Leaving Njojane

This is what heaven looks like:
Heaven is a sunny day with a warm breeze. It is a baby falling asleep on your chest. It is the smell of fortified rice cooking over an open fire. It is a place with a view, where people can come together.
Heaven is hearing “Mommy Mommy!” and knowing a child is talking to you. It is catching a child running toward you and lifting her high above your head. It is knowing that you will be there to catch her, even if only for a short while.
Heaven is getting splashed with water at wash time, and the anxious look on a child’s face when you laugh with him, instead of punishing him. It’s hugs and kind words spoken into two languages. It’s the funny feeling of unfamiliar words bubbling from your throat into the expectant ears of children. It’s the, “Mommy, thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me how much Jesus loves me. I understand now.”
Heaven is a place of love; a place where we hug and hold hands and kiss friends on the cheek, even when the hugs are sticky with sweat and the hands have rice on them and the kisses are wet and sloppy. It is a place full of singing, dancing and giggling children. It is a place to be filled, your tummy and your heart and your spirit; a place to run and laugh and play. Even the work is a joy–even killing chickens and rubbing a child’s open wounds with antiseptic–because it brings life.
Heaven is a place where stories happen and love is found and the mind returns to and never forgets.
Heaven is a place where black or white, clean or dirty, boy or girl, young or old does not matter, because heaven is home.
Njojane is my little slice of heaven. It is where I feel the most beautiful, most helpful, most loved. Leaving again for an entire year is excruciating. My heart says stay, but my mind knows it is time to go, so here I am, on the khombi, watching the orange building fade into the horizon. I have two more days in Swaziland, and already I am mourning my return to the United States.
It’s bittersweet, but my cup overflows.

have seen the burden God has laid man; He has made all things beautiful in their own time. He has set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what He has done from beginning to end.”


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