We had our first home visit today and it went very well. The social worker was so nice and gave us great information and a lot to think about. We know the transracial issue will come up throughout these little ones' lives, and we are committed to doing everything possible to be prepared for that. She gave us some great resources to look through and ideas for ways to help them adjust as they grow. I must say, I've been thinking about this a LOT since we started down this road. When I'm out in public, I try to imagine what it would be like to have someone look at me from afar and make a judgement about me simply because of the color of my skin. What must it feel like to be judged on something so completely out of ones's control before one ever gets the chance to speak? It is painful but good to be stretched and convicted in this way. This process has already been such a time of growing and stepping outside of 'easy'.
Paper work is chugging away at a good pace. The most difficult challenge so far??? Dealing with the BMV to get my driver's license updated. Um . . . does the term "going postal" mean anything to anybody? I am not usually easily excited (at least not in public) but that day I thought I may just make it onto the five o'clock news. Oh.my.goodness. The scene was surreal as I watched about 45 people waiting around me texting and surfing the web via cell phone. Instant time. FAST. At the same time, the employees at this particular BMV were moving in slooooowwwww motion. Willfully. Proudly. As in, "I dare you to ask me how much longer the wait will be." Wow! Such a testing. What do you want me to learn from this one, Lord?
We were made aware by our agency today of a change in Ethiopian adoptions. Up to now, one parent could travel to Ethiopia to go to court and pick up their child and then return to the States after about a week. Yesterday, the Ethiopian government decided that both parents must be in country to attend the court date. Families will be able to meet their childen in person and spend time with them that week, but will have to go back to the States for 8-12 weeks without them and then return to Ethiopia for about 4 days to pick up the children and take them home for good.
We were originally planning on just one of us going and taking one or two of the older kids and one of our adult siblings. The thinking being that we didn't want to leave our birth kids home without one parent in case of emergency. It took a while to shift thinking on this, but we're getting there! We're now thinking about using this first trip as a potential family mission trip to go and serve at Kind Hearts school in Addis. We've challenged the four older kids to try to save up airfare over the next year and if they can do it, they will be able to go. We're still investigating options and the logistics of this. Needless to say, the kids are EXCITED and busy thinking of ways to raise money.
We continue to be so encouraged and CHALLENGED by our blog friends who have been through this process, seen the need and the beauty of the culture first hand, and are home with their children. All of them are forever changed, many invested long-term in this mission. This post stays on my mind continually. God has been doing some very painful and stretching work in our hearts and minds over the past few months. Tossing our previous assumptions about how our lives would look on end. This particular passage continues to challenge my thinking on the way we "do church", the why's behind the service, the real effectiveness of what we do week after week. Who is it for? What are my motives? Is it stretching me at all to be really, truly, hands-on more like Christ?
This is from Karen Wistrom, the Kind Hearts sponsor coordinator. Kind Hearts is a day school in Addis that currently feeds and teaches 68 children who otherwise would not have much to eat nor the opportunity for an education. It is a ministry of Children's Hopechest - you can check them out at the link to the right of our blog.
"Tom Davis (president of Children's Hopechest) shared something powerful with us as we ate a quick breakfast. It was the morning after we had driven 11 harrowing hours through mud and fog and narrow mountain passes to visit a care-point that serves over 400 children - 180 of them orphans.
These children were gaunt and thin. Tattered and stained clothing that covered skin stretched across bone. Eating grass when they thought we weren't looking. Some had lice, some had sores that weren't healing. All of them were hungry. All of them were longing for the reassuring, loving and protective arms of a mommy or daddy.
Every one of us went to bed that night with the question on our lips and hearts ... why? These innocent children, through no fault of their own, are left to fend for themselves. Hungry, scared, sick ... and alone, with no one in the world to love them, to soothe their fears, to stroke their forehead when they are sick and feverish, to kiss them goodnight. Why? It's so unfair.
And like a child, my mind shouted ... IT'S NOT FAIR!!!
That morning, Tom read from Amos, 5:21-24 (The Message).
"I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice - oceans of it.
I want fairness - rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want."
I realized when he finished speaking that I was holding my breath - I think we all were. God's Word was speaking so clearly - about the oppressed, the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the sick ... and the orphaned children we were about to visit again that day.
Later in the week, as we visited another orphange with about 50 children and 3 babies (the babies had been left at the gate by desperate family members unable to care for them). I noticed a piece of paper taped to the wall, with a child's hand-writing. It said "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you." John 14:18.
I have to admit, my first thought was .."how can these kids actually have the faith to believe that? With all they have been through, where is the evidence? They have seen mothers and fathers die. Many have been abused, enslaved, raped and left homeless and hungry. Many have died. How can they take comfort in that verse in the midst of what their reality is right now?"
As I glanced up at the sign again after emerging from the baby room - with my arms still feeling the weight and warmth of the tiny fragile baby I had been holding. It dawned on me ... If WE are to be the hands and feet of Jesus .... then He does not leave them as orphans. He comes to them through me ... and you."
Can one of us change the world? Maybe not. But we can change it for one or two or three children. And if many "one's" of us did that, we just may make a really big difference.