by Joy Casey

Our orphanage director and nurse arranged a meeting with the Mayor of Shashemene, Awoke Yirdaw, so at 9 a.m. we stepped into his beautiful, spacious office.   He is a Christian brother and graciously listened to each of us explaining the purpose of our orphanage and our adoption work.  Ato* Awoke responded by saying he was aware of our work with abandoned babies and how tenderly they were cared for; he expressed his deep thanks for what we do.  The Mayor extended his support and help should there be anything we should need.  A meeting like this may not sound like much, but it is a big deal!  In Ethiopia (maybe everywhere), having the support of such an influential man can make bumpy roads smooth and red tape go away.  He was very kind and his knowledge of our good reputation heartened Ephrem, our orphanage director.

Today a little girl is being placed in the hands of her new mommy and daddy.  The couple had just arrived from the court with the adoption finalization papers eager to see their new little one.  Baby Horetu is only 3 months old and DARLING.

The couple adopting Horetu was exuberant!  Her new dad was infatuated with her, and I have the feeling this little miss will have him wrapped around her little finger in nothing flat.  The nurse who cared for Horetu in the hospital prior to coming to Joyful Place, was also here (in the pink sweater).

Some neighbors showed up to share in the excitement, too.  This little girl will be surrounded by a plethora of people cheering her on.  It brought me much joy to be a part of this adoption!

Shortly after all the adoption paparazzi died down and baby Horetu was taken to her new home, Ephrem and a nanny arrived from the hospital with a new little baby boy named Olbana.  He is only a few weeks old and looks like a healthy newborn.

Our nurse weighed and measured him wrapping him snuggly then handing him to a nanny who had a bottle all ready for him.  The government official in charge of adoptions and abandoned babies approached me to express her gratitude for Mana Gammachuu (Joyful Place).  She said, “You do everything for these babies and because of this place, many lives are saved.”  I told her it was our joy to do so!

How could we not provide for these little ones who occupy such a prominent place in God’s heart?

Here in Ethiopia it is the day before Epiphany.  Epiphany is a colorful festival celebrated all over Ethiopia to commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.  We had to be sure to be back at our hotel before a certain time because the streets will be thronged with people dressed all in white, effectively closing the roads to vehicles.  While sitting beside a lake having lunch in the mid-afternoon, all kinds of boats, probably 15-20 of them, filled with people singing and waving flags came past where we were sitting.  I wish I had the presence of mind to take a picture for you!

Tomorrow we will drive back to the capital, Addis Ababa.  We hope to stop at a town on the way and visit an adoptive family, but it will depend on road conditions with Epiphany.  This has been an incredible week!  I have learned and observed so much and will share everything with Jason when I return.  I really missed not having him with me.  Together, we’ll instigate some of the plans I and our in-country staff have been mulling over this week.  The people God has brought together to care for orphans and bring the Gospel to people who have not heard is short of miraculous.  They are all capable, honorable and trustworthy and have proven themselves so for seventeen years.  And when thinking of them, I also reflect on how blessed and encouraged I am by all of you, the other half of our team, who are the wind under our sails.  Without your prayers and financial support, we would be stuck.  As it is, God’s work vigorously moves forward. I say, “AMESEGINALEHU!”** and may the Lord’s favor rest on you!

*Ato is an honorable title

**thank you in Amharic