Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Comfortable


I grew up in a place that most people would think was pretty cool. After all, people travel from all over the world to Washington D.C. to see the museums, the Lincoln memorial and of course the White House. Like most "locals" to any city, we spent very little time there. In fact, I can't ever remember a time when my family went into the city. Of course there were field trips to the Smithsonian and the Air and Space museums, but we never went as a family.
My Dad was a police officer while I was growing up. In fact, he spent a year of his career in the Homicide division in P.G. County MD, which at the time I believe had the highest murder rate in the nation. A year was all a 2 time Vietnam Vet could handle (he deserves a medal for the year).
I think my Dad spent alot of his time protecting us from the worst of life. This had alot to do with why we didn't go into the city. We vacationed every year- always to the East Coast to the beach or up to PA to visit family. Once we went to DisneyWorld - my first plane ride! My mother will probably post and correct me, but I don't believe any of us, singular or as a whole, left the US. (she traveled a little with her job as a civilian with the Air National Guard but I believe it was all domestic. Okay, maybe Greenland?).
(Stay with me - I do have a point to make)!
It wasn't until I started traveling for scrapbook conventions that I ever left the East Coast. Traveling to CA for the first time was a BIG deal for me. Seeing the Grand Canyon and Sedona for the first time was a BIG deal. Seeing the magnificent dairy barns in Massachusetts was a BIG deal.
The thought of getting on a plane and heading toward a foreign country across the map was a BIG deal. So big that I actually shed tears and made myself sick with worry for months before I left. Silly me.
So here is my point. . . (I told you I had one)!
Being comfortable is a good thing, no doubt. But being so comfortable that you miss out on grand opportunities to see the world in a new light, in a way that the 10:00 news just can't communicate would be a shame (and I almost missed my opportunity).
I guess I went through the trouble to type all of this because just saying "South Africa was great" didn't seem like enough. In the end it meant alot more to me then just seeing Lions and Elephants (which were of course AMAZING). The people I met (have I mentioned how warm, friendly, and laid back everyone was?) have changed me. The level of poverty I saw has changed me. The history has changed me. Knowing that something near 1 in 5 people around me had AIDS changed me. Seeing beautiful children laughing and playing in the midst of it all (as all children do) has changed me.
Don't get me wrong, this certainly wasn't a missions trip. But somehow in the midst of all I did see (watch a sunrise over the African savannah and see how your perspective changes!) I came back with a new outlook on life.
I want to thank Glenda and Louise for the opportunity to be a part of the convention. It was more then I ever imagined it would be and I find myself missing the two of you so much (and Gary and Auntie)! I also want to thank all of the ladies who attended the convention for their warm welcome and hospitality. I hope to be back soon!!
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23 comments:

TracieClaiborne said...

Wow. I can't wait to hear more about your trip. I don't think I am brave enough to go that far. I'm proud of you!

becky said...

what a wonderful post!! sometimes it takes going out of your comfort zone to truly see what is great in one's life...and to try and see how one can help others in a more personal sense than just donating some money to a charity -- sounds like you had an awesome trip, and i can't wait to see the gorgeous pages that will be produced!!!!

latte_grande said...

Wow. Just wow!
I'm hoping to experience the savanna someday....I can just imagine how amazing the whole experience is! Can't wait to hear more about it!

Stefanie said...

It was great having you here. I loved your class too, and am sorry that we can't buy your range in a scrapbook store here yet.

Anonymous said...

What a neat story! I can't wait to hear more! And see all the pictures! And the scrapbook pages that will tear our hearts out! So glad you didn't bail...it's challenges that grow us and change us...not the lazyboy rockers in the living room (I know you don't use one of those!), but the metaphor. What an awesome opportunity!

{Lara} said...

Jenni, it gave me chills reading your post - and I live here!
It is so awesome for me to see and hear how people are "touched" by Africa. It truly is a beautiful country with beautiful people. I am thrilled that this great hobby of scrapbooking gives the opportunity to so many talented people to come and visit and experience it.
I felt spoilt getting to see you 2 weekends in a row (CE and SA)!!

