Thursday, April 9, 2009

His Bundle on my Back--From my Ethiopian Journal

"He takes care of his flock like a shepherd.
He gathers the lambs in his arms.
He carries them close to his heart.
He gently leads those that have little ones. " (Isaiah 40:11)

African women carry their babies within long fabric pieces on their back. Like these children, as a child of God, since I was five, I have been securely wrapped up within the love of incredible Father God. First He saved me and simply asked me to love Him and to love others. To walk out my life as He did. He named this love, "adoption", as He wrapped me close to His heart. In time and by degree, He lovingly secured a bundle to my back as well. It is so much smaller but looks like the one my Father carries. I love to walk through His world with Him. Within this bundle He has placed Adoption , Rescue, Care for the Orphan--the desire to give place to the lonely--to set them in families--love for His hurting world. This, He has lovingly has wrapped to my back since I was a tiny girl. He has so much more to fit into my bundle. I gaze in there and marvel and wonder at its beauty -- the honor of carrying a likeness to my Father. Other times it has been very heavy to carry. But then, the gold of His Kingdom can be weighty.

I hope you can see her. She is my heart for adoption, for adoption in Ethiopia. A beautiful African woman stands with dignity under a brilliant, cobalt sky. She is dressed in humble garments and is wrapped in a long piece of colorful fabric. With skillful ease, she bends over gracefully to take the ends of the fabric. Seamlessly, she wraps the fabric over a baby on her back or front until the baby has the cosiest of perches to view the market before them. They walk down dusty streets, past baskets of food on blankets, among begging people with gentle eyes and past the man with withered polio legs dragging his torso to the injera stall (Ethiopian bread). Her baby blinks at the sun and is covered with a light shawl. She jostles to sleep, secured on her Mother's back. On they go through the aroma of Ethiopian "Boona"--the most delicious coffee you could ever imagine, around a young goatherd, coaxing his goats through the crowded, bustling market streets. Lilting music plays out of shanty-type one-room buildings covered in tin roofs lining the street, making up the market's stalls --this is the the vast "Merkato".

Her beauty belies the secret of her heart, greyer than the afternoon storm clouds that sweep across Addis Ababa each day at this time. The German medical lab has given her grave news. She is not the first of her family to receive such news--in fact she has watched all of her family members perish after similar reports. Some lived several years--others just weeks. Their arms--asleep in quiet graves--unable to help her. Unable to come to her aid. And no arms to receive her precious Rekeb. Rekeb, full of life and energy with the cry so loud and lively her Mama's name's meaning fits her well, "one who cries out". In different times there were many loving arms to soothe Rekeb's cries. She would have been passed around to bring Joy to every heart. In this land, there is no original word for "orphan" for children are the treasure of their family circles. Rekeb stirs in her cosy sleep, soon she will want to nurse. Who will feed her? Who will hold her? Will she live? Oh, God, help her, see my child. Let her live...
The mother reaches her destination, the outer wall of the local Orthodox church. She can hear the sound of singing. The daily services must not yet be over. She has heard this is a good place. Surely they will hear her. Will they? Or will the wild dogs who run the streets find her first? She shivers. She unwraps her incredible bundle and ...we do not watch the most private and excruciating of moments between a loving mother and child.

With the greatest of care she finds a gap under the wall and makes a bed of colorful fabric for her little one. Rekeb. Will she live? She stays, until Rekab's cries draw a crowd of street children. They pick her up. One older girl wraps her on her back ,in the colorful fabric. They speak of an orphanage not far away. A good place. She will live...

Across the world, my bundle comes to life! It is full, pregnant with a referral of two babies!! I sense the loving arms that brought these children to my Father even as I see their photos on my computer screen for the first moment and I love them even as love swells for these precious babies. Big brown eyes stare sadly at me from the first photo I open. It is a little boy, he is 2 years old. His parents are deceased. As we have nested we did what many parents do and have looked at Ethiopian name lists. We decided quickly and firmly months back upon the name, Bruik, meaning, "gift of God." I wrestle my eyes off of his photo to glean my first bit of information of my new son. And as I scroll down, I gasp and cry,shout and jump up and down--in Joy-- African woman-style!! His name, before me on the screen is...Bruik. Oh, my little son. Placed "on my back" and in my heart since I was a little girl...
The next image is a tiny little baby girl. Her velvet brown legs and arms are so thin they make me ache--with a mother's longing to tend and to nurture. Her cheeks are so kissable -- I can't stand it. Little...Rekab. Captivator of my heart---so dear to another that she was brought to my arms... I stumble around for weeks--dizzy with love and the closeness of the Father--soaring, sometimes staggering under the glory's weight.
Soon we are on a plane, watching a tiny electric airplane model on a map on the screen fly increasingly quickly away from my land. My daily world shrinks away...I turn toward the land of my new children.

There is no sleep for me, I toss in our hotel bed--tomorrow--we'll meet them tomorrow!! It is like the night before I was married--full of mystery, hope, and elation. My mind jumping to the future and savouring the present all at once.
I rearrange baby bibs and formula and tiny outfits and shoes. I pray and thank my Father. I lay out my" bundle" before me and tenderly consider it. Excited to further fill it tomorrow as we love on the orphans we meet and greet our babies for the first time.

On the following day we pile into a bright blue and white van and bump through the streets. We pull up to a walled orphanage and my stomach leaps, "Kids Care Orphanage" says the painted metal gate.

Bruik awaits us, dressed in a crisp oxford shirt and little blue sweat pants. We gently touch and hug. He smiles brightly and jumps into His Daddy's arms. Richard swings him up onto 6 foot 5 shoulders and Bruik looks triumphantly down at his new family.

Rekeb is waiting for us in a walker in the baby room. Her nannies say to me with laughing eyes, "you must pick out your baby now". Oh, no! I know the baby girl which I believe is mine...but she is the loveliest of all the babies in their white metal cribs--what if I am wrong and she is another? The joke is on me--I have hesitated too long. A nanny reaches down to the beautiful baby in the walker and secures her in my arms. I breathe her in. We sway to the musical sound of children's voices and Amharic speech. A first dance...

We drive away from the chorus of children but they remain still in our "bundles". How God presses them on our hearts.

We rename our Rekeb, Ava Aday, meaning, "breath of life, precious flower." She will live. Our Father.our Savior, has promised "life abundant" for her. And as we carry our children close to our hearts and walk through their lovely people, taking in their beautiful land,filled with pain, awe, and joy, we sense our Father, securing our bundles, walking beside us, sharing His heart with us...

Love, Gillian

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