Today was hard. I have been thinking about how to write about it all day, and I just don't have the ability to really describe it. The morning started off with court. We had not received any updates this week, but I still had hope that maybe, somehow things had been resolved. Well, that didn't happen, and I am trusting the Lord and believing that His plan really is better. Although, it is not easy. All of our 8 families crowded into a room where there were several other Ethiopians waiting as well. I found out later, that all of those people were there to relinquish their rights to their children. The judge called us in 4 families at a time, and asked us several yes/no questions that we all answered in unison. And that was it. It seemed like that should have been the climax of our trip, but really, we still have no idea when we will have a new member in our family. It's the not knowing that is always so hard. Aaron and I came back to our guest house after that, and I just lay on the bed for a while. He ate lunch and then we met the rest of our group to tour the three government orphanages.
We went to the boy's orphanage first called Kolfe. There were over 200 boys there ages 6-19 or so. I was completely overwhelmed by so many things. First of all to see so many boys, and so many that looked so young; second, the conditions were apparently much improved, but with over 200 boys, things get pretty worn out pretty fast. They all have a different story, but many of them have been there since they were babies. Our guide said there really is a family atmosphere, and once they are there, they can stay. They do go to school, and there are opportunities to sponsor them and help with college once they graduate.
I had been fighting back tears as we walked around with these boys, just feeling so overwhelmed thinking about their lives, when I met a young man named W. He was 14 years old, spoke very good English, liked school especially Social Studies, went to church 2 times every day, couldn't play sports because of a heart condition, liked the movie Finding Nemo, and was the only one of his family in the universe. This guy was such a blessing to me, such an encouragement to see hope and strength in his eyes.
The next orphanage we went to is called Kebebe Tishay, and it is for children birth-8 years old. I lost it here. I was holding a little boy or girl (hard to tell when all their heads are shaved) who was maybe 3 0r 4 who had run up to me with their little arms out-stretched to be held, walking through these rooms with such incredible need, and I couldn't hold back my tears. I kept thinking about my boys and Hope, and what if they had to grow up in a place like this. And, that they didn't, and I didn't, and maybe there is a reason for that. Walking back to our cars, two little ones came up to me and held my hands until I had to literally pull away from them. And even then, one stood right by our car, unmoving until our driver got out and gently led them away.
My heart broke. I cried all the way to the next orphanage which was Kechene. This one was a girls orphanage, but also now had some little boys, and it was actually the nicest of the three. There were over 200 kids here as well, and again I met a little one who just wanted to be held. They (again I'm not sure about the gender because of the shaved head :) ) wore my sunglasses, and then laid their little head on my shoulder while gripping my hair. I think what is so hard for me to wrap my mind around, is that these are real kids. Kids just like mine, who love gum, crayons, movies and candy.
Aaron and I had a chance to eat dinner together, just the two of us, and we were able to process through a little of what we had seen. We were both overwhelmed, but also aware of the danger of being overwhelmed to the point of feeling paralyzed, like there is so much that needs to be done you don't know what to do and so you don't do anything. We talked about some things we could do to help, ways we could give. Exhausting day.