February 17, 2011

Wototo Children's Choir

A random message in my inbox mentioned the children’s choir visiting from Uganda. I forwarded the message along to my Mom and Seth, thinking I may be the only person of our family interested in venturing out on a frigid winter night to see a children’s concert. My parents would be in town for the weekend, celebrating birthdays, but that particular weekend happened to be Ethiopian Christmas. When you adopt a child from another country there is an expectation that you help your child to retain, or at least become familiar with, the culture of their birth country. Any opportunity for celebrating the Ethiopian culture that passes, leaves me with a little scar of guilt. Completely skipping any celebrations would leave me with that familiar feeling, but the planned activities with our Ethiopian adoption group weren't going to pan out. This left me wondering what special celebration we could throw together, then the email came from another adoptive mom, mentioning this opportunity. My sister and her boys, my parents, and our family headed out on that blustery night, unsure of what the night may hold.
We arrived at the old, crowded Methodist church and wandered through the maze of hallways connecting the parking lot to the sanctuary. The place was packed and we were happy to get seats near the back. The church was old, built before stadium seating and immediately each child clamored onto a lap hoping to get a better view of the stage. We looked around and realized this wouldn't work. We unloaded ourselves from the pew and wound up the stairs to a small balcony. As we settled in, the lights turned down and the concert began.
I wondered how each of the children would do, whether they would enjoy the music and be touched by the stories they would hear. I shouldn’t have worried. As the children's choir filed in singing, Josiah stood on the pew with a light in his eyes. I whispered to him, asking if he could see, but he was too enthralled to turn his eyes and just nodded. Completely engaged. The songs were interspersed with video clips and children stepping out to tell their personal stories. Most of the children had devastation in their lives that left them as orphans. My youngest nephew, four years old, turned to Sally and stage whispered, “Sally! These kids are from Africa, did you know you are from Africa?!” An epiphany.
My eyes misted as I heard about the crisis that each child has survived. Their tales were too close to home for me and I wondered how my mom might be reacting after being in Ethiopia so recently. In the middle of my 'moment', I noticed Josiah was thoroughly enjoying the music. He was shaking his money maker and I was glad we weren't down on the main floor so he could enjoy himself fully. Then he looked at me and yelped, "I need to potty, RIGHT NOW!" Evidently, the potty dance looks a lot like three year old Ugandan praise music dance moves. I made it down one flight of stairs to an usher and another flight of stairs into a vacant fellowship hall before the warmth spread across my hip. By the time we made it around the corner and into the bathroom it was far too late.
So, our wonderful experience at the Wototo Children's concert was infused with our usual antics. Josiah singing, clapping, and dancing with brown paper towels stuffed into his smelly pants standing in the pew to avoid stinking up the ancient fabric beneath him. Sitting next to the urine soaked child, in my own urine soaked jeans, I was still touched by the children singing, my children, and my older nephew--who moved onto his mom's lap during one of the children's stories about losing their family.