Welcoming Angels Summer Programs Wraps Up
On August 5th, 2012, we said goodbye, or in many instances, “until we meet again!” to our 24 host children from Ethiopia. The children spent about 4 weeks with host families in Texas, Maryland, California, Pennsylvania and Indiana. The 18 families that hosted these precious children were amazing and blessed the kids beyond measure. Of the 24 children hosted, 17 are in the process of being adopted by their host families, 1 is in the process of being adopted by a friend or neighbor of the host family and the remaining six children are either being prayerfully considered for adoption or being advocated for on our Ethiopia Waiting Child list. America World is so thankful for the generosity and love that our host families extended to these children in such a real and powerful way.
For a glimpse into the experience of a host mom, please read the blog entry “Welcoming My Angel” from one of our host parents, Marie Hutchins in Texas.
There are a lot of things a family of four could do with $2500-$3000. I personally have been wanting to take the kids to Disneyland, go on cruise, remodel the upstairs bathroom, or pay someone to come every week to clean the house and do yard work. There are limitless enrichment opportunities in the city where we live; drama camps, music lessons, sport clubs (to name just a few). I should also be thinking about saving money for future expenses like a new (or used) car for our 16 year old, college (for both our girls), and retirement. None of those things are bad. And a few might be considered a necessity at some point. But not for us. Not this year anyway.
You see, back in January I got this email forwarded to me from our church's orphan and foster care support group that asked us if we might be interested in a program called “Welcoming Angels.” We had been thinking about adoption and foster care for years, but hadn't been able to commit for various reasons. And here, suddenly, was an opportunity to see what it might be like to foster or adopt without the huge time and money commitment that might come with either. We talked as a family about the idea of having an orphan from Ethiopia come live with us for a month. We prayed about it. Then we sent in the application. None of us realized how much we were looking forward to this until we got the referral picture of our little boy. Suddenly it became so very real. And we could not wait until July to get here!
I wish there were words to describe how it felt to see him walk off that plane and into our arms. He later told us that he recognized us from our family picture that America World had sent him. And all I can say is that when he saw my husband standing there, waiting for him, his smile shattered my previously organized and well-planned-out world. I discovered in that moment that there really is such a thing as 'love at first sight.'
So for all you 'nay-sayers' and skeptics out there, let me explain as best I can what we learned through this experience:
- Language is not as important as a smile.
- Charades is not just a game, it is a valuable communication tool.
- Tickling and being ticklish is a gift from God that evens out the playing field.
- Hugs are not an option, but a necessity.
- If God asks you to do something, He will give you everything you need to accomplish the task.
- When you set out to bless someone, don't be surprised if you turn out to be blessed more than you thought possible.
- Letting God love someone through you is an amazing miracle that will change you forever.
We laughed and had more fun this past month than we had all year. We watched baseball and soccer games, went bowling, skating, biking, and swimming. We jumped on the trampoline, played in the sprinkler, and went for long walks with the dogs. He taught us new card games, kicked our butts in soccer, and laughed as we tried to pronounce basic Amharic words. We were able to develop “inside” jokes with our limited vocabulary and in no time the kids were playfully teasing each other.
That was our life for almost four weeks. Yesterday we had to say goodbye. It went by so fast, yet at the end of it, it seemed as if our little boy had always been with us. Did we cry when we took him to the airport? Yes. Yes. Yes. More tears than I thought possible. Tears are still coming today, as he flies half way around the world to go back to the world he came from. In fact, my youngest just came in here while I was writing this. She said her heart hurt, but she doesn't have any tears left. I held her and rocked her and showed her what I was doing. I reminded her of what I have to keep reminding myself:
God loves that little boy. In fact, out of all the billions of people in the world, God saw that little boy. He heard his cry and answered him. He picked him up and carried him all the way to us, so that for the little while that he was here, he knew without a doubt that he was loved. Because God loves him. God sees him. God hears him.
So was this hard? Without a doubt. Was it worth it? More than I can say. After all how could it not be worth it to be God's arms wrapped around a little boy who needs more than anything to know that he is loved?
For more information on our next hosting program this winter, please contact Welcoming Angels