"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to ACT"...Proverbs 24:12

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A day I'll never forget

Region:  Tigray   City:  Mekele
The girls are from northern Ethiopia from the region of Tigray.  They grew up outside of the city of Mekele.  WOW!  It is a gorgeous land!  Beautiful exotic looking mountains w/ lush greenery.
Well- the research I did on Tigray was pretty much right on- (I posted pictures of Tigray stuff a couple months ago.)

It is a rural farming community.  I did feel like I was stepping back into time.  Everywhere you looked were donkeys and horses carrying things.  Men were plowing their feilds w/ oxen.  Women and children walked w/ water jugs and sat on the streets selling corn, fruits, or other goods. 
Mekele is the capital city of that region.  Here's Pics of Mekele.

horses, goats, and oxen everywhere

the city streets


veiw overlooking the city

probrably passed by 100 of these durring our stay in Ethiopia.  People sleep in these.  There are tons- actually much smaller than these- all over the busy streets of the Capitol in Addis.  The homelessness was instense.  If they didnt have a tin makeshift tent then they sleep right on the sidewalks, intersections, busy street corners, and highway mediums. 

Now, the girls grew up on the outskirts of the city.  Again, it reminded me of Bible times...
Here is the girls neighborhood and streets leading to their home where they grew up.

Here is their home!  We feel so incredibly blessed to have gotten this oppurtunity!

cooking stuff- and yes probrably including those chickens walking around the house...


Wall hangings...the black and white photo is a picture of their father who passed away when they were babies.

Soooo excited to have a picture of the twins when they were babies!  Jerusalem is on the left in the red hat and Helen is on the right in the red hat.  The other baby and older girl are family friends.  I have a clearer picture than this and you can clearly see the girls in their baby pics- so special!

Most woman in Ethiopia wear traditional white cotton shawls wrapped around their shoulders.  The girls's mother makes theses shawls and I was told that she, 'trades them for food' not sure if that means litteral trading for food or if that means that selling these shawls has been her livlihood.  Here is her work...

This pot is where they keep their water.  They then carry jugs to the town center to get more water.

As soon as we arrived- the neighborhood kids filled up the home.  Azmera told most of the children to leave but this little one and several of the other neighbor children stayed with us on our visit.  When I showed them pictures on my camera of the twins- they got so excited and started kissing my camera :)  They would run back and forth to their homes as little messengers bringing Azmera sugar and china cups for our coffee that she was roasting.

This photo was taken standing in the doorway to the house.  There was 1 bed for the 3 of them.  Originally we thought that they had no electricity- it was quite dim in there but after looking back at these pictures we see that there was 1 lightbulb hanging down in the center.

It was quite an incredible visit.  Besides the fact that when the girls are in a car they  hold on like it's a rolllercoaster, you would really never believe that they grew up in such rural conditions. 
Pretty amazing.

We gained so much from this day.  Not only was seeing their home beneficial but we were able to learn more of their background and family history.  We learned more about their father, we learned about what their daily routines have consisted of, we heard about school stories and fights. 

We learned how much God dirrected our paths to cross eachother and it was not by chance that we learned about the girls.

We learned where the girls quiet mannerisms and deep strength came from. 

They are deeply loved...more deeply loved than we can fathom. 

Yes, their mother is sick and the children needed a new home but even more than that, it sounded like she was trying to save them from something else.  Something else that most of us have never experienced nor dreaded for our children.  She know's the life that the girls would have entered into and she did not want that for them.  Im sure they have been cold and hungry many anights but that is not even what the answer she gave.
She said she did not want them to be destined to life on the streets or in the bars...
meaning childhood prostition. 

 After talking with a friend of mine who is from Africa,  she said she has no doubt the girls have lived with this fear themselves for years.
The first thing their mother said to us as we walked through the door, was that we were her miracle. 

She is a woman of faith who trusts God and knows that he is in control.  We were able to tell her everything that we wanted to say to her- which was definatly the most difficult part.  It was easy asking her questions about her life and the girls, but when it came down to telling her everything that we felt...

That was my emotional breakdown were I just began sputtering words that sounded like I was pledgeing a vow to her- including that she will always be a part of our family, that the girls will be loved, protected, educated, and raised with the morals she has already instilled in them and will continue to have their faith nurtured.  I explained that it was not by chance that we were standing in her home and that God instructed us to adopt her daughters.
Her last words to us was that she can finnaly sleep at night.

Even being in Africa, seeing the poverty and walking this through this emotinal adoption- I can still not fathom the hardships and reality of life and death that millions of families face.  
We are so incredibly blessed in the US...I can only pray that as a nation we will wake up and use our blessed lives for eternal value instead of wasting it on things that will one day pass away.

Profound story I read:

Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: “How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials and knowledge so that we are safe and secure if a crisis occurs.” So they started hoarding. So much and so eagerly that the other peoples protested and said: “You have so much more than you need, while we don’t have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!” But the fearful hoarders said: “No, no we need to keep this in case of emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened.” But the others said: “We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can’t wait… we are dying now!”
Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful since they became afraid that the poor and hungry people would attack them. So they said to one another: “Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us.” They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether their enemies we outside the walls or not! As their fear increased they put bombs at the top of their walls so that nobody from outside would even dare to come close. But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear. They even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And gradually they realize that their fear of death had brought them closer to it. – Henry Nouwen

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