Sunday, Goodbye For Now

I can still see the light

at the end of the tunnel shine

through the dark times

even when I lose my mind

But it feels like no one

in the world is listening

and I can’t ever seem

to make the right decisions

I walk around in the same haze

I’m still caught in my same ways

I’m losing time in these strange days

but somehow I always know

the right things to say

I don’t know what time it is

or whose the one to blame for this

Do what I believe what I can’t see

And how do you know

which way the wind blows

Cause I can feel it all around

I’m lost between the sound

And just when I think

I know, there she goes

Goodbye for now

Goodbye for now

So long

Goodbye for now (I’m not the type to say I told you so)

Goodbye for nowSo long (I think the hardest part of holding on is lettin go)

When will we sing

A new song

A new song

We’re still smilin as the day goes by

and how come nobody

ever knows the reasons why

Burry you deep so far

you can’t see

If you’re like me

who wears a broken

heart on your sleeve

Pains is troubles that

you know so well

Either time don’t

It can’t or you just won’t tell

I’m not the type to say

I told you so

I think the hardest part

of holding on is lettin it go

I don’t know what time it is

or whose the one to blaim for this

Do what I believe what I can’t see

And how do you know

which way the wind blows

Cause I can feel it all around

I’m lost between the sound

And just when I think I know

there she goes

Goodbye for now

Goodbye for now

So longGoodbye for now (I’m not the type to say I told you so)

Goodbye for nowSo long (I think the hardest part of holdin on is lettin it go)

When will we sing

A new song

A new song

And you can sing until

theres no song left (song left)

And I can scream until

the world goes deaf (goes deaf)

For every other word

left unsaid you should

have took the time to

read the sign and

see what it meant

In some ways everybody

feels alone so if the

burden is mine then

I can carry my own

If joy really comes

in the morning time

then I’m gunna sit backand wait until the

next sun rise

Goodbye for now

Goodbye for now

So long

Goodbye for now (I’m no the type to say I told you so)

Goodbye for now

So long(I think the hardest part of holdin on is lettin it go)

When will we sing

A new song

A new songPOD – “Goodbye for Now”

It took me an entire week, but I finally managed to sleep through the blasted horns. That or the horn guy takes Sundays off.

I’ve been dreading this day since I got here. Today will be the last time I see my kids until I return to bring them home to the United States. I’ve been discussing the fact that I have to leave at the end of the week with my kids all week long, but I don’t know how much of that is getting past the language gap, and then there is the age block as well. If you’ve had kids you know what I am talking about there.

My bags were packed last night. I am ready to go. I’ve set aside clean outfit, one that isn’t covered in goat and sheep ‘mud’ in an attempt to be loving to whomever will be sitting next to me on the plane. I don’t really smell the smells any more, it’s becoming more and more “familiar” to me and I am getting more and more settled into this way of life. Unfortunately, today this life ends.

Arriving at the orphanage one would have thought today was going to be like any other day. The kids and I played for a while, I kicked around the soccer ball. Drew pictures with my daughter, and tried to take some pictures, but the battery died on me, and the power was out again in my room last night so the other battery didn’t get a charge. Now mind you I have over 1300 photos already, taken mostly by the kids, but it was still a bummer to not have the camera on my last day here.

I had to check out of my hotel at noon, so at 11 am it was time for me to leave. I was able to get the camera to turn on for the 30 seconds it took to get one last photo of me and my kids, but then it died and would not resurrect itself again.

I took my backpack off and gave it to my son, he had enjoyed it so much this week, and I really didn’t have any need for a NAVY backpack in the USA. If I thought for a second that the majority of people here could have read it I would have had to use a seam ripper to take off the NAVY logos, in fact I am in mortal fear than I may have forever wounded my son by gifting him with a something as wimpy as NAVY propaganda. Seriously though, he loved it. He had been using my hand sanitizer all week, so I left that in the bag, along with some paper and a letter to him. I watched as he ran the bag to his room and proceeded to move everything from his old backpack to his new one. When he found the hand sanitizer he tried to give it back to me, and when I told him it was for him, he lit up with joy again. It was then that it really clicked for him that I was leaving, as I no longer had need for the bag that carried my possessions back and forth from the hotel.

He grabbed my hand and one last time asked me to take him to America with me. Teary eyed, I tried to explain that I couldn’t, but I would be back to bring him home, and Mom would come with me next time.

