Zor-Zor Part 2-Alemayu’s Homecoming (Don’t Miss the Video!)

This month I am feeling inspired by Alemayu’s journey home, so I am re-posting possibly the best blog posts ever put on TFC’s website: “Zor-Zor” and “Zor-zor Part 2 – Alemayu’s Homecoming”. I hope you enjoy these wonderful stories of a family’s reunion as much as I have.

There are few things in this world more beautiful than the mountains of Southern Ethiopia and a mother’s love for her child. Today I was blessed to witness a full measure of both. Today we took Alemayu home. The road was hard and we faced many challenges along the way, but those blessings that we work for are often the ones most appreciated.

Tapering Road

I was happy to leave the car behind. It had been nothing but trouble since we left Addis Ababa almost one week ago. From where we left the car it would be a long hike through the mountains, but at that point my feet seemed like much more reliable transportation. We were deep in the countryside far from anything that we would call a road. I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on the car. It had taken us over some incredibly rough terrain and was still in one piece. We parked on a grassy hilltop tucked in a small valley. A narrow trail tapered into the trees of a neighboring hill with a few grass huts on either side.

Our Guide

Our guide had taken us here and would continue on. He was a young man in his teens, tall and slim. We met him by chance, if there is such a thing, after going far off track. We were far up the mountain following the only road there was, or so we thought. As we were reaching the limit for the car we came upon a few small huts. The family was working outside, but we paid little heed until, when we were almost past, Alemayu shouted to stop. He happened to recognize one of the boys. We stopped and the family was called over. Sure enough the boy recognized Alemayu as well and knew where to find his family. After much debate, as there always is here, one of the older brothers of the boy climbed in the back to guide Alemayu home.

We went back down clinging to the side of the mountain on the steep, rocky road. A few miles down we came upon a sign which marked our way. To the left I saw what looked to me like a sheep trail, but what everyone else apparently saw as a road. Off we went. It was a beautiful bright sunny day, the first one we’d seen in a while. Had the rain come we would have been spending the night.

Grassy Meadow
Rough Trail

Finally, to my delight, we reached our grassy meadow parking lot. As we plodded our way over the rough terrain I caught myself walking with my head down watching the obstacles as they passed. All around me the birds sung, the wind whispered softly through the trees, and open vistas revealed deep green valleys sinking into the horizon. We miss so much in this life as we are caught up in the challenges of the moment, when all we have to do is look up to see the beauty that surrounds us. If only we could see the bigger picture instead of focusing on the details.

The excitement mounted as we proceeded further on. We met one man, then another, then another who recognized Alemayu, even calling his mother’s name, and guiding us on. One of the men tried to lead us down the trail to his house with the selfish intent of sharing coffee with the foringe. We almost followed until our other guides corrected us. Choosing our guides wisely through this life is a lesson often learned the hard way.

Alemayu walked faster and faster down the trail. At one point he started to run and went out of sight. We called him down unwilling to lose our lost sheep this close to home.  We reached a hilltop overlooking a valley that stretched far into the distance. On a small rise in the middle of the valley we could just see the glint of metal roofs through the haze. This was Alemayu’s hometown. The pace quickened yet again. We were in sight, but still far off.

A bit down the hill a village of small grass huts became visible at the head of the valley. We scrambled down the steep hill. We slipped and stumbled on the loose rocks, but didn’t slow our pace. Alemayu had recognized this village and at the foot of the hill just beside the trail he recognized two huts in particular. This was his home.

Alemayu overlooking his home

A farmer on the hillside gasped in amazement as he ran over and grabbed Alemayu. He hugged and kissed him repeated as he shouted praises to God. Then he came to me and did the same. Tosemo, tosemo, tosemo (pronounced Toe-see-moe), a word that was etched on my mind this day, means thank you in the local language, Gomoniya. When he released me I rushed to catch the group still moving swiftly down the hill. The farmer’s voice echoed through the valley as he loudly proclaimed the return of the one who was lost.

I caught the group as they were held up by a group of children, old friends of Alemayu. More and more people started shouting from the hillside. Then voices shouted back and there was a flurry of activity among the huts below. His mother was there. In shock and disbelief she was asking “have you seen him with your own eyes?” She started running up the hill to meet the son that had disappeared four years ago. They told me that she had gone mad at that time. I can’t imagine, and hope I never know, the loss that she must’ve felt. When we rounded the next turn there she was and there he was. She dropped to her knees, face to the ground. He walked slowly, shyly to her and gently pulled her up. They embraced, Alemayu speechless, his mother sobbing and praising God. Finally she came up to hug each of us, thanking us in turn, tosemo, tosemo, tosemo.


