Sunday, May 31, 2009

We're Going to Africa

lauren and morgan

By Lauren Biggers

On Friday morning, 13 others and myself will travel, (via Atlanta, ob-viously) to Nigeria, to spend 10 days working with Samaritan’s Feet, distributing shoes and a message of hope to those less fortunate than most of us.

The trip is the final leg of a long journey, one unique to each member of the team.

If you have read this blog over the years (and I am humbled that you would), you are familiar with my voice and excessive use of exclamations and parentheses (sorry!). By now, you have probably read Andrew’s story as well — the story that started it all — but we’ll both be sharing our stories once again. (Andrew, tomorrow!)

In the week leading up to our departure, I’ll ask other team members to share their experiences with you. Hopefully, we will continue to share our story, as internet access allows, once we arrive and as the week rolls on.

As I write, I’m trying to remember exactly how I came to this point. I remember being asked to help design the “Big Cat,” and then the “Drive” T-shirt, and I remember interviewing Andrew for the feature story on the “Kicks from ‘Cats” shoe drive.

I remember sitting in the room with Morgan Clark (assistant director of marketing, also going on the trip) and delivering the news of 10,000 pairs of shoes being donated by Samaritan’s Feet to Andrew, who was, naturally, overwhelmed.

I remember watching as Davidson fans dropped off shoes by the hundreds at the Butler game and meeting Samaritan’s Feet founder Manny and jokingly telling him of my wish to travel to Nigeria to deliver the shoes. I told my parents that night, too, and my boss, but I still think I was joking.

And yet, somewhere along the way, I became personally invested, and a few weeks, later Morgan and I were having lunch with Bruce Bodman of Samaritan’s Feet to turn in our applications and application fee.

Still, there was the matter of raising $3,500, and I honestly don’t think I thought it would happen. But I was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many, especially within the Davidson community, friends, family, co-workers and even complete strangers. And without any stress or sweat, I raised the funds, and in just four short days, it’s really happening. (WE’RE GOING TO AFRICA!)

I’m bringing very few expectations to the trip. I am excited to visit a place I have always wanted to see, though not na├»ve enough to believe that 10 days in two cities will give me a complete picture of a people or a continent.

I expect to be stretched in lots of ways — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Already, we’ve been asked to pack for the week in our carry-ons, in order to maximize the amount of supplies we can take in our checked luggage. I know it’s not about me, but if we’ve met, you know that to me, 10 days without a hair dryer is a PRE-TTY big deal. (Sorry in advance).

I expect to fall in love with the children and the culture. Adventurous by nature, I’ll probably eat some things that others will shun, and I’ll definitely do some shopping, hopefully making some quirky finds. We’ve been invited to a wedding the day we arrive, so I expect I’ll do some dancing.

I expect to understand Andrew and Frank more completely after experiencing their hometown and meeting their families.

I expect to learn a little bit more about myself and about my place in the world. I’ve been on missions trips in the past, and I’ve done it all… singing, dancing, children’s shows. But it’s been a long time, and I feel I may be sorely out of practice.

So to this week of no expectations, I bring a willing attitude. And as I leave my hair dryer behind, I don’t really know what to expect (though of my hair in the humidity, I have a pretty good idea).

But I hope that you will come along for the ride. And as always, thanks for reading.

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