Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's good to be home.

Words continue to fall short in expressing our gratitude to God and all of our family and friends who's prayers and support made all of this possible.  Merry Christmas.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Worth A Thousand Words

We were unable to take any pictures at the Embassy for security reasons.  So as soon as we received the visa (before they were even suppose to open this morning) We ran out of the Embassy laughing and crying and headed up the street to meet our van and driver.  You can't park near a US Embassy once again for security reasons.  We texted the kids and called "Uncle Henry" who called Grandma Gertrude.  We met them (see above picture) along the road and went to the airport together.  Gertrude got a ride on a 'boda boda' which is a motorcycle taxi!  Way to go Grandma!  You can see vaguely Tracy running to see them and celebrate the news!  

Now in this photo we are together and making the mad dash for the airport, nearly an hour away.  No shortage of smiles and relief.  

Here is the team around Tracy minus two main individuals.  Julie our 'power of attorney' who wept with Tanya on the phone when she heard this morning.  And Richard our attorney who worked tirelessly with us this last month.  As seen in the photo above (Driver Richard, Gertrude, Henry, Tracy, and Tanya) at the Airport!  

No explanation needed.  

Early Pictures of Our Day

Our last sunrise over Kampala.
Up bright and early 5am...ready to go!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Its final!!!

Hello this is Tessa! I can hardly type i am so happy. I have just spoken with my parents and they are on there way to the airport, visa in hand! What a miracle. God is so good, and i can not tell you how happy our family is. Thank you for your love and support. We are so excited that Tracy will be getting on the plane with my parents and heading home tonight! There flight lands at Sea-Tac at 7:05pm saturday night. It is an open invitation to anyone who would like to come and welcome her. She would love to see all of the people who have prayed and supported our family through this journey. My parents will not have internet access till they reach London, but they send their blessings. I'm sure they will give us the detailed report later. As for now, God is so good. And this will by far be the best christmas present our family has ever recieved :) We will all sleep in peace tonight! Love, Tessa

The Court House Clock Tower

This was the clock tower visible from where I sat as I watched the minutes slip into hours and the hour become too late to make my appointment with the Embassy.  

The Bench of Waiting

This is the bench that I sat on for 7 hours while eagerly awaiting the prized, "Written Ruling" document.

The Amazing Race is not over and it's over when I say it's over.

Every time I think I can't take any more.  Every time I think there is just a glimmer of hope.  Every time my faith thinks like a clock.  Every time I hear the words, I'm sorry you are going to need to...I pray.  

Now, you need to understand.  I don't believe prayer is some type of tool in which we manipulate a god to do what we want to him or her to do.  If you hear me say, "I pray" and you immediately have an image in your mind of some arrogant overly spiritual types bossing God around, I apologize.  Count me out.  It's not my style.  You may catch more of my concept of prayer from my blog entry yesterday.  In the words of Albert Einstein, "I want to know God's thoughts, the rest is just details."  
I've wanted God to help me keep my heart and my mind in the right place.  I've wanted to be able to interact with others with love and wisdom.  I've wanted peace in my heart to stay present in the moment, when the moment wants to pull me into anxiety and frustration.  I've wanted joy to be a present reality in my true self because I've known the words of Nehemiah are simply true that, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."  To me that is prayer and today prayer was as essential as breathing. 
I needed strength when time was not on my side, when my nerves were counting seconds that were turning into hours.  I could literally feel the opportunity of bringing Tracy home with us tomorrow slipping out of my grasp.  I felt so much weight of everyone's expectations, not least of which were mine, were crushing me.  Yet, I only heard "No" or "Wait" all day long.  
I waited from 11:30am until 6:30pm to finally be handed our "written ruling".  This was the final document that I needed to complete Tracy's visa application.  The only problem was that the embassy closed at 4:30pm.  I was too late.  Our consular was waiting for me and I sat and watched the clock tower on the courthouse pass by any hope of reaching the embassy.  Sarah from the U.S. Embassy apologized and said we needed to change our plans.  It wasn't going to work.  The Ugandan High Court said come back next week.  blah, blah, blah...It's all I heard all day, but I couldn't give up.  I didn't know how.  I just couldn't give up.  
So, where do we stand now?  I talked the Embassy into opening a bit "early" for us tomorrow.  Originally, it was one of the consular's idea, but she had since jettisoned it for good reason.  Somehow, she recommitted to meeting me at 7am where I will hand over the written ruling and she will process the rest of Tracy's visa.  If they grant her that visa then we will have a mad dash to Entebbe Intl. Airport.  We are already checked in and have our seat assignments. 
For us to arrive 2 hours early for an international flight we will need to depart the U.S. Embassy 5 minutes after we get there!  You get the picture?  It's going to be tight...really tight.  But why shouldn't the last day of this journey be like all of the rest?  Insane and full of surprises!  I'm mentally exhausted and I need to go pack, but there is one thing I know.  
There is one excited little girl putting her few things in her back pack and I think she is going to have a mighty hard time sleeping tonight.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We've got one more day!

