Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hearts Happy, Broken, and Full-Ethiopia

This trip has been life changing, as expected. It has left me raw and as I try to share some things, I’m not sure that everything will be possible. I have seen things that no one should see, much less experience (their experience, not mine). I never thought I’d say that I’m ready to come home, but I am. Not because I am not in love with this wonderful country, but (as a sweet woman we met said) “My eyes are full.” I can’t take in anymore and need to process this….to let my heart heal and wait for God to direct us in what we’ve seen.

For those meeting the plane, right now everything is on schedule. We’re leaving the guest house here at 3:00pm and still will be in on Friday. Our three sweet little ones at home will most likely not be there, but we will see them VERY shortly.

Rachel is doing better (I mention below and I know Michelle posted). She is on clear fluids with electrolyte packets mixed in, but no longer throwing anything up. Gabe is COVERED with Mosquito bites…seriously (I think I mention that below as well…too sleep deprived to remember). They are like 13 lb monsters here and they love our boys (Gabe’s face and Tom’s arms).

June 27th
Today is Sunday, we LONGED to go to Church here while we were in Ethiopia, but this morning we must meet with our lawyer, Mr. Guta, to go over paperwork for our embassy date tomorrow.

As we drive through the streets to the meeting place, we see the laughing kids and teens playing soccer in jerseys that are falling off their bodies, but the joy is evident. The dirt and poverty of the streets surrounds everything…trash piled high, men relieving themselves at random, a woman and baby encased in a tarp along the side of the road as the rain pounded. Yet this cannot hide the beauty of the Ethiopian people. The joy while having nothing…literally.

When I see the street children I find it hard to breath. There are millions of orphans in Ethiopia and little space when it comes to room in orphanages. Often the children are actually given a choice whether they want a life different from they have every known. They pick children who want to change. That rips my heart in two. Children are too often scared of change and no 6 year old should be able to make the choice to parent themselves. We watched as a street child that looked no more than 8 was ganged up on by three older children (maybe twelve). He was sobbing, screaming, and shaking his head back and forth. Yet in the busy and fast traffic all our translator could do was yell at the boys to stop or injure us all. This haunts me, a child with no one to defend them.

As we arrived at another Guest Home (which is also the owner of Toukoul’s home) we were ushered through large elaborate gates. Dogs bombarded us…three or four pets of the owner. This beautiful lush landscape surrounded us. There were massive tortoises that we thought were statues…they weren’t. Tom and Sarah had a blast taking pictures of them. A couple other families joined us. Out of ten waiting for embassy dates, only three of us made the June 28th group. One family, that I mentioned earlier (Rob and Kim), had their little one hospitalized. He’s in their custody now, but please pray for his health. I was so sleep deprived that I didn’t recognize Rob. Though it was good to see another familiar face. We did find out something about Rachel. She does NOT like dogs…DOES NOT. Poor Obie and Abbie….

We sat down to work through our questions, and though the language barrier was there, it was relatively smooth. Our older kids were an AMAZING help. It’s hard to do paperwork with wiggly little ones on your lap, especially paperwork as important as this. When it was over and done we were thankful to have some comfort that it was all done the way it was supposed to be.

We swung by an Americanized food and ice cream restaurant. We tended to stay on the “familiar side” (which is strange considering the food I’ve eaten). Sarah tends to have a very sensitive stomach when it comes to new spices. The food was great, there was a small issue…not really ours, but that is for another time.

Well, we are doing NOTHING else today . We are all exhausted and though the babies are sleeping well, we still wake up at 4 am wide awake and no exhaustion can stop it (smile). You’ll hear an early morning whisper, “Are you awake?”

June 28th
This morning we woke up EARLY. Did you know that you have to get up at least a half an hour earlier than normal when you have twins? Who knew?! Lol …It never fails that a little one has a (how to say it…okay, I got it!) “Oh no! He/She has a 2319!!!! 2319!!!!” If you’ve seen “Monsters Ink”, that’ll make a little sense. Our little ones most likely are their own little hotels. Hosting all kinds of lowlife…parasitic little creatures. This makes for…ummm…interesting diapers. I know, too much information.

