Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tales of the Past

A few nights ago I found Elsa like this:

  photo 87fdb169-0fb0-40c8-9731-d120964e5dd0_zpsd02daa82.jpg 

I had to take a picture - this simple moment spoke volumes about how far Elsa has come in just two short months. Two months ago she was living in an orphanage in Africa. She had no family to call her own, no possessions, no knowledge of modern technology. And now look at her - sitting fireside, looking intently at a laptop. She has absorbed life in America like a sponge.  

I realize that with each day, week, and month that passes her memories of Ethiopia will fade. It's a little sad to think about. We don't have much of her past to show her when she is older - or stories to tell of her young life. 

This morning Elsa was helping me pack lunches for school. Her favorite sandwich is peanut butter and honey.

"Elsa, did you know that where you come from in Ethiopia they produce a lot of honey?"

"No." she responded.

"Yes, there is a lot of honey in Gambella."

I decided this would be a good opportunity to talk to her about her past.

"Do you remember Gambella? It's where you lived before you went to The Thomas Center." (the name of her orphanage)

Elsa's eyes lit up and she nodded an enthusiastic, yes!

"That was my first home," she told me.

"What was your favorite thing about Gambella?"

"In Gambella, all the kids, we go outside and play, play, play all day!"

"Really?" I asked. "Was it fun?"

"Yes!"

"Who did you play with? Your sister?"

"Yes, I play with sister."

"Do you remember her name? Was it Emmabet?"

"Yes, Emmabet," then she stood up to show me how tall her big sister was.

It was a simple conversation, but oh, so special. I loved having a little glimpse into her past; to see her eyes light up at the memory of her small village and playing outside with her friends and sister. I know that these memories might not last forever and so I want to record what I can before they are  forgotten; before the tales of her past slip gently away.

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