ethiopian faith journey

(Follow link to the right 'OUR STORY FROM THE BEGINNING' for more of our story)

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

God has been writing our story in His book of life – orchestrating details and making connections for our faith journey to Ethiopia for some time. Here is a glimpse of what God has unfolded for us and the journey He has called us to – God has written the story start to finish, but we are just beginning to receive this blessing. He will unfold His journey for us a little bit every day and we are blessed to have you experience the love of Christ for His children with us. There will be a day when we know the whole story and I pray that we can spend eternity with each of you singing praises of His goodness together!

The above verse from Jeremiah goes on to state, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…” (v. 12-14)

We have called upon God and prayed to Him and He was listening. We sought Him with all our hearts and we found Him calling us to Ethiopia.

After we adopted Eliana, God led us to cross paths with many people who were touched by adoption, considering adoption or knew someone adopting. After seeing the way Eliana’s story touched lives, I (Angie) began giving out our phone number to anyone showing interest, praying that God would use our blessing to touch others for adoption. I received a phone call one day from a woman, Jen (& husband, Larry, also in the process of adopting), who expressed several people had given her my name & phone number, from varying circumstances and she felt that God had placed it on her heart to connect with me. They were using the same agency, All God’s Children International, and they actually lived only 3 miles from us – ‘isn’t that a coincidence’ we commented. We kept in touch and I was blessed by watching God at work through their journey to Ethiopia for their beautiful daughter Aleena. By chance, we actually met in person at the Little League field while watching our boys and we shared the joy of their upcoming travel to Ethiopia in crossing at the ball fields! About 4 weeks ago, Jen shared with me with that Aleena has 2 biological brothers that were later relinquished for adoption. After petitioning the Lord and praying for Aleena’s brothers, they felt God was telling them not to adopt them. She was broken and crying out for these boys and the Lord’s provision for them.

Upon receiving the email, something stirred in my heart…the same quiet knock God gave me when He brought Eliana to us. That day, I knelt at my bedside and prayed for these boys that God would bless and protect them and lead them to the family He had already chosen for them. I prayed that God would break our hearts for these boys if I was hearing the knock from Him and not from within my own selfish desires. Joe and I began to pray for these boys and the families that would be approached about them – ‘Lord…let the people hear your heart for them and bless their precious lives.’ Every family contracted with All God’s Children (AGCI) prayed over the placement of these boys and each one received a ‘no’ from God. When there was one family left to contact, we called AGCI and stated that although we were not currently contracted with them, we were praying over them and felt God calling our hearts to them. At this point, our hearts had been broken for these boys and our confirmation from the Lord would be that He stirred every other waiting family’s hearts to say ‘no’. On November 26, 2007, we received a call from AGCI that these boys had not been placed. Joe and I prayed together once more for these precious lives and received clear calling from God that our sons, Muaz (age 7) and Bereket (3 months) were being saved for us. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

As of Friday, November 30, we are an officially contracted family with All God’s Children International and are pressing forward at mock speed to bring our sons home! Our adoption process in being done in reverse order since normally the home study and paperwork comes first and placement with your child follows. Well – God is working this miracle for us in reverse, so it is a race to catch up and bring them home. Our second confirmation from God that this was His calling for us is that it is also beyond us financially. God is made strong in our weakness and we are about to experience that in all of His fullness. In the next few weeks, we will be watching God make the miracle of approximately $18,000 happen (and then another $20,000 in the next 3-4 months)! In the past, I struggled with making this need public in order to adopt again, but God has shown us His need for these two boys to be safe, loved and growing in Christ. It is about watching an awesome God work a miracle and giving Him the glory for who He is! It is about leading others to Christ by experiencing His love for His children (our boys) lived out to the fullest measure…

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 The Lord is working in powerful ways and we are excited to see Him work a miracle…

Joey has arrived!

