It has been three days.
It has been lifetimes.
I don’t even know where to start. We are here, in their spaces. In their world. I feel so inadequate to write what it is to be here. It is everything.
We arrived and she was there waiting. She told me I should have dyed my hair before I came to see her. Women here, no grey, she said. I know, I said. But grey or not, I love you. I know, she said.
My apartment is spacious, but covered in sand. We joke that I am on a beach vacation in a city. Outside they fix the cobblestones. Rip them up, one by one, and carefully replace them, filling in the cracks with sand. They move down the street with lightening speed, and we marvel at their work. Sprite jokes, “This is our country. We work hard. Better than America. We are the best.”
Oh, love. You make me laugh. And Stephanie’s bright laugh chimes in too, and our overflow of joy mixes in with the pounding of hammers and I think this is what we do. We hold the stone and we place it and we see how it fits into our spaces.
And the sand. Oh, how it rubs us some days. I carry the reminders into my own spaces. It grinds under my feet. It grinds against my soul, rubbing my rough edges to fit into this family.
And I look at these faces, and I know that this process of building, well, it’s harder than I could ever explain. We aren’t these efficient workers, moving swiftly down the street. We are the bricks themselves, uncomfortably set. Sand rubbing us raw. Rubbing us so that we fit more smoothly together.
Sand does that. It gets in the cracks. It invades the spaces we want to have left alone. It smooths the things that are meant to be together.
And that is what we do here. We watch as the edges come out.
We listen as Sunshine speaks harsh words and criticizes Stephanie’s daughter.
We see how the jet lag affects Little Man as he bounces off of walls and bangs into people.
We hold Sprite as he mourns the changes in his world even as he exuberantly embraces this new life.
The texture of this voyage is rife with moments. But it’s not the rough moments that catch me. It’s the smoothing. It’s the coming together. It’s watching the way these imperfections are sanded by the others here, these souls being knitted together.
It’s working through what true compassion looks like with a 13 year old whose self-esteem was stung. It’s hearing her say that loving a prickly one is a privilege.
It’s the boy with a hurting heart sending text messages of “I love you I love you I love you” across the room to me while we both pretend we’re just playing games on our phones.
It’s realizing that all Little Man really wants to do is be able to walk down the street with one arm around his mother’s shoulders, and the other wrapped tightly around his sister.
It’s the daily check ins and updates from Sunshine, who is clearly happier laying on the couch talking to us than she is doing just about anything else in the world.
It’s the one more kiss, one more hug, one more minute to play before we have to part every evening.
It’s the sand, sinking us in deeper. Bringing us together. This work is hard. It’s gritty at times.
But the sand is also proof that the One who knows each of us the most deeply is active in this place. Smoothing. Setting us together. Building something beautiful.
And so we laugh. We walk in the rain. We shop. We dance. We sit in quiet stillness. We eat. We tell our stories. We repeat our favorite inside jokes.
And with each smile, each tear, each touch, we build.
I have never been happier.