful to be included on this trip. As hard as it will be for me to go to Île de Gorée as a white person, I think it will be even harder for Bill when he sees where his ancestors experienced the horror of their enslavement. I want to be there to support him as he has that experience. And finally, I want to thank all of you for the support and encouragment you have given me about this trip.