I’ve sat down to write this post so many times and sat right back up with an empty page still in front of me. I guess it’s just too hard to use mere words to describe the perfection of Esther’s home, the faithfulness of our God, my paradox of emotions, and how unreal meeting her family was.
And then I worry that I will just sound like a broken record when I tell you that God is so good and so faithful and I am so happy. It’s all true but it’s nothing new. And yet I will tell you I am blown away by God’s goodness and faithfulness because a year ago I had no idea what Esther’s future looked like and now I could not ask for it to be more perfect.
When we arrived at her compound her entire family came running to greet us and were so excited to see Esther. One auntie told me, “we have been anticipating her since this morning.” I cried in the Jjaja’s hut as I told them, “I prayed for Esther to be loved and cared for and you are the answer to my prayers.” As I looked around the home and saw the family pass Esther around to welcome her back I knew without a doubt in my mind that there was no better place for Esther to grow up than here.
My favorite moment of the entire visit was when the Jjaja took me to see Esther’s mother’s grave. Esther’s mother, who was called Esther but spelled her name Easter (because she was born on Easter day), is buried right behind where Esther eats, plays, and sleeps. I love the symbolism of how close Esther gets to be to her family, her heritage, and her culture. I love that she grows up hearing stories of her mother’s life and learning her local language and playing in the dirt and being Ugandan.
One of the days when Esther was visiting she called me mama. I wrote it off at the time as her being confused or me hearing her wrong but when I brought her home to her family they called me mommy Esther and asked Esther if she had liked visiting her mom. My first instinct was to say, “don’t call me her mother. A real mom does not live a continent away from her baby.” But I stay quiet and they keep calling me mommy Esther and I start to wonder if maybe I could be a different kind of mom. One who prays for Essy from afar, one who sends the support her family needs, one who seeks to make the best decisions for her- even if those decisions don’t include me, and does her best to give real live hugs when she can.
I look down at her mother’s grave and my heart is overwhelmed. I wish I could talk to her. I wish I could tell her how much I love her daughter and how much I want what is best for Esther. I wish I could tell her how grateful I am for the opportunity to care for her daughter and how I ache for Esther to know her family and her culture and feel rooted in this country that I love. She must have been a beautiful woman to have produced such a gorgeous baby girl. I hope she knows her daughter is loved and that I will make sure she is loved and cared for as long God knits the two of us together.
Esther's mom's grave
Me and all of Esther's family