At last, a WiFi connection. My iPhone buzzed with messages, tweets and emails from having been off the grid for days. I had just gotten back to Nairobi after a week in Machakos, a large village a few hours southeast of the Kenyan capital.
One of the messages came from an old high school friend, Jess Stephan, who had recently moved to Portland, Oregon for college. “My friend Erin is in Nairobi, you two should meet up and fall in love in Africa.” There was a friend request from Erin, a Portland State University student who was trekking around East Africa and just so happened to be in Nairobi. We started chatting and planned to meet for dinner to swap our tales of African adventure and escapade.
It was my third time in Kenya, though I hadn’t been back since 2007. Once again, reuniting with my heart was exhilarating, but a deep sadness had started to come over me because I knew in a matter of hours I would be boarding a plane back to Western Civilization…
Nairobi was extra beautiful on that last night.
Later that year, in October, my friend Mark and I flew out to Portland for my birthday weekend and stayed at Erin’s apartment. I was on a pilgrimage to see the beach from ‘The Goonies’ and Mark had access to free airline tickets. Erin and I talked about how much we missed Africa. Mark mentioned that one of the girls he led in youth group was moving to Uganda, her name was Macey. I was really moved to hear that instead of college, Macey chose Africa, and it made me admire her and question why I didn’t do the same thing.
Through Erin I ended up becoming friends with one of her friends, a fascinating girl named Rebecca from Chicago who was planning to move to the West African country of Ghana. She too had graduated high school and had been compelled after her previous trips to the continent.
Later that week while I stood on Cannon Beach looking out over the Pacific Ocean as the sun was setting, I recounted all of the incredible places I had been, thankful for that moment on my 24th birthday. I could only imagine where the future would take me next.