First Love

Date of original journal entry: March 3, 2018

> beep – beep – beeeeeep <

I hear it as a far away annoyance and slowly realize it’s Stephen’s phone.  Someone is calling from Sierra Leone on WhatsApp.  I cautiously open one eye and see it’s still dark; I pull the covers over my head . . .

> deep sigh <

> beep – beep – beep <

Stephen slaps the top of the $3.00 Walmart alarm clock, cheap even by Walmart standards, to illuminate the face and see the time . . .

> hmmmph <

04:00, that makes it 09:00 in Sierra Leone

Already?  Really?

> beep . . . . . <

We snuggle down in futile attempt to ignore the intermittent disturbance, but I can tell by his breathing that he’s not going back to sleep either.

One of Stephen’s closest friends is a Muslim man who says he can outwardly see the difference between Islam and Christianity.

Stephen’s been in the States two and one half months and there’s not one single morning which hasn’t been similar.  If he remembers to silence the phone then there’s a string of messages and missed calls awaiting his promptest attention.  Sometimes the first two to three hours of his day are spent sorting out some problem or trying to avert one.  Sometimes he gives in and gets out of our cozy American nest to go see what his African fledglings need.

We have a shared relationship.  We have a deep personal understanding which is between us only.  His attention will always be divided.  And without jealousy or hesitation I give him to his other love.  His first and stronger love.

Stopping along the way to Bo to check on a critically ill girl for whom we provided medical treatment.

When his gaze is far away I know he’s not thinking about another woman, I know he’s not pondering which expensive toy to buy next, I know he’s not planning a fishing or hunting trip with the boys.  No.  When I see that look I know his heart is far away in a miserable, dirty, poverty stricken bush village nestled in the beautiful Kangari Hills of Sierra Leone’s interior.  The place we call home.

It’s here, together, that we are privileged to give our hearts and show the greatest of all loves the world can know.  The love of sacrifice to self and desire.  The singular love of Jesus Christ.

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