June 28, 2008


"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11
I have always loved the image of Jesus being the shepherd who cares for His flock - taking such caution to protect and nurture each of his precious lambs. As a parent, I have grown to embrace the role of shepherding our children, just as Jesus (my Father) daily shepherds me.
Since bringing the boys home, this is the best way for me describe the nature of our parenting role...we are shepherding each of the precious souls of our 5 little lambs as they (we) transition and adjust and grow together as a family. God has blessed us with so much joy and humble adoration for this family He gifted us with...and when we are challenged by the many individual needs of 5 lambs learning to become one flock - God has been faithful to sustain us. Some days the challenges are great and some days they are small, but each day we feel God's hand shepherding us and giving us the strength to pass that on to our flock.
Our largest challenge is meeting the emotional need of each child individually right now and trying to slow down and control the environmental input to meet their needs versus just allowing life demands to moderate and overload us.
It has been a tough few of our 'lambs' has been sick with a rotavirus for over a week now with intermittent stomach pain and symptoms; one 'lamb' broke his arm; one 'lamb' visited the eye specialist; and amidst the activity, we are all just trying to embrace the moments of stillness and roll with the challenges.
"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."
Psalm 54:4
Each day when I wake, I ask God to give me the strength, energy, tenderness, love, time, compassion, attention, patience (the list goes on...) in just the exact measure of each of the kids individual needs for that day. God has been faithful to sustain me and surely without His help...I would fail. Some days God's strength in me prevails more than others and each night we pray for God to grow us closer as a family the next day.
I thank God every day for the privilege of shephering this flock He has loaned to us and daily pray for Him to grow us closer as a family and closer to Him for the journey He has set before us...


Sweet Aiden earned the title of 'First Asperger Child to Break A Bone' this week. On Thursday, he was climbing the apple tree (a long favorite activity of all the kids) and slipped and fell onto his arm and face. He broke both his ulna and radius at the wrist and will be casted for 6-8 weeks. They had to manipulate the bones back into alignment as he did a really good job of breaking both of them... We were back in the ER this morning because his cast was too tight from the swelling. He was in a lot of pain from 'the squeezing' and his fingers were huge and turning a little purple. They had to cut the cast in two and wrapped the casting back on with an ace wrap. We see the ortho doc on Wednesday for follow up and hopefully to receive a more stable cast again that will last the 6-8 weeks without additional trauma.
He is a sweet patient and has been very courageous with our long hours of ER visits this week. Please pray for him as he is still in a lot of pain and trying to get used to the hot, bulky cast. Also pray for good follow-up care at the ortho doc this week and a complete healing of his wrist.

June 27, 2008


As I sit down to reflect on our visit to Kellogg Eye Center in Ann Arbor today, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the privilege of receiving long awaited specialty care for our precious Bereket's eyes. We were there for 4 hours this morning and although we still don't have many answers...we have a strong assurance that they will seek until they find the very best of care for our Baby Bear. Here is what we think we know at this point...

  • He does not see/focus/track/neurologically process with his left eye.

  • He has both glaucoma and a cataract in his left eye

  • He had an ultrasound of his retina on the left eye and it was very difficult to determine whether his retina is attached or detached/he may have some scar tissue/insult from his first surgery/ he may have some other issues going on there

  • He needs to have evaluation under anesthesia on his right eye to measure the pressure and several other things to determine what is going on in the right eye, but he does have vision (to some degree) in the right eye

  • He is scheduled to see a retina specialist @ Beaumont (whom we are told is the best in the US) for surgical consult on July 8. He will have surgery to determine what is going on with the left eye as well as full evaluation on the right eye

We feel blessed that he is finally getting the very best of care and treatment for his sweet little eyes!

June 18, 2008


The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him."
Exodus 15:2

I praise the Lord for my husband, the father of my children...that he is a man of God and a living example to our children of a man who walks with the Lord. Although our children will not be saved by the faith of their father...their father's faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be a powerful influence on their lives. I thank the Lord for both my father and my children's father and the influential example of men of God they provide for our children.


