Hmm, sounds like a Bon Jovi song…… but that’s not where I am headed.
Last night, in the middle of our first dinner together, Ramen noodles in our room, tears started to fill Kieran’s eyes. I tried to ask him what was wrong, but he didn’t want to answer. Did we say something that unknowingly offended? We were just talking about how our dog Elli used to like to sit under Liam when we all sat around the dinner table because that was the likeliest place to find crumbs. Did that remind him that he was not sitting with his first family for dinner? Was he worried about his birth father or upset that we did not end up seeing him that day like we planned?
He didn’t want to say and was obviously trying to stop the tears, but to no avail. When he and I were alone and I asked him again and he kept trying to tell me he was okay. I didn’t want to push, but I explained that it was okay that he was sad and I wanted to help him. He finally told me that he was worried about his father. It seemed as though he didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want ME to worry about HIM (as is consistent with the Ethiopian “it is no problem” culture, not wanting others to concern themselves with their own problems), or because he didn’t want me to feel bad that he was thinking about his father though he was with us. Probably the former, but with the language and cultural and teen barrier, I truly do not know.
Today after church, we went to visit Kieran’s birth father at the hospital. His only living parent has been blind from polio since age seven, and now he is in the hospital after having a major hip surgery two weeks ago. (He fell and broke it about 8 weeks ago and spent a good 4 weeks just waiting for a hospital bed and another couple weeks waiting for the surgery. That’s a long time to wait for hip surgery.) He explained that the physical therapy is showing that his leg is not working well and now he has to leave the hospital since his two weeks post-surgery is up. He used to have a friend he stayed with some in Addis, but that is not going to work out any more. His relatives live in such remote village that it takes an 8-9 hour bus trip plus a 30 min walk to get home.
Now I was the one sitting there crying, as the sound of the unseasonal rain outside filled the scene as on cue. All I could hear in my head was James 2:16 (which, come to find out, is in the next session of my Beth Moore: James study):
“If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”
Yet, this is what I am about to do. I am going to leave him with all these needs, and I don’t think I can do anything about them. It is illegal for an adoptive parent to give large gifts to the birth family of whom you are adopting. We leave on a plane in 3 days. What can I do? Is my faith dead? Am I ignoring the sermon this morning about having compassion, which is more of a verb than an adjective?
I wasn’t making any noise with my cry, but the remaining senses of blind people are often heightened. He then told me through the translator not worry about him, that he would be alright. He assured me that he is better than he was before the surgery, that he was thankful for our help, and that he would be praying for us. You hear that? HE doesn’t want ME to worry.
What are you wanting me to do, Lord? What can I do? I know some may try to tell me that we have already done enough, that we have come all the way across the world to take care of his son so he doesn’t end up alone on the streets with a bum leg like his father. And we did arrange for the payment of this surgery through others, though we did not ourselves pay any of it. But how do I know what is enough? Is there ever an “enough”? Would James or his half-brother Jesus let me off the hook? I am thinking not.
Please pray for wisdom to know how to have compassion with action, a faith that is alive.