Well, we made it to our U.S. Embassy appointment on time. This is vital to getting permission to bring the little ones home (and their passports to do so). We sat on long benches until they ushered us inside an older building with paint peeling. You see the Turkish and other embassies…beautiful palaces almost….but the U.S. Embassy fits in more with the surrounding areas.

We passed through two metal detectors and into and through an outside pathway to a little building. This was a very familiar little building for Tom (our oldest son) and I. We waited in this small area, rested our babies’ bottoms on a white shelf that runs along the wall, our backs aching at the hour and a half wait. Seeing the other families there (and their BEAUTIFUL children) made the wait a lot less.

Finally our name was called, the first of our group, and we climbed the flight for the long awaited Embassy interview. They asked like three questions and were done.

“Yes, we do understand this is forever and are VERY thankful for that.”

As we waited for Kim and Rob to exit and make sure that everyone flew through their interview, of course our babies were getting a little cranky. Rachel conked out, just as we were about to. Did I tell you Gabe is a talker? That boy can crank it up? lol

We decided to try to do a quick hook up to the Internet at the Hilton and then hit the local shopping area called “The Post Office”. Maybe I shouldn’t say “hook up” since a local shop owner had that in mind. It just made us sad that people feel the have to make money that way. The Ethiopian economy is just so very bad. There are almost no jobs, thus everywhere you look young men and women are wandering the street with literally nothing to do. You often see older teens lying around at the side of the road picking leaves directly from a branch and chewing them. Chat is like marijuana, but instead it numbs the hunger from the stomach and makes them not care that they are starving. This is very addictive and very damaging. Many, woman especially, resort to things such as prostitution as the only way they can think of to feed their children. You see it woven through every street, prostitution, Chat, begging, starving, deformed, and drowning in poverty.

Yes, we went shopping. This is a struggle for me, people starving and we shop for trinkets…memories…sigh. As we came out we attempted to help a mother and her small child. We were quickly ushered to the car as we were almost mobbed by those asking for something…anything. A couple of us were almost in tears. We could do so very little. It’s a shock to all of us, but especially our older kids. Sarah and Tom’s heart’s are hurting and changing…being molded by God….and will never be the same.

When we made our way to the Hilton it was exactly the opposite….abject poverty vs. opulence. Guards (this time) with an AK47, palm trees, beautiful marble floors, shops, and expensive restaurant, gorgeous pool, the Internet, modern day written everywhere.….the opposite.

As you may have read in “A Adoption Story-Bekah”, this is a land of opposites, of black and white, rich and poor….and beauty, such beauty.

On the way home Bisy (Bisrat) pointed out to us a small little boy facing a street lamp…he looked to be about six years old, though we know he could be 8 or 9 with the severe affects of malnourishment. I still can’t believe we drove by a small street child….but we did, many times, there are thousands. My heart breaks over and over again as I remember….over and over and over.

Tonight it hit…illness. I got the cold Thomas had on the plane. The cold we attributed to motion and altitude. Fever, headache, and body aches… hitting the bed now. Thomas is taking care of the babies.

June 29th
Today we traveled to the North, out of Addis Ababa to meet Bisy’s father and chase some Baboons…seriously (smile). Last time we were here in 2007 we traveled to the South (where all three children are from) and it’s hard to believe the difference in the scenery, build of the hut (round vs. square) by just the direction you choose to drive.

Donkey, goats, men and women with sticks piled high on their backs, naked children….all these things were a normal site. The mountains and trees (many eucalyptus) lines both sides of the road. Pictures were carved into the side of the mountains. After a couple of hours we started climbing, looking down at a deep valley. As we pulled into the local village/town Bisy pointed out the sites. Finally we arrived at where he had been raised, and Orthodox Monastery. Thomas and Tom took the tour and said it was steeped in the Old Testament. The difference in, Bisy explained, the beliefs there is they believe you earn salvation and it is not by grace.

Bisy discovered Jesus, the true Jesus though and gave up everything for Christ. He was rejected by his parents…his community, tied to the top of a car as not to make it unclean, and jailed. He made his way to Addis Ababa and lived in the poorest place in Addis Ababa (Kora) for eight years…eight…and He spoke about Jesus the entire time. Bisy (obviously) has become very special to us. He is an amazing man.

