Sunday, January 9, 2011
We have taught our children from a very early age that the word "MINE" is not a word that you use if you are part of our family. We have always let them know that everything we have is a gift for us to share with others around us. David and I have always lived by this and we have always known that our home, cars, finances, time, family and everything else that we have been blessed with are gifts from God for us to share with others. However after this past year I think that each of our children would say that they now have something that is theirs- Memories and experiences that will shape their lives for eternity.
As their mom, I am so thankful for this past year in each of their young lives. They have experienced so many things that many will never experience in a lifetime. Never in a million years when we started the adoption process did I think that our family would spend an entire summer living in Ethiopia. I probably would have reconsidered if someone would have told me that the eight of us would need to live in two rooms for six weeks in order to adopt. Thankfully God only reveals a little of His plan at a time to me and it is just enough to keep me trusting completely in Him as I move forward.
The past few days I have reflected back on this past year and what stands out to me the most is the life change that has taken place in each of our six children. Two lives have changed in very obvious ways and four lives have changed in ways that I would have never imagined. To think that my children played with orphans, visited the sick, made friends with street kids, loved on former street girls, visited their Compassion child, stood in the hut where their youngest siblings were born and the list could go on and on.
When I think of Lindsay at six years old traveling half way around the world to a place that is so different from home it still amazes me. How she handled herself so well and took everything in. It was so sweet to watch her love on the babies everywhere we would go. The photo above of Lindsay is at The House of Hope in Langano where dad's can bring their babies if their mom died during childbirth. There is no way for the babies to survive without their mom to provide milk for them and so this home will keep the babies for the first year of life and provide for the babies basic needs. Lindsay loved the time we spent there and played with each of the babies that were in the home that day.
I loved watching Jacob make friends with so many kids while we were in Ethiopia. He would be the first one to want to go over and take left over food to the shoe shiner boys who would clean shoes across the street from our guest house. He would walk over with containers of food grinning from ear to ear knowing how excited these boys his age would be to have something to eat. I can only imagine what Jacob would be thinking as he would watch them out the window. For him to see all of these street boys shining shoes each day impacted him in ways that we will not know for years to come. Memories of him hand and hand with children who were in such great need flood my mind and tears stream down my face thinking of the impact those six weeks made on my sons heart.
One of the highlights of the trip was the day that Megan and Kaylee got to visit with their Compassion child, Bontu (see photo above). The girls have sponsored Bontu for a while and never dreamed that they would actually get to visit with her. We drove about an hour out to her village where we spent several hours with her and her family. We loaded her and her father up in the van and took them to purchase Teff flour, fruits and vegetables (clearly more food than they had ever had at one time). It was fun to see Megan and Kaylee place a cross necklace around Bontu's neck as she stood smiling and looking up at both of them. To watch my teenage daughters love on this very poor and needy child I wept. To think that a group of teenagers that I know provide for her basic needs each day was overwhelming. For my girls to be standing on a mud floor (not dirt but mud!) where Bontu sleeps each night had to impact their lives. When I heard Bontu's dad tell of what the money that is sent each month provides and how thankful he as her father is for what is provided again tears were flowing down my cheeks. I am so thankful for the beautiful baskets that will be in our home forever that Bontu's mom made for us.
I remember praying before we went to Ethiopia for Kaylee's heart to be protected. Kaylee has a very big heart and she cares deeply for people. I am thankful that Eskel's van had curtains in the windows that I think God put there for Kaylee to be able to close. On many occasions she would close her curtain and say, "I don't think I can take any more." I know that the sights at times were overwhelming as young moms with starving babies on their backs would beg by our windows, crippled would be trying to cross the road, or girls her age would be carrying sticks or water for what she knew would be miles. God working on Kaylee's heart little by little and as painful as it was for her He was doing a great work.
Megan continues to miss Ethiopia and talks about returning there as soon as she can. To watch her as we would go into the orphanges was such a joy. She would use her limited Amharic to try to talk to the kids and I would have so much fun watching her. I will never forget the day that we met Eli Rhodes for the first time. Eli we knew would be coming home to a family in our church and so we were all so excited to meet him. He was so full of energy and I remember Megan keeping up with him and loving on him while we visited his orphanage with a huge smile on her face. All of Eli's friends were climbing all over Megan and you could see the joy on her face as she played with them.
Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay have been taught in very real ways this year that what we have is ours to share and they have seen first hand what great needs there are in this world. They now share their rooms, toys, favorite seats in the car, mom, dad and their family with Tia and Garrett. What they can call "MINE" are not material, earthly things but experiences and memories that will never allow them to be the same. I can't wait to see how God continues to shape and use these six precious gifts that have been entrusted to us to share with those around us!