Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Very Different Kind of "Back to School" Post

My heart is overflowing with joy.  As I sit here the past two days on Facebook reading everyone's complaints and woes, I am struck at our country's lack of perspective and gratitude.  How spoiled and self-righteous are we as a nation when we complain about our "first world problems" whilst people around the world fight for their right to simply live.

On Wednesday we, as a family, watched a documentary on Netflix called "On the Way to School".  It follows the lives of four different children in four different countries and documents their journey to school every day.  None of the kids in the film walked less than an hour each way to school daily.  One child had to watch out for elephant stampedes, while another pushed their brother, who was in a wheelchair, through very rugged terrain for over an hour.  Yet we complain.  After the film I was struck when the first words out of Charlotte's mouth was "When are we sending the money to send my sisters to school?".  Little did she know that I had been working on this very task over the past few days with our friend Workineh in Ethiopia.

I want to preface this post with the fact that Mike and I are no saints.  This story is of God and only possible through God.  We are simply following God's call on our lives.  He is the one making all of this possible, so please join us in praising Him and not us.

As many of you already know we hired an investigator back in May and were able to locate both birth mothers of our girls.  You can read ore about that story here.  We knew the twins had two sisters, one is now 7 and the other is 12.  In the interest of their privacy I will refer to them as K and N.  Once we found them I had a strong desire to make sure these girls were in a good school.  Since May I have been working with Workineh (our investigator turned friend) as well as our Ethiopian friend here in the states to determine what the best way to go about this would be.  Mike and I wanted to make sure we weren't trying to swoop in and be all "white savior" about the way we wanted to help.

This summer, while visiting family in Ohio, we were able to call the twins' birthmother, Abinet, ON THE PHONE!!!!  Our friend, and Godsend, Amsale in Ohio had her phone number from when the investigator told us that Abinet did have a phone.  Amsale happened to be in Ethiopia visiting her family in May when Workineh found Abinet, so she was able to talk with her on the phone 2 times while she was there.  We were sitting up in a bedroom in Amsale's house.  Our main goal of the phone call was to let Abinet know how we would like to help and find out what kind of school she would like the girls to go to. 

An interesting side note is the twins' response to our phone call to Abinet.  One girl wanted to stand in the room to just listen, but did not want to say anything.  The other wanted nothing to do with the call.  I mention this to emphasize that these are BIG and COMPLICATED feelings that they are sorting through.  They each sleep with a scarf tied around their waist that Amsale brought back for them from Ethiopia that she told them was from Abinet.  They love their first mother, but yet, there's so many feelings!  Mike and I are very intentional about letting them lead as far as how much, and what, involvement they want in this whole process. 

In Ethiopia a boarding school is the most prestigious school.  In my gut, I didn't think she would want to send them to a boarding school.  She already had to part with two of her kids due to terrible circumstances and I felt that she wouldn't want the other two out of her house.  I was correct.  She was so moved by our offer and asked why we wanted to help her.  All of us were crying.  We told her, through Amsale's translation, that she is now a part of our family and we help our family.  We conveyed to her how much we loved her and her other daughters and how we wish to come to visit her in three years.  At one point in the phone call she said "God made these girls (the twins) for you."  My response was "No, he made them for you, but we are so blessed to help."

She chose the school she wanted and let Workineh know how much tuition, the entrance fee, uniforms and school supplies would be.  The total for BOTH girls was...$310 for the entire year.  We are blessed with an incredible group of friends and family who all waned to participate in helping our new family members, which allowed us to send some extra money for school clothes, shoes, etc.

I sent the money to Workineh through Western Union on Wednesday and he traveled to their town on Thursday.  He sent me some pictures.  God is so good guys!

 Here are K & N modeling their new school clothes, shoes and backpacks.

 These are some of their new school books.

 This is the fabric that has been taken to a tailor to be made into their school uniforms.  School starts on September 18th.

 N, Abninet and K showing the photo album I made back in May for them of pictures of the twins from the entire time they've been with us.  Workineh delivered it to them on this trip.  

Here are the girls standing outside the school compound.

I need to express to you that through this entire process we have been very transparent and open with the twins.  They know everything, every detail we discovered about their birthfamily.  Some of it wasn't ideal, obviously.  This has brought the twins so much healing and helped them bond with us on a whole other level.  Their trust in us has grown exponentially.  They see our love for them shown through our love for their first family.  It helps that they no longer need to worry about what ever happened to their first family, especially their sisters.  We will always keep in touch and make sure they're ok, as much as is possible.

In no way has this discovery made me feel any "less" their mother.  I have not felt threatened in any way.  I feel closer to them knowing their history.  It has made me love their first family like they're my own.  It has opened my eyes and broken my heart for what breaks God's.  It has brought me closer to God.  He has been in every small detail of this whole experience.  I pray for Abinet everyday.  I wear a bracelet that says "enat" {mother in Amharic} to remind me to pray for her.  

I sleep better at night knowing I am doing all I can to help them.  It has brought our whole family here, and friends, together for such an amazing reason.  Our family has made us feel so loved, and again it shows the twins that they can trust all of us.  I sleep better knowing that this woman halfway around the world knows she's not forgotten.  She knows her babies are loved and cherished.  She knows that God has heard her prayers and is using us to help answer some of them.  That is an incredible honor.


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