On our way home

Dear ones, We have been flying and looking like homeless vagrants in airports for almost 24 hours now. Much to my chagrin, we still are 2:30 minutes from Chicago where we will take our final layover of 2 hours then board our final plane for Orlando. If you haven't been there….Africa is stinking far away!

Our last day with Meseret and Kamise was relaxed and restful. And then extremely emotional as we parted ways. Ugh, nothing is able to prepare me for any part of this journey emotionally…think I've said that before. You might be tired of hearing it. But, I just have to say it again bc it is one stunned moment after the next. Being betrothed to two girls is beyond anything I've encountered. I journaled a bit about our last day together sometime in the past 24 hrs and I'll copy and paste it in bc I'm delirious at this juncture…..

Yesterday was a wonderful final day with the girls and our little community of adoptive families at the Addis Flower Guest House. It’s amazing to me how swiftly our hearts were connected to the other families we met there. Within 24 hours it felt like we’d known each other for years. The rare gift of trodding the same risky and mysterious path, loving on children who have no parents, taking all of those first steps together.

The highlight of my day happened right when I climbed out of bed. Meseret was standing in the hallway and almost all I could see was her BIG white smile. She ran to me as I asked, “How are you?” She responded without hesitation, “I’m fine.” I gasped! “You’re speaking English!” I exclaimed. She giggled. She walked to the bathroom and I toward the living area when she called to me, “Mommy, brush teeth.” I stopped in my tracks. It was the first time she called me “Mommy.” Through God’s supernatural ways, we were bonding to such a point of trust.

We enjoyed the luxury of eating breakfast with two other families, Ashley and Seth who are adopting Tamarat (the most stunning 18 month old boy) and Crystal and Michael with their 12 year-old son Michael, who are adopting another 12 year old son named Getu. The kids are so tender and working through such deep emotions. Getu sat down outside after he'd been with the Archie's for a day and tears rolled down his cheeks. His uncle is still living and when the Archie's picked Getu up at his orphanage 2 1/2 hours outside of Addis (there's not room in the Transition house (where children are moved about 4 weeks before their court date) b/c the Embassy is moving so slowly to finalize the immigration process on the adoptions (BIG prayer request for God to breakthrough the stalemates) and they stopped at Getu's uncles hut so they could meet one another and Getu could say "good-bye." Getu cried and cried and I can't fathom the loneliness he must feel, the stress of living with people who don't speak your language, etc etc. I kissed his forehead as tears filled my eyes. There's a common theme…..tears. I was so thankful our girls have each other. I can see how that's brought them a depth of restfulness in this transition.

Trust. One of the most mind-blowing aspects of this process. These children have white people show up suddenly at their care center, stay for a while, then take them away in a car for days. They leave with their belongings, the clothes on their backs…which aren’t really theirs anyway. They belong to the orphanage and even if they do have something from us, it’s up for grabs when they return to the Transition House. They have no choice but to trust that we’re going to feed them, love on them rather than harm them. Trust they’ll have their needs met, which for them are easily numbered. When I took them to the shower to help them clean up, they disrobed trusting I would be a good mother. Dennis and I are continually jaw-dropped at the children’s ability to trust. Having lost their mother, been relinquished by their father and taken to a city 14 hours from their village, their openness is supernatural.

After a long lingering breakfast, we observed the women who are the staff at the guest house conduct an Ehiopian daily ritual called “The Coffee Ceremony.” It was a fascinating process they do daily in Ethiopian homes with friends and family where they visit and build relationships. We love the relationality among Ethiopians. They are beautifully affectionate with one another, heterosexual women walking down the street holding hands as well as hetero men with each other. It's so natural here to be unguarded.

We took the girls to lunch and watched them consume one last enormous plate of injhira (the soured flat bread) and beef stewish stuff highly spiced. They tear off a piece of the bread and grab some of the meat and shovel it in their mouths. There hand being there only utensil. We attempted to Skype with Cole and connect with Madison and Keegan (unsuccessfully…waaaah), then headed back to our guest house to pack up the girls. Gently, our driver, Solomon explained to Meseret and Kamise it was time for us to return them to the Transition House until the US Embassy provides us a date to return and receive their visas and immigration docs so we may bring them home. It was sobering for the four of us. Solemnly, we packed the things we had brought them and headed back to the Transition House with our new friends. I walked the girls to their bedroom to stash their few new belongings. The girls were quiet. After about an hour, it was time for the inevitable…our good-bye. I embraced Meseret while Den held Kamise. Tears rolled down their cheeks, tears filled my eyes. Then the damn broke and the girls and I cried and heaved, as did some of our new friends as they onlooked. Then Meseret turned her head up toward mine with the sweetest pucker and kissed me and I kissed her all over and assured her of my love and promise to return. Dennis and I exchanged kids and little Kamise wept in my arms. I kissed her face and promised her we will return.

It stunk! I didn't know if I'd feel it that deeply because as the Spirit is knitting our hearts together I feel like a yoyo. There are times of sweet connectedness and times when I don't feel anything and continue to choose "in." So, when I awoke that morning, I didn't feel the separation deeply and know they're in a safe and good place while they wait.

Hah, the yoyo majorly sprung back from that place. It was brutal to leave them behind.

We will return to life, dying to reconnect with our three at home. We still have about $13,000 to raise which we trust our Father will provide. We're so amazed and encouraged that the number is so low after looking at $45,000 in the beginning. I need to finish preparing the girls' room, which is going to bring such life to me! I cannot wait to usher them through our front door, down the little hallway about 10 feet, and welcome them to their lavish room. I'm giddy thinking about it.

One longing which took root and grew within Dennis and I while in Ethiopia is a deep desire to bring our three kids with us to pick up the girls. That desire was planted individually in each of us and grew without the knowledge it was happening in the other until we'd been there for 2 days. We long for them to experience the culture of their new sisters, see the poverty of their nation and the joy in people living without. We hunger to drive out to some villages so they get to see the environment in which their sisters were raised. I long to visit an orphanage or two and let them love on the kids there. And we long for them to have the joy of bonding with them in their country and through the long trek home.

Please pray the Father would provide for us to be able to do this if they desire to join us. It would be more than I could ever ask or imagine to give them that option.

So thankful for your loving us in this wild n crazy journey. I can't believe as I interlink hands with my new daughters that that little black as night hand and my whitey white hand are family. Only the Author of Life could come up with such a plot.

With love,