Today was a day we will always remember in our family—we met T for the first time! There are very few moments in your life that compare to meeting for the first time a child who will be a part of your family forever. After the initial awkwardness wore off (let’s face it—it’s awkward), we really enjoyed our time together. It felt surreal to be putting a puzzle together, coloring in the coloring books, and building Hot Wheels garages with him. He’s not just a file we’ve read or photos we’ve looked at, he’s a stinking cute, shy, thoughtful and contemplative kid with a sweet smile and a love for his new lion, "Roy."
While we were breaking the ice, we talked about his birthday party we’re going to celebrate tomorrow (we missed his actual birthday by a few days). He announced it was Roy’s birthday tomorrow and he needed a party for him, too. We decided we could celebrate Roy’s birthday with his birthday. He (and Roy?) wanted green cupcakes, balloons, potato chips, lollipops, party bags, juice boxes, and chocolate (later vetoed by his caregiver because it would melt in the 100°+ heat—wise woman). Along with party planning, he showed us his room and bed, introduced us to his brothers and sisters (other kids in the orphanage), and kept brushing down Roy’s unruly mane (which was the cutest thing ever).
While spending time with T, and as he opened up more, we felt such a peace about this boy joining our family. His personality fits well with ours. He’s analytical and likes creating things, but still feels things deeply. That’s basically an amalgamation of Brian and I’s personality to a T (I can’t help myself when it comes to puns…even bad ones…please forgive me). We know everyone is on their best behavior right now, but from what we’ve been told of him and his personality, we know the Lord has gone before us, even in this.
After spending 4.5 hours with T, we left to get a quick nap in before we headed to the mall. We had a big list of things to buy for this celebration. Unfortunately for us, we had 1.5 hours to get everything by the time we got to the mall. Another unfortunate thing? The mall had lost power at some point during the day, and about 90% of the stores were closed. The other 10% must have paid extra for generators. We got the candy, cupcakes, juice boxes, and potato chips. The other things on our list—party bags, balloons, a gift for T, and candles for his (and Roy’s) cupcake—we are hoping to find tomorrow before meeting with him again. (We found another mall in the area to try tomorrow morning before meeting up with T.) The hour and a half goes by really quickly when you don’t have a Target where you can buy everything you need. We were going into shops (the ones that were open) hoping to find something off of our list. Time flew and the shops closed.
It was fun venturing out into Pretoria. The mall is different than American shopping centers in that there are grocery stores in the mall and within department stores. It’s also crazy how cheap things are. After we had exhausted everything that mall had to offer, we decided to grab dinner. We had a nice, sit-down meal while seated by the misting machines on the patio (it got up to 102 today!). The total for this delicious meal, including tip? $13! Score one for South Africa and one for our bank account.
By the time we were done with our frantic shopping and dinner, it had gotten pretty dark (a storm was rolling in, making it even darker). We had been warned not to stay out when it was dark for safety concerns. While we didn’t run into any issues with people on our ride back, we did run into an issue with technology. There are many traffic lights (called "robots" here) that are just out of service, making them four-way stops as in the US (though without the blinking red lights. It’s hard to know when its a four way stop because the robots are super hard to see, even when the lights are working. Those dead, small robots become a safety issue when you cannot see them coming in up the dark. Needless to say, our drive home was quite an adventure. We decided that we won’t make it a hard and fast rule, but we’re going to strive to be back to our hotel every night before dark to avoid the dangerous dead robots.
All in all, a pretty awesome day! We’re now back in our hotel room watching a SPORT (rugby). We’re growing in so many ways. We are excited to go visit T again. We’re excited to celebrate his 7th birthday.