What an incredibly emotional and sweet day! Today, we were greeted by our former Lalibela tour guide--- Kassa Akele Menale. We had wired Kassa some funds to that he could get on a plane from his home town of Lalibela and spend the week in Addis with us. Kassa looked well, although he did seem a bit beaten down by the hardships of life. He no longer looked like the happy-to-lucky young man we had just seen 2 years ago. We spent a couple of hours visiting and catching up with Kassa, and then proceeded to begin teaching him how to use his new Apple laptop and digital camera. We hoped both would facilitate his tour guide business.
|Kassa, our favorite Ethiopian tour guide|
After breakfast, we headed to two Addis Ababa museums. The first, The National Museum of Ethiopia, housed the bones of the infamous "Lucy." We saw fabulous ancient artifacts that pre-dated the birth of Christ. We also saw the "fossil record" supposedly documenting evolution. Again... praying in my head throughout the whole exhibit.
|The National Museum of Ethiopia|
|Water or oil vessel, before Christ|
|Figurines, before Christ|
|Lion of Judah|
|Ancient grave markers|
|Story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba|
These are obviously only a few of the artifacts and works from the museum. We would highly recommend making this visit. A guide will give you a personal hour and a half tour for less than one dollar!
We also visited the University of Addis Ababa's Historical Museum. This, too, was very interesting and required more time than we had. A person could easily spend a few hours in this one museum--- we had about forty-five minutes! Kassa kept us constantly moving through the exhibits; I felt frustrated at not being able to read many of the placards on the displays... and I'm NOT a "museum person."
After losing my reading glasses at the museum (a big "darn it all!"), we headed back to the Ethio-Guest House for the most delicious spaghetti ever! Seems odd to get great pasta in Ethiopia, but perhaps that is one good thing that came out of the Italian occupation a long time ago! We had a lovely meal with Tsebay and Abdissa. I had a real opportunity to learn more about YWAM and how it functions within Ethiopia. I have so much to learn about his wonderful country!
Abdissa of YWAM Ethiopia Mercy Development has an overwhelming task: he directs two homes for street children, oversees discipleship training for a rather large group of young people, oversees a child sponsorship program, offers community support and small business help to families, supervises a community feeding program, helps bring water into the area (serves 300 families), and oversees other after school programs for youth. This man is smart, humble, and very loving--- and he is highly respected by the people. I can tell that by how people responded to him. Next time I feel overwhelmed with 8 kids, I think I'll turn my thoughts to Abdissa! He has more on his plate than I do!
T-Man and I spent the rest of the afternoon touring the boys' and girls' facilities. We got to see the Joshua House, home to 13 boys from the ages of 4 to 18. The girls' home (Ruth's House) currently has 8 young ladies, ages 6-18.
|Kitchen and bedroom wing of Joshua House|
|Lots of laundry for lots of boys|
|Front Yard to Joshua House|
|Everything was neat and well-maintained at the boy's compound|
As an adoptive mom, I know how difficult and disruptive a "new placement" can be... and this is multiplied many times over! Yet, peace reigns in these homes. The children were very well behaved, respectful, and very happy to have visitors. They love to learn and to sign about how the Lord has had mercy on them and saved them. It was hard to believe that these kids were once without hope; they now have family and are thriving. Seeing their faces made me full of a sweet joy that only the Lord can bring.
We were truly blessed by being able to bring some personal items, clothing, and school supplies to the boys' home. T-Man also played guitar for the kids, who were so very eager to sing along to new songs. I so wanted to do MORE, but this is what the Lord sent us this time to do.
|Loving the boys in Joshua House|
|Dining table at Ruth's House|
|Outside of Ruth's House|
|Hallway to girls' rooms|
Because of adoption regulations, we were only able to present the birth parents with photo albums of their kids. It is so difficult to want to do more for these wonderful people, but we feel equally compelled to maintain the sanctity of adoption procedure in Ethiopia. If we were to give gifts or financial support to the family, it might be construed by some to be a form of payment for children; this is of course NOT what we want or support.
In our particular case, we have been privileged in that we have been able to send multiple letters and photos over the last two years so that these parents could still in some way participate in their kids' lives. These parents were simply overjoyed to see us and to see new photos of their kids. We spent about 4 hours with them; we laughed, sang together, prayed for each other, and wept together as we said good bye. We even made a call home so that the birth parents could hear the sound of their children's voices. I loved every minute of our visit. God has allowed so much healing and joy to come from pain. But why should I be surprised? God is the master of healing!
Adoption is such a interesting mix of joy and grief. I have an overwhelming joy of having the blessing of more children, but I never lose sight of the fact that these children are only here because of loss and pain. They had to endure great deprivation, agonizing separation, and grief beyond what most of us can relate with. Yet, through God's mercy and His love, these kids are flourishing. And their parents have learned to endure.
I think I saw a little of what heaven will be like today. I sit here, blown away by the grace of god. I feel so unworthy to have the privilege of raising so many. I don't know how we will provide, but I feel certain that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing for and through us. Who am I do question God? God is great! Greater than we can fathom. God is good! So good, we fail to appreciate and understand. Lord, help me to understand and believe.