Based in Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, Mike currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Pure Charity, a nonprofit dedicated to building world class technology solutions for Nonprofit Organizations, individuals, and Community Advocacy.

Ethiopia Day 4

…it’s 4:00 a.m. again and this time change is starting to wear on me. Yet, our time here is come quickly to a close.

Today we will travel to the Gladney care centers & then celebrate with a lunch with all of the families who are here in country as a part of their adoption journey.

Today we get to be the ones that take the photos and video of 4 children whose families are anxious to catch just a few glimpses and moments of their children.

I was there just weeks ago, so I know that what we do today is not just about photos and video. Today, what we are doing is capturing hope and joy in preparation of an arrival.

Today, we are the Advent messengers… What joy it is to be the one who carries the Good News of the adoption of sons and daughters to their loving parents.

Our time with Sosi these past two days has been life changing & I am only beginning to see the outline of what this all means.

Sosi has bonded with Corrie in a way that I can only explain as God’s design from the moment Sosi was born.

Literally within three hours of holding Sosi for the first time, Sosi cried and reached out with longing as Corrie went for just a bottle of water. Yesterday this pattern replayed itself every time Corrie left the room, and while it makes us sad it also brings joy that Sosi knows her mommy.

And for me…

As I put Sosi to bed last night, I held her until I thought she was asleep and then gently let her down into her bed. But, at the moment my hands let go, she awoke and began to cry. With my three children before, I have walked away and let then fall back to sleep. However, last night, there was no way that I was going to let this little girl shed one more tear because her mother and father were not there with her.

…10 p.m.

today was a full day as we visited the Gladney Care centers just on the outskirts of Addis or about 30 minutes away from our guest house. This gave us the opportunity to see more of the city and watch it slowly transition to (though not fully) into a more rural Africa. We literally saw a thousand things and that short trip along those streets will be with me forever.

We arrived at the care centers to the warm reception of the care center staff, the in country Gladney teams, Scott Brown (Ethiopian Program Director for Gladney) and the children’s “Special Mothers”. These “Special Mothers” are the ones who were the main care givers for each child during their stay at the Care Centers.

I struggle to fully comprehend their role, and not because of what their daily duties are. I struggle because for the last six months these women have literally been the closest thing to a mother that our children may have ever known.

From the moment we arrived the love and true affection from both the staff and the “Special Mothers” was overwhelming. This we know….Sosi has been loved beyond measure during her time there. She has known the affectionate smile and gentle embrace of someone who loved her.

I could write and will write more about this in the months to come as this relationship and this place were truly holy.

We then had the opportunity to take the care packages from the families back in the states to their waiting children, and I will forever struggle to express what this was like. How do you walk into a place where the orphan child is present, alive and able to literally reach out and touch you without shedding tears of both pain and tears of hope.

The especially difficult moment was when we went to the older children’s (ages 3 to 5) house where visitors are seldom taken. Genet (our guest house Director) quietly took Corrie and I a couple of streets over to this care center.

Guest are seldom taken to these older childrens homes because at this age, the children do understand what is happening to them and when two people like Corrie and I enter the room, the children begin to wonder if we are their parents who have come to take them home. You can only imagine the sudden stop of activity when Corrie and I entered to disrupt their lunchtime meal.

We carried a small package for one of the 30 children in room…I was we had been taken to a private room to deliver this package as we did not have one for each of them.

Someday I may be able to share the video of visiting these care centers, but not today. I can not share publicly both out of respect for the children and their families, but also out of my own inability to even begin to process these moments. I will watch it again and again over the coming months as space in my heart and emotions allow.

…come and sit with me at my home for a few hours and we can watch together. You will not leave the same.

After lunch we traveled back the guest house for some time with Sosi and then out into Addis to try and do a little shopping in order to return to the States with gifts and memories.

…but this is a moment that I will also never forget.

As we waited for the traffic light to turn green (it seemed to take an eternity), this boy who could not be any older than John Michael came to our van window begging for money. As I reached into my pocket, the driver asked me not to give the child anything because the traffic police could fine our driver (I assume the police do this so that the children will not run into the heavy traffic to beg).

And so with the equivalent of only one US dollar in my hand, I turned to the boy and looked into his eyes to motion that I could not give it to him. For what felt like the next hour, he looked back into my eyes and begged for this money…

…I was broken, and not because I could not give him the money. I was broken because the eyes of this child held no promise for a better tomorrow. One US dollar or even a hundred US dollars could not do anything for this child that would make a meaningful difference. What this child needed was a home with a mother and a father so that he could be a child. And there in that moment, I saw the face of the children who by some difference in circumstances never made it to the Care Centers I had visited just hours before.

…I was broken because even though I can’t help him in that moment, I can help him and the thousands of children just like him. It simply does not have to be this way.

Ethiopia Day 5