I AM HERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!!
We arrived in Guinea on Monday evening after 24 hours of flight! My process for getting to Guinea is honestly a testament to how God will back you up. Incredibly, I got EVERYTHING done before I left that I needed to get done, literally down to the last minute before boarding the plane at JFK downloading last minute books, making phone calls as the plane pulled off for Brussels.
Let me start with Knoxville. I got to the airport and checked in 11 pounds over weight. I could not afford to have overages on my luggage. However, after my dad talked to the gate agent, they waived the fees!! I made it safely to my plane and after a stop in DC, I arrived at 9:30am in Philadelphia. However my bags did NOT arrive as safely as I did. Both of my bags were destroyed by United Airlines! Literally, they looked like the hulk had punched a hole in the top of both of them....how? Je ne sais pas lol. But obviously if they didn't make it from Knoxville to Philadelphia, they definitely weren't making it to West Africa! My ipod also stopped working on my way to Philadelphia. Crazy...everything was shutting down!! I started to get anxious thinking what if this is a sign that I'm in the wrong place....but with God and a positive attitude, allllllll things are possible.
My lovely friend Ginika drove 2 hours into Philadelphia to pick me up from the airport, took me to Walmart for new luggage and an mp3 player, helped me pay for my new bags, and dropped me off at the hotel with a gift certificate from Barnes and Noble. I arrived at the hotel with 30 min to spare until staging started!! What an amazing gift she was and blessing to me!!
I re-packed everything that night, and arrived at the airport under weight!! With a 2 hour bus ride from Philadelphia to JFK and a 6 hour wait in the airport, I was able to make some great phone calls to people I want to partner with in several development projects I'm working on. It was exactly the motivation and reminder I needed to stay focused on the purpose of my journey.
The entire way to Guinea, I kept making amazing connections -- the director of education for USAID Guinea, Miss Guinea North America, a female Gambian entrepreneur. The closer we got, I couldn't believe that I was actually on my way to Guinea. That when I landed, I would be in my home for the next 2 years.
The past week has been AMAZING!! French is so much easier to learn when you're immersed, and I'm getting closer and closer to fluency each day! The Guinean people are extremely welcoming, as are most Africans that I've met in my travels. They all are curious as to how I speak French so well, and wonder where I'm from. I have also been asked for a visa to the United States a couple of times, and to begin the process towards wifedom as well, which is to be expected lol. The food is similar to Liberian food, which is great for me!! The exchange rate is about 7,000 Guinean Francs to $1. My co-workers are great, and are all dedicated to development and working on projects in their home towns and abroad. I will be working in a larger city (exactly what I wanted ) with microfinance institutions, community economic cooperatives, and NGO's (which is exactly what I anticipated). I will be working independently on several projects (which is exactly what I hoped for).
Sitting on the roof top this morning overlooking the ocean learning about the economics in Guinea, the GDP, the negative factors that affect the economy, governance, and where we could fit in this entire equation, I was absolutely in awe that I was working where my passion lies.
I move to Dubreka tomorrow where I will meet my host family for intensive language and technical training. I am continuing to make connnections and learn all that I can. I can't wait to share with you more adventures and all that is happening!! Pictures with my next post!!
When you are passionately pursuing your purpose, the deepest desires of your heart, despite attacks against your progress....you will prevail. Now, more than any other time is the time to start something you've always dreamt of doing.
Because We Oughta :-)