The Best Worst Thing

I’ve only seen Brent cry three times. The first was when he was stressed out and overwhelmed in school. The second was when our girls were born. And today was the third time.


As if our morning were scripted for a movie, just before our friend brought the orphanage director to our hotel, it started to rain. This is the rainy season (which lasts about nine months) but we hadn’t seen much rain up until today. The sky was gray and the parking lot was dimpled with muddy puddles. It was the personification of our low spirits.


While Brent went to drop off our luggage at the early check-in, I sat with the orphanage director, trying to communicate and letting her teach me some words in Lingala. I fed Ezra, we colored in a coloring book, and watched an episode of Sesame Street from the 1970’s on the iPad. Soon, they were back and it was time.


I tried so hard not to cry. I told myself this was confusing enough for our little man, so I won’t make it worse by blubbering. We sat down at the table to conduct the formalities of giving Ezra back, even though he’s ours and we’re his. As soon as we sat down, I heard Brent’s choked gasp. It was only a faint sound but I knew what it signified. We looked at each other and lost it. Our friend asked if Brent would pray but he said he couldn’t do it. Instead, our friend prayed for us and for Ezra and for all the children in the orphanage. I’ll remember his beautiful, deep voice petitioning on our behalf in a hotel room in Kinshasa for the rest of my life. Ezra sat in my lap and held hands with both of us. He rested his forehead on the table and remained still throughout the prayer even though he didn’t understand a word of it. After he had made sure Ezra was settled in the backseat and before he entered the car himself, our friend left us with three words, “God is good.”


Last night, while I was struggling to fall asleep, I whispered to Brent asking if he regretted coming. He said the good parts outweigh the bad parts. At this moment, I’m not sure that’s true. I’m hoping a little time and perspective will at least help but this is a kind of despair I can’t sort out. We’ve got hours until our flight and now I just want to be home.


My friend has made this trip to visit with her Congolese daughter twice so I asked her for her opinion before we decided to travel. “It’s the best worst thing,” she told me. I completely get it.

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