In December, I spent most of a week in North Africa, visiting friends. My intention is to give you a glimpse of my trip. Please forgive me for omitting certain details and for changing names in order to protect my friends.
The last two nights of my North African sleep were interrupted by an unsettled rooster in a concrete courtyard just over the wall. At 4 a.m., I began to envision a warm bowl of rooster noodle soup. Just a room away, Erika was preparing to brandish her shiny knife set.
Despite the lack of sleep, Erika and I made chocolate cupcakes and took them to Arabic language school. We laughed with former teachers about old times and chatted about the present. Then I wandered home in the sunshine and stopped for a potato patty sandwich with extra hot sauce.
That evening, we ex-pats fellowshipped, telling stories, talking about our dreams, and praying.
Time was winding down quickly.
In the morning, I hauled my heavy-laden backpack to the airport taxi. As the traveling hours stretched ahead of me, I tried to wrap my mind around all that had happened: starting with the multiple trips to the Almería immigration office and ending with the bumpy bus ride home.
Unless I took time to process all of the joys and sorrows that had been packed into this tiny space of time, I would not experience the fullness of my trip.
And bouncing along in that bumpy bus, I kept returning to one question:
If everything remained unchanged, would I do this trip again?
“There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” (Nicholas Sparks)