The overwhelming feeling I have locked up within my being is almost too much to tolerate. We have had an amazing past 9 months here in our new home Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I have had moments where I literally thought I couldn’t make it another day, followed by days that left me feeling completely overwhelmed by the grace and love that the FATHER reveals to me on a daily basis here. With 28 days until we head back to the states for 2 ½ months I don’t know if I should feel happy or sad or both. I don’t know if I should laugh, yell or cry. My first emotion is excitement on our upcoming stint in Charlotte NC. This is the place that we grew up. This is the place we use to call home. This is the place where most all of our family lives. It’s the place where we have some of our closest friends. So you see why I would be excited. I cannot wait to see my mom and hug her precious neck, then enjoy watching my children run to her rapidly with excitement of how they have missed their Gigi so much. With arms wide open I will wait to congratulate my baby sister on her graduation from nursing school that I missed by just a month of our arrival. I wanted so bad to make it home in time to watch her cross that stage but it wasn’t HIS plan. I will eagerly wait to see my brother and sister in law holding their baby girl (my niece Sophia for the first time). Sophia was born just 4 weeks after we moved to Ethiopia. I spent many nights crying because I could not be there to watch my baby brother with his first child. I would see pictures of my most beautiful niece posted on facebook and just cry at how much she resembled my little brother. I spent many moments imagining what life looked like in their home, wanting so much to just have a second with them in person to enjoy their new JOY. I anticipate that the moment that my children see their Pops they will jump on his lap and laugh and play and physically wear him out within minutes of being in his presence. Seeing my best friend and her husband watching their new baby girl Jemma in awe will surely bring tears to my eyes. My Jemma was born right after we moved to Ethiopia and she doesn’t even know I exist. Oh but she will after these next 2 months. Birthdays have come and gone and holidays too so we have much making up to do. I can’t wait to eat some cheese dip, chips and salsa at a local Mexican restaurant, my mother in laws cheese cake will be divine. Driving through Chick-fil-a will be quite a treat. Getting manicures and pedicures at the one and only Polished nail bar will leave me feeling spoiled and undeserving. A place that I once visited every 2 weeks will now be straight luxury for me. I look forward to going shopping and having a choice with what I get from the grocery store. Getting to go to MY church and get MY JESUS on will leave me in tears of abundance LOVE and JOY. Spending time with our Make Your Mark kids and families who were so gracious and understanding that GOD was calling us away from them after loving on them through the good, bad and the ugly for the past 5 years. Getting to hug their necks and celebrating accomplishments and of course correcting and discipline where needed, will fulfill the emptiness I have had in my heart since saying goodbye. Getting to watch and see one of our MYM boys walk across stage of his graduation will leave me voiceless as I scream to the top of my lungs celebrating this day in his life that many said would never happen.

With all these things to look forward to I cannot forget what I am leaving behind here in Addis. We came to Addis a family of four and GOD quickly grew the number to 11 and then more. As I hear the fright of my daughter Amellawork’s voice as she wonders if anyone will come to our compound unwelcomed this year I assure her that they will not. 2 summers ago when we left our sweet Amilly’s life and heart were torn and abused by many. She never wants to go through that again. This was during our trip here for HIM to confirm that HE wanted us to move to Ethiopia. We had no idea that Amilly would later be a part of our family. As she opens her heart to me about her fears I want so much just to throw her in my suitcase and bring her with her family so that we will not be a part.

Last night we took our sweet daughter Lucy on a date to talk with her about dating. When Lucy first became a part of our family she had failed out of her grade last year due to tragic things that happened to her within her extended family. We invited her to be a part of our family and loved on her like crazy. Once a shy, insecure, not knowing where she was going young lady has since turned into a confident, trusting, number 8 in her class, loving GOD young lady. What happens if I miss out on something in her life over the next two months that she needs me for. Oh how I wish I could put her in my suitcase too and take her with me.

