If you are just starting here, click over here for Part 1 of the story first.
About a week before I left China, one of my dear friends at the foster home approached me about writing a blog post about Brooke’s transformation over the summer through our one-on-one sessions. It was nearing Brooke’s one year “anniversary” at New Day, and she wanted to know if I would be willing to show a little bit of Brooke’s personality through the ND blog, and how the two of us had grown together over the course of the summer. Of course, I agreed, and that blog post I wrote about her is now so treasured. I asked my sweet friend, just for kicks and giggles (and so I could find out how much time I had to convince SOME family I knew that I had found them their new daughter), when Brooke’s file might be ready…and was told that they had no idea, but that it probably wouldn’t be for awhile, because she still needed a pretty complex heart surgery. I remember thinking to myself…”I can work with that! Give me time to keep talking about her to these families, let them pray about it…fundraise…start paperwork…yeah, God! This will be GREAT!!”. Oh my. If I could have only known what was to come 🙂
The day to leave China came much too soon- and I was devastated. Absolutely heartbroken. My last day in the foster home was filled with many tears, hugs, and promises to keep in touch. I hugged and kissed my precious kids one last time- telling them “see you later”, while inwardly wondering if that would ever be the case. I never wanted to forget these children that had made such a profound impact on my life- who taught me to love until it hurts, to find joy, to be brave. I was- in no uncertain terms- frustrated to be leaving China when it seemed I had just broken through Brooke’s wall; just earned her trust. I had found life-long best friends in the girls I lived with all summer and the long-term volunteers, and I couldn’t fathom moving back to America where people didn’t “get” what I had experienced all summer. I realized that I had only been in China for a few short months, but in that time- China became home. My home. I didn’t know how I would transition to “real life” back in America…and to be honest, it was extremely difficult.
The flights going to America usually leave at unholy hours in the morning…and rather than spend our last evening in China packing and preparing to go, we decided to eat in the village and spend the evening experiencing every last bit of China that we could. Unfortunately for Priscilla and I, that meant getting drenched (absolutely DRENCHED) in a Chinese monsoon, and wandering through the “back alley shortcut” through the village in water up to our mid-calf to get back to our apartment complex a good 15-20 minutes away. There couldn’t have been a better story to leave China on- and Pris, Linds and I ended up staying up the rest of the night- packing, reminiscing, reminding each other of funny stories about the kids and the summer as a whole. At some point in the midst of the packing frenzy, someone brought up Brooke. “Mere…it’s still just amazing. Look how far you and Brooke came this summer. I mean. She reallyloves you. And knows that you love her.” I know. Oh I know. And I was heartbroken to be leaving her.The ride to the airport was extremely quiet- partly because of the hour (3:45 AM)…but mostly because of situation. (Little did I know it would take me a good 60+ hours later to finally make it home from the first time I left for that Beijing airport, but that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother day.) (Apparently God really REALLY did not want me to leave China!)
After landing in America, despite multiple “I’m not in China anymore” breakdowns for the silliest things, I was THRILLED to see that I had an inbox full of emails from my friends back in China- full of pictures, stories, tidbits of life there that I was already missing so dearly. It was like a little taste of home. The most precious, however, was from a volunteer from Canada who had come to New Day for a week sometime in the middle of the summer. She and I had become friends during her time there, and I had given her my email address though I hadn’t heard from her since! I opened her email to find 5 of the most precious photos that she had taken of Brooke and I during one of our daily walks with the nannies.
The realization that I was now halfway around the world from this sweet girl who held my heart hit me like a ton of bricks and I just sobbed. I sat down that day and wrote the blogpost, Brooke’s blogpost, about her beautiful transformation and the way she changed my heart as well. My sweet friend published it that week, and I sent it to my parents and friends- who all fell in love with her chubby cheeks and short little legs just as I had. There was something about sweet little Brooke- she drew people in from just a simple picture.
RA training began…and then classes started…and gradually my life began to get back into its routine. However, there was something that was different from any years before. Something that pulled my heart in a new way. I had a picture of Brooke that I kept in my Bible and on my wall. Okay…I had (and still have) MULTIPLE pictures of her on my walls at school. Every morning when I would wake up, her little face would be on my mind, and I would start my daily quiet time with a mug of coffee, my journal, and prayers for Brooke. For her health. For her heart. For her yet-to-be-determined adoptive family. I knew that some family was going to be SO blessed by her, and I prayed every day that her paperwork would be made ready and that it would be SOON, so that Brooke would know the love of a mom, dad, sisters and brothers.
My mom sends my sister and I a devotional email from Focus on the Family every morning. She usually picks a catchy little “title” for them in the subject line. On August 23rd, 2011, my mom sent me an email she titled “Brook-Bound”…and the first sentence blows me away going back to look at it now.
God’s direction includes God’s provision. God says, “Go to the brook. I will provide.”
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love”- Mother Teresa
Part 3 coming soon….