Nothing like cutting it close, huh?  

This has been mind-numbing and an adrenaline rush simultaneously.  Go figure.  It's been the epitome of "hurry up and wait".  Well one more day to get it done.  That's what we've got!  (I know, Ryan and Debra...It's "That's what we HAVE." :)  It's intimidating knowing that english teachers may be proof reading your blog.  

My nerves are shot.  I had to step out of the van as we sat at the High Court of Uganda Courthouse this morning.  Once again...we waited.  I stepped out for some air, to try to calm my nerves and collect my thoughts.  What could I do?  I knew what I wanted, but who needs to see another 'ugly american' throw a temper tantrum because they aren't getting their 'MTV'?  Sorry kids, you're too young for that Billy Idol allusion.  

I wanted to know how to feel.  How can I think consistently with the heart of God.  If this whole journey is about what I want and not what heaven sees then I'm chasing my tail.  This has always been bigger than us.  Certainly bigger than me.  My life was already exciting.  I wasn't looking for more excitement.  

In the tension of today, a prayer began to seep out of my heart.  And when I mean seep, I mean the way the flavor of my Ugandan tea bag fills the mug sitting next to me.  So, to take the metaphor a step to far, "This is a taste of the tea brewed in my Wednesday soul".

Dear God…today,

Do I see what You see?
Do I feel what you feel?
Do I want what you want?
Beyond just another meal.

Have I heard what you hear?
Chosen what you desire?
Have I touched your hem while this continents on fire?

Have I longed for the brook that quenches Your thirst?
Or do I fret these other things and Seek not your Kingdom first.

If I have - I have heard Your voice.
If I will - I will have glimpsed Your vision.
If I do - Today, I receive Your invitation…

Into a Kingdom of love – I was created for
I beckon you not to mine, but I first to Yours
Then please lead me back.
Once dead yet born again.
Today I will yet practice -  resurrection!

Out of darkness let me walk in the light of the Day.
This, the Day of God’s new creation.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 13 - I think?

We officially have a down day.  The internet has been down for a couple of days.  Somehow Tanya managed to squeak in a blog entry and I used my internet time to IM with Tessa and Lacey on Facebook while responding to so many birthday greetings.  I'm definitely due for an entry so here goes.  

This morning our guest house is boiling water to drink. It needs to rain.  Meanwhile, thunder rolls in the distance.  As thirsty as I am, I know the rain is coming.  I can hear it in the thunder.  I can feel it in the air.  I can even see it in the distance.  Yet , I still thirst and work to purify something that will soon 'purely come'. That describes my spirituality and frankly, my theology during this season of my life.  I suppose that may seem all to cryptic for any good use, but for now it will have to do.  

(On a pragmatic note: Don't panic, I can take a long walk down a steep hill and go buy some bottled water if I choose.  That is a luxury most of this continent can't afford.  As we speak, hundreds die of cholera in an outbreak in Zimbabwe.)  

But feel free to drop me a line if you choose.  I'd love to hear your interpretations of my metaphor.  It may be quite helpful for me!

Most of you know from various forms of media that Tracy Esther Nakayiza is now a "Romack".  This is great news!  We don't know whether to laugh or cry half of the time.  So, there is plenty of both.  Funny little things get to you.  Like...let's just say, having to write this.   
Yesterday, we drove to Tracy's school.  We didn't want to enter the solid iron gate because we didn't want to disrupt the school and interrupt what their activities.  But they opened the gate and Tracy saw us and we needed to just keep driving.  (Our real destination needed to be the Administrative Offices not the school.)  She started waving and her face lit up, yet she didn't know why we were not stopping for her.  All she could know is that we promised that we were coming back.  That kind of got to me a bit.  See what I mean?   Then when we returned for her.  I could see some of the other children playing and talking and they didn't know how close we really were.  Kids like Travisan and Ronald.  So close, yet thinking that we were still so far away.  I wondered how many times I have thought similarly toward God.  Thinking that his love and view of my life and circumstances was real.  Yet, his love was  from such a distance that it couldn't touch me at the point of my present need.  I don't believe in a far off God anymore.  I do believe that he doesn't have to intervene or interfere with my circumstances to be present in them.  God is more than a superman deity that swoops down to save the day, only to retreat to an unidentifiable identity and locale.  
Back to the story.  We received Tracy's passport and went to go pick up our girl from school.  We took her Grandma back to her house after driving various court documents to various locations.  All of which involved harrowing traffic and a steady dose of 4 wheel drive.  We reached 'home' with Tracy having  just enough time to eat some Top Ramen and pick up some Ugandan friends for the evenings activity. 

