Tonight our house seems very quiet. No little feet are scampering around bringing me hugs and little toys. No women are sitting by the fire crocheting their blankets. My daughter is back in her own room sleeping comfortably in her bed. My heart feels very full and yet a little like there is an empty space in it.
After we got home from the airport, my family and I sat around the table eating bowls of ice cream and talking about what we will miss about our Ugandan friends. No one will yell, "Welcome Home," every time we walk in the door. I will miss seeing the excitement on Jean and Kellen's faces when they experience something new like seeing the falling snow. Graham will miss playing with his little buddy, Isabella. We will all miss their presence in our home.
Yes, there will be no little girls fighting over toys, no more extra dishes to wash (although they always washed the dishes for me), no extra people to tote to and from the store, but we will miss them so much.
Thinking of how we may never see them again makes my heart so heavy and sad, but then I recall what a privilege it was to be a part of their experience here in Canada. A little girl is going back home with a heart restored to full health. A mama can now send her daughter to school knowing her heart is strong enough to withstand the long walk to and from school. A daddy can sleep a little easier every night with the sense that his little girl is not fighting another infection or struggling to get oxygen to all parts of her body.
Tonight, I said goodbye to Isabella with the assurance that the hole in her heart has been repaired. Yet, at the same time, a hole is forming in my own heart because of the void left in her absence. I will allow that empty space to remind me of three precious ladies that I love so much returning to Uganda. I will pray for them and think of them often. I hope Isabella will grow up sharing with her brothers and sister of how God worked a miracle in her heart. She'll get out the photo book we gave her and she'll recall her adventure in Canada. She will know that God most certainly has good plans for her life as she remembers when He filled the hole in her heart.
With the emptiness that I feel comes a longing for more and a gratefulness of what God allowed my family to be a part of. I know the peace and joy that comes from being the hands and feet of Christ. I've experienced being a part of something so much bigger than myself, and I do not want to be content to settle back into a life centered around me.
Tonight I will rest. Tomorrow I will enjoy a quiet day with my family. Next week, we will decorate our home for Christmas and go about the routine of school, work, and chores. I will allow God to renew my spirit because I am tired, but I will long for another day when our home will be filled yet again with more mouths to be filled, more voices to be heard, and more hearts to be loved.
Sweet dreams, Isabella, as you soar above the clouds tonight. Sweet hugs in the coming days as you greet your family. May your spirit remain sweet as you recall the goodness of your Father and His love for you. I'm so thankful I could be a part of your life. I welcome the hole in my heart because of you.
Monday, November 11, 2013
The last few weeks at our house have been intense. Isabella had her surgery and spent 6 days in the hospital. I will never forget the look on Kellen's face the night she returned to my home after her daughter's surgery. Pure relief and joy. Her daughter had been given another chance at life. With tears in her eyes, she told me thank you. I felt so humbled. I had done nothing but offer a place for her to stay, and I was amazed once again that God had caused our lives to intersect at this very moment.
"Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere."
To say being a host family has been all fun and no struggle is to be withholding the truth. There have been moments when I have asked myself, "What was I thinking to sign up for this?" Yet, God has given me many glimpses into why this is worth it.
One of those glimpses happened today at Isabella's follow-up appointment. Kellen, Jean, Isabella, and I were waiting in one of the examining rooms after hearing some good news that Isabella's progress was where it should be. Kellen looked at me and said, "I have nothing to give you but I want to thank you." Again, I felt completely humbled and unworthy of her gratitude. I told her what she has given me was in my heart. I told her I would never forget her or Isabella and I started to cry. She hugged me, and I wondered if she really understood all that she has given me.
She has given me the gift of being used, the gift of being clay in the Potter's hand, the gift of being an ordinary, broken piece of pottery. Yet, when the clay pot is broken, the treasure that is inside can spill out and bless others. She has given me the gift of perspective, the reminder of God's greatness and my plainness. She has given me the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ, and for that gift, I am the one that is grateful.