Heading Home: Hortin preparing for trip to Ethiopia – IllinoisHomePage.net

TUSCOLA — Lukas Hortin has called a lot places home in his 18 years but there’s one in particular that holds a special place in his heart.  The Ethiopia-native is returning home for the first time in nearly eight years and he’s recognizing his homeland the best way he knows how, by giving back.


“I just don’t want the attention on me,” the Tuscola senior said.  “I don’t want it to be about me.  I’m doing all this for them.”


He’s talking about the children at Covenant Orphanage in central Ethiopia.  As a 10-year-old, Hortin spent a year there before moving to the U.S. with his adoptive parents in 2009. 


“They took care of us very well,” Hortin said.  “We had like eight or nine kids.  They tried to keep it small.  It was just more of like a family.”


Hortin will make his first trip back to Ethiopia at the end of March.  His mom, Mary Hatfield, has been helping him collect donations to give to kids at the orphanage.


“It’s just natural to us that every time someone’s going to Ethiopia we make sure donations go with them as well as extra funds they may need when they get over there,” Hatfield said.  “When Lukas arrives at the orphanage, he’s going to see what the needs are and, I’m sure, have extra donation money to be able to meet some of those needs.”


Hortin’s already surpassed his original goal of $1,000.  Now he wants to double that number.  Along with money, he’ll also take donated supplies.


“They don’t have a lot of stuff like we do here in the U.S.,” said Hortin.  “So I just kind of want to help out while I’m over there and just try to do whatever I can.”


Hortin will also have a chance to visit his biological father, he hasn’t him seen in nearly eight years.


“I always wondered how we look alike and to see what my brother looks like and all that.  I’m super excited.”


“You’re still always wanting to find those biological connections that maybe you identify with,” Lukas’ mom said.  “So I think he’s looking forward to reconnecting for that reason and just seeing where he fits in there.  And then also, he’s worried about them.”


That same concern for his native country — and its people — is what drove Hortin to turn a vacation into a mission trip.


“Part of that is just who he is,” Hatfield said.  “He really is just a compassionate, caring kid and because the first 10 years of his life were spent in Ethiopia, he knows the hardships, he knows the struggles, he knows the reality of that and he remembers it.  It will be with him his entire life. “


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