Did ya'll read my last blog? It was a really important one. If you missed it - check it out here. If you read it and haven't donated or shared it with anyone yet, I hope you'll decide to take action right now. Because I know over 100 people read it, and these kids need every single one of you to respond!
*Okay - I'm going to get down off my soapbox about our India kids, and talk to you instead about our Swazi kids!* Or, specifically, one Swazi kid. I have been wanting to share these pictures and video from Africa because they mean so much to me - but lots of work + a crashed computer hard drive (not fun!) got in the way. Today though, I want to share a very special reunion with you all.
Some of you - who have followed my blog from way back in 2007 - may remember me talking about Senkhosi. He was the first Swazi baby that I fell head over heels for when I took that 1st trip, back when he was just a 1 year old toddler. I took a million pictures of him, played with him, prayed for him and his Mom, journaled about him, blogged about him, prayed some more, and couldn't forget him when I came home. His sweet little face and his story is a big reason why The Sound of Hope exists today. He is also the child that truly made adoption the plan for my future (instead of just a possibility). When I came home from Swaziland in 2007, I started an adoption savings account immediately!
|Senkhosi, 1 year old (2007)|
This picture of his tiny shadow is still up on our dining room wall, and others of his adorable smile are on my desk. He's not one I could forget!
I went back and saw him in 2008, and was thrilled to find out that Thulie, his HIV+ Mom was still alive. We had heard she might not make it the year before (the reason for many of my desperate prayers). It was amazing to see them again, though I was sure he didn't remember me. I brought him a little Elmo sweatsuit my mom found for him, and new socks and shoes. He was beginning to learn English and could say, "How are you? I am FINE!" while running around giggling!
|Tickling Senkhosi, 2 years old (2008)|
Fast forward 4 more years. Senkhosi is now 6 years old, and I knew I had to see him again on this trip. I found some Auburn clothes for him - a shirt, hat, and socks - and we went to buy bags of food for his family. I doubted they would remember me, but I couldn't be so close and not see the child that had (in so many ways) changed my life. And so, off we went, not really expecting much of anything - except to bless this little family I met 5 years earlier.
Boy was I surprised when we saw them! Not only did Thulie remember me - she was quick to show me how! She pulled out a tattered family photo album and as she turned the pages, I saw photo after photo that I had taken! Pretty much the only pictures she had of Senkhosi as a baby were those I had shot in 2007. And then - there was a photo of the 3 of us too! I was floored. I didn't even remember bringing these back to her (though I must have printed them in 2008 when I visited). I couldn't believe she still had them!
Perhaps the best part of our visit though, was Rusty letting Senkhosi drive. He had noticed Senkhosi watching carefully from the backseat, and invited him to give it a try. After an initial look of fear (that took some prompting to get over), he climbed up in Rusty's lap and took the wheel. He had a blast "driving"! It made me flash back to my childhood memories of driving in my Daddy's lap, and my Grandaddy's. It was neat to see Senkhosi have a moment like that. His eyes shone with excitement and he couldn't stop smiling! (Don't worry friends - we were going slow on a little dirt road! ;)
I can't explain how special it was to spend time with Thulie and Senkhosi, and to see them still together after all this time. ARV drugs (+ prayers) are truly a miracle! They have given this little boy 5 more years with his mother.
|Ericka, Senkhosi, and Thulie (2007)|
|Ericka, Senkhosi, and Thulie (2012)|
It was incredible to see how Senkhosi has changed and how he is flourishing. Thank you to all of you who make our work possible! What a gift it is to be able to return time after time, and to watch this precious little boy grow up before my eyes!