Ethiopia really was the trip of a lifetime. I tried to prepare myself for what to expect and what I would see, but I found myself surprised and amazed nonetheless. Ethiopia is known, unfortunately, for poverty and famine. While that is, again unfortunately, part of it's story; it would be a great disservice to stop there. What I discovered Ethiopia to be is a country of beauty, pride, rich history and warm, loving people. Yes, to stop telling the story at poverty would be inaccurate.
It was not uncommon to see women walking hand in hand or men walking with their arms around one another. Their relationships are important and they are not distracted with the busyness of life and hectic schedules. They have time for one another. It's a much slower pace of life. The Ethiopian people love children and babies and stop often to admire their smiles or shower affection. I found myself wondering how many "every day" blessings I miss because I am too busy or rushed to get to the next thing. There is much beauty in these people - physically, yes, they are beautiful; but also in their warmth towards one another.
The landscape of Ethiopia is beautiful as well. I do wish we'd had more time to get outside of the city to see more of this, but even to look up into the mountains from the city you could see glimpses of Ethiopia's landscape.
The children, though.....oh, that is where my heart is. I tear up even beginning to remember them. How beautiful they are. Truly. My heart rejoices with the little ones who went home with their forever families, but aches for those left behind it. I mean it - I feel a physical ache remembering these little ones. The orphans, both on the street and in the orphanage, just longing for you to look them in the eyes and connect with them. Just wanting to be noticed and feel important....even if only for a moment. Leaving them behind is probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I vowed that I would bring their story and tell it to others.....do you have room? I mean, really...? I really am asking you.....do you have room for one of these precious children to have a home and a family to call their own? Yes, I know it is expensive.....yes, I know it is an investment......yes, I know it will change your life and your own kids may have to make sacrifices.....you may have to do without something else or even borrow money to do it......But these children are real. They are just like yours and mine. It is tempting to let the distance act as a buffer and allow us not to digest the fact that there are children in this world who are hungry.....yes, physically hungry; but also hungry for love, attention, connection and family. There are really not many of reading this that can honestly say we don't have that to give.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act" Proverbs 24:12
We are a family of ten...striving to live the lives that please God...getting it wrong a lot of the time, but trying nonetheless. We have eight beautiful children...three were given to us through birth and five through the miracle of adoption. We feel blessed to be living the life we've been given.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
~ One in ten children die before their first birthday ~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday ~ 44% of the population is under 15 years old ~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition ~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old ~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world) ~ There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia ~ Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa ~ Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. ~ 88% will never attend secondary school ~ Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) declined 40-60% from 1998-2002 ~ Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000 ~ Severe drought struck country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)