Our lives are filled with hellos. Those first moments, when hungry eyes fall on faces and joy erupts. The sighs of first meetings.
I remember meeting my husband. I remember the first time I saw him, strumming in his acoustic duo in the campus coffee shop. We felt nothing and exchanged polite hellos. AND I remember the first time I saw him after we’d started e-flirting a few months later and that moment of whoa. Hel-LO.
I remember meeting my son. My very first memory was out of the corner of my eye after an emergency c-section, right before they whisked him up to the NICU and my brain fuzzed over with magnesium and I couldn’t remember, Did they take him out? Was he still in there? Where was my baby? And then, a full day later, I was wheeled up to the NICU and I beheld my son for the first time through the incubator wall. Beautiful. All those months, and there’s his face. So that’s what he looks like.
I remember meeting my daughter. After months of emailed pictures, we entered her room and I searched out her face amidst the tumbling waves of Ethiopian toddlers. Panic began to rise as I thought, “What if I don’t recognize her from the pictures? My own daughter?” My eyes found her in the corner next to a caregiver, always next to a caregiver. It was her, and if I had any doubt, Alex leaned over and whispered, “She’s in the red shirt.” Yes. I know. I can’t take my eyes off of her. Beautiful. Yes, that’s what she looks like.
I remember meeting Bosco, the first child whom we sponsored in Uganda. Bumping along the dirt road from Adacar to Ngariam. What will he think of us? Strangers invading his home and shining unwanted attention on his shy self. We were too much, too weird, too white. But we were welcomed by our shy boy and his gracious village. (Want to see him meeting us? Here it is: https://unexpected.org/2010/12/meeting-bosco/)
I remember meeting George, our second sponsored child. He was terrified of my mzungu face and I gave him lots of space, left him alone, smiled and waved from afar. Some girls tried to help by beating him to try to force him to greet me. He was three. Our son’s age. No! Please no! Please stop! He owes me nothing. Lots of tears during that meeting. His tears, my tears. He loved Alex immediately, in his arms, daddy-hole filling up with big strong sponsor love. Three years and three visits later, he loves me, too. His smile this summer melted my insides into steaming posho.
I remember meeting Esther and Esther, our third and fourth sponsored children. When I called their name, they both came forward, and I realized that we couldn’t sponsor only one. We’d need both Esthers in our extended Ugandan family. Older Esther is funny, smart, and bossy. Younger Esther is timid, gentle, and sweet. Beautiful faces in my mind.
Today we meet K, the teen girl from an orphanage in Latvia who’s coming to live with us for a month. We’ve adopted, we’ve sponsored, and now we have the privilege of hosting. Another hello, or “sveika,” if you’re a Latvian girl. Our house is as clean as it gets, our sign for the airport is ready, and we are excited for the best Christmas present ever, meeting our host child and this month of getting to know her.
Our home is trembling with anticipating for the adventure, and as I type that I realize that adventure begins with advent, “an important arrival.” As we celebrate the Advent of Christ in this beautiful season of anticipating the incarnate God, we relish the advent of K, and the opportunity to celebrate Christ together.