So yesterday afternoon I was slumped on the couch recovering from another busy day of teaching Christmas-hyped students, when "Brave Sir Robin" from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" suddenly blared out (eg my phone rang) (I have a cool ringtone). I picked it up and looked at the screen to see an unfamiliar and very long number. Don't tell me the telemarketers have found my mobile now...I considered not answering but at the last second did so. "Hello?.....Hello?" No answer....I could hear foreign voices in the background and was just about to hang up on what I thought was a telemarketer when a voice chirped back "Hello!"
Instantly I broke out in a smile and felt tears prickle my eyes. I would know that voice anywhere. It was my beautiful older sister Lisa, who was calling from Kitchanga, a town in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa. She is a doctor and is currently working there for the organisation Medecins sans Frontieres. She has been there for about 5 months now and is due back at the end of February. It's very hard having her away and harder still because we can't talk often. All week, every week I look forwards to our Sunday Skype conversations but apart from email that's our only contact. This was only the second time she had been able to call me so it was a lovely surprise. Her internet was down and she hadn't turned up on Skype on Sunday so I had been worried, and she knew I would be and had called to let us know that everything was fine.
I miss Lisa more than I can really put into words. We are very close and I felt lost without being able to pick up the phone and call her or see her whenever I want. It's been like this for a few years now as she's been away overseas a lot doing the amazing work that she does, but I will never get used to her being away. I am counting down the weeks until I can see her again and give her a big, big hug.
If you want to read some of her MSF blog entries about her experiences on her last mission (she was in Pakistan last year) click here.