We first stopped so the teens could walk up to a baboon colony. Okay, truly…I know this is probably not the wisest move as a parent. It was just SO cool though! Can’t wait to share the pictures!

He then took us out to a restaurant on the edge of a huge valley. Think mini Grand Canyon. We parked and then followed Bisy down a stone path along the edge of the mountain. As we trucked down the path Thomas’s jaw dropped as he looked to a near by cliff and we watched 60-100 baboons stampede down the slope. These things just don’t happen. Bisy thinks someone was chasing them….he used to as a boy. I had to ask him, “Did your mother know?” He led us to an ancient bridge made of ostrich eggs and limestone. Sarah’s face was hilarious…heights are not her favorite thing. That’s where my husband’s courage ran out. He could not fathom going across it…or letting the kids. I must admit, though I have no fear of heights, it did make me a little nervous.

After getting over the shock of the bridge, baboons, and shortness of breath because of the altitude, we were then took to meet Bisy’s father… something that shattered my already fragile heart. His father was living in a commune for the elderly, crippled, orphans. It was not the beautiful buildings with caring nurses we may picture. It was the deformed huddled against decrepit walls, yet still smiling in their poverty. It was a feeling of nothing, they literally had nothing. Bisy’s father lay on a bed in a stark room. His face wizened by lines of aging. You could see such intelligence on his face, even in this poverty. We felt so honored to have been able to meet him.

On our way out I noticed yet another….another whose feet I should be washing, yet I did nothing. She looked as if to have no arms and was huddled on the ground. Filth and flies covered her face. Her breast hung our of her twisted clothing. I felt sick. I should have cleaned her, honored her as God’s child…yet the shock rendered me unable to act. I will think of this woman for the rest of my life.

June 30th
Rachel didn’t eat much yesterday , throwing up a bottle. We thought that she was motion sick from all the time in the car….but it got worse. By this morning she couldn’t even take a drink without throwing up…not water, formula, an electrolyte mixture…nothing. I sat and cried as I told Michelle on the phone in the wee hours of the morning here. We were so very thankful for the one person we know (and her husband) in Addis Ababa. They were able to tell us of a great Swedish clinic to take her. Tom and I ran over there with Rachel, while Sarah and her dad camped here with Gabe. Really, though it took awhile, there was nothing to be done. She wasn’t dehydrated (BIG smile) and they told us to do exactly what we were doing. They told us to feed her liquids, just a little bit, very often. I was so tired and scared last night. These little ones have been through so much, that there was a fear that there was something underlying that I didn’t know.

Did I happen to mention that Sarah had caught what I had (and Thomas had had on the way here)? Poor girl…she’s had the sensitive (and sometimes nauseous) tummy this entire time and she catches this…ugg. Thomas isn’t looking so well either. I think he and Rachel have a stomach bug, it’s just affecting him differently.

We go home tomorrow. I am ready to see my Anna, Max, and Bekah…my mom and brother…friends. I am ready to sleep in my own bed. I am ready to process so many things that I can’t even put into words. I’m ready to figure out how I can act.

July 1st we’re heading home!!!!!
It’s about 11:00am here and we are packing up to head on home. The teens are asleep (we’re all a little tired) and Rachel is setting in daddy’s lap. She’s doing a lot better, but still on water with electrolyte packets. She doesn’t have much appetite, but is drinking enough to stay hydrated.

We are SO excited to see all of you….especially my precious children back home. It’s a REALLY long flight….16 hours and 40 minutes just for the first one. Though we do dread the airport and flight a tad, we are looking forward to the end result. Hopefully we will be swinging by the other guest house or Hilton and can post this before we leave.

I will be writing much more. It’s going to be slow as I process, but it will come.

Rachel and Gabe
The babies are doing wonderfully. There is so much we have yet to know about them. Though we may have been told differently, they hadn’t had solid food and didn’t know what to do with it.

Gabe is always ravenous! In other words, he’s a typical boy . He tends to be a tad more aggressive, not knowing that negative attention is not good attention. We are having the “No No, we don’t hit” training start. He’s got a bigger smile than you could EVER imagine. He’s got a gleam that says I’m in for a TON of fun. Both he and Rachel LOVE their daddy’s goatee! Poor Gabe right now is COVERED with Mosquito bites!

