As we were driving home from church the other day, Clay said, “Look, there’s a man running with a colander.” I turned to look out my window, and sure enough, there was a man wearing black running shorts and a sweaty t-shirt running hard down the street with a colander tucked up under his arm.
Is there a new colander diet I am unaware of? Was he in a hurry to make spaghetti? He was definitely another story in the street, though we didn’t take the time to stop and ask him what mission he was on.
We recently made a trip to the Honduran Consulate in Houston to get the last piece of paperwork we’d need to complete our dossier. We went on my 40th birthday, getting up early to beat the traffic. Driving to Houston and back may not sound like a wonderful way to crest that formidable 40-hill, but it wasn’t so bad. Every time we embark on a trip, even a short one, I get a whisper of the feeling I had when we left on our big trip around the world. Anything can happen, and we’re going to experience something new and different if we just keep our eyes open. Who knows when we may see a man running with a colander?
On the way, we stopped for gas and I saw this sign.
At least if you don’t win the lottery, you can get a hot dog! This was just the sort of sign that should appear in a story. Our story, on the road to Houston. It is the sort of detail that makes life interesting and real. We laughed, and I made Clay circle around twice so I could get a good picture of it. He worried we’d make the owner of the gas station suspicious with all our circling, which reminded me of the Israelites circling around Jericho seven times. Stories beget stories, and they’re sometimes connected in the strangest ways.
We had decided to dress nicely for our trip to the consulate, assuming an adoptive couple should look respectable. I brought a sweater, thinking we’d be spending time in a downtown building, cold and sterile. We were nowhere near downtown when we passed this sign.
We were surprised when we finally arrived.
It wasn’t anything like I expected. We were a little unsure and circled the “Biz Center”, trying to figure out where to enter. My stomach clenched a little. I don’t know why entering a cold and sterile government building would be any easier than entering this old building. Maybe it would have clenched either way. Were we in the right place? This was our last piece of paperwork, and what if something went wrong? What if we had forgotten something important? My nerves settled when we swung open the glass door and saw a little Honduran girl, maybe two years old, in a pretty little sundress at the base of the stairs. She was like a little brown-eyed angel, and we followed her up the steps and through the door of the Honduran Consulate.
A long line stretched from glass windows, and the room was full of Hondurans. We were the only white couple in there, and I’m sure they wondered about our stories just as much as we wondered about theirs. We stuck out like a man running with a colander under his arm. Most seemed to be there for residency matters, updating visas or getting paperwork. Paintings of Honduras were framed on the wall, and every conversation in the small room was in Spanish. Again, I felt like we were on the trip, surrounded by people I couldn’t understand and accepting it as a sort of background to my own thoughts. Clay and I made it to a window, where we spoke to several helpful people who weren’t quite sure what we needed. We eventually figured it all out, and an important-looking man in a spiffy suit took our paperwork to the back to work on our letter.
Clay and I sat in plastic chairs and waited for almost two hours. It was not cold and sterile. It was warm and filled with the chatter of families and children, smiling and laughing and patiently waiting their turns. There were lots of young kids running around, a few with suckers in their mouths. A universal way to keep a child busy. The children came closer to us as they waited, not really paying us much attention and sometimes leaning into us as they wrestled with each other or stumbled around. I felt a small connection to Honduras and its people. Just a taste of what the country must be like.
I watched the little girls playing around the room, and tried to comprehend that a child like this would be ours. We’re having another baby. Back home, I go to the grocery store, pick up dry cleaning, and shuttle the kids around town. All the while, I feel like the man with the colander under his arm. Like people should be looking at me, pointing and wondering where I’m going and what I’m doing. Because what we’re doing feels a little strange and unusual. And when we’re running around town with a Honduran daughter, we might look just a little conspicuous. I hope someone will stop and ask, so I can tell them a little bit of our story. And I hope they’ll stick around so I can ask them about their story. Because we all have stories to tell.
We’re at the next step in our journey. Unless Honduras tells us otherwise, all our paperwork is done, and we’re in a holding pattern. Our dossier will be translated, then approved by the government, and then we’ll get our number. If we’re lucky, next spring we’ll be meeting our daughter. Traveling to Honduras. So many stories still to tell.