Something I Needed

A weekend in Cotonou. A weekend with air-conditioning, electricity, WARM running water, burgers and ice cream, walking on the beach, internet, animal planet. I needed this time in Cotonou… to remind me I didn’t come here for this. To remind me that while I’m lounging on a soft fluffy couch in a clean, cool room watching hi-def TV one of my work partners is cleaning up garbage in her village – in OUR village. I have a temporary home in Benin, and it’s not here.

Sometimes I hate Benin. I hate it’s hot climate, it’s ugly music, and it’s stinking lack of a waste disposal system. I hate how slow it is at everything, and how it can’t seem to get it’s act together anywhere. But sometimes I love it, and gradually the days when I love it are out-numbering the days when I hate it. I love it’s crazy local languages, it’s goat population, it’s market madness. I love the children who shout “Madame Monsieur!” at me when I go walking down the street, and they aren’t sure if I’m a woman or a man because I’m wearing pants. And if I don’t love being constantly stared and laughed at, I certainly appreciate the humility it engenders in me.

I made the trek to Cotonou from my village – a 190-mile trip which took a motorcycle and two taxi vans a whopping 9 hours to accomplish on roads that look more like dried-up river beds then anything we’d call drive-able in the United States – to bring my dog to a vet who could get her spayed. And it’s been nice being here, but for the first time since coming to Benin, instead of feeling reluctant to head back to post after a weekend away, I’m itching to get out of here. I’m ready to stop being so often lazy and cynical at post and to start making things happen. Of course, it’s easy to say that as I sit here on a plush, spinny chair in the computer lounge at the Peace Corps bureau… but really. I’m ready this time. So pray for me. Pray that God gives me an unrelenting love for the people he’s putting in my life so I can be an effective agent for positive change during the rest of my Peace Corps service. Sometimes 27 months feels like forever, but it’s not. I have a limited window of opportunity here before it will be time to come home. And when all is said and done, I don’t want to just have interesting stories to tell, I want to leave with the knowledge that I truly let God’s love show through my actions and interactions with people here in Benin.

Allons-y!  Let’s go!

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8 Responses to Something I Needed

  1. Krista says:


    I love reading about your adventures, you are making me really miss the short time that I was able to spend in Africa!! I definitely had a dabble with the African cuisine (matoke, plantains, beans… so many beans…. and of course rice). It sounds like there are quite a few similarities between East and West Africa. I only wish I had the creativity and insight to find the finer hidden delicacies while we were there. One of my groups favorites were the chapati (flatbread delight… not overly healthy given it is rolled with oil many times over…) and rolexes (chapati rolled with eggs, possibly avocado if you’re lucky). I can’t believe that you trained AND ran a marathon (you are a strong woman, but we already knew that ;) )! I saw on FB that you are coming back in and around Black Pine Beach time, will you be there?? I’d love to see you! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and keep on with your awesome adventures!


    ps. Your pup is adorable!!

    • Heidi says:

      Hey Krista! Yes, I will be at Black Pine Beach – you too? We can share Africa stories :) Also, we should go horseback riding at Black Pine this year! Remember how we used to always do that?

  2. Aunt Carol says:

    Hi, Heidi,
    Sounds like you are having many challenges and life-changing experiences in your time in Benin. Your words are inspiring. Have you run the marathon yet? Krista has run a couple in the cities and has enjoyed them.

    Well, We all wish you well in the rest of your time there and hope you continue to accomplish much and learn much. I’m sure your time and experiences there will be cherished forever. Will look forward to your next blog.

    What do you like in care packages???


    Aunt Carol

  3. Aunt Carol says:

    Hi, Heidi,
    I am catching up on your inspirational words from Benin. It sounds like you are being challenged in most ways possible but also having a lifetime of experiences and opportunities to help others.

    Have you run your marathon yet?? Krista has run a couple and really has enjoyed the challenge.

    We had a celebration for Mom (Grandma Hazel) on February 9th. I’m sure your folks told you that. We had it at Eagle Crest. A LOT of people came – I think Mom enjoyed it. She played the grand piano a little and we sang some hymns toward the end when most of the people had gone.

    Today I had to finish up some shoveling as we got about seven inches of snow on Friday. I suppose it is always hot there. What kind of work are you doing now, Heidi?? Take care of yourself.

    I agree. Most of life could be thought of as a marathon!! You are doing something I am sure you will never regret and be proud of.



    • Heidi says:

      Hi Carol! Thanks for your comment. I did the marathon! (see newest post:) I heard about Grandma’s party and even got to wish her happy birthday on the day! Love to you all!

  4. little brother says:

    I love reading your blog updates. Well-written and well-said. Your perspective is a humbling reminder. Much love from home! we miss you, counting down the days :)

  5. little brother says:

    I love reading your blog updates. Well-written and well-said. Your perspective is enlightening and a humbling reminder. Much love from home! we miss you :)

  6. I am praying for you, each day!

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