"How can there be too many children? It's like saying there are too many flowers." Mother Theresa

Monday, November 24, 2008


Our trip to Mercy

We met our new daughter, Kaleab Mercy Bond, Friday the 14th. She was living in a run down pink house in the capital city of Addis Ababa Ethiopia. We were taken aback at her beauty. We knew she would be cute, but we had no idea we were picking up a beauty queen. She tentatively came out and hugged us. We gave her a bag of candy to pass out to her friends. There were 9 little one there, the other were at school. A lump formed in my throat as she passed out the candy to her friends and they talked excitedly. They have no chance for life I thought as I watched them play. Who is going to care for them after they leave the orphanage? Only 38 HIV adoptions have ever been completed. I think I will take one more little girl. A sister for Kaleab. We were given a tour of the home and then we loaded up Kaleab and took her home to the guesthouse.
We get very little sleep that night. Partly from the jet lag, partly because of the little girl who is sleeping with us because she is too scared to sleep alone. In the middle of the night I feel Ryan trembling. I ask if he ok. He is crying. I begin to cry to. He hopes the rest of the family knows Jesus. He prays we may show them Jesus. Our tears go from two people’s tears to one.
Day two of our trip found us in a taxi going out of the city and into Weliso, from the area that Simon Derara and Kaleab came from. Dagne, the attorney for our last adoption is along for the ride as he knows the area and knows the family. He shares stories of our adoption of Derara along the way. Derara was first in a home that did not do the proper paperwork to have him placed in a family. Dagne travelled to Weliso with Derara to get the required documents signed. When he arrived the eldest of Derara’s brothers, Biruk, would not help Dagne. He insisted that we were going to sell Derara’s organs. He yelled at Dagne, “I will not sell my brother. I will care for them.” (He was 14 at the time.) Dagne said “But Biruk you can’t even care for yourself.” Biruk’s response,” Then we will depart this world together because I will not sell him.” Dagne also shares with us that he took Derara to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs among other government agencies and he allowed Derara to plead his own case. Saying such statements as “If you send me back, tell me what will become of me? What will be my fate?” We are told he brought many rooms full of officials to tears. My heart swells with pride at this story of the son I love so much. I wonder if the whole Desta clan is this determined. I am told they came from the Garagay tribe. These are hardworking people who live in the type of house that we imagine Africans to live in, a thatch roofed hand made lodging. Their siblings live in town, though not in the traditional house but in a two room shanty.
We arrive at the tin gate of their compound and they are there waiting for us. They take Kaleab and pass her around kissing her. Selamawit, 15 gives us the traditional 3 kisses, Guta 11, follows suit. Biruk, still angry, does not greet us. We are let into their home. They proudly show us their two rooms. They sleep on the floor. They have no water. They have one light that they rent from a neighbor. We show them pictures of Derara. A crowd forms and his picture is being passed around from close relatives to extended family, to neighbors. I cry. We all cry. I wish my son could see how proud everyone is of him. How their eyes both light up and fill up when they see his picture. We tape a video message for Derara, each of his family telling them how they miss him and love him. Dagne translates. We go back in the home for some visiting time. Just Dagne, the siblings and us. Dagne prays in Amharic and though we can’t understand the prayer with our ears we understand it with our hearts. Biruk, who has been in a constant state of breaking my heart, begins to speak. He asks us to take his other two siblings and give them a life, that he cannot, in America. He is 17. He dropped out of school many years ago. He is their primary caregiver. I say “No. Not without you.” He says, “I am too old. I can take care of myself.” He is proud. We praise his efforts with his siblings. We give them the money that Derara has sent for them; he sent all the money that his grandpa has given him from his bank account. We added some money as well. We stop and buy them beds from the side of the road. We get into the taxi and go out into the village to meet with their grandma. Biruk climbs into the rickshaw that he drives to support his siblings. He makes 10 birr a day. That is one dollar.
