This letter is long overdue, I should have written you much earlier but you've been on my heart ever since I visited in April.
I have been wanting to tell you how proud of you and how much we love you for a long time. I know I tell you this when I see you, but I want you to read this letter.
On Monday December 17th 2012 you moved into the Arise Home and we were so excited to be allowed to care for you.
Here is a photo of you then:
I will never forget picking you up at Destiny School that day in the compound. Your grandmother brought you to school and she was so excited and proud of you too.
Don't forget that. She loved you, I could see it in her eyes. She was excited for your future. She gave you a big hug and you piled in our car with the other kids. We went straight to the social welfare office where we were blessed to get full custody of you! I remember we bought you an orange drink from a lady outside the office and we then rode to the Arise home. You were excited to see your bed and dresser, you couldn't believe it was only yours to sleep in. You were intrigued by the refrigerator and outside play area.
You were a little guy at the time. But you had alot of energy! The first week we had you I remember spending quite a bit of time trying to help you learn your ABC's sitting at the kitchen island. You were ten and should have known them but you hadn't had a quality education. I was shocked at how far behind you were but your willingness and desire to sit for a hour with me to learn your letters. You were driven.
As the months went by we learned more about you and your past. Armod you had to go through quite a bit at too young of an age. You lost your mother to a violent act by your father. You saw and dealt with things that no child should ever ever experience. You were mistreated and didn't have food most of the time. You were left alone to fend for yourself for months. Things were violent and you had to take the beatings and see things that we wish you hadn't been there for. You were sometimes angry because of your past and we didn't blame you. Anyone would be angry. You sometimes struggled with all the change in your life in the Arise Home. And I don't blame you for that either. It was quite a bit to get used to. You life had completely changed and that is difficult to handle.
But we also started to see change in you. Our house moms were patient and loving with you. And the past few years you've become such a great servant of the Lord. Armond you brighten up all of our days! You inspire me to help more children like you, I couldn't be more blessed to watch you grow up. You are no longer a little guy anymore, as much as I hate to say it you are a teenager. We figured this out when our staff decided to make an Arise Africa music album and we realized that when you sang with all the other Arise Home kids your voice was rather low! It sounded like a man was singing with small children and it was kinda creepy. That's why we moved you up to sing with our staff!
I've watched you learn to trust us, and especially Uncle Chipa and Uncle Kochelani. You are honest with us. You admit your mistakes. You tell me thank you all the time. You wiped down wet chairs for our visitors when we went to the market. You are becoming a great man and a man who loves the Lord. You are tender hearted. God has changed your heart.
I also love how strong you are. I learned this past trip that you really don't like the "d" at the end of your name. You don't want to be Armond you want to be Armon. You have told me this for years and I have resisted because our social welfare papers had your name spelled with a d. I admire your persistence and I am going to listen to you finally! Armond, you can officially be Armon within our family. Now when it comes time to get your registration card or help you get your drivers license that might have to be spelled with a d!
So Armon, I know that we have gone back to the compounds looking for your grandmother and we cannot find her. I know you would love to see her. I wish she would have shown up for the visitation days we have had. We try to call her and even offer to pick her up. We do our best to try to find her but we never have been able to. Armon please know how very sorry I am that she is not around. It breaks my heart that you haven't been able to see her because I know she would be proud of the man you have become. But Armon I hope you know you have a HUGE family within Arise Africa. We love you more than you will ever know and we will always be here for you. You will always be able to find us. You will not be able to hide from your house moms, Auntie Megan, Uncle chipa, myself and Uncle Asher, and Uncle Kochelani! You have more family now than you will probably want! Just wait until you start dating girls and we all have opinions about her.
Armon I am so excited to see what the Lord does in your life. I am so proud of the work you have done in school and personally. I love reading books with you and playing soccer in the back yard. I love driving around Zambia with you and letting your drive on the back roads. I love going to get ice-cream and pizza. I love your smile. I love how you are willing to help us out with anything. I love it when you grab my hand and say thank you for things. I love how you treat others in the home. I love how the Lord has changed you into a great and respectful young man.
Armon, you need to dream BIG for your future. Because you can do anything. And we will be there, right by your side supporting you every single step of the way. We will love you Armon and will not leave you. I will be that annoying mamma and you better bet so will Auntie Megan and Auntie Aqualine and Dailes. When you need something or need to chat your aunties and uncles are right here.
I kinda get sad to post a photo of you now because you are SO BIG!! I know you've told me it is because of all "the white person food" we feed you.
Thank you Lord for the gift of Armon. Thank you Lord for allowing us to be a part of his life! Thank you Lord for giving Armon great sponsors who support him. Thank you Lord for your love and faithfulness.