Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Land of Paradoxes

Flatirons Men's Afghanistan Trip
Day Eleven - Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So here we are, our last day in Afghanistan...for the time being. I plan to return again someday and I know the other guys on the team feel the same. We sat around the breakfast table drinking coffee and talking long before the food ever arrived. Bart Lillie opened up and shared a particularly rough time he and his family endured several years back -- and how God brought them through it. It was, once again, another powerful moment of vulnerability and acceptance -- something that's has bonded this team from the get-go.

Packed and loaded, we made the cacophonous and chaotic trip to the airport. Once inside the terminal, after multiple security and passport checks, Bob said it was the smoothest he's ever had on the team's he's led. Still, the last security check in Kabul (which included an extensive pat-down from a guard in rubber gloves) was the most up-close-and-personal inspection I've had from another man since my 50 year checkup.

Sitting in the terminal I was consumed by something one of the ex pat staffers said on our first day upon arriving in Kabul. She said, "Afghanistan is a land of paradoxes." And she's right. I sat at the gate, waiting to board our flight to Dubai, and ran through a bunch of the paradoxes in my head like you scan through a rolodex.

- Afghanistan appears to be a place so foreign and exotic, yet we learned it can be as familiar as your own hometown or backyard.
- To the outsider, the traffic in Kabul appears to be this crazy, disorganized jumble of a mess, but instead, it really has its own rhythm and routine.
- Afghanistan's a place that appears to be filled with suspicion and closed-mindedness, but we found nothing but openness and acceptance.

It was one paradox after another. But as I type this, 29,000 feet in the air, headed for Dubai (and eventually back to home), the biggest paradox I've found is this: I might look like the same man who came to Afghanistan 10 days ago, but I'm not. I am different. Afghanistan has changed me. I guess that's what happens when you leave a part of who you are in the Land of Paradoxes. And so I will miss it until I return.

Til that day. Thanks for reading.

-- Dan

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