As we drove through Addis Ababa the excitement about receiving our two newest sons was numbed by the blatant display of poverty along the streets. The mass of humanity before us was sprinkled with ‘outcasts’ whose residence was at best a worn blanket or a piece of plastic. Beggars drug their deformed legs on the pavement. The aroma of roasted corn cooked and sold on the sidewalk waffled through the air. Every now and then, the undeniable odor of refuse was added to the smog. If poverty has a smell, this is it!
I stared speechless out the car window as our driver recounted details of Isaac and Jonah’s life. He recounted the death of a mother and biological siblings. He explained how it was impossible for their father to provide for them.
When they first arrived at the orphanage they both were severely malnourished. Jonah had no mobility. His ankles were like jello. Questions about the beggars with deformed limbs no longer needed to be asked. I now seemed to know firsthand why they drug themselves along the ground.
We finally turned down a gravel road that led us up to a metal gate. I had seen this security gate in pictures and videos. I had imagined this moment for months but it was not happening like I had imagined.
Certain parts of Addis have to share electricity in 24hr shifts. This was a day when the electricity at the home happened to be out. There was also a thunderstorm rumbling in the background. I remember thinking, “This is no hallmark moment!” And yet, the darkness and gloom was about to be overcome by the moment we had been waiting months to experience.
As the metal door was pulled open, I heard some of the nannies yell for Kenesa and Melkamu. I walked down a dark hallway worried that the gloomy conditions would make the transition even more difficult. As I turned to go up some stairs, two little boys met me. I could not make out their faces, but I knew them and they knew me. They reached for us!
Isaac was the closest so I grabbed him. He tightly squeezed my neck with his thin arms. I don’t know if he was scared or excited. I do know he had been waiting for me and was ready for something. With tears in her eyes, Danae went for Jonah. In this moment pictures, videos, thoughts, and prayers became reality. We were holding our new sons.
Jonah brought to us the pictures of our family we sent them months earlier. Isaac showed me with pride their metal bunk beds. Before leaving, they made sure to hug and kiss all their friends. After seeing many others come and go, it was now their turn to leave. Isaac kept saying something that began with words I could not understand, but included, “airplane” and ended with, “to America!” He had obviously been prepared to leave and was ready to go.
I know this is not normal. Many children when leaving an orphanage kick and scream to stay. This is one reason why the details of this day are so imprinted on my heart and mind. To this day I relive these moments every time one of them runs to my open arms.
We talk about this Day alot around our house. I pray we never shake the details that still seem so vivid. This day has often caused me to consider another Day. The Day that is coming when the Eastern sky will be ripped open as the Son sweeps into this present orphanage. The Day when He comes to rescue all who have been preparing to go with Him. The Day He comes to take over the world. On this Day all darkness and gloom will be shot with the light of His glory.
I pray constantly that all our kids begin to look for and hope in this Day the same way Isaac and Jonah looked for the day when we arrived to bring them home.
Unlike Isaac and Jonah, my problem is that I am constantly lulled into forgetting how much bigger and better this Day will be than anything else I have ever experienced. This is why I so desperately need the transitioning work of Spirit in my life. While He has already called me away from sin, He continues to convince me with the authoritative Words of Christ of the glorious details of this coming Day.
We know in part what this will be like if our hearts have been born from above. But on that Day we will see Him, know Him, and be like Him in an instant. For this reason we pray, “Abba Father!” and “Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!”