Joy Casey, Director of Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia, is in Ethiopia right now visiting one of our orphanages in Adama.

When I open the door to the Widows and Orphans Home, I am hit with little bodies and receive big hugs and kisses from many children. How can I be so blessed? As Tezera, the orphanage director says, I am very rich. The beautiful faces, the dirty knees, the sparkling eyes and the eager voices make it a grand day to be alive. I am never happier than being with the children.

After walking several steps with both arms full of beautiful children, the old widows greet me with, “Dehna Aderu!” and several kisses. Their dear faces have become so precious to me. Four of them used to be almost blind, but a kind donor paid for them to have cataract surgery and now … they can see!

The families who are going to adopt several of the children sent gifts for me to give to them. How excited everyone is! They look at the pictures and listen as their letter is interpreted and then we have such fun putting on the new clothes and perhaps playing with a new toy. The ones that do not yet have a family, I always bring a bag of something fun to do and to eat for them. Two brothers, ages 7 and 8, were hoping I would bring them some pants and I managed to scrounge up something for them that wasn’t too, too short.

Let me tell you about three children who have been in our Widows and Orphan Home for going on three months now. They are complete orphans and were brought by their grandfather for he and his wife simply did not have enough to eat. The children were stick thin. Now, after good food and loads of hugs, they are energetic and their bones are not sticking out quite so prominantly. I have fallen in love with all three of them. Big sister is around 12-years-old and she does laundry, holds babies and helps the cook. She seems to enjoy being busy with domestic things, although she can also join in a game the children have made up with bottle caps. The boys are sweet and are constantly at my side. They are learning English words almost daily. Older sister is more reserved and won’t try a word until she knows it is right, but she is learning, too. One of the little boys loves music. Kelly, the YWAM missionary working at the orphanage, bought a keyboard and I think his life will be forever changed! He is so excited and hopeful that Kelly will let him learn music. He is always singing and drumming on things and playing a pretend guitar. It is such fun to see their little personalities break forth. Oh, I could go on and on …..

I also had the privilege of introducing a little girl to her family today. Last time I was in Ethiopia this 9-year-old girl cried and cried because she so badly wanted her own mommy and daddy -and I cried right along with her. Then we prayed. Today when I met her, I asked her if she remembered what she prayed for. “Yes, I prayed for my own family.” What joy to tell her that God answered her prayer and to show her pictures of the incredible family that is to adopt her. It doesn’t get much better than that, unless it is the day when the family will come to get her and take her home.

Like I said, I am very, very rich. Each tiny baby, each grubby little hand in mine and each sweet kiss will be the memories that will cheer me on a hard day. They are what will keep me pressing forward in this oftentimes frustrating work. They are also my reward. “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be here now, this day, to bring a hope and future for the sweet souls entrusted into my care.”