I'm going to try blogging day by day about our trip to Ethiopia. It's the easiest way to make sure that I don't miss anything.
Day one (Sunday, August 9th) was a busy and exciting day! We started early. We were awakened at 4am by the Muslim chants over the loud speakers outside our Guest House. We got up at 5am, and were on the road at 6:30am. We were picked up by Alazar, who drives for our agency in country. What a great man!
We headed over to the Transition House to pick up Sue, our agency director. I can't tell you how strange it was to know that Ellie was inside that house and not to see her. However, we knew that if we met her, we wouldn't want to leave her, and we really wanted to make this trip. We were headed out to Woliso, where Ellie was born and where she lived in the orphanage.
The drive to Woliso was about 2 hours southwest of Addis, and it was beautiful. It's rainy season in Ethiopia right now, so it rained some as we drove. The countryside was beautiful, so green and lush! Cows and donkey were everywhere- in the fields, yards and storefronts, and in the middle of the road. In Ethiopia, you don't use the brake much on a car; you just honk the horn!! HA!
As we drove into Woliso, I was overwhelmed by all the children we saw. They came runnning out to the street- dirty, hungry, some naked- but all smiling and waving. We stopped to buy some bananas and gave some out to the children along the way. They just gobbled them up! They were so hungry! Their hair has a golden tint to it, and it's not from heredity or from dirt; it's from malnourishment.
At the Ammanuel Orphanage, where Ellie stayed, we met Yob, the director, and Shetto, the nanny. Yob was very excited to meet us and know that we had adopted Ellie. Shetto, the nanny, told us how sad and shy Ellie was when she first met her. She was tearful and obviously moved when she heard that you were happy and healthy now. We got the chance to thank her for taking such good care of Ellie, and that is something I will be forever grateful for.
The tour of the orphanage was nothing short of heart-breaking. It didn't take long, as it is small and compact. We saw the bed that Ellie slept in, and I was overcome with seeing how dirty and tiny it was in that dingy and damp room. I held a baby that was filthy and smelly, and I was broken at the thought that I have been given so much when these children have so little.
The kitchen was the hardest part of all to see. They showed it to us, and all I could think of was "where is the food?" There was none. Nothing. What were they going to eat that day? Was it somewhere else? Would they have anything at all, other than what Sue had brought along with her that day? How many days did Ellie live here without enough to eat? How many nights did she go to bed with her little belly hurting from hunger?
The children at this orphanage are beautiful. There's no other way to say it! I wish I could post pictures of them with their beautiful smiles and knowing eyes. They would melt your heart. It's against policy to post pics of orphans on the internet, so I can't. But I pray that peoples' hearts are opening to the call of God to open their homes to these children!
While at the orphanage, Yob told us that Ellie's birthmom was nearby and had another baby that she wanted to place for adoption. Before we knew what to think, we were in the car again, on our way to meet the woman who gave life to our beautiful daughter! My emotions were raw, to say the least! I was nervous to meet her, wondering what I should say or how to act. But when I saw her, I was very much at peace.
Her name is Tigist, and she is quiet and beautiful. Ellie has her eyes. She stood not much taller than me, very thin and petite like Ellie will likely be. She was holding Ellie's baby sister, who is about 8 months old. She gave very little eye contact and spoke very softly, but as we stood together longer, she looked directly at me a few times. She is from the Garage (pronounced ga-raw-gi) tribe, known for its strong work ethic. I have no doubt that she works long, hard hours. Before you start to judge her for not taking care of her children, know that she works for about a dollar a day. She can't provide for her children in that kind of poverty. So, she gave Ellie (and is giving her other daughter) a gift that is beyond my scope of mind. She gave them life not only in birth, but through the miracle of adoption. We were able to get a few pictures of us together, that I will cherish forever. She teared up as we thanked her for the gift of Ellie. We promised to love her forever, as if I had given birth to her myself. I pray she is at peace knowing that Ellie is taken care of and loved dearly. I pray she rests well in knowing that her sacrifice was an answer to my prayer.
Once we left Tigist, we made a couple of other short visits to other children who are being adopted. Then it was back to Addis, Ellie's baby sister in hand, to meet Ellie face to face for the first time! Stay tuned... that story is next!