Christmas was just the other day . . . and New Year's is on Wednesday . . . and somehow it just now hit me that 2013 is T-3 days OVER! How did that happen??
It was this time last year I said goodbye (again) to my family and so many of 'my people' with whom I had spent six months reconnecting in the US. I'll be honest, it wasn't easy getting on the plane . . . I had no idea what this year was going to bring . . . it had the brand new potential for such great things and also deep heartache. Being back home had started to feel a little normal, but so did returning to Niger once I stepped foot on the ground.
I can't believe it's been twelve months . . . it barely feels like twelve weeks! Where did it go!
But so much has happened! Our therapy department went from living in a walk-in-closet to being a proper gym! I nearly died scaling a treacherous waterfall in the jungles of BurkinaFaso (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration . . . but it felt treacherous . . . and everywhere in the world is a jungle compared to Niger!). I led an improve training session on burn splinting and positioning for doctors and nurses from across the African continent (they were so hungry to learn!!). I survived a collision with an exploding donkey (thank God the truck's windows were closed!! YUCK!) . . . and walked amongst giraffes and hunted elephants (simmer down PETA, I was shooting with my camera!).
And then there were these twelve moments:
Remember that time that my assistant B. discovered that eyeballs come equipped with a cornea? Yeah, that was a GREAT moment! (Missed that one?? Click [here])
Or when I realized that I wasn't going to be just a bridesmaid, but a groomsman too . . . in the same wedding! Yeah, that was ridiculous! (Don't remember this story?? Check it out [here] and you can catch a glimpse of the final event [here])
And there was that brief connection with a triumphant typhoid patient who defied the odds as she won her own secret victory over a few meters walk! That was a beautiful! (Didn't read about her feat? Visit the page [here])
Not to mention the many amazing Nigerien women who teach me about character, endurance and persistence . . . like [this one], [this one], [this one] and [this one].
Oh, and all those times that I said or did the wrong thing . . . whether it was a cultural mistake or the result of a simple mispronunciation? (Don't remember laughing hard at my expense? Now you can, by clicking [here] and [here])
And then there was my Favorite F . . . the four year old who stole my heart as she healed physically and emotionally from a tragic burn injury. I'm always in awe at the magnitude of the lessons we have to learn from such little people . . . and she has certainly been a remarkable teacher! (Didn't meet F.? Now you can, right [here] and [here]