I've spent an hour in the baking isle at our neighborhood grocery store as Abreham shared with me about becoming a Christian in Ethiopia… and how when his maternal Grandmother heard that he had done so, she refused to feed him for three days as punishment.
I've also driven 'round and 'round our neighborhood as Ezekiel's past and hurts and experiences poured out of him, not wanting to pull into our driveway until I was sure he was completely done. And thankful we had a few moments alone, without a carload of kids.
I don't know why, but our kids always open up at the most unusual times.
You never know what will trigger long-suppressed stories and emotions.
This weekend we spent Labor Day celebrating the farmers and laborers that work so hard to put food on our table. Driving nearly two hours from home, we spent the day at an amazing apple orchard, picking not only apples, but raspberries and blackberries, as well.
It was one of those days where you wake the kids up early and grab bagels on the way. Still a little groggy from a morning come too quick, the kids played and read quietly in the back, while Ben and I sat holding hands in the front, catching each other's eye, smiles spreading broadly across our faces.
Everyone enjoying each other as we spend intentional time together. Since the kids aren't typically allowed to watch videos or use electronics in the car, we instead make up games, do a lot of silly car dancing, and the kids read to themselves and to the others.
More often than not, Imani and Elsabet hold hands as they ride. Car time is often bonding time.
Perhaps it's the feeling of safety, or that our older boys look around at what God has built and their little hearts are stirred toward opening up at times like this. Who knows.
On this day though, Abreham shared with us that he had not only worked as a shepherd of 200 sheep (which we already knew), but that he also used to work at his uncle's orchard, helping pick apples, oranges, and mangoes.
You could see he had experience in a field. We watched as he quickly formed a system to finding an abundance of perfect black and raspberries amidst the picked over bushes. Sticks were used, as he lifted the long branches filled with thorns. He worked for an hour or two filling container after container of perfectly plump, juicy berries.
When we got home, Abreham continued to share more about his past. Some we already knew, some was brand new information (he used to ride monkeys?!). He told me more about the pain of living with some of his family members and how horribly they'd treated him (burning all his records in hopes he couldn't be adopted), and how loving and generous others were about helping him make a new life in America.
Another day this week, after a conversation on his view of "religion" and ours of "faith," Abreham told Ben and I that he thinks God put him in our family "to help fill in the holes in (his) heart."
How do you not get teary as you give a big bear hug to this kid who has been through and experienced more than I want to think about?
It's been a year now. And oh how far he has come.
How far we've come.