Rachel is fairly quiet, though both will let me know when they want me. She analyzes everything and has eyes you could get lost in. We are fairly certain she has an issue with her hips. Her hop sockets are very loose and she constantly sleeps in the splits (sometimes beyond). It’s not seeming like muscle tone, but a surgery type thing. We’re NOT even slightly worried though. She is precious and beautiful and our daughter.

They both tend to compete a little bit and don’t like it when I’m paying the other too much attention. When I hold them both in my arms Rachel is bound to get hit and Gabe will probably have an attempt to shove him off my lap take place. They crack me up. They can have the EXACT same toy, but determine that the others must be better. We’ve actually seen both of them hand the other a toy to distract them so that they can make off with the toy they really wanted. Totally our kids!!!

For those of you wondering about attachment, things are going well. I would hazard to say that it is possible that we won’t have to do as much work as we thought. We’re going to play it by ear, but they both cry for holding and cry for me (won’t be comforted by others). They still get this blank look the rare time someone else is holding them (we don’t start the intense work until we get home for varying reasons). Rachel is going to her “happy place” less and less when she’s overwhelmed. They both will look us in the eyes and we see other subtle beginnings of attachment. Oh, there will still be work, but it just may not take four months. It’ll all depend on what happens when we get home.

But here’s a tentative “YEA!!!”

I mentioned Kora in a previous post. Kora is the poorest section of Addis Ababa. It started out as a leper colony 20 miles outside of Addis Ababa. Yes, I said leper colony. Leprosy still exists here. As Addis Ababa grew, it surrounded Kora and became a hovel for extreme poverty as well. Though we have met some lovely people working down there and staying in our Guest Home (Cherrie and some awesome teens), it’s barely a drop…but it is a beautiful one. I will try to share with you just a bit of the reality of what my husband saw and my impressions.

As you drive into Kora, you enter dirt roads….like worms through the colony. Mud paths scattered with stones that have you grabbing the sides of the car as not to slip off the seats. The roads are lined with corrugated tin pieced together, broken pieces of wood, mud used to make walls, and tarps of different colors ripped but somehow attached in minuscule pieces to make a home during the rainy season (that often causes flooding in Kora).

As you step into the road, you shoes are sucked down into the mud, the mixture of dirt, rain, and at times human feces and filth. When you walk the roads the smell hits you. The parasitic smell of human excrement and disease…there are no bathrooms or sanitation.

Thomas was escorted by our friend into the home of a prostitute. A ten by ten room often shared by up to 45 people. The woman’s husband had hoped she wouldn’t get pregnant while selling herself, but knew that jobs are impossible to come by and they must eat. I can’t fathom that choice. We cannot judge her, but ache and pray for her. This group is trying to help such as these. She has four children from her job.

The children wandering the streets are in rags. They wander, left alone, as their parent (if they have them) go to the garbage dump to find food for the family. A child that looked to be about 2 or 3 wandered the mud infested sewage as we watched…her parents most likely scrounging for something to give her. The children were everywhere. One stood with scabs all over his face…flies crawling, but he was so used to it that he didn’t brush them away. A woman here at the Guest House (Cherrie) with others and is currently helping to build a orphanage for the 40 orphans that live at the dump.

From what we have been told, many locals don’t even know about Kora…many don’t want to know. Some are trying to help, but many Churches won’t wander into a place such as this. Whether from fear of the disease running rampant, or from the lack of publicity (that was the theory repeated to us by those there)….whatever it is, there is no excuse for our inaction….none.

I am not comfortable in my comfort…with my things anymore. God has stripped my heart bare and I am so very thankful…for a broken heart is a heart open to God.

Prayer Requests

*Please pray for Rachel and Gabe’s health. They are both having some issues.
*Please pray the trip goes well and is peaceful and uneventful.
*Please continue to pray for bonding and their transition.
*Lastly, please pray for Kim and Rob’s little ones and an uneventful trip as well


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

1 comment:

  1. Oh Kat,

    Crying too hard to even respond. I'm celebrating the day that you took Rachel and Gabe out of that hell, but grieving the brokenness you left behind.

    I'll continue to pray for health and safety as you travel home.

    Much Love,


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