As always, we started the conversation with the most important sentiments, " I miss you and I love you so much." I told them one by one as they passed around their house Dad Robert's mobile phone..."I will be there in only six weeks." Each of them in turn told me that was "sooooo long." ....even as I reminded them that we had survived almost nine months of being apart and that we certainly could survive six more weeks. I said, "Before you know it...I will be standing by your side saying, 'See, I am here NOW!' " ...and they laughed. Their laughter...echoing across the phone lines from halfway around the globe are food for my soul.
The last day we were together was September 10th, 2007.....After having spent my last day with the kids at the children's centre and hugging each of the 80 or so kids, I got my good friend, Taxi Dan to take me over to each of the group homes to say my farewells. I ended, as I always do, with Boy's House Two. This is the home of Martin, Johnstone, Moses, Timothy, Steward and brothers Joseph and John. I love all of the kids...but, for some reason, I have an extra soft spot in my heart for these boys.
It was supper time. Martin and Johnstone were in the little kitchen alcove making Chapati. There were about 50 perfectly round balls of dough rolled out. It was amazing to see these former street boys rolling dough as competently as any seasoned pastry chef.
Steward and Moses were draped over chairs in the sitting room, reading from schoolbooks as they 'revised' for the next day. John lay sprawed out on the sofa rolling a matchbox car that I had given him across his chest....all the while making that vrooming noise that boys all over the world are seemingly born knowing how to make.
Timothy and Joseph were out in the yard...kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Their Dad Robert...all of 22 years old...moved between rooms, keeping an eye on his "sons".
I couldn't help but say a silent prayer of thanks. These boys, some complete orphans, all of them missing at least one parent, none of them strangers to extreme poverty.....now living in a sturdy home with plenty of food and more importantly...as a family.
Suddenly, they all gathered together in the sitting room and said, "Mom, we have a song that we want to sing for you." And in the hauntingly beautiful harmonies that Kenyan's share...they gave me a precious gift. They sang a song that thanked me for heeding God's call to help them off of the streets. Their song detailed the hardships that they lived....and their love for me.
Halfway through, I looked at Johnstone...my most emotional 'son' and he was looking at me...singing, but with eyes full of tears. My eyes were brimming as well. Soon, we would have to be content with the telephone in order to hear eachother's voice.
The day ended with hugs and kisses and more than a few tears. I promised them that I would be back in mid-January. Of course, that promise was not fulfilled because the terrible, post-election violence that swept Kenya in January caused me to postpone my trip.
So, it is with much joy that I ready myself to go back to Kenya...to the green hills and sudden afternoon storms. To sugary milk-tea and steaming bowls of corn and bean "githeri" for lunch. But, mostly...to the people of Kenya...to my friends and colleagues and to my children. It has been too long...and the six weeks will go by too fast. But, I will revel in each and every minute.