It’s crazy to think that it’s been nearly twenty years since my life changed in such a dramatic way that the moment is burned permanently into my brain. I was just a child, with no real understanding of what was happening.
It’s a story I have told to just about everyone I’ve ever met. I was born in Mexico and raised by a Mennonite Pastor’s family until I was seven years old and reunited with my family in Canada. What a nutshell of a story. And what a treasure to catch up over coffee with the young man who took to heart the cry of a mother missing two children even though there were eleven at home.
I pray I will never forget because I know my mother won’t. No mother no matter how many children she has in her home could ever forget the ones that were torn from her. In a way, I ache for her, the brokenness, and the helplessness she must have felt. But then God put in her path a young Pastor who chose to do something. I may never truly see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but I cannot live my life and deny God in the middle of it all.
I still remember how confused I was then, as a seven-year-old, one moment watching the clouds and the next running to the house after being told the family I had lived with those seven years weren’t my real family. I hadn’t wanted to go, I know I cried and begged not to let them take me. How that must have torn my mother to shreds. But God knew the outcome.
Every time I look back on that journey, I look back on it with fondness even though I dealt with homesickness. I know I cried myself to sleep more nights than count, I had nosebleeds too. But I still believe it was a God-thing. I wasn’t alone in the confusion. I know my younger sister was dealing with her emotions too. She’d come from living with a couple who didn’t have any other children. I know we had plenty of time to bond along the way.
I know we treasured the new clothes that were bought for us, we wore them constantly. If I had known back then, the significance, I might have hung onto that sweater. I’d have saved it for a future child and smiled fondly upon it every time she wore it. But I didn’t, and I guess that’s okay.
I remember that I wasn’t too sure about the young Pastor who had come to rescue us. He didn’t speak my language and I didn’t speak his. I remember keeping my distance until one day while we were having dinner at a restaurant and he gestured for me to come sit on his lap, I remember how I looked at my mother and she told me to go. Then like a father picking up his child, he drew me into his lap and gave me a hug that left him impressed upon my heart forever.
Even though years have passed and a great amount of distance separates us, he still has his special place in my heart. I doubt that will ever change. My life could have gone in a completely different direction, and I know there could never be enough “thank you”s to express the depth of my gratitude and that of my mother’s.
I am thankful for the memories, the hugs, and the encouragement.