January 17, 2013

Teesa’s Update: Greetings from Maai Mahiu

Here at Vox we remain connected to several Vox community members currently living and serving overseas. Teesa Bahana, a much-missed Voxmie, is living in Kenya and working for Comfort the Children International.  

Hey Voxians, Voxites, Voxmies (Vox + homies),

Greetings from windy Maai Mahiu! Chicago has nothing on this place. I’m currently holed up in my apartment for fear of gaining an eye infection from the copious amounts of dust currently billowing around this town. Actually I’m just having a lazy Sunday but that’s not as interesting.

In a few days it will have been 7 months since I tearfully left Austin for an unknown new chapter. Yes, I bawled like an infant. What can I say, you all mean a lot to me. I’m not entirely sure that I can summarize my experience these past few months but I have to right? That’s kind of the purpose of an update.

Well I’ve been learning, a lot. And maybe I’d been out of school a while, or overly enjoyed college in my senior year but I think I’d forgotten that learning is not always a pleasant experience. Like my freshman class in International Relations, it can be tedious. Or it can be painful, like my intro to Psychology class that based our entire grade on manipulative multiple choice questions. Who does that? Oh yeah, psych professors. You get the point, learning can be rough.

So what are these challenging lessons am I learning?

I’m learning that I came hoping with answers for a lot of questions, many of which have been answered with more questions. My questions coming in were “Is CTC really doing good work? Will this confirm that I’m meant to be in the field of community development? What is community development anyway? What does empowerment actually look like? Can I do this? Will I become closer to God through this?

My questions now are, “What is community development anyway? Can empowerment happen without those who we serve feeling indebted to CTC or feeling like CTC owes them? Can I still do this? Are you there God? It’s me Teesa.

And I do know that the answer to a lot of my questions is, “Patience my dear child”.

An old memory keeps coming to mind, that of my complete misunderstanding of a poster that used to hang on the wall of my childhood bedroom. If I recall correctly, it had two cats on it, one staring at the other and it said “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet”. Now both of these cats had really long whiskers and I would stare at the poster for ages thinking that one of the cats was morphing from its prehistoric state and hadn’t yet finished its evolutionary process. I figured its whiskers were a little longer than the other cat’s and were drawing attention. So morphing cat was trying to tell the other cat to back up off him and quit judging because morph-cat was still transitioning. I was a weird kid.

While my interpretation then was a little skewed, I’m learning that it still is. I keep expecting a sudden physical manifestation of perfection. A complete transformation that is easily recognizable. I want clear signs that I have grown stronger, wiser and smarter over these 7 months and I have the confidence that comes from answers. Which is why when I feel terrible at my job and overwhelmed by its challenges, when I feel like a slob in my apartment, when I feel completely stuck and alone and lost; I get frustrated and blame myself for not getting my life together. The most important thing I’m learning is to tell myself to be patient and trust that God is not finished with me yet.

[Photo by olipop @ Flickr]

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