We got up early, went to our usual breakfast cafe and then it was time to go back to Kolfe. I could not believe I was actually driving back to KOLFE, the place I have been praying for and longing to return to for the past year and a half. It was unbelievable. I was actually crying all the way there because I was overcome with awe knowing the LORD HIMSELF had brought me to this place for HIS purpose and HE obviously has another plan for me to be back. I never dreamed I would be back so soon. My heart was racing and wondering if the boys would remember me. I was wondering what the place would be like, did they get any work done since our last visit?
This was also moving day for our son Solomon. This has been his home since he was 10 years old. He spent the last nine years of his life here and this is his family, these boys are all he had until November 2007. They have lots of memories; lots of tears and laughs were shared together and Solomon says they all know his heart and dreams.
This was a huge day in both of our lives. We literally held hands all the way there. I could only imagine how difficult this day was for him. I know both of us were wishing he was packing to come back to America with me but the LORD has other plans. We don't know them all yet, but HE has given us this day, and today we were moving him into the home of Misganaw Tesfaye and his wonderful family.
Suddenly, there it was, we turned the corner and the Kolfe Boys orphanage was before my eyes. The big gate opened and we drove in. The boys started to run toward us and greet us just like before. Only this time, Solomon got out of the car with me and they greeted him as well. He had been staying with me at the Cherokee house for several days. It took a few minutes, but then the boys started to ask me if I remembered them.
"Hey Mom, do you remember me? I was talking to you last time."
"Hey Mom,"EYE LEAN on the LORD" you told us!"
I was overjoyed and said,
"Do you remember when I was here that God told me to hug and kiss all of you?"
"YES", they responded, and many of them began to laugh.
"Well, Mama is back for more hugs and kisses, come over here and give me some".
Many of them started to surround me and get and give lots of hugs and kisses again. It was such a joy to hold them in my arms again. Several of the boys showed me photos of them I had sent back from my last trip. One of the special young men I remembered, Genanew, had entered the gate and came over to see why the crowd was gathering. When I saw him I said,
"Genanew, how are you? I have been praying for you".
He looked at me and said he wasn't sure he remembered who I was. I said,
"That's OK, I know a lot of people have been coming to visit in the last year. I remember you very well and I have prayed for you."
He smiled and just looked at me for a while. Then he ran off and suddenly came back with a photo in his hand saying,
"Is this when you came?"
He handed me the photo I had sent him of when he was holding Josiah Abel.
"YES I said, he is my son and we took that photo of you last time we were here."
His face lit up and he smiled his beautiful smile saying,
"Now I remember you!"
He stayed by my side for most of the day as we went on another tour of Kolfe.
What a joy and delight to SEE AMAZING CHANGES!!PRAISE THE LORD FOR GLADNEY. THEY HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL STEWARDS AND A BLESSING TO THE KOLFE ORPHANAGE. The boys started to show and tell me all about the new kitchen, the finished library, the new blankets, mattresses, and not one broken window anymore. Most everything had been freshly painted. There were gardens and flowers planted between the building where there had been rock piles before. The grounds were more level and safer to walk now. The boys started to say,
"Thank you Mom for all you do to help us here. We know you do much and pray for us. We know you help Ryan Brown and Gladney. Please say thank you to all the people who helped you Mom."
Tesfaye, another special young man from last time, came to greet me and I asked if he remembered me? He said yes. I looked him right in the eyes and told him,
"Tesfaye, God has used you in a mighty way to help all of these things happen at Kolfe. Do you remember our conversation last time?"
"Yes I do."
He was the young man who told me,
"Many people come to visit us lately but no one helps us. Our government has no money. They have not maintained our compound for more than 30 years. They have forgotten about us, can you please help us?"
I showed him the exact spot we were standing when he told me these things. I pointed right at it and told the boys,
"THIS IS WHERE MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER! I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU BOYS AND I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. I HAVE PRAYED FOR GOD TO HELP YOU LIKE YOU ASKED."
Of course, I started to cry and just stood there looking at them. They all started to say;
"Don't cry Mom, it's OK! Don't worry, God is here taking care of us! Don't worry Mom, don't be sad."
Here I was in the middle of these amazing young men in tears and they were comforting me and encouraging me not to worry! Many of them kept saying thank you for everything you do Mom. I kept responding that
"IT WAS GOD WHO DID EVERYTHING THROUGH RYAN BROWN AT GLADNEY AND THEN HE USED OUR BLOG AND SPEAKING MINISTRY TO HELP RAISE MONEY AND AWARENESS THAT HAS BEEN BRINGING MANY PEOPLE TO VISIT."
