When the time with them seemed too short…
It seems like just yesterday I was running through the airport into the arms of my ecstatic mother as I returned home from tour, The Circle of Life blaring from my iphone just to make her laugh. But, in reality it’s been almost 2 months since I stepped foot back into New Jersey (the state I love to hate) Just like in Daraja time is slipping by faster, all at once, and seemingly not at all. In the blink of an eye the 7 months of tour had passed and my time with the choir came to an end
No longer do I have the responsibility of someone else’s welfare in my lap practically 24/7. I have gotten back into the routine of having no routine – I don’t worry about getting up early to wake anyone else up, don’t pack any lunches (heck, I forget what peanut butter and jelly tastes like…almost). I don’t prepare showers and lay out towels, I have no one to tuck into bed besides my cats and little brother..none of whom are willing participants.
A month before tour ended I layed awake in a host home and listened to the soft sound of Susan, Evelyne, and Shillah’s breathing as they slept on the air mattresses spaced out all around me. Tears silently streamed down my face as I wrote a note in my phone at 10:56 pm: “I wonder what it will be like to hang up the title “Auntie”, to know that the sweetest sound will dim down until my ears have to strain to remember how to hear it”.
Here I am on the other side, and I’m not wondering anymore. The answer is, it’s quiet. A lot quieter than I imagined. If I let myself I can close my eyes and hear the sing-song voice of Lucy saying “Huh-eyyye Aunt-ieee” or the giggles of Diana as she withholds the hugs she knows we all love. I can hear the nonstop buzz of Joshua, the infectious laughter of Christopher, the sound of Peace singing Christmas songs despite the fact the holiday’s long since left us.
There’s a stillness about my life that I never realized existed until I stopped seeing Rachel’s noodle-like limbs swinging all around, until I stopped seeing Susan’s dramatic flar, and Innocent’s dance moves, and George’s oddly intriguing imitation of how cows walk (it’s really a sight!) almost daily.
I guess in a strange sense there’s nothing to compare the feeling of loss to other than what I imagine empty nesting parents go through. They spend a portion of time, that seems too short but in reality is just enough, pouring into their children and preparing them for the moment when they enter the real world on their own. In the same sense, the goal of Daraja was never to simply love the kids and make a handful of fun memories to use as comfrot when they finally returned home – the goal was to disciple young leaders who would transform their communities because He who is within them is greater than he who is living in the world.
Although I wish I could hold their hands, walk with them through life, and steer them clear of the temptations and trials that lurk around every corner, I cant. And it wasn’t until the moment I hugged each of them goodbye and looked back at them waving from the plot of land in front of the church, that I truly realized the time I had with them was enough. Not in the sense that I’d had enough of them, but in the sense that they were ultimately in God’s care. They were always His children, and I was blessed to be entrusted with the opportunity to guide them in His truth for a portion of time that only seemed too short.
It’s in the moments when the silence seems inescapably loud to me, and I’m missing my Daraja babies, that I’m challenged to do as Psalm 46:10 says and “Be still and know (confess) that [He] is God.” When I worry what they’re doing I find peace knowing that they’re held – not in my hands – but in hands that will never fail them, by the God who created them and knows the exact number of hairs on their head…and who has greater plans for them than I could ever dream of!
Written by Kerrie Devito (2014-2015 Daraja intern)