It’s more than a little bit crazy that day 3 (Saturday) is also our last day in Ethiopia. This is a whirlwind trip across the world. To Africa and back in 6 days is probably not advisable. We would have loved to have longer in country, but with the short notice we had to get here (4 days) and the other things going on in life, it just wasn’t in the cards this time.
One of the other families here for court has been gracious enough to allow us to tag along with them today. They had already arranged for Tsegaw, our driver from our first trip to Ethiopia and all-around great guy, to drive them on Saturday. Due to a bit of a mix-up with the driver we had planned to use, we found ourselves stranded at the guest house. Thankfully, they came to our rescue.
First thing this morning, we headed back to Sele Enat, the care center where Biruk is. We had some donations for their clinic to deliver and also wanted to see Biruk one last time. I’m not sure that I’ve ever experienced something that was both so heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time as what happened when he saw us today. It was our third visit with him. He saw me walking in from across the courtyard and when he did, he got a huge smile on his face, toddled over to me and immediately held his arms up for me to pick him up. I’m so glad that he recognized us and was happy to see us. But having held him and loved on him in person makes it all that much harder to have to love him from the other side of the world. And even though where he is right now, it’s a decent place for what it is (an orphanage), he’s now our son. And the thought of our son spending his days and nights there and not with us…well, I can’t think about it for too long.
After our time at the care center, we had a pretty full day of shopping. Our first stop was Salem’s. This place has beautiful woven pieces, baskets, jewelry and other art. Next stop was Makush, which is an art gallery and Italian restaurant. On our first trip we visited Makush, but I passed on actually purchasing any art which I have regretted for the last 4.5 years. Not this time. We also had lunch at Makush and the food was very good. Final stop was the Sole Rebels shop in Adam’s Pavilion. I absolutely love brands that are stylish and also help to develop fair trade opportunities in places in this world where such opportunities are limited. Sole Rebels is that kind of a brand. I highly recommend a visit to all of these shops when you’re in Addis.
Our expectations for this trip were very, very low. Given the short time we had in country, the brutal travel schedule, the fact that we were told we would be the only family in Ethiopia for court with our agency, and the emotional nature of meeting our son and leaving him I think we had both categorized this trip as “something to be endured”. Thankfully, however, our expectations for this trip have been exceeded by miles. Even though we haven’t been here long, we have managed to pack a lot into our 3 days. And we’re not here alone, there are two other families here for court with us and also some families here that have just taken custody of their children and been approved by the US embassy to head home. Both families in our court group had less than 24 hours notice to be on a plane to Ethiopia, which makes the 4 days we had to prepare seem almost excessive. This trip hasn’t been something that we have suffered through, it has been one full of pleasant surprises and new friends and great experiences in our children’s country of birth.
Just last week the sermon at church and our small group discussion focused on how to live without worry. But as we prepared to leave, my anxiety kicked into high gear. The list of things I found to worry about was just embarassingly long – some at least moderately rational concerns (I have an almost phobic fear of others puking in my presence and about half the people I know that go to Ethiopia get some sort of stomach or intestinal issue. Rational, right?) and others that in hindsight were completely insane (those, I’ll keep to myself). I would be lying if I said I was worry-free this week. And since Matt lived this week with me and knows the truth, there would be no getting away with such a lie. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t even close. I did however, have lots of opportunities to engage in the spiritual practice of turning my worries into prayers. I also had a lots of opportunities to practice Candy Crush, which was my go-to distraction in particularly insane traffic jams (something I worried about – I hate crowds almost as much as I hate puke and you haven’t experienced a crowd until you’ve experienced a traffic jam in Addis right now).
As I reflect on the last few days I am humbled and grateful. God’s mercies were new not just every morning, but every single minute. In the midst of my unfaithfulness God once again proved faithful. In the midst of my worry God made his presence known to me. Not only were we protected from all the things I worried about, we were blessed with an experience that far surpassed what we imagined it could have been. Thank you again for the love and prayers you’ve offered us on this journey!