Saturday, March 31, 2012

Distant Memories of Africa


He remembers eating avocadoes after a rain storm. He says they fell to the ground and he would scoop up a whole bunch, he bends over and shows me how his arms were full of them, and then he and "old daddy" would sit on the ground and eat them. He loves to suck on the large avocado seed, and he starts begging for it as soon as I cut into the avocado. That is one of the good memories he has. Old daddy also used to smoke and sometimes he would throw his "smoke" into a can and they would get warm. He laughed and laughed as he told us this. We were sitting at a stop light in traffic and the person in the car next to us was smoking, and that is what triggered this memory to tell us that story. He also remembers going through garbage looking for food. He also remembers being very hungry and being cold. He remembers being deathly scared of dogs and cats (think hyenas and wild dogs) and we still have to work on meeting a "new" dog today. He is not a cat kid and I don't think he ever will be. These were all stories that we heard a over a year ago and these stories are becoming harder for him to recall. He speaks less frequently of Africa and his life there and instead he talks about his friends at school and what he wants for his fifth birthday. It's been 15 months now that he has been home with us in America.

He doesn't remember a whole lot from his life in Africa anymore. I find that to be a good thing and a bad thing. It's kind of a mixed blessing. I want him to remember where he came from, especially since Philip, Robby and I have such a deep love for Ethiopia. We do still take him to eat Ethiopian food at least once a month, and he still loves that Ethiopian spice of berbere, that burns our bellies when we eat it. Ethiopia has become a part of where we are from as well...we all felt the connection being there and long to be back. We don't want him to remember all of the loss he experienced at such an early age and some of the circustances he lived in as a child. Having no house at somepoint for him is still a memory that we believe he will never forget. He doesn't remember living in the house that old daddy now lives in, he just remembers not having one and sleeping on the ground outside. I am not sure he will ever forget what he did "not" have..... because there was a lot he did not have.  He remembers "being poor" and he sees and hurts for the homeless, when we drive down the street in our community. Sometimes we don't "see" them, but he always does. He tells me they don't have a home and they don't have much food. He relates with them. He recently reminded Philip at bedtime that he used to be very, very poor. He still has nightmares sometimes, but praise God they are becoming less and less frequent.

He clearly remembers his old daddy's voice. All I have to do is turn on the video on my computer that we have as he will run clear across the house to see him.  He remembers that "old Daddy" wears a yellow baseball hat and has a brown coat. When we get to the part in the video where he doesn't have either of these items, he demands to know why "old daddy" isn't in his yellow hat. Where did it go he says? And then a few minutes later, old daddy is wearing the hat, he smiles, comments on it, then runs off to play with his cars and legos.

Mamos's dad is in poor health and we pray for him every night. He may be "poor" but, we were recently blessed with how "rich" he has become. He is now a Christian and he loves the Lord. He is scared of being sick all alone, but he knows we will all meet again in Heaven some day and he says "I can not wait for that day to come." I often wondered, since we have been home with Mamo, if he had peace about his decison to give Mamo up for adoption. People have made comments like "well, he gave him up"...but it is not that easy to judge him and his circumstances are much more dire than it was just a "decision" to freely "give him away." It is not the same "choice" in a third world country, that others may have here in America and their situations clearly cannot be compared. In Ethiopia many are so poor and destitute and in some cases sick, that they are unable to keep their children, even thought they want to and long to do so. Many are forced with the ultimate sacrifice to send their children into an orphange or even the street, and that is hard for ANYONE in any country to make, especially those with NO options of a plan B.

