Four years ago I woke up on the other side of the world to sound of unfamiliar car horns and people calling out to each other in a language we didn’t understand. I walked across the hotel room floor and opened the curtains to look out the window. I found people rushing to get to their destination and out of the rain as quick as possible.
I sat next to the window for an hour watching people bustle through the muddy streets and Then it was time to get ready for the day. John and I gathered our things and walked downstairs to the hotel restaurant where we sat and enjoyed the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tasted (thank you Ethiopia!) Then my friend Wynne walked into the lobby with her photography gear in hand. We hugged and squealed and ordered more coffee. The three of us talked for awhile and marveled at the timing that had worked out so perfectly for Wynne to be living in Ethiopia during our short visit.
Then our driver arrived and we grabbed our things. In the backseat of the car John and I held hands and Wynne chatted up the driver while I tried to calm my nerves/excitement and take in the scenes out the window. About thirty minutes later we pulled up to a strong metal gate and the driver stopped the car. He rang the doorbell several times until someone came out to let us in.
We stepped into the courtyard and looked up at a small compound. Children’s clothes and blankets hung from the clothes line and off the baloney. A soccer ball sat near my feet and a few toy cars and trucks were piled by the steps. Just before I began to climb the stairs Wynne called out for me…
“Stop! Smile… I want to get a photo before you meet her!”
After a quick snap we all made our way up to the door and crossed the threshold into a tiny orphanage. I said her name once to the woman waiting inside the door.
“Arsema?” She smile and pointed down the hall to the first door on the left. John and I grabbed hands again and my heart was pounding so hard I felt like I could hear it beating in my ears.
Through the doorway we walked and I saw her name written with a black marker on the wall above a tiny bassinet. I looked down and there she was. Tiny, wide eyed, wrapped in pink.
Without hesitating, I reached in and pulled her up out of her bed and into my arms. I put my face next to hers and breathed in her sweetness. We marveled at her size and beauty and all around perfection. This was the moment we’d waited and prayed for… the moment we first held our daughter. My overwhelming love spilled out onto my cheeks as I held her close to my heart.
After another minute or two passed I handed her to John and watched as they stared into each others eyes and his heart melted. She’s had him wrapped around her finger ever since that beautiful moment that a father met his daughter.
Four years later she is still more than our any of our wildest dreams.