When I went to Addis this time, I had an ulterior motive, an agenda beyond bringing home Meklit. As I was preparing to leave I had 2 questions posed to me. The first, from Julie Hehn, was "who is next?"
We had some interest in some of the older girls who are still there, and I went with the intent of getting to know them a little bit better, and to see if God would speak to me about whether or not any of these kids were ours. We know that God knows who our kids are, and always has. It is just a matter of listening to Him to find out who they are, then simply bringing them home. No pros and cons, no sweating finances or space in the house for more kids, just hear and do.
So...while Meklit and I were there we spent nearly all of our time, from before breakfast, through lunch and past dinner with the kids at Layla – mostly with the older girls, Marta's friends, to see if one of them was actually a sister.
As I have said countless times before, these kids are nothing short of amazing to me. They have lived difficult lives that we can't even get our heads around, and to come out on the other side with these sweet, loving, nurturing spirits blows my mind. It speaks to me of the mysterious grace of God's love.
The other question before I left came from Denise Baker, wondering if I had met a certain girl and her brother on my last visit. She thought that they would be a good fit for our family, but I couldn't remember meeting the kids, just vague pictures of the girl. So, they went on my list of kids to get to know better.
As I said before, we spent nearly all of our 3 days with the older girls. We had a great time with them, and with a couple of hours left before I knew we had to get back to the guest house to get packed, I was really starting to get choked up. When it came time for us to say good-bye, I started to say to the girls that we had to go now, and... I lost it. Total meltdown - a sobbing, snotting mess of tears. To make it worse, about 1/2 second into my meltdown they all lost it too, and we were all a mess. It just broke my heart to have to leave them behind, and to not take them all with me. They are all so wonderful, and they would be such great kids to have in our family.
Finally we all got it together so Meklit and I could leave. We went out towards the gate and found Ted with a bunch of kids and of course the skateboard. He asked me how I was doing and I lost it again. After a few minutes I explained to him that it broke my heart to leave the kids, and while I could hope and pray for them to get families, there were 2 kids that I couldn't hope or pray that for. I went asking for God to reveal our kids to me, and Lisa and Marta were at home praying for Him to open my heart to our next kids. Well, He does answer prayers, and I was heartbroken to have to leave 2 of our kids behind. It felt to me that I was leaving them there for someone else to adopt, and I just couldn't handle that thought.
Meklit and I got in one last round of hugs and kisses at the gate, promised to keep in touch, and went to the guest house so I could pack really quickly before Nate picked us up to go to the airport. I was a mess again at the guest house, and went through a bunch of tissue while packing. When I was done I figured we had a ½ hour to spare, so we called Nate to pick us up at Layla, and went back for that last few minutes of visiting.
I love being there in the mornings when things are just coming to life, and in the evening when the day is winding down. We joined the kids for their evening prayer time, which is led by the older kids. I love to see the older ones going to gather their younger siblings for prayer, and I got to sit there with Ashenafi on my lap.
Then it was really time to go, and it went much better this time around. Not surprising to me due to the providence of God, Merrily rode to the airport with us. She and I both live in Washington State, and the only 2 times I have ever seen or spoken to her have been in Addis. I asked her how long we would have to wait until we started the process again, and she told me there is a 6 month wait to begin the process again, and of course asked why. I told her I was leaving 2 of my kids behind, and that we needed to bring them home as quickly as possible. She said after she got back she would check into their status, and we would talk.
Needless to say, I now had something to occupy my time for the next 36 hours of travel, and I read Psalms and prayed most of the way home.
God has used times like this with me 4 times, all related to our children, when He reduced me to a messy puddle and in the process transformed my heart. The first time was when Jeff was born, then during the process of adopting Joy, again during the process with Marta, and now at Layla - each time using my broken state to radically change my heart. Really it is more of a new alignment of my heart, a tuning if you will. On the plane home these scriptures gave me peace.
9 In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
7 But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down
toward your holy temple.
It isn’t something I even pretend to fully understand, and I know it isn’t just about kids. What I do know is that it is about right alignment to the throne of God, and faith in the mystery of His sovereign ways.
Our flight home was uneventful, other than a minor glitch of Meklit being ticketed for Seattle and me for Portland, but a few $$$ and a little time in DC took care of that. She did incredible, ate (and still does) everything put before her, and slept a ton. The staff on Ethiopian Airlines helps you so much with things like the bathroom, and asking what they would like to drink, etc. With a language barrier and being shy, their help was much appreciated.
After our layover in DC, we flew to San Francisco, and then on to Portland. By leaving at ~11 pm from Addis after a long day, the trip is really long considering it is another 36 hours to get home.
I did fine until I saw Lisa, and then I felt the emotions surge through me again. Everyone was so excited to meet Meklit, and Marta was a welcome sight to her I am sure. Josiah held her hand as we walked down to find our luggage. I couldn’t even talk, and when we got down the baggage claim area Lisa asked me what had happened, and in an instant I lost it. What an amazing wife God has blessed me with. I told her through sobs that I had to leave 2 of our kids behind, and her only response was that we had better get to work on the paperwork to bring them home. She didn’t even know their names.