After leaving home approximately 32 hours earlier, traveling on three planes, and staying up for 22+ hours straight, we arrived at our 4th airport expecting to be met by Kyle only to find a slightly larger welcoming committee. With Shaye on his shoulders holding a sign that said, “LITTON,” and Larissa by his side, all our travel weariness was eclipsed by pure joy as we embraced this family. This is why we came…and we’d do it all over again any chance we have.
We enjoyed some joyful sleep after arriving at their home, then began a week of getting to know life in Arequipa. We had expressed our desire to just “live their lives” for a week, choosing to forego more time intensive sight seeing ventures for later trips. We shopped where they shop. We ate where they ate.
We washed clothes like they wash clothes. We shared a meal, times of worship and Bible study with the McKinzies and celebrated with them after they found out their baby was a girl—Maggie Kate! We were part of Shaye’s and Ana’s first day back to school (their school year begins in March). We visited their new office. We walked and walked looking for a new place for Kyle, Larissa and Shaye to live in the neighborhood they have targeted. We were blessed beyond measure to find the house where they will move so we got to see it inside and out in person. We met and visited with Manuela (as much as we were able to communicate).
After she cooked for us, we were able to convey “That was yummy!” pretty effectively through gestures and the small amount of Spanish we know. She told us we could go home and not worry about our kids—she would take care of them. We visited the language school, coffee shops, markets, their version of Wal-Mart, and their version of Dillards. We drove to the poorer neighborhoods, the farming areas, and a lookout that gave us a wider range overview of this city for which we have prayed so much. The sights we experienced help us to feel more connected to their life in Arequipa, allowing us to have visual images of places they mention. For this we are grateful.
However, the high-point of the trip would have to be like any other family time—being together. Long overdue hugs to convey comfort after their miscarriage. Talks about how they are really coping in this time of transition. Praying together. Times of cooking together with Larissa experiencing some of the delicious dishes she has mastered. Mexican train until wee hours culminating in a Kyle victory—maybe a family first! (We emailed the scores to the rest of the family to verify.) And, of course, times with Shaye. Her increasing verbal skills delighted us and made us laugh. As she grew used to us again, we enjoyed constant hugs and cuddles. We read books…and read books…and read books. We shared art time, play time in the park, and walks. We sang, read Bible stories, listened to her pray, and loved being Granddaddy and DeDe. Toward the end of our visit Kyle asked us what we would miss the most. Shaye. Hands down. While we enjoy a good communication with Larissa and Kyle through Skype, phone calls, etc., no technology can transfer those two- year-old hugs.
We had a great visit full of God’s blessing. He helped us once again with a hard good-bye. We’re blessed to be part of this team…and we’ll be back!