Saturday, March 3, 2012

Going back.

If you haven't heard yet, we are going back to Swaziland for 4 weeks during March and April. It seems like the past few months been about going back - and I'm so grateful we get to return to the places and the people we love.

In a world full of unkept promises... there is something about going back. Visiting somewhere once is nice... but going back says I care. Going back says, you aren't just a number to me. Going back says, I didn't forget you.

In November, I went back to India for the first time in almost 4 years. To go back to the same Children's Home was incredible. To hear the kids say, "Auntie - you remember me?" and to tell little Shanu, "Last time I was here you were only 3! When did you grow to be so big?!" was surreal!

2008 - Shanu, age 3

2011 - Shanu, age 6

To see Jyoti - who was terrified of white people in 2008 (and wouldn't let me hold her) come RUNNING to me and throw her arms around my neck was an emotional experience. She covered me in kisses and hugs and didn't leave my side either day we were there (unless it was to ride on Rusty's shoulders and give him kisses!) I found out from the house mom that this once timid little girl had been sashaying around the house all day proclaiming, "MY Auntie is coming!"

2008 - Jyoti (age 2) with Simini

2011 - Jyoti & Ericka Auntie

To return to the same leper colony I visited in 2008, and to tell Baba's widow Saranoma, "I remember you... and I remember your husband. I sang for him last time we were here"... there are really no words to express the look in her eyes. She didn't believe me until she showed me a picture of her deceased husband and again I shook my head and said, "I remember." She couldn't comprehend that this white person from far away would not only return to visit again, but remember her and her husband. It spoke volumes to her. Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away with the corner of her saree. She didn't leave my side for the rest of the visit... feeding me and hugging me as long as I would let her.

2011 - With Saranoma in the Leper Colony

To return in December to the Refugee Camp we visited in April and love on our kids there was thrilling! I could barely contain my excitement as I searched for the familiar faces and ran to embrace my "little sisters" there! These children have been through so much and I can only imagine how hard it is to trust a stranger. But when we return again and again we aren't strangers - we're friends.

2011 - With 2 of my Karen "sisters" from The Refuge

This is the case with so many people around the world. We meet them, and love them, and we mean it when we say, "We will see you again." These dear people from so many different countries and cultures become friends and family to us. It is the most amazing thing to watch our precious kids around the world grow up before our eyes! They are the reason we keep going back. 

And so, I can barely contain my excitement when I think of returning to Africa after 3 and 1/2 years away...

2007 - With Senkhosi & his mother Thulie

2008 - Tickling Senkhosi in his new Elmo outfit!

 I cannot wait to see the ones we love in Swaziland again!


  1. Ericka - I loved seeing the picture of Shanu, all of the children actually. I have the 2008 picture of Shanu hanging in my office at work, with the precious little handprints. It is good to see how much he has grown. He is quite a handsome little guy. I have been able to share a bit about Shanu and the wonderful work that you and Rusty are doing through The Sound of Hope with so many people. Shanu and all of the other children are definitely not forgotten. ~Darla

  2. Thanks for sharing that with me Ms. Darla! I had forgotten that you had Shanu's handprints. I will send you this new pic via facebook so you'll have the update. He is growing into such a handsome little boy!