Our precious Bereket ('Babay Bear' we affectionately call him) received his referral to Kellog Eye Center in Ann Arbor to begin treatment for his eyes. Most of you know that he has congenital glaucoma in both eyes and did have one surgery in Ethiopia with no follow up care. His left eye is still very cloudy and his right eye is slightly larger than the left now. We are so grateful to get this referral to a pediatric specialist and look forward to our appointment on June 27 to begin this life-long process of medical intervention for his eyes. We do believe that he has some level of vision, but it is difficult to know how much.
He loves to be held...and to be held...and to be held. He was very loved at Hannah's Hope (orphanage) in Ethiopia and we are grateful for the love they poured into his precious heart. He is pretty attached to mommy and prefers to be in her arms over any other activity. He has slept through the night for 2 nights now...praise the Lord! He has some gross motor delays - he sits alone, but does not have much lower extremity coordination and is not attempting to crawl and explore his environment...mommy is working on that (therapist - mommy at work!). His fine motor coordination is good. His illness with bacterial meningitis keeps us always pondering the potential effects of that...time will tell.
He has two bottom teeth and two top teeth that keep showing themselves and disappearing...ouch!
He is a beautiful baby boy and he has stolen our hearts!


Another first for Muaz...grandma bought him a new bike when he came home with training wheels...he did really well, so we took them off once and rode for a short time and put them back on. A few days later Ethan comes in the house and says, "mom - Muaz is riding Aiden's bike in the driveway!" I explained to him that he doesn't know how to ride a bike without training wheels...."um, mom...yes, he does...he just taught himself!" When I went out into the driveway, I see him riding all around and he smiles, ear to ear as usual and says, "Look! Look! Bike!" So...the second week he is home and he is riding a bike with his brothers and is part of the 'Ross Street Bike Clan' with his cousins & neighbors. This kid is fact, he wanted to ride the skateboard down the porch steps yesterday...thank you Lord that I was standing there (and of course advised him not to do that!)!!!


"BASEBALL?! Ethan, Aiden! Baseball!!" Muaz excitedly shouts (with his Amharic accent) when he sees me get their uniforms out on Saturday mornings and Monday nights. We signed him up for baseball with Ethan & Aiden back in January, not knowing when he would be home and unsure if he would be interested, but not wanting to leave him out. The day after arriving on American soil...he donned his baseball uniform (by choice) and loaded up in the 'Blessing Box' (our name for the family passenger van!) to go to the first baseball game of the season. We didn't expect he would play, just be there and enjoy the experience and get used to things. He tried on a ball glove (wrong hand and upside down - clearly never worn one before...) and began to play catch with Ethan and cousin Keegan. As I watched him fumble through the first few throws...I was in awe that the boy could throw and catch...really WELL!! When game time approached, we asked him, "do you want to play?" He replied with his classic smile ear to ear and a slight nod, "yes". This precious Ethiopian-American played an entire game of baseball with only a few words of English to use or understand...he played his positions, he threw, he caught, and he could hit the ball (coach-pitch style)!! It was so much fun to watch him grinning ear to ear the entire time. He loves baseball & it warms our hearts to see him enjoy this activity with his brothers and cousins (dad, papa and Aunt Kimmie coach the team, so it is quite a family affair!).

June 12, 2008


'ASPERGER 7 1/2'
"From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise"
Psalm 8:2a
We are praising God for the beautiful family He has
hand-crafted for us....

