Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I was sent to Africa #1.

Disclaimer: I wrote this as one post and realized I would never read something this long so I'll be breaking it up into sections and sharing it daily. Because I would prefer for people to read my blog, not skim over it. PS. To all of my readers who write long blogs, I read them. Promise. =]

In my first post about Africa I mentioned how this trip was completely different than the last and how I didn't know how to process it. I've been trying to figure it out for the past three weeks and I'm still having trouble dealing with it. Don't get me wrong, this trip was amazing. I think going to Africa and visiting those kids will always be amazing. But this trip was just so different from the first trip that I wasn't prepared for that. I was completely taken aback like the third or fourth day when I realized my purpose for going. But before I get ahead of myself, let me give you some back story.

Evan and I were dating when we went to Africa in 2009. I knew I was going to marry him but we weren't engaged so we weren't really talking about it yet. I watched him love on those kids and play with Roza like she already was his daughter and I could not stop thinking about adoption. I talked to everyone I knew there, here, anywhere, about adoption. I was completely consumed by this idea and I could not stop thinking about it. It didn't even matter that most adoption agencies require you to be married for minimum of one year before you can adopt. Or the fact that adoption costs like 30,000 dollars. Or the fact that it takes forever to get the child home. I didn't care. I had tunnel vision and the only thing I could see was us. adopting. Roza. And that's the way it was going to go.  I have written about it on here countless times and Evan and I would tell everyone how we met a little girl in Africa and we were going to bring her home.

For a long time, people just kind of accepted it as "They just got back from Africa so of course they think they want to adopt but we'll see what happens when they get married and have kids of their own." Or something along those lines. The night before we left someone said to us, "Oh you really do want to adopt?" Chyeah. Have you not been listening to anything that has come out of our mouths for the past 18 months? Probably not. Because we are broken records. And we are 22. Twenty two-year-olds should not be adopting 8-year-olds. But that's beside the point.

[Before I get too far, let me explain something. The kids at New Hope are currently (and were, when we were there in 2009) not adoptable. The orphanage went from being thisclose to getting shut down, to being a pride to the government. However, they are still trying to get back on their feet and make things work. The men who run the orphanage want to keep the kids there and keep them as a family. Making them adoptable would mean getting more help from the government and basically turning the orphanage over to the government to let them make all the necessary decisions. It's basically a ton of work. And they have yet to complete this process. Whether they will in the future is another story. So, we have known for a long time that the kids aren't adoptable and we have just had to hope and pray that someday soon they would be.]

Evan and I love Roza. We connected with her more than any of the other kids, even though we spent time with other kids, as well. We just bonded with her and fell in love. A lot of people want to adopt but to actually know a child, it becomes something real. Something you can almost touch. Yes, even at 22.

So Evan and I were like the first people to sign up for Africa round II. We went to all the informational meetings and started countdowns and raised money. I put almost 100% of my tips into my Africa fund so I could pay for my own trip. And we were so excited.

Everyone asked us if we would get to see Roza again, to which we always replied with smiles that covered our entire faces and excited affirmations.

The entire trip to Africa we would look at each other and be like, "We're going to see Roza tomorrow!!!" It was a nervous excitement. I knew she'd remember us, I mean we were her people. Of course she would. But would it be different? How would we greet her? So many questions were running through my mind I tried to just act cool and pretend like I didn't want to snatch her up and run all the way back home.

We were both shaking on the first bus ride out to the orphanage. We turned the corner and there were all the kids standing in rows according to grade, with the two littlest girls out front. They were singing songs and holding wilted flowers that they had hand picked from their garden. I couldn't see Roza and I didn't want it to be obvious that I was overlooking all the kids to see mine. So I just kind of stood there until all the kids came and hugged us and then there she was.

We hugged. I kissed her. I probably cried, I can't remember now. And we picked right up where we left off. We held hands as she took me on a tour of the new and improved property. It was like a dream. I was back in this place that I had been looking forward to for 18 months and here it was. I was so happy and my heart was so full. I can't really explain it, just my heart was full.

Evan and I couldn't stop smiling because that was our baby. We told all the new members of our team that she was ours so hands off. Just kidding but seriously. We introduced her to everyone and showered her with love and kisses. Constantly. Because now that we were veterans we were all too aware of how short the trips really are. Fifteen days? No. More like six hours.

And so this time, I made a goal for myself to get to know more kids. I spent the majority of my time with Roza last year and I probably knew the names of 10ish kids. Ten out of 40? That is not good. Bad Larissa.

So I forced myself to learn names. Learn faces. Over and over again. And to mess up. Because it made them laugh. And it's how I learned. I spent time with more than six kids. I sought out kids who weren't getting enough attention because I didn't want anyone to be left out.

And by doing that, around day two or three I learned the purpose of my trip. It wasn't to dig up weeds. Or teach volleyball. Or hang up alphabet posters in classrooms. Or carry around cinder blocks. Or paint the stairs. Or cut angle iron. Or sand angle iron. Or learn 10 new Amharic words. Or to build a new building so they could have a better life.

No. None of that.....



3 loves:


  2. Ah!! I'm excited to see what the purpose was!!

    And I believed you when you said you wanted to/were going to adopt. <3

  3. Oh are you excited? It's not a good purpose....haha

    I'll post it right now so you can read it while I'm at work =]