Sunday, June 27, 2010

Travel, Ethiopia, and Some SERIOUSLY CUTE BABIES

As you can see Internet has been a little limited since we arrived. Between it currently not working at our Guest Home and the rolling blackouts in Addis Ababa, we just haven’t much luck. I am doing the happy dance that we FOUND INTERNET….it still won’t be frequent, but wait for it and it will come .

Please forgive spelling, grammar, and readability. The computer’s power won’t last long and I don’t have time to read this over.

June 24th, 2010
15 ½ hours on a plane with a 1 hour layover should not be fun. Okay, it may not have been actually fun, but it was very cool in it’s own way.

We really enjoyed flying Ethiopian Airlines on the way here! I KNOW why God wanted us on that plane and nothing with Lufthansa worked out. We met person after person that, over 15 ½ hours, we will remember. They are very strict and weigh everything, but the people were wonderful. We had MANY eye opening conversations and felt nothing but love and support from the Ethiopian people on board.

About half way through the flight a woman approached me….she knew my name.

Wait, WHAT?! At least that was my reaction….

Another family from our agency (from another state) was on the same plane adopting two little ones from Toukoul as well. She’s also coming back on the same flight, is coming at this from a Christian perspective, AND has a family bigger than ours (shout out to Kim and Rob!!!).

Yes, and the airline is so cool that they will still let us on after we had to constantly stop each other from sticking our hands up “roller coaster style” every time we hit turbulence. They are THAT cool. We are not….smile.

When we FINALLY landed it was MUCH easier than I remember last time. We gathered our EIGHT carry-ons and headed to get our Ethiopian Visas. The line wasn’t too bad and it took us about 20 minutes. We got in line until we enter this narrow room that lined one side of what was almost a hall. We handed them the paperwork we filled out on board, they hand wrote EVERYTHING, including the receipt….wild.

When we eventually made it through passport control, we headed to baggage claim (which is directly outside). I admit, I prayed a little that all the bags would arrive. We had four suitcases and four Rubbermaid bins of donated items.

Side note-If you’ve ever packed, as an adoptive parent that has very little clue what your child’s sizes are, you end up packing a ton in at least two sizes.

Yes, it’s true, miracles to happen (I happen to see a lot of them). Every single bag made it from our initial check in on United, all the way to Ethiopian Airlines and to Addis Ababa.

Next job was to find our driver which turned out to be very easy since he had a sign that said “Kat….” and the name of our Guest Home. Even I couldn’t miss it, which by that time would have been very possibly….we were just slightly tired (yes, a touch of sarcasm).

It was raining (since it’s during the rainy season that’s not a big surprise EXCEPT the ONE thing I forgot was our umbrellas…hee hee) as we left the airport. The airport is packed with vehicles, honking from every direction….no rules, no right away….but still feeling like home as we breathed the Ethiopian Air.

ANOTHER Side Note: The first time we went to Ethiopia (Our oldest son and I) our hearts were laid bare….raw. The layers were literally peeled back and painful. As they healed, the healed Ethiopia. Ethiopia is in our hearts now permanently. Thank you God for the honing fire.
As our car was loaded up with the mass luggage, we barely all fit in this large white van. We seemed to drive forever, climbing higher and higher, until we arrived on a dirt road…rocky dirt road. After a few minute we pulled up to a gate that didn’t look like the Guest House we pictured. Yet inside was beautiful, obviously created for the adoptive families. They unloaded our bags, fed us, and we were able to see our beautiful room. The arranged it just for us so we only had to have one room….with a queen size, two bunk beds, and 2 port-a-cribs. Sarah said, “Mom, this looks like something from “Design Star”.

Time to crash….tomorrow we hold our babies.

June 25th
I had a REALLY hard time staying asleep know what today would hold. At around 7am I, mean me, woke up the family. We were going to call our Ethiopian lawyer at 8 and wanted to be ready whenever he was willing to take us. We couldn’t get a hold of him. By 10am we were slightly stressed. This was NOT our lawyers fault, our agency is not his only clients. Finally at noon we were able to make contact.

3:00pm, that’s how long we had until we would see our little ones. We called for a driver (so awesome and another story within itself) and planned to eat lunch at “Top View”? “Top Shelf”? Come on Ethiopian friends, help me here!

As we left the beautiful view and wonderful food, my stomach was in knots. I wanted to just bounce around with the frogs currently residing in my stomach, and no (for you warped individuals) I did not eat frog legs .

As we drove, Toukoul was nearby. We rounded a corner and I thought I’d throw up. Not what you imagine when you see the blue gates of the orphanage that you’ve longed for so long. Yet, my stomach was nervous and my heart beating out of my chest. I couldn’t help the tears in my eyes.

As the gates opened, we immediately parked in a very small parking area (compared to the size of the orphanage). The rain steadily flowed like a small brook over us. The “meeting room” itself was about 20 steps straight ahead from the front gate, turn left and another 10 steps. It was predominately tan with couches lining the small (about 12x16) room. A few tall shelves with glass fronts rested in the corners with Ethiopian Cultural carvings and such resting on each shelf.

Thomas sat down and I paced…maybe danced around the room is more of the right word. Tom and Sarah couldn’t set still, yet my husband’s excitement was clearly apparent ESPECIALLY in his stillness. He couldn’t focus.

