Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's Next??...SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL ETHIOPIA


Our Promise for a Princess was fulfilled!  All praise be to God!  Our Ethiopian Princess came home to our family in August of 2012.  A four year process in total, allowing for great Spiritual testing and growth.  It was six months after we had been joined as a family that I decided to Google her former orphanage.  To this day I am perplexed as to why I did not do this sooner.  The name of her orphanage was on her referral paperwork, so I can submit it is for no other reason than for God's perfect timing in His great plan.

It was an early evening in March of 2013.  I googled True Love Children Center.  I found a Facebook page.  I started scrolling through some pictures and from behind me my daughter comes up and with great delight points to the screen and declares "daddy".  The joyful expression on her face I will never forget.  It immediately struck my spirit that whoever this man was pictured on my computer screen, he was someone very special in her life.  

His name, I would come to find out is Messele Abebe.  He is the founder and director of True Love Children Center in Hawassa, Ethiopia.  He is called "Papa or Daddy" by the kids at True Love.  They absolutely love him and I hear they follow him around like the pied piper.  Obviously he had poured much love into our princess for the 20 months she lived there and for that I will always be grateful.

Over the following months, Messele and I formed an "email" relationship.  I asked a million questions, and Messele would respond.  I wanted to know what it was like for kids at TLCC.  What had my daughter experienced?  What did she do with her time there?  What did they eat? etc. etc. etc.   I had questions about her birth family as well.  At every turn Messele was transparent and shared and went out of his way to help me. 

I felt impressed in my spirit that I was supposed to write a book to share all this new information. Eventually I settled on a children's book that would share a bit about life in an orphanage and our daughter's journey to her new home. We have been blessed with some very special pictures of our daughter and even an appearance she makes in a video of TLCC.  One day during our LONG wait, I remember looking at the pictures of our four biological children hanging on the wall across from my prayer spot and welling up in tears thinking we would not have baby pictures of our new daughter. God placed that desire in my heart and overwhelmed me in fulfilling it.  So, I completed the book, Keda's Journey and if nothing else, it is a great chronicle for my daughter about her journey in becoming part of our family.  

As the needs of TLCC became more apparent to me, God moved in my heart to want to help. I fell in love with the people of Ethiopia and had become particularly moved by the plight of poverty in relation to family preservation.  God started to birth the idea within my heart to start a 501 (c) (3) non profit charitable organization. Though I kept seeking to see if there was any way around it, I eventually came to terms that He was calling me to do it.  So, SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL ETHIOPIA was born.  The goal of SBE is to generate funds to provide for the needs of the poor and disadvantaged women and children in Ethiopia.  In relation to True Love this will be achieved through education, trade training, and care for the children at TLCC and the surrounding community of Hawassa.  Messele Abebe  has been given a vision of expanding TLCC and its community development programs and SBE plans to be a part of that.

We have created T-shirts ($15) and have copies of the children's book "Keda's Journey" ($25) to fundraise.  If you are interested in a t-shirt, a book or just want to bless us with a financial donation, please email us at SomethingBeautifulEthiopia@gmail.com.  Thanks so much!

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!  SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL ETHIOPIA





Thursday, January 3, 2013

THE PRODUCT OF THE PROMISE (a summary)

Tim and I met in high school.  We were married almost seven years later.  We always knew we wanted to adopt and when our baby number 4 was four years old we began to make that dream become a reality.  Two years prior we had interviewed with an agency, but we both felt we should wait.  It was Mother's Day (May 2008) that we all sat in our van one sunny Sunday after church and said a prayer as a family for God to lead us and guide us as we began our adoption journey.


"Who?" and "Where?" and "How?"...these answers could only be answered by divine guidance.  As we took in all the information from research, discussions with adoptive parents and prayer upon prayer, we were blessed with direction.  The "Who?" became clear to us.  He was calling us to parent an African toddler girl.  I couldn't give you a clear answer if you asked me "why?", but we both just knew.

