The idea of going to Africa (much less living there) sounded so outlandish to me that I didn’t say anything to anyone about it for about 6 months. I just wanted to pray about it to make sure it wasn’t a passing fancy before I called for backup. When I did, I told my siblings and Je (my friend from Business school), and then prepared to email Mom and Dad, who were in Malaysia at the time. Can you believe I sprung this on them via email? Well, calling was less convenient since they were overseas. I phrased it something like this: Mom and Dad, brace yourselves. I want to go to Africa. I know – crazy crazy crazy talk.
Once I sent that email I calculated the time zone difference to estimate the hour my parents might read my message. I then imagined my poor Dad, hunched over a little workstation at a dimly lit internet café, saying, Oh look, my baby emailed me. Then <click> – I sprung the whole Africa thing on them. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being so cool. It took about 6 additional months, but they agreed to me taking a 10-day visit in March 2011. When I returned from that trip and asked if I could move there permanently, it turns out that my parents were not the only, or most vocal, ones who needed convincing.
The first thing my sister told me when she came to visit me in the hospital besides “Hi,” was “Db said to tell you when you open your eyes that now you can go to Africa.” Db is a friend from my first job and she brought her little daughter to OR to visit me the Summer before I got sick. We celebrated my 30th birthday together and as I stood at the sink washing dishes I heard her chuckling from her seat at the table. I turned off the water so I could hear what was so funny. “Remember the time you wanted to go to Africa?” She referenced a trip I had planned a couple of years prior but that had been derailed because of a slight blip in my bloodwork. Db’s chuckling grew into all-out guffaws. “You like to shower twice a day!!” I had to laugh with her, but I did not share with her at that moment the fact that I was campaigning to try again and go to Africa as soon as I could convince my parents to agree.
Once I had made my ten-day sojourn into Africa and been officially invited to move there I told my friends, and Db and Dn (another former coworker of ours; she was also my cubicle neighbor) came to have lunch with me and hear the details. After they had verified with Mom that my parents were aware of the fact that I wanted to move to Africa they began interrogating me regarding the safety set-up of my prospective home. They asked questions like, “How far away would you be living from the J’s?,” “Could they hear you scream?”, and my personal favorite, “So are the bars on the windows screwed in from the inside or the outside?”
“See?” they told me, “You don’t know to ask these questions, but we do.” I thought it was so nice to have friends who know how to look out for my welfare take an interest in doing so, and I am even more thankful now.