The day started for us with the realization of a dream ten months in the making! My DTE buddy, Jackie Mullis, and I first met each other through our adoption agency's Yahoo Group in March 2010 when we both submitted our paperwork to Ethiopia on the same day, both of us requesting baby boys. We began e-mailing, texting, and calling each other regularly throughout this crazy adoption journey and became such great friends along the way... without ever having met in person. We talked often about how great it would be to finally meet each other in Ethiopia and wondered what the chances of that would actually be. And here we were... both of us in Ethiopia... together! Our two families went to the Transition Home together this morning, and as we sat on the front porch holding our babies, I was just in awe of all God had done to make this moment possible.
Our time with Elias was so sweet this morning. We fed him and held him, and he fell asleep in our arms just like yesterday morning. We are so loving these precious moments with him. Once he woke up, we had some great play time with him. He is so much more content being with us that we are now able to stay outside with him during our whole visit, and we don't have to rely on taking him inside his room each time. Charlie tickled him and blew raspberries on his tummy, which got some huge smiles and laughs, and Emma introduced him to the joys of the Nintendo DS! We also had the chance today to stamp his footprints so we can know what size shoe he'll need. (The shoe man will finally be able to order his boy some shoes!!)
The remainder of the day was spent visiting the Trees of Glory care center and meeting our sponsor child for the first time! Trees of Glory is about two hours north of Addis Ababa, and we really enjoyed our drive. It was great to get out of the city and to see Ethiopia's rural countryside... complete with mud huts, small villages, children herding cattle, and vast fields stretching across the beautiful backdrop of mountains.
Remember God breaking my heart today?? Here it comes...
When we arrived at Trees of Glory, we were met by the most amazing woman, Simret. Simret is the founder of Trees of Glory and is truly the hands and feet of Jesus, loving and caring for over 100 orphaned and impoverished children each day. We had stopped along the way at a produce stand and bought hundreds of bananas and mangoes to donate as well as the 100 goody bags we had put together for each of the children at the care center. The love and gratitude from Simret and her staff was so overwhelming to us. We met for a few minutes longer, discussing the history and vision of Trees of Glory, and then she asked if we wanted to meet some of the children. (Because we were visiting in the afternoon, most of the children had already gone home for the day. The only ones who remained were the 11 permanent orphans who live there full time and our sweet sponsor child, Webit, and her sister.) We have been sponsoring Webit for about six months now. We have her picture hanging up, we've exchanged letters with her, we've sent her a care package, and we pray for her daily. We love this little girl as if she were a member of our own family, and we couldn't wait to meet her!
The children were led out of one of the buildings in a single file line to meet us, and Simret mentioned that our precious, little Webit was the first one in line. I was so excited to know that she was there and that we were about to meet face-to-face, that it took me a minute to realize that she was disabled and limping toward us. None of that mattered in that instant as I sunk down to her level to hug her, but I quickly realized how tiny and frail she was, probably more the size of our four-year-old instead of the seven-year-old she is. Simret was explaining to me as I was still embracing her that she is very sick. She said that Webit was almost too sick to make it today to meet us and that she had been carried on the back of her older sister all the way from their village to the care center. One of the other staff members explained that her leg injury had started as one small sore on her foot and had now spread to the point that her entire leg was lame. As the other children gathered around us to receive their goody bags and treats, Webit sat on the ground, unable to stand and in considerable pain. At one point, Charlie noticed her shoes were on the wrong feet and he gently knelt down to switch them for her, but she began to wince and cry, and so did I. It was truly heart-breaking, and I couldn't contain my tears for this sweet girl whom we love so much. It absolutely wrecked me to see her in so much pain.
The staff members explained to us that Webit comes from a witch-craft village and that the original sore had spread into this leg deformity because of the witch-craft that had been done on her. They also explained that this type of illness/deformity is seen as evil and that some members in her village had wanted to kill her. This sweet, darling, precious girl is the same age as our daughter and all of this was just too much for my heart to take in. I was completely broken and could not stop crying for her. We quickly asked about getting her into a hospital, but were told that we would have to contact Children's Hopechest back in the States to get this arranged, although they did feel hopeful that since Webit's parents had seen that the witch-craft hadn't worked, that they would likely be open to the idea of medical treatment for her.
After a traditional coffee ceremony, we said our good-byes to Webit and her sister, and later to Simret and the staff at Trees of Glory. I am absolutely positive that God brought our family together with Webit as her sponsors, knowing that we would be the ones to be there with her in person to see her need. I am confident He orchestrated this long before we ever considered child sponsorship, and I am incredibly grateful to be used by Him. On our way back to Addis, I told Him that He had broken my heart, and now I needed Him to show me what to do in order to help this sweet girl.
*** UPDATE *** When we got home from Ethiopia, this was one of the first stories I shared with my parents. The following day, my dad felt a very spontaneous prompting while he was preaching to mention it in his sermon. He and my mom have since been approached by several of the members in their congregation wanting to help Webit. It looks like there will be many donations given to help get Webit into the hospital. Praise the Lord for moving His people into action for this girl! We contacted Children's Hopechest right away, and they immediately went to work getting in touch with the staff at Trees of Glory to help get Webit the medical attention she so desperately needs. The staff in Ethiopia met last week with Webit's parents and they gave their permission for her to be treated! On Monday (January 31), one of the Trees of Glory staff members will pick her up and take her into the hospital. We will be updated on her prognosis and treatment while she is there. Please join us in praying for her healing and for wisdom for the doctors treating her. ***