Friday morning we went to a government orphanage. It was a very different environment that the other places we've been. The Ethiopian government has decided to focus more on reunification (meaning trying to keep orphans with families) instead of international adoption. Unfortunately, this is slow and often impossible process which means that the orphans suffer. Even more unfortunately, it sometimes means that orphans are placed in back in situations where they are unloved or abused or even worse. I don't want to be overly critical of the Ethiopian government. While I don't agree with some of their practices and policies, they are faced with a HUGE problem and they do a lot of things really well. That said, international adoption is not the perfect solution for every situation. God's plan was for families to stay together and to love and care for one another. Sadly this doesn't happen nearly enough, thus the world's orphan crisis. There is no one solution to the problem. One of the best aspects of this trip has been to see so many different people doing so many different things that really do work and really do make a difference. The fact of the matter is that this probably is the solution--lots of people following their individual callings with love and compassion while seeking justice for the oppressed by trying to meet not only physical needs but more importantly break the "orphan" spirit that tells the least of these that they don't matter, that they aren't valuable, that they are worth loving, that they don't have hope or a future.
After leaving the government orphanage, we ate lunch with Jimmy and Rachel Gross, American missionaries who are getting ready to open a home-based children's care facility. It is similar to what has traditionally been called an orphanage, but it will be smaller in scale to facilitate more of a family environment. They took us to see the facility that they are going to use. It was an incredible place and they were able to rent it for an incredible price. We were the first guests to see it, which was very cool because One Child campaign contributed the first funding to the project. The timing of the gift was far more significant than the amount because Jimmy received it (totally unexpectedly) on the same day that he made the final decision to go ahead with the project. The gift was a wonderful confirmation of their calling.
It is now Saturday morning, and I get to climb on a plane and head back home in about 16 hours. It has been a great trip, but I'm ready to go back to my family. Thanks to all who have followed my adventure and prayed for me along the way. Please don't forget all of the wonderful children and amazing caregivers I've been posting about after this trip is over. If anyone would like to talk about you can make a difference in these people's lives, please talk to me when I get home. Caring for orphans is one of my deepest passions, so I love to talk about. It would be a pleasure for me to discuss with anyone who will listen.