Two huge, beautiful smiles beaming.
"We go home, Mum?"
The surrounding crowd of kids closed in to say goodbye. It was beautifully heart-wrenching. Isaiah and Selah went back to their rooms to collect their things while I took pics, recorded video clips, and delivered care packages for waiting families.
The kids returned with drawstring backpacks containing all their earthly possessions. Two photo books, a tube of tooth paste, a dress, six bracelets, and a pirated copy of the movie "Lifted Up".
We delivered photographs we had taken with favorite friends and beloved care givers and loaded into the van. Their friends' hands pressed against the windows, and their goodbyes echoed behind us as we drove down the rugged dirt road to forever.
I felt overjoyed driving back to the Yebsabi Guest House with my arm around Selah and will never forget seeing Isaiah compare his hand size to Osvaldo's. My heart panged like cathedral bells as I watched him joyfully smile into the face of the father he has wanted for so long.
Once at Yebsabi, we headed upstairs to freshen up. You'll have to imagine the two of us giving a bathing lesson to two small giggly Ethiopians. "Face, pits, privates, feet" was our mantra which was followed by charades and laughter. Despite having linguistically limited instructors, they both did a fantastic job. They are meticulous about brushing teeth and were eager to make a good impression.
Both kids were all smiles for the majority of the day. Even at bedtime, they were curiously happy. In her nightgown and purple satin head wrap, Selah was all ready to climb into bed (a small cot provided by the guest house). I pulled down the sheets and heard her utter, "My bed is sooo big!" I thought back to her small bunk at the transition home and fully realized the contrast. "Yes", I said, "it is big because you are a growing, beautiful young woman." She smiled at me and climbed in.
After we read and prayed, we turned lights out and kissed the kids Melkamlalit "good night". Osvaldo and I went to our adjoining room and laid down in happy exhaustion. We listened to their momentarily quiet whispers until the whispers gave way to repositioning and then to the breaths of deep sleep. We laid there overcome by gratitude for the moment we had prayed so long to receive and drifted into a light sleep.
Our first night was comparable to the first night home with an infant. I heard every turn and sigh. Finally, I got up to check that they were comfortable and all l I could do was stare. There laid the answers to my prayers. I studied their little heads and prayed for their futures carefully as not to disturb their rest. It was then I knew these two had captured my heart more than I ever could have imagined.