In Mamo's "old daddy's" situation, he was sick and had NO OTHER family at all to care for Mamo. No wife, no other children, no sisters, no brothers, no mom... nobody. "Old Daddy" was all the family that Mamo had left, and he found himself to be very sick and in quite the predicament. Mamo had also recently lost his mother the year before. His "old daddy' didn't just "give him up"...he HAD to make a choice to PLAN for Mamo's LIFE. Philip and I saw the homeless kids ALL ALONE in the streets in Ethiopia.... his dad knew that would BE Mamo's life if he didn't make a choice to PLAN for him.  God had a plan too, and as many of you know, the day after Mamo's dad brought him to his orphanage, 12 hours away from where they lived, that Robby and I soon crossed paths into his orphanage. We were not supposed to go there that day, and I had prayed the night before for God to take adopting a child from Africa off of my heart. Five days serving in Africa had led me to believe I could not do this and that I was not capable. And the next day he placed this beautiful boy right in front of us. Robby and I loved him immediately and we knew instantly that God was telling us that this was Robby's brother he had dreamed about and the son I had been longing for. And so began our journey to bring Mamo home. My husband's heart softened for this adoption, once we told him about this sweet boy we had met, and he began the homestudy process for us while my oldest son and I were still in Africa. Mamo's dad told me he prayed the day that he left Mamo at the orphanage, that someone would come for Mamo soon. We shared with him, that the day after he left Mamo at the orphange (late July 2010), that we met Mamo the very next day and that we began to pray to bring him home to America. He sobbed and broke down when I shared this with him. God indeed, had promised him to take care of this little boy, asked him to allow him to provide and indeed he did. Neither of us knew of each other yet, but we were both praying for this child and God provided for what we both had asked him to do. Mamo's dad gives all the glory for this adoption to God and only to God!

Mamo and I were reading the story the other night of Baby Moses and how his mommy put him in a straw basket and put him into the River. And we talked about how his mommy watched the King's daughter "find him" and take him home to live with her. I expalined to him that Moses's mommy loved him so much that she was willing to save his life by allowing someone else raise her child, kind of like how "old daddy" did for him.  She simply didn't have another option and this was God's plan for Moses. She loved Moses so much that she made the only decision that she could to let him go, even though it was so painful to do so.  I couldnt help think how Mamo's dad and her have a lot in common. "Old daddy" was fearful of what would become of Mamo and he simply didn't know what to do. He didn't want him to become a child of the street or a slave. Mamo's dad praises God for sending a family to raise and love his son. We tell Mamo all the time that God has BIG plans for his life, and we can't wait to see what God has planned for him to do!

Mamo's "old daddy" is greatful that we were able to bless his son by giving him love, shelter, food and an opportunity that he was unable to provide for Mamo long term. He is thankful that Mamo has a family and will continue to have a family, since it looks like he will be in Heaven, most likely before us. We are thankful that someone, we do not know who, shared the Gospel with him, and that sharing of the Gospel "changed his heart" and that now is now a Christian. We believe Mamo's dad became a Christian shortly before he gave Mamo to the orphanage. We know he has a bible and he reads it and that he loves Jesus.  We tell Mamo that one day we will all be reunited together in Heaven. We are so greatful to the Lord for opening our eyes, our hearts and our home to the need that we had never really seen or could imagine. We are thankful for our two older children, who love Mamo to pieces and who have helped him transition to our family. Our "Big" kids have a heart and compassion for their younger brother's birth country and  they both want to go serve there (again) someday. We are so thanful how the Lord has blessed this family with a smooth, almost seamless transition, to being a family of 5. May the Lord continue to OPEN our hearts and our eyes to the need that is here in America and around the world! This little man has blessed our family so much and we couldn't imagine our lives without him!

Some may ask why share all of this information now? Well, I don't want to forget the stories and every miraculous part of this journey. We also pray that it moves the hearts of others to trust in God's plans for his children. We recognize that God may be placing adoption on your heart and if so we ask you to open your heart and to be obedient. I was at an adoption conference last weekend and I heard someone share that their call to adopt was during a time of a great family loss. Their family had multiple lossess and they were numb to all that was happening. Their child was the one that asked them to pray about adoption. Later that family answered the call many times to accept many of God's children into their home. She said that even though they had suffered a great LOSS, they realized it was easier to LIVE life and rescue those who had already LOST so much! AMEN!