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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011: A Change In Plans

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

Though I know there are so very many details I will forget, take for granted, or simply chose not share, the mantra my Dad and I repeated continually throughout today was this: You just can't make this stuff up.

Caught somewhere between miracles, awe, joy, gut-wrenching laughter, great food, martyr hearts, and one sweet baby girl; today was a day which changed me from the core and knocked my socks off.

It seems Ethiopia has a way of doing that, doesn't it?!

The past 10 hours took a turn I did not anticipate and one I would never - for the world - trade.

The plan all along had been to arrive, take a day to market-immerse ourselves, walk the streets, eat traditionally and just "be". Day 2 was to be our Makeda visitation day. Day 3 would be the pick-up day. Day 4 would be a lay low and hang out/attach day, ending with a rockin' 28 hr flight home. Do I know how to have a good time or what.

Yesterday went as planned. Sweet dresses, coffee out the wazoo, scarves, and t-shirts were ticked off the agenda.

Today we hit the bank (I was hoping a donation run mirroring last time would take place), were picked up by our MoT Rep and then taken to our Power of Attourney's office. That visit and the signing of one sweet simple document took a whopping 3 minutes - okay, maybe 4. Then it was off to the orphanage to meet with the sweetest girl in the world.

We arrived maybe around 10:20am. A few moments later she was brought in and handed to me. She didn't fuss, cry, make a face. There was a lot of wide-eyed "assessing the situation" going on, but truthfully, in minutes we were blessed to have a smile and coo. (And the coo was the most vocal she got...all day.)

I held her and we played, made faces, talked, drank coffee, and took gazillions (yes that many) of photos. I then fed her lunch.

The kid eats like a truck driver.

She's petite - has a sweet belly, average arms, and teeny legs which most certainly need some exercise and beefing up.

It was at that time, as I tried to follow the cues of a child - our child - I had known for slightly less than two hours that I made the decision.

After her lunch feeding (man can she pack it back!) my Dad and I had the privilege of taking the orphanage director to purchase a month's worth of food - thanks to the gifts (again !) of so many kind and generous friends. We really do know some of the best people in the world and are honest to goodness privileged to call you friends.

As we had left the orphanage initially for the food purchasing, my Dad turned back and asked the orphanage director (E) if there was anything else the orphanage needed in the way of equipment. The answer was a TV for the children in the classroom and it took minutes - not even - to confirm to her that this would be part of the afternoon's purchase list. She was pleased. The TV she used to have in the classroom, she had to take to the orphanage in Harar. So, she replaced the one at the Addis branch with her personal one - the quality of which was not nearly as good as the one that went to Harar. The children had been quite disappointed that this happened but with not a penny to spare, she had no choice. So, she made a personal sacrifice - this, by the way is likely the least of her personal sacrifices.

While you may be thinking: really? Do the children really need a TV? Doesn't it just rot your brain? My answer would be "need"...maybe they don't need a TV. But their english is awesome and I can certainly attribute some of that to the colloquial english they would hear while watching Bob or Thomas. So yes, a TV is of benefit to them. And a good TV even more so.

After about 3 hours of food purchasing (we were on Africa time, let's not forget!) we had spent about 2/3 of the financial donations. We had been gifted with the same dollar amount as our last trip so that was a lot of food and supplies and a lot of time!!! We then made the trek back in the van (and on some of those roads it felt like a serious trek!) to the orphanage. On the way back I turned to the director and asked what she was planning to purchase with the rest of the money after we had dropped of the supplies which currently filled the van.

She told me she would see how much the TV cost once we dropped the food off at the orphanage. If the TV cost more than the money we had remaining, she would buy only formula. If the ticket price of a new TV fell within the amount of birr we had left, she would purchase the TV.

I turned to her.

Another miscommunication...not unlike the first.

No, E. We want to purchase the TV in addition from the donations!!

The excitement which emanated her both verbally and physically was incredible.

And so we bought a whack of formula and a brand spankin' new television for many of the most polite, well mannered, thankful (they said it over and over!) children this Mama has ever had the privilege of meeting.

We returned to the orphanage and were blessed with yet another traditional meal. I love eating at the orphanage - it's like a good home cooked meal. It beats a restaurant any day of the week.

Throughout the day we came to know (and perhaps understand) E and her mission on a much deeper level. I cannot express the heart this woman has. Her dedication and passion is unparalleled. Many would quit, claim defeat, turn the other way.

We will never know all she has given up for the children of Ethiopia and I don't feel this is a platform on which I can share the part of her story which we learned. But I tell you this: today, I stood with, walked along side, and spent time in the presence of one of the most amazing people I will ever meet.