Now we needed to know "Where?".  One day while fasting and praying for guidance, I went out to the mailbox and found our answer.  A Compassion International magazine had arrived and an article caught my heart.  It was entitled "A Promise for a Princess" (the article header has become our blog header).  The article highlighted the dire need and distress experienced because of poverty in Ethiopia.  While there, the author of the article held a tiny infant girl in his hands as she breathed her last.  He had decided they had to make a difference there in Ethiopia and I felt we needed to do the same.
Then came finding our adoption agency.  I had narrowed the large field of agencies down to three which I called and interviewed.  Ironically, I felt most led to use the only non-christian agency I had interviewed.  Knowing God is sovereign, we went in that direction.  (This decision was crucial and I had to hold onto this as a God directed decision in the years to come, as the process turned out to be full of unexpected twists and turns).

Now, "How" were we going to pay for this adoption?  I had full faith God would provide for the large sums of money we were going to need and I was hoping for the ol' "envelope method" where the cash unexpectedly shows up in your mailbox, but that was not to be the case this time.  Months into the beginning of our journey with part one of our application submitted, I received a call from my son's preschool.  They were looking to find a pre-school teacher for the upcoming year, and wanted to know if I knew anyone who might be qualified.  Unknown to them,  I do have a degree in Child Development and Child Care and taught pre-school PK (pre-kids...12 years ago!).  As much as I felt unprepared and anxious, I knew this was the Lord's plan and after interviewing, I accepted the position offered.  I ended up being there for two years and was so very blessed for taking on that calling.  Not only did that job provide a significant amount of the financing needed to complete our adoption, the resulting growth and new friends made the experience so much "richer" than the "envelope method" could ever have delivered.

I began that position in August of 2008 and we were finally paper ready and on the agency wait list in April of 2009.  The estimated wait at that point had grown from 6-12 months (which is what it was when we interviewed the agency) to 12-18 months.  A bit discouraging, but knowing God's timing is perfect, certainly seemed fine.  Well, when the 18 month time had come and gone and people we knew from other agencies were getting their referrals with only a 12 month wait or less from beginning to end, the struggle started to set in.  Time and time again, as I wrestled and pleaded and prayed to God, wondering if I heard correctly, wondering if we went in the right direction, I kept being told in my spirit "stay put".  Ugh, how difficult.  Thank goodness for the reminder of Abraham and the promise God made him.  I did not want to mess us things by trying to go my own way (the Hagar experience) so though the aching in my heart would continue, my spirit was able to find peace when I finally relinquished my "expectations" unto His sovereignty.  I would tell myself "If I believe He is God and He is sovereign and His ways are always best, then who was I to insist this was not the way it was supposed to be!?".  Peace finally came when I could believe in my spirit that WHATEVER God determines as best, is BEST!  Though the flesh would often try to take back over and rob me of peace, as long as I took that angst to the Lord, He was faithful to provide the peace that passes understanding to guard my heart and mind. 
It was not until that beautiful day (March 7, 2012), as I was painting a door I had unhinged on my back deck in preparation for listing our house for sale, that our call came.  (Yes, that was just one month shy of 3 years of being on the wait list!)  The product of the promise was revealed to us!  She was a two year old cutie just waiting for God to bring us together.  Two trips to Ethiopia later, (amazing trips I might add :) we arrived home to US soil on August 31, 2012 with our wonderful little princess.  FOR ALL THE PROMISES OF GOD IN HIM ARE YEA, AND IN HIM, AMEN, UNTO THE GLORY OF GOD BY US. 2 Cor 1:20 KJV  All glory be unto Him.  We are so blessed to have her!

So to anyone considering adoption my advice would be to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things shall be added to you.  Mt 6:33  He always has more than just the end result in mind and I can honestly say, I am so grateful.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Keda giggles

I tried to upload this video to the last post, but it didn't work.  One more try...
video
Here is Makeda playing with her siblings...Jameson is guarding the stairs (when he says "IYE" he is telling her "NO" in ahmaric to keep her from tumbling down :).  Ahh, a child's laughter...what a gift!