 Adult "children" of past African Children Choirs were banding together to reunite for a Christmas Outreach.  They call their ministry "One Voice".   Last night we went to watch their Choir performance.  As you can imagine, it was great!!!  Tracy sat next to us singing and dancing to every song.  Africans can even dance to O Holy Night.  It's true.  What a moving night.  All of the kids from the school came to the church to see this show!  They filled up a dozen rows in front and eagerly watched their upper classmates and Aunties and Uncles of the present and of old, perform.  The kids absolutely loved it.  Some of the performers were their school teachers and house moms and dads.  Can I tell you how refreshing it was to watch a Christmas pagaent that wasn't brashly american?  It was powerful to watch a choir of adult orphans from a land known for political oppression singing about redemption and the restoring ministry of Jesus.  A movement in which the Messiah didn't come to rescue the oppressed wearing a cape, but rather became one of the oppressed wearing a crown.  A crown of thorns on a roman cross. (The performance wasn't really about any of that, it's just that I have a very active imagination!) The performance was moving and full of talent.  Tracy's favorite part was the dancing shepherds.  What do you expect from a dancing 9 year old? 
Tracy asked as the perfomance was nearing it's climax if she could go and get Marjorie and Travisan.  She said that they would have to leave quickly after the performance was over.  (If you are unaware, Majo and Travisan are kids from the choir.  The former stayed with us and our church sponsors Travisan) Of course, I said, "Yes" and she was off to go look for our buddies.  Travisan showed up first, grinning from ear to ear.  Then Majo with her unmistakable smile.  We talked about the church, clubhouse, and how they did on their exams they just completed.   We took some pictures and I told them that we are still praying for them and think of them often.  The performance was over and here came the rest of the choir that stayed in so many of your homes.  (I'm presently having another one of 'those moments'.)  They looked good and happy to see us.  Excluding Ronald who looked like he had been rolling around on the ground during recess.  Which he probably had.  I would expect no less!)  They've all grown and matured, but were full of love and life and seemingly a bit more comfortable on their own turf. I had a good heart to heart with Ronald and we said, "Good bye."  Another gut wrenching day was coming to a close.  We got back in our four wheel drive mini van and made our way through the crowded Kampala streets.  It was Friday night in Africa.  With discos thumping, charcoal grills smoking, AIDS killing, a continent longing.  Longing for redemption.  
Into that world, the Christ child comes.  Not first to save our world, but to enter it.  Emmanuel.   God, not simply for us, but first with us.  
If no one else has, may I be first to say this season, "Merry Christmas." 


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our lost bag arrived with some irony inside.

It's been a few days since our last entry. We were away from the world wide web for a few days. Just proving that its not as "world wide" as advertised. Whatever the case, we are back in the city and back online.
We just returned from the airport where we were fetching one of our lost suit cases. The airline told me that it had arrived, but that it was "leaking". Great, huh? We got through the malaise of security and unnecessary lines only to be taken through some more security and unnecessary lines. The anticipation of being reunited with more underwear was staggering. Just kidding. I was curious about what was 'oozing' from our suit case and in an odd sort of a way I was sentimentally anticipating our reunion. After waiting for two different people to open two different locks on the same door...there she was. My suit case dripping with pink fluid soaking the zipper. What could it be? You guessed it. The Costco sized bottle of Pepto Bismol. The damage was contained, but the irony was complete. The thing out of the bag that I could have put my nerves to rest was saturated into my wife's library book that was sharing the same compartment of the suit case. Oh well. Hakuna Matata as the kids say.
I've tried to keep my entries light hearted and brief. This has been a fun way to be thoughtful and relational during this journey.  I gotta tell you though. I'm wound pretty tight today. I've shed some tears. I miss the kids. We miss Tracy. I want this process to be successful and...over. Tanya and I are both fatigued from dealing with 'officials' whose job it is to be gruff and suspicious. I understand that everyone is doing their job and the time constraints that are upon us are self-imposed. Yet, we're a little frazzled. That's probably a nice way to put it. This morning I needed to find a guitar and find one NOW. Some prayers can't be spoken, they can only be sung. We all have a song. As I type I can hear the beautiful african rhythms and voices of a nearby Bible College. The students are singing their cry. I needed to cry out my song. Today there's is a song of celebration and mine was one of angst. My kids would say it's because I'm getting old. I would say it's because I'm getting soft. :)
We trekked across Uganda for a couple of days. We covered many miles and saw many things. It was nice to get out of the exhaust and pass some time together. We got pulled over by the police, saw Margaret Nelson (a missionary who used to live in Granite Falls), took pictures of a few animals we saw near Murchison Falls, changed a tire with some baboons, but those stories will have to wait. 
Now, it's Thursday. Tanya has finished cleaning our suit case and its time to get ready to go to Court. I feel His peace and presence come on me even as I write this.