Til next time...
{Lara}

Cathy said...

Your visit was special for both you and us... we really enjoyed meeting you and it's always a privilege to share our beautiful country with other. Can't wait to see your pages about the whole visit.

kristina said...

It sounds like an amazing trip, Jenni! SO happy you got to experience it!

Amy Muffoletto said...

I know the feeling you have right now. Last summer my husband and I went to Sicily for 2 weeks. We had done some research on Family that may be there and we were contacted by a family we believe is related. They invited us to stay with them and took us in as their family. What a different world they live in. Many people said we were crazy for going to a place we knew nothing about. Fear does hinder us from many things. Take a step of faith you will be pleasantly amazed. Words cannot discribe the time we spent there.

kerry lynn said...

this was a wonderful post to read this morning jenni. thank you!
xoxo

Michelle said...

I nthe midst of all the chaos and the convention and the hoopla, you found true meaning of why you went and it opened your eyes and let you 'see'. What a beautiful thing to experience and now you have your journaling done for a beautiful page/project! Well said!

Davinie said...

THIS was an amazing and inspiring post. Thank you for that.

Achtung! said...

I can totally relate to everything you said here! I grew up right outside of DC too (MoCo, MD) and had all those same field trips. I never realized how cool the museums and monuments were until I got a bit older and played tour guide to friends coming to visit. I've only been to the West coast once...horrible, I know. My big change was moving to Germany just over a year ago. Definitely not as life changing as visiting someplace like South Africa, but it's a start. :D

young said...

Jenni, that's so great. It's always a great moment when our worldview changes! Hooray for cross-cultural/global trips!

Jo said...

sounds like you had an amazing experience to take with you back to the usa.....my sister has been and it was amazing.......cant wait to see what ou taught there!!!

judy dotson said...

I went to Kenya and Tanzania nine years ago only because my husband wanted to go, but I have to tell you that it was the best trip I have ever taken and is something I will remember forever.

Suzanne J Dean said...

Your trip sounds fabulous--I'm afraid to fly myself but we're going to Italy in a few months so I'm gearing up. Congrats to you and your accomplishments. Of course I knew you as "Jennifer Russell" back in St.Mary's Co. Funny how small the internet/stamping world is, huh!

hugz,
Suzanne (Gumtow)Dean

Joanne McDonald said...

So glad you enjoyed our beautiful country and very special people! We are very proud to be South African and love to show off our country to foreigners! Thank you for such an inspiring class at the Convention - I have a feeling everyone enjoyed it as much as I did and we are desperate to get some of your product over here! It was such fun and I'm mad about the page we did with you! Hope you'll come again (to teach and see more of SA!).
Joanne McDonald

merryheart2 said...

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful trip. I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Sandra

dandra said...

It was nice reading about your dad, my dad was a cop for 20 yrs before he lost his life on duty. He also never brought work home, we knew there were bad guys out there but he always taught us you help people in need. I think he always knew at one point in time we would learn about the real world so he kept it to himself. He didn't get to see us venture out in the real world, but today we still hold that important value. I can't wait to hear more about your trip.. LOVE your products and blog...

Stacey said...

I love, love, love South Africa! It's one of my favorite places to visit. And I completely get what you are saying about watching the sunrise over the savannah.

jacqui said...

Thanks for a wonderful class. So glad you travelled across the map to SA to share in our wonderful country. I hope there's something of Africa still in your heart and that it will remain there for a long time. Hope you will come back to SA soon. but in the meantime, please send us some of your product!!!! It's awesome!!!

caro said...

Jenni, I have followed your product & progress for ages. This week I went into my LSS & discovered that you had been at the convention! The assistant pulled her paper pack out to show me & I sqealed "Jenni Bowlin"!!!!!!!!!. Her jaw dropped, but we soon got chatting again. I am so glad it was positive overall, for you. Yes, we have huge social needs, but this is rainbow place to be. You're welcome here anytime!