I asked them if they remembered what I had told them two years ago. I was so surprised to hear them shouting out,
"You told us to Love God, and you said you tell God's people about us and they come to visit, You said you give us Mama Hug and Kiss from GOD. You have husband and Ellie with you, how are they?"
It was very clear that they did indeed remember. I asked how many people had come to visit since I left. They responded;
"Too many to count!"
I then went to the office to finally meet the director Johannes. I had never met him because he was in a meeting on my last visit. I politely knocked on the door and he told me to come in. He looked very busy behind his desk full of paperwork. I said:
"Hello, I am Solomon's Mom, Eileen. I don't know if you know me but I have been praying for Kolfe and love this place and the boys so much."
He surprised me when he stood up, walked from behind his desk and reached out to hug me. He is a big man and his countenance suddenly changed as he walked toward me. He began to hug me and say,
"It is so nice to finally meet you. Thank you for all you have done for Solomon and the boys here at Kolfe. You are a woman of GOD, Bless you."
As I hugged him back and he pulled away, I saw tears rolling down his cheeks. I told him it was all God's doing, He brought me here to give these boys a Mama's Love and to be about HIS business. He has a very gentle an soft voice and he wiped his tears and started to share with me.
"You are very special. You know the people of this community hate Kolfe. They throw rocks at the compound. They yell out bad names to the boys, and throw rocks at them, even at me when I come to work. They don't want us here. They think all the boys are bad. Other people who came to work here left very quickly. I believe God has me here for a reason. He brought me here 6 years ago and I only make 2000 birr. I could get another job tomorrow making 5000 birr but I can't leave. Every time I try, God tells me HE wants me here. If I leave, who will take care of these boys? I try to teach them to be good and to Love God. They are good boys and they need an education. I write many letters to people asking for help, but no one helps us. I ask the private schools for scholarships but only one answered. This is the school where I sent Solomon. But they called one day and said they had no money and he needed to pay to stay there or else he has to leave. I know you started to pay for his school and I thank you. I thank God he started sending people like you and Ryan Brown to help us. Our government has no money and we need help. The boys, they need people to love them and help them. I believe this is my ministry to serve God here".
Mr. Johannes and I spent about an hour talking and crying together in his office. It was a very special bonding time for us. This is a very special man, a man of GOD!
What a glorious day this was, it was sunny, warm and beautiful smiling faces were surrounding me. I intentionally touched everyone of the boys, hugging and kissing all day long. We intended to stay about an hour but stayed 5 hours. I told the boys we needed to go because it was getting dark and they asked when we were coming back. We made plans to come back Monday. Habtamu was not home and I had to return especially to see him. He was at the library studying as usual.
There were also 19 new boys that had just arrived this week from Kebebetsahay orphanage. I even recognized some of them from when we visited there with Ryan last time. They range in age from 7-10 years. Many of them were sad and nervous looking because Kolfe was a new place for them. They didn't know me, but it wasn't long before most of them were being hugged and kissed. I saw many of their faces change into bright smiles. One little boy asked if I could please bring them Colgate and a toothbrush when I come back. Another little boy asked for a back pack to carry to his new school. My heart was broken again, as I met the next generation of Kolfe boys. This was the age when my Solomon came to Kolfe and I couldn't help but think he was scared and sad just like these boys. He was all alone in this new place and had no idea what was in store for him. I felt like this was God showing me the work HE has for me to do now. These new boys need a family before they turn 19 years old. Help me LORD!! Help me find them a family!!! HELP ME to NEVER FORGET THEM AND TO BE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS FOR THEM! MY HEART JUST ACHED FOR THESE BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BOYS!
It was time for Solomon to pack up his belongings. He had a small trunk at the side of his bed with everything he owned locked up in it. He filled his back pack with the things he wanted and then told the boys they could take what was left. Within 2 minutes, they all had something in their arms running to put into their trunks. They even took his blanket and mattress. The top bunk was completely empty, like no one lived there any more. They all address their bunks as their houses. Solomon's house was vacant! He looked around the room, the boys surrounding him as we walked out of the building and we stepped out into the journey of Solomon's new life. The boys followed us out to the gate and stood waving and smiling as we drove away. Many of them yelling,
"Come back please, come back tomorrow"!
(photos will soon follow) Stay tuned more to come......