Yesterday we said our good-byes. As you can imagine, it was not much fun. We headed over to TYB around 9, so we could catch the little ones before their naps. It was nice to play with them again, but also so hard knowing that we may not see some of these children again. I was doing ok until I said good-bye to Lobisa, the little 3 year old girl. She said “Auntie, you will come back tomorrow” and then I could feel my eyes filling with tears. How do you explain to a 3 year old that you are going away and will not be coming back to push her on the swing, or help her pretend to fly like a butterfly? There are so many volunteers coming and going, so the kids are familiar with saying good-bye, but still, they are so young and have already had so much loss in their lives. Once I started crying a little, I could hardly hold it back. We hugged all the kids, said good-bye to the Mama's, Papa's, Uncles and Aunties. I hugged the Harding's, said good-bye, then made my way to the van before I started bawling. Stompie followed us out and stood by the gate with his thumb in his mouth and his other hand on his ear, the classic Stompie pose.
Everyone else finished their good-byes and then we headed home to make lunch. Tyson and Jori were both so tired that they both fell asleep after we ate. My mom and dad both took naps, Darin was doing something on the computer, and I was able to have a nice talk with Mama Rebecca. She was asking about what it is like in Michigan and if we see elephants there. I told her that all we see are squirrels and birds, which she thought was strange. We also talked about our mutual fear of snakes for a while. I am so glad that we were able to sit and talk for a while without the kids running around and interrupting. I think that's the first real conversation we were able to have.
Around 1:45 we headed to town for one last visit to the internet cafe. While Darin and my mom were on-line, my dad was talking to the owner of the internet cafe about all sorts of spiritual things and I was sitting outside with 2 little girls singing songs. They were so cute. Cindy was 4 and Vicky was 2. Cindy counted to ten for me, and of course her little sister had to try to do the same. Then Cindy sang me a song in Setswana until it was time for us to go.
After leaving the internet cafe, we headed to Kentucky Fried Chicken to meet Julia, Bethuel's wife, who was going to follow us to Mama Catherine's. When we drove up to MC's, we could see that there were several vehicles on the yard, some pulling trailers. The tent was packed full of people, and we could see several white people, which was very odd. It turns out that a group from a church in California had been out in SA doing some mission work, and somehow they found out about MC's. They were doing some sort of program, handing out sandwiches to the kids, and also bringing medical supplies to MC and some toys for the kids. There were so many people milling around. It was kind of chaotic, but it worked. Mama Catherine was so glad that we could finally make it in the afternoon to see all the school kids in their uniforms. The kids all looked so nice. I am so very thankful that Julia was able to go with us. She speaks Setswana, so she and MC were able to communicate so easily and she could also talk to the children. I gave her the tour of the grounds and when we were finished she said “There is much to be done here”. That just made me feel SO wonderful inside, just knowing that someone else had been out to MC's, had seen what she was doing and the areas where help is needed. Before we left, Julia made plans to go out to MC's again. I know that God is at work. So many things have come together in a way that only He could have made possible.
It was so hard saying good-bye to all the children we have met at MC's. Musa, who is about 10 years old, told MC he wanted us to stay. I found little Tshepo in the crowd of people so I could carry him around for a bit. Four little girls were crowding around me, hugging my legs. It was just overwhelming to me to look around at all the faces of people we have come to know in such a short time and not know when we would be seeing them again. MC kept saying “You cannot go. You must stay here”. It was just hard to say good-bye and get in the van and leave. We kept heading towards the van, but then we'd think of one more person we wanted to say good-bye to, like Grace. Then the church group handed out soccer balls, and a huge game of shirts vs. skins started up. It really was so neat to see so many kids laughing and running around and having such a great time. I only hope that there will be more times like that for all those children in the future.
We did finally leave. We said good-bye to MC and her husband one last time, said good-bye to Julia, got in our van and drove away. Only God knows when we will see any of them again. I am hoping it is sooner rather than later.
I am so thankful to everyone who has offered help to MC. She kept saying that a weight has been taken off of her shoulders, and that she is just so grateful for all the things that we were able to do for her. I know that many people are also praying for MC and the work she is doing. Keep praying. There is still much work to be done.
We finally made it back to our house at 4, which was a bit later than we had planned on. Tyson and Jori were having a lot of fun with Mama Rebecca. They had been busy helping Amos too. It was time for more good-byes. We have gotten so used to seeing Amos almost every day and having Mama Rebecca come to our house. Tyson and Jori had colored pictures for them and it was so sweet seeing them give their pictures and say good-bye. It just made me sad. They are so young, and they just don't get it that we aren't going to be seeing Amos or Mama Rebecca again. We were able to spend almost an hour with them, and then Mark came, picked them up and they were gone.
After spending some time packing some stuff up and eating French Toast for dinner, we headed to Tamboti for one last round of dessert. In some ways, it was a mistake to go. The kids were so tired and it wasn't very pleasant having them along. It was nice to say good-bye to Derrick and Pixie and Sam and have one more bowlful of Cape Malva pudding. On our drive home, Jori said “We see Amos and Mama Becca”, which made me sad again. We got home around 7:30, gave the kids baths, and put them to bed. Once they were asleep, we played Canadian Salad with my parents. Then Darin and I finished packing up and finally went to bed around 11.
This morning the kids were up around 5:30. Darin let me sleep for another 45 minutes, but then it was time to get moving. I just felt so heavy all morning. It was so sad to think we were leaving our Africa House and we wouldn't be coming back. And yes, I did cry. This has been our home for 2 months. Two WONDERFUL months. We really have been so blessed by this experience. It is overwhelming to think of going back home and losing the closeness that we've experienced here. It's always stressful trying to get packed up, but it was especially hard this morning because I was so emotional. We did eventually get everything packed in the van. Amos arrived earlier than usual, so we were able to say good-bye to him again, which was nice.
After a very long morning, which included picking up our original car in Montana, bringing it back to it's owners in Johannesburg, and heading to Sasolburg to drop off our extra luggage, we finally got on the road towards Cape Town. We encountered a lot of road construction on the way, which added a good hour to our trip. We finally made it to Forever Resort Gariep Dam at 6:30, made some mac and cheese, and put the kids to bed. Now it is just after 10. We just finished playing two rounds of Canadian Salad and now we are heading to bed. Our next stop is 3 nights in Cape Town. It will be nice to be in one place for a little while. Til later.