She led us down to the base of the hill. We greeted neighbors on the way. Everyone was thrilled at the return of Alemayu. We crossed a small stream and there it was, the home that he hadn’t seen in four years. His father stood speechless as he tried to process everything. An uncle and his wife were there. The women cried, shouted, hugged. The men stood dumbfounded.

We were ushered inside the dark hut and invited to sit on low benches. Our eyes adjusted slowly from the bright sun outside. The family cow made his presence well known even without sight by making the sounds and smells that only cows make. I may as well have been deaf and dumb as the others chatted around me in the local tongue. Roasted beans, barley, and peanuts were served as sour milk made the round. The plastic drinking cups were the only sign of the modern world that could be found there. Outside the door the community filed in. Each one would come in bowing and mumbling greetings then go back out. Alemayu held his younger brother in his lap in front of me. His joy was quite apparent. He would sit for a while then go out to greet old friends and explore the home that he’d missed for so long.

Alemayu and brotherAlemayu and family reunited

Eventually, it was time to leave Alemayu to his family. We had a long hike and drive to get out and the afternoon was passing quickly. We took a last round of photos, received a last round of hugs and blessings and then we were off.

So many challenges and discouragements come with this work. I often get down when I think of being separated from home and family. I’m often frustrated by cultural and language barriers. I’m often discouraged with the constant little details of the day to day. I often wonder, is it worth all the sacrifice, all the struggle?

Today there is no doubt. Today I am encouraged. Keep the wealth, keep the easy life. Today I have my reward.

Jonathan Bridges

Joe and Karyn Bridges

We are really just ordinary people who have fallen in love with the people of Ethiopia, especially the children. Many stats report that 100,000 of these children live on the streets of Addis Ababa. After experiencing this firsthand in 2006, we helped start The Forsaken Children, Inc., which exists to bring lasting hope to Ethiopia through these, Ethiopia's street children. We are all about partnering with Ethiopian ministries to carry out this task and have loved doing so with the Onesimus Children Development Association! We currently live in Memphis, TN where Karyn is a stay at home mom and Joe works full time for The Forsaken Children. The loves of our lives are our three kiddos - Jack, McLaine, and Silas!

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

Category: Kota Ganate · Tags:

Comments

8 Responses to “Zor-Zor Part 2-Alemayu’s Homecoming (Don’t Miss the Video!)”
  1. BEAUTIFUL STORY!
    Praise God for bringing this family back together!!!!

  2. Jimmy Gross says:

    There are no words to describe the incredibleness and greatness of our God.

    Thank you Jonathan and Joe for giving us a picture of God’s heart.

    He is always faithful.

    Alemayu must have an incredible purpose in this life. This is a new beginning. A new beginning with a testimony no one can ever deny.

  3. Michelle Timmons says:

    Amazing!!!
    God is so good. What a privilege for you to have played a role in this amazing homecoming!! It reminds me so much of the great lengths that God will go through to see just one of His children come home!! Thank you for sharing this story! I can’t wait to see the photos!

    :) Michelle

  4. Amy Warren says:

    What a wonderful narrator you are Joe! i feel like i was part of this, i am literally crying at my computer. thank you for that story, it is so hard to grasp that this is happening every minute of the day…somewhere. tell karyn hello for me!!

    -amy warren

  5. Christi Hrin says:

    Tosemo.

    I would trade all the wealth I don’t have :) for life like what you are in!

    Tosemo for the moment, allowing us to experience real life…connecting with people without the falsehood of perfection, or the struggle to be and have to the most of everything…you are living fully, loving graciously and I can only say I hope to be able to one day!

    Tosemo Joe and Jessica!

  6. Liz Roberts says:

    Tosemo, Tosemo, Tosemo.

  7. Daniel Fuller says:

    I remember when I was there in the beginning and we went to stay with Negga’s family. I miss you all and hope to one day return with my wife. This was such an amazing story and I am so glad to have been part of this Organization even if it was just for a short time.

Leave A Comment

Family Reintegration



Watch Alemayu's Reunion With His Mother, a beautiful success story unfolded for you in the video above:

Alemayu, an 11-year-old boy, was taken from his home in rural Ethiopia when he was 7-years-old to work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Capital. Seen here is the moment he sees his mother for the first time after being gone for 4 years. Thanks to The Forsaken Children and especially their ground efforts in Ethiopia, Alemayu is now living with his family again.

Follow TFC on Twitter

Contact Us Form