When I walked to my friend Helen's house tonight, it was already dark. "Hodi?" I called at the door. It didn't look like anyone's home. But then again, wood shutters don't let light through...
I could hear the smile in her voice. "Karibu, Adele!" (Welcome!)
The small room was lit by a single kerosene lantern. It really makes for the best atmosphere by which to visit. We were catching up on news, When's the baby due? How are you adjusting to a little one growing inside of you? questions that are actually cultural taboos, especially so early in a pregnancy. But Helen's been telling everyone she's pregnant since the first month when she found out. "How can I keep quiet? God has blessed us with a baby!"
"Hodi?" a neighbor came knocking. She was dropping off a pot of food. Helen explained that they usually cook together, but tonight she told her neighbor "You cook! I'm staying at home. Adele said she'll come to greet me. I don't want to miss her."
I was thankful that I decided to go and visit tonight before going to greet the kids... Once you're at the children's home, it takes hours to go through all 8 rooms of children, hugging each one, looking at homework, listening to stories. I was glad I didn't disappoint Helen, that I actually remembered that I told her yesterday that I'll come to greet her today...
When her husband stopped by for dinner (he's our night watchman, so he's out at night), I left them and went to see the children. But not before Cosmas could tell me how excited he was about raising a baby. He's 42, Helen 39.
Then I went to see my little friends at the children's home. The older kids were in "preps." That's evening tuition. It goes on till 8:30. I got to go and hug all the little ones, though, and most of them were very proud to show me their homework. Some were roasting maize on open fires. It's their favorite snack. Little Brian kept telling me about my car. (Apparently he was guarding my car for me while I was gone, making sure none of the kids play anywhere close to my car. I think this is hilarious, since I trust our kids not to damage the vehicles, but it's especially funny since Brian's just 2 years old.)
I left the children's home grounds by the time the bigger kids came home from preps. Hugging each one as they came by, I wondered about my relationship with them... I don't know these kids nearly as well as I know the ones in Ilula. But I think it's always healthy for any child to see that there are some other adults in their world who care about them. Simply because I want to. I don't have to spend time with them. It's not officially part of my job.
As I left the children's home grounds, walking home under a sky full of stars, one of the little ones called my name. "Adele!" I couldn't see her face, so I just called back, "Lala salama!" (Sleep well.) To which she answered, "Sleep with God, Adele."
I thought that was sweet.
I know it well: Flannel's far from the only other being in my home. God's right here with us. Even while we sleep.