Ugh… the sun. My last African sunrise. 😦
I woke up to Jamie’s warm skin holding my hand, and looked up to see Gabriel’s big smile. He was headed back to college later, but he told us he was going with us to the airport. I snuggled with him a bit, letting him know how he had changed my heart, how proud I am for him going to college and preaching at the church with the other boys, and how much God loves him. Sometime between then and our leaving, he disappeared. We weren’t upset about it, we didn’t want to go through the goodbyes either. And he did call us later when we were at the airport to tell us goodbye and he loved us.
The morning was slow, and gentle… Margaret braided my hair… and the children just sat all around sharing space and time with us…
and I did not want to leave.
And they sang… and they danced… And it was a beautiful morning together…
And then, just like that, it was time to go.
All packed up we said goodbye to so many boys and headed down the hill to the girls’ building for our ride. On the way down the hill, Jamie held my hand, just as he had every trip of every day. The boys hold our hands constantly, carry our waters and purses, lead us around holes and trash and guide us every rocky step. They take great pride in taking care of us.
We made one last stop at Jamie’s classroom. We announced his new name and he handed candy out to his teacher and all of his classmates as an offering of significance and gratitude, as well as celebration.
“I thank you call by my new name, Jamie Johnson!”
As we continued down the hill, Jamie’s hand in mine,
he said, “Ayyyy you loss me today. You loss me and I loss you…”
Heart. BREAK. I will never forget those words.
“Yes, son,” I said, “but not forever, we will pray for dad to come, and I will come again. Read your book every day and study like the big boys. Brush your teeth two times a day and listen to your big brother Emmanuel. He will help you and teach you many things.” And to Emmanuel, I turned and said, “Please help him learn to read, or have the other boys sit with him. Be so nice to him, you remember what it was like when you were him.” And I went on with my motherly to do’s for them as they both shook their heads and said, “yes, yes, yes mum, every day”…. it was just small talk and me paranoid about leaving both of them. Even Emmanuel at 17, is just a little boy inside. Just a few nights before he shared with me his story of Pastor finding him as a baby among dead bodies, eating the leftover food around them. With tears streaming down his face, he talked about how he struggled sometimes seeing other children with their parents and how he is so thankful for where God has put him and for his brothers and sisters, but, “I still know… someday… I pray… God gives me a real family.”
I assured him he is always welcome in my family, even as he has already taken the role of Jamie’s big brother and helped him so much. I always have a room for him, and another big brother he would LOVE, and a mother’s love for him that will never end.
We prayed and God showed me once again, even these big boys are just little boys inside, desperate for love, desperate for family.
He sets the lonely in families… Right? Then why the hell am I leaving, Lord???? Am I to see all of this? Am I to know what you’ve shown me?? AND LEAVE????
We rode the ferry to the airport…We took a few last pictures,
oh Jamie… 😦
Gah, those smiles…
Margaret sang me two songs, that I will cherish forever.
Like an angel she sang… Just as God had given her songs to comfort her all these years, through her, He was comforting me.
But, for the most part… the air was thick of hearts breaking and it was deafening. The sadness that overcame my sweet Jamie was killing me… I had only seen him so happy and full of life… I have never felt pain like this before… I can’t imagine I ever will. How do you say goodbye… to your child?
He just kept tucking his head into my bag… we were both hurting in a way neither of us had ever experienced… what are we to do? Say goodbye? Surely not… God, surely not…
I was crushed, and the pain was barely a glimpse of what was to come.
Soon, the long trip was suddenly over, and before I knew it we were standing in front of a zillion people and a large glass window that we would soon be on the other side of. Emmanuel… he was so sweet, he promised me he would not cry, he would only let me see his big smile and I am so glad he did, because Jamie’s tears were enough. And he held them back as long as he could, until neither of us could be strong another second. I held him so close, so tight… I felt his tears, I felt his heart, I felt his pain wash over me and my pain washed over him as we embraced… I couldn’t do it… I just could not let go. How does a mother let go?? How did I even let go, I don’t remember.. I just remember Pastor helping Jamie pull away and being ushered with a crowd into the airport.
