After several days of travel for 12 Godly people from around the US, the Man Up Team is officially on the ground in Ethiopia and serving orphans, widows and men. The travel wasn't without a few hiccups, but at the end of the day, we are here and had a great first day of serving.
Selfishly, our first stop was the Help for the Needy Orphanage. This orphanage just happens to be the location for our precious baby Zion. As team leader, I get to do these kinds of things and schedule stops for my benefit (as well as the other kids of course).
Our team did a wonderful job of serving the 55 children that live there and assisting their caretakers with their daily tasks. We were able to bless them with diapers, formula, and some new toys. These children range from birth to 7 years of age. They are all starving for attention and were anxious to just soak up every bit of love we could provide for them. Their smiling faces tell us all we need to know about why we are here.
As many of you know by now, our adoption has not gone well in recent weeks. We are still struggling to get his clearance from the southern region and the blame game going on between our agency and our third party consultant is enough to make me sick at times. All we are asking is that someone bring him home. We are providing every resource necessary on our end to make it happen, but we still struggle to get it done.
With that in mind, my 4 hour visit with Zion today was just what I needed (while being excruciating at the same time). At the end of last week, I had become emotionally drained by the process lately as everyday something else has gone poorly or at least not gone as planned. With the stress of leading this team, dealing with the adoption, and the other rigors of daily life as a husband, father, employee and entrepreneur, I had been drained.
But, in steps Zion. I arrived to him sleeping in his crib. I'm not sure there's much more peaceful in this world than an infant sleeping. As he began to awake, I picked him up and we enjoyed just being together with some relaxing, quite time. At that point, he was able to finally meet his Grandfather and his Uncle (both Man Up team members). As the day moved on, we played, crawled and just got to know each other again (I haven't seen him since December).
As the time started to come to an end, he reached out with his little brown hand and grabbed my thumb as hard as he could. He then relaxed his head into my chest, as if to tell me that he was at home. We cuddled there quietly for almost an hour until it was time to go. I sent the team to the van, and began the difficult task of actually putting my son back into his crib (1 of 8 cribs in the room, but at least he is lucky enough to have his own and doesn't have to share). With tears rolling, I put him into the crib, only to have him reach for me with tears in his eyes. No matter how much I prepare myself for this mentally, I can't explain how difficult it is. Especially now. We have worked so hard and still don't have the results we need. We are being told that someone will get things done so we can bring him home to us, but there are no guarantees.
We are amazingly blessed by him, though. He is a beautiful little boy. He has great hair and wonderful skin. His smile is priceless with his 4 teeth coming in and he has so much love to give. He has blessed me with a new sense of energy. I am now more convicted than ever to bring him home and if the people that are standing in my way think that I've been fighting hard up to this point, they haven't seen anything yet. That starts tomorrow with a visit to our agency here to look at paperwork.
Please keep Zion, our team, and our families at home in your prayers. This is all a wonderful and difficult time all wrapped up into one.