Where Women Walked
- Tuesday, June 08, 2004
LeAnn's heart raced. One of her deepest desires lay on the other side of a thin door. Earlier in the day her stomach had flipped in fear that she might die as the others had. And now, it flipped in joy. "But how can I possibly choose one? There are so many."
"I know it's hard. But you'll know which one is meant for your family," Cherie reassured her.
LeAnn felt she was living a fantasy – a dream come true. She hadn't allowed herself to imagine that one of these babies would be hers.
She'll never forget opening the door to the baby room. A room filled to the brim with 110 babies. The smell of spit-up, baby powder, and wet diapers filled the air, but LeAnn was oblivious to anything but the joy in her heart. The beautiful, constant hum of bawling, cooing babies sang in her ears. How can I possibly choose one? LeAnn asked herself again. As she stood there, a little boy wearing only a diaper crawled toward her. He crawled across the room, right into her arms and into her heart. LeAnn picked him up. Then he nestled his head into her neck. As she glanced around the room at all the babies, he kept patting her cheek with his chubby little hand and pulling her face toward him.
"Meet our son, Mitchell," LeAnn said to those gathered around. "I didn't choose him, he chose me."
For LeAnn, this moment completed the reason why God called her to Vietnam. Not only was she able to help rescue hundreds of children but she was also given the son she had longed and prayed for. It was all worth it.
But she still had to get them home.
The next day they received word that their two flights were approved for that afternoon. They rushed around packing up the first 150 children and infants for their trip to America. Cramming the children and infants for their trip to America. Cramming the children into city buses, they slowly inched their way to the airport. When they arrived, they were informed that their flight had been delayed.
The idling bus quickly because a sauna, and the babies went ballistic. LeAnn ran up and down the aisle stroking damp foreheads and using diapers to fan red-hot faces. Eventually, they were allowed to go to some huts near the airport. There, they unloaded the babies and tried to keep them cool until the flight was ready to depart.
Mitchell was scheduled to go on the next flight with LeAnn, and thus was not on this busload of babies. The bus driver would take LeAnn back to the center to get Mitchell and the remaining children for the second flight.
As usual, nothing went as planned. Ross, another FCVN volunteer, arrived with more bad news for the workers and the babies. Holding up one finger he said, "The Vietnamese government has decided to let a plane leave, but only one!"
LeAnn panicked. Her heart pounded. She couldn't leave without Mitchell! She wouldn't leave without Mitchell.
"Get out while you can," Ross advised. "The country is closing fast. You should take my place on this plane."
"I can't," LeAnn replied, shaking with panic. "I just can't leave Mitchell – what should I do?"
Ross put his arm around her, and she buried her face in his sweat-stained shirt. Then he placed one hand on each of her shoulders and looked deeply into her eyes. "You leave now with Carol. I promise you, I will get Mitch out and bring him to you."
"But what if you don't get out? You just said that no more babies are going to be allowed to leave."
"I will. I promise you." Ross's voice cracked.
LeAnn paused and considered his idea. In her mind she felt Mark's embrace and pictured her daughter's faces. Then she imagined what might happen to Mitchell if he ended up in the hands of the Vietcong.
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