The trip has started off with some amazing challenges and opportunities. Check out the story below as it unfolds, written from Sherry's journal entries and sent over to us from the experiences during her first few days in the country.
Rediet, Sadea and Challa go outside and the Transformation Love kids realize something is different. Who are these kids? Then I walk out and the children and mothers figure out who the three new children are! We are greeted with hugs and kisses. They are all thrilled to hear we are going to be here for 3 months! Off our kids go to play with their new friends. Challa comes to me and says, “I am having so much fun playing soccer, Mommy! I think the kids understand me even though I can’t speak their language.” Tears fill my eyes to see how easily my kids are accepted and loved by all. I have never seen 3 happier children!
It is time for class to start with singing songs and praising our Lord and Savior. The children are singing their hearts out. Pastor Andualem starts teaching them about God’s creation, our story is about Adam and Eve today. He divides the kids up into four groups. He made puzzles out of paper for them to put together. The children are working very hard together to finish each puzzle, with smiles and intense labor. We finally have a winner! They all sit down in their chairs very quietly with their hands in their laps and listen to Pastor Andualem tell the story. They are eager to learn about their God! Questions are asked and answers are given.
Just outside the classroom door, I hear someone yelling and crying. I step outside to see what is happening and I realize it is one of our mothers. I ask Sammy what is wrong and he tells me this is Kalkidan Yehunae’s mother. She is telling us to take her child because she is a burden to her and doesn’t want her anymore. Mother cannot afford to have her anymore. She hates her daughter and wants to get rid of her. “WHAT???!!!!,” is my response. “Kalkidan is such a beautiful girl. How can this be, Lord?” My heart is filled with sadness.
Mother tells Rekik that she wants to sell her body as a prostitute but that is hard to do with Kalkidan around. She asks us to just take her and take care of her because she doesn’t want her anymore. Rekik tells me that she thinks the mother is going crazy and that is why she is thinking this way. I asked Rekik if I could talk to her. We decided to wait until everyone left before we talk to her. Then all of the sudden the mother just got up and ran out of the compound, leaving Kalkidan behind with us.
I look over to Kalkidan and tears are streaming down her cheeks, our eyes connect and she comes running to me. I wrap my arms around her and hold her tight. I pray to God to give us His wisdom and knowledge for this situation. This precious child is receiving rejection, abandonment, metal and physical abuse! Feelings I know and understand very well. My heart feels so broken for this child.
I grab Rediet and Sadea and tell them what has just happened to Kalkidan and ask them to show her love and play with her. They go upstairs and get a package of colored rubbers out and show her how to make bracelets out of them. Thank you Jesus, I see a smile on her tear stained face! She has forgotten temporarily what has just happened to her.
Meanwhile, Rekik, Nahom and I talk about what to do next. Do we keep her? Do we take her home and talk to the mother? That is what is decided by us. We decided that I would not go along to talk to the mother because there is a possibility that since my three kids are here, mother might think that I will just adopt Kalkidan too. If it were only that easy! Then I heard a gentle whisper, it is God’s voice saying, talk to Kalkidan first. I asked Rekik and Nahom if they talked to Kalkidan about this and they said no. I told them to talk to her first; she might have more to tell you.
They called her over and asked her if she is okay if we take her home to her mother and they would talk to her. Kalkidan’s response was no she will kill me. Mother keeps telling Kalkidan that she has only 20 days to live and she is going to end her life. She asked us to take her to her aunt’s house. Rekik and Nahom take Kalkidan to her aunt’s home. They get there and she is not home. It is getting late so they come back to the church compound. We eat together and we kept Kalkidan overnight. We will deal with this tomorrow.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you will remove this child from the abuse she is receiving. Bless her with your love. God help her understand how much you love her. That you value her life and you have a purpose for her. May she fall in love with you, Jesus. May she come to know you as her personal Lord and Savior. May your LOVE JESUS be all that she needs!
Lord, I also pray you will bring healing to this mother. God just show her how much you love her. Let her see that you are her provider and that you will take care of her and Kalkidan. God, I ask that you help her to love her daughter. May you heal this family and bless them with your love, Jesus. Take the hate in her heart and replace it with your love. To you be all the glory! In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!
Day 2: It is Sunday morning and we are all going to IEC Church. It is a beautiful sunny day and everyone is happy and smiling. We walk to the Mekele round-about to catch a taxi. In order for all 9 of us get into a taxi we had to split into 3 groups and take 3 different taxis.
