I have an amazing husband. The man who I couldn't get to hang around the church building 5 minutes after service ended to talk to anyone 4 years ago - made deeper relationships with the people in Zimbabwe that I could have ever imagined. I wanted to see as many different places as I could, meet as many people as possible, and look at the faces of every child around. My senses were in overdrive, my level of discomfort and uncertainty was at an all-time high, and the inability to predict what was going to happen next got my adrenaline pumping.

My husband, however, was more focused on getting to know our head cook. He spent days and nights talking to the kitchen staff, helping them prepare our meals, and planning hikes at 5am each morning. He bypassed the opportunity to visit different villages during the week - so he could spend more time getting to know the people who served us every day. He learned several words in Shona so that he could greet them in their native language. I don't recall even asking them their names.

I know a part of that was due to my uncertainty of a woman's place in Zimbabwe. I was extremely cautious of the cultural boundaries, and didn't want to offend anyone in my carelessness. I kept to my American group, and kept my social tendencies to them. But I was so proud of my husband. He got openly made fun of by the local school kids for his country accent and good boy ways. I watched from a distance, ready to jump to his defense. He didn't seem to notice. Or he just didn't care. He continued to sit with them and ask questions - trying to find common ground to talk about. I would have been long gone by that point. My level of discomfort would have shot through the roof at a schoolyard of kids laughing at me. But they always came around. He would push through the language barrier and chorus of laughter and focus in on the one individual who seemed sincere. The battle against my tears stemmed from wanting to protect him - to wishing I was more like him.

Don't get me wrong - I talked and made friends with some of the natives. I think I'm the only one in our group who still emails someone back in Zimbabwe. But my heart at the time was more focused on taking in as much as possible - rather than leaving as much of me as possible behind. I look forward to getting another chance to take after my husband's example.
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