Friday, 9 October 2009

Vacation, Episode II

On to September: In an effort to reduce all the traveling I did last year, I split my month in Canada into three. Part one was Huntsville, my little hometown in the woods. Apparently I brought with me the best weather of the whole summer, and I capitalized with backyard BBQs and sunbathing by the river, just like the good ol' days. Part two was camping and then marrying off my best friend, Braden. It was a pleasure to spend a week with him and Melissa, and a great privilege to stand at his side as he took the plunge. Part three was all about family, and I had an amazing time staying with my sister, brother, and finally with my parents.
The whole family (minus Scott--missed you, Bro) even opted to have Thanksgiving a couple of weeks early on account of me. Man, I forgot how good turkey and cranberry is!

Seriously, though. I have SO much to be thankful for. Family and friends, health and strength, a job that's also a calling. There's only one word for it: I feel downright spoiled.

Thank you to everyone that dropped what you were doing to make time for me. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up. I miss you all so much through the year. Thanks for your gracious approach to adopting an hour-a-year friendship with me. Wish it were more. (Oh, and if you have photos of our time together, I don't -- send 'em over!)

Vacation, Episode I

Ok, here goes. So much to tell, so few photos to tell it with! Let's begin at the end of August, when I had a huge dream come true: I got to visit Gifty and her amazing family. Now, they had warned me that I wouldn't recognize my little monster -- but WOW, she is enormous. So big, so healthy -- so much like a child her age. When she left Liberia, she was a one-hander. She could balance quite happily with her giant belly, though she lacked the strength to sit up or crawl, let alone stand. Well, I arrived in her second week of walking, and it was absolutely heartbreaking to see her screaming around, boss of the world. What a thrill.

It took me back to that first night with her in the hospital. Understand, I'm not a baby person. I wouldn't know if a diaper's inside out or not. So here's this eleven-and-a-half pound, 20-month-old girl, by all accounts just a few days from her end--not even enough strength to cry. No idea what to do--so I did what everyone does in a situation like that. I began bargaining with God. I paced the halls of the hospital for hours that night, singing to and praying over Gifty, promising God that if only He would heal her, deliver her, I would do anything.

Fast forward eight months, and there I am trying to lift a 27 pounder out of her crib. She's looking at me with a scrunched up nose, and I'm wondering if she remembers. She's experimenting with sounds, and she's fluent in all the sign language she needs. Most importantly, she's got a very loving extended family, and really the entire town -- anywhere I pushed her stroller, people would lean out of their cars to ask how she was doing. Amazing! Just look at her now: