As a continuation of my last blog entry, I have a little story followed by an announcement.
Yesterday I was playing in the "garden" (British term for back yard) with the children when Zawadi, one of the older girls, came and jumped in my lap. Talking turned to tickling and then tickling turned to snuggling. For those of you who need clarification on the term "snuggling," it is the simple act of blowing air on a child's neck until they laugh so hard they can no longer speak or complete any function of any kind besides the occasional scream and constant squirm. That's the Webster definition of course.
Zawadi then stopped with the snuggling session, sat up with a very serious look on her face and said, "Mama Ciara, don't go back."
"Don't go back where?" I ask.
"Don't go back to England or California."
"You think I should stay here with you forever?"
"Yes. Do not go back to California."
My heart broke (again...I'm sure you're getting sick of me saying that, but it did). Little does Zawadi know that going back to California is something that I struggle with. I wished with all my heart at that moment that I could have said, "Okay!" or even "How about you come home to California with me?"
In order to satisfy this craving of extending my stay in Mwanza, I have decided not to stay forever, but to do the next best thing. I am going to stay at the baby home for Christmas! (Surprise!) Amy asked if I would stay for Christmas, as the baby home is short on volunteers at this time. The baby home also has a HUGE Christmas celebration in which all the children who do have families (but are unable to care for them until they are a little older) have their families join them for Christmas, all the mamas bring their families, AND all the children who have left Forever Angels to go back to their families come back for a Christmas visit! There will be three or four hundred people!
On top of all that, as most of you know, Christmas is a very big deal in the Portwood house. We LOVE sharing our traditions with whoever wants to be a part of them. I think one of the biggest reasons why I have decided to stay is so that I can share that joy and love with children who have never had that before. ANNND, you know how important a baby's first Christmas is? Well, I get to help about 30 kids with their first Christmas!!! How awesome is that?
I have to thank Jarred for this amazing Christmas gift. He is paying for me to extend my stay and change all my flights. I have never met someone so selfless. Jarred has been so incredibly patient with me and all my dreams. He has hung with me as I went to college 3 hours away for four years, then decided to study abroad on my summers and spring breaks. Then he supported me as I made the decision to go to grad school, moving to Africa for five months, and now is helping me to extend my happiness for one more month. His exact words were, "Ciara, you have to do it. It's what makes you happy. It's worth it to me." Wow Jarred. He must really love me right?! I am the luckiest girl in the world. Thank you my love. You mean the world to me and I promise I will come home (eventually). :)
I also have to thank my family for...well...not freaking out about me missing Christmas. I know how much it means to you to have me there, and I wish I could be two places at once, but again, I know you know how happy being here for Christmas will make me. My poor mom said that she was okay with me staying here for Christmas until "NSYNC Christmas" came on her ipod. Don't worry Mom, Cody's NSYNC Christmas dance moves are enough for the both of us. :)
Lastly, I have to thank Cacey for being such a good sister. She has been my partner in crime here and it's so great to have her with me. When it came to deciding to stay, Cacey would LOVE to of course, but simply can't afford it. Jarred offered to pay for her flight too, but she (unlike selfish ol' me) just couldn't say yes to such a huge gift. She is very disappointed about not being able to stay, but she is also VERY excited and happy about seeing our family for Christmas. (It also helped soften the blow when we told our parents that at least one of us would be coming home for Christmas).
My dream would be that I could transport all my friends and family to the baby home for Christmas to share the magic that is loving children in need of love. Because that is not possible, please know that I will be home in spirit.
One more thing...THANK YOU GINA WOOD!!! She sent us a package that arrived yesterday! It had all the essentials...a new water bottle, dessert mints, beef jerky, and the newest, cutest Victoria's Secret undies. :) You're the best. You have no idea how happy that made us! It was the highlight of the volunteer house for the week for sure!!!
Love you guys!