Memories of a 5 and 6 year old…

There are often times when something happens during my day… some little encounter or conversation… and I think… I should blog about that!  Well, this one was so cute and touched my heart, even has me struck with a bit of curiosity, so I’m not passing up the chance to share it with you all! It was a late night conversation with Teddy and Endy. Adam and our oldest three boys had gone out for the evening to a progressive dinner with our church youth group, so I made Teddy, Endy and I hot cocoa and let them stay up a bit later than normal. We were talking about the fun of sharing gifts for Christmas because a short time earlier our house had been the first stop of the progressive dinner and we had a houseful of about 30 youth and leaders. We played a fun and funny gift exchange game. So an hour or so after everyone had left to the next house… the three of us started talking about sharing gifts… they were happy to find out that they will get gifts from Mommy and Daddy on Christmas. They didn’t realize this is also what was inside those hidden packages that Nana and Papa had sent. They wondered what was on them and why. “It’s wrapping paper, so that you can be surprized.” I explained it with some acting…  “Ooooooh.” Then I reminded them about the gifts we wrapped up to send to some boys in an orphanage in Mexico. And told them that when those boys get the gifts they will be surprized and excited. Which led to talking about orphans because they wondered about the gifts from their mommies and daddies. “They don’t have mommies and daddies to give them gifts right now. That’s why we wanted to share gifts with them. Do you remember when you were in an orphanage before you had Mommy and Daddy?” They did, once they realized what an orphanage was, they remembered, and began sharing several memories. One of their memories was of recieving our pictures… and I told them that when they got pictures of us, we also got pictures of them. They wanted to see. So I pulled out the photo album of the pictures taken at the orphanage. As they looked through it, they started sharing other memories… Like when they saw one picture, Endy pointed to the shoes he was wearing and said, “My sandals broke…. and I had no shoes…. wait, wait, wait… and new shoes come!” Teddy saw a colorful bed mat outside in one of the pictures and said “I remember, somebody peed in the bed and very stinky. They took it oustside and cleaned it, then not stinky anymore.” Yes, that one made me laugh. I decided to ask if they had any memories from before they were in the orphanage. The information we have about their lives before then is minimal, and they were so young that I doubted they had much memory if any. They were only 3 and almost 5 when they entered the orphanage. But when I asked, they began to share a few things. Endy, who was only 3, only had one memory to share… “So hungry, so hungry…. no food, go to bed, wake up, so hungry… no food.”  “Yes, that’s why you were taken to the orphanage. Because you didn’t have any food. But they had food for you at the orphanage.” “Little bit of food. But America has a lot (but drawn out like .. a looooot) of food. 🙂 Go to the store, get more food. A lot of food.” (Waving his arms in a big circle like it’s everywhere.) How heartwarming and heartbreaking this conversation was for me! I wondered if they had any memory of their dad; the man who took them to the orphanage when he had no food for them. Endy didn’t seem to remember, but Teddy did. He thought for a minute then called him “my man”. He scrunched up his face and tapped the side of his head with his finger like he was deep in thought and said, “My man…… what his name?…… I don’t remember what I call him.”  I explained that he was his dad; That they had a dad and a mom in Ethiopia, but they both got sick and didn’t have medicine or enough food to eat, so they died and were now in heaven with Jesus. Another “Oooooooh”. Said like, “now I get it!”  🙂  Then Teddy filled my heart with enough joy to last me for a long time… “I like you guys!” “I’m sooo glad! I like you guys too!” 🙂  I searched for more memories of “his man”. Which brings me to my curiosity. He shared… “Walking, walking, walking…long time walking… then at zoo I touched a zebra… then see a lion…. run, run, run.” Which made me wonder: If they were at a zoo, would he need to run? So I asked him about this zoo. “Was the lion in a cage? Were there fences?”  “No, no cages. Just walking around outside.”  Then the Ooooooh came from me. 🙂  A small piece of information that we do have about their life before the orphanage is that they lived in a region in the north of Ethiopia, but when their mom died, their dad decided to travel to a region in the south because he had family there that he thought might be able to help him. They had walked.  Teddy continued… “Then my man help me shoot the lion.” Wow. Now at this point I think Endy was feeling a little out of the conversation so he chimed in… “Then a bear chase me… I run, run, run. and he bite me.” (pretending to bite his hand.)  I said, “really?” But I thought, “Are there bears in Ethiopia?”  “Ya, and we build a house, little house. Then a wolf come.” (Here he began expressively blowing as hard as he could.) Yes, I laughed!! We did just read the story of the three little pigs a few nights ago. So it seemed the perfect opportunity to explain the difference between real and pretend. He giggled and said it was pretend. But Teddy said the lion was real. I’m so curious. I wish I knew more about their life before they were with us. But I am so thankful that I can rest in knowing that the Lord has known them since before time began. He has walked with them and cared for them, and He knew all about this moment… this very conversation!