When a woman walked in she told us that the babies nap time did not end until 3:30 and we would need to wait. They could not wake the babies up with so many others in the room that would wake up too.

We put the camera down, the video camera and all of us sat down for a wait….frogs still very apparent.

Yet, only five minutes later two woman (for the life of me I can’t remember what they looked like mostly because of what they held in their arms) came in holding two little creatures that would and had ROCKED our world. The nurses entered and waited for us to come and choose who to hold. I stood there for a second, just looking….not believing what I was actually seeing. Gabriel was closest, with his large scared eyes. Gabriel made his way into my arms. Tom rushed before anyone to grab Rachel to hand her to his dad.

Mere words cannot describe the feeling of holding your children for the first time. All I could do was stare….stare into Gabriel’s frightened eyes. Sneak glances at Rachel as she stared away (at first) not sure what to think. (Though I suspect they were thinking, “These people glow in the dark!”),

The nannies brought bottles for us to feed them. I snuggled Rachel and Thomas, Gabriel.

As the nurse came in we explained that we intended to take custody immediately. She was very nice as she explained that this was just not policy and they did not recommend it. She asked again what we wanted to do. We told her and she promised to ask.

Soon custody paperwork was in front of us and Rachel and Gabriel were with their mommy, daddy, sister, and brother. They were where they needed to be.

June 26th
The twins were nothing like we expected, it was almost like they switched personalities just to mess with our presumption that we would know .

We were concerned about Gabe from his pictures and doctor’s reports. What we expected was a little boy who could not sit up on his own (like we were told), could not rollover, and was very serious and afraid (he wouldn’t smile at all for the doctor). What we got was a total ham. He has a smile a mile wide and has already shared his awesome belly laugh. From the moment that we gave him room, he pushed himself up on his knees and slowly started to creep forward. HE CRAWLED!!! By the end of today, he was crawling slowly around the Guest Home floor and PULLED HIMSELF UP on the headboard of the bed!!! He will look at you and smile, but that precious smile is mostly just reserved for us….which is a really good sign.

Rachel we expected a ready smile and a quickly coming mobility. She was very serious, turning away when overwhelmed. You have to earn her trust and she is now trusting us. Her smile could light up a room with all of her four little teeth showing. Today…still cannot fathom God’s constant blessings….both children have cried for me. They have cried until I took them in my arms. They also have enjoyed Sarah and I’s long hair and daddy’s goatee. Amazing.

I need to sign off now, but will share with you as soon as I can about our trip to Kora (Cora?) today. It used to be solely a leper colony, but is not the most poverty stricken section of Addis Ababa. Tom and Thomas went for over an hour, while we waited in the car with the babies….knowing we had to protect their health as well. What we took in was astounding. Thursday, we hope to go back and Sarah and I will join the group going there while the men watch our precious blessings. Seriously has me wondering why I own all the niceties that I do while children starve, orphans scavenge through the local trash dump to eat. Sigh…Okay, I can’t process to the extent that I need to write about it now, but I promise to in the future.

Tomorrow (Sunday, when I hope to post this) we meet with our lawyer to get ready for our embassy date this Monday. We also hope to visit Wide Horizons (where Bekah is from). Tuesday we drive to Northern Ethiopia…the county…to a monastery where our driver was raised until he accepted Christ. That and we get to chase baboons…hee hee.

Wed. we hop back over to the orphanage, receive our Visa’s, and hope to visit AHOPE for the art project. We also hope to visit some friends for dinner (if you’re reading this, I PROMISE to call!!!!)

Thursday we try to go back to Kora and head home.

Busy schedule, but nothing we’d want to miss!!!! We will try to get on again before we come home, but hope to share with Michelle (guest blogger) if we can’t. Hugs and love to you all!!!

PLEASE specifically pray for our little ones health on top of everything else. Gabe seems to have a little cold, but after watching another adoptive family end up in the hospital with their child having pneumonia we want to have this covered :). Talk to you soon!

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4


5 comments:

  1. So good to hear from YOU! So excited for you bloggy friend, I've been praying! God is so good, and I pray He continues to use your family to shine HIS light into every corner you touch in Ethiopia! Praying for the babies and for your family throughout the week:)!

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  2. Thank you so much for the update. I can hardly type for the tears of joy in my eyes as I read about the bonding taking place *already*. We're continuing to cover you in prayer.

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  3. Wonderful. That's all I can say. Looking forward to reading more. :D

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  4. Oh Kat,

    I'm just drinking in your update! First, I'm so glad you made the best of your 15 1/2 hour flight. I have a daughter who does the roller coaster hands up, too, for turbulence (and another that throws up in the barf bag). And how fun to meet other adopting parents along the way.

    So glad you made it safely. I'm just rejoicing that you finally got to meet and hold your babies. Just amazing how God weaves hearts together. I hope all the visits go as well and Rachel and Gabe will know deep in their spirits that you are the family their little hearts have longed for.

    Sending prayers over the rest of your trip.

    Much Love,
    Kathie

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  5. So excited for you guys. Makes my heart melt. So glad the transition was and is so smooth. Praying the rest of your time there is wonderful and also for a smooth transition home. Top View restaurant was awesome.

    God bless,
    Gena

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