We are about to embark on an adventure for which I have no prior experience on which to draw. My memory bank is dry.
When August rolls around and the kids return to school after months of sun-kissed days and long, lazy mornings I can say, “Oh honey, I know how nervous you are, I remember those days! I used to be up all night crafting the perfect outfit to don at the first day reunion — but nobody cares what you wear!” (Not sure I ever would have bought that line from my Mother, but I’ll give it a go.)
When we plan a holiday trip to an exotic locale I can say, “This is so exciting! I wonder if there will be white-washed buildings and fancy drinks with parasols like there are in Mexico? Come to think of it, I should pack extra bug spray and SPF 100.”
When I get up to teach at a church Bible study and my nerves feel like someone just unlatched the hatch at the butterfly pavilion I think, “It’s okay, I always feel like this right before I get up in front of people. The minute I start talking, everything will feel better.”
Not this time. This trip to Ethiopia is a first. A first on so many levels…..
1. For starters, I’ve never been to Africa! Well, that’s not entirely true. While studying abroad in college, some girlfriends and I chartered a four-day trip (the bargain basement price was too good to pass up!) from Paris to Tunis. With naive confidence we hitched a ride with Eva the “she-looks-too-cute-and-well-coifed-to-be-dangerous” Polish woman in her little red hatchback, with the express goal of standing at the tip of the Sahara just to say we’d been there. I’m happy to report we accomplished our goal despite the minor set back of her car spewing smoke in the middle of nowhere. (Not advising my kids with this one.)
2. We will meet two children who, for all intents and purposes, are ours. Or at least, will be ours when we pass the formality of Ethiopian court. Two children who did not keep me up nights threatening to break a rib from the inside with a swift “jab, jab, cross”. Two children whom I have never hugged, read to, chided or tickled. Two children who haven’t captured my face, or my hands, or my eyes, but they have captured my heart.
3. We have the opportunity to fly to the Northern region of Ethiopia to meet the birth family. From a certain vantage point it feels “easier” to skip this part and craft a Disney back story for these two young ones. Maybe like Bambi or Dumbo. A two-dimensional image seems within my mental reach. What will we say? Who will we see? What will we encounter? The questions are endless and the rules are few. Exchange no contact information and above all, exchange no money.
4. My husband and I will enjoy a belated 15-year-anniversary celebration driving through the mountains and canyons of Northern Ethiopia on a quest to explore the old stone churches rich with Orthodox history in Axum and Lalibela. Might we be the only mortals besides the gritty, weathered priest on 24 hour surveillance to see the ancient Ark of the Covenant? All Ethiopians believe the Ark is buried there. Did Indy ever get that memo?
As untethered as I feel, with no sense of gravity to pull me in, my God draws me back to Him. My rock. My anchor. On a bright, Colorado morning, my mind’s eye drinks in His words in Hebrews, Chapter 6:
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he has no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having PATIENTLY WAITED, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT TO HOLD FAST TO THE HOPE SET BEFORE US. WE HAVE THIS AS A SURE AND STEADFAST ANCHOR OF THE SOUL, A HOPE THAT ENTERS INTO THE INNER PLACE BEHIND THE CURTAIN, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf….”
Though my experiential account is bankrupt, my spiritual account is overflowing! I have One who has gone before me. One who knows each hair on their little heads (and is not daunted by the idea of actually having to learn how to take care of it :)….. One whose account is gracious and full. One who loves and is love.
My anchor in the storm.
Anchors away, my friends!
*Our court date is scheduled for July 15th. We would love any prayers as you think of us on our travels. We also humbly request prayers for our kids back home and those sweet friends and family members taking care of them. The idea of Mommy & Daddy being gone for 11 days is hard for them too and our sweet, sentimental daughter will most likely need divine comfort to help her fall asleep at night. And heaven knows how important sleep is for all involved. We’ll keep you posted on our travels whenever possible! God be with you…