We get to the village area and wait for them to bring the grandma. A battle is going on in my head. I don’t really want to adopt two older kids. What are you trying to do to me God? People will think we are freaks. No one will understand. The words from Jeremiah are ringing in my head. "You know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."I look over at them. But God, they are old. They are set in their ways. I wanted another cute little girl. Not these two older kids. They don’t even have good teeth. More braces to pay for. We cannot afford another adoption. It was a miracle we afforded this one. Jeremiah again ringing in my head. Grandma arrives and gives me extra kisses and buries her head in my shoulder and cries. She is beautiful. Every line on her face earned, by the work of her hands in the hot sun, and by the devastation she has faced living is this impoverished land. We tape her giving a message to Derara as well. She pleads that he will come see her before she dies. Derara loves his grandmas. I share this information with her, telling her we know his strong character came from these people and we are humbled to be raising him. I have trouble on the two-hour ride back keeping focused. I doze off and on, I cry off and on. I feel broken.
Day 3 we visit Beza International church. What a picture of Heaven. The music was great, many of the songs we sing at Southland. There is a South African woman in the front of the church with her arms held high. I am not sure if she is speaking in tongues or speaking Swahili. I understand the Hallelujah she shouts and each time I hear it I am blessed. I wonder what horrors she has faced to allow her to worship so freely without inhibition. The sermon was about being a good Citizen of the Kingdom. We in the US do not understand the Kingdom as “Every vote counts. Etc.” Democracy is not Kingdom. We are told the story from Genesis of the people, in community, building a tower to heaven and God coming down and NOT blessing their tower. We then go to Psalms 133: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil pored on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing even life forever more. Kindgom citizens know the oil flows from the top down, not from the bottom up.
On the walk back to the guesthouse I share with Ryan and Helen, the lady who owns the guesthouse. I wanted another little girl, bottom up, God is giving me Selamawit and Guta, top down. When we arrive at the guesthouse I put on my ear buds and sing Beg by Shane and Shane, it is to become my mantra.
The next couple of days are spent getting to know this little one that will call Mercy. Mercy is what brought us here. We are average parents. We are average Kingdom Citizens. The only thing separating me from the street ladies in Addis Ababa is the Continent on which I was born. Praise god for his Mercy. Deuteronomy 4:31 For the Lord MY God is a Merciful God. I continue to listen to “Beg”. I continue to struggle with top up and bottom down. I want to feel the oil, but I do not want to chance it. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. Surely it is fear that has me in this state. I pray for love.
Day 5 we travel to Atetegeb Worku to have a going away party for Kaleab. There are 41 orphans in this house. That is the little ones from the other day along with school-aged children. They have candy and sing songs. We are served the traditional coffee ceremony with popcorn, Ethiopian tradition. Ryan dances with the children. I am given a baby to hold. There are two babies who arrived recently; both have tested negative to HIV. One was found in the woods. A lady from San Francisco is given him to hold. The other, the one I hold was put here because both of his parents are on the ward dying from HIV AIDS. We end the party with the orphanage director presenting Kaleab with the traditional Ethiopian dress. (For those of you interested in this subject material there is a book about this orphanage called “There is No Me Without You.”) 41 children here will likely not live to adulthood, simply because of where they live.
The next day we travel to AWOP to visit a friend from our last trip. He is the in country director for this agency that works with older children, micro loans and hospice care for those dying of HIV AIDS. He is a beautiful man named Getachew. We tell him of our predicament with the two children and he says Selamawit may be too old. My eyes fill with tears, or is it oil? I am receiving it, top down. He tells us he will help us but we will have to begin immediately. It must be documented that she is 15 when we start because she cannot be adopted at 16. I don’t know what my family will say.
Fast-forward a few days and many miles. We are home. She is wonderful. She talks a lot and very fast, a big difference from a few days ago. She giggles constantly. She loves her brothers. She sings all the time and loves to dress up. We are so happy. On our way to church Saturday night we tell the other children about Selamawit and Guta. I specifically talk to Noah as his life has changed so much over the years. I want it to be ok with him. He holds my hand and tells me he doesn’t have to think about it, he wants 3 more kids, he plans to adopt when he is a grown up. We are both crying as the oil covers our mini van from the top down.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Things We Do For Love