The other kids noticed what was happening, and someone hollered for my daughter to come out and say good bye. Hand in hand with each of them, we walked, as slowly as I could to the gate. We got to the gate and I dropped to my knees to say good bye one last time. It was too much for my son and I and we cried together as we said good bye. My daughter looked at me, and I saw the tear welling up in her eyes. I wiped the tears from my children’s faces as tears ran down mine and pulled them both into my chest as I hugged them and kissed their angelic heads for the last time.

As I looked up into the background that was the orphanage I saw other kids holding each other as they were watching me leave, some were crying themselves, others were just watching with a saddened look. My heart was throbbing, my head was spinning, I didn’t want to leave, but I had too. I was in physical pain to leave these kids, I wanted to scream at the insanity of it all, I wanted to stay, I wanted to bring them all with me, I wanted anything but to leave. But with one final “I Love You, I’ll be back as soon as I can I promise,” and I was out the gate.

As the gate latched behind me, I heard my children’s feet patter away and I stood there sobbing as my heart was longing to return to my children, but I knew that walking back inside would cause too much confusion for the kids. I stood there as the doctors from the clinic next door tried to figure out what was wrong with me, as the boys that tried to steal the soccer ball earlier in the week scampered by, as my world felt like it was exploding, shrinking, and becoming even more vast and desolate all at the same time. A father’s heart was not made for this.

I couldn’t even bear to look back one last time, I just walked forward and left. I felt like Lot on the road out, I was sure if I turned back to look one last time, to say goodbye one last time, I would turn into that pillar of salt, or at least a sobbing heap of broken father on the sheep and goat “mud” that was called a road.

I stopped in my cyber café for one last goodbye, and to e-mail Heather that I was on my way home. The girls there were sad to see me leave, and we exchanged e-mails and they told me how much they had enjoyed my company throughout the week. I truly hope they are still there when I return although they both have said they hope to have moved on by then. But if they have they still want me to contact them as they would love to be a guide to Addis for my wife and kids on my return visit.

Checking out of the hotel was much easier than I expected, partially since the person working the desk actually spoke a bit of English, and partially because there were no “extra” bills to argue over. I had my laundry done twice while I was there, just a few pieces each time, but they were done by hand, and I was there from Sunday to Sunday and I still walked away for $145. That’s one night at the Sheraton or Hilton. Now mind you I had to kill a few bugs when I turned on the lights, I have a new hatred for schoffars and I could only watch E-TV, but for the price I was very happy, and I was safe. I guess that is one of the biggest things of all, I stayed safe all week.

I called my missionary friend as he was going to give me directions for the taxi driver for my rendezvous point. He told me he had moved he schedule around and he was on his way to pick me up and was going to take me. I appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to use the taxis alone this time, and retired to the bar for a quick coffee as I watched the Arsenal play the same game for the 4th time this week. Amazingly though I don’t have a clue as to who wins the game as I have yet to make it to the end of the game.

It wasn’t long before he arrived and we were off to meet with the sponsor of my Life International Grant. I was very nervous as this man had invested a lot into this adoption and I didn’t know what to expect, or what he expect of me. For now though I was enjoying the new views of Addis. As we passed through Meskal Square I looked for the “tourist” industry, but if it was there I was blind to it. Now mind you this is Sunday, and almost everything is closed, but I had expected to see some of the touristy trappings there. I watched the road as it appeared at some points that we were 8 or 9 cars abreast, while at other points we were only a 2 lane road. I don’t know if there was any rhyme or reason to the way the roads were designed, but I don’t think I would bother to name anything of this poor design either.

We arrived at a taxi station on the other side of town and I was told to wait in the car and everyone disappeared. I can’t tell you how many kids tried to sell me some tissues or old gum, or just asked for money, but my window was constantly abuzz with someone trying to sell me something, which is why when an old white dude jumped into the front seat of the car I jumped out of my skin.

I sat there and chatted away as we drove to his home and I was blown away by the compassion and heart of this man. He showed me local points of interest as we drove and we wound our way up a twisting road to the top of a hill and into a gated home. As we stepped out of the car he was swamped with children all swarming all over him as he began to act like a monkey and started chasing the kids as they all laughed together I saw a glimpse of Jesus, a glimpse of what “could be” and a “unphotographable moment in time” We walked through the gate into his home and I found myself surrounded by a swarm of white missionaries. They all live in this home as they are on their short term mission projects, most working in schools, some in socio economic reform, all passionate about making a difference. As the day progressed more and more Ethiopians showed up in the house, all were quite familiar with everyone there and there was a true sense of true community.

