We left Niger-home to move to temporary-Michigan-home on June 9, 2013.
That was more than three years ago... 40 and one half months... 1257 days... I won't bore you with the hours... minutes... seconds...
Since the last ride on the tire swing by the front porch and the last hug from Madam Safana...
Since we last snuggled Sasha and Hera (our two cats) and pulled away from our house - waving goodbye to Butterscotch and Beethoven (our two dogs), the Niger river just down the hill, the night guard... the place that we'd learned to love and the only place that our littlest ones really thought of and knew as home.
We'd been home for several months when a little voice from the back seat asked, "When will I get to see Butterscotch and Beethoven again?" And I realized that even though we'd talked much, cried much, imagined much, experienced much together, at least one little one hadn't grasped the idea that we had no idea when... if... we'd be returning to Niger-home. That when she said goodbye late that 9th of June, she didn't understand that it was a very long goodbye. She certainly didn't grasp that is was most likely, at least as far as the pets were concerned, a forever one.
I did a quick survey of my gang: "If I say home, what's the first thing that you think of?"
"Quebec and Africa"
"my bed, wherever it is"
"I don't know"
"Why do you ask such hard questions?... (sigh)"
"wherever I am right now"
(gutteral groan and dramatic falling back, sprawled as though knocked out, into the chair)
"Wherever you, Dad and the majority of my sibs are."
"I don't even know... location wise."
"I think wherever family is."
It was a question no one wanted to answer... one they didn't know how to answer... one that was significantly harder for the older ones. That's why I received more answers than I have kids. Sometimes I wonder, as parents... what our life choices and callings, as parents have "done" to these sweet kids.
I always said I didn't want our kids to grow up to be those "different" and "interesting" MKs I'd encountered growing up in church, the ones that didn't know how to talk to their home country peers, dressed a little weird, told unbelievable cool stories, and that always seemed to feel awkwardly out of place even when they looked like they could be fitting in.
From where I stand, from what others say... and most importantly - based on what my children say - Tim and I have both succeeded and failed in our efforts to achieve that goal.
It is something I think about... wonder about... almost every single day.
Because every single day, at least one - if not all - children present ask if they can eat peanut butter for breakfast.
Madam Safana's peanut butter (the most amazing peanut butter, ever, by the way) on homemade bread... on fresh pancakes... on made-from-scratch waffles... on hot biscuits... as part of the glaze on fresh from the oil doughnuts... We ate it for breakfast almost every single morning we lived in W. Africa. Unless the jar was empty, of course. This family of 10 could easily eat 1 kg of peanut butter in three or four days.
Too much peanut butter actually put one in the hospital. The power went out. We were busy looking for candles. That one found the jar - a full kilo - and ate about one-fourth of it. Plain. Then said child started throwing up and having a hard time breathing cause it stuck in the throat. Trip to the ER... we had to try two because the first one was closed for the night (don't ask). Doctors kept the kid on IVs in the hospital until they were sure the peanut butter wouldn't form a blockage in the intestine, as you get dehydrated fast in African heat when vomiting.
That's our only traumatic peanut butter eating memory. The rest are all good... if not great! Up to this date, thankfully, no one is allergic. That would be a tragedy in our family, on so many counts.
You know what just might be the first thing I hear tomorrow morning (I'll be up early, finishing prep for the Sunday School lesson I'm scheduled to teach): "Mama? Can I eat some peanut butter on my toast today?"
|Illustrations included in this blog post are from this book - a fave in our family.|
(By the way, if you are wondering. This was a 15 minute Friday, written on Saturday, when I should have been preparing for Sunday School. I'm teaching 4-6 year olds about Daniel's faithfulness in prayer, even if it meant the lion's den...)