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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Members on Mission: Our Adoption Story

by Heather Postma (with Scott, Tyler, Kebede and Megan)
 
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
 
A recurring theme in our family when we don’t quite understand why things happen is to trust that, through it all, we know that God has a plan for us. Little did we know that when we kept reassuring Kebede that there is a reason he is in our family and that God has a plan for him, he also had in the works a plan for us too.
 
Adoption was on my heart even as a young child. Seeing pictures of starving children during the devastating Ethiopian famine, I would ask my mom, “Why would God let children be born in a country with no food?” My desire to adopt continued to grow.  There seemed to be sign after sign of God telling us not to wait any longer. It could have been a radio ad about adoption as I was thinking about it, a song in church or on the radio, messages in sermons, going to hear Watoto at Grace Reformed, Lysa TerKeurst talking on Oprah about adopting, a work friend of Scott’s who adopted from Ethiopia...and the list goes on. So in January of 2009, we started up the paperwork with Mary Moore and Families through Adoption and submitted our Dossier to Ethiopia in late May.
 
While waiting, we truly felt at peace and reassured through one of Brian’s sermons where he talked about God as being the author of our story. We rarely talked to anyone at our adoption agency, but since it had been 6 months, I called to check in. The director said that we had a few families ahead of us, so it would be a while yet. You can imagine my surprise when we got a call the next day asking if we would be interested in a 4 to 5 year old boy named Kebede. I can only ask myself, “What if I hadn’t called?”
 
In April of 2010, we traveled to Ethiopia to bring Kebede home. We quickly realized that Kebede was older than expected, but again, this has been a blessing as he and Tyler had an instant bond. Kebede has brought so much joy to our family. He has a great memory and he willingly answers our questions about Ethiopia and shares stories. Soon after he joined us, he made us aware that he has a family back in Ethiopia, his mom and 5 siblings. (In order for Kebede’s paperwork to be completed, a literate person needed to sign the documents, so his grandfather officially completed the adoption as his father had recently died and his mother was very ill.) As we would pray with Kebede before bed each night, he would pause for about 10 seconds before saying “Amen.” My heart told me who this pause was for, so I let Kebede know that we can pray out loud for his family too.
 
We all had a lot of unanswered questions and Kebede was worried about his family, so in July of 2013, we hired a wonderful Christian man in Ethiopia who does tours and investigations. He was able to find Kebede’s family, give us updates and send pictures. It was amazing to see their faces and how similar they all look. Kebede was relieved to know they were all safe. Excitedly, we along with good friends the Kroeze’s, started making plans to visit his family in Ethiopia the next summer.  
 
Thank you again Fellowship for your prayers and support for our trip. Arriving in Ethiopia in late July, as we drove further and further into the dense jungle like area in Sidama, Ethiopia, we passed by hundreds if not thousands of kids just like Kebede running around. Overwhelmed I found myself asking, “How would a family here find the resources for adoption and out of all these kids how was it Kebede that ended up in our family?” The only answer I can come up with is that it’s all part of God’s plan.
 
Kebede’s family is truly amazing. We are so blessed. His mother has such sacrificial love that she wants Kebede to live his life and not worry about them. She is a strong Christian woman and was so pleased to see pictures of our church and Kebede’s baptism, to see that we are raising him to love Jesus. We were able to worship with them and share a blessing to their congregation from Fellowship. The best way to describe our trip is to have you watch the video, which we gladly share in celebration of our great God and his awesome love.
 
The village of Asrada Mero is so remote. Tikal huts are scattered around the mountainside connected with narrow cactus lined paths. The area is very lush and green. The region of Sidama is one of the world’s largest coffee bean suppliers. The villagers are self-sustaining, growing and trading what they need. Kebede’s family grows corn and enset (false banana) that they use to make wasay, their staple food. The village families are surviving but lack necessary vitamins, minerals and protein. His mother and 4 siblings live together in the hut, as well as the animals at night, for protection. There total possessions consisted of a few rolled up grass mats, a blanket, a change of clothes and a few cooking supplies.
 
Our guide estimated that at least 90% of the villagers had never seen a white person. Having two guys over six feet tall drew quite a bit of attention. While in the village, we were followed by over a hundred people. Kebede was kissed more times in two days than in total up to that point, I’m sure. We gave out four huge duffle bags of clothes, snacks, and soccer balls. The kids didn’t know what to do with the candy at first, some sticking the whole thing in their mouths, wrapper and all. The soccer balls were a huge hit,of course. Thanks again to the Fellowship families that donated these balls with the help of the Chris and Susan Timmer’s non-profit organization, “Worldplay Sport.” It was fun seeing the kids dressed in the clothes the next day even if it was 2 sizes too small or big. We also taught the brothers how to use the water filters to provide clean water to his area. The place they go to get water is a 50 minute round trip.
 
We brought Kebede’s family back to the city of Awassa, which was a little over an hour drive from his village, to stay two nights in the hotel with us. Just being in a larger city was a culture shock to most of his family. We had to explain the basics of a toilet and shower. His mom and older sister loved the big mirror and squealed with delight in seeing their reflection. Kebede’s mom was in heaven just watching t.v. from her own bed.
 
We spent a lot of time talking, with the help of our translator, and were able to share with each other about our own lives and dreams for Kebede. One of my favorite stories was she told us that she bought books for Kebede’s older brother to go to school last year (he is 14 and has not completed grade 1.) He wouldn’t go, so his mom went instead. She was also brave enough to go for a boat ride to see the local hippos.  Near the end our trip, Kebede’s mom gathered us all together for a special prayer before we went our separate ways. Saying good-bye was hard, but Kebede’s mom is so strong and reminds Kebede not to be sad.
 
Looking back at our journey, we may be quick to remember what they do not have compared to our lives here, but their cup overflowed with love, kindness, strength, hope and faith. God’s plan is in motion to restore His kingdom and we are part of that plan. Sponsorship, adoption, education, support, encouragement, respite care and prayer are all ways to join in that mission. Specifically, we pray for all families struggling to provide basic needs for their children, for birth mothers who show sacrificial love through their child’s adoption, for orphans who wander the streets unable to be adopted, and for adopted children who struggle with questions about their past.
 
It’s hard to figure out where to go from here. Out of love and gratitude, we will continue to discern how we can support Kebede's family and village. His village has many needs but we were continually amazed how they can live on next to nothing, how they use every part of a corn stalk for 3 different needs, and how they place every trust in God. Kebede’s mom, Bunale, is so grateful for the extra work of her sons and for support from the church which helped to repair her house before our visit. She continually praised God for his blessings and is so happy for Kebede. We thank God for this amazing trip and are excited for the future plans!
 
-Heather Postma (with Scott, Tyler, Kebede and Megan)

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