It was a long 18 hour flight and we spent a lot of time talking and praying about why the LORD had us both on this journey. There were approximately 10 American families on the plane going to adopt from Ethiopia. We spent some time talking with everyone and sharing stories and photos as we waited in Dulles. Cousin Georgie and I both knew that the LORD had orchestrated everything for us to be on that plane and we both felt like we were about to embark on a life-changing journey. We were both at peace but yet we knew we were entering into a journey that we had absolutely no control over.
We arrived at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It took us approximately another 3 hours to get through customs and the Visa line and then there we were standing within eyesight of Solomon and Misganaw, his dad, Brianna from Cherokee and Peter from Children's HopeChest. We were all waving and running toward each other until at last Solomon and I were embracing each other. It was so surreal and felt so amazing to be back in Ethiopia and looking into Solomon's face again. I still can't find the right words to describe what it felt like but the words standing on holy ground kept coming to mind. I know with everything in my being that the LORD GOD has so intentionally and miraculously ordained this relationship and this journey. This is so not about me but about HIS WILL, HIS PLAN and HIS PURPOSE.
We then sat at a table in the airport for about an hour talking and showing photos from home while we waited for one of the passengers who was also going to be staying at the Cherokee House with us. It turned out to be Ginia Hairston with Children's HopeChest who was delayed due to her luggage still being somewhere between Colorado and D.C. After she filed her claim, we all gathered in the van and headed to our new home away from home. As soon as we all got settled in the van I said: "Well here we all are like one big happy family!" To which Misganaw's dad responded: "Yes, one big happy family created by GOD!" I knew at that moment that we were not the only ones who SAW GOD IN THIS JOURNEY!!!
We got to Cherokee house, settled in and went to bed since it was now very late. The morning came oh-so-soon and before we knew it we were planning our day! We called for my driver through Gladney but Belay did not answer his phone. So we opted to use the Cherokee house driver for the day, a very sweet man named Habtamu who drives a very tiny old blue taxi. Georgie, Solomon and I hopped in and headed out to breakfast at Kaldi's, which is like a Starbucks cafe. After breakfast, we decided to just let him drive us around Addis Ababa and give us the tour. Georgie was very quiet and I was wondering what was going on. It was not like him to be so quiet. As we were driving around I noticed at one point he was looking like he was very sleepy. He was recording video and taking photos but he was looking out of it. I finally asked if he was doing alright when he turned to me with a pukey look on his face and said,"I feel like I am sucking on the exhaust pipe of that car in front of us! I didn't know I was coming to die here!!!"" I immediately burst out laughing and could not catch my breath for a few minutes. He really looked poochie and I said; "Are you sleepy or are you dying of carbon monoxide poisoning?" He turned to look at me again and he really did not look good. So we asked the driver to take us back to the house. When we got home, Georgie said the fumes were coming from the car we were driving in as well as outside and he really felt sick. He wanted to go lie down for a while and recoup from our scenic drive, HA HA!
I honestly thought I was losing him the first day. He said he had traveled 6 continents and never had seen anything like this. It was disturbing to see the “fourth” world conditions of this country and also so surreal to see the wide variation of time periods going on at the same time. There are Shepherd's with sheep and donkeys in the streets, people dressed like bible times and modern day clothing all walking beside each other, and then there were many beggars, sick and crippled children and adults begging at the car and lying on the sidewalks, medians and everywhere. There is absolutely no organization to the driving rules, no designated lanes and everyone drives crazy. People just run right in front of the cars and literally walk in the middle of the traffic at all times. It is a miracle that you don't see bodies flying through the air constantly. I was a nervous wreck every time I saw the little kids and mothers with babies walking among the chaos of traffic. There is nothing to compare it to and it takes some getting used to. They are all perfectly comfortable with it but we as foreigners were a bit stressed.
So Georgie went to sleep and Solomon and I spent the next four hours of the afternoon all alone in the living room sharing our testimonies with each other about everything the Lord had done in our lives for the last year and a half. It was amazing to hear the two stories from two countries and to SEE how the LORD had woven a tapestry for us to be together on that couch. We both cried, laughed and bonded through the miracles we had witnessed and experienced. We recognized if not for the miraculous invention of email, we would not be together today. It was through this technology that we established our long distance relationship and communications. We traced all of our steps back to the very first day of our meeting when Ryan Brown of Gladney insisted that we visit the Kolfe Boys orphanage. This was the day I got very frustrated and prayed the Lord would give us a flat tire or something to avoid visiting Kolfe. It is so humbling to realize that I NEVER KNOW WHAT GREAT PLANS THE LORD HAS FOR ME and I am so grateful that HE ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT IS BEST!!!!
Everyone started to arrive back home and we soon were at the table eating home-made Pizza and getting to know each other. We all shared our stories of why and how we were all at the Cherokee house. JT and Brianna are employees of Cherokee; Brittney and Scott are volunteers, Peter and Ginia are with Children's HopeChest and then there was Solomon the orphan boy, Misganaw the exchange student, Tattoo Man DJ Manager Georgie and Home-school MOM ME! What a weird tapestry has been woven huh?? Everyone was absolutely amazed at our testimony as each of us shared how we came to be at this table. There were tears as well as lots of laughs.
Ginia even mentioned that she had seen us on the plane and kept staring because we looked like such an odd couple. She thought we didn't look like husband and wife but then we were so affectionate and seemed so close. We were talking and laughing a lot and then I was sleeping on his shoulder too!! What could they be going to ET for she thought? I mentioned that I had tried to talk to her on the plane but she seemed kind of snobby. She laughed and said she was just having a hard time trying to figure us out. We quickly became very good friends however, and realized that we also were experiencing a divine appointment. She was there to visit the orphanages that are being sponsored by Children's HopeChest, one of which is the Kolfe Boys orphanage. What are the odds that she would be there for her very first visit with Kolfe's Mama as her roommate?? Only God could orchestrate things like this! We now have a bond not only as sisters in Christ but as roommates and witnesses to the miraculous works of the LORD and the Kolfe orphanage.
Ginia at Kolfe