So, it has been ages with a formal update. I swear it is on my New years Resolutions...Need to get on that. I was writing a paper for my research, I swear.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
This will be a quick update but I just got back from being home in Royal Oak, MI for three weeks minus the two days I was stuck in Paris due to weather and cancellations. Though when I finally got in my family was dressed in christmas hats and gave me balloons, flowers, and hugs. It was amazing to be back with Family and America is amazing. I gained 12 pounds and the time flew; most of it was spent eating. It was a white Christmas and I helped decorate my Mom's tree with snowflakes and listen to Christmas music. I was truly in the Holiday spirit. I went to Wings and College Hockey games, Outback twice, hot tub night once, Frankenmuth, and more. My first meal was nachos and a vanilla milk shake :) Though I talk mostly about food it was about being back with family, catching up, and really just picking up where we left off.
It all feels like a different world now and it is not easy coming back. I know once I get back it will be great to see everyone in my village again, go running in the mornings and start work on projects and such but part of me still is back home and I seemed to have left more when I went back. Sometimes I wonder why I am here with the family and life I have at home. It would certainly be easier and make more sense. On the car ride to the airport they all said to thank my Malian host family for welcoming me and keeping me safe, and it really meant a lot that they are willing to support and even be proud of my crazy ways. I feel bad for not shedding tears of joy coming back, or tears of sadness leaving to go back, but it didn't mean those times were any less emotional but I am crying now and miss you all.
Before I even got home my project was completely funded which was the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for and I think all of you that donated to the cause. You all were extremely generous to those in need at the Holiday season. Hopefully PC will be sending me your addresses sometime soon so that I can write proper thank yous. Send me your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will get there quicker. I will certainly post updates on how the project goes. I'm sure it will not be without delays or frustrations but will be of great benefit to the people of Zeala. Some have even started getting their parts of the community contribution while I was away.
Otherwise, I had fun with building handwashing stations with people in my village, celebrating Tabaski again, teaching english to a group of 32 once a week, painting a world map with fellow volunteers, conducting a baseline survey in the next village, organizing and running the IST Half-Marthon and more. More updates on those in the next update which will hopefully be before Valentines Day.
Thanks again for all your kind support, donations, e-mails, letters, prayers, etc. I could not do this without my friends, family, and friends and family of friends. If ever you find yourself in Mali, you are all welcome. Aw Bismillah!