Here is my meditation:
Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)
6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Love to all. I gotta go see a judge. Sing your song as we sing ours.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 6 - Photos

Day 6 - If you were going to watch a movie...

Let's just say you had a free evening after a long day. Let's just suppose.
Let's just say you promised to watch a movie with one 'said' orphan who you were in the process of trying to adopt.
Are you still with me? Just nod if you want to hear where this is going. Okay. Thanks.
So, let's just continue to say that I was going to be a good dad and sit down after a long african hot day and watch any movie that this child wanted to watch. What movie do you think she would choose? Lion King? Brought it, but, "Nope." Madagascar? Negative. Beauty and the Beast? It would have been a fitting title for the two of us, but she didn't pick it. What did she pick, you may ask...

Stuart Little.

Have you seen that movie? She said it was her favorite. I thought I had seen it until we're sitting there with her head on a pillow on my lap and I see the premise of the movie! I'll admit, raising three girls that there are a lot of movies that I have 'kinda' seen. This was obviously one of them! For some reason at the last minute I threw it in and sure enough she loves it. "What is it about?" you may ask. It's about a mom and dad that go to an orphanage looking for a child to adopt and pick a mouse, named "Stuart Little." Then the rest of the movie is about this little adopted orphan mouse trying to figure out how to fit into his new 'family'.

I couldn't believe it. I just had to laugh and watch the movie with her. She especially enjoyed the scene of the adopted orphan mouse trapped in the 'spin cycle'. I couldn't tell exactly why she loved the movie so much, but much of the movie Stuart muses that he is living a 'fairy tale' and can't believe it. I think she shares those sentiments...almost as much as we do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 5 - Every man deserves his day in court.

Day 5 – Every man deserves his day in court.
I’m going to cut right to the chase. If you want a definitive explanation of our day you must read my wife’s blog. She killed it. I will not attempt to recreate the wheel that she already got rolling.
All I would like to do for a moment is paint a picture of where I now sit. If you know me well, this may make you smile.
First off, I’m in Africa.
Secondly, I stole a cold Pepsi from the fridge downstairs. (Lord, tomorrow I will find out whose it is and pay them back…I promise.) I am enjoying that beverage, after a very long hot day, immensely. I will say though that Pepsi in Africa is a bit sketchy.
Third, I’m sitting a top the guest house veranda on a wicker couch with a cat that decided to become my very close friend. The sound of crickets and sirens exchanging songs like that of peace time and tribal war that this country knows all too well. I sit half way between Lake Victoria and Kampala. The birth place of the Nile River that God plagued for His people’s freedom and a city ravaged by HIV and an even more prevalent killer that comes on the wings of a mosquito.
Are these epidemics Modern plagues of judgment or God’s megaphone for mercy? You tell me. This land has had more evil dictators than Egypt. (I saw Idi Amin’s house today.) Yet, I don’t sense God’s judgment here. I see opportunities for mercy. (Okay, I’m back I had to kill a mosquito on my arm. Don’t want to take any chances. Where was I?) Oh yeah, 20,000 people for every doctor. Half the population has access to clean drinking water. Justice for the rich, malaria for the poor. Yet the fingerprints of God are all over this land.
I had an illuminating moment talking to my friend Henry today. I mentioned to him that I saw his King’s house today. (there is a “king” of Uganda) He looked startled and said, “He’s not my King!” As if to say that role of “King” was already taken by the Messiah. I laughed it off and then thought how much happier many ‘post election’ Christians would be if they thought the same way.
I’ll wrap this up before I get myself in trouble.
Every man deserves his day in court, so the saying goes. I had mine today with Tracy sitting on my left and one of my heroes Juliet Hatanga sitting on my right. I could watch the lips of Tracy’s grandmother praying during the entire proceeding. Our attorney presented our case and the judge scribbled out her ruling as fast as she could write. We will hear her ruling on December 4th, which is Wednesday. We’ll come back to the courthouse and listen to the ruling be read out loud. Some of you may know that December 4th is my birthday. How crazy is that? This whole journey is beyond me in so many ways.
The lights of Uganda flicker beneath me from Lake Victoria to the capital. The cat woke up to chase a gecko. My Pepsi is almost gone. I’ve read my fill of N.T. Wright for the evening and I’m listening to some Bruce (not Springstein or Willis).
The cat is back and I’m needing to sleep. This has been a perfect day. Not without suffering. Not from getting my own way. Perfect from realizing what’s truly valuable. It was a masterpiece of finding the Kingdom alive in unsuspecting places. It’s everywhere. As we rise to the dawn chorus of Jesus let us practice resurrection in the way we love and live.
He is risen when the orphan is loved, when friendship is shared, when we quench the thirst of another in service, when the elderly heard, when His song is sung in you. He is risen.
Thanks for being my friend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The internet is very slow, so I'll just post one small photo.

