I am in Africa

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m not even sure when I will be able to send this to you, but I’ll write anyway, and send it when I can. Current situation: I am sitting on the sofa in my African host family’s home (the same family that has taken care of Patrick all these months we’ve been waiting), and guess who is sitting next to me?

You guessed it—our son!

I am living African right now, without even my luggage, which didn’t make it with me.  So the same set of clothes—or borrowed ones, an almost non-existent amount of shampoo to wash my three-day-old dirty hair, and currently the power is out, has been all day, and I am only writing this because I was able to charge my laptop before it was gone. Still, I HAD electricity, which is more than MANY, maybe most Africans can say, and there is running water, so I had a cold sponge bath today that felt absolutely heavenly! And I’m being totally serious.

At the same time that my introvert soul says that I would like to be alone for at least a few minutes a day (or alone with our new son), I am asking God to help me to have patience and rest and understand that this is part of the journey that He has ordained—and also that He will help me to just walk it with Him.

I can see—at the same time that I just want to be Patrick’s mom full-time, to be alone with him to really get to know him—how wise it is for me to get acclimated to him in the environment where he is familiar. I am learning what he acts like when he needs to go to the bathroom (yes, he IS potty-trained; amazing, I know), that he is a night owl, how he likes to play, how he is used to eating—so much. I am learning, too, what it is that African women respect and see as good mothering.

Time warp. I am now writing this at not-quite-four in the morning here. My body has not yet adjusted to the time change, and even though I am able, after a while, to fall asleep fairly well at night, I wake up far too early and lie in bed waiting until I hear someone else stirring. I have no idea what time it is because I was too cheap the last time I bought a watch to purchase one with a light on it. That may change when I get back to the States (Dave’s probably rejoicing as he reads this!). I have not yet woken this early, but I’m sleeping tonight with 20-month-old Precious (and the name fits) and she fell out of the bed and I scooped her up, cuddled her until she was calm and asleep again, laid her next to me on the bed—and couldn’t fall asleep again myself. The past two nights Precious has slept on the bunk above me with 23-year-old Angel (also a fitting name), and Precious’s mother, Florence, has slept next to me on the larger bottom bunk. But Florence is spending the night at a friend’s house, so Angel is getting a break from squirming Precious—and I am awake. And, just as a side note, I am also incredibly thankful for the mosquito net that surrounds us all in this bed and keeps from us the nasty, black, malaria-carrying creature that is buzzing around the bed. I have not seen a mosquito yet in the daytime, but they do come out at night.

Whenever I am tempted by the self-pity that is such a natural reaction of my human soul, and feel sorry for myself being separated from loved ones right now, I remind myself of Florence’s story, twenty-five year old Florence whose husband died when she was pregnant with Precious and whose older daughter Shama was taken from her by her husband’s family after his death because they were not sure she could provide for her. Florence has not seen Shama in a year and a half.

So, self-pity, be gone with you. Oh, and good news—one of my bags (they missed MY flight to Uganda and the baggage service here has been tracking them down for me) arrived yesterday. Of course, it was the one WITHOUT my clothes. Florence told me that today I was borrowing from her because she is tired of seeing me in the same pants. Perhaps the other bag will come today.

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