It is a beautiful service and time of worship. My three children attend Sunday school and love it. They are a little scared because the classrooms are divided by age, so they are all in different classrooms. At our church they are all together. I can see a little hesitation in their eyes, but I encourage them and told them to make new friends. When I pick them up, they are very happy and challenged! They all have homework! They have to memorize three Bible verses for next Sunday. They are so excited about the challenge. They are practicing the verses all the way home on the taxi.
We decide to go out for lunch and have Sizzling Tibs, yummy! This restaurant is very close to our compound. Oh no! Challa is in heaven knowing we can go on a short walk to have Sizzling Tibs anytime.
While we are walking home my kids find a puppy that is hurt on the main road. Challa picks her up and begs me to keep her. I tell him no. All three are asking and begging. I tell them it is up to Nahom, Sammy and Rekik. They turn and beg them. Rekik agrees to let them keep her and let her become the Transformation Love doggie. On the walk home the kids decide to name her ”Lucky,” because she is lucky to have us and a home now. We all laugh! What joy a new puppy can bring to your heart. The kids are missing our three puppies at home; maybe this will help a bit. Not sure how us leaving Lucky is going to work, but for today and the next three months things are good.
Sunday Afternoon: Kalkidan
Kalkidan is still with us and what do we do next? The staff leaves with her to go back to visit her aunt’s home. This time the aunt is home along with her husband. They all talk about what is best for Kalkidan. Her aunt’s family is more than happy to take Kalkidan in and raise her, but they want complete guardianship of her. Our staff agrees it would be in the best interest for Kalkidan to have her mother sign over guardianship to the aunt. Kalkidan is going to spend the night with her aunt. Our staff agreed to pick Kalkidan and her aunt up in the morning and talk them to the police station to fill out the paperwork and start the guardianship process (which should be a very simple process and take about 15 days).
Thank you God, for this wonderful meeting with Kalkidan’s aunt. We talk for over two hours. Kalkidan’s aunt seems very concerned about her and her husband seems to be very nice. I thank God that Kalkidan may have a loving family that will give her the care she needs. Kalkidan seems to really love them too. Her aunt told us that this is not the first time this has happened and she has begged her sister to give Kalkidan to her. Her aunt knows that Kalkidan is being badly abused. She has been thrown out of the house and the door locked for four days, she has been beaten many times, verbally abuse, just to list a few. It makes her aunt sick to see this child living under these conditions. Yet every time Kalkidan is staying with her aunt, her mother comes to get her and threatens to hurt her two children. This just doesn’t make since!
Dear God, I just pray that you will bless this meeting tomorrow with the officials. Please help this child. Please don’t let her be abused anymore. Guide us and show us what to do. Lord, I pray that this process of guardianship will move quickly and smoothly tomorrow. May your will be done with this child. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Day 3: It is 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, today is the day to go to the authorities for Kalkidan. We have rented a car for today because there will be a lot of travel. We pick up Kalkidan and her aunt and off to the local Police Station we go. The officer listens to our story about Kalkidan and tells us we have to wait for an officer to come into the office. He will be the one that can help us out. So, we wait for two hours and he shows up. He listens to our story and tells us that we are at the wrong Police Station. Off to the right station we go.
We arrive at 11:30 a.m. and go inside and tell them what we are here to do. They make us have a seat and wait. We are finally called into an office and listened too. The officer told us there is nothing they can do about this situation! We need to go to another local government office. Really?! It is 12:30 p.m. now. Let’s take a little lunch break! After a bite of Ethiopian traditional food we are ready to go.
Off we go to the local government office and we pray this is the one to help us out. It is 2:00 p.m. now not a lot of time left for government offices today. When we entered in we told them about Kalkidan and asked them about what paperwork we needed to fill out to start this guardianship process. The lady told us to take a seat and she would be back. Yes, this looks promising! We could see her talking to another official in the back. She came back to tell us that we were at the wrong office again. We needed to go to the Women and Children Affairs Department downtown.
It is 3:15 p.m. now and we are at the Women and Children Affairs Department. I have a feeling that this is not going to get done today. We sit and wait about one hour before anyone would even talk to us. We are call up to desk and Rekik starts asking questions and telling Kalkidan’s story. In turn, we are told they don’t handle this situation here we need to go back to the local Police Station where the child lives. You are kidding me! That was the first place we went!
Wow, what a day! We look at each other and say, enough for today. We will go there tomorrow and take care of this then. We take Kalkidan and her aunt back to the aunt’s home and make arrangements to pick them up tomorrow morning.
My heart is sad for this little girl. She just missed a whole day of school for nothing. She doesn’t know what is going to happen to her still. I pray God will be with her and keep her in His loving arms. May she truly know God’s love tonight and always.