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Day 1 in Ethiopia…

I just woke up to the sounds of what sounds like 20 dogs howling outside my window. Is that the wind or dogs? I hope one of the two. I could hear doors slamming down the hall and life beginning outside these walls–so with all the noise as it was so quiet at night, I was sure I overslept. Jumped up to see what time it was as today isn’t a day I’d want to oversleep on–and it’s just 4am. Wow. Life here begins early I guess. And today–life will forever change for our family and for a precious little boy who doesn’t know or love me yet…but who I’d fly around the world for and for whom my heart is convinced it already deeply loves as much as a mommy could love a son.

We had hoped we would get to start paperwork at 9ish like past groups–but when we got our itinerary, it just said that it would be closer to 1pm, and it would be approximately 1 hour to complete before heading to Hannah’s Hope. We are 6 hours ahead–so I’m guessing 2pm here will be 8ish am back home (that is if my jet-lagged brain is doing the math correctly;). I can’t believe today is the day…and especially with Rich not being here—there isn’t a detail I want to forget…

After arriving we packed ourselves and tons of suitcases and donation bags in a small white hotel van. As we drove down the road–I felt such a sense of “this is home” in my veins. Third world countries stir something in my heart like no other places in the world. I believe–they do the same in our Savior’s heart as well. Sure countries and places we visit for vacations and leisure travel declare the glory of God and his handiwork–but so do third world countries. They also reveal our lack of loving as the Lord loves…as we deserve no more than they do.

We, Americans, live so differently. We are really good at being comfortable–and even expecting it. We like comfort. Air conditioning. Upgrades on appliances. We cook for pleasure more than need. Yet-while we live in comfort (and often FOR it as well)-all while the REST of the world…lives and breathes much, much differently. We get to a hotel or restaurant–and if everything isn’t perfect, we complain, threaten and expect to be reimbursed. Of course we do this politely and might not say we expect something back–but we really do, don’t we? And really–we just don’t know any better.

We also think it’s okay, and we deserve. Who am I to deserve? Do I really think that it’s possible to work for something and deserve something just because I “earned” it? We just don’t know any better. This is how we have been taught and raised…raised by our culture–and until we step outside our culture and ourselves it’s hard to see that really–we don’t deserve anything. And while we point fingers at poverty stricken cultures and come up with our brilliant solutions and say it is they that don’t know any better—really, we are just as guilty as we often forget that it may be the LORD’s brilliant solution– for us to give up some of our daily comforts to bless them. And just maybe it could be what the LORD has given THEM to bless US.

Bless us? Given them?

Yes. We have much to learn from the 3rd world countries that we often forget to visit. (James 1:27) How they give up a month’s wages to serve a guest and do without so another could be blessed…trying to make us feel special and to serve us no matter the cost it will mean to them. Stand back in small, dirty, hot church in one of these countries–and watch the people with what we consider to have nothing put their hope in God and dance before the Lord declaring their joy and trust in Him. Dance before the Lord? Oh Andrea-you are getting crazy on me. But really? Have you read the Bible? We go to church and get dressed up…or chose not to go because we don’t have anything to wear…yet–we often forget to go and dance before the Lord. So much we can learn. Seeing them sitting together in their huts–with no place to go…but having time for one another and developing relationships instead of busy agendas…barefoot children laughing and running about…playing with paper airplanes and their own invented toys. SIMPLE. There is so much to learn from 3rd world countries–and my heart often wishes it could be a place like this where we could raise a family.

But instead…we have been called to a city in the South–where soccer moms and tennis skirts abound…and to figure out how to live in this world but not of this world…to focus on relationships rather than putting my kids in the best of everything…to prepare them more for the kingdom of heaven rather than an ivy league school or future career on earth. Now–let me add–there is nothing wrong with soccer moms and tennis skirts…unless by doing them it keeps my focus off what life is really all about or if takes up more time than serving others.

And now…in this culture–our day here begins. I pray I can soak up every detail to share with Richard and one day with Isaac. I pray we can forget about our lack of comforts and rejoice in what really does matter in this world. I pray the Lord would build in me today and make me a mom who raises our children to live in this world but not of it. And I pray that my children’s hearts would also beat for countries like these. Yes, something about it does say “welcome home”…not sure if that’s because my son is from here or because the Lord loves these people so much and longs for us to love them like He does.

Off to prepare my heart for all that today brings. And to think the next time I share–there will be a baby sleeping in my room. It feels so surreal that he will REALLY be ours…truly he is a gift from the Lord! WE are the ones blessed getting to grow our family in this way. What a joy and privilege. May you each have a blessed Sunday spending time with Your Savior and your sweet family. May it be focused, intentional, peaceful and joyful.



Kimberly - June 26, 2010 - 11:22 pm

So true, so true. And written so eloquently. I love the feel of ‘home’ when entering a 3rd world country. May God continue to give you His eyes for all you will see and experience this week.

Asher Collie - June 26, 2010 - 11:37 pm

I am seriously sitting in bed wishing I could stay awake until your next post! I will be waiting with SO much anticipation. And while thinking about your journey, a question I had heavy on my heart was answered by YOU KNOW WHO! I now know which agency we will use, thus starting our adoption process on MONDAY!

