Day 9… Beautiful, terrible, wretched last day
Each morning, I feel my hand laying on warm skin.
Jamie puts my hand across his face, on the side of his cheek, wraps his hands around mine to lay on his chest, and we lay with interlaced fingers until the heat of the sun coming through the window forces us up. African snugglebuggles. ::sigh::
Church was wonderful. The men, women, and children sit separate – except a tiny wittle African beauty came up to sit in my lap. She slept on my chest as Pastor Hassan preached about faith. He passionately challenged us all to appreciate our struggles.
“FAITH THAT IS NOT TESTED IS NO FAIT’ AT ALL!” He proclaimed. “A PERSON OF SUBSTANCE COMES FROM FAITH TESTED!!” Mmmmmmmm…. AMEN!!
In the afternoon, Emmanuel & Jamie walked me to a local market to get a Western Union Chris was sending to help pay for some new school uniforms for a few of the boys and the cost of a field trip for some of our elementary school boys. It was hot, and the 30 min. walk seemed more like an hour. On the way, I heard some guys hollar some Krio words at us a few times. This wasn’t any different than other times, people call for us and so many little children will yell, “Hello! Hello!! HELLO HELLO!!” They have learned the greetings of missionaries that have come this way over the years. I love when they run up just to get a brief brush of touch from our hands as we are walking by, and they are elated when we make time to stop for mobs of hugs and embraces.
This trip, however…
I had a weird feeling and when I asked Emmanuel what the men were saying, he just covered his wide smile & giggled. I could tell he was shy to tell me – as usual. After much bugging, I just stopped and he finally told me,
“they say… well, if someone wears shorts… uhhh…”
“Uhh, ok, all eyes will be on you, mum” he confessed.
“Oh my word!!!!! I HAD NO IDEA! Do I need to go change?? Should I go put a dress on?”
I’m just looking at the boys and Jamie is shaking his head no, not wanting to make the trip back & I can tell his Krio pleading is saying it’s fine, fine – let’s just goooooo”. He was hot and impatient, in full boy mode which made us laugh – but Emmanuel just smiled, and hesitated. I could tell he knew I was serious – I did NOT want to take another step in shorts if it was going to be look upon as offensive in their culture.
“Emmanuel, I’m not kidding. Tell me. Do I need to go put o a dress?”
“ Uhhhm… fusho fusho.” And off we went. Jamie stayed put and waited on us to get back.
We had JUST had a conversation the other day about our different cultures, because Itasu had been walking around in her bra all day. When I asked her if she put a shirt on, she slapped her chest and said, “Is too hot, too hot!” So, Summer and I asked her and Immanuel if this was normal – if breasts were a big deal in their culture because we would never bra it out in America, but we had seen women on their porches doing their washing and cooking topless several times. Since that’s normal, it made sense that none of the boys were tripping out about the bra display.
Emmanuel explained to me that women can do this at their homes, “it is nothing”, and that spaghetti straps and even bra straps are nothing, “no problem”, but, apparently bare legs in shorts would make people think I had gone mad. Shorts and strapless tops are only to be worn at home. Duly noted.
**Note to self: Next trip – thrift for cool dresses and skirts to wear with tanks!
Sunday afternoon the boys had arranged a soccer game for us to watch and the village field with another team. I WAS SOOOOO EXCITED!! Mostly because we know this is their favorite thing and they were so proud to share it with us. I love to see them playing the way children should!! We made signs and yelled cheers and acted a fool for them! It was a great time, and of course, our boys won. They are some hardcore soccer beasts!!
In the evening, we traveled back to a part of the village we had visited previously to meet with Joanna, a woman in her 70s that has given part of her land to Pastor to use for ministry and where we will be putting in a water well soon. It had gotten dark, so we met will little light in Joanna’s church with 4 of the women elders and a man that helps care for her. It reminded me of a small deacon’s meeting, and we discussed the court allegations Pastor had endured, as he caught her up on all the details, the well, documents, and the issue of Joanna missing Pastor since he had been so busy doing so many things for the children almost completely on his own the last couple of years. There was prayer and pictures and closure, and I was grateful to bear witness to this senior woman, widowed and full of faith, still serving God fully so late in life.
Shanna told her, “I told my husband if he ever goes and I am alone, I want to be like Joanna, still giving my life fully to the Lord even alone and in the final years of my life.”
Mmmmm, me, too.
We returned home to a celebration of worship at the church with all of our kids. There was singing, dancing, birthday recognition, and gift giving for all.
BUT THE BEST PART was when different groups of children came on the stage to perform like a talent show and MY SWEET JAMIE got up there.
I had no idea what was about to go down, LITTLE STINKER!!
He, Macmed, and another little boy went onto the stage and we anxiously awaited their offering of talent.
The music came on loudly and my son walked forward and proceeded to DANCE HIS LITTLE TAIL OFF!!! It was AMAZING!!!! He was FEARLESS!!! Not like he was when I met him so many days ago, now he was standing tall with great confidence and BUSTING. A. MOVE. for all to see!
And, I mean to tell the world —>>> MY SON IS AN AHHHHMAZING DANCER!!
I just squeeled with delight, as any proud mom would!! I was blown away- in shock at his moves, sliding and gliding across the stage with his red cap turned back and his bold moves that revealed to us all what a rockstar this child is! He was full of energy, fly moves and I will never forget him up there shining so bright!!! One of the proudest momma moments I have and will ever experience. Mmmm… 🙂
Later, he told me, “When you go, you have to tell dad and my brother and sisters that I can dance!”
OMG DUHHH!!! So of course, I just recorded him again so they can see it for themselves, but it won’t do justice because only in that moment were there shouts and yells from all of his sister and brothers, and only in that moment was the electric energy and his boldness such a surprise and impression of God’s work. Only in that moment… and I was there. I got to see it for myself with my own eyes.
It has been terribly hard to miss so many precious moments my family is sharing at home…
but the morning snuggle buggles, the night his name changed forever, the parent-teacher conference, and now this outrageous dance off… these are moments I’m not missing, for Jamie.
I’M BEARING WITNESS TO HIS LIFE. AS HIS MOM.
and he’s never had that before…
so there is great peace in my heart, and gratitude that washes over me, that for these short days, I’m here.
For now, yes, even if just for now, momma’s here. Mom is watching. He keeps checking to see if I’m watching… like all our children do. And I’m always watching… I see him. I see my son, in all His glory… and I could not be a more proud mom than I am right now. He is just. amazing.
This one’s gonna’ hurt, Lord.
We stayed up extra late, so much to say and so much time to share knowing our time is ending here. The last night to smile and encourage the kids, to worship with them, pray over them, laugh with them, and the last night to crawl into bed next to my sweet, sleepy boy… one last African snuggle buggles. </3