Sunday, February 20, 2011
My brother Andy came to see us this past weekend. He is heading to Afghanistan with the army soon, and this was our last chance to spend time with him before he leaves for training. I should really write about all three of my brothers, and their relationship with my boys, because they are all amazing uncles.
I remember thinking when we found out Eli and Micah were both boys that they would have such great examples of men in their lives because of my brothers, and that has really been true. They love their uncles, and the rest of us are sort of chopped liver when they are around.
Anyway, Andy came in Thursday afternoon and we
were there to meet him when he came off the plane. My thought was to get to the airport early so we wouldn't miss him and the boys could run up to him. Well, we were definitely there early. An hour and a half early to be exact. His flight was delayed, so I had a couple moments of panic thinking how am I going entertain 3 little guys in an airport for over an hour, but thankfully they did great. We ate an outrageously expensive snack (2 bags of chips and an apple juice for almost 7 bucks (!), don't tell Aaron), and ran the long hallway a couple of times. That took all of about 20 minutes, but I remembered that I can get the Disney channel on my phone, so they happily hunkered down with that for the rest of the time. And they did get to run up to Andy as he walked up the ramp. :)
We went to the zoo, had some family over for desert, out to eat a couple of time, and to Scheel's. And the highlight has for sure been playing Super Mario Bros on the wii, and discussing super heroes in great detail.
I am so thankful for Andy, for the sacrifice he and so many others are making for our country, and for this weekend to be together. You are so loved Andy, I hope you know that!
*I'm clearly terrible at computer stuff, I could not get these pictures to line up right!
I also had another thought right around the same time about faith that I'm not totally sure about, but wanted to write down anyway. Aaron got me an amaryllis bulb for Valentine's Day and on the directions for how to plant and take care of it, it said it takes 8-10 weeks to bloom. My thought was to pray that B would be home by the time that flower has blossomed. Now, as another good friend reminded me, God's working and plan is not about our timelines, but I guess I thought maybe that would be a good thing to pray in faith for. His plan is good whether or not He answers Yes to that prayer, but it's sort of something tangible I guess in a situation full of unknowns. And, if I feel like as we go along, that is NOT something I should be praying for, I will gladly change my prayers. :)
The boys are doing great, and it has been so sweet to hear their thoughts about Hope and their desire for her to come home too. I asked Isaac the other day who his baby was, and he said Baby Hope, and then I asked him where she was and he said, "Efiopia." Love it. I think for Eli and Micah especially seeing the pictures of where she lives and the other babies and caregivers that are with her, has definitely helped make it more of a reality for them too. They loved hearing all our stories from our trip, and when we talk about it with others, they pipe up with their favorite parts.
I read this quote from the book One Thousand Gifts, and love it:
"The highest form of prayer is to the goodness of God...God only desires that our soul cling to him with all of its strength, in particular, that it clings to his goodness. For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our soul." Julian of Norwich
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We have been home now 6 days, and I think I am finally feeling normal. I slept in until 5:39 this morning, quite a victory when 4:00am was my greeter the past few mornings. Being home has been hard. Harder than I expected. I had missed the boys so much, missed my bed, missed my shower, missed home. I was ready to come home. But the farther we got from Ethiopia, the heavier my heart felt about leaving Hope. Our last day with her was not super-emotional, I think I pushed all the feelings away, but now the reality of her being there and us being here has majorly settled in.
I have been allowing doubts, fear, and bitterness to wind their ways around my heart, and harden it to the Lord. Pushing Him away, blaming Him, and missing Him. I have struggled with understanding why He is allowing something to continue that He could knock out with a whisper. I have become the potsherd asking the potter what they heck He is doing, and why isn't He doing things the "right" way. I think I have taken things personally, like if He really loved me, He would allow our adoption to fly right along without any hitches or hangups. Despite my feelings, I have been seeking Him, knowing deep down that my Hope truly is in Him, in every way. And He has met me. I don't have answers, nothing has changed yet about where our adoption stands, but He is with me and I praise the Lord, I can finally see that. I saw it this morning in a breathtaking sunrise, a donut date with my littlest, and a front-row parking spot at Walmart on a Saturday morning(!). Heck, I can see it right now, in an unexpectedly quiet house before lunchtime!
Isaiah has been such a comfort to me throughout this adoption. The Lord has spoken to my heart through these verses time and time again, and for some reason I am always surprised when He does! This morning, after another hard day yesterday dwelling on the unknown, I read chapter 45 and these are just a few of the verses that leaped into my hurting heart;
-"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through cars of iron.
-...so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel who summons you by name...
-I am the Lord and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me.
-Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter what are you making?
-I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, Seek me in vain. I the Lord speak truth; I declare what is right."
So, my prayer is now, that I would continue to see Him. I am reading a book called One Thousand Gifts, about looking for God in everyday things and being thankful for the many, many gifts He gives us every day. Really, even that I am reading that book right now is a gift from Him. I bought it before we left and didn't bring it because I didn't have room. How timely it has been for me now, no surprise to Him.
