I slosh liquid soap in warm sink water, like I slosh yeast into water before mixing bread dough. Water falls from faucet, hot on my hands. Washcloth moves steadily over pan as hot tears fill my eyes. Rinse pan. Reach for another. Tears roll over skin and drop into sink. One hits my hand, cold. The water is warm.
I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, and my nerves have been on edge all day long.
The feelings are back. I sort of prefer it when they aren’t here.
Maybe I should have some coffee. I didn’t have any coffee today.
But it’s probably the kids. I miss them.
I shower, a luxury I didn’t have in Sudan, all the while trying to pray aloud in Arabic. I stumble and stammer on some sentences. When I remember a word, I say it over and over, willing to grasp it tight. I can’t forget how to communicate with them.
I look through their photos. Face by face, memories unfold with each impish grin, snotty nose, and pair of bare feet. Conversations replay in my mind. I hear precious little voices confiding in me again. I clean wounds. I wipe away tears. We yell and race across the compound yard, a train of us. We eat with bare hands from greasy plastic plates, offering our food to the next child. Sharing. Always sharing. Everyone in Sudan shares. One child collects the plates. Darkness has settled over us, and we form ourselves into a circle on the reed mat. The name game begins. Laughter. Light-hearted, friendly competition. The beats begin – flat, steady thudding on a well-used jerrican – and we join the dance. A small hand finds mine, keeping step with me as I stagger forward and back, sometimes spinning to the music. Small shrill voices pierce through darkness, and I belt out harmony. Someone is dragging now, so I scoop up little body, folding into my arms, head bobbing on my shoulder as the dance circle continues. Their worship rises through milky darkness and star-studded skies to the One who dreamed each of them into existence.
I calculate the time difference. They are all sleeping now. Lamps glow dimly in the row of houses, shafts of light peeking under doors and out window cracks. Steady breathing. Leaves rustling in night breeze. Winged insects chirp steadily, punctuated by sound of deep belching frogs in the swamp beyond the fence. One of the babies cries. Light dances from her house as lamp moves in Mama’s hand to shush and hold and soothe.
I miss being surrounded by little smiles and little voices. I miss the movement of our compound. I miss knowing my place in that place.
Everything here is strange and new, unfamiliar and awkward, and I’m tired of muddling through. But He reminds me I’m exactly where He wants me at this stage in the journey, so, I tell my heart to rest in that. The deep places settle, but the surface still ripples as another tear falls.