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Thursday, December 30, 2010

I had to take a walk, away from everyone, and I just lost it ...

My most memorable moments from our trip to Ethiopia in November are those moments when we got to watch as a family met their sponsor child for the first time.  Rob Thomas, an attorney from Indiana, travelled to Ethiopia with us and he wanted his two oldest children, 15 year old Olivia and 13 year old Isaac, to share this experience wtih him. 

Their family is adopting from Ethiopia and they are anxiously awaiting news of their children!  Rob, and his wife Jennie, sponsor 5 year old Abush, at Trees of Glory, and we watched as they met and tried to coax a smile from this little boy who had obviously experienced much loneliness and grief in his life. 

We watched as Rob held Abush in his arms, as he spoke quietly with Simret and learned about his story.  And we watched as Rob held it together as long as he could, and then carefully and lovingly set Abush down, and walked away from us all as he put his hand over his face and his shoulders shook with sadness and pain for this little boy.  He "lost it" for the little boy that he was holding in his arms but could not erase the pain or replace the mommy and daddy that he had lost.  And he could not help thinking about his own 5 year old son at home  ...

Here are those moments in Rob's words: 

His photo had been on our refrigerator for a few months but I have to admit that aside from including him in a few family prayers, I did not think about Abush Megersa very much. Since returning home from Ethiopia a few weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking of him. I want to go back and bring him home with me right now!

We first arrived at "Trees of Glory" on a Wednesday, but found out that Abush was at the government school so we wouldn’t get to meet him until we returned on Friday or Saturday. On Friday, we arrived at TOG after a two hour drive through the winding, rolling countryside of Ethiopia ... and Abush was there!

My two oldest kids and I had the opportunity to sit down with him, read a letter from my wife, show him pictures of our family and give him a care-package. As I read the letter to Abush through the interpreter, I told him that we loved him very much and that we were praying for him. I told Abush that he is a handsome young man and that Jesus loves him very much.

Abush is a handsome little guy and he has a beautiful, shy smile. As I held him on my lap reading the letter and looking at photos, he looked down most of the time and I could barely see his face. The pictures confirm that he was in fact smiling part of the time and I think he enjoyed the gifts.

But the little five year old boy sitting next to me had been through some “stuff” and it showed in his actions and his withdrawn nature.

Both of his parents are dead and he was found alone on the streets of a nearby village. Abush is now living with a guardian in another village and is attending the care-point. After holding him and hearing part of his story, I had to take a walk, away from everyone, and I just lost it.

What I want to write is that Abush warmed up to us and we got to love on him and play soccer with him and assure him that we would always be there for him. But that's not what actually happened ...

Abush is a smart kid. He knew we were leaving. He cried on Saturday as I held him and then he desperately wanted me to put him down. As I put him down, one of the teachers said, “He is sad because he knows you are leaving.” He didn’t want to get too close. I don’t think he wanted to be hurt yet again.

I wasn’t able to learn everything about Abush’s story and I’m not sure that anyone really knows what his full story is. But I do know that this little guy needs a family!

He needs a family just like my own five year old son who gets to sit on his daddy’s lap every day (if I can catch him!), who gets tucked in every night by his daddy, who gets fed by his mommy every day -three times a day. Abush needs a mommy and daddy.

I take some comfort in knowing that we can do a small part by continuing to sponsor Abush.

More importantly, I take comfort in knowing that Trees of Glory is there.

I take comfort in knowing that Simret, Girma, the teachers and the rest of the TOG staff are there to teach him, to feed him, to love him, to teach him about the love of Jesus Christ and to give him a sense of family.

I take comfort in knowing that people like Karen Wistrom are fighting to support these kids and are putting together groups like ours to visit and bring care-packages to the kids and spend time with them.

I take comfort in knowing that through their efforts, the kids are being sponsored and the money is being used to care for the kids, pay the teachers, pay for infrastructure and so much more.

On Saturday, our last day at TOG, Simret and Girma emotionally thanked us for coming, and Girma quoted Hebrews 6:10, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

We thanked them for having us, for all their hard work and sacrifices, and we promised that we would never forget them. They are truly the hands and feet of Christ, every day, every night, giving everything for the cause of Christ and for the least of His.

My prayer is that the comforts of America do not again blind us from the needs we experienced on this trip. And my prayer is that when I look at the picture of Abush on my refrigerator, and when I see the pictures of the many kids that we were blessed to spend time with on this trip, that we not only think of them and pray for them, but that we do something about it!


Kristi said...

Love this story! May we never forget...

Kimberly said...

Thank you Karen....for all that you do and for sharing through the eyes and words of others as well. What a sad, yet inspiring story. I think of Fate so often and am grateful for how the internet brought me to you and then in turn brought us to Fate.