It was a bit poignant, actually, and accidentally I was allowed to be generous and I'm glad of it.
I brought in a cake to say thank you. The biggest cake I could find was about the size of a travel box of Kleenex, but it did the trick, and people seemed really pleased. But I had also brought the books I had read that I had no need to drag back to the States. The staff fell upon these like ravening wolves. I was surprised. I'd actually brought them thinking Taryn would like them, but I realize too that new books are an incredible luxury. They are expensive here. A new paperback mystery costs almost 20,000/= (about $12), and if your salary is 200,000/= a month, books are not going to be on the top of the list.
At any rate, the books disappeared far faster than the cake. And then Olivia, the head honcho, made me stand up so we could get a photo, while Susy brought out a present for me! I really hadn't expected it, given how little I have done in my time here. But it was a substantial gift: a lovely basket, and a plaque made from wood showing zebras under a thorn tree.
The loan officers headed out for a day in the field, Taryn with them, and I waited for Justine who arrived about a half hour later. Her son has been suffering from malaria, as I said, and won't eat or drink because he can't keep anything down. Poor Justine! Especially as this was a particularly busy week. With the holiday, they are fitting in extra meetings on the other days, and Justine needed to go out to the field.
I asked if it was OK if I gave her an American-style hug. She assented, but afterwards also shook my hand. She bustled around getting stuff together to go out to the field while Sissy, the office assistant, told her all sorts of things that needed to happen.
Justine and I went out together, but her route took her to the left and mine to the right, so by about 11 a.m. this morning, I was done.
I had a good talk with Olivia, too, while waiting for Justine's arrival. I told her I was glad for the opportunity to work at MCDT for a reason we both agreed upon: we got to meet the people. It's off the main roads and in remote neighborhoods and they are people I would never have met otherwise. Some I liked a lot, some I didn't, some I simply felt neutral about. But I got a chance to meet them, and that is the gift that this fellowship has offered me. I'm very, very grateful.