When we were in Ethiopia last November, this week is our one year anniversary, our days were planned for us. One morning Ryan told us he was taking us to the older boys orphanage, Kolfe. He told us the boys ranged from 10 yrs.to 20 yrs old. My immediate response was "NO THANK YOU!" We had our beautiful 14yr. old daughter with us. Common sense, along with some street smarts having been raised in NY & Jerry being LAPD retired, told us it would be absolutely insane to take her to a compound with 185 testosterone filled young men. When I told Ryan we were not interested he told me he really wanted us to see this place. He assured us that Ellie would be safe. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the morning very quite and not very happy! I suggested we go to the market to do some shopping instead. We brought a few dollars to do our Christmas shopping there. I thought we would help their economy and bring some very unique gifts home for everyone. But Ryan insisted. All the way there, approx. 45 a minute drive, I sat in the car very upset, nervous and asking God to make something happen to prevent us from going to KOLFE!! I felt like something was going to happen and I thought is was going to be bad.
Thank the LORD HE always HAS A PLAN!! I had no idea that HE was about to rock my world and change me forever. He took me to a place in my heart that needed a major restoration. HE needed to show me how I had to learn to LOVE in a new way, to find a place in my heart that had never been utilized before. A new place in my heart that I never knew existed. It's like a door was opened to a new world. The Forgotten Boys of Kolfe showed me God in a whole new way! He created each and every one of them in HIS IMAGE. HE has a perfect plan for them. They are the future leaders of the next generation, the husbands and fathers of the generation after that. They have smiling faces, feelings, desires, dreams, aspirations, needs, they laugh and cry and their hearts need to be filled with the LOVE of JESUS. They need us to care about them, to visit them and to help them.
As soon as my feet touched the dirt of this compound, I knew that God was speaking to me. He gently whispered that he brought me their for a purpose. I heard him say I was to give each one of them a "Mama's hug" and to tell them HE loves them,and HE has a plan for their lives. Kolfe is not all there is in their lives. "I know how many hairs are on each of their heads and I have a plan and purpose for each of their lives. When you hug them, tell them this for me." So, as crazy as this sounds, I told Jerry and Ryan I needed all the boys to line up for a Mama's Hug. As Ryan told them to line up, they all looked a him like he was crazy. He told them "It is OK, this is MAMA EILEEN." So, they all lined up and one by one I reached out and put my arms around them. I put my hand on each of their heads as I told them what I felt the Lord impressed on me to share. You know when you hug a stranger there is a tense feeling and sometimes a pulling away? Well, each of them did just the opposite. They leaned into my arms and put their heads down. They stayed in my arms until I released the hug. Some of them had tears in their eyes and some giggled as they ran off. I learned later from Jerry, Ellie and Ryan, that many of them ran off to the soccer field and brought another boy to get in the line. Some ran off to the dorms and were bringing boys to get in the hugging line. And, some got in a second time. For some of them, it was the first Mama's hug they had felt. When the line was gone, I looked around to be sure I had gotten everyone. There were some older young men sitting on the side line and I went to them and said, "Your turn". These young men hesitantly got up and got their MAMA'S Hug too. One of them started talking to me in Amharic and Habtamu translated for me. He said, "We have been here very long time, no one cares about us, can you please help us get out of here?"
To which I responded, "I will go back to America and I will talk to God's people. If they will listen to God, they will come and help you and bring you things you need. I will ask God to help me talk to as many people as possible. I will not forget you, God has not forgotten you. If you see people start to come here, people from America, then you will know that GOD is at work here at Kolfe. He told me HE brought me here for the purpose of telling you that HE LOVES YOU AND HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOU, HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU! I will do everything I can to help you.
And so began a new world, a new life for me. I will never be the same. I am a bundle of tears ever since my trip to Ethiopia, but especially since my day at Kolfe. I cry at the drop of a dime, and I tell anyone who will listen about the Kolfe boys. I pray the Lord will continue to open doors and opportunities to share about HIS precious orphans that need the LOVE, CARE and physical presence of JESUS CHRIST!
On top of everything else, I recieved the gift of my other son, Solomon Bekele.
Here is my sweet Solomon's letter from today, look at what I almost missed.
Dear Sweet Mother,
I hope this letter(message) finds you and the rest of the family in the best of health. I miss you all very much. Apart form this, I am very well.
I am very busy by school that is why I took many days to write for you but I always thinking about you. I have pictures of you and I saw it when I have feel lonely.
I and Lynn(Kibrom mother) communicated by email. We talked about you and Jesus. She is good knowledge about Jesus and she told many things about you. I proud by all of you and the rest of my family.
Mom did you receive my letter yet form aschalew family? Did you meet with aschalew ? he was very eager to meet with you while he is here.
Mom, you and the rest of my family are very sweet and beloved. I always thanks God for his special gift. I donʼt think before to have a person just like you but God plan is very amazing. I donʼt know what is look like for you but for me it is unbelievable. It is just like a dream.. God brought you into my life for good reason. I havenʼt much knowledge about Jesus before but know things are changed because of you my dear mom. I am sure God pay for you by the think that you did for me. Thanks for the package and the money you send for me. It reached for me at the right time. But mom I donʼt want to worry to much ok. You are not only my mother you are also my soul. I love you very much. God bless you now, tomorrow and forever.
Your Loving son,