There are so many stories of Soccer Boy’s time here in America that I have not yet shared. Sometimes it was because it was too close to tell in a voice louder than a whisper. Sometimes it was because it was a moment, a flash, and it touched my soul in ways that didn’t have words. Sometimes it was because the experience was mine, and mine alone. Sometimes it was a shared experience that wasn’t owned only in my heart, and those soul-connections…they couldn’t be expressed.
It is time to tell you one of those stories, and how a moment, held quiet between me and another precious host mom named Katie, has been revealed to us to be a moment of divine connection that neither of us understood at the time. A moment that we are still marveling over, and cannot wait to understand more.
A moment of a little sprite of a boy, needing so much love himself, still giving all he had to another little scared boy he barely knew. A little sprite who flitted in and changed my world. Continues to change it.
As some of you might remember, Soccer Boy’s arrival was delayed this summer. He was one of “The Twelve”—twelve children who were stopped as they boarded their first plane and told there were problems with their paperwork. These twelve children waited for a full day until the airport realized that it was their error and the children should have boarded. By then, it was too late, and they had to be put up in a hotel. They were flown out the next day and made it to Munich, where they were again delayed, this time due to mechanical failure on a plane. They waited again for hours and hours, and were finally re-routed to Dulles. They had traveled for almost three days to get to us.
As you might imagine, the host families of The Twelve were all hungry for updates and bonded as we watched others greet their children and arrival picture after joyful arrival picture popped up on Facebook. Our kids would come, but the wait was so hard.
It seems that the children bonded as well. Soccer Boy was one of the youngest of The Twelve, and the only one from his region. He knew none of the other children. And then, upon arrival, he was the only one meeting his host family there for the first time. All the other children were overnighting in DC and then traveling on without him.
As he arrived and stood with us, he watched all the other children, his three-days’ companions, his only link to home, move away from him. His smile faltered. This was real. And he was nine. Standing with two complete strangers.
Then suddenly, another boy was there. A little sprite of a thing, an Eastern European Puck. Pushing people out of the way. Past the laughing teenagers. Trying to get to Soccer Boy.
They stood face-to-face then. Words I did not understand were exchanged. A high-five, shoulder-bump bro hug. Ja, ja. Relief on a little boy’s face. It would be okay.
And then, just as quickly, he was gone. Melted back into the crowd.
And with that, he had my heart.
I watched on Facebook as each of the children were eventually delivered to their destinations, and then I saw him again. That little face. That smile. My Sprite.
I contacted his host mom because she needed to know. Needed to be told how her boy, this one she had for the summer, touched me in a moment.
And that’s how I met Katie.
Katie and her husband Brian live on the other side of the country. They have three children, one of whom shares a name with Little Man. Our friendship grew, and we followed each others’ journeys. Across the continent, we were linked by a bro hug between two boys. Two children who didn’t know one another brought together two women who had never met.
And then, as the summer went on, there was the decision: is this child mine? As you have all read, in my heart, I know that I am Soccer Boy’s American mama….but not his only American mama. And again, Katie and I found each other. She felt the same about Sprite.
Yet she is braver than I. I have a Stephanie. My boy would be near me come Christmas. She didn’t know where Sprite would be…who would love him. But she trusted anyway. She hurt. And she loved. And she trusted.
And now Soccer Boy is gone, too. And our arms are empty. Those precious boys…they are ours, but not ours.
Our hearts. They hurt so much.
And then the news. Stephanie and Bryan, reeling from the sudden loss of Soccer Boy for Christmas, decided that they should still move forward and host this Christmas.
They chose Sprite.
All on their own.
Stephanie knew a piece of the story, but not all of it. She didn’t know my heart. For Sprite. For Katie. She simply chose on faith.
And now Katie has a Stephanie, too.
And I have a Katie.
And once again, I see that family is bigger than I ever thought possible.
And we were given this hope, before we ever knew we would need it.
We were all blessed by a moment in an airport. A moment that arose because of a delay that we lamented at the time. A delay that meant a friendship between two children. Two mothers. Providential care, before the cry was even in our hearts.
And so we all move forward together, carrying it all. Being carried by the One who loves us all.
Meet our Sprite. Here in the arms of his West Coast family…soon to come to his East Coast family.
We are currently working on a way to fold America in half, even if just for a day.
But until then, our love will stretch across the distance.