On Saturday morning, we watched Dora and the entire Harding group drive away in their mint green tour bus with U.A.E. tags. (Things like that remind me that we actually live geographically closer to the Arab world than the Western-European world.) She and Heather stayed with us Wednesday night, had breakfast with us Thursday morning, came to school on Thursday morning, and had a day around and outside of Kigali on Thursday. Thursday night we all met at Heaven (one of the nicest restaurants in town, go figure) and came home and collapsed on our almost-comfortable couches. Friday morning they had breakfast at home with us again, came to school with us, and Dora stayed all day. After school, we did a bit of shopping and spent the evening making home-made pizza before briefly showing our faces at a reception at Africa Transformation Network, a local NGO. After the reception we all crashed, and woke up the next morning at 6:00 with the stark realization that Dora (and Heather, and the whole group) would be leaving in an hour. They were here for over 60 hours, but it felt like no more than six.
Strangely, on Thursday night at dinner we were given a gift – some money to help cover the cost of housing and feeding the girls. One of the missionaries came over to our table and quietly surprised us with a larger-than-expected compensation for our service (I guess that’s what he was thinking). By the time we got home, the money was gone, not to be found in pockets or purses or wallets. As quickly as it came to us, it was gone.
Dora’s visit felt basically the same. A great gift, the presence of one’s family, came to us and stayed. Yet before we could really and truly enjoy the gift, the moments were over and we were in the middle of just another Saturday. Not to say that we did not enjoy it, because every minute was special and meaningful (Dora even stayed for three of my classes!) but just to say that our perception of the passage of time is even more mysterious in Africa than it is in the States. By now, Dora is well on her way to being on a plane back home after two and a half months in Zambia. She’ll be home in time for a family-style Thanksgiving, after which she’ll resume her between-semesters job at Chick-Fil-A in Sherman, Texas. Strange days, indeed.