Friday July 10th: I’m really glad I'm not here alone. Not because I don't think I could do it but because I know the experience would be lesser if I were alone. I wouldn't talk as much. I wouldn't have as many great conversations. I wouldn't laugh as much. I wouldn't have as many opportunities to grow as a person. I’m not discouraging anyone from joining the Peace Corps alone or traveling the world alone I just know that for me the experience would be lesser if I were alone. Let me tell you what happened this morning. It is one of the many reasons I'm thankful I'm here with Grace. We left our thishela’s house as a language group, Carol, Anadelia, Grace and I, and as we were standing outside the house waiting for thishela Shongwe to come out we heard some sobbing in the distance. We all picked our heads up and there wondering up the driveway was a young boy no more than 3 crying and sauntering back home. It was one of those sights that would make Chuck Norris, in all his manliness, say “awww”. Naturally, we all said “awww” and I think that Carol, Anadelia and I all started thinking what can we do for this little boy now about 30 yds from where we stood. Grace never stopped to think though. She locked eyes with the little boy and started his way slowly and carefully because the little boy had stopped in the driveway, unsure of where to go due to the crowd of strangers (and a particularly frightening large hairy white man) standing in his front yard. Grace approached the little boy in the most loving way possible until she was maybe 10 feet away. She dropped down to a crouch and beckoned the crying little boy forward softly saying that he was ok. Carol, Anadelia and I just watched, awe struck I think by the magical moment unfolding in front us. The little boy shuffled his way over to Grace rubbing his teary eyes and Grace took a seat welcoming arms still extended. As soon as the little boy made contact with Grace the crying stopped and she pulled him into a hug while he sat on her lap. It was one of the most precious things I have witnessed in my short life. Carol, Anadelia and I finally broke from our mesmerized stupor and approached Grace and the little boy. Then just as soon as it all happened the moment was gone as thishela walked out and it was time to go. Grace gave the little boy a final squeeze saying “sometimes everyone just needs a hug” and set the little boy back on his feet to finish his journey home.
One of my favorite pictures of Grace is from her trip to Kenya. It's a picture of her walking away from the camera hand-in-hand with a young Kenyan child down a dusty path through some tall grass. It's a picture that I always felt truly embodied Grace and all that she was about. This morning however, that picture was surpassed. Surpassed by a picture that I will forever hold dear in my memory and one which I wish I could share with you all just as clearly as I was blessed to see it today. It is reasons like that mental image I now carry that I'm glad I'm not alone here. It is reasons like that which make me feel so indescribably thankful to be here with my amazing wife. Sala kahle bangani and remember, “sometimes everyone just needs a hug.”