I have worn it every day... I find myself reaching for it, feeling the hammered surface and the shape of the cross under my fingers and it brings my heart back there. Nakumpenda, or nakupenda... I love you. Yes, Africa. I love you. And Mom... I love you, too.
***It all started while we were talking to a German woman at the beautiful Tloma Lodge. She was just beginning her African adventure, and we grasping tightly to the last few hours of ours. I noticed she had Africa around her neck… and I couldn't keep my eyes from it. The thought of having Africa around my neck made me smile, and I hoped that I might find something similar.
Once we arrived home and I was catching up on this and that… I saw something my friend Wendi had posted…
I was instantly in love, and began digging all over Kristen's blog, because what were the chances of Wendi actually winning? I had already read some of Kristen’s trip to Africa, but I had not seen the necklace that her husband had created for her in honor of Valentine’s Day and her own trip to Africa. After finding out all I could, and waiting a few days to see if Wendi had won, I contacted Kristen… It's so funny that you would ask about those necklaces! This is still a secret, but our family is partnering with Maureen, a Compassion Leadership graduate, to open a maternity home for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. We just formed a 501c3 and are making the necklaces to benefit the home.
I ordered two… one for my Mom, and one for me.
Kristen's husband made them and they were shipped faster than I imagined. And in the waiting, I could barely talk to my Mom… wanting to shout it out and keep it a secret all at once. But then… the necklaces were here, and I was hanging mine around my neck and admiring it in the mirror and knowing what I had really known all along… that when my Mom opened her gift she would cry rivers of tears.
Tucking mine away in my pocket, I shouted hello from her door and then fell into her arms, relieved that I could place this gift into her hands… knowing that it was such a small thank you for the adventure of a lifetime. She pulled the ribbon and it unfurled gently onto the counter, then lifted the turquoise lid and then the cotton batting… without a clue to what might be waiting beneath. Seeing the chain first, she lifted it from the layers and then she saw Africa… and crumbled. The tears did not sparkle in her eyes and she did not smile at the gift… rather, there was a heart-wrenching sob that came from deep within, that kind that takes your breath away because your heart is filled with so much love that it actually hurts a little, and tears that ran rivers from her chin. I love it.
I knew she would.
Later than night, there was an email...
I more than love my necklace........I'm going to have to find something to go with it when Laura and Cam get married.
And then I had rivers of my very own…