Mekele was our first real taste of Ethiopia as we flew directly there after landing in Addis, never leaving the airport. Stepping off that plane (onto the runway mind you-little plane, really little airport) it was like stepping into another world. It was beautiful, with mountains surrounding us and literally nothing else. The two-story airport was the only building around and in the distance we could see men hauling huge loads on their backs. We would later see a convoy of camels walking the same path carrying salt from the border.
We were met by one of our agency’s staff members (a delightful guy) and taken immediately to the care center. We drove (I should say bumped) down unpaved, rocky, narrow roads, past donkeys and cows and swarms of children yelling, “forenyeah, forenyeah” (foreigner). Once we got out of the van, the street children gathered around us and hugged us and said, “I love you,” using one of the few English phrases they knew. We were overwhelmed by all the little faces, covered in dirt, running shoeless around us. They asked for a soccer ball which we gladly brought them the next day.
I remember that day and the next as two of the best days of my life. I felt pure joy being around these children. It was as if my heart was finally home (and I didn’t even know that it had gone). We then met all of the orphan children in the care center and of course baby Jonas. He was the cutest, happiest baby in the whole room (no offense to anyone reading whose baby was there-I’m a little partial). I couldn’t believe that we were holding the baby we had just been looking at pictures of days before and that he would soon be back in America hanging out with us.
It was the older children though who truly captured me. Their eyes told their story of struggle and longing. To see so many needy children is just indescribable. The bright side was that most of them had families and we were actually there to deliver care packages from them. It was so great to see their faces light up as they looked at the pictures of their new families and the things they had sent them. It was like hope had been renewed.
The night we returned to Addis, I was able to talk to Heidi through email and instant messenger to tell her all about her precious boy. I told her that night, “Get ready to start fundraising with me because you’re going to want to do this adoption thing again.” We hadn’t even seen our girls yet and I just knew that we would be back one day to adopt again.
To be continued……….