Becky’s husband, Jeff, is with me on this current trip to Ethiopia. With so many children in our orphanages I need someone to take pictures and video, and Jeff is the man for the job. How grateful I am to have him at my side! We hit the ground running and today, Sunday, is the first time in eight days I have had a moment to gather my thoughts and write anything.
The day after landing in Addis Ababa, we left before sun-up for Nekemte in western Ethiopia. Our sturdy van was packed to the hilt with a water tank, water heaters, piles of formula, suitcases full of vitamins, clothes, children’s ibuprofen and other sundry items needed in the three orphanages we were visiting over the next six days. The road is under major construction and a year from now I know I will be grateful for it, but it is a challenging 10 hour drive right now!
The last time I was in Nekemte we rented a new facility for our orphanage, so it was nice to walk through the door of our new place and see it all settled. Three toddlers that I have watched grow from babyhood stood back to check out the new faces, but were soon engaged with winsome smiles and laughs …. just as long as we didn’t attempt to pick them up! A new little 2-year-old fellow also greeted us and it was fun to get to know him and his story; cribs held two new tiny little ones. I had the privilege of meeting one of our families who was there to meet the little 6-year-old boy they are going to adopt, and it was a delight to share dinner with them. We also had an incredible time of prayer together and they brought wonderful encouragement to our team.
We are so glad that the two hour trip from Nekemte to Gimbie is over better roads than the one we bumped along from Addis to Nekemte.
Our main focus is always the children and so most of the day in Gimbie was spent on the floor playing with them, asking nannies questions about their development, and holding and assessing each little person. Along with this delightful work, government officials need to be contacted and paperwork gathered for adoption cases pending embassy appointments in Addis. I also got to squeeze in a visit with my friend Monica at the Seventh Day Adventist compound, and she is always an inspiration and delight. It was a long day and culminated with dinner of some really good tibs and shiro wat.
The orphanage furthest away from Addis Ababa is Dembidollo. We again left before sun-up, and I always love watching the world wake up with pink skies and mists, the smoke of cooking fires billowing from the huts we pass, farmers walking to their fields with homemade tools over their shoulders and the youth herding cattle from one place to the next.
Later, we passed groups of students in their uniforms walking to school. The dirt road is a huge challenge with lots of dust and washboard jarring. Four-and-a-half hours later we pulled up to our project and unloaded all the things we brought.
I began getting to know the new arrivals and reacquainting myself with the children I saw 2 ½ months ago. One of the little 3-year-old boys remembered me from last time and shot out the door at a run and leaped into my arms. That was a delight for me because I worked really hard last time winning this little man’s affection! We brought some Duplos for the 3-year-old boys to play with, and they were captivated by the new toy. That afternoon I was introduced to a local pastor and we had the opportunity to have a long visit. God works in mysterious ways and it remains to be seen just how God wants to use my new friendship with this godly man, but in my spirit I know meeting him was providential and not an accident.
After being gone for five days, we headed back to Nekemte with a stop in Gimbie to gather yet more paperwork to take to Addis. It was good to get to the hotel in Nekemte and have a good night’s rest before tackling the long, harrowing road back to Addis. All in all, much was accomplished for families and it was good fun with all the little children God has sent our way. Every day I count it a privilege to advocate for these little ones and it is payday for me when I see them in the arms of their forever moms and dads.