Well, tonight’s entry will likely be the last one we complete while we are here in Teshie. It seems cliché, but I really cannot believe how fast it flew by.
We have had the kids with us uninterrupted since Saturday morning and they’re staying in the hotel with us again tonight. We watched Johnny Lingo for the third time and had a little “going away party” for mommy and daddy. “Party” around here means purple fanta, beef jerky and fruit roll-ups. We run a pretty humble catering operation these days, but it got the job done. We had fun, spent a significant amount of quality time together and made one last day of memories.
By this time tomorrow night, we’ll be at the airport, waiting to board the trans-Atlantic flight from Accra to New York City. Even after being here for so many days, it is still crazy to me that I am on the western coast of the African continent. Leaving here will be bittersweet, but it is something we have to do. If we don’t go home, we can’t file our i-600. Without that, we can’t get passports and visas and everything else we have to get to bring them home.
I think Courage and Delight have seen many of their friends spend time with their new parents and then have to tell them goodbye. I also think that they’ve seen many of those same parents return to pick up their kids and take them home. From that , I hope they’ve learned to trust that we’ll come back. I wonder if anything they have to do once they get home to America will be as hard as watching us walk away. What on earth is that going to feel like for them? For us? John has already informed me that I’ll need to be patient with him tomorrow; he is already becoming tenderhearted and a little misty about what’s coming. I felt like an insensitive dirt clod that he’d think he needed to warn me of where he was venturing emotionally. I guess I have some work to do as the loving, supportive wife I’m supposed to be.
I will never be the same after coming here. I always tried to live my life as a grateful person, but after the last many days, I have a new appreciation for the little things I have always taken for granted. Electricity on demand, running water on demand, edible fruit and vegetables (heck, edible food…period), a comfortable home, the blessing of great schools with first-rate faculties and staff where my kids can learn intellectually and grow socially, family and friends that are practically perfect in every way, and on and on… I’d better make bedtime a little earlier once I get home because my nighttime prayers are going to take a little longer now that I’ve realized how many more things I need to express gratitude for.
So thanks for coming along with us on this ride-of-a-lifetime. Talking back and forth with so many of you (Skype, comments on the blog, email and Facebook) has made the experience all the more memorable. We woke up every morning just craving word from home. You don’t know how happy it made us when messages popped up. Thank you so much for that!
I keep listening to that Michael Buble song called “Home” on my iPod tonight. What a cheeseball I am, huh? Still, it makes me smile and cry and get all mushy about what’s happening tomorrow. So what am I gonna say now? Yep, “JENNY…YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS.” And tomorrow just might top the list…
OK, it’s me… I should be feeling more grateful for all the blessings we have enjoyed the past 2 weeks, but all I can see now is how terribly hard it will be to say good bye tomorrow. I look over onto the floor and see Delight trying to fall asleep on her mattress and she keeps singing that song, “I am blessed, I am blessed, I am blessed…” I wonder if she knows what that means.
As I look back on the first moments and hours here, I learned what unconditional love is all about. To hold a child, and within 30 seconds they hug you tight and say, “I love you daddy”! There are no biases, no preconceived notions, and no hidden agendas. Their love simply comes from knowing there is a warm body there that is kind to them. I have so many emotions going through my head right now but as I try to write them they sound so cheesy, I know I won’t be able to put them to words. I have fallen in love, (true love) with two kids that I have only talked about and saw in pictures until sixteen days ago. It is impossible that the way Courage jumped and hugged me that first moment could be the result of something wonderful I had done for him because I had just gotten there. It was the idea that someone loved them enough to come from America and fill the role of a father and protector. I hope that makes some sort of sense. Starting from that little building block, over the past two weeks we have turned that conceptual love into a forever love. I just hope and pray that over the next ten to twelve years I will be able to reciprocate and live up to that immediate love and trust. I really feel the depth of that responsibility.
As I have had these feelings, I also think of the three children I have in Idaho who I also made the same commitment years ago to my Heavenly Father. He entrusted them to me at birth. I don’t think I will ever look at the role of “Father” the same as I did two weeks ago. That is the greatest title I could ever want to wear. These little children here throw the word “daddy” around to any man who is nice to them, but I have learned the there is a deeper feeling they mean when they say it.
In the past six months I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many good Christians from many different denominations, and even different cultures. I have been reminded that we are ALL children of a loving Father in Heaven. Though we may worship differently, play a different type of music, speak differently, and even dress differently, I have found that all Christians are just trying to live their life in a way that is pleasing to God. I have had intimate conversations with my brethren here in Ghana that has led me to know that God is using His Christian servants to accomplish His work.
Pastor John (Black) and our good friend Job, came by our hotel tonight on their way to the Volta Region (a journey that will take several days). It was just going to be a quick visit to make sure we were all in and safe for the night, but when I followed them outside we both realized that we wouldn’t see each other again until our “pick-up” trip. I gave John a big hug, and told him that I am grateful for the ministry he has created here in Teshie. Delight was standing out there with us, and I looked at her and told him. “I sure love that girl, please take care of her while I’m gone.” He put his hand on my shoulder and told me that we will, and that she is getting a father that is a “Man of God”. Those of you that know the whole story from the beginning will know just how much that meant to me. John and I have connected because of our mutual love for God and these wonderful children here at CKO. For that I am very grateful. I do love them with all my heart.
I just wish I had the means to take all forty some kids home with us right now. I would do it in a heartbeat. Ok, with all the confused emotions I am having I don’t know if any of that made any sense, but I’m going to leave it at that. The kids are asleep now, and tomorrow is going to take all the energy I can muster, so I better get some shut-eye.