Monday, October 1, 2012

The first night with Lemi

I have tried to sit and write this five times and couldn't here goes the sixth time with tears already streaming......

After we finished shopping with Lemi, Nicco took us to the guest house for us to play and get some rest before dinner. It was such a bitter-sweet moment to watch Lemi jump out of the car clutching the two small bags of clothes. I followed behind him as he bounced up the stairs in his new shoes. I wondered to myself what he must be feeling- He had new shoes that fit on his feet for the first time ever and he was carrying two bags of  brand new clothes for the first time in his life. I started to cry as I watched him follow David into our guestroom.

When we got into the room I then quickly realized that communication was going to be very hard. This was the first time that David and I had been without a translator and with our very limited Amheric and his very limited English we knew we were in for a challenge. We had so much we wanted to say to him and so many questions to ask yet we couldn't. Instead of talking we settled for playing. I pulled out the legos, an ipod, a yoyo, a dry erase board and a few other things for us to enjoy together. We used a lot of made up sign language to communicate and shared many laughs those first few hours of being alone. We had a great afternoon of playing and David helped him take his first warm shower before putting on his brand new clothes.

Nicco arrived that evening to take us to dinner and it was a pleasure to meet his wife and have a nice meal. It was also nice to have them translate again to help us communicate with Lemi. Lemi was all smiles during dinner but I noticed that he did not eat much. He laughed and smiled as we talked about our family and how we couldn't wait for him to come home with us. On the way back to the guesthouse he told Nicco that his stomach was hurting and Nicco communicated that to me.

We arrived back at the guesthouse after dark and Lemi headed straight to the bathroom. After he was in there a few minutes he called for me. I went in to find him getting sick. My heart started to break- I thought back to the first time I hugged him earlier that day and how frail he felt. How the reality of my son not being able to hold down food because his body was not use to eating was so hard for me to comprehend. I made sure all day that he had eaten bland food but because his body was not use to much food it couldn't keep even pasta and rice down. I held back the tears as I got him a towel and rubbed his back and prayed in that small, dark bathroom as the power was out.

When he was feeling some better he changed his clothes and crawled into his bed. Lemi was all smiles and I am not sure he had ever had a bed all to himself. I taught him how to pull back the sheets as he laughed and then he snuggled in. David and I sat on his bed and prayed with him for the first time. When the prayer was over he sat up and tickled David on the stomach as he said, "Tickle, tickle." David and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We had not tickled Lemi all day but those of you who have been at our house at bedtime you know that David tickles all of our kids after prayer time- David didn't tickle Lemi but Lemi tickled David and we knew that was a blessing from God. A small reminder that Lemi was meant to be a Henderson. Only God does such neat and unexpected things for us!

David went to get ready for bed and I stayed with Lemi. I started to sing to him as I rubbed his back. As a mom I had missed so many nights of tucking him into bed, so many nights of bedtime prayers, and so many nights of tickle time and I knew that we only had a few short nights before we would have to leave him again and so I wanted each night to count. I sang as he drifted off to sleep and I wish that I would have had my camera on the bed to  take a picture- My son literally went to sleep with a huge smile on his face. Long after I had finished singing he was smiling as he was sleeping so peacefully.

The next morning we got up early and headed out to the bus station to pick up Busha- Lemi's birthmom. Lemi had not seen Busha in over 3 years and so I was eager to not only meet her but to see the interaction between Lemi and his mom. As soon as Nicco stopped the car Lemi jumped out and ran to the side of the road. I thought maybe he had spotted her but instead he was sick again. My heart boke as I watched Nicco hurry over to help him. Nicco then spotted Busha as he was walking with Lemi back to the car.

I watched as my son hugged his mom that he had not seen in 3 years. I watched her tears as she hugged him. I couldn't imagine her thoughts or her feelings. I could tell by the way that they interacted that they loved each other deeply. She pulled away from their hug and held his face in her hands to look at him just as I had done 24 hours earlier. She wanted to see every detail of his face. I had to look away as my heart was breaking. Breaking for a mom who loved her son so much that she wanted more for him. She couldn't provide for his basic needs and she loved him enough to provide something more for him. I have said this before- I am not sure that I would have been selfless enough if I had been in her situation.

David and I walked over to where Busha and Lemi were standing and Nicco started to introduce us but by the time he finished we were greeting one another with kisses and hugs in true Ethiopian fashion. Busha was talking very quickly to me and saying the same thing over and over. I have no idea what she was saying but she was laughing and smiling and so I gathered that she was happy. We held each other for a while and even though we don't speak the same language there was a deep love felt. I whispered over and over to her as we both were crying that I would take good care of Lemi. I know she couldn't understand a word that I was saying yet I think she completely understood every word.

 I knew that Busha must be exhausted after her travel. She walked 5 hours by foot, took a donkey cart a few more hours, rode in the back of a work truck and then took a long bus ride to get to the city. Her journey to the city had started the day before and here she found herself with her son in a city unknown to her with a man and women who were going to parent her son. She was so gracious and kind. She was not shy and when we got back into the car to go to lunch she had much to share with us about her life and her family. She also wanted to know all about Tizita and Geremew.

At lunch we laughed and giggled as Busha tried to teach me some of the Zay language. The Zay language is spoken on the island where our three kids are from yet none of our kids remember that language due to the fact that the orpahange speaks Amheric. I am not very good at foreign language but during that lunch I tried like I have never tried before to learn at least a few words.

Lunch was so enjoyable and Busha is an amazing and very fun lady. It was very interesting watching her (and Lemi) experience all of the new things in the city. She has only been to Addis once a few weeks prior for paperwork and she was amazed by the experience. You should have seen her and Lemi get on the elevator prior to lunch. She held and sqeezed my hand like a small child as she closed her eyes and held her breath when we started to move. We all laughed and had a great time experiencing so many first things with them.

After lunch we traveled back to the guesthouse and Busha stayed with us for the afternoon. The guesthouse was so kind and they even gave her a room to take a short nap. It was such a blessing to get a glimpse into the personalty and life of Lemi's mom. We had two days with her and those two days will forever be cherished by my son and by me.

End note: Lemi continued to be sick for several days- it tooks his tall frail body a few days to be reintroduced to food. By the time we left to come home he was eating like a champ and his body was keeping the food down. I am so thankful that since our return he has been cared for by Nicco and the Post family. It has been very hard for me to realize how hungry our son really was. It litterally made me sick to think that he was eating so very little and most days nothing at all. With so much waste in our country I have had a hard time processing the fact that a few weeks ago I held my son who was litterally starving. When I see the amount of money spent on back to school supplies, politics, fireworks for a church celebration, the list goes on and on- it makes me angry. I am dealing with my anger because I know that is not right but as believers we need to make a stand- We need to care for the least of these. There are children here in our community and around the world who don't have thier basic needs met and then we dare to do more for ourselves when we have so much more than we need. You may think that I shouldn't be so strong but if you ever hold your son who has been starving maybe you will understand how deep my heart hurts for the least of these. What can you do without today? This month? This Christmas season? This year? What can you give to the least of these?