The roads are full of cars that don’t seem to be following any rules. People stand by the car window holding maimed body parts up to the glass begging for money. Men, women, children and animals run across traffic darting around cars. Kids stare at our white faces calling, “farrengi (foreigner)”. Men stand by the side of the road heads bent and backs turned as they relieve them selves in the middle of the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. The whole city is bustling and in constant motion.
This is my first experience in Ethiopia a country in the middle of Africa. Why am I in Ethiopia to begin with? I have seven siblings two who are adopted from Ethiopia, Grace and Faith. I am with my mom, my sister, Morgan, and a friend, Lisa, for five weeks in Ethiopia searching for Grace and Faith’s biological family and exploring their cultural roots. This experience will carry me from childhood to adulthood.
To get to the village where the family lives, we ride in a van with no cushioning, bumping along the rutty dirt road for five hours. Eventually the road gets too bad for us to drive any further and we stumble out of the van to walk an hour.
Around the brush I see Diame (Grace and Faith’s biological mom) singing, jumping, and praising God. She grabs us, in her large strong hands, as we approach the house and plants firm kisses on our face and necks and never ceases her praising of God.
At first Diame and her family bring us into their tiny hut; it is small, dark, full of smoke, and bare. They have borrowed benches from others for us to sit on. The house is too dark to see the picture book we brought for them so we head back outside.
Daime, her five children, and extended family, pour over the book smiling at the pictures of their daughters and sisters. Tears pour down my face at the joy they receive from such a small gift and the glory they give to God for it.
Now, despite their lack of food and other supplies, their hospitality abounds. They bring out sugar cane and roasted grains for us to eat, and make fresh roasted coffee pouring it into the traditional pinky sized cups.
Here I am face to face with what family is. Even though I don’t speak their language and they live half way across the globe they have found a place in my heart forever. This is family! Knowing this and seeing how they, in the midst of poverty, are still glad to give from their heart and glow with joy is life changing for me.
I gained confidence through this trip and learned that adulthood isn’t about caring for yourself but taking care of others and looking out for their best interests.
And I know how much I truly have on both sides of the world.
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