September 22, 2010

laura... in africa

She figured it out just a few bites into her dinner on that long ago candlelit evening... and her smile has been just a little brighter ever since. She loves animals, all of them... and is always up for an adventure. And this adventure, with her was... beautiful.

On our first game drive I remembered something I wish I had not forgotten... Laura's vision. Using the binoculars was tough at first, and while we could see most of the wildlife without them, I was always amazed at the detail I could enjoy with them. And so my Mom trained her... to use the binoculars. Covering her left eye blocked out the blurry distraction and she held the lenses steady with the other hand... affording her the views of a lifetime. My heart swelled at her accomplishment, and brought tears to my eyes when we saw that very first cat. And a leopard at that! And my despair over what she couldn't see became thankfulness over what she could. (I did have a breakdown temper tantrum in the Ngorongoro Crater over her sight again, but in just a few minutes it became incredibly apparent that God was holding us right in the palm of His mighty hand!)

Laura, in Africa, was a photographer. I loved watching her crouch and snap with a steady hand. I expected her to video away her trip, but instead she found her place, eye to the lens. She was the one... who gave me courage to get out of that jeep in the Maasai village, she and her camera.  There she was, surrounded by dark faces and dusty hands... and the beauty I saw in that moment,  these little children and her shining heart, encouraged me to break free... and eventually dance.  Coming home and seeing her photographs, Africa through her eyes, was incredible.  Her photos were breathtaking, at times, outshining both her Mother and Grandmother.

My girl headed to Africa with a hundred sheets of origami paper... and came back with just a few. At Shanga she shyly exchanged one for a beaded bracelet, and she continued folding almost everywhere we stopped. She tells me she has a running total of paper cranes, but I am guessing she has well exceeded her 1,000 goal. But why stop there? She folded for the little ones at Mama Anna's... and the kids were fascinated It filled my heart to see her hands whipping that colorful paper around, using her leg as a table to make the creases crisp. And the little ones! They clutched their new treasure tightly in the hand, toddling around and keeping it close to their own heart, and away from siblings hands.

Paper cranes continued at the Bashay Primary School in Karatu... and Laura, she was the shining star. She took on a teaching role, students and adults gathered around the desk and tried to mimic her swift hands. Laura would set her crane aside and catch us up when we got behind... and after I completed my first, I just enjoyed watching her. Her bright eyes and the love and care that shone from them. The principal came over and spoke with her... he too, was fascinated with her craft. Laura chose to leave her origami paper, at least the rest of what she had in her backpack, at the school, and we are getting ready to mail him the book... Sadaku and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

My girl, in Africa was... more beautiful than ever, beautiful to her very core. Though I kept her close to me, her independence was so apparent, along with her heart. When we were half-way through our adventure, she became quite chatty with our new tour friends... and it made us all laugh... truly comfortable, and alive... in this place that stole all our hearts. Every parent dreams of giving their children the world... and while this trip was a gift from grandparents... I am ever grateful for her to now have this bit of the world in her heart.
And to have experienced it right by her side, brings me quite far past tears... 



Corinne Cunningham said...

Good grief, Dawn... stop pumping out these beautiful posts that evoke such emotion! :) I don't have enough tissues!
The crane's got me. What beautiful moments to share, to leave behind in Africa and new ones taken home. She is beautiful. What an incredible girl you've got.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Corinne-- these posts have been beautiful and tear-wrenching.

When you come for your farm safari, I'm pretty sure binoculars won't be required. ;)

Loui♥ said...

your eloquence at capturing emotion..
you simply amaze me..
You have a beautiful book in the making with all these posts and photos..
get an agent and get it published!!
we all are waiting!!!
warm sandy hugs..

Jennifer Juniper said...

It will be so lovely to see how this experience shapes her life to come :)

Kelly said...

This is really beautiful...totally choked me up. I worry about my daughter sometimes. I really hope I get a chance like this someday to see her shine.

Richella Parham said...

Oh! YES!! This is my favorite Africa post so far. Because it is so much more than just an Africa post. It is a mother-who-loves-her-children-and-is-grateful-to-her-own-mother-and-is-proud-of-her-incredible-daughter-who-dared-to-BE-and-DO-instead-of-just-watching-and-in-the-process-gave-away-her-heart-and-got-even-more-in-return-and-touched-her-mother's-heart-even-more-deeply Africa post.

Love you.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so beautiful Dawn.
SHE is so beautiful!

tracie @ {tsj} photography said...

i am loving laura right along with you. this is beautiful ... she is beautiful. what a story of who she is inside ... memories to be treasured for sure ... thank you for sharing!

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