Reflections on Part 1 of the Adventure
April 17, 2007

I'm drawing to an end to part one of my adventure (I'm dividing this whole experience in to three parts, based on when I get R & R/leaves).

As of this Thursday, I will have been in Afghanistan for eight weeks. It feels twice as long. I knew I would be happy to go on my first leave. But I had no idea that I would feel so *desperate* to get out of the country for a while at this point.

I've been far weaker than I expected on my first long-term mission abroad. The security situation has really gotten me down: no walking, no hiking, no site-seeing, no strolling down the avenue looking in shop doorways. Drive to work, drive to home, drive to a restaurant for lunch or, on Fridays, for brunch. Get to be outside only at a restaurant or my guest house.

Also, I thought I could handle the separation from Stefan and Albi better. Stefan and I were apart for six weeks when he was in the USA, and I was okay - just cried twice, I think. What was different then is that he was having a fantastic time, and I was home with my dogs, with a couple of friends just a phone call away.

I thought I would be a lot tougher. I'm not nearly as tough as I thought. I'm eating my humble pie -- and with no complaints. Obviously I had something to learn.

In so many ways, I was prepared for the day-to-day needs here - I brought most of the right stuff for making myself comfortable. I credit my preparation to all the traveling I've done. But mentally, I was NOT prepared for this, not nearly as much as I thought.

I've also struggled to get into my groove at work, and that's affected my time here as well. I feel like I'm oh-so-far-in-over-my-head at times. Development/aid work has a specific language, and I'm still so green at it. I'm really struggling to be able to develop an outreach strategy that would really add value to what's happening here - what do I really know about rural rehabilitation and development?!?!?. This is not easy. Not at all. I would say it's the hardest thing I've ever done. I sit in meetings and feel like I don't understand 90% of what's going on - so how am I supposed to talk about it to anyone? I have always gotten a buzz from work, but right now, I'm just feeling frustrated and ill-prepared.

But on the flip side, it's been nice to get back to communications activities and away from all-volunteer-management-all-the-time. I've long ago accepted this isn't a job I'm going to make a big splash in. I'm doing my best to learn. I have even been scanning some old WPA campaigns and, as well as various other resources, for inspiration. I just hope to do a solid, basic job, to pave the way for greater things by whoever follows me, and to learn things that will help me in the future.

I also still feel grateful for this experience, intestinal attack and all.

Some things I've been grateful for while I've been here:

I'll write at least once more update before I head out.

If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing --
without comments, I start to think I'm talking to cyberair.

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