The GoGlobal Blog

Off to a late start

Off to a late start

I’m writing this on the last leg of my flight from Chicago to Accra, on a date much later than I was expecting.


It hasn’t been the easiest journey.


I was vaccinated with yellow fever, typhoid, and hepatitis A in November at Northwestern Medical Hospital in downtown Chicago. The latter two immunizations were at the recommendation of the nurse who took care of me, but the former is required to enter Ghana. The nurse gave me a small yellow card verifying my shots that could fit inside my passport, and she stamped and signed it to send me on my way.


I had my visa, my flight, and now my vaccinations. 26 January was quickly approaching.


On the evening of 26 January, I double and triple checked that I was prepared before I left for O’Hare. I said some prayers to calm my nerves in my taxi on the way there. I met the young woman with whom I’d be traveling. We entered the line for security and she dropped her passport, making everthing inside it go flying — her boarding pass, her ID, her yellow fever card.


My heart dropped into my stomach. I knew exactly where my own yellow fever card was, but it wasn’t in my passport, my wallet, or my backpack. It wasn’t even in Chicago.


I called my mom and told her where to look in my bedroom at home in Ohio. She found it right where I said it was, in an envelope six hours east of me.


I didn’t get on my flight that night. If I had, I’d have been kept at border control in Accra until I could prove I had been vaccinated.


Now, it’s 31 January and I’m on this plane with four hours to Kotoka. I’ve missed three days of my program, including move-in and orientation. I haven’t met any other students in the program, haven’t seen the campus.


Until I boarded this flight I was sick to my stomach. So much has already gone wrong, and I’ve feared that there would be more misfortune to come. I don’t think the pit in my stomach will go away until my feet are in my dorm room at the University of Ghana International Student House.


An envelope from Ohio arrived at the apartment of a very dear friend a few days ago, containing my yellow fever card and a note from my mom. She said knew how upset I was, she knew what it meant to me that I couldn’t get on my first flight. She knew I was blaming myself for forgetting that document in my room in Ohio. She told me failure happens and has always happened and will always happen. She told me I could give up and be swallowed by myself, or I could fight to get where I wanted to go.


So far, I’ve taken some big risks in my life. I go to school at Loyola Chicago, far away from my first home. Right now I’m choosing to study abroad in a city in West Africa and I’m traveling by myself. Why did I decide to do these things? Why didn’t I play it safe? I was safe in Ohio, I feel safe in Chicago, so why go through the trouble to throw myself into a place I might not feel safe right away?


Frankly I have no idea. And not knowing terrifies me.


But if I don’t go to Accra now, will I ever do it in the future? If I play it safe now, when will I ever live a life of deep fulfillment?


Ultimately, I do all things through God who strengthens me. I know that God wants me to see something in Accra, or meet someone, or feel something that I can only find there. I feel afraid that I don’t know what is prepared for me, but I’ve always felt fear and awe at the hands of my Creator.


I said this hasn’t been easy, and I doubt it will get easier. But only a ship in harbor is safe – and as I look at the vast Sahara beneath me, and the blue sky above me, I know I’d much rather feel the wind in my sails.




Comments are closed.