I'm leaving for Africa tomorrow.
And I'm absolutely terrified ... And nervous ...And anxious.
I got a call from American Airlines at 7 am this morning. Apparently my flight to JFK was cancelled. I immediately started to freak out. They told me I would have to leave today in order to make all of my connections. Somehow I managed to keep my cool and we booked a different flight to Chicago in the morning. I'm fully aware that it is completely rational to be this unglued before a big trip, nevertheless, I only have 1 day remaining to prepare for the biggest adventure of my life.
Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited! I have been wanting to go on a medical mission for years. I've heard countless stories from my dad and it is just about the most wonderful thing I could ever do. I feel so fortunate for this opportunity.
Since my father has been volunteering for Operation Smile for the last 10 years, I thought I would share a few pictures of previous missions he has been on. He is so joyful... So, enjoy :)
These are 4 of my favorite photos. I can't wait to capture all the emotion and beauty of the children, the parents and the volunteers.
I want to end this post with one of my favorite stories my father told me from a mission last year:
After a long flight, he and the rest of the team had arrived in India and were on a bus ride to the mission site. The bus driver began taking to my father, he was very curious about the group and the reason for their visit. My father explained to him that they are all volunteers who do surgery on children with large gaps in their mouths, known as cleft lip and palate. The driver did not speak english very well, but something resonated and he told my father of a middle aged man living in his village who had a huge hole in his mouth. At 55, he had been teased and treated as an outcast his entire life. He asked if this man could make the long journey to the mission site, if they would be able to fix him. The answer, of course, was yes. Since this man was very poor, the kind bus driver offered to pay his way. To make a long story short, my father repairs his face perfectly and hands him a mirror. The man holds it up to his face and begins pounding on his chest, gasping for air. Every nurse and volunteer in the room began to cry. With tears now streaming down his face, he looks up at my father and gently touches his hand. After a life of sorrow and rejection, at last, he is normal.
This is just one of many beautiful stories. Stay tuned for more...
Love, light & aloha