I could see NOTHING. My tears were enough to flood the large, open space we walked into… people were rushing and yelling and my tears came harder and stronger and I could only wail aloud in pain as if my heart had just been taken… and it had. I was ugly, sobbing, slobbery, snotty, blind, puffy, and I felt as if a part of me was dying. And I must have sounded like it, because people just kept trying to show me where to go, asking me, “Why you cry?? You go to America! You see him again!” and other voices saying, “you no cry for your loved one”, “Maybe you come back to him someday, “maybe he come to you” “Please, no cry”
But, I had just left my son… I could not be consoled, I could only weep and weep and weep
It seemed like hours until we pulled ourselves together.
We shared lunch and 1 leftover, mini bottle of wine from our flight in. And then we waited.
I looked up, and through my puffy eyes and dried up tears, I saw this woman. She was tall and beautiful and something radiated a glow around her, at first I couldn’t put my finger on it until my eyes were drawn lower to see three little African children trailing behind her. They were with her, travel bags, electronics, well dressed and did not seem to be leaving Africa for the first time. She had to be their mom. But, these children were definitely African. And yet, American??
My heart skipped a beat.
A flutter of hope filled my insides.
Shanna was a little perplexed, too… “They are African, Stacey… once you’ve been here, you can just see it… but how?”
After a long time of trying to wrap my mind around what my spirit was feeling… I finally said to Shanna,”I have to go talk to her. Those are her kids. I have to go see… how… they are her kids.”
“GO.” I don’t know if it was Shanna or God, or maybe both, but I heard, “GO.”
So I went, and as we talked, it was like God opened the heavens, and calmed my broken heart with words of hope.
Would you believe, this woman that just happens to be in this airport, on the very same day, very same hour, waiting for the very same flight as I am – and just after the most traumatic goodbye I’ve ever experienced leaving my sweet Jamie –
JUST SO HAPPENS to have adopted children from Africa. In spite of the recent ADOPTION BAN
WHICH JUST SO HAPPENS TO HAVE BEEN LIFTED IN APRIL OF THIS YEAR…
oh, and she JUST SO HAPPENS to be THE greatest force over the last 7 years in Africa to help SHUT DOWN the adoption ban and thereby
JUST SO HAPPENS to not only know of details but has been THE initiator and CREATOR of THE process of adopting since the ban.
What a freaking.coincidence, right? Pffffff, HA!!!!
Needless to say, my mind was blown, and my tortured heart was overcome with hope.
I could write hours more of “coincidences” that day and over the coming weeks after returning home… but, really, God’s word is enough.
HE SETS THE LONELY IN FAMILIES…. Psalm 68:6
I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU AS ORPHANS, I will come to you… John 14:18
ORPHANS WILL NOT BE ORPHANS FOREVER… Psalm 10:14
I don’t know what God has in store.
I don’t even know where to go from here.
I only know a few things:
I AM RUINED.
I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. I am caught somewhere between cloud 9 and hell. Some days I cannot stop smiling at the abundance of God’s blessings that surround me. And other days, I cannot be consoled, my heart physically aches with a shooting pain and my tears come like waterfalls. I miss Jamie. I miss my son.
Going to Africa somehow completed me, and revealed how incomplete I now remain.
I have finally been to Africa <~~~~ my wildest dream came true… and it only opened doors to greater dreams in me.
My dreams now?
For every child to be sponsored. EVERY. SINGLE. CHILD.
To return to Africa… with my whole family. God, yes, please. Once at first, but I’m thinking annually would be pretty glorious.
And, Lord, if it be Your will.. by Your grace, in Your perfect timing and sovereign wisdom, my heart longs to someday bring my sweet Jamie home.
But no matter what, day by day I am just grateful.
Thank you, Africa. Your spirit now lives and breathes in me, and continues to break me and change me daily.
Thank you God, for sending me – for showing me Your beauty and Your people in ways my eyes and heart have never seen or imagined even in my wildest dreams.