I already told you how we felt that today was going to be a big one, after pouring our lives into creating the structure, and foundation behind the forever family structure, we were out of the country when kids finally started being placed in families, and today we got to meet them. And although we went into this ready for something big, I was not expecting half of the emotions that I felt when the time actually came to meet them. These kids are absolutely beautiful!
We spent most of the morning walking from house to house getting to see the new homes, and spending a little time getting to know the mothers, if you remember we only have actually met a few of them so it was great to finally put a bit of backstory to the names that we have been praying for. The kids were all at school so things were quiet and it worked out perfectly for us to get to spend some quality time with each of them.
That in itself was amazing, it is easy to see from the moment you walk in the houses that each of these women is stepping into a calling in their lives, and that they all love what they do. I am looking forward to spending more time with each of them and sharing their stories with you, I got just a few hints from them today, and let me just say God has been at work for a long time before the kids came. A woman who traveled hundreds of miles, leaving her life behind because God told her that he was calling her to be a mother in Addis Ababa, another woman who lost her only daughter to a tragic propane accident who is now parenting seven children, and finding redemption in the worst of circumstances. I cannot wait to dig deeper and find our more about what God has been up to! Being able to tell their stories to you is like a kid running around in a candy shop for a writer like me.
Then, the kids finally got home from school. And oh my was I struggling to hold back the tears.
Jessie, I and our four kids were there waiting with Thomas and the house mothers at the Intake Center where the bus drops them all off each day after school.
The big green bus slowly made it’s way down the bumpy road and towards where we were waiting, it seemed to take an eternity to come and once it did the driver passed us and turned around at the next block. I wanted to run after him and jump on the bus, I was to ready for this! Finally, the long awaited moment came, and came and came, the whole bus was filled with kids from our families alone, no one else! I crouched down near the door to the Intake Center compound and shook hands with each child as they passed, they all told me their names (most of which I quickly forgot because there were so many). Just when I thought that I had met the last one, several more came, there are so many of them! 45 is a lot more kids than you would think. (I am just saying, when you think of 45 kids, add a bunch to your thoughts, it’s a lot!)
I finally stood up and looked around, our four kids were practicing their Amharic and getting to know each of the children, they were having the time of their lives, despite being tired from the long flight and only 3 hours sleep last night, this was the moment we had all been waiting for, and everyone was having a good time.
I don’t really even know what words to use here, it’s hard to describe the emotions. To think of the place where these kids were before they came, and where they are now, to think of the loving families they are now a part of, the kind of love that God created them for. It is good.
I am telling you I just about broke down and cried right there. I fell in love with all of them at the same time. It was then that I looked over across to the other side of the mass of children who were happily dancing around us and I saw Jessie.
She was glowing.
Her face was beaming with pride, with joy, she was in her element, doing what she was created for. That brief second, me standing there getting lost in her face, watching her and feeling the emotion rush through her, that moment was worth everything to me.
Wow. That is all I can say, even though I know it does the situation no justice whatsoever.
They say that a picture captures a thousand words, yet the pictures of this joyous moment in our lives leave out enough words to fill an entire library.
God is good, so good, and we are thankful to be a part of the complete and total change that is happening in these kids lives, and thankful that He decided to use us, messed up, broken people, to be here today. Never before has His grace been so real to me, in the kids lives, in our lives. Grace.
Lastly, before I show you the pictures that Jessie took today, I want to just say that we are beyond thankful for Thomas, we knew going into this that he was competent, that he was a solid and trustworthy man of God, but the way that he has handled things, the way he has poured his heart into these kids, and these mothers is incredible. We are thankful for Thomas, and his passion. God knew what He was doing when He called Thomas to help raise up orphans as future leaders in Ethiopia.
I know, here he goes again, “Levi gushing all over the page”. But I am blown away by the work that God is doing, and today will be one that I remember for the rest of my life, and I don’t even care if I look like a nut going on and on like this. This God we serve is amazing and worth dancing down the streets for!
Ok.. Here they are, the pictures of our day meeting the former orphans in our forever families for the very first time.
One last thing! Now that we are back here in Ethiopia and Jessie is up and running with her camera you really should follow along with us, Jessie will be posting pictures all the time, and most of it wont make it here on the blog, but will be showing up in other places like, Facebook, Instagram (@Jessiebenkert) and Twitter (@bringlovein). Follow or like or do whatever you have to see what Jessie is posting, she is that good!