Sunday-The Lord's Day - and we were home. Or rather I was home with a recovering Maxwell. We do our best to keep sickness out of the church rounds and, since antibiotic had not had their full 24 hours to kill the strep virus, it was better to stay home. I hurriedly packed up the loose odds and ends and did my best to bring the house to a state I would want to return to before Josh, Jake and Warren returned.
Of course we got out the door later than we hoped and, after a stop at Costco for some snacks and lunch, we were on our way. The realization hit us quickly that today was the day for returning from 4 of July vacations. It was a slow trip to Portland but we made it. It was also a busy day at the zoo: the parking lot was full. Oh well. the make-shift shuttle provided my kids the opportunity to ride a real genuine school bus!
The remainder of the evening was spent enjoying the animals with the boys...a fun way to say goodbye and spend time with them. By seven we headed out and made our way to the airport for dinner. By eight the time had come to say goodbye. I knew it was coming. I pulled two overly-tired, overly-excited boys close to me and hugged them with more emotion and feeling than they could appreciate. They were ready to go to grandpa but I was not ready to let them go.
"Bye, mama! Bye Daddy!" And two little boys walked away with their grandpa. One sad mother sat down and cried. "Goodbye boys! I love you!"
The next few hours were spent aimlessly wandering around until we found our place at the terminal waiting area. The following is my journal entry from that night.
"Sleep attempts to close my eyes; pulling with the force of gravity, yet excitement, emotion, anxiety all keep them open: overcoming the natural forces. They may be simple means of assuring that our bodies are grounded and rested yet, at this moment, my mind soars; sleep can find no companion with emotions in flight
Tomorrow we will enter the unknown world which our son calls home. That African land so full of mystery to me. Al land which I love and fear. What will I feel for this place once I have experienced it? Security is so loved, so prized, so sought after with every ounce of our minds - and yet it is an illusion outside of the sovereign hand of God. The "what ifs" of life pull at my heart as I said goodbye to my boys tonight in the quiet food court of the airport. People watched on - catching glimpse into the life of a stranger; no doubt imagining a story to put with our tearful scene as I so often do. But the real story was simply a mother who has never left her children - leaving them to travel half way around the world to a country full of sickness. I could not hold back the "what ifs" from my mind. Yes, all at the sovereign hand of God...and yet all so alive in my heart.
I sit here now - at the end of the terminal (Gate D11). Every sound is magnified at this hour in a quiet airport. There is a boy playing with magnets - making a loud sound as he tosses them into the air. His mom...or sister...sits by him on the floor - talking on a phone barely above a whisper. I wonder how she cannot be bothered by the boy next to her who obviously does not have the same concern of being heard. Oliver lies on the floor - trying with all his infantile might to keep himself awake; not willing to surrender to the comfort of his pacifier. People pass by...the seats begin to fill up...everything feels so real - everything but the reality of what we go to do. My thoughts and emotions seem detached from the boarding pass in my hand. I travel through the security point routinely- automatically following the instructions given to be-but it simply doesn't feel real."
-Journal entry, our trip to Ethiopia