While preparing to move to Africa for several years, I asked, “What should I bring?” The answer came, “Whatever makes you feel at home.” Having always lived in the southern United States, I had no idea how to make that decision, short of taking everything I owned. Once I arrived in Africa, I adjusted more quickly than expected to the various places I lived. “Home” became more of a state of mind than a physical location or set of things.
“How is life in Sudan different from the USA?” • Waking in the middle of the night to find the house invaded by army ants • Realizing you are the only white person on a very full bus, and feeling comfortable with that. • Meeting someone at a shop and ending up in their home having breakfast • Spending an afternoon at the Sudanese ambassador’s house • Enjoying sheep intestines while thinking it is macaroni. • Entering the home of a stranger and being welcomed like a long-lost friend.
Life in Africa was not what I expected. It is fuller, richer, changeable, unpredictable, fascinating. The people are gracious, forgiving and hospitable. The tastes, sights, and sounds reflect a vibrant, determined, joyful richness that overcomes poverty and significant difficulties. I’ve been challenged and encouraged while learning great patience and the value of perseverance. I am deeply indebted, especially to the Sudanese, who have taught me so much.
Leoma worked in the Sudan for 20 years and came to know and love many Sudanese. When she returned to the US, she wrote about her experiences as well as the lives of her Sudanese friends and colleagues. While dealing with culture shock to the US, she wrote a devotional book and several books of prayers based on Scripture.
Leoma has a unique view of life, and that is reflected in her passion for connecting faith and the reality of life in the US and abroad.
There are some things in life we are not meant to do. These things are different for each person. I con't water ski and I don't drive a motorcycle. Attempting them is usually challenging and humbling. I find the quicker one identifies these "no go" areas, the better. Concentrate on the things you can sort of do until they become accomplishments. But for those things that are clearly not meant for you, steer clear.
Launching Into the Unknown
One other new experience during these introductory days was a motorcycle lesson. Syd, the pilot, took on the challenging job of teaching me to ride a motorcycle. Now you know I’ve never been wonderful at coordinating my body and convincing it to do new things like water skiing. Well, skiing must be related to driving a motorbike, because I couldn’t get my mind around that either. My feet believe they should control the speed and the clutch, not my hands! Hands are for steering, not speeding up and slowing down. Just imagine the entertainment I provided going up and down the dusty drive, avoiding the neem trees and the people who stood around at their own risk, laughing. In the end, I drove into the guesthouse porch and the motorbike and I hit the ground. I decided then and there that was not my vehicle of choice. I’ve never ridden another except as a passenger. And, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’m going to say about that!”