We met Jerri 2 summers ago she had a big belly that would change her life forever. I couldn’t wait to get back in Sept. to meet her daughter Initial that I had only seen one picture of since leaving 2 summers ago. We too had no idea that Jerri and her almost one year old daughter would become a part of our family. We have helped our daughter Jerri out by watching Initial during the day when she goes to cooking school and at night while she goes to night school. Who is going to watch Initial while we are gone so that Jerri can continue to go ALL-OUT so that she can one day provide for her and her daughter? What am I going to do without having a 18 month old baby around all the time that I get to watch Gavin and Kiki love on as their very own sister. Or that I am able to teach sign language too or potty train who??? Oh how I wish I could pack them up away tightly and take them with their family.

Belay whom we had met the summer before moving here and lead him to JESUS had gotten kicked out of his Aunt’s house because he chose to follow JESUS. When we moved here someone mentioned to us why you don’t have him be your guard. Just the sound of that made me want to vomit. Why not invite him to be a part of our family I suggested by completely ruling out the other. He has come into our family with the biggest smile and such a generous heart to my children. Gavin loves to go outside and play with his big brother. Belay is chasing his dream of becoming the next Ethiopian to win gold in the 2016 Olympics team. I want so badly to tell Belay just run and meet us in America so that you can be with your family.

Yeshi is our youngest daughter whom we love dearly. She was placed to invite into our home right before being on the streets with no place to go. She reminded Trent and I so much of ourselves when we were her age, lost, confused but with so much potential. We opened our home to her and have had some challenging times but through it all we love her and believe in her. We had to make a hard choice for the good of Yeshi but oh how we would love to put her in our bags and take her with us.

Yide I met almost 5 years ago and GOD used him to radically change my life forever. Through Yide GOD taught me so much about who HE was and grew me incredibly in my faith and walk with JESUS. We tried to adopt him back then but were unable to due to his age (he was too old 16). Getting to be reunited with him the summer we spent in Ethiopia as a family was so beautiful. Trent not knowing Yide and having no type of connection with him was a little withdrawn from him when we first moved here. BUT God is good and now Yide is a part of our family. God has moved what seemed like impossible mountains to move. Yide and his dad are now loving each other and being used by GOD in each other’s lives in only a GOD ALL-OUT kind of way. My son who has grown up in an orphanage most of his life tells me weekly how much he thanks GOD for bringing him his family. He tells me that I am his mama and that GOD sent me to him. He loves on Kiki and Gavin as if he has been with them from the beginning. He dreams of going to America one day. Oh how I would love to fulfill his dream and show him where his family is from and be able to feed his wondering mind so it would wonder no more about this magical place called America.

Don’t let me forget to mention the other 120 kids that we love on through the ministry. At moments when I get so aggravated at having to go late at night and help a house talk through a problem they are having; I will sit by my phone in America waiting only to not have it ring. Having buna (coffee) ceremonies with dancing and singing; I will take these sounds with me in my heart. Teaching around 40 girls on Thursday not to listen to the lies of the enemy that they are beautiful and were created with GREATNESS is something I will miss dearly because in the wisdom that HE gives me to teach them he is also reminding me of HIS TRUTHS. Holding a girl as she cries and fears this SO CALLED LIFE, having youth show up at my house for the need of a band aid, school project material or just need to be encouraged my soul will crave. Having to challenge girls like they have never been challenged before, seeing the fear in their eyes of the not knowing but the smile on their face after they have VICTORY. Being able to have a bible study where we all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Being Protestant, Orthodox or Muslim we come together and understand that there is one GOD and HE has a son named JESUS that came and died for our sins so that we may have an everlasting relationship with GOD. OH THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS FULFILLING AND I WILL MISS!

As my heart is torn like a piece of material with a cat digging its nails through it sliding slowly down to the ground. I will laugh, Iwill cry and I will be silent because I just don’t know how I am supposed to feel.