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,