Shelley - 2nd post

Hi everyone! The last two days have been the most incredible experience of my life! My mom and I left at 8:00 yesterday morning and did not arrive at my daughter’s birth mother's village and home until 6:00 p.m. We had a flat tire on the way, my camera wasn't working so we stopped at a few places to find out what was wrong, had lunch and stopped probably 200 times to allow goats, cows, oxen, donkeys and people to clear the way.

Ethiopia is a country of great extremes. The beauty of some of the areas that we have seen is amazing and the poverty is absolutely unthinkable to we Canadians. What you see on TV is true. As you get further south, the country becomes greener and greener and with many hills and a lot of agriculture, grass huts and red soil, it is very beautiful. At the same time, our senses have been absolutely on overload with seeing over and over in a matter of minutes people who are so poor they are wearing no shoes and walking miles, carrying heavy weight on their backs, children ages as young as 3 walking along the road on their own carrying water in no more than a rag of a shirt and people who are constructing roads with picks and shovels and doing the work by hand and using donkeys. I am going to have to spend hours to journal what we have seen, what we have learned and the realities that we have witnessed.

We have also met people like Bisrat and Eyob who are outstanding believers in Christ and who are inspirational. Eyob is the director of Kingdom Vision International. Their organization has several orphanages, a child sponsorship program, a woman empowerment program and a program which serves families. Eyob is only 32 and yet his passion for children and Christ have led him to give his whole life to serving children and the people ofEthiopia.

I want to share with you something he said yesterday "In Ethiopia we do not have enemies, our #1 enemy is poverty and our gun powder to fight our enemy is our hearts and our passion". WOW!!! He went on to say "My desire is to follow God's vision and direction . I don't like to think of myself as the director but as a person who obeys God. This will be my work "God's work" from the beginning to the end".

His staff at the orphanage in Wolyata waited for us all day to arrive and spent until 9:30 at night to allow us to meet with my daughter’s birth mom and family and then to provide us with dinner and a coffee ceremony.

These people have so, so, so very little and yet their hearts are the size of my house. They want for so little except to create a better life for children like Julia!!!

I am not going to give all the details of my visit with my daughter’s birth mom because I really want to share that personal story with Julia. However, I will tell you that we travelled down a very rough road for many miles and then came upon the dirt path that we had to walk down to meet with her family. I passed by one farm home and then very close by, I entered the area that Julia’s birth mother, grandmother and grandfather live. I saw her birth mother right away and asked the translator if I could give her a hug. We sat in chairs outside and the translator allowed me to ask her questions that I can share with my daugther as she gets older. About 10 people including children seemed to appear out of nowhere to hear about Julia and to meet with us. I gave Belaynesh a book of pictures of Julia and my family and when she opened it and saw a picture of her birth daughter, she immediately kissed the pictures and hugged the book to her chest.

As our van left, Belaynesh walked beside, we held hands and we looked at each other until the van had to leave.

I will never, ever forget this time in my life. She has given me the most precious gift anyone could give out of a selfless love for her daughter.

Today, we went to pick up my most precious daughter and she has now been with us for 7 hours. I took pictures of her caregivers, said thank you and witnessed how much she has meant to them all. I gave them a book the other day and asked the head nurse if she would ask the staff if they would write a note to her. The notes are so precious and they are all consistent that she is a loving, special and sweet girl. I could tell from the first day that (Julia) has been one of their special children.

Thank you for your prayers for Julia’s adjustment and comfort because she has done so incredibly well!! As the minutes passed, she opened up more and more and by the time dinner came, she was laughing with us when we would do something funny, she was talking to us (a few words in English and some in Amharic) and saying mommy when looking at the pictures that I sent to her months ago. She also can point out her family members in the album so she already knows who her gramma, grappa, Auntie Lisa, Uncle Paul, Aunt Laurie, Katie and Carly are.

She smiles so much, laughs, holds on to my hand, sits in my lap, unbelievable considering the change she has just gone through. The head nurse told me that she started to ask when I was coming to pick her up the first thing this morning :)

I brushed her teeth with her new Dora toothbrush (which she can already say Dora from today) and she learned how to spit and laughed a few times through the process. She is so very easy to please. When we were singing This Little Light of Mine at dinner, I started to clap my hands and showing her to clap hers and she put her hands over mine and made my hands clap.

We read a book together at bed time that I plan to read every night for a long time and then we prayed and then I rubbed her back until she fell asleep.

I am a mommy and my little girl knows that I am her mommy and we have just started a beautiful journey together. My tears are flowing as I write this. The last four days have been unbelievable, miraculous, life changing and a complete gift and blessing from God.

I want to also share with you that many of you have responded to my question about the street children/leprosy colony and you have committed to $840.00!!!! We are going tomorrow morning with Bisrat to buy shoes and cloths for as many street children as we can - thank you from Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!

I will write soon and hopefully I will have pictures on my website very shortly.