I'm kneeling in the sand, and it's eerily quiet all around me. Final words have been exchanged with the villagers, and the children are ready. We are ready. Nicole and I have come out to the shore ahead of the group, hoping to capture and freeze this "walking out" in time. Much discussion has evolved around this very moment – what will it look like? What will we feel? Will it be all we hoped for? I hear singing and drums, and they are coming. I holler at Nicole, and we get to work. And though perhaps slightly anticlimactic in reality, it truly is all I had hoped for. As the group passes by, I see sheer joy reflected in their faces. It's an emotional moment for us all, as we anticipated it would be. I fall in with everyone next to a little boy of about 8. In that instant, I think... this is "thin space" as it's been described to me – where the space between Heaven and earth is but a sliver.
I'm knee-deep in cloudy water, just as we are about to leave the Adovepke shore. The kids are clambering in the boat, huddling in a group at the very front as the villagers line the shoreline to see them off. They have been gracious in this departure – playing drums, singing, dressing the children in their best clothes, and some have even slipped money for the journey into the fingers of the children as we depart. I watch the faces of the children as they settle in, wondering what's running through their heads. I see every expression represented – excitement, trepidation, resignation (where are they taking me now?), perhaps a little fear in a few. I think if they will but wait and see, just one more day, and then they will know. They will tangibly know they are loved and chosen and called by name. I hop in the boat before it gets out too deep, letting out held breath. 24 children are now in our hands. And they are making a life-altering journey across the lake… towards freedom.
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