Take Me Home

“Please, Mary-Kate, can you take me home with you?”

After a delightful day with Tenele about a month ago, her question still rolls around on my heart. I remember the moment almost perfectly. And it broke me, because though I want more than anything to take her home with me, I know I can’t. It won’t solve her problems; it won’t help her character. Yet, I can’t erase the memory of the moment she asked. It was an incredible day because I hadn’t seen Tenele in a long time…

3-20-11 Journal Entry

OH HAPPY DAY! Ngiyabonga Jesu wami kakhulu kakhulu! Oh, thank you Sweet Lord for an incredible gift today! Thank you for bringing Tenele here! Yebo Jesu!

I was in church this morning and aching so badly and almost crying about Tenele. Fr. Martin sang “You are Mine” and it was so beautiful and made me think of Tenele. Then all of a sudden I had this inner urge to go to Mangwaneni today. So I went and I was really scared (because of last time) but Johannes took my hand and led me through to find Tenele. We saw Khanyi on the way and she went ahead to fetch Tenele. Tenele came out and saw me and was surprised and said, “Ay, ay, ay, Johan” then turned to Khanyi to say something I imagine to be, “You tricked me. You didn’t say Mary-Kate was here.” But she was so wonderful! She was the Tenele I know—not drunk or high, not being mean or rebellious. It was beautiful, Lord, so so beautiful! So, I convinced her with the help of Johannes to come back to Salesian with me. So Temu, Ayanda, and Tenele all came. After a quick grocery shopping spree with Mama Mary-Kate we went back to my house. They sang and ate and laughed and talked.

Oh, it was so wonderful! Even Lydia commented when Tenele left that she was different and sincere and can see Tenele really wants a better life. I want to so badly to take her home, but I know that won’t solve her life. I told Tenele that I told Mom I wanted to adopt her and she laughed joyously. I told her if she is serious about wanting to come, she has to be serious while she’s here—no playing around anymore. I talked to her about McCorkindales orphanage and SWAGAA (counseling center for abused women). I pray everything we talked about holds true. I told her about SWAGAA and how I told them about her and how they can protect her from Cedric. I was trying to convince her that if she wants to leave Cedric, she can do so without him beating her…that she can get help. Once I said that she was so happy and said she wanted to go with me to SWAGAA. She really is afraid to leave Cedric, but she really wants to. Oh Lord, set her free! Bring her home to you!

She said she’d come back this week… “Mary-Kate, I’m coming! Every day…Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…I’m coming.” I smiled with a wink, delighted at her excitement, yet I knew better than to get my hopes up because she never comes through on her word. But, I didn’t want to dwell on the doubt; I was just thrilled to see umtfwana wami (my child) again.

As I reflect on her request to come home with me, I realized she has never really had a “home”— her real mother chased her from her home because the step-father didn’t want her, she lived with a step-mother who beat and abused her, she’s been on the street, and going from place to place, and now she lives with Cedric, the closest thing she has to calling a home…no wonder why it’s so difficult for her to leave him.

All she wants is a place to call home.

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