I think I am finally ready to talk about our trip with others, and the ways God worked and the prayers He answered. The pain of the known, and unknown is still there, and I'm sure will knock me off my feet at times, but so is He, and He is greater.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Today was hard. I have been thinking about how to write about it all day, and I just don't have the ability to really describe it. The morning started off with court. We had not received any updates this week, but I still had hope that maybe, somehow things had been resolved. Well, that didn't happen, and I am trusting the Lord and believing that His plan really is better. Although, it is not easy. All of our 8 families crowded into a room where there were several other Ethiopians waiting as well. I found out later, that all of those people were there to relinquish their rights to their children. The judge called us in 4 families at a time, and asked us several yes/no questions that we all answered in unison. And that was it. It seemed like that should have been the climax of our trip, but really, we still have no idea when we will have a new member in our family. It's the not knowing that is always so hard. Aaron and I came back to our guest house after that, and I just lay on the bed for a while. He ate lunch and then we met the rest of our group to tour the three government orphanages.
We went to the boy's orphanage first called Kolfe. There were over 200 boys there ages 6-19 or so. I was completely overwhelmed by so many things. First of all to see so many boys, and so many that looked so young; second, the conditions were apparently much improved, but with over 200 boys, things get pretty worn out pretty fast. They all have a different story, but many of them have been there since they were babies. Our guide said there really is a family atmosphere, and once they are there, they can stay. They do go to school, and there are opportunities to sponsor them and help with college once they graduate.
I had been fighting back tears as we walked around with these boys, just feeling so overwhelmed thinking about their lives, when I met a young man named W. He was 14 years old, spoke very good English, liked school especially Social Studies, went to church 2 times every day, couldn't play sports because of a heart condition, liked the movie Finding Nemo, and was the only one of his family in the universe. This guy was such a blessing to me, such an encouragement to see hope and strength in his eyes.
The next orphanage we went to is called Kebebe Tishay, and it is for children birth-8 years old. I lost it here. I was holding a little boy or girl (hard to tell when all their heads are shaved) who was maybe 3 0r 4 who had run up to me with their little arms out-stretched to be held, walking through these rooms with such incredible need, and I couldn't hold back my tears. I kept thinking about my boys and Hope, and what if they had to grow up in a place like this. And, that they didn't, and I didn't, and maybe there is a reason for that. Walking back to our cars, two little ones came up to me and held my hands until I had to literally pull away from them. And even then, one stood right by our car, unmoving until our driver got out and gently led them away.
My heart broke. I cried all the way to the next orphanage which was Kechene. This one was a girls orphanage, but also now had some little boys, and it was actually the nicest of the three. There were over 200 kids here as well, and again I met a little one who just wanted to be held. They (again I'm not sure about the gender because of the shaved head :) ) wore my sunglasses, and then laid their little head on my shoulder while gripping my hair. I think what is so hard for me to wrap my mind around, is that these are real kids. Kids just like mine, who love gum, crayons, movies and candy.
Aaron and I had a chance to eat dinner together, just the two of us, and we were able to process through a little of what we had seen. We were both overwhelmed, but also aware of the danger of being overwhelmed to the point of feeling paralyzed, like there is so much that needs to be done you don't know what to do and so you don't do anything. We talked about some things we could do to help, ways we could give. Exhausting day.
We had our last visit with B today. It took us a little while to find her because she had switched houses, from #1 to #4. She is in a room now with 5 other babies, all pretty close to her age. I guess they tried to feed her solid food for the first time too, some kind of mashed up bean, and she was not too sure about that. We both held her again, and I was just trying to memorize everything about her. She has that sweet baby smell, soft curly hair, and such smooth beautiful skin. She has some rolls on her legs, and just about the cutest feet you have ever seen. I did get to give her the last of her bottle and then laid her back in her bed and she fell asleep pretty quickly. I am really not thinking about the fact that we will be leaving, just pushing it away, because if I do it's just too hard. It has been such an amazing blessing to see her and hold her, and learn about Ethiopia. Reality is just not something I want to deal with right now.
After our visit a group of us went to Addis Ababa University where they have the palace of Haile Salisse. He gave it to the university, and now it is a museum. He was a very loved and respected emperor, and he believed he could trace his genealogy to the Queen of Sheba. After that we ate lunch, and then met our entire group to tour the Holy Trinity Church. Orthodox Christianity is the main religion here, and Salisse and his wife both have their remains in the church in these huge marble memorials. They also still have the thrones that they would sit on during church there, and there are murals painted on the walls of them. Our guide was Belay and his father was a general for Salisse. When the communists took over, they executed 60 government officials and generals in one day, and Belay's father was one of them.