We left to grab a bite to eat at what was sworn to be the best tibs in town and I found myself, once again, in front of a meat stand looking at two cows and a goat hanging from a meat hook along side the road. 13 white guys and 1 Ethiopian trying to find a place to sit, and the tibs were brought to the table. This is when I discovered that ½ of the people there had arrived in the middle of the night, last night. Also they had never eaten Ethiopian food before. I have to admit that the food was very good, and I ate from the plate that was actually cooked, as the 3 men next to me ate from the raw plate. I am adventurous in my diet, and I did eat 1 single bite of the raw beef, but I wasn’t too keen on a belly full of raw beef cut from the cow hanging 5 feet to my right. But when one of your host offers an act of gursha what is one to do?

The conversations were so diverse and varied as the meal progressed but I was very impacted by the dialogue on why Islam is spreading so fast through Africa and Christianity is so stunted. They spoke of the areas that Islam is exploding and took me back in time 10 years. You see 10 years ago they went into these areas and took millions of dollars and built schools. The Christians had gone in with thousands of dollars and built Churches. As you can imagine there was a real perceived need for the free schools and since they built them and taught them they used their Islamic text as the books. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you educate an entire generation, for free, with Islamic principles and text that as that generation comes to age, they will choose the faith that truly impact the society at large in the community. I was given images of these areas, places that had true desolation, and the Islamist missionaries were smart enough to see that if you fulfill a true need in an area, then you have that area. While the Christian missionaries were building their Churches that get used once a week, the schools were being used 7 days a week, as they used the school to double as the Mosque on the one day there was no schooling.

We walked back to the home from supper, it was only a few miles but it was ALL UP HILL. As we wound our ways through the streets I found myself looking into a storm drain, just as some street kids emerged from it. Now mind you it was full of water, the kids had to swim from wherever they were to this manhole, and they pulled themselves out like a drowned rat. I looked around and no one else seemed to even notice, and by the time I looked back the kids were gone. I noticed a group of the missionaries were all playing some sort of chase game with the kids up the road and I caught up to them about the time one of the herdsman had convinced someone to buy one of the sheep for $4. They agreed to come back in a few days as they were going to have a roast at that point in time and there was no reason to have a sheep grazing around the house until then.

My guide decided to take a “shortcut” and we found ourselves walking up a road no car could traverse, at least not in the rainy season, and I found myself on a hilltop looking out over Addis with one of the most beautiful views of the city I had ever seen. I had spent an entire week looking at red brown mud, not seeing any vegetation except for the sparse plant in the middle of the road, and here I was in the same city, looking out over hills of green. I saw my first “real soccer field” and by real I mean they actually had goals on both ends of the poorly plowed dirt plot on the steep bank, but it was swarming with kids playing ball. By the time we made it back to the house everyone was ready for a nap, and I retired myself to the garden looking at the beautiful African flowers. As it began to rain I took a seat on the steps to the house and the guard dog found a spot to lie his head on my lap. Together we sat and watch the lighting in the distance, the rain drops bounce off the petals of the flowers, and listened as the birds called for their mates to return to the nest.

I sat there thinking over the week, pondering the affect this trip had on my life and what this was going to do to my future. Eventually I was so lost in my own head that I headed inside to find a book to disappear into and picked up a small collection of stories on adoption. I read 3 of those stories, and seeing as I couldn’t stop crying at the end of the third story I returned to the porch to the dog that was all to happy to see my return.

Slowly people began to rouse from their slumber, and more and more Ethiopians arrived, each knowing who I was as they had been praying for me all week. Card games were played on one side of the room, as Scrabble was attempted between two American teens, and two Ethiopians in their 20’s. I stayed neutral and kept the teens from cheating, while helping the Ethiopians figure out English words. For some reason the teens never subjected themselves to my suggestion of playing a game in Amharic. Before I knew it, it was time for me to leave for the airport.

Partly because I knew this was the end of my rip, and partially because I truly loved this man and his home and his passion for Ethiopia, but I had a hard time leaving. Many embraces, many thank you’s, and many good byes and I was in the cab on the way to the airport.

And that my dear friend, is where we begin tomorrow.


One Response to “Sunday, Goodbye For Now”

  1. Hope you are feeling better….your story is beautiful and you tell it with a passion and emotion that lets me be there too- as my family embarks on our own story I will keep yours with me- thank you for sharing- and I look forward to tomorrow.

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