To Arbegona and Back

I can’t begin to express how appreciative I am to all of you for your love, prayers, and support.  I honestly believe the reason Eli has had such an easy time bonding with me is the huge amount of prayer warriors joining us.  You’re amazing!

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The last two days have been some of the longest of my life.  I have traveled in some rough conditions in 3rd world countries, but nothing was like these last two days.  We left yesterday at 6am, drove 4 hours on a highway, then took a turn for 3 hours up a dirt, rocky mountain road full of kamikaze cows, goats, sheep, and a handicapped man who throws rocks at foreigners (originally, the translator called him Saw Man because he threw saws at you if you didn’t pay the toll at his bridge, then to come find out he was only Soil Man who throws rocks – we were kind of disappointed).  

Along the way, I saw some of the most beautiful, lush scenery and some of the most stifling poverty, but the entire 3 hours was like a roller coaster on steroids.

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Once we got to Arbegona, Eli’s uncle was nowhere to be found.  Since we had four families traveling to this area and one translator, I went to a restaurant to sit for a few hours.  The 3 families had their meeting, and we were about to have to go down the mountain with a meeting with Eli’s birth family when finally his uncle was found in the city.

Without going into a ton of details, the meeting was tragic yet revealing.  I encountered an alcoholic man who did have care for his nephew but was in no shape to take care of him.  They found him at a bar.  While he was very kind to me, he is not in stable condition to take care of children and a lot of things concerning Eli’s state made sense.  

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While I cringed at thinking what Eli might have been exposed to for a while, I rejoice that he is no longer in that negative environment.  I felt anger, pity, and disappointment towards this man all at the same time.  All the while, he told me that Eli has another young brother living with him and another brother who died recently.  I am burdened for his brother today.

I began to share with him why I came for Eli because of the love of Christ.  At that, he held his head in his hands, got teary-eyed, and said he feared me because he is a Christian too but not acting like it and he could no longer look into my eyes.  As I tried to explain love, grace, and holiness through a translator, my circumstances and timing were working against me.  I told him I promised to take care of his nephew, but he kept interrupting me to ask down to the minute when I would come to visit him again so next time he would be sober.

After a 3 hour dangerous trip back down the mountain – in the pitch black dark with dim car lights, we finally arrived at a hotel.  After a four-hour trip back this morning, I pulled up to see Eli standing up in the crib waving at me in the car – his demeanor is so different since two days ago.  I felt so much more concern and protection for him today.  I just wanted to provide stability for him so much!

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I got to play with him for about 3 hours this evening (finally).  It was great.  The pictures of him playing in his pajamas are in the afternoon.  Due to the large task at hand, the nanny puts the children in their pajamas after nap time and a bath at about 3-4.  They eat at 6 and are asleep before 7.  He also got to watch a video of Amanda singing to him on my computer.  He was mesmerized.

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One thing I notice about Eli is he is very scared of new environments.  Change freaks him out.  He has lived in 3 orphanages so I understand it, but we made progress this evening.  Going up to a car, walking up stairs, going down an unfamiliar hallway, it scares him really bad and he starts to whimper and hold onto me tight. I am so happy we will bring this child the stability he needs, but that plane ride is going to be a beast.

Tonight, one of the nannies asked me what I did, once they found out I was a minister, they began to yell, cry, and hug and kiss me.  They said that they pray these children get put in Christian homes and one of the nannies began to dance around the room with Eli saying, “Praise God, Eli, your father is a minister!  A minister!  Hallelujah!  He is full of the Holy Spirit.”  One nanny told me that is why his uncle could not look at me because the Holy Spirit was working through me.  Sweet, humbling time.

Sorry this is so long, but trust me – it is the condensed version!  If you don’t mind praying, here’s what I would ask you for:

  • Eli’s Uncle – pray that the his conviction lasts longer than his hangover and he changes his life
  • Bonding Time – continue to pray that we bond – I have almost nothing to do the next two days but play with him.  This afternoon, he seemed bothered and really tired (see next point), he would start to cry and at least he cried the same with me as he did the nanny. He didn’t find anymore comfort with her than me necessarily – so that is real good news!
  • Sickness – one of the boys in Eli’s room just came down with chicken pox last night.  He has been quarantined, but Eli had a cough tonight and seemed more irritable than usual.  Some of the other kids seemed to be acting funny too.
  • Plane Ride – sickness or not, this plane ride is going to be difficult.  A sick child would make it much worse, so please pray he will sleep for most of the trip and feel safe in my arms.

That’s all I have time for right now, sorry for the long post, but thanks again for the prayers.  I am so honored to have 2 precious boys and the best wife in the world!

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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45 Comments

  1. Brandon T. Whitehurst

    WOW! Words can't express the magnitude of ministry that God has favored you and your family to accomplish.Eli'​s life will never be the same, I'll certainly keep you guys in my prayers!