Of this, I am certain.

I digress.

We finished our meal.

And then the day ended...

...with my walking down to Makeda's room...

...the infant room...

...picking her up...

...holding her in my arms...

...and getting in the van.

She was ours.

She is ours.

Forever. Here. With. Me. In. My. Presence. Tonight.

She is in the bedroom beside me.

She fell asleep on our way back to the guest house in my arms.

She is beautiful.

She is ours.

September 21, 2011: Makeda's Gotcha Day.


John and Andrea said...

Oh Ashleigh... what special moments you've captured so well. Congratulations on your new baby girl!! We are rejoicing with you :)

sharon said...

Tears.....oh Ashleigh....God is so good.....such an exciting day..thanks for writing it and letting us all see and come along with you.

Gretta said...

Mel called and asked it I had read yet. I told her no and ran down to get the computer and read it right there on the couch with Kaia beside me and Mel on the phone. I read out loud. Kaia got giddy. I cried. Titus came out of his room where he was supposed to be napping and he got giddy too. "I like her hair" Kaia said. "Who's that? WOW! Is that Makeda?" said Titus. We rejoiced here together with you. Oh there is such rejoicing in our home for you! Thank you for sharing. And oh, how incredibly beautiful is that baby girl God picked out for you!

JTosh said...

Oh my goodness.... HAPPY GOTCHA DAY! Even though I have just met you once, I am just so happy for you and your family. My eyes are filled with tears knowing there is one less orphan in the world today, and one precious little gem safe in the arms of her mama... forever! A huge congratulations! This truly is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

darci said...

Oh Ashleigh.....tears are flowing, but they are rears of joy as I think of those pictures of you holding your sweet baby are glowing with joy, and she is just..perfect. Congratulations. Much love and joy sent your way. Darci

darci said...

Oops! TEARS of joy...not rears, lol! I must be crying...can't even type!

Unknown said...

Ashleigh, I was so glad to meet you last weekend, and very thrilled I picked today to catch up on your blog! I'm so happy for you. To be able to provide a loving home to Makeda, as well as so much for the orphanage is a wonderful, wonderful thing! So glad you have met her, and will be bringing her home this weekend. Travel safe!

Gwen said...

Oh, this is wonderful!!!! Honestly that girl is the cutest girl in the world! Beautiful... congratulations to all FIVE of you, and can't wait to see whole-family pics. God bless you!!!

Cristina said...

Oh Ashleigh...those last two pictures got me...I'm sitting here bawling my eyes out...happy tears of course! So SO happy for you. :)

Anita Schimke said...

So happy for you. And I'm amazed at how well you can articulate everything and make sense in the middle of such an amazing time! Congratulations!

Tina said...

Oh my gosh! I just was passed along through Christina .Oh she is so so beautiful!! What a great mommy you will be to her! congratulations .

BCMommy said...

Crying at my happy for you. What precious photos for her to have. That last one needs to be blown up and framed somewhere very special!


Kaela Scott said...

Ashleigh She is absolutely beautiful and your journey sounds like one of pure joy, gratitude and blessings. I am absolutely thrilled for you and your (new) family. Makeda is truly blessed to have you as her mom. Sending you all tons of joyous, celebratory love!

Congrats again Ashleigh,

Kaela xoxo

Kelly said...

So happy for you Ashleigh.
What a beautiful descripition of your time...thanks for sharing!
Your daughter looks so comfortable in your arms.
Praying for you,

Our little family said...

GORGEOUS.... every single one of those photos... your baby girl is a doll... what amazing moments to capture on film. Thank you so much for sharing those photos and the story that will never be forgotten. I can't wait to meet your little angel, she has the most beautiful eyes!!!! Praying for a safe journey home for you... and precious moments of bonding with YOUR BABY GIRL!!!!!!! :) xoxoxo

Judi said...

First thing I did when I woke this morning was read your blog. What a way to wake up. Thank you once again for my tears of joy. What a story! You both look so happy together - made for each other. Praise God for His greatness - His plans are so perfect. Safe journey and happy family reunion. Looking forward to hearing the ongoing story. xx

Barbara said...

Wonderful post Ashleigh and that pic of the two of you is breathtaking. Safe journey home.

Anna said...

AGH, I'm soooo happy for you! I have tears in my eyes! Memories are flooding back! You write so well. I love how Makeda gazes into your eyes with her beautiful big, brown eyes. LOVELY!! Praise the LORD!