But as the day grew closer we also realized we had an opportunity to help Annikah learn a valuable lesson in life; that not always does God answer our prayers the way we think He should, in my experience quite often He does not, but He promises to hear us and He has a plan for us, a plan to prosper us. Each night as a family we started asking God to help keep Mgoray safe and to bring new friends for Annikah. We told her it was ok to be sad. Annikah prayed the sweetest prayer each night “Jesus, please Annikah have new friends.” In a way that has been my prayer too since arriving and I felt with her the desire to feel safe in relationship. It was a raw process to watch my daughter struggle with sadness in really understanding that her best friend in the whole world right now was leaving and we do not know if we will see her again. We coped by talking about it a lot and by giving gifts (a favorite coping mechanism of mine). Annikah wanted to give her the zawadi (gift) we were saving for Krismasi (Christmas in Kiswahili- isn’t that great!) we have had for months. It is the exact Cabbage patch kid that Annikah totes around everywhere. Well, except that it has dark brown skin. Friends from home searched everywhere (thanks Kim!!) and found this doll a few months back and included it in a care package. We let her give the cabbage patch kid to her early so they could have a week of playing with their watoto (children) together and then she could take her to her new home. It was awesome to watch her open the doll, there is just something magical about little girls and dolls. She did not understand that it was for her to keep at first but we explained and her Mama explained again and once she understood she ran around celebrating and squeezing it tight. Annikah and her played for hours the first day she had it, pushing the “twins” around in Anni’s stroller and taking turns feeding them rocks they found outside. After Annikah came in for the night I watched Mgoray through the window just staring at the doll and touching her face and clothes. Most of the dolls you can buy here are cheap imports and they always have white skin so we were so excited that she could own one that looks more like her. Her parents said to us with shock “mtoto ana ngozi neusi kama Mgoray na mtoto wa Annikah ana ngozi neupe” (the baby has black skin like Mgory and Annikah’s baby has white skin). We also prepared a care package for the long ferry trip and many bus transfers to get to their destination. Annikah chose some stickers, a whistle, a picture she colored, some candy, and even one of her beloved fruit snacks to place into a crumbled brown paper bag that we spruced up with a purple ribbon. Jason volunteered to drive them to the port and once the car was loaded up we told Anni to say goodbye. She ran outside in front of about 8 locals that had gathered to see them off and gave her rafiki the biggest, tightest squeeze with a big kiss right on the lips and said “love you Mgoray.” Everyone laughed at the sweet display of friendship and they asked us to take a picture of them together (above). Annikah has said goodbye to her best shoga here and we will miss her so much. Annikah and I learned that even if you move half way around the world God is faithful to bring dear friends into your life.
*I treasure the above picture because (as many locals that were her when it was taken commented) Annikah looks like an African kid with no shoes and a dirt covered face revealing evidence of many fabulous adventures outside and her friend is dressed to the nines about to leave on her journey to the mainland.