Saturday, December 15, 2007

Grandma's Coming for Christmas!

It was the day before I was to leave to come home on furlough, starting with Christmas with my family. I had decided to invest in a national Moldovan costume and the woman at the place where they make them was very helpful. She was also very busy and she mentioned, on the day I ordered the blouse, that she was leaving the next week. The same day as me, in fact. So on the very last day as I was frantically trying to get everything done, including cleaning and moving out of my apartment, I went to pick up the blouse. Speaking to the woman, ‘Doamne Maria’, we discovered that we would be on the same red-eye flight to Frankfurt in the morning. And sure enough this morning at 4.15 a.m. we met again at the Chisinau airport. She actually came and found me and we chatted together. She was a bit nervous as this was her first time flying to the US by herself. She, like me, was going to visit her children, who were studying in the States. Her son had been there for 9 years so she and her husband had visited before. It is not an unusual thing in Moldova for parents to be travelling to visit children who are living, studying, working in the US.

In fact, once we got on the plane, I was sitting across the aisle from another Moldovan woman. She leaned over and asked me where I was going and if I speak English. It turned out that she too was travelling to the US to visit her children, and her grandchildren. But she was especially nervous as she had never travelled there alone and had never gone through the Frankfurt airport. And she didn’t know any English. French, yes, but English, no. She asked if I would help her figure out where to go to make her connection. I confidently assured her that the Frankfurt airport was not too complicated, even though it is big, and that the signs are well-marked and that there is an information booth. She seemed re-assured and very grateful that I would help her find her way to California. (Later, we discovered that the airport was being renovated and nothing was simple for anyone, even seasoned travellers.) As we disembarked from the plane and got on the bus it turned out that the 3 of us women – 2 grandmothers and a hopeful – were sitting together on the bus. I indicated that I knew ‘Doamne Maria’ and as they were sitting side by side, they begin chatting. Both being native Moldovan, conversation between them came much easier than with me in my limited Romanian, and I was pleased that they seemed to be connecting. Elena, the other grandmother, seemed to be touched by something they were discussing and she was wiping her tears with one hand at the same time as she held on to a giant ‘walking’ doll that she was taking to her little granddaughter. In the other hand she clutched her purse and other hand luggage. I smiled as I thought of the outfit I had bought for my grandson on the last day on a whim. Later, I was concerned as I saw her heading off alone down the corridor that someone had indicated, towards a different connection than mine. I was glad I could at least say a prayer for her and know that God would also help that grandma to get to her little ones for Christmas.

Yes, Alejandro, Grandma is coming for Christmas, like so many other grandmas all over the world who eagerly look for opportunities to be with their precious ones. For weeks, no, months, I have been waiting and planning and buying a few little things as I dream of the moment I will finally hold you in my arms again. I can hardly wait to see how big you have grown – and walking now too! I am curious to see if you will remember me from when I sang to you on my visit in the summer. I look forward to playing with you and cheering for you and baking together with your mommy and laughing at your antics. I look forward to being part, if only for a short time, of the joyful and loving home of which you are blessed to be a part. I want to be a legend in your life and a haven for your heart. I want you – and others - to know how precious you are to me and I want you to understand that in an even greater way, you are precious to our heavenly Father. And I hope that after this – and for years onward – you and your siblings and cousins will be happy and excited to know, as often as it happens, that “Grandma’s coming for Christmas!”