We did it! After 15,000 kms and 41 days – all but 3 of them in a hotel or Airbnb – we are finally home for good. This was a painfully long trip and I am glad I didn’t know how slow it would be. We thought we’d be gone 4 weeks and it just kept multiplying until it was 6. Although slow, it was truly a great trip with no breakdowns or illnesses or emergencies. We explored 3 countries – mountains and jungles and deserts and rivers. It was the necessary conclusion to our life in Canada. Besides the people we love, we have absolutely nothing left in Canada. Everything has been sold or donated or relocated. No matter how sad or painful, the end must come before the new beginning can manifest.
The border crossing was easier this time. We hired 1 guy to drive our heavy equipment and trailer over, 1 guy drove 2 van loads of household and building supplies, and we drove our truck full of all that was left. After 2 or 3 hours, – and a pile of U.S. cash – we were IN and so was our stuff. For the next 2 days, we traveled through Sonoro and Sinoloa south of the Mexican border, and we arrived home in Nayarit on Thursday night. The last 5 hours were the worst of the whole trip, but we were determined to make it home and we pushed through the beautiful but curvy mountain roads as the sun was setting.
On Friday morning, we headed straight to the orphanage and were greeted just as we expected – with huge hugs and toothless smiles. The children wanted to know about Canada and looked through every picture on our phones. They loved the videos of the waterfalls and wanted to know who every person was in every photo.
We had two surprises waiting for us. The first was to be hugged by little Brittany and Priscilla. I told you their story last year when they had to leave Manos de Amor because their drug addicted mom insisted she wanted them back. (My Very Worst Day….) We had visited them a couple of heart breaking times at their grandmother’s tiny home and then a few months ago they disappeared. No one knew where they had moved to and I thought I would never see them again. In June their Grandmother called the orphanage – she had taken the girls from their mom, could they come and live at Manos de Amor again? I am not certain about the status of their legal papers and honestly, I am not going to ask. I am just so happy to see them laughing again. We drove them back to Grandma’s house on Friday evening so they could spend the weekend with her and we were relieved to find out where they now live in a nearby town. We were also thrilled to reconnect with their two older sisters.
We then drove Jose to his home and met his 5-day old nephew who had been born to his 16-year-old sister Ibet. One of my Canadian friends had given me a large bag of clothes and diapers to share with this young family and the tired mama was grateful. This baby is the second son for this teenager and I worry how another little person will impact this already struggling family. Even though he was 5 days old, this little guy hadn’t been given a name yet – Ibet said she was waiting for me to help her choose – so we threw around some ideas and today I got to give Cristofer Alejandro his name. He is tiny – around 7 pounds – but I was happy to see him being nursed which isn’t always the case with teenage moms here.
Meet Cristofer Alejandro
And there was more good news. On Saturday afternoon, we met little Mateo who had also been born while we were away. On Saturday night we visited with Francisco and Anita whose adoption of little Ivan recently took a giant step closer to being complete. On Sunday, we hugged Carmelo and Paola who are now engaged after a sunset proposal on a beach arranged with hearts and roses. Many happy stories – new beginnings – God directed stories of great hope.
New Beginnings! Meeting Baby Mateo, Ivan’s dedication, Carmelo pops the question
As we reconnected with all these friends, I was reminded that although cultures differ in so many ways, we are all connected by our similar human experiences – births and marriages, poverty and riches, joy and pain, hopes and disappointments. The shades may be different but the colors are the same.
For Grant and I, a new stage of this crazy journey has begun. The forever part. Stay tuned…. it’s gonna be a story!
Don’t worry, the Swanson daughters are still the keepers of many many useless items for you in Canada…come for a scooter ride any time you get Canadian homesick :p