Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Could it be.....

I'm sitting at my computer staring at the images of children I may or may not know. I am desperately trying to remember all the details of a moment I swore I would never forget. It has been almost 3 years since I have seen their faces, but it was only yesterday that my heart thought about them. On my first visit to Ethiopia I asked Alebachew to take us outside of Addis on show us a part of Ethiopia that a lot of adoptive parents don't normally see. I wanted to see Ethiopia from his eyes. We ended up at an old church on top of a hill. He looked at us with a look of, "are you sure?" I started to walk up the hill not knowing what to expect. I wish I could share the pictures with you, but they are on my computer that is not working...I do have a few though from FB. The first person we came across was covered in a tattered blanket and the smell of death was in the air. Alebachew did that tisk tisk head shake that Ethiopians do and said, "keep walking Steff". I stopped. Is he dead? Does anyone care? Where is his family? I kept asking questions. I started to kneel down and saw movement. Alebachew lifted the blanket. We got the man to sit up. We gave him water, a few birr for food, prayed and walked away. I looked around...I started to realize this wasn't a church, it was a place where the unloved and cast-out went to die. There were people laying around everywhere, dying most likely from AIDS. In the midst of darkness, death, despair and in the shadow of the huge cross on the building for all to ignore on a Sunday morning....there was a hint of life. Running up behind me were children. Never before had they seen someone stop to help those waiting to die. They were excited. They were beautiful. I think I counted 12 of them. I was overwhelmed and in shock. They lived there. This was their life. Why were they there? They looked healthy. They introduced me to their brother. He was maybe 16 and very obviously was mentally disabled. He kissed me. The other kids didn't know if they should beat him or laugh that he did such a thing. I kissed him back and Adam hugged him. The kids smiled. I was introduced to their momma. I wish I would have spent time with her. The smell was just so unbearable and I was overwhelmed with emotion. They lived in a concrete room off the church. It smelled of excrement and death. I hugged her and left.
That was it. I didn't even get their names. I don't know their ages or why they were outcast and lived amongst the dying.

I have thought about them so many times since then. On my last trip back, I wanted to find them. Timing didn't work out though. So, when I got back this time, I hired Alebachew to see if he could find them. I sent him a picture. I told him to look for them and if he found them, to give them the picture of us together and share with them the story of the broken woman who thinks about them everyday. To let them know....they are loved, prayed for and thought of. I asked him to get their names, ages and talk to their momma. To find out if they go to school or how many of the girls are now mommas themselves. I told him to find a school in their town and inquire about tuition ( school is not free in Africa). I asked him to find out what skills the mom has and if she is still alive. I told him to ask if I can come and see them in March....

Today in my inbox are 12 pictures. 3 years is a long time to try to recognize someone you only saw briefly. I only have 2 old pics to go by...Could the faces I am looking at, be the same children from the church? Could my search be over? Do they remember us? Through broken English Alebachew said he found 7 kids. I remember 12. Did they eventually end up being a shadow under the cross? There was only one face I recognized....

The picture from almost 3 years ago after walking past death...
You can see from my face (that doesn't hide feelings well)

The beautiful kids I met.
I so wish I had all my photos from then to study their faces...
There is one face I won't forget.
In this picture you can't see his..
(the kid sitting down)
but I will always remember his kiss:)

This is one of the pics sitting in my email.
I do know this face!
I do remember his kiss!

Could it be?
Did I find them?
Can I do what I should have done 3 years ago?
Sit down. Talk to the mom. Get to know her kids.
Look beyond the death, devastation and poverty.
To see them...really see them...know them...really know them...
To appreciate their beauty
to let them know....
They are loved.


Andrea said...

Praying Steffany

Miriam said...

I believe they are the face of the people God gave you to love. I too fell in love with the people. Their smiles, their eyes and their songs. I dream of a day mommas like the one you met will have dignity and hope. Not only hope for an earthly life but hope of a life that is full and eternal, where she'll be whole again. I believe that can be achieved!