After two awesome, busy months in the States, the family and I are back home in Accra. It feels good to be back, good to put away the suitcase and use a closet and drawers again, good to be settled at home again. But I had a great time in the States and I miss it there, miss my friends, miss riding bikes, miss the changes in weather and the late sunsets. This summer was a blast. It was also too short, but then it always seems so. However despite the great time I had in the States, there is another big reason for my relief at being back. This relief is due to a condition called "America-itis", and being back helps me be rid of it. This condition is very serious and ridiculously easy to contract. My friend, Niecia and I, spend a lot of time together.
This is how I continually contract it. After a little time in the States, the excitement wears off past the initial happiness and thrill of being Stateside, and the fact that I am actually in America begins to sink in. I begin to notice all the things about America that I hate - the extreme convenience - not that convenience is bad, but we're talking about Extreme Convenience, everything at your fingertips - the materialism, the "America Bubble" and detachment from so many world problem (Disclaimer: this is not true of all America and all Americans, however these seem to be the general rules). This is Stage II. Stage I is the initial response, the rediscovery of all good things in America. Stage III of this disease is very dangerous, and it's the easiest to slip into: when I stop noticing these things. When I begin forgetting all that I learned in Liberia and Ghana. When I stop noticing how good we have it in the States. When the "me" problem begins. Out to eat with Jon and Niecia. Look at the size of those burgers!The "me" problem is when I begin panicking when one little bit of a plan doesn't work out, forgetting that it is one day. Forgetting how much I have. And yes, there definitely is a time and place for focusing on yourself, a time and place for focusing on the small details, but when this becomes a daily habit, that is when Stage III has set in. [As a teenager, this case is much more acute. And yes, that can be an excuse, and a pretty good one. Teenagers as a rule are like this. But then I remember the verse in Jeremiah, my favorite Bible passage, "But the Lord said to me, "Do not say 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you to. Do not be afraid for I am with you and will rescue you.' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 1:7-8). But the teen thing is a whole other problem...]My friends (from left to right), Dan, Curtis, Jon, and Niecia.
Stage IV is the most frustrating, but when I enter into it, then the end is in sight for this disease - either that or the cycle of this disease will begin again. Stage IV is when I discover how much I am into Stage III. It's when I realize how much my focus has been drawn off what I've learned, off the bigger perspective, off of God even, and back onto myself. The frustrating part is breaking out of the habits of Stage III. It is so easy to take your sights off the Bigger picture and begin to be consumed about the daily struggles, frustrations, and anxieties of life as a relatively privileged American - so easy to be so focused on the day and on yourself. It's a habit that's easy to slip into and hard to get out of ...and a key element to the sinful nature. As such, we as Americans have to realize this. As so many people say, "admitting you have a problem is half the battle." After that...it only gets harder. I don't think I, or anyone else, will ever be cured of "America-itis" or the "ME syndrome", but it is a disease that is treatable. It just takes a lot effort, faith and prayer.Jon and Dan acting goofy at mini-golf.On a separate and sadder note, today is my dad's 56th birthday. As a family, we don't do much to celebrate the birthdays of the parents...I'd make dad a card, maybe bake a cake after I got older, make his favorite birthday meal, sang Happy Birthday, and occasionally got a present for him if I knew there was something he really wanted. And that was it. As many of you can imagine, he wasn't big on parties or making a big deal out of an annual day celebrating getting older. But still, it is a hard day. He would've been 56 years old. I like to picture him, up in heaven, getting a huge, way overdone birthday cake as a prank from some of the angels he befriended, some trickster humans who went before him, some well-meaning people. All standing around a cake, laughing and joking. And God in the midst of it all, overjoyed at the joy of His children. I like to picture this, because I believe Dad would love it. He hated any type of sentimental, store-bought card, which is part of the reason I always made him a card. But he didn't mind the cards with the joke in them. Getting a huge joke-cake from those who knew he didn't love to celebrate his birthday, who understood that birthdays didn't really matter anymore, but who also love my dad and knew they could get a good laugh out of this. I miss him a lot, love him a lot, think of him a lot. Can't wait to be with him again. I look forward to the hug he'll give me and hearing his voice.
Until then...Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you.