Our Journey Home

We Made It!  We are Home.  It was tough only because Makeda was stuck on me.  From when she woke up on Thursday morning until we arrived home and went to bed last night (Friday night) I could not go ANYWHERE without her.  She would not even sit on the empty plane seat next to me, she HAD to be ON me. The plane ride was tough with my sweet little sweat ball trying to get comfy on me or using me as a human playground.  I am THRILLED she is attatched, just made it challenging, that's all.  She wouldn't go to Tim.  One time she was asleep and i really had to go to the bathroom so we tried the transfer and as soon as she slipped into his arms, she started the wailing and I had to take her back.  My sleep was limited, to say the least and by the time we made it to the DC airport I was starting to get woozy carrying her and all that goes along with us getting through an airport.  God saw me through and sleep last night was deep and so very welcomed.  Enough about me though, lets get to the good stuff.
On Thursday, our last full day in Ethiopia, we went shopping.  While we were checking out the wares, Makeda whispered "kaka" which meant she had to find a potty.  Our translater took us to this little cafe and we tried, but there was no way she was using a potty in the ground, so she held it :)  Above is a picture of an 11 year old boy Tim had pulled aside from a group of boys that were out front of the cafe. When they see "ferenge" (white people) the kids swarm begging for money or food.  Tim brought this one in with him and they shared a coke and some conversation (with a bit of help from the translater).
When we got back to the guest house and had lunch, Zoie and Keda had some coloring time together.  What a blessing having Zoie there!
After our farewell coffee ceremony, we started to pack and get ready to go.  Here's a final picture in front of the beautiful view from our balcony.
Here's a picture of Makeda's first friends.  That's Tracey holding Keda's friend Theo.  They just adopted him this week too and we shared our experiences as we were all staying in the guest house together.  He is such a cutie full of tons of energy and joy :)
Just one more pic at the guest house.  Here we are all packed in and ready to go.  We headed to the airport and waited for our time to board and head home.  Makeda fell asleep at the airport and slept while we boarded and for the first leg of the trip to Rome where we stopped to refuel.  (That was about 7 hours).  Then she woke up ready to play.  I got some sleep while she slept in the beginning, but not nearly enough.  It was a bit tough from there on in for me, but she was fine.  We went to the bathroom about 8 or 9 times as it became her hangout.  Somehow she managed to squeeze out a few drops of pee even on the 9th time.  You can't accuse her of calling wolf!  We were in the window seat and had a lot of fun trying to slide out and crawl over an often sleeping dad numerous times.  Ah, memories.  So we made it to DC, stumbled out of the plane and somehow managed to make it to our next gate destination.  We ate some lunch and tried to freshen up a bit.  FINALLY I was able to get her to walk on her own next to me on one of our trips to the bathroom.  Ah, that was good!
This is Keda all dressed up and ready to take off from DC to make the final leg of the trip to Pittsburgh.   She fell asleep on the flight, cried in her sleep as we made our descent into Pittsburgh, likely due to the ear pain but never woke up until we were heading out to the car to drive home.
Here she is "meeting" her siblings :)
AH....we are home!!!  Thank you so much for sharing in our journey.  We are so incredibly blessed!  She is home now enjoying playing with her siblings.  She LOVES to play with them.  We trust she will  make great strides in learning her english, the "rules" :) and just growing in grace into all the plans God has for her without ever forgetting her roots in her beautiful home country of Ethiopia.  We are so grateful to you all for your prayer covering and support.  Blessings to all!












Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Day of Firsts

Well, we have had a good first day together.  Makeda slept well last night and when it came time to wake up and she knew we were up, she buried her face in her pillow and pretended she wasn't there.  I'm sure this had to be pretty rough for her, waking without the familar sights and sounds of an orphanage.  She is absolutely fine with mommy and has no problem hanging on to me every waking moment of the day.  Everyone else though can forget about it.  Hopefully she will begin to trust a bit more and warm up soon :)  She has every right to take her time to trust again, that is for sure!  I am getting small new breakthroughs all the time.  A smile that she will quickly try to hide or a new understanding of my ahmaric.  This is a time to be cherished as she will be making great strides in development every day and we look forward to it.  For now, she is just checking out the world from the arms of mom.
This morning we made our return trip to Mission Ethiopia.  We had such a wonderful visit there last time with the women and minstering to the kids.  This time we brought back about 40 inflatable balls, 40 little stuffed animals and 12 coloring books with crayons and trail mix packed together.  A swarm of  eagar children approached us as we entered the compound.  Within a matter of 30 seconds, all had been handed out in a great frenzy.  It was fun to see all the children checking out their newfound treasures of sharing some of their trail mix with their moms as they made the necklaces they create to earn a living.  Thanks to the Manges family and the Walk's for helping us bless these kiddoes :) .

