Homesick

Saturday was a quiet day, spent at home except for an excursion to an internet café (please don’t think a coffee bar. I wish! Just a small shop filled with computers—and internet! Thank you, Lord). I paid for an hour and teared up as I read emails from Dave telling me about the kids and home. I miss them so much. I know the twins didn’t realize that for Mommy to get Patrick means Mommy is gone a long time. Maybe Mommy was keeping herself from feeling that, too. At this moment it feels more like weeks than just eight days since I last hugged their small bodies and kissed their cheeks.

Oh, God, please help me.

Darlings, if I could be there with you RIGHT NOW, I wouldn’t want to say anything, just hold you. God, you are blossoming mother-love in my heart for the little one who lies on the bed next to me, but I sure do ache for the ones at home.

Enough tears. On to yesterday. Sunday! Wow, I am almost caught up. This laptop is like my link to home. I wake up early and write and feel almost as if I am telling you—all of you—about all of this. Strange since all I’m really doing is typing words on a screen. If God can use it to help me feel connected, though, thanks be to Him.

For the very first time (I mean in the actual moment that I write this—early Monday morning) I have an upset stomach. I must remember to take some Cipro with my tea this morning.

So yesterday, Sunday, we went to church (our first taxi-bus blew a tire—so loud—and we had to switch to a second one). The service is 2 ½ hours long, but it didn’t feel so bad, even though what I wanted more was to be completely alone with you, Lord. Wilfred did the kindest thing, though. He told the church Patrick’s story and then had him brought up on the platform. Then he called me up as well and asked the congregation to pray with him for this week’s adoption proceedings. Tears streamed down my face as I looked out at hundreds of African arms reaching toward me. What must they think of this muzungu taking one of their children? I don’t know, but I felt, whatever their feelings on that subject, the genuine Spirit of the Body of Christ enfolding me in that moment.

After church it was off to Wilfred’s parents for lunch. They feed their own crowd of a family on Sundays, plus anyone else who happens to be passing through—like me, for instance. They are sweet, sweet people. Nearly finished with raising their own five daughters and a son (Wilfred), they have now taken in two little boys from Mercy. Edwin came to them four years ago as an incredibly malnourished 1 year old. You would not know it now. He looks American in his health and physical appearance, other than the brown stains on his milk teeth (African term for baby teeth) that I think come from those early days of sucking on things like sugar water rather than on real sustenance. Just a few weeks ago, they took in Ephraim, 2 years, 2 months old—and about ten pounds in weight—and that’s NOW. They tell me he was in just terrible shape when they first found him. Another case like Patrick. Ephraim looks like a shrunken little old man, with eyes that match. They watch everything and everyone. He has gotten to the point now that he can scoot around on his bottom, even crawl a bit, but the best thing was to see Wilfred’s father scoop him up and carry him up the hill to say goodbye to us. They are obviously close.

We went next to see Patrick’s dad and brothers. Abject poverty. I write those words and wonder how often for me they are just words/statistics/a housing area—and not real people. Yesterday it meant Patrick’s oldest brother Michael with two children of his own (and his wife abandoned the family), also caring for three of Patrick’s brothers, all living in a one-room mud-bricked house in which the packed-dirt floor literally slopes downhill. We are linked to that family now. In African tradition, we have an obligation to keep Patrick in contact with his roots. Just yesterday Abusolom handed me a packet of information about his family history that includes his own story and the names of all his children—Patrick’s brothers. It is invaluable information, typed up and copied at who knows what kind of effort on Abusolom’s part.

Patrick’s brother Jackson, about ten years of age, looks like what I imagine Patrick will look like in seven years or so. Intense, deep-set eyes, jutting, determined jaw. I just don’t want the constant wariness to also have to be there. Abusolom is very proud of that boy. He’s the one he’s asked for a little bit of money for—to provide a mattress, bedding, and school supplies for. After yesterday, I am hoping to do that for years to come. What could it mean for Patrick to have a full-blood brother in Africa who is getting educated?

Then, more poverty, a visit to Vena’s uncle in a rabbit’s warren of homes that stretch down a hillside. Literally, we wound our way down through the three to five-foot wide paths between the buildings on either side. Step, step, jump over a small stream of water (don’t want to know what is in that), traverse a pile of trash, avoid the eyes that say, “muzungu, muzungu” even when their mouths don’t—and then arrive at the doorway of one room crammed tight with a couch, two chairs, a table (that sits on top of one of the chairs when it is not in use because it would be impossible to get to the bed if it were out all the time), and a curtained-off sleeping area. Sunlight peeks through the edge of the roof, where the sheet metal doesn’t completely fit. Crate-like, crooked wooden shelves cover one small wall and hold all of life’s possessions—toothbrushes, a few plates, two cups, odds and ends. Advertisement posters pulled from walls and poles in town plaster the walls, almost completely covering the brick and mud walls.

This is Vena’s uncle and cousin’s home. And I literally feel as if I have descended a long, long tunnel underground and popped into a hole. If I let myself, I could become claustrophobic just sitting here, thinking of the rooms upon rooms that surround this one, not knowing which meandering path leads out—to some sort of space and air. I fight down the feeling, and listen as Vena speaks family history with her uncle—in Lugandan—and her cousin brings us Fanta orange and Sprite to drink and small cakes to eat. So much of me wants to say—“no, don’t spend money on me. I don’t deserve that.” But Vena has come bearing fresh fruit from the market, and it is all the African way. (And I remember visiting poor homes in Alabama when I was a child, and it was the same there, drinking tea so filled with sugar I first understood the Southern phrase–“Tea you can stand a spoon up in.”)

All for now. Wilfred has malaria—a mild case and I paid for him to get an injection last night so that he will heal very quickly. This week is too busy for either of us to be sick. I must shower so we can hit the ground running. Much to do. Pray that all goes well: court date, hearing, Patrick’s medical exam, passport, visa. So much. I am off to run cold water from the tap into a plastic basin and then stick my head in it now that the bathroom is light enough I can see what I am doing.

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