We stepped off the plane and were instantly warmed by the sun. We’d been traveling for 30+ hours and we finally made it to our final destination. Our last flight was overbooked so we got bumped and delayed by a few hours. Having no way to contact our driver we anxiously hoped he was still waiting for us.
We quickly filled out the entry form and got in line to have our passports and visas stamped. We grabbed our luggage, thankful it all made it, and walked outside where a large group of drivers waited to pick their guests up.
We scanned through the name signs until we saw “Troyer”. Relief washed over us to see our driver waited despite our delay and lack of communication. Our driver had worked for other adoptive families and knew our local attorney and the orphanage director.
He told us we could stop by the orphanage on the way to our hotel if we wanted to see the boys. Of course we said yes, as we’d been waiting for this day for so long. Despite being exhausted from the travel we both seemed to get a second wind as we anticipated finally meeting the boys.
The drive felt long as the hot breeze failed to dry the sweat beading down our faces. Don’t they use air conditioning in the cars here!?, I thought. I couldn’t stop paying attention to how fast we were driving and how often our driver passed on the one lane road, barely making it back into our lane before the oncoming car flew by.
Finally we slowed down and our driver turned onto a narrow dirt road. We bounced along the road climbing up and down hills. Windows still down and hopes fleeting of the driver ever turning on the air conditioning! The country was beautiful. The driver pulled to the side at the top of a hill and told us on a clear day this was where we can see Mount Kilimanjaro.
Butterflies fluttered through my stomach as the driver told us we were almost there. I could hardly contain my excitement and anticipation to finally meet the children I full heartedly believed would be my sons. What will they look like in person? Will they like us? Will they be scared of us? What will their personalities be like? What will it be like to finally hold them?
Our driver made another turn and eventually stopped in front of a gate. He honked and waited for someone to open the gate for us to pull through. This gate was the final thing separating us from meeting them.
Soon the gate slowly opened and we drove through… this was it… the moment we had waited for, longed for, and dreamed about.
Today we loaded up the car with our biggest suitcase stuffed full of all the clothes we brought for the boys. I had already neatly organized them in the closest here on the first day we arrived and moved in. So re-packing them, not to go home, was emotionally wrenching.
I couldn’t help but notice the outfits I thought would look so cute on them. The outfits I imagined getting to choose as I dressed them each day. We had already dropped a small bag of clothes and books off a couple weeks ago but this was the final sweep… we leave here in less than two weeks so everything we brought for them needs to go to the orphanage.
After clearing out the closet I searched the rest of the house to find the sippy cups, bibs, diapers, wipes, hot wheels, markers, stickers and a few more books. It’s another step to take in letting go, it just feels like I have to take this step with an extra 200 lbs on my back… which feels impossible. But it’s necessary and it’s painful.
I sit in the passenger seat as Derrick and I begin the long drive to the orphanage. It’s not that long distance wise but as we’ve mentioned before, due to road conditions, a 6 mile drive can take over an hour. There has been a ton of rain lately so it leaves deeper crevasses in the dirt roads making it more of an obstacle course to drive than it was before.
Driving ourselves around here now feels oddly normal. We drive with our windows up and the air conditioning on… I knew air conditioning worked in cars here! We pass the familiar scenery and make our way off the paved road onto the narrow dirt road.
Our small car struggles to climb the hills as we slowly bounce being careful not to bottom out along the way. We reach the crest of the biggest hill where you can usually see Mount Kilimanjaro. We don’t stop because we already know it’s too cloudy to see it.
I know we are getting close as Derrick slowly makes the final turn over a huge dip in the road made by all the water draining. He notes his annoyance with the many speed bumps just feet apart as our car merely crawls for the final few yards to the orphanage.
The sorrow swells in my heart and the pit in my stomach grows as I see the gate. The gate that has ignited so many emotions in me throughout the past 2 years.
I get out of the car and slowly approach the gate. I open the small built in door to pass through and open it from the inside so Derrick can drive through. I feel sick now. How can I get through this time? Can I really hold it all together? How can we trust this is really best when we can’t see it and can’t understand? How do we engage this time in a way that won’t hurt them when we have so much love in our hearts for them?
This gate has been a monumental threshold in our lives. A threshold of excitement, joy, and expectancy. And now a threshold of pain, emptiness, uncertainty and sorrow. Derrick drives through, I pull the gate closed and walk down to the orphanage. This is it… the moment we’ve dreaded, feared, and avoided.
Psalm 100:3-5 "Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."