After our fun at Mission Ethiopia we headed over to a shoe store to buy ethiopian shoes for dad and Keda and a tee shirt for me from Shoes for Hope :)
Lunch was ready shortly after we arrived back at the guest house and then Keda and I were ready for a good afternoon's nap :)

It is after 10:00pm here as I type this.  Makeda is sitting on my lap.  That must have been one incredible nap as we don't even have so much as a yawn out of her right now.  She is playing for the very first time though.  She started with a pen and paper as I was typing and moved onto crayons and a coloring book and now she is busy playing with her tinkertoys.  We've got to shut this party down though as it is time to sleep.
Blessings to all !!  Tomorrow night at this time we will be boarding our plane for our trip home :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's my party and i'll cry if i want to...

...you would cry too if this happened to you =) ...
Today was our "gotcha day".  We headed to the orphanage around 9am and after we arrived we waited in a room as they prepared "Birtukan's" farewell party.  Finally they were ready and they escorted us to a small room I believe they may use as a school room as it had numbers and letters on the wall.  We sat in two of the four chairs in the front of the room while we awaited the arrival of the guest of honor.  There was popcorn, a bakery cake, injera, and soda pop.  This was all being video taped by our agency  as we are not permitted to take pictures in the orphanage.  Suddenly Tim and I glance out the door to our right and a heavenly sight appears, more beautiful than any earthly sight we have seen.  Makeda was dressed in a traditional Ethiopian dress and her hair was done just so and she was being escorted to the party over the dirt ground by one of her caretakers.  It was impossible when taking in that sight not to just be overwhelmed with emotion.  Four years of wondering, waiting and hoping and now this beautiful princess of ours was being brought into our care.  We will never forget that moment.
Well, Makeda was fine as long as we did not approach her.  They tried to hand her to our care, which upset her so we asked they hold onto her for her party, as it was HER party and she should at least be able to enjoy some of it =) .  So, they did hold onto her and we enjoyed a few songs sung to us by the other orphanage kids, they brought Makeda pictures they made for her and kissed her farewell.  The orphanage staff said a prayer over her and the other kids joined in and then we prayed over her together as well.  It was a beautiful farewell ceremony full of love and rich emotion.  Then it was time to go.  They handed Makeda to me and the tears and protest kicked in.  She cried for awhile and then once again surrendered to this new life that she has been called to.  We returned to our guest home.
Once back at the guest home we changed Makeda into one of her new dresses and went to the dining room to eat lunch.  Though she does not have a big appetite, she does eat well enough and we have also been successful in communicating about the potty.  I will say "shintabait" (potty?) and she will nod  her head yes or shake it no.  She still hasn't said a word, but we were assured at the orphanage she DOES talk and I am sure we will be privy to that side of her in due time :) .
After lunch it was off to our Embassy appointment.  Makeda took a nap on our way to Embassy as it was a long ride, made much longer by the mourners (many, many, many Ethiopian mourners) lined up along the streets slowly making their way to the palace to show their respects for the late Prime Minister.  It was quite a sight.  Embassy went well and they are doing the final preparations for her visa which we will get on Thursday.  
On a side note, Tim decided we should take a picture of me holding Makeda outside of the Embassy to mark the moment.  I said "Are you sure we are allowed?" to which he replied, "Hey, it's our embassy" and snapped the picture.  Well not two seconds later he was called over to a security guard who explained it WAS NOT acceptable to take any photos of the embassy building and had Tim delete the photo.  Making memories indeed, but not photographic ones if you are outside the US Embassy :)
When we finally made it back to the guest house we watched Zoie play with some of the guest house workers and kids that the family that i mentioned in our first blog brought back to the guest house to hang out for awhile.  Tim tossed a football in the street with them and they had a fun game of "hit the target" (it being a water bottle sitting upright on a wooden stool).  Makeda loves to be outside.  The above photo shows some of the neighborhood children that came by to watch.  We brought some inflatable balls and little stuffed animals to share with the kids at Mission Ethiopia and Tim shared a few with them to their delight.  It was a full and fun day.  Makeda is asleep now and we will see what great adventures tomorrow holds for us come morning.  Blessings to all!