Sunday, January 23, 2011

Part Time Father...

...But I'll have to keep my day job for now.

It has been a little over a week since we landed in Addis and since we first met our children.  I know that people want to know what it feels like now to be a father and to have children…well, I am not sure yet.  We have been going to Enat Alem (their orphanage) every day for 3 hours, from 10am to 1pm, and we get to hold and love on Alex and Eliana during that time.  During those 3 hours they usually sleep for about an hour, that leaves 2 hours of bonding time…but really it must seem to Alex and Eliana that we are nothing more than volunteers or white nannies. 
I think for me, it is such a natural event to feed, change (I did my first Ethiopian cloth diaper today!  I thoroughly impressed the nannies and nurses! Ha!), and entertain Alex and Eliana that there is not always a romantic emotion but one of just Fatherly Love.  I like to whisper in their ears (so that the nannies won’t hear me...even though they speak and understand little English), “Daddy loves you, Daddy loves you…”  I want it to sink in while they sleep, subliminally, that the giant white man is their Daddy.
But if you ask me if I feel like a father, I would say I do for about 2 hours a day.  The other 22 hours I feel like Wes Mullins:  husband, writer, UK fanatic, basketball player, and hobbyist musician.  I can say that when they are with me it feels so natural and right that not even the sight of a full diaper makes me react.  They are my children and I love them.  I have kissed them more and razzied (basically making farting noises on their bellies and necks) them more than any child I have ever met.  I am very partial to them; I will still hold other children but not unabashedly as I do with Alex and Eliana.
They are the most gorgeous children in the world.  They have eyes so dark that you can’t even see their pupils and they just mesmerize me when they stare at me for long periods of time (like when I am feeding them a bottle or rocking them to sleep).  Alex is so attentive to details and object permanence; he is so smart and inquisitive.  Over the last few days he is starting to use his legs when he crawls and not just his arms; he is a brute, so strong…”he is strong, like Bull.”  I think he may be tall; 6’9”, and 245 lbs., so he can play power forward for the Kentucky Wildcats.  And he will be more like Brandon Knight who is a 4.0 student and not like your average jock.
Eliana is more delicate and petite, but she is getting stronger in her legs and tries to crawl like big brother.  She bounces all the time, especially to music and singing or dancing.  Her smile is enough to melt the polar ice caps…maybe she is the cause of global warming (that is for you Aimee and Jeremiah).    I love her scrunchy face, where she sticks our her little tongue and starts bouncing.  Both of them are so happy and healthy.  It is such a miracle just to be able to be with them everyday.

So I think that I pass the part time father debut.  Next up is complete fatherhood.  I am about to join the ranks of the elite forces.  Fathers have such an impact on the world, but they seldom get their due (that is for another piece all together).  I feel blessed and honored to get to raise these children, even if they don’t know that I am their Daddy yet, they will, and soon.

Other Thoughts about Ethiopia:

Nina has kept you well informed about our goings-on, but I thought a little male perspective might be just the thing your thirsty eyes needed.

Addis Abeba is nothing like the other capital cities I have been to before in a 3rd world nation.  It seems content with it’s place the world; between urban and rural and contemporary and traditional.  I can’t remember feeling so relaxed and settled.  Even now I am looking out my balcony window at the palm-like trees and the cityscape that is capped off by a surrounding mountain range, and I feel at ease and content.  It is as if I could be sitting in Lexington, Kentucky or Addis Abeba, and I would feel the same.

We have been only to one or two places since we have been here, when Cara Dee was here and we wanted her to see all of Ethiopia that she could, so she could squeeze every moment into a CF Card and produce images that will stand for an eternity.  We spent some time in Korah.  I am not sure how to verbalize how I felt. I wasn’t shocked and awed, but rather I felt a sense of reality…this is what it is and the only thing to do is roll up our sleeves and help.  I did not pity them shamelessly nor did I look at them with disgust…I saw them for what they are, people who have had unfortunate events happen in their lives and with whom I can not even come close to relate to.  I mean, if you take my early days in Lexington, starving and lonely, it pales so much in comparison.  So I realize that I can’t relate but Jesus can: He Hungered, thirsted, had no place to lay his head, was abandoned and shunned by those supposed to be friends and family, stripped naked, beaten, humiliated, wept, rejected by society, and one time he even “sighed”.  They need to be introduced to Jesus Christ, not Wes or Nina Mullins, all we have to give means nothing if we don’t get the introduction right.
The people at Project 61 are doing just that and they are so beautiful!  Beautiful are the feet of them that carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And the leaders of this organization exude and radiate that transforming Love of Christ; God is Love, his people must bear that fruit…and there is only one way to Love, sacrificially.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”  You can’t love without sacrificing yourself…because your love is not meant for you but for everyone else.  The world needs your love and it will reciprocate with their Love for you!

