The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beautiful

"Sacred literature in both Israel and Ethiopia describes Queen Makeda's visit to the king of Israel. "The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame...and she came to test him with hard questions," reads 1 Kings, chapter 10, in the Hebrew Bible. "She arrived in Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels bearing spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones."

"This Queen of the South was very beautiful in face, and her stature was superb," says the ancient Ethiopian holy text Kebra Nagast [The Glory of Kings]. "Her understanding and intelligence which God had given her were of such high character that she went to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Makeda, known to the outside world as the Queen of Sheba, married Solomon, and they had a son: Menelik, founder of the Ethiopia kingship (thus, through the twentieth century, Ethiopian kinds claimed Davidic descent".
there's no me without you: pg 10-11

When we started our adoption journey many years ago we read Melissa Faye Greene's incredible book, "There's No Me Without You". We learned and we found beauty in a country we were only beginning to know. Several pages, words, stories, statistics - they impacted us and imprinted on our hearts certain pieces to commit to memory.

One was the name of a little girl. Her name held depth and grace and beauty in our eyes, like no other had. It captured us and we held it close for over three years.

HIV-positive and AIDS-afflicted orphans lined up politely to greet Haregewoin. The touch of their parents had survived in the children's beautiful and elaborate names. As each lisped his or her name, Haregewoin fleetingly pictured the mother and father, even the poorest of the poor, inclining their heads above a newborn and conspiring to bestow and extravagant and abitious name on the baby. Most nonbiblical Ethiopian names have meanings; but the names of these HIV-positive orphans seemed exceptionally poignant.
She met Tidenek (You Are Amazing), and Bizunesh (You Will Become Much), and Asegdom (He Who Makes Others Kneel Before Him). She shook hands with Mekonnen (Dignitary) and Zerabruk (Descendant of Holiness). Makeda (The Beautiful) had been the name of the Queen of Sheba, and here came a little Solomon, as well.
there's no me without you: pg 216

Our desire for our daughter, who will inevitably draw more attention than many children (not only because of her incredible beauty inside and out) because of the colour of her skin. We wanted to chose a name that could honour her country of birth but also be gentle on the tongue. Ethiopians, as do many cultures, allow the names of their children to roll of their tongue with elegance. We, however, often botch the names with hard sounding 'r's and other mis-pronounciations. And, while meanings have never been hugely important to us in the past, this time felt a bit different.

Our daughter, born Mihret is stunning.

What is more stunning and heart-breaking is the meaning behind her birth name: Mercy.

I was speechless and my heart ached when I searched and found it's meaning. Think about it: true mercy - the sacrifice offered by these life-giving, birth mothers as they seek a more full life for their children. And, in naming them they do their best to maybe emanate all they feel and all they wish, hope, dream, ache and pray for their child.

We decided early on that we would likely give our daughter a new first name and keep her birth name as her middle name.

And so Makeda Mihret
will be our daily grace-given reminder of
The Beautiful Mercy

...a theme which has run throughout our adoption journey time and again.

We thought the day was over. The ship had sailed. That somehow, The Plan was for us not to likely become family soon. More waiting would occur before the joy we have been anticipating for months, years now. But prayer never ceased. We know that.

And yet tonight, well after the end of the last day of court until possibly late September, we received an email around 7:30pm. That's 10:30pm in Ontario. And, because I am still picking myself up off the floor I will share that 7:30pm here and 10:30pm in Ontario means 5:30am Saturday in Ethiopia.

While our baby girl slept, we received our life changing news.

Her story like that of all orphans is tragic. And through that tragedy we have been blessed to take one step closer to being five under one roof. We will never take the sacrifice, the mercy for granted.

It has all been too beautifully entwined to ever take for granted.

We now await the end of the final step of this journey.

The final step - did you just read that in as much disbelief as I just wrote it?


We await (ultimately, with a few other details along the way) for Makeda's passport and the call to tell us we can go at any time to pick our baby girl up and never put her back down again.

Timelines aren't set in stone. (That's a lesson we've all learned well, haven't we?!) And, while typically our immigration route of choice has taken 8-12 weeks, in recent months it has been as short as 4 weeks. So, we'll ask you again to continue to pray her home.

We have a daughter.

{referral photo}

A wee, wonderful, beautiful baby girl.

{referral photo taken around 3+ mths}

Isn't she amazing?

{photo of a photo we were allowed to take while visiting the orphanage.
makeda with her favourite toy...her zebra.
taken around 7mths - just before we met her}


Sarah said...

Oh Ashleigh, she is lovely! Congrats again on your beautiful daughter and how incredible that you received the news you were hoping for so late in the day. I had a feeling you would :)

Sarah said...

Congrats a million times over. She's beautiful. Love the name! What wonderful news!

BCMommy said...

She's gorgeous, and oh so wee! I am so happy for you!!!!!!



Erin Karklins said...

Glory to God on the wonderful day! We will continue to pray for immigration to proceed quickly. Congratulations! This is a day to remember!

Chad, Laura, Sara and Seth said...

WOW, how absolutely wonderful! Get ready to travel - it's going to come fast now!



elsie hiebert said...

Congrats. I'm so happy for you guys.

Amy Robert said...

My heart is bursting!

Jennifer said...

Ashleigh, she is beyond beautiful. I know cuz I've seen her 1st hand myself ;) You never mentioned to me the story behind her name, and it's just beautiful-with so much meaning and depth!
I'm so excited for you for the next little wait because it's exciting!!!! Soon my friend, soon!--We are going to get together, while our little ones play--I'm looking forward to that day!

Anita Schimke said...

YES! What good news after thinking it wasn't coming yesterday. Congrats! She's BEAUTIFUL!!

deborah said...

So wonderful! This has given me a heart-smile today. :) Congratulations!!

The Mannings said...

Congratulations!!! May the next step be quick and may she be in your arms very soon.

Amanda said...

This news brought tears to my eyes! She is beautiful and what a wonderful name!

Katie said...

Yeah!!!!!!!!!! Oh wow. Oh wow wow wow. Praying it will be soon! You get to plan a first birthday party for her at home!! Eek!

Kelly said...

Your daughter is beautiful!
I pray she will be in your arms very soon.
So happy for your family of five.

Carol said...

Oh, it brought tears to my eyes! She is gorgeous! Congratulations, you have a beautiful family! The Lord is faithfull and gave you this Beautiful Mercy. One day I hope to meet her! :)

Joy said...

So glad I took a moment to stop by and read your post - hooray! Am delighted by your news & your precious girl - thanks so much for describing the naming process - I love hearing how people chose names, and what you have chosen is so meaningful :)

Danaya said...

Your writing leaves no question or ambiguity in the emotion of your journey. I can't help but shed tears for your joy and journey. I can't wait to meet her. We are thrilled for you, to say the least! Much love! Dave and Danaya

Niki said...

Soooooooo thrilled and excited for your whole family! Makeda Mihret Keizer! Yahooo! What a beautiful name (and meaning) for a beautiufl girl!

Anna said...

Agh, I'm so excited for you!!!! Oh, the power of prayer! So soon, you will be able to bring your beautiful daughter home!!! The final step- yeah!! Congratulations!

Derrick, Alysia, and Levi said...

Wow, she is so beautiful! What a little angel! Congratulations to you all!

Barbara said...

Ashleigh I'm so glad you emailed me while I was out of town, but had to pop by and read the full story as well. Congratulations again and speedy journey to your beautiful queen.