A few days ago, on that wonderful day when we were certain that our final approval was going to happen, I was driving through town on the way back to the office from the store and my phone rang. I pulled the car over to the side of the road (yes, there are cell phone while driving laws here too)
“Yabi!” I answered, almost beside myself to hear his voice on the other end of the line, knowing that today was a special day, and he likely had good news for me. “Are we going to have a meeting?!”
“Hi Levi” He replied, in a low whisper. “Are you near the government office?” He asked.
“I could get there in a half hour”
“They just called me and I was down the street, they say that I can get in with the head of the department in five minutes” He said, his voice almost in an inaudible hush. “I am sitting in the waiting room now, come as fast as you can”
I hung up the phone and pulled back into traffic and started off towards where Yabi was, just then a woman stepped out into the street and her eyes met mine. She had a small baby strapped to her back, and two more small children tugging at her tattered dress.
“One Birr” She said, and immediately both of her children’s hands stretched out towards my window.
I told her in Amharic I will ask God to bless her, and drove on. Almost too much in a hurry to notice her or any of the hundreds of others just like her who line the streets of this overcrowded city.
A few blocks down the road traffic came to a standstill and I my racing mind was forced to sit still.
Another woman came to my window which is permanently open because of the lack of air conditioner in our van. This one had only one small baby which she held up close to me and placed his hand on my arm.
“God!” I cried out to my self. “Please bless this meeting, bless this person who we are going to meet with and move this traffic along so that I can get there on time.”
Ten minutes later, after all the cars around me had shut off their engines, giving up on the hope of ever moving, I finally gave in and realized that I would not be able to make it.
Yabi was going to have to do this on his own.
I pulled out my phone and began to type in a message letting him know that I would not be there and before I could one came through from him.
“I am going in”
I looked at the small letters on my screen and it was like a flood opened up of emotion. The meeting, the big important meeting that we had been waiting so very long for was happening! I did not even care that I was not going to be there, the meeting was happening! And that meant we would be placing children in their new families!
The last year of struggles with the paperwork-raising money-figuring out how to do something like create new families from widows and orphans-visas…. So many deep dark disappointments-so many victories, and here I was sitting in traffic while the good news was going to be delivered.
“God, please put your hand on this meeting” I called out almost yelling to Him “Let your praise be heard from the voices of the orphans who will be raised up to lead this country, let your glory come from all of this.”
The flood of emotion was almost unbearable.
“God this is your country, these are your people, and you are about to do a great work among them, and I thank you for the opportunity that you have given us to be a part of it.”
I snapped back to reality and realized that I needed to let Jessie know what was happening.
“Yabi is in the meeting!!!” I punched into my phone.
“Wonderful!” She replied.
A few minutes later the traffic started to move and I decided that it would be better to go home instead of crashing an important meeting like this one 30 minutes late. Back at the house Jessie and I talked of how wonderful it would be to be moving kids in.
“I wonder if it will be today, like are they ready to go, or will it be tomorrow” I said, almost giddy with anticipation.
“I am sure it will not take long” Jessie replied. I can clearly remember how her eyes were glowing with a fiery passion. Little in this world gets Jessie excited like helping an orphan.
An hour later the call came in. Yabi was talking so fast I could hardly understand him.
“I don’t know” He kept saying. “I just don’t know what is happening”
“But what does it all mean” I asked. Jessie’s eyes were trying to penetrate into my head as she sat next to me trying to read the expressions on my face.
“I am not sure, but they are saying that we need to come back another day, and that the process to take kids into our care is not over”
“Was there a problem”
“I don’t know”
A few minutes back and fort and I finally gave up trying to get anything more out of him.
“We will pray” I said, almost too weak to think of praying any more, but trying to reassure him that it was ok”
But was it ok? I wondered to myself. Would we be able to get through another disappointment?
The questions flew fast as Jessie tried to get information out of me that I did not have.
“We just have to wait and see” I said, knowing that my explanation was hardly sufficient.
Three days later we now understand a bit more about what happened, and thankfully are getting a grip on what the next steps are. As you can imagine we have not stopped working on this since the moment we got that call, I think that Jessie and I have not slept even one full night this week if you were to put all the nights together.
There are two things happening, and although we are about as ready as you could ever be for the marathon to be over, we are realizing that there is nothing wrong with the process that we are going through. This is just how it is, and for good reason.
The woman who needs to sign the last piece of paper for us sees many projects come across her desk every week. Many of which are ill conceived, and underfunded, that is if there is any funding at all. When she saw our project she assumed that we were another one of those unprepared projects, and when she looked at our paperwork and saw that we were asking for permanent placements, and not temporary placements… She just backed off and said that she would take a look later, and that she had many other things on her incredibly overworked desk to look at before she got to our “fly by night” project.
Now. As I am sure you know, we are not putting together anything of the sort! We have planned, re-planned, and done everything possible to create what we believe to be the best most wholesome solution to the orphan crisis in Ethiopia. A project that not only thinks about the needs of one orphan, but rather the community that they came from, and the community that they will grow to be leaders of. So much so that every single inspector who has come to see our project has said they have never seen anything like this before.
At the end of the day, yes this was a disappointment for us to not get the approval we were looking for, but at the same time we understand that what we are asking is not a small thing. We are not placing kids for a week, or even a year but rather for a lifetime. And if that means that the process is going to take another little while for us to get through it, then so be it. The license is already approved and what we are waiting for is small compared to what is behind us.
God is still as good as ever! And we are praying that He will take the wheel here.
Thanks so much for praying with us.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.