Elle J - June 26, 2010 - 11:55 pm

Amen! Again, another great writing, teaching, and lessons to be learned. I love your heart, Andrea!!

kristi johnson - June 27, 2010 - 12:33 am

oh, hurt my soul!! I can’t wait to be back some day…beautifully written!! Oh, I can’t wait till Friday 🙂 kj
ps…linkin to this great post, kj

Megan - June 27, 2010 - 12:38 am

Yes! Yes! YES! Everything you write here is what I LONG for the world to understand…and for MYSELF to understand better. God has BLESSED us. Blessed this COUNTRY…far more than we could ever deserve. When I go to Ethiopia, I want it to move me, to change me…I want the poverty to remind me how spoiled we are as a nation and for it to change my attitude. And I want to take a part of Ethiopia WITH me…their sense of family, their generosity, and their JOY. Ethiopia may be a poor country, but they are not poor in SPIRIT. Thank you for this BEAUTIFUL post and for sharing SO much of your heart! Praying for you on this MOMENTOUS day! Love you dear friend.

melissa - June 27, 2010 - 4:12 am

I have so many emotions about so many things right now! Tears just flowed reading this post know where you are about to meet your son!! It is all so surreal!! This whole journey just became real to me after we receive a picture of our child. I can see why people say this is the hard part. I just want to get on a plane and go pick him up…NOW!!!! I will be glued to your blog and be praying like crazy!! This is just so so exciting!!!!! Love you Andrea!!!

Kim - June 27, 2010 - 5:21 am

Amen. AMEN. AMEN!!!

marci - June 27, 2010 - 7:27 am

Andrea, so filled with truths of the heart ! Being in the world but not of it …has been a family mantra…as a ship in the water but not letting the water seep in …if so it will sink ! Trey my oldest is being a doctor in Port-au-Prince…for 9 days -3 weeks off for summer and his heart desire is to be in the 2nd poorest place in the world. He sees God amongst the trash,rubble and broken hearts…living in tents with no running h2o…these doctors,med students are grateful to be the hands and feet of Christ ..Trey is not complaining but humbled ! It is a miracle…and the people do dance with thanks,praise and joy. You are a missionary through your example today . God has paved a vocation for you in your heart and it is beautiful to watch your flower unfold ! I bet now you are getting ready for your little man,Isaac ! We are all dancing and praising God with you for the joys you have today and in your future. Bless him and give him a sweet kiss from all of us.

becky - June 27, 2010 - 8:12 am

love this post!

Lauren - June 27, 2010 - 8:36 am

Andrea I don’t think I can get the words out… I don’t know that there are any words to say how this post touched my heart. I identified with every word you typed… thank you thank you thank you for sharing this with us! I long for the day when I can walk those streets and feel like I’m home too…

Praying for you and Isaac!!!!

Rebecca Harley - June 27, 2010 - 8:46 am

you did it again, sweet friend!! completely perfect, my heart almost stopped beating – it recognized that feeling because you are right – my heart longs to be “there” (in a simpler place where people live truly in community). So excited for you right now because as I right this – you are probably holding your little one!!! I will be “stalking” you all day for another update! Love and prayers your way

Jenny - June 27, 2010 - 8:48 am

so perfectly written andrea! this is what the world needs to hear! thank you for sharing your heart. i’m praying for you today!

Brantley Freeman - June 27, 2010 - 9:15 am

Oh my, thank you for sharing this. I feel too often we need to hear these words here in America. What a beautiful story you have to share, we’re all so happy for you to have reached your journey! Now the rest of your journey is still to come has you share your lives with this precious child! Now… he will have a family!

Rachel - June 27, 2010 - 9:28 am

So well written. I’d love to link to this post.

Praying for you as you are probably right now holding your baby boy! Brings tears to my eyes!

amber - June 27, 2010 - 9:53 am

Amen and Amen. Thanks to Kristi I got to read your blog this morning which says what I feel but didn’t have the words. Glorious God we serve!

Tiffany - June 27, 2010 - 10:27 am

Love, love, love this post…every word of it is so true and you covered everything we wrestle with at our house. Continuing to pray for your journey…

Karen Smith - June 27, 2010 - 12:39 pm

Andrea, It is so nice to see you all made it safely. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts while in God’s country. I can’t wait to get there, not only to hold my child, but to be forever changed by this country that God has laid on all of our hearts. Break our hearts Lord! May today be all that you hoped and so much more of a shower of God’s love and grace than you ever dreamed possible!
Karen Smith

Jessica - June 27, 2010 - 1:33 pm

Loved every word! My sould also sings in Africa-there is nothing like it. So glad your sweet boy is finally in his mother’s arms.


Melinda Brown - June 27, 2010 - 3:17 pm

I hopped over from Lauren’s blog and I’m so blessed because I did! Thank you for stirring my heart this morning, and convicting me too 🙂 Asking God to bless your time with baby Isaac, that his transition be smooth.

Jan Logue - June 27, 2010 - 6:29 pm

Amen Andrea!! So true.

He & Me + 3 - June 27, 2010 - 10:20 pm

So much to learn is right. Just a beautiful post. I came over from Lauren’s blog. I pray that you enjoy every minute you are there and with your sweet boy.

Stacy - June 27, 2010 - 10:28 pm

I Love how God stamps His heart on every culture! Beautiful post!

Katie - June 27, 2010 - 10:32 pm

Friendly captivity is what it is called in war terms and how applicable it is. Here we sit rocked gently into complacency (sp?) unaware that the hand rocking our cradle means us great eternal harm. Your words in this post speaks to a deep place in me that cries out for a more real, more authentic more audatious walk with God, a journy that never takes into consideration what the world will think if I choose to not walk their way.

Jaimee - June 28, 2010 - 7:36 am

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been living in a third world country for the past six months and will be returning back to the States in two weeks. Frankly, I’m terrified of going back. Of forgetting all the Lord has done and shown me. Of getting caught up in selfishness and complacency. But that is where the He has me. I, too, will be begging for His Kingdom to be the focus of my heart. Praying for you and sweet Isaac.

Leah - June 28, 2010 - 1:48 pm

Such a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.