Solomon and me with Johannes, the director of Kolfe.
As we drove out of the Kolfe gate, I held Solomon’s hand and silently prayed for him. This was a miraculous day in his life. Only a year and half ago, he had no hope for his future, no vision, no idea what God had in store for him. I felt like I just needed to be quiet, hold his hand and pray. This day had only begun to be orchestrated by the LORD just a few months ago. It was all so new, and kind of scary because none of us really knew how it was going to work out. It was another step of faith, free falling into the arms of Jesus and trusting him for the future….
A few minutes later, Misganaw says “ Eileen, there is something I need to tell you. I did not tell you before because I thought you would not want Solomon to come live with my family.” All of a sudden , I got a lump in my throat and we all looked at Misganaw. “Oh, what is it?”, I replied.
“First I want you to know that my family is really excited to have Solomon live with us, and we have been working very hard to get our room ready. You see, we have already taken in 4 other children. Solomon will be my only brother and our 8th child.. I have always wanted a brother and now God has finally given me one. Besides my two biological sisters, my parents have taken in four other girls.”
“WHAT?? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THIS BEFORE?” I replied with a sigh of shock. “How are they going to take Solomon in? Do you have room for him? How did they get these other girls?”
“One of the girls is a relative from the country. My mom’s sister had a daughter who has a mental handicap and they could not take care of her. So my parents took her to live with us. She goes to a special school now for people like her.”
“Then one day my dad was coming home from work and saw a young girl sitting by the street and she was crying really hard. He went to console her and asked her why she was so upset. She told him she was from the country and her family had brought her to work in a business here making injera. The people were mean to her and did not pay her. They just kicked her out and she doesn’t have any place to go. She has no contact with her family any more. She is about 13 years old. So my dad asked her if she wanted to come home with him and live with us. She is a nice girl and she helps mom a lot with the younger children now. The younger girls came from a friend of my older sister who could not take care of them anymore. They are sisters age 4 & 5 yrs. Then another friend of my sister has a 5 yr. old that she can not take care of and we just got her recently. So we have a full house now.
There was complete silence for a few seconds and we all just stared out the windows. Then Georgie suddenly said “THIS IS CRAAAAAAZY!”. Now I must interject here and give you a little information about my cousin Georgie. He speaks with a Brando-esque, gravelly, raspy sounding Godfather-like voice with a very heavy inner city New York accent. It is the kind of voice that would be typical in a Mafia movie. When he speaks people listen and usually stare!
I sat there trying to digest all of this and figure out what to say next. Then Solomon spoke for the first time. Now he has a crackling, squeaky puberty sounding voice with a heavy Amharic accent. “WOW, ALL MY LIFE I PRAYED FOR A FAMILY, AND NOW GOD GAVE ME A TRIBE!!” We all bust out laughing!!!!
You got that right, I responded, Solomon has 8 siblings in America and now there will be 8 of them in Misganaw’s house!! Between us we have 16 children!!!!!!!
I was overcome with joy and realized that God did indeed bring our two families together. It is evident that we both have a passion for GOD and HIS precious orphans. WE are like-minded for sure. So, for the rest of the journey, I was in shock.
We drove about 20 minutes until we arrived at his house. Then the thought suddenly came to me and I said; “Misganaw, you only live 20 minutes away from Kolfe and you never knew it existed. Why didn’t God just have you and Solomon meet here somehow. Why did GOD take you all the way to America, for your neighbor to invite you to visit Open Door Baptist church that Sunday, to meet me in the parking lot, so that you could meet Solomon who lives right down the road from you? He could have done all of this without me. Why do you think HE did all of this?? Why is this crazy white Mama lady sitting between you two right now?” We all looked at each other and Georgie replied, “THIS IS AMAZING!” We were all in awe of what God was doing in our lives. We SAW GOD all over this day!
The road to Misganaw’s house was literally undriveable. The road is very rocky with a big ditch that made the car scrape the entire bottom. The government started to construct a road and then stopped dead at a pile of rocks and ditch. It is bizarre how common this is Addis Ababa. The road suddenly disappears and you are on a pile of rocks. Anyway, we arrived and were greeted by a bunch of neighbor kids running toward us. Misganaw laughed as they all came running and said, “They have never seen white people here.” A special young man, about 18 yrs. old, came to greet us and was so excited as he politely asked to carry our bags into the house. Misganaw explained that he is a neighbor that everyone loves and he has a special mental problem. He reminded me of a high functioning Autistic child. He also told us that this boy’s mother had just died and she was his only relative. A neighbor just took him in to live with them. The neighbor is actually two teenage girls that are also orphaned and taking care of their younger siblings as well. He told us this street of houses are all good people who are taking care of each other.
Now, Misganaw unlocked the gate with his key and we entered into Solomon’s new home! I have to tell you I was very surprised again! I just assumed that his family was from the upper middle class status. But, it was immediately evident that they were not. The very humble house is made of dirt and straw built on a mound of rocks.
There is main house with a living and eating area and two small bedrooms. There are three little buildings behind it with one serving as a kitchen, an outhouse and the third one, built by Misganaw and his Dad, has three rooms serving as the boys bedroom, one for his older sister and a little sitting room with a TV.
This precious homestead rests on a rock pile where I could hardly walk without being held. They have a chicken coup and a killer watch dog that was ready to eat us for lunch that was kept in a locked pen. Flowers are planted sporadically where there are patches of dirt. They have a cute little front porch with a table, two chairs and maps pinned on the outer wall of the house. Tesfaye, Misganaw’s dad told me this is where they like to sit to read and study.
He also pointed out that because they are next door to the Embassy to Nigeria, it is quiet and there is security all around. It makes for a very nice and safe environment. He has been a teacher for 30 years and he loves to read and teach all of his children. His salary is $1000 per year and he now has 8 children to support! This little homestead is very humble, rustic, functional and quaint. It has the fragrant aroma of sweet smelling flowers, and it emanates joy, peace and love which made it absolutely beautiful!!! It is a home where JESUS LIVES!!!
We were now entering the rear building, painted all blue and Misganaw said they had been working on it all week. We walked into this adorable room with two beds separated by a wooden table with 5 chairs around it.
This is where they would study together he said. The dirt floors were covered with straw mats and Misganaw worked for many hours, all by himself, to cover the ceiling with a beautifully multicolored stripped fabric. Then he pointed to the posters he had just bought. Two were their favorite soccer teams, of course they would be the rivals, Misganaw loves Manchester United and Solomon loves Arsenal.
Like real brothers they have a special love for soccer and have a point of contention to wrestle each other about. Then came the real tear jerker! He intentionally purchased this poster to place right over Solomon’s bed, “I put this right over your pillow so that you will always go to sleep and wake up knowing you have a “MOTHER’S LOVE Solomon. I saw this and it reminded me of you and your mom Eileen.” I just stood there and began to cry, AGAIN!!!
Between laughing and crying, every day was a monster rollercoaster ride of emotions. It was exhausting. It was like experiencing an advanced aerobics class of the heart!
"A family created by God"