  2. Jill Burretto Bryant

    What a precious and blessed little

  3. Jessie Pait Pruett

    Thanks for sharing. I love reading the updates. I'm so excited for you all and the way the Lord has blessed your family. Isn't He just incredible!?! Pra

  4. Kelli Johnson Scott

    Eli and Obi are 2 very blessed boys to have you & Amanda has their pa

  5. Joyce Smith Hendricks

    Praying without ceasing for you and Eli and for all of the children who will still be left at the orphanage when you and Eli head

  6. Babs Courtney Geoly

    I am so in awe of your posts. Thank you for sharing. Will pray fervently and often for your requests. God s

  7. Deana Garner Eppley

    I am enjoying keeping up with you guys through fb. Do the nannies speak english and can Eli understand you? I'll be praying for you as you travel. Got snacks? Best w

  8. Babs Courtney Geoly

    I have a friend who says he walked all the way from Hawaii to the U.S. because he walked the plane with a young baby. I hope you don't have to walk from Ethi

  9. Regina Roach Boyter

  10. Jessica Powell Brown

    love the updates! cant wait to meet

  11. Melissa Davis Bradley

    THATs AWESOME! Our prayers are with you! So Happy for you

  12. Michael Jackson

    Thanks for the updates bro and my family and I are praying for provision and a safe trip

  13. Juliet Parris

    I read your post and it brought me to tears. You and your family are in my pr

  14. Catherine Eddleman

    What a story. Thanks for sharing. Continue to be safe and hurry home with Eli. I will continue to pray as you request, so keep your FB folks in the loop as best you can. Prais

  15. Lynn A. Robertson

    Wow, Travis! Thanks for sharing with us. What a day you had! We do pray for you as you and Eli bond and for an "uneventful" trip home. May Eli relax in his new dad's arms the way that you rest in our Father's arms. May His arms wrap you both in peaceful sleep and rest all the way

  16. Allison Ballew Dempsey

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. Your posts have been so moving and humbling. We are praying fo

  17. What a precious and blessed little guy!!

  18. Thanks for sharing. I love reading the updates. I'm so excited for you all and the way the Lord has blessed your family. Isn't He just incredible!?! Praying.

  19. Eli and Obi are 2 very blessed boys to have you & Amanda has their parents!

  20. Praying without ceasing for you and Eli and for all of the children who will still be left at the orphanage when you and Eli head home.

  21. I am so in awe of your posts. Thank you for sharing. Will pray fervently and often for your requests. God speed!

  22. I am enjoying keeping up with you guys through fb. Do the nannies speak english and can Eli understand you? I'll be praying for you as you travel. Got snacks? Best wishes!

  23. I have a friend who says he walked all the way from Hawaii to the U.S. because he walked the plane with a young baby. I hope you don't have to walk from Ethiopia!!

  24. love the updates! cant wait to meet him!

  25. love the updates! cant wait to meet him!

  26. THATs AWESOME! Our prayers are with you! So Happy for you guys!

  27. THATs AWESOME! Our prayers are with you! So Happy for you guys!

  28. Thanks for the updates bro and my family and I are praying for provision and a safe trip home.

  29. I read your post and it brought me to tears. You and your family are in my prayers!

  30. What a story. Thanks for sharing. Continue to be safe and hurry home with Eli. I will continue to pray as you request, so keep your FB folks in the loop as best you can. Praise God!

  31. Wow, Travis! Thanks for sharing with us. What a day you had! We do pray for you as you and Eli bond and for an "uneventful" trip home. May Eli relax in his new dad's arms the way that you rest in our Father's arms. May His arms wrap you both in peaceful sleep and rest all the way home.

  32. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. Your posts have been so moving and humbling. We are praying for you!

  33. Locke Simons

    God's speed and grace to both of you, especially Eli. You and Amanda are a true inspira

  34. Jamie Lynn Shirley Turnage

    Tears of joy, sadness, and hope for Eli and his family have been shed tonight. I love you Trav and Amanda and I'm praying hard for you

  35. Brandon T. Whitehurst

    WOW! Words can't express the magnitude of ministry that God has favored you and your family to accomplish.Eli's life will never be the same, I'll certainly keep you guys in my pr

  36. Jane Dean

    Praying for you and Eli. I really enjoy reading your posts. Feel like I am right there with you. Thanks for taking time to write and let us all know what is going on. He is precious!

  37. God's speed and grace to both of you, especially Eli. You and Amanda are a true inspiration.

  38. Tears of joy, sadness, and hope for Eli and his family have been shed tonight. I love you Trav and Amanda and I'm praying hard for you guys.

  39. WOW! Words can't express the magnitude of ministry that God has favored you and your family to accomplish.Eli's life will never be the same, I'll certainly keep you guys in my prayers!

  40. Angie Sanders Robertson

    Praying…sound​s like God is working thru you and Eli to impact other lives over there as well!!

  41. Angie Sanders Robertson

    Praying…sounds like God is working thru you and Eli to impact other lives over there as

  42. Praying…sounds like God is working thru you and Eli to impact other lives over there as well!!

  43. Travis Agnew

    You guys bless our hearts so

  44. You guys bless our hearts so much!

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