Of all of the family Christmas stories that get repeated at our house, this story remains one of the best. I may have even told it right here on the Katelyn’s fund blog. It’s nearly the 10th anniversary of the day we brought our girls home from Ethiopia. Life has changed, but we are still too busy at Christmas. We still head off to go to events when we should protect our schedule. This story is of the time we were glad we left home against our own better judgement.
We brought our two daughters home from Ethiopia on December 16, right before Christmas. Our oldest was nearly five and had learned just a few words of English. Our youngest was about a year old and had recently been released to the orphanage after a nearly four-month stay in the hospital.
We arrived at home 3:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning after a 30 hour trip. That evening, our third-grader had a part in the Christmas program and we all headed off to church. We knew this was a foolish idea. Our body clocks were off, we were cranky and sleep deprived, and our new little girls needed desperately to get to know us as their family. But we did not want to make our third grade son miss his program, and there was no way to leave our girls this early in the family journey.
We tramped through the snow and cold with our confused four-year-old and our baby and went off to church. My husband and I stood in the back, each holding one of our new daughters waiting for the program to begin. My sweet four-year-old pointed to the front of the church. She looked at the cross and then at me. With excitement in her eyes she said in English, “Jesus?!?” She looked at me, and then at the cross. She was amazed and thrilled. It was clear to me that she knew Jesus and was so glad to see the familiar cross in this unfamiliar place.
We did our best to keep celebrations low key that Christmas. We stayed close to home and chose to have friends and family meet our girls in the comfort of our home, rather than heading out. Looking back, there are many things I would change about that Christmas. However, there’s one thing I wouldn’t change. I am so glad we went to church on our very first day as a family. I’m so glad our daughter didn’t have to wait long to realize that the Jesus she loved in her first home was the very same Jesus here.