Monday, September 30, 2013

Two weeks from now

Two weeks from now, I will have already gotten up in the middle of the night, kissed my sleeping family goodbye and boarded a plane to Ethiopia. I am equal parts excited about going and anxious about leaving my family. I'll either be the passenger skipping up and down the aisle or crying in the bathroom, quite possibly both.

So, what am I doing and why am I going, you ask?

My reasons for going are complicated and deeply personal. I am going to Ethiopia for my family, both for my family in the Unites States, and my family in Ethiopia. The second part of that sentence is complicated, more complicated than I can express right now. I'm going to Ethiopia to seek clarity. Someday soon I hope to tell you a love story...

I'm also going to do research, to learn, to be present, to ask "how can I help?"instead of "I think you need this." I"m going to witness, listen, connect and love. I'm really not sure exactly what I"ll be doing, but I trust that if I'm really able to just go and BE, the doing will be revealed.

The first leg of the trip I'm traveling to Gambella to visit Wynray's birth family. When we made our two trips to Ethiopia for Wynray's adoption, we asked our agency several times about going to visit the region Wynray was born. We were told the region wasn't stable and so remote that they didn't want to take responsibility for us traveling there. We also asked Fekadu, our good friend and driver, if he would take us there and he said, "absolutely, no."

We were very disappointed we couldn't visit Gambella when we were in-country, but our adoption agency flew Wynray's birth dad to meet us in Addis Ababa, and it was enough to satisfy us for that trip. Once we got home, we couldn't stop thinking about his birth dad who asked us to pray for peace for his tribe. We knew many Anuak familes were being driven off their land by corporate land grabbing, and we were scared we might loose contact with them. So we hired our friend and driver, Fekadu, to go find and visit them, and to remain our contact with them.

With only a photo, a name and a random phone number to a phone no one ever answered, Fekadu found Wynray's birth dad walking on the side of the road. From this meeting we were able to see photos of Wynray's small extended family, the hut/home where he was born, we saw Wynray's birth mom's grave site, their not very clean water source, and we were introduced to Aguwa.

We sent Fekadu back to visit the family later this past spring with photos of our family. We learned Wynray's birth dad was away working in another part of the region and Aguwa was home alone. These are the photos we received from that trip:

These photos take my breath away every time I look at them.

I was so moved by the photos, I jokingly asked Fekdau if he was SURE he wouldn't take me. This time the answer changed. Fekadu had been spending lots of time in Gambella doing similar work for other adoptive families and his perception of the region had changed. We had spent several days and had experienced a wide variety of adventures with Fekadu in our travels to Ethiopia, so I trusted him completely and knew he wouldn't take me anywhere that isn't safe.

Note I said safe. Not comfortable.

While I am certainly hoping to see Wynray's birth dad, (Yes, I'm literally making a house call on the other side of the planet, to one of the most remote places in the world, and I'm not 100% sure they know I'm coming...) I'm making this pilgrimage to meet Wynray's great grandmother, Aguwa. We are told Aguwa is in her 90's, she was the midwife present for Wynray's birth, and she is the person responsible for the beaded bracelets and necklace he was wearing when we met him. Aguwa loves Wynray, and I need to meet her so I can personally tell Wynray about her someday.

There's a lot I want to explain about my trip to visit Wynray's birth family. There are many details about his tribe, the Ethiopian government, corporate greed, and my own personal hopes and intentions I'd like to share and bring to light. I promise I'll return to discuss these things soon.

Around the time we got the photos of Aguwa, a trip to Awassa and the Ajuuja orphanage was being organized by some precious friends through the group Project Hopeful Awassa. Like I said earlier, someday soon I hope to tell you a love story, but for now I can say there was no doubt in our minds that I NEEDED to go on the trip.

Remember when Fredrik and I visited our sponsored child in Awassa, and YOU gave us lots of money and we bought tons of supplies? Yep, that place. THAT's the place I'm going, and I'm so thrilled to return to Ajuuja and to people who have stayed so close to my heart all these months.

I can't wait to reveal more contents of my heart and details of my trip. I can't wait to share my experiences with you. The precious real estate of my luggage is already being taken up with cloth diapers, bumbos, gifts to birth families, and wedding dresses (what?!!) to help a friend set up a small business venture..

...but I would like to ask for your help.

That's right, YOU.

We understand the Ajuuja orphanage is even more crowded than it was when we visited in January. There are MANY precious little babies there, and if you remember from our previous posts and trip, *most of these children are STUCK because the region is not allowing adoptions right now.

The orphanage directors have specifically asked for more formula and I'd love to bless them with as much formula as possible. I'd love to stock those shelves FULL. Would you please consider donating money that will DIRECTLY go to buying formula to some babies in serious need of nutrition?

Formula in Ethiopia is unfortunately just as expensive as it is in the US, so please don't assume a little bit of money goes a long way. This is a serious expense for an orphanage, and babies are hungry. Please consider digging deeply into your pockets. I'll be happy to share with you as much as I can about the precious babies who will be receiving the life sustaining gift of formula you'll donate.

These are the big kiddos now, but there are MANY babies in this orphanage who NEED formula.
Simply click on the link below to donate.

Many thanks in advance, and I CAN'T WAIT to bring you along on my grand adventure.

With much gratitude, 

**There are a few children who have been referred and are awaiting adoption from this region since we visited last but there are many who cannot be adopted internationally for various reasons. We are hopeful more children are able to find their forever homes, but because many orphanages have closed in the region Ajuuja has accepted many more children. They need our support more than ever.

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