It’s been just over three months since I left Mozambique to come back to sunny Los Angeles. If you haven’t heard of it, Mozambique is at the very bottom of Africa, bordering South Africa and some other countries you might not have heard of starting with “Z”- Zimbabwe, Zambia…And if you haven’t heard of LA, it’s the metropolis at the bottom of California with a population equaling that of the country of Denmark.
LA county is where I was born and raised, but haven’t called home in a long time (nine years this September). But it’s home again for right now, and it feels good. It feels good to wear a tank top in February. And it feels good to get on the freeway and know it’s going to take me where I want to go, even if it takes two hours longer than it should. It feels good to have fifteen different options for an iced coffee drink. It feels the best to see the ocean every single day and watch people braver than I am take it on on their surfboards in mid-winter (trust me, the water here is always cold).
But I miss Africa too. I miss the way life just seems to flow differently there- more slowly and more real if I can say that. When you’re not constantly interacting with machinery and virtual reality, you’re interacting with land, dirt, and salt water, rice and beans, and children. Life feels a lot realer with little water, and lots of dirt.
But I spent more than three months in Mozambique. I spent three years in Morocco before that, on the polar opposite location in Northwest Africa. Two very, very different nations, two places that had a huge impact on who I am today and how I look at the world.
I saw a lot of pain in Morocco, some obvious, some not so obvious. And I saw a lot of pain in Mozambique, mostly pretty obvious. People suffering from disease, a lot of it which could have been prevented. Or cured, with enough money. Kids with not enough food, moms with not enough strength left to make it through another backbreaking day, dads with not enough money or opportunities to make any.
But I see a lot of pain in Los Angeles too. I see a lot of very lonely people, in Starbucks and in their cars on the freeway, and in line at the grocery checkout. Money certainly helps, but I’ve heard that once you make over $60,000 a year, your happiness doesn’t increase.
Something God is teaching me now is to take on life with joy and peace wherever I’m at. In Africa, I just wanted a hot shower. In California, I just want a clear freeway. There is almost always something missing, something to worry about, or something to complain about. And there is almost always something to smile about, someone to laugh with, and some quiet moment during every long, draining day.