For dinner we ate at a restaurant called Top View, which was on a mountain, and did have a beautiful view of the city. The food again was amazing, and I loved talking with the two other families we went with. That has been such a blessing to me this week, just getting to know and talk with the other adoptive families.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Wednesday, February 2
Today was basically a free day for us, to souvenir shop, sight-see, whatever. Aaron and I and another couple went together, and we started with shopping. There are literally stores EVERYWHERE, but our drivers know the best places to go. The first place we went was the Kechene girls shop, where they are able to make different things and sell them to give them a way to make money when they age out of the orphange. This is another program Belay started. I found a little dress for B, and a couple other things. Then we went to the “post office” area. They had just lots of little shops with all the typical Ethiopian souvenirs. We found some fun things there too, and then went to Tomoca coffee shop. You can buy bags of coffee as well as drink some there and we did both. I know everyone says it, but the coffee here is really good. And inexpensive. I am actually drinking the best cappuccino of my life right now, and it was 50 cents.
After that we headed up Entoto mountain to some churches and historical places. That drive was intense. The drive up Entoto and back down is 18 miles, up a steep winding road. And as we drove we kept seeing women, from very old to very young carrying HUGE bundles of sticks and wood on their backs. Like so big and heavy they were bent over at the waist. Oh, and one very old lady was not wearing shoes. We found out later they make that journey of 18 miles every day, carrying 50-70 pounds on their back and get paid what amounts to 60 cents. It is the only way they can make any money for themselves or their families, so they do it. Every day. That's a pretty good way to get some perspective, thinking about how hard some people have to work just to survive. I did give one of them money, but it's one of those situations where you just don't know what to do. There is shop now, for women who don't want to carry those loads anymore weaving scarves, but we still saw at least 50 or more.
At the top of Entoto there is the first church ever built in Addis, and the first Emperor of modern Ethiopia's palace. Not like the kind of palace you usually think of, he was very humble for an Emperor. :) It was so neat learning the history of Ethiopia and Addis. We also went to another very historical Orthodox church, and saw a cave 700 years old that had been a church as well.
We ate lunch late today, around 3:00, and again had another fabulous meal. We are back in our room now, just watched a thunderstorm (very unusual this time of year), and excited for our last visit tomorrow with sweet B!
Tuesday, February 1
Sorry for the late post, the internet's been sporadic!
Today we had another visit! We were more on our own today at the foster care house, the Gladney staff was not there to meet us, but we knew where B's room was. Both visits have been during their feeding time and nap time, and she was eating when we got there. They had done her hair today in little poofs with different colored bands. It looked so cute! We both got to hold her again, I think Aaron held her more today. She fussed a little when we put her back in her crib, so one of the caregivers put her on her tummy so she could see more out of her crib, and she fell asleep with her little head on her arms. Those babies are definitely scheduled, they know when it's time to sleep, and they know when it's time to eat! I guess they feed them every three hours, even through the night, about 5-6 ounces each time. We finished up our visit and delivered all our donation items, and then met the rest of our group. I know adoption is hard, and emotional, and draining in just about every way, but when you see these babies, toddlers, and children who are full of life, and desperately needing a family, it changes something inside you. I have been excited for adoption a long time before this trip, but actually seeing these kids has moved something deeper inside me. And again I believe that God has not given all He has given me and my family, just for us. I think there is a greater purpose there, a way I can use what I have for someone else. And it doesn't have to be in Ethiopia, it can be anywhere. And then I think about how thankful I am for a safe and loving place for B, and the millions of children who don't even have that. If she desperately needs a family, (and she does), what about those children that don't even have a safe place to sleep, or anything to eat or wear!? Everyone knows there are needs in the world, but wow THERE ARE NEEDS IN THE WORLD!!!.
After our visit we all went to this resort where we ate lunch. The trip there was pretty long, about an hour and a half, and we went in buses. You know what I have been so thankful for and know is just the Lord? I have not been carsick at all! I get carsick driving to church sometimes on paved roads with hardly an cars, and let's just say driving here is NOTHING like that!!! Anyway, the resort was so beautiful. Really tropical and surrounding this lake. We ate with the Kechene girls government orphanage, for girls 12 and up. The head of the Ethiopian adoption program here is man named Belay, and he does so much for both the Kechene girls orphanage and the Kolfay boys orphanage. He said this was like a once in a lifetime trip for them, and they seemed to both love it, and not quite know what to do. :) I have gained so much more respect for Gladney and their staff, and what they are doing for orphans here.
After we got back from lunch, we had a processing group with the other families. One of Gladney's social workers/ counselor just talked with us about all we were experiencing and other aspects of adoption. She let us ask questions, and had some really good advice and thoughts about adoption both now and for the future. Then a couple of us went to dinner at this great pizza place! Yes, pizza! Let's just say, the food here is amazing! Every meal we have had has been so good, and there are so many restaurants. I was picturing eating just Ethiopian food, but we have only had that once. Most places have both Ethiopian and American or Italian or whatever. Another great day!