Six months ago when I left Gabon I felt like a piece of my heart was staying behind in that country. I never imagined that half a year later I would still be able to close my eyes and smell, see, even taste and feel experiences that I had while I was there. This past weekend I stood in church and was able to close my eyes and inhale the familiar scent of my Mama Jeannine (above picture on the left) but this time it was for real! Three of the Gabonese I became very close are here in America for a few weeks and I was so blessed to be able to spend some time with them!
A shout-out to Mark, Amy, Miranda, Sydney, and Amber Anderson–this wonderful family drove up to Nyack from their home in New Jersey, fed me, gave me a bed, even clothed me in some cases. Mark was one of the eleven guys who came on our first time during my stay and it was great to spend time with him and his family, as well as getting to see all of the other guys who came out. (Clarification, the Gabonese came to their church for a weekend conference).
We drove back to New Jersey on Thursday night and on Friday afternoon we were given the task of taking our friends to Walmart! My heart was racing as we walked into the door of the home they were staying in. They were just finishing up a small meeting but we were given permission to interrupt so I walked to the doorway and looked in to see Mama sitting on the couch. She saw me and jumped up, rushing over saying, “Ah, ah, Olivia, Olivia!” And I can say that being back in her hug once again, crying on her shoulder, was one of the best moments of my year. It was like a full circle–the same thing that happened when we parted and now the same thing happening again as we were reunited. Along with her had come her husband, Papa/Pastor Jean-Marc and another pastor, Jacob (reuniting with them was no less joyful).
Over the course of the weekend we took our Walmart shopping trip, attended all three church services, which were a mixture of American and then the few Gabonese elements made even more awesome by the team of guys wearing their shirts they received as gifts in Gabon. On Sunday afternoon we went down with the three Gabonese and some other people to Philadelphia where we handed out a hot meal to homeless people. Mama Jeannine was amazed at all of the people that were there with no homes. She told me that the idea is somewhat foreign to them because in Gabon most people have extended family who will take care of them if need be, so people in Gabon may very well be poorer than homeless people here in America but they are still part of a community and are taken care of.
So anyways, the gist of this post is that I still miss everything about Gabon. I want to go back and I am praying about what God has in store in that area. And again I am amazed at how He blesses me. And He has plans for our futures that we can’t imagine. As I left Gabonese soil I didn’t imagine that six months later I’d be reunited with some of that family.