I sat listening to Sean (Tour Leader) talk about what to "expect," which was to just enter into the whole situation with no expectations. I failed at that because after the past few days I was expecting the mighty hand of God to be over the whole experience, and I KNEW it was going to be good. However, I was wrong...
it was incredibly better than that!!!
As we approached the zoo, I began to uncontrollably sob. At that very moment all I wanted was to have my husband with me. He is the one that is good with conversation, good with children and teens, and most of all good with people he has never met. I was terrified. I wanted him there as a buffer, and I couldn't control the tears. I regrouped, and walked what seemed like the longest entrance to a zoo, but I'm sure it was just the nerves behind it all. As we make our way to the entrance there they all stood, and soon children were running to their sponsors. I looked around thinking, these are all girls... where is Smith? Soon after just a minute those that were alone filed out of the commotion looking around at one another.
Sole (Peru-Tour Leader) said, "come this way, there are more children over here." However, before I could go any further three people began to approach me, and I looked and I knew it was him. I said, "Smith!" Needless to say, that was the end of it. He ran to me, I dropped to one knee, and received the greatest and longest hug I have ever had.
He begins chasing the birds as we wait to get in, and I am pleasantly surprised to find out that his mom is the person that came with him. His letter writing was usually vague about her, but mentioned his father in each as being sick.
My eyes are puffy and swollen from the tears, and all I can do is stare at him. I can't believe he is right there in front of me. You know that he exists, you read his letters, but to feel the embrace is so overwhelming that I can't stop myself from watching him.
I excuse myself in from the start because I know that the camera will not stop, but it did. I just wanted to see him do his thing. I wanted him to enjoy the zoo because this was a treat for him as it was for me. I'm not sure that I still believe this happened... it just seemed surreal...
He enjoys his new binoculars, the taste of cotton candy, and the adventure of using my camera. All the while I just watch in disbelief.
He loves his mom.
I love his mom, and I all I can do is thank her for sharing him with me because I know it takes a big heart to do what is best for your child. She has one. A heart that will walk down a steep mountain to send him to school and Compassion everyday, a heart that works tremendous hours to supply what she can, and a big heart to let an American woman love him like her own.
I ask for a video for my family, and he is a natural in front of the camera!
The day is half over, and I hate the thought of leaving him and his mom. I just want to go with him, yet we must part buses to go eat lunch. He thinks that he is leaving for good, and begins to panic. We ease his anxiety when we say we will share lunch together. After our meal together he shared his dessert with me, and we went to play in the clubhouse... that proved to be dangerous for me anyways!
Once we finished the adventures of the slide and the ball attack, I shared the gifts that I had for him. His gratitude and smile was something that I had never experienced before. They were things that I thought would be of help: tarp, utensils, towels, wash clothes, clothes, hats, ball, frisbee.... and his appreciation for the items was more than I bargained for. With each item that was pulled out of the bag came one of his hugs... and they spoke for themselves. In one post I put how Christ was coming nearer and nearer He was getting there... just not yet...
His love for me was more than I could have ever imagined. A woman with God as her expectation, and He was demolishing it one hug, one smile at a time. The final stop of visit was right outside the restaurant where we played ball, but as we were having a wonderful time together I noticed a precious face looking on solemnly... so I invited him to take my place.
I cannot even tell you the joy that boy had that he took my spot. I cannot describe to you the joy that filled my heart seeing Smith love and play with this boy, Tony. It was precious. I sat back and watched thinking... "I sponsored the BEST kid EVER!"
And just like that our visit was over...
I thought our first hug was the longest and greatest, but it was quickly replaced by our final hug. As I pulled him away to tell him how much he was loved tears streamed down his face. The tear in my heart began to rip and pierce a pain that I have never felt before. It was a disgusting gut wrenching pain. I didn't want to let him go... he didn't want me to. It was painful. The translator told me, "this is so touching, I'm just trying to stay professional and not cry."
His head dug deep into my shoulder, and he just kept on embracing. His hot tears wetting my shoulder, and it was the pain of God's blessing ripping me apart. There was nothing like it. Nothing.
|Picture of a Picture by Christian Metzler Photography|
I thought that was the end for us on this trip, but little did I know the surprise someone had in store for me... but you'll have to wait for that post later!