Having said all that here is a prose/poem/psalm that I wrote about Korah:

“A City built around an unending landscape of trash, it is full of unwanted people, societal outcasts that have been ignored till they were forgotten. 
Now they have created their own diverse community, complete with every age and sex, packs of dogs, flocks of fowl, herds of small goats, and swarms of insatiable flies.
Steady streams of Garbage trucks shake the ground as they rumble to that day’s dumpsite.  The earth feels entirely unstable and crumbling.
The air is thick with smoldering fires and stench, breathable but very heavy, creating an oppressive atmosphere culminated with barking dogs, braying goats, and swooping fowl.
A clan of people armed with homemade digging tools and sacks, attack the fresh trash pile with a deftness and vigor that was as impressive as it was mesmerizing.
Quickly they spy out and grab food or resalable goods before another heavy truck demolishes the pile into nothing but more rotting landscape.
I am amazingly at ease, without great judgment or unnecessary emotional pity…it is what it is and nothing to be romanticized or championed; it is just hungry people being resourceful.
We carefully walk around the mounds of debris.  You don’t want to misstep and sink down in the mire because you could cut yourself on broken soda bottles.
With each careful step thousands of feasting flies dismount and investigate the interruption to their dinner; they are not so bad as long as the wind is blowing, but there aren’t enough horse whips in Addis to keep them off when it dies down.
It is an endless sea of rotting food and decaying carcasses, there are hooves strewn everywhere, it is nearly impossible to move without stepping on them.
The smell was not as bad as what I expected, I say that has something to do with the wind and the cooler climate in Addis.
The most unnerving part of the dump is the groups of men and children just lying on the mounds of decaying debris, as if they were on a Sunday Stroll and decided to sit down and enjoy a shady spot.
Then an event happened that I will not soon forget, a man lounging near us found a young rotted goat’s head in front of him (just a few inches away) and he began to playfully toss it back and forth, then an idea struck him…He grabbed a jagged rock and began to try and scrape away the hairy flesh in hopes of finding some taste of meat.
And then I made a statement that I wish I could have took back, “This is what we were before Christ found us…you know spiritually.” 
What a feeble attempt to sound spiritual in the most inopportune moment, it paled in comparison so badly…I know nothing of this life or of their misfortune.
But something spiritual did occur to me as I stood there…on these same mounds stands a Clan of Men that are familiar with Korah and its curse.
They are living and breathing Miracles!  They are giants!  New Creatures!
I stood looking at these men as they talked about their days as one of the forgotten peoples.
By mere appearance you could not tell them from an Addis Urbanite, but in their eyes burns a fire, a deep cleansing fire. 
For years they lived, ate, slept the trash dump to create an existence for themselves and their families.
Now they live, eat, sleep in the city of Korah to help create new lives, as they reach in and pull out the real treasures, the people.
They introduce them to Jesus Christ, where they can trade a curse for a crown.”

So I will close this lengthy post with a couple of stories about other children at Enat Alem, our orphanage:

There aren’t many men who volunteer, at least that is what I can gather from all the children calling me “Baba”=Daddy.  You might think it is because I am white but they call Nina “Ferenje” (foreigner), no matter how many times she tells them to call her Nina.  One little girl in particular, who is very smart but sassy, calls me Baba all the time and wants my attention (but not in demanding way, just in a “I would like to have a father” way).  Today I showed her how to beep box.  Yeah that’s right…I got mad skillz.  And an hour later she was trying to do the deep bass note with her throat…I am so influential and cool.  Then I was going to write something in my Journal and I asked her if she would like to write, and she shook her head yes.  Then she said and wrote out the entire English Alphabet; that is something I will always cherish.

There is also a girl there who is blind and deaf.  I haven’t paid too much attention to her over the last week, but I did feel religious pity for her.  Today God changed that and I looked at her and said, “Wait, isn’t my God a healer.”  So with the Mark 7 story in my heart (I read it earlier that morning for this very reason) I went up to her today and sat beside her.  She put her hand in mine and then up to my face.  She smiled when she felt the scruff from a three day beard on my cheeks.  She then lay her head on my shoulder and hugged me…my heart leapt in my chest.  Then she crawled in to my lap and just stayed there for a few minutes…so calm, so quiet, like she wasn’t afraid anymore or that she was just soaking in a few minutes of fatherly love.  I rubbed her arms and head as I gently prayed for her and asked God to loose her tongue and give her sight.  I am going to pray for her every day and ask my Dad to heal her, because that is His nature….to create and recreate.  Whether He heals her or not is up to him, I offered up the petition and will continue to lift it up.  But I will give her what I can, Love.

- Wes


  1. OK Wes, you make me cry again. Is this crying ever going to stop?? I love to hear about the two little beauties, and I hate to hear about those that are not so fortunate. God can heal that little girl, right??

  2. "all we have to give means nothing if we don’t get the introduction right."

    so deeply true!

    What a blessing you are to all those children, especially your own. I am praying, too, for that little girl. and for each of the children there--that they will know their true Father and His love.

  3. OK, thanks for making me cry again. I can't wait to get back there. A year seems like an eternity. We have been submitted to court finally so we are now waiting on our court date.

  4. Wes - gosh! Thanks for sharing!! I love your heart and how the Father is stirring the daddy in you! And your right - Eliana will cause global warming with those eyes!


  5. Thank you so much for sharing, Wes! I felt like I was right there as you were describing everything... hug your sweet wife from me... and kiss those sweet babies! Praying for you guys!

  6. Thank you for sharing....Alex and Eliana are very blessed to have you as their Daddy :)