Two years ago the riddle was how
to suspend my mosquito net!
Two years ago today I entered my village to begin my two years of Peace Corps service. We were all strangers at that point. The man who picked me up in his white van at the Peace Corps office ended up being the father of one of my best friends in the village. The boy who greeted me at my house and helped lug my suitcases down the hill became like a brother to me. The women who knocked on my back door with a pillow and blanket in hand, asking me to go for a walk with her, became like a mother figure when I was so far away from my own.
On that first day, I felt like I was in a valley, looking up at this mountain I had to climb. There were lots of people there watching me, I just didn’t realize at the time in which ways they would help me scale to the summit. But slowly, over time we met and the relationships formed. We learned about each other’s lives—our personalities, our cultures, our languages. We made mistakes, yet we made huge strides. It was all done together.
I was lonely that first night. I felt like I was on my own planet, and wondering how I ever got there in the first place. But then my neighbor Milo, the one who had helped me with my bags, came calling from outside my bedroom window. I welcomed him into my house and I tried making sense of what he was asking me. After a few minutes and some improvised sign language on both our parts, I realized he was inviting me over for dinner with his family that night.
When I joined them for dinner, I never realized how much gratitude I would feel towards them that night for having welcomed me to their meal, their home and their family. I remember where I was sitting, the sound of the evening news on the radio, and the food we were eating. I remember the feeling of being unsure about so much, yet at that moment, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
Tonight, we’re having dinner together again. However, as we do, we both realize that we are approaching our final weekend together, and the days are running short. I’ll be thinking about that first meal we had together, and how much we’ve grown since then. I was welcomed that first night by one family, but next week when I leave, I’ll be saying goodbye to a whole village!
The bed I slept on for the first week until I was able to buy a mattress.
I've been lucky to live in one of the most scenic places in Samoa for the past two years!