So here we are in Haviland, Kansas, a town of about 900 people in the heartland of America.
Last week we were in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The week before we were in Kampala, Uganda.
And the week before that we were in Goma, Congo.
It has been a long month.
We have enjoyed everywhere we have been, and are currently very happy to be here in Kansas visiting my husband's parents.
But we are also exhausted, and a bit overwhelmed, by the thousands of worlds we have glimpsed along the way.
My head simply finds it hard to accept that thousands of different worlds exist on this one little planet. I don't feel "culture shocked" by the US, but I feel shocked by the fact that so many different cultures exist simultaneously.
But slowly, I am getting used to the idea that worlds do co-exist, and that perhaps they needn't be so far apart.
So here I am in Haviland, Kansas eating smothered steak and mashed potatoes, while text messaging the SHONA women in Goma. I call them on skype and we chat in Swahili as they finish their meal of ugali and greens. They update me on their most recent sports match and the new cloth they bought. I double check that they received the money I sent through western union (no problem) and ask how Mapendo's sick mother is doing in the refugee camp. In turn they want to know how my father-in-law is doing with his heart trouble, here in Kansas.
And worlds collide. Or perhaps shrink. Or maybe expand. I need to get my metaphors straight. But The fact is that the SHONA women do actually know my father-in-law, they met him while he was visiting Congo last year. And I actually know Mapendo's mother, who visited Goma several times. And I can almost taste the ugali and greens they are eating, and they can almost taste the smothered steak and mashed potatoes I am eating...NO! just kidding. They would have no idea what to do with smothered steak and mashed potatoes.
But today I am not going to argue. I remember one time I asked Argentine if she really needed to have her own cell phone. I thought that since she lives with Mapendo they could perhaps share a phone. She looked at me as though I clearly had missed a basic lesson in kindergarten somewhere, and explained that a cell phone is like a pair of legs to a handicapped person. "I can't get everywhere I want to go, but my cell phone can" she said. I am quite sure that I rolled my eyes, and continued lobbying for a shared phone.