Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Gift of God
Ok, so I must confess that I have left all of the blogging to my wife for the last four years. Pretty shameful huh? I guess it’s time for me to do my part and contribute to our story. Earlier this year when we were in Ethiopia God impacted our lives in a huge way and she asked me to write about it.
Our trip to Ethiopia was amazing. Melissa covered it in such great detail in this blog that I don’t want to be redundant. We were the family in our travel group that was on autopilot. Thanks to Mel’s great planning we had everything that we needed for the perfect trip, right down to a copy of our income taxes (which really came in handy in getting Myli’s visa!) It was smooth sailing and happy times for us until Thursday.
In an earlier blog entry called “Thursday Update” (posted on March 7th, 2008) that described our time in Ethiopia Melissa said;“OUR TOUR (of the orphanage) WAS OVER BUT WE DIDNT WANT TO LEAVE. WE ARE FOREVER CHANGED AND A PIECE OF OUR HEARTS ARE THERE FOREVER!
That was really all we could say at the time. What happened that day was beyond words. When we arrived at the orphanage we asked to see where Myliah (Frehiwot) slept when she was there. We want to be able to tell her as much as possible about her life in Ethiopia when she is older and wants to know. The director of the orphanage said “isn’t this the twin?” We had no knowledge of a twin so we assured her Myliah was not. A few minutes later we were introduced to the nanny who had cared for Myliah when she was at the orphanage, and she assured us that Myliah was in fact a twin. Our hearts jumped for joy at this incredible news, and a thousand thoughts were going through our minds. A twin? Where is he? Can we adopt him too? Has he already been adopted? Can we see him? All of these thoughts ended abruptly with the words “We are sorry, we did everything we could, but he was too weak and didn’t make it”.
I can’t even begin to express the grief that enveloped us in that moment. It was like a doctor had come out of the delivery room and said that our baby had died. We were crushed and completely overcome with grief. We asked them to give us any information that they could, and they brought out a piece of paper that said: Nathnael brother of Frehiwot. The nanny told us that Myliah got her strength from him, she said it over and over that he was the reason that she lived. He gave his strength to her.
Neither of us could sleep that night, and when we were able to talk we tried to figure out what this all means. The only explanation I have for how we could feel so much grief for a child that we never saw or even knew about is how quickly we had bonded to his sister, and the words of the nanny. We decided that night that Nathnael would not just be an unknown orphan that died, but would part of our family forever. He is our son.
So the question is how do we make him a part of our lives? How can we celebrate his life? How do we make sure that he is not forgotten? We wanted to find a way to think about him every day for the rest of our lives. While we were processing all of this we found out about an opportunity to invest in a project that would help the cause of the Ethiopian orphans. We decided to invest in an incredible project called the Ethiopia Guest Home. Not only is the guest home is a great place for adoptive families and mission groups to stay while in Ethiopia, the profits go directly to caring for orphans. For us, honoring Nathnael’s memory means finding a way to help Ethiopian families care for their children, and not have to abandon them. That is what the guest home is all about. To find out more about it go to: www.ethiopiaguesthome.com.
The guest home is a great way to memorialize Nathnael, but I needed something more up close and personal. I needed something to look at everyday that would remind me of my little boy up in heaven. I wanted to have something that I can’t put away, ignore, or forget about. So I got this tattoo. It is based on a painting called “Gift of God”, which is really fitting because Nathnael means gift of God. And the amazing part of this story is that it was through his death that Myliah (Frehiwot - which means Fruit of Life) became our daughter. So she was his gift to us.
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