June 11, 2008


We arrived in Ethiopia on Monday morning and went to the hotel to drop off our luggage. We had about an hour of rest before meeting with the orphanage director to complete our embassy paperwork for the next day. Once that was complete, it was time to make the block and a half walk to Hannah's Hope. The walk to Hannah's Hope (HH) instantly brought back memories of arriving at Hannah's Hope Guatemala just 2 1/2 years ago to pick up our Eliana. As we walked the stony incline to Hannah's Hope, my heart was aching for our Muaz and how he must be feeling today. For the week previous, God prompted me many times to pray for him as he entered his 'lasts' in Ethiopia...last weekend of play with his friends in Ethiopia...last day of school...last bedtime routine...last night to sleep in his bed...& on this day when his closest friends left for school, he stayed at Hannah's Hope and waited for the arrival of his new parents. As we walked the path, I thought...'is he excited or is he scared?' 'how can this little man process this major life altering day?' ' us to be exactly what he needs in the days ahead...'
We paused at the gate to HH for the classic picture outside the entrance before the door was opened and we stepped inside. We scanned the grounds and there was our Muaz playing soccer with some of the other kids...our eyes met his and he flashed his classic smile from ear to ear with his dimples capturing our hearts. We approached him and hugged and kissed him through tearful eyes and overwhelmed hearts. He stood there smiling and wondering what to do next, so we told him to keep playing with his friends while we watched them play soccer. We sat on the curb to watch him play and then across the play yard we spotted the orphanage director carrying our precious baby Bereket to us. She placed him in my lap and I felt an overwhelming thankfulness to the Lord for completing this journey to our boys for us. He was so warm and fuzzy and soon smiling and babbling 'da-da-da'. It didn't take long for Joe to join the soccer game and win Muaz's heart. Soon it was time to leave HH and take the boys back to the hotel...our boys willingly walked with us out the gate to HH with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It amazes me how God equips the 'orphan' with incredible strength and courage... There will come a day when we will know what Muaz was thinking when we stepped out the gate of his safe haven and home for 8 months, but in this moment...all I could do was pray for God to comfort him & equip us to be exactly what both boys needed...

Pictured above & to the side: Muaz playing soccer when we arrived; the first time we held Bereket in our arms; the exterior gate to Hannah's Hope Ethiopia & Muaz & Bereket sitting on Muaz's bunk bed at Hannah's Hope Ethiopia.

June 10, 2008


Day 1 - we flew into Washington, DC and spent the afternoon and evening enjoying the sights & thanking God for the privileges we have been given as Americans. It was thought-provoking to spend the day in our great nation's capital the day before flying to Ethiopia to bring our boys home to enjoy those same freedoms and privileges we have as they become 'Ethiopian-American Citizens'!
The picture below is a section of one of Lincoln's speaches from the wall of the Lincoln Memorial- it is powerful that he mentioned caring for the rights/needs of orphans.
We ended our day of sightseeing with a wonderful date-night dinner at a restaurant downtown with an outdoor patio. In the morning, we would leave for Ethiopia...


Some of you already know that God has surprised us with a 6th tiny Asperger (biological) to add to our crew...due to arrive in November 2008.
We had our ultrasound today and God is blessing us with....the 5th Asperger boy to add to our family. We took the kids with us for baby brother's big computer screen debut & they loved seeing his tiny body parts & hearing the heartbeat as well. They each have thier own picture of baby brother's face ("he looks kind of funny!") to cherish. The kids are holding signs in the picture that say, "It's A Brother!"
Thank you God for the gift of children...(are we at a quiver full yet?!)


As I begin to chronicle our journey to Ethiopia, I thought it would be neat to start with the very first pictures we received of the boys with our referral packet for them. These were probably taken around early Fall of 2007. Looking back at these pictures (as compared to now) gives us an appreciation of God's protection and provision for the boys while they grew from the nurture and love at Hannah's Hope. Our boys were so excited to see Muaz with his soccer ball and we longed to hold this precious sleeping baby Bereket in our arms...

June 5, 2008


MUAZ (moo-ah-z) & BEREKET (bear-i-ket)

June 2, 2008



We arrived home from Ethiopia at 6:45 pm on Friday night and are doing really well! The trip was a whirlwind and everything went well while we were there...everyone transitioned well and noone got sick! It was a privilege to be in our sons birth country and experience it, but it is also very nice to be home for the real transition with all the kids together and figuring out this precious family life that God has so graciously blessed us with!

I look forward to posting about our trip and taking the time to process through all the emotions and experiences we have and still are enjoying. We serve an amazing God and are in awe of His majesty more than ever at this point in our life...


"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son."