A couple of pictures for the end of our special day.

Day 4 - A Thanksgiving to Remember

Our ride should be here any minute, but I wanted to give a quick update that we received a wonderful invitation today.  We knew that we would be briefing for our court appearance tomorrow, but we just found out that Tracy would be there and gets to spend the night with us tonight!  You should have seen the look on Tanya's face.  Priceless.  
We're off to the Courthouse to meet with our attorney and Juliet.   Truly a day to be thankful.  
One quick prayer request.  I think my sinuses got really dried out on the airplane trips.  I'm not sure, but my head brain and sinuses feel like they want to be on the outside of my skull.  
Its not going to hold me down, but I'd rather not be affected by it.  Thankful to you and thankful for you today.  Check back for some pictures...
Happy Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Three - Hope

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Day Three – What happened to Tuesday?
I open my eyes to a new day. The sun is about to rise on the continent of our hope. 
Hope, it’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? You don’t realize it’s value until you’ve lost it.
I’ve been challenged with a thought this past year. Here it is. Your faith can only be as big as your hope. For faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen, the writer of the book of, “Hebrews” tells us.
"Hope" has also bounced around a family conversation as the girls have bantered back and forth. Tessa, Alacia, and Emmy all have significant ‘nouns’ as middle names. I have heard them throwing around the idea of making sure their new sister receives a similar name. Tessa’s middle name is Joy, Lacey’s is Grace, and Emmy’s is Faith. It moved me when I heard them discussing the idea of wanting Tracy to carry a ‘sister’ middle name of, “Hope”. As far as I’m concerned Dad is still making the change from “Esther” so I’m not in a big hurry to complicate things any further! But, I’m willing to entertain the idea…
It’s 7:30am and we’re somewhere over Ethiopia. The African nation that first captured my attention and conscience in the mid-eighties. It was a nation and a season in which so many simply had to ask is there not something that we can do? I can remember speaking of the famine, that was ravaging much of that beautiful country, as my Senior project in speech class in high school. I can still hear my stereo playing, “We are the We World.” Somebody tell me you remember that! We all believed we could do something and should do something.
It’s time to land. I always love the feeling that I have right before I land in a new country. It's the feeling of uncharted water and a road less travelled. I want you to share that feeling with me this morning. How big is your hope? I pray that in the midst of the land of our suffering that our hope will spring eternal. I pray hope becomes our middle name as we walk these dusty roads together.
I’ve been informed that it’s time to “properly stow my carry on items and return my seat to the upright position”. So, I’ll leave you with the lyric that plays in my ears from the U2 song coincidentally titled, “Window in the Skies”.
The shackles are undone
The bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The grave has become a groove
All debts have been removed
Oh can’t you see what Love has done and what it’s doing to me?
Love left a window in the skies...and to love I’ll rhapsodize.

To hope,


Day Two - Where am I and why is it dark out?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 –
Thanks to the time zone changes, (11 of them) I have no idea what happened to Tuesday. I’m just going to go ahead and look forward to finding it somewhere along the trip home.


