It was after noon before we even left the house for town. I had a feeling we wouldn't be back in time but I also wanted to spend time with Paul and Eunice. Since being here, my goal has been to get close to each member of the family in a special way.
I watched as Paul went from store to store looking for this camera and headphones. He bartered until he came to the price he was willing to pay.
It was 2:15 before we were finished. At that time Sophie sat at the church waiting for me. She was so anxious for she had such a good time yesterday. For the first time in her life she felt valued, free to be herself. She felt worthy; useful. And now for every minute she waited disappointment grew within her. She thought back to how she felt abandoned by her mom and dad when they died and now she was abandoned by the one person she had trustingly been vulnerable with.
So, while Eunice, Paul and I were grabbing a quick bite of lunch from the market, Sophie packed her things, gave up on me and left. She had it in her mind to never attend another all girls' bible study again.
I frantically sent Paul off, rushed Eunice through the market and busy streets onto a matatu (public transport). The moment I thought I could feel a sense of relief being the first on the bus, Eunice informed me we wouldn't move an inch until it was full.
I sat unable to laugh at Eunice's jokes, unable to move, and worried for Sophie. Meanwhile Sophie was on the shortcut walk two blocks from the church towards home.
Suddenly called home, Eunice jumped off the bus and I was left alone to make my way to the church. Speaking hardly any Swahili, I kept my mouth shut and allowed my heart to race. I tried to maintain the "back the heck off" look on my face. The driver's attendant kept looking at me and laughing. Every now and again as he rode on the door, he would glance my way, smile and find some way to put "American" in his dialogue with the driver.
Finally I heard, "Carwash" and knew I was at the right place. The attendant was nice enough to remind me of my stop. As I maneuvered my way through the overcrowded bus, nervousness grew. I was unsure of my surroundings and not completely confident I was going in the right direction. Then I saw it, a wonderful sign with an arrow: Deliverance Church Kibos Rd. I walked as fast as I could past the car wash, loud music, butcher, crying babies, salons, ladies washing signs in the park, little girl riding a tricycle in the street, young boys pushing water buckets and random baby goats crossing the way.
I reached the fence for the church, was greeted by the "Mazungu" calling gatekeeper and rushed to find my girls. "You're late," Judy exclaimed, as she is always making the most obvious statements. I ran into the church one hour and fifteen minutes late (African Time) apologetically. Nancy and Theresa didn't mind but they dropped their faces, "Sophie went home after one hour." Arrgggh. For once an African comes on time for a meeting and the ever complaining American is LATE! I've really messed up.
I knew I had to make amends. Sophie needed to be here. We called Julius who gave us directions to David's home who would take us to the home of Sophie's guardians. When we arrived at the home of David, his elder brother answered. With David not being home, he decided to take us to a furniture shop (hand crafted) to ask the neighbor of Julius where Sophie lived. He phoned Julius who gave him complicated directions to Sophie's.
After walking around curves, soda shops and puddles, we came to two blue gates that the end of the third street. Unsure of which gate to knock, we knocked on both calling out for Sophie. At the second gate the guardian of Sophie came out. "Sophie is at bible study," he tried to assure himself.
It was now half past three and we were forced to give up our search and return for study. From a distance we saw Sophie in a beautiful hot pink dress. "You're late," she scorned me in her deep voice. "Sophie, I'm very sorry to have disappointed you. Could you ever forgive me?" I cried. "Forgiven," she smiled.
The search for Sophie was over and we could now study part two of Esther. Sometimes you have to go after something if you want it badly enough. I searched for Shannon because I believe in her and want the best for her future. I didn't want to add to the disappointment she has already received at such a young age. This beautiful girl was counting on me to tell her all about the Father who will REDEEM her life.
(c) 2012 Photography by Casondra Radford