Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
- TITLE: A Journey, a Polaroid Camera, and Caleb
By Taryn Deets
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“I remind myself,” pops into my head from second-year French class on reflexive verbs.
Born in that province, having left at the age of twelve in 1977, the year the legal language changed to French, I travel down this back road in the Finger Lakes of central New York. My thoughts wander to Senegal, to France, Germany, to Italy, Ethiopia and California, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Kansas; images flit by faster than the road signs I pass.
Africa, and three brown scared children, the youngest with a perpetual sadness in her chocolate eyes. Virginia still holds so many friends, their faces in my heart and just a tap away, yet so far. California, where our firstborn came into the world. Senegal, where we realized how very rich we were, and I stop there. This is where it all changed: irrevocably, totally changed us all forever.
Sitting on the ferry, the stench of urine all around. Some cars, but mostly smelly bodies on both decks, as many as will fit. Prayer to make it safely to the other side and three small children in the back seats, and the small brown bodies outside, peering in to see us, to see what we can give to them. The camera my dad gave me to do just this. I put the film pack in and begin snapping, watching their eyes light up as they watch the miracle happen right before their eyes.
I hand them the photos and catch their “Oohs and Aahs” and the only English they know, “Thank you.”
I run out of film before everyone has one, and then the small, well-preserved meat sticks we brought from Virginia, in individual packages; then they are gone too and the brown eyes turn sad because there is no more.
And then I look over to the next car, the brown faces smiling from the Car Rapide. My eyes takes in the live chicken and goat amidst the luggage tied to the roof, the brightly colored lettering on the side of the van but keeps landing right back on the beautiful eyes next to me reminding me of our own sad little brown-eyed girl on the other side of this continent, waiting for the paperwork to be finished so we can bring her home.
Remembering, remembering our first conversation about adoption, jokingly “We don’t need any live souvenirs from Africa, we are taking home enough of Africa as it is.”
And six months later his change of heart, “The Lord spoke to me…He said that we should adopt perhaps three orphans.”
As I roll through a small town, hardly seeing the old fashioned soda shop on my left and the bookstore on the right and the rows of downtown shops and the people sipping coffee at the café, my mind’s eye in Ethiopia instead, remembering, remembering that day. The excitement, the terror, and our inability to understand the tears of the three we are taking home to America.
I’m again sitting in that plane for three hours waiting to take off and then deplaning. And our new son’s query as we walk back down the jet way, “America, Mommy? his only English words.
“Ay. No” I replied.
Flitting by again and I don’t want to stop on any of these memories, these hard years of growing into a new family. My eyes return to the road in front of me and I turn the volume up on the radio.
The words healing and hope bring me out of the painful memories and now I am sitting in the pew on the left side of the church, the red cushion not really cushioning, hearing the whisper of healing, holding on to hope, not giving up.
And then the seeing, the knowing how His Path has become mine. Following Caleb living in whole-hearted faith in God’s promises; Ruth in devotion to her adopted family; and Esther in knowing that He had planted her in a place to bring Him glory.
Pushing the signal up, I hear the “blink, blink, blink,” as I touch the brakes and turn. I smile as my brown-eyed ten-year old runs up with tales of the day.
“Mommy, do you remember….?”
“Why, yes, I do…” and I take her growing hand in mine as we walk to the front door.
Note: This journey is imagined, yet the memories real and true.
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