Day One - Chasing the Dawn

Chasing the Dawn
Monday, November 24, 2008
Day One: For the last year I’ve envisioned the possibility of this day. The vision of a fourth daughter. Not of biology, but of destiny. Not of genetic planning, but of seeming prophetic longing. It seems like Tracy Esther Nakayiza was born in the midst of a continent in crisis to be a part of a family that knew it needed her to be what God had called them to be.
After checking in to a quiet airport around 6:17pm er so, (not that I was watching the clock) we sat down for a bite to eat. By the way, thanks again for the ride dad. It had been a hectic day of parent/teacher conferences, last minute errands, and even scrubbing the shower. Lord knows you have to clean up a bit when the house sitters are coming over! But after watching half of Lacey’s first soccer game, racing off to the airport after emotional good byes to the kids, it was good for Tanya and I to just sit down and talk. We reminisced about how we got to this point of imminent departure. We joked about how insistent Tanya was with me from the moment Tracy left our house about the possibility of adopting that little girl. She had stolen our heart and somehow smitten our girls. It wasn’t as if we felt stricken with sympathy nor smitten with child celebrity – it was just as if she belonged and we weren’t sure how to move on without her. We’d hosted Choir children before, it was different. Five concerts later and a long road trip to Eugene we weren’t sure what our girls were going to do without Tracy in their life. A lot of consoling and Kleenex led to a fateful conversation on a cold January night with Uncle Henry. The rest is, as they say, history.
But tonight in row 26 seat F with Tanya already konked out next to me, I feel emotionally suspended. One the one hand, I feel expectant, globally conscious, full of hope and adventure. I feel as if I’m about to reveal the punch line of a great story that will cause the face of God to smile. On the other hand, I feel vulnerable to failure and disappointment. Slightly fearful of the unknown and wondering if I’ve pushed the whole, “I can do all things” through Christ who strengthens me thing a bit too far. I know God’s grace will be sufficient, because it always has been.
If you are interested enough in my rantings as I would record them throughout this journey I ask only one thing. Be patient with me. I’m going to be honest and transparent. It may make you uncomfortable at times. Know that my authenticity is not for your sake, but mine. 20 years ago I landed on the “dark” continent in search of Light. I return 20 years later no less inquisitive. As a young man I was hungry to test God and my beliefs in the context of human suffering and personal crisis. To tell you the truth, not much has changed. In 1988 I had hard questions for God and I was all too ready to jettison philosophical and theological baggage that I deemed to be weighing my journey down. I was ready to travel light with a self-confidence fitting of a young man. In 2008…I have more questions of myself as I look in the mirror. Like, “Where did that wrinkle come from? I never noticed it before!” (Can anyone relate?) I also have other questions of slight more levity. Such as, “Am I still hungry for the dreams that I had twenty years ago? Am I the father and husband I want to be? Am I acquiring the life knowledge and proficient skill to be the disciple of Jesus that I want to be?” In life its so easy to lose focus. Focus about what matters most, who matters most.
Why do I bring this up? Because Africa focuses me. It’s been a mirror for my soul throughout my life. Not just a mirror of my present reality, but a rear-view mirror that has brought my past into focus. It’s also been a painful mirror that I have been able to hold out at an angle to peer around the corner to see what was about to befriend me as well as betray me. But that’s another story altogether.
Since my grandfather brought home a brass souvenir of the continent of Africa when I was a child, Africa filled my dreams. As I grew, I dreamt of going to a place that only filled my imagination. As it grew to fill my heart my time in Kenya defined me as a young man. As I returned in 1995 it was a foreshadowing of new dreams and painful realities. Now, tonight, I write with hope. I am deeply appreciative and entrenched in your friendship and grateful for your overwhelming support. (By the way, the concert/dessert last night was really fun!) Tanya and I don’t feel alone tonight. We feel wrapped in community. We wish our girls were with us more than anything, but we know they are in good hands and we’ll be home soon enough. (Not soon enough for Emmy, mind you.)
It’s time to wrap this up. I’m starting to fade. But at the same time I don’t want to sleep. How can I? In just a few hours we’ll escape the darkness of night and somewhere over Iceland we’ll be chasing the dawn. Maybe that’s why I enjoy living my life so much with you. I feel like that’s what pushes me on. We have such an opportunity in our lives and community together. Thank you for allowing us in to your lives and for risking to be a part of ours.
We are all chasing the dawn,