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.
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.