Gray Hairs

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Just the other day, Carrie told me that she is starting to see gray hairs in my beard.  We laughed.  But the laughter came with the mutual acknowledgement that life has been stressful.  I don’t want to write a long blog about all the different stressful things that have burdened us recently, but today felt like a victorious day, so we wanted to share good news.  After a stressful week concerning our adoption process, trying to get one last paper we need from the local ministry of women and children’s affairs, we finally got the paper, which allowed us to complete the regional court process, making the boys our legal children as declared by Ethiopia!

The two boys we are adopting have a living mother with a mental disability.  The father of our older son passed away years ago, but the father of our younger son has been “missing” his entire life.  For many years, the children’s birth mother claimed to be raped.  A couple of years ago however, she admitted that she did know who the father was.  The center where the children had been living asked him to come visit his son, but he never did.  The center was also informed by the local authorities, that siblings should never be split up, so they continued to care for Habtamu and Andreas, assuming that it was impossible to reunify them with Andreas’ father.  In all reality, it would be impossible for them to live with him as he has another wife and kids, destitute, and not to mention that the simple fact that he never showed up to see his son for 5 years.

All this to say, we knew this would potential be an issue in our adoption process because new laws nearly force kids to be with their parent, no matter what the situation.

On more than one occasion, including this week, we were scared/threatened that the local authorities may want to force Andreas to live with his father.  Perhaps we stressed ourselves out more than was necessary, but our whole process has felt like some twisted chess game, never knowing what move to make next.  Never knowing who to listen to or who to trust.  Being told different things from different people.  Being led to believe things that turned out to be untrue.  Being frustrated by people we thought had our best interest in mind but then do things that seem ridiculous and unnecessary.

However, we are extremely thankful for, and indebted to, several national partners who stood by us and fought for our case and for our children.  Without them, we would still be battling for our children.

Currently, we must wait on the US to issue us a letter of approval to adopt, which the embassy in Addis Ababa is working on right now.  Then we must take our case to the federal court before we can apply for visas to America.  We are praying these last steps will all happen before the beginning of August, when our baby is due.  We have a long way to go still, but this week has been an encouragement of victories.

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Please pray for the Grace Center we work for as well.  On top of all the adoption craziness, work at the center has been tough.  Helping manage a huge center with 120 employees and over 1000 beneficiaries is no easy task.  Day to day work is filled with putting “fires” out, trying to navigate all the local laws, trying to make wise decisions for the future, helping oversee facility changes, managing finances (6 million worth in local currency.  That is about $300,000 USD per year), and so on.  There have been tragedies of unexpected deaths, but there have also been lives saved and lives changed which always reminds us of why we are here.

Even just the other day on my way to work, a woman with a young child was laying in the street sick.  It was an unusual place for someone like this so a worker from grace center talked to her and found out that she had come from another area a few hours drive away from our city to come to the big hospital here.  She had received medicines but nothing helped her feel better and she was now out of money.   Being out of money meant that she could no longer get any treatment anywhere nor could she get back to her home.  Grace Center was able to have her rest at our clinic and we will be able to get her more medical care so that she can get well enough to return home.  If all goes well, Grace will probably spend around $40 to help her out and get her back home.  Without Grace’s assistance, who knows what would have happen to someone like this.

Beneficiaries of a project can often be troublesome as many times that have bad attitudes and unwillingness to change.  It is easy to become angry towards people when they don’t seem to appreciate assistance they receive, but then days like that come along, when you know God appointed you to come across a person in need, in legitimate need, and we can provide her some simple help to get her back home.

The center struggles financially, but what I love about Grace is that we are always trying to wise with every dollar that is spent.  I love that the directors are always willing to help someone in need even, if when uncertain where the money will come from.  Please consider supporting the Grace Center as they strive to help those in need who would otherwise have no where to go for help.

Matthew 25: 31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

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