We are in the states now and enjoying our time with friends and family. I have to admit though that I have thought several times about going back to Africa early. There are so many things about the place that I miss but nothing compares to the hole I feel in my heart not being with the people.
Today was a hard day to get through. I want to blink my eyes and be with all my loved ones in Bere. Today there was a tragedy! I got a phone call from Tony. I called him back. The first part of our conversation went like normal asking how he was doing. He said he was okay and then started to tell me that his friend Kalgonbae (16 years old) was with him and that he tells me hi. I of course responded with a hello back and said for him to tell everyone that I miss them very much. Then Tony starts to try to tell me something about a little boy that is Kalgonbae's nephew, one of my rays of sunshine. His name is Exode (my xo at least that is how I always heard it pronounced) and is about 2 years old. I am having trouble understanding what Tony is trying to say and part of me knows and understands completely but I want to be wrong. I ask him over and over to say it again.
"Say it in French if you don't know how to say it in English." I hear him say Exode (XO) is dead.
I respond with "What? What are you trying to say? Is Exode (XO) okay?"
Tony responds, "no, he died today." I instantly drop to my knees in Kohls and begin to cry not even acknowledging that people are around me. I am in denial.
"No Tony! Why are you saying this? Are you saying Exode (XO) is sick? What happened? How? Comma? (How? in French)
Tony put Kalgonbae on the phone and tells me clearly in French.
"Il est tombe dan l'eau (He fell down in the water)
I instantly knew that he fell in a well. I have heard of other children doing the same. It is very common there. Many have open wells where it is just a hole in the ground with nothing around it to stop someone from falling in. I take it in and begin to cry to him on the phone. I am overwhelmed with sadness. They ask if Cory is around. I go around and find Cory and tell him in 2 seconds what happened and give him the phone. I move to another place out of an isle and go back to my knees and just sob.
I need to tell you about this boy. He was not just any boy. He was very special to me. He would come visit me almost daily. He would come to ask for candy or a balloon. Or sometimes he just wanted to barrow a ball to play with. Every time I would leave my compound on my motorcycle I would have to stop and pick him up to give him a hug if he was out there. (his family lives right across the street from us) I always thought that he had the perfect name because he was so affectionate. Saying his name would make me think of xo for hugs and kisses. I have become good friends with his whole family. To know his family would allow you to understand how this boy has become so sweet. All of them are very kind and gentle people.
I am absolutely heartbroken. It is the hardest thing for me to be here and not with them all. I think about all the suffering that happens over there. It is just too much! Why? Why does it have to be this hard for them? I don't understand the imbalance of America and Africa? I know God loves them but I can't help but ask many questions about this place. My heart has totally melted with love for all of them. I must admit it does scare me about going back. I look back at everything my own family has gone through in the last year and four months but then to add all the things that have happened to all the other volunteers or the locals, it is just too much. What will happen this next year? But I remind myself that God has put a love in my heart for the people in Bere for a reason and it is even hard for me to think about being truly happy in the states again. See that is what God can do. If you remember our very first letter, our testimony letter, you would know how much I never wanted to go to Africa in the first place. I am learning not to ever limit God. He has worked miracles. Because of all those miracles and experiences with God, that is what helps me keep my faith in times like these. He knows best. But I am sure ready to go home and put all this sadness behind us.
Please pray for XO's family and for all of us in Bere. When I walked to the airstrip that last morning in Bere before coming to the states. I had no idea that when I walked outside my gate and saw little XO running up to me with his arms stretch up for a goodbye hug. Little did I know that it would be my last hug and kiss that I would get from my little ray of sunshine, XO.
Tammy (Mama of Bere)