Sunday, November 6, 2011

Busted bubble

I thought we had done everything we could to prepare physically and mentally for our trip to Ethiopia. We had six 50lb suitcases and six 15 lb. carry-ons. We had a few cameras, some bug spray, cash, donations, granola bars, and a deck of cards. What else could we need?

I would soon see that there was a lot more to learn about life outside my bubble than I could've imagined. I will try to share some of it, but as always, words carry only a portion of the weight of our experiences.

As you all know, we were in Ethiopia for the purpose of the adoption of our son, Jude. However, we prayed that God would use our time there to bring Him glory and to use our hands and feet for Him. We were not able to do much hands-on mission work, but we did walk among the impoverished people of the trash-dump, sat with the lepers as they did their work, held children who'd seemingly never had a bath and had lice in their hair, and played with HIV-Positive children.

We did not get very many pictures of these times, out of respect for the people. However, I will share with you some of the images that won't leave my head anytime soon.

These are women who are carrying 60kg of wood for fuel to sell at the base of Entoto mountain. They will earn about 30 birr for one trip up and down the mountain. That's less than $2. Unbelievable.

These are some boys we met on our trip up the mountain. They were so sweet. They told us of their one-hour walk into school everyday and the 2-hour walk home, up the mountain. They asked if we had brought dictionaries for them. They were sweet until we got in the van and handed candy out the window. At that point, they started pushing and trying to get at the candy, reaching as far into the van as they could, even as we drove away. There was a little girl there who had on a Dora shirt that had never been washed. Evan continued to be concerned about whether or not she got any of the candy.

This is a man at the leper colony. He is weaving a rug. He has no fingers on either hand. We were pretty sure they put him outside by the entrance because he was so full of joy. I didn't get a picture of his smile, but trust me, he was a happy man. If I recall, we read later that this man had come to the leper colony 20+ years ago with his 4 children. All the people in this place suffer from leprosy or other debilitating, contagious conditions. They are all serving a purpose, working on projects that are sold there on site. The picture below shows me giving the weaving loom a try. I was terrible. The workers here are so fast and diligent. I made a fool of myself. What's new?!

These last 3 pictures were taken at Korah, a "suburb" of Addis Ababa, near a large trash dump, where people live. It was one of the most humbling times ever to walk into this place and see how these people live every day. If you are curious about what life is like there, just google "Korah dump, Ethiopia." One of the great things we saw while we were there was a ministry called "Mission Ethiopia." If you want to know more, click HERE. The little girl Jason is holding was so sweet. Her name is Salem (sp?). I'm surprised she didn't end up in the van with us. She followed every step our group took.

I sincerely wish we could've snapped some pictures while at AHOPE, the orphanage for HIV-positive children. One memory I'll never forget is a 6 month old baby boy in a crib, who weighed no more than 10 lbs. His legs were the size of my fingers. He was as happy as he could be, smiling from ear to ear when I talked to him. He held my hand and kicked his tiny legs. He had been abandoned 3 weeks prior and in their care since. They were doing the best they could to get weight on him. Another image in my head is the young girls there. The girls who were around 10 years old would talk to us and walk next to us. When they smiled, their youthful faces looked old and worn. I can't explain it, but they had wrinkles on their face, like I remember my grandma having. I'm not sure if it's the disease, the medication, or the hardships they've endured, but it was slightly disturbing. They would not have you feeling sorry for them, though. They were happy girls, eager to show us their room and their bed.

We still have some sifting-through to do with all these other-worldly experiences. When you consider that these experiences were in addition to us meeting our son and spending time with him, you can understand why we've been dazed and confused this week. Our middle-class, suburbia America, bubble has burst. Thank you for giving us time to put it into words.

Psalm 148

Orphan Sunday

Piggy-backing on my husband's facebook status today, I will share a short story about a couple we met while waiting for court in Ethiopia.

They are a couple of 60 years. They are from Spain. Their beautiful skin and healthy body shows it. She held a stuffed animal and he held a briefcase. They sat down next to us, in a room otherwise full of Ethiopians. Their English was decent, but we had to concentrate to understand each other. They were giddy. You couldn't miss them.

After some small talk, it was obvious that we were both there for adoptions. The usual questions were asked: "How old? Boy or girl? What region are they from?"

And then, the husband shared more of their story. They are 60 years old (you would not have guessed it by their appearance). They have been in process with a Chinese adoption for 6 years now and still await progress there. In the meantime, they started this Ethiopian adoption and have been waiting 2 years. At home, they have a 20-year-old biological son with Downs Syndrome. His name is Angel. They were there to give their consent for this Ethiopian adoption of a 3 year old boy. They told their agency, "We have no preferences. Girl or boy doesn't matter. Age doesn't matter."

They smiled as they showed me his picture. They are so proud of this new son they will take home soon. This little boy now has a mother and father who take pride in him and show him off like he is their prince. Praise God.

On this orphan Sunday, I choose to open my mouth once again for those who cannot. If only you could see the faces and hold the hands of the children in this world who cry out for a parent. We saw only a fraction of the 4 million in Ethiopia and I pray that God will continue to put them in our face and in our path.

Our fight for Jude is not over yet. After a blow to the heart on Friday, we are refreshed and ready to wait some more. This is all just a part of the concrete.

John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." ~Jesus

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Friday, November 4, 2011

No movement in court today

Just received word that there was no movement in our case today. The judge was not able to approve, since they are still waiting on a document from Jude's original orphanage. There is no word on a new court date.

So we wait. And, in the meantime, Jude sits in an orphanage.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Waiting Game, again

We are anxiously awaiting news that our case is finalized. While in Ethiopia, we were told that it would be complete on Friday, Nov. 4. Now, after some email correspondence with our case worker, we are even more confused than ever. We will have to see what happens this Friday. Will you pray for us that it will come to an end this Friday, Nov. 4th?

When this actually comes to an end, it might take us a while to believe it.

Until then, we look at pictures and videos of our sweet boy 8,000 miles away and dream of the day he comes home.

Thank you for your continued love and support. I simply cannot wait to share him with you. What a precious, precious little soul he is.