We are getting ready to head out today. The boys just left for school. I have such an ache inside. Leaving them is so hard. I know they are in good hands, but their not my hands. Pray for us while we are gone that we may maximize our time with out little daughter and not be to homesick for our other children.
This journey started for us over a year ago. Noah came down the stairs and said "Momma, Derara is crying for his sister and can't stop". I went up the stairs to give out wise words and was stopped in my tracks. He was lying curled in the fetal position crying his heart out. The wise words were gone. I lifted the blanked climbed in, curled up behind him and cried too. I tried to soothe him. But really what do you say? What do you say to a child who has lost everything he ever knew or loved? I told him we will find your little sister and bring her home. Shortly after that, our church interviewed us about our adoption and prayed that we would find Kaleab. We did, a few short days later. The things we do for love.
Now we are off to Ethiopia, the birthplace of mankind, to pick up our newest addition. What a life God has laid out for me! I am unabashedly humbled.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

travel plans!!!

We are leaving Wednesday the 12th and will return Thursday the 20th. We are over joyed. Thank you to everyone who helped us, both thru financial support and prayer support. We are honored to be given the priveledge of adding one more to our quiver;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you goodbye

She stood 4 feet 6 inches tall. She had white hair and olive skin. She never married or had children. She never had a career. She was a simple woman. Her name was Verly Rose Baker. She was my aunt, my grandma's sister. She died on October 30th. She will be missed. Many people loved her. She was FAITHFUL to her God and to her church. She slipped from this life and into her new one. My mother was the primary family member who has cared for her over the years. I have watched my Mom serve her these past couple months without complaint. I am so proud of her. The funeral was lovely. She was in a white casket with yellow roses on the top. Her small country Church hosted their Sunday service right there in the funeral home. Her Sunday school teacher even did a Sunday school lesson with us all. Afterward we went up a BIG mountain (The van almost didn't make it!) for her burial. Then we went to the church for dinner. As I entered the church building, a feeling of gratitude came over me. This was the church my mother came to Christ in. This is a special place. Without her salvation, my life would have been very different. I utter a prayer of Thanks. I utter a prayer for strength to lead my children as she led my brother and me.

Adoption update: We have plane tickets for Saturday morning. I would be giddy with excitement, but we aren't sure we get to leave yet. We are waiting for a final OK and haven't received it. If we don't receive it by tomorrow noon we will have to reschedule for one more week. Pray. Pray hard. I am so ready to go get her. Ryan is so ready to get her. I dream of her at night. My little Mercy Bond.

My sister in law is going on a trip with the International Justice Mission. Check out her blog @: http://betheglory.blogspot.com for details. Please pray for her and for all the people who are both slave and slave owner in this travesty we know as human trafficking.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The day ended with the Ethiopian elders seated in chairs in a long row. The bride and groom went down the row kissing the knees of the elders and then their cheeks. Each elder gave the bride and groom their blessings. We could learn so much here in America about the respect of elders and upholding traditions from the Ethiopian people. They are a amazing, beautiful group of people. I have been honored and humbled to be part of David and Fafi's wedding day.

Add American tradition to the wedding the bride and groom had cake and a toast. Fafi looked beautiful!
When I see this picture of David dancing with Noah, I am reminded of a quote that says "Man should be known for his best moment." This is one of Davids finest, joyfully dancing with his son. I began writing for this weekend trip with the subject God waving Hello. He doesn't just wave hello friends. At one point in the reception Noah was lifted high in the air, on the shoulders of someone while he was dancing. Sometimes God waves hello, other times he dances with us on his shoulders.
Though Derara can no longer remember Amharic, he did remember the lyrics to some of the songs and had a wonderful time with the people of his native land.

Ethiopian dance is called the Kista (I think) It is mostly dancing with the shoulders in a challenging way with a partner, gender does not matter in this dance. It is tribal and electrifying to see. I love it! I am not very good at it though.
The reception was held outside and the food was by an Ethiopian caterer. It was of course delicious. The very handsome best man, who danced most of the night away. :)
Brothers hug.
Guys making their mean face.
Boys dancing.

The wedding was held in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It is vividly decorated with rich textures and colors. Paintings of Biblical scenes adorn the walls.
The beautiful bride and her mother, who also is very beautiful.
Cousin Layla was one of the flower girls. They were so cute.
Ceiling of the church
During an Ethiopian Wedding, after the rings the bride and groom are given a robe and a crown. Don't miss the beautiful imagery of this tradition. Someday we, as believer, will all have a robe and a crown.

David, Noah's Dad and my ex was married Saturday in Alexandria Virginia. Noah was the best man in the wedding. It is tradition of the Ethiopian culture that the grooms family go to pick up the bride. The bride's family does not let the groom in and a "fight" ensues. The grooms family begins the event by singing traditional songs and dancing. The brides family, from inside the home answer back with their own songs. The grooms family tries to fight their way in, the brides family fighting to keep them out. The grooms family begs and sprays perfume, etc trying to coerce their way inside. This was really an amazing thing to see. Fafi, the bride, lives in a condo so the procession began in the hallway. The songs were amazing beautiful and joyous. So joyous in fact that I almost instantly formed tears in the corners of my eyes as a smile spread wide across my face. I looked over at Ryan and could tell he was fascinated himself. After fighting our way in, David went into the room and Fafi entered. They both began a sweet cry. Davids groomsmen wiped his tears with a handkerchief. The sound of the female cheer arose in the room, the clicking tongues that I have heard described as a hallel.The men let the children ride in limo with them on the way to pick up Fafi. They were so excited.

Our last stop was the Lincoln Monument. We walked past the place where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous I have a dream speech to the top of the monument to read the Gettysburgs Address carved inside.
Beautiful view of the Washington Monument.

These photos were all taking inside The National Museum for Natural History inside a room devoted to the famous King of Ethiopia.