For the past several weeks as we put Tia and Garrett to bed we couldn't ask much about their day and so I have prayed that at bedtime they would feel our love. Several times in the past few weeks as I have climbed up into Garrett's bed, he has shared so much of his heart and life with me. It has been priceless time that I wasn't sure I would ever get with him and I am so thankful for the stories that he has been sharing with me. On Saturday night I climbed up onto his bed at 8:45pm and climbed down at 11:00pm. Over two hours of him telling me story after story about his life and the life of his family. Here is a small sample of what I heard as I held back my tears and resisted the temptation to go grab a notebook to write down all that he was telling me:
-He remembers a day when he and his oldest brother Welde found some "duck" eggs. He told me that they were both very hungry and had not eaten for a while (maybe a few days?) and he shared with me how excited he was to have found the eggs. He showed me how he and Welde held out their shirts to gather the eggs to carry them home. He literally was giggling with delight as he was explaining to me how Welde put them on the fire to cooked them. He explained that as he was cracking open his first egg to eat his birth mom Werke came into the hut and wanted to know where the eggs came from. They didn't have enough money to purchase the eggs and the boys both laughed and told her that they had found them by the water. I can just imagine our son sitting around the fire, cracking open an egg and savoring every bite of that special treat, yet it breaks my heart. This was the only time that he had eggs on the island and it is something that I don't think he will ever forget.
-He remembers Werke (his birth mom) sending he and Tia to the store to buy something and the store owner would not take the 4 birr that Werke had sent with him. The store owner said that the birr was dirty and Garrett told me that it looked like someone had stepped on it and made it dirty. He knew that his family needed some food and that this was the only birr that Werke had. He decided to go down to the lake and wash the birr. He showed me how he rubbed it in his hands after it was wet to get it clean. He then explained that he put it out on a rock to dry and when it was dry he returned to the store. This time the store owner took the money and gave Garrett what Werke had sent him to purchase.
-He told me of the time that five people from his island were out on a boat in the lake and a hippo turned the boat over. All five died because they didn't know how to swim. He remembers how sad the people on the island were when that happened. He had many other hippo stories as well-
-He told me about nights when Werke would cry because they had no power. There is no power on the island yet he calls anything that lights up power. He explained to me that they had no "yucky smelling stuff to burn in the light" because they had no birr. As he shared this with me I understood that they had no money to buy oil for their oil lamp. I can't begin to image being a mother of eight alone in the darkness of night out on an island. My heart hurt to think of all of the very dark nights Werke and our twins have endured.
-He shared with me stories of stepping on HUGE (and I do mean huge) thorns and how bad it ouched. How he could barely walk when he would step on them and how his birth mom and his grandmother would pull them out while he cried. They would say for him to be strong and he said he couldn't be strong because it hurt so bad.
-He remembers his brother Welde finding some cookies one day and sharing one with him. It was Garrett's first time to have a cookie and his little brother was begging for some. He told me about giving his baby brother a bite and how his baby brother laughed because he got to have a bite of a cookie.
The story that broke my heart more than the others was one of the last he told me. He explained that his baby brother was very sick and so his birth mom had to take him by boat to go and see a doctor. Garrett shared with me that it started to get dark and Werke was not back from going to the mainland. He was very scared as he realized that she was not going to return that evening. He remembered watching for the boat until it to dark to see the water. He and his siblings spent the night alone and he remembers being up most of the night and not being able to sleep because his mother was not there with him. I could see our son worrying about his birth mom, his baby brother and his siblings that were there with him on that dark night and I shed a tear as I tucked him in.
I am so thankful for the gift of these stories and so many more that he has shared with me over the past few weeks. It is such a blessing to get a glimpse into the six years that I missed with him. Years that shaped my son into who he is today...........a precious boy with a heart bigger than mine!
I am looking forward to many more hours in one of my new favorite places-