Monday, July 6, 2009

Missing Hannah's Hope

We're home and we're settling in very well, but I'm missing Ethiopia. I never thought that I'd be saying that - I thought that I would be so glad to get home, to get away from heart-wrenching poverty and back to my clean home, comfortable bed and a water supply that I can trust.

Instead, I find myself longing in a way for the warm smiles of all of the people who adored my son for four months at Hannah's Hope. I want to see their eyes light up when they see him, and I want to watch him throw his arms open wide and run full-tilt down the path to the house where he slept, while 10 or so little boys run toward him yelling, "Yikealo! Yikealo!!"

I want to listen to Tomea, the guard at the gate whisper, "I love you, Yikealo" in broken English into my little guy's ear.

I want to see Almaz, Johannes, or Welde stop in the middle of whatever important task they are doing to hug any child who calls their names as they walk by. After all, what could be more important than the momentary happiness of one of the beautiful little ones that they spend their lives serving? That's not just a demanding child - that's a gift from God, a blessing that He has created for a purpose - everything else can wait for just this moment.

I want to see all of the little clothes hanging out on the line and the row of yellow potty chairs - reminders of just how many precious children are living in this transition home - this temporary refuge between great poverty and the great unknown of America.

I want to see the tears well up again in Almaz's eyes as she tells our travel group, "Because of you, there are fifteen children today who are no longer orphans," and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even though she does this all the time, her job never becomes routine to her. It can't - in just one afternoon last week, there were four more orphans admitted to Hannah's Hope. In just this one country of Ethiopia, there are 4.6 million orphans waiting for someone to claim them. Almaz can't rest on the joy of seeing 15 children claimed - there are so many more filling those places, waiting for her to intercede on their behalf. Yet in spite of the fact that children move in and out of Hannah's Hope all the time, this remarkable woman knows every one of them by name, knows their likes and dislikes, knows their stories, and finds ways to reach out to them. This incredibly busy woman allowed an ornery, three-year old, curly-topped streak of lightning named Yikealo to interrupt her over and over every day, by popping continually into her office and taking over, as only he can do. She told him on his last day there, that she didn't know what she was going to do without him - that she would have to hire someone to be her boss, now that he was leaving.

I want to see the primitive chalk drawings of little girls holding flags - one American and one Ethiopian. I want to see the words, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world!" painted around the walls of one of the bedrooms. I want to walk the crumbling cement paths of that little haven where absolutely everything shouts, "God is love!" like the door to the schoolroom/lunchroom says.

I guess that what I want most of all, is for everyone I know to be able to see the things that I saw, to hear the things that I heard, and to know that it is possible to make a difference in this world - one life at a time. My photos and my words can't do it justice...but I know that I saw Jesus everywhere around me last week. I also know that when you've seen Him, your life can never be the same.


  1. I love seeing those little hands wrapped around each of your necks and the delighted smile on his face! What a precious little boy...I am just dying to get at those cheeks of his! I love the curls too (don't buzz them off!!) :-) So glad to hear you are all doing well.... Give a big, smashing kiss for me! Love you guys! Lori

  2. you make me miss Ethiopia too! I love the lunch room door pic! I saved a copy of it for Ab!

  3. My heart is beyond blessed reading your details of HH as my husband and I prepare to travel Friday. Thank you and may these early days with your son be rich and beautiful.

  4. Larisa-
    Love your post. It is true to my heart as well. Glad to see you guys are well. How is David? Andrew got sick a few nights ago. Mac also got sick around the same time. Hoping you escaped the bug. Missing you guys!

  5. AMEN!!!! It is sooo true! Praise God for HH, and the beautiful people there! Praise God for the miracle of adoption!

  6. Oh you said it so well! I miss Ethiopia - and who'd a thought that such a poverty stricken place could be so ... so.... so what it is, full of love! and wonder! and people who need to be taken home!

    I'm pretty sure your little guy sat in on our Birth Family meeting. There was a fellow who 'owned' the place in the most sweetest ways, and yes, I think Almaz finally threw her hands up when we said that he could stay, he wasn't harming anyone! Such a sweety!

    You're blog is wonderful - looking forward to reading more!

  7. Thank you for the words you used to describe this wonderful place. I went back "there" as I read as it was two years ago next month that I with several other women painted that room that says, "Jesus love the little children." We touched the children's hands as we painted them to put on the wall. You are forever changed as you enter the place where God dwells. I pray I get to go back!
    Congrats on being home and experiencing Jesus.
    jen in mi

  8. Great post! Thanks for the wonderful descriptions of HH and the people there.

  9. I tearfully say SO WELL WRITTEN! It reminds me of our own trip!