Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 2- A free day (Part 1)

Today we had a free day. After a very sound and wonderful night's rest, we woke up early, got ready, and went downstairs with the Gerig family for breakfast. We all enjoyed complimentary french toast and traditional Ethiopian coffee, which is very strong, but oh-so-good! They serve it in these tiny cups and it's more like a couple shots of espresso with a tiny bit of water added to it. It was a great boost to start off our day :)

After breakfast we met our taxi driver and soon-to-be new friend, Yosef. Our plan was to pay Yosef extra to stay with us for the day and show us around. This was the best decision we made, because he took great care of us made sure we saw everything. We loved Yosef!

First off he took us to visit the Imperial Church where Prime Minister Haile Sellasie and his emporess are buried. We spent about an hour here on a guided tour learning about the history of the church.

Next we went to the Ethiopian museum where a casting of "Lucy" is kept and learned more about their amazingly rich culture.

From there we went shopping. Becky and I had our lists of what we wanted to bring back for our kiddos. We were thinking ahead into their teenage years, so there was much to be done :) First on our list was canvas art. We really wanted to have pieces of art that captured our children's heritage in our home. Yosef took us to an art gallery called "Makush." It is located inside of an Italian restaurant. Here we were able to kill 2 birds with one stone. We each found beautiful paintings from local artists to bring home and we enjoyed some wonderful pasta for lunch as well. I think this was my favorite purchase of the trip. I can't wait to get it hung in my house. The paintings here are beautiful and diverse. Expect to spend at least $100.00 American dollars or more, depending on what you get. In America paintings like these would be 5 times as much or more! To us this purchase was worth every penny! Love, love, love my painting. Next Yosef took us to a local market area where we were able to find everything else on our list which included, traditional Ethiopian outfits of different age sizes for when they grow, a jabana (traditional Ethiopian coffee maker), and a pretend jabana set (much like a play tea set), hand embroidered table cloths, key chains, and t-shirts and hats...all of which we plan on dispersing as gifts as he grows. This market was so much fun! We spent a couple hours here collecting all these treasures for our children and getting souveniers and gifts for our girls and family as well. We, of course, were bombarded with children from the very beginning of arriving. One group of boys followed us the whole time begging for money and patiently waiting. We were cautioned not to hand out money in large groups because then you would really get bombarded with people flocking to you and following you around. It was so hard seeing all those sweet faces, not to want to just give them everything in your wallet. Self control was put into practice big time. Here is where our driver and friend Yosef came in handy again. Finally about after and hour of being followed, Yosef asked Aaron for 10 birr, which is less than 1 US dollar. 17 birr equals 1 US dollar. Aaron handed him 10 single birr and Yosef spoke to the children in Amharic and said something of which I assume went like this..."if I give you 1 birr each will you stop following us?" All the chidren agreed and this seemed to do the trick. If we, ourselves had done this people would have flooded us, but since Yosef handled it, it was controlled. Did I mention yet how much we loved him?

(Yosef talking to the kids that had followed us for about an hour)

So after this we were able to continue on shopping and after a while we were followed by an elderly half-blind man and 3 more new kids. I must have looked like the easy target because they all would come up to me and smile their precious smiles and put out their hands to me and ask for money. They would say..." please." Oh my heart!!!!! One sweet boy saw me chewing gum (which happened to be my last piece) and asked me "gum?" I told him sadly that I didn't have anymore gum. Then he said to me "shoes?" Although I wanted desperately to buy him shoes, I knew I couldn't without causing a scene because the market was packed with people. So then he points to a food cart and says "Food?" ok I thought that is all I can handle. I asked Yosef if we were allowed to give him the money and he could go buy these kids some food. He told us that it was ok. So we and the Gerig's gave him some money. He then took the 3 boys, which had then grown to about 10 boys, and also the elderly half-blind man as well that was still following us and begging, and sat them down in a small restaurant area. Yosef ordered them water and injera and about 5 different other meat dishes. These children were so excited!!!! They held up their water glasses and wanted me to take their pictures clanking them together. So of course I did! This reminded me of my girls at home clanking their drinks together before meals and saying "cheers."

(half the boys, some were sitting on the other side)

We stayed a while to make sure they got their food, and when it came out, the kids dovoured it, and the old man sat in the back eating his share alone. We left as they were eating, and as we started to leave in our car, we looked up and all these beautiful smiling faces were running towards us saying, "thank you." They were shaking our hands and as we drove away one boy says in the best English he could..."have fun in Ethiopia." As we drove away they were all giving us the thumbs up sign. I so wish I had snapped a picture of all of them giving us the thumbs up! It was so precious! Yosef looked over at me grinning his amazing smile and said,"this is good." This was one of the greatest moments of the trip asside from us meeting our son! Their bellies were full and so were our hearts!!!! We didn't think our hearts could love Ethiopia more, but after today and mingling with these precious people, our hearts were overflowing! I, myself, was on cloud nine all day long! Being here was like a dream! I loved every second so much!

( Some of the children and the eldrely gentleman in the back)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prayer Request

(all of us getting ready to go into court)

Thank you all who have prayed us through our journey so far. We are so grateful. Our battle to get our son is not over and we ask that you please be praying for us and our new friends, the King family and the Gerig family. We had the pleasure of traveling with these 2 families who understood every minute of our journey, because they have been traveling the same road as us. It was truly a gift to be able to travel with these 2 other couples who shared our common bond of the adoption journey and our love for the Lord. They understood every thing we had been through and we were so blessed by them. As you all may know, it was a long shot to be able to travel before the rainy season, and God made the way. Now, we are in a different boat and need your prayer. MOWA (ministry of women's affairs) in Ethiopia are behind in a lot of their paperwork. Our paperwork was not ready at our court hearing so therefore we haven't officially past court just yet, which isn't normally a big deal. After MOWA processes our paperwork the court will then sign off on it and then it will be taken to the US Embassy for more paperwork and then we can travel to bring our children home. We got the discouraging news today that MOWA is behind by 30 days, and that more than likely after we get our paperwork in the next 30 days, we will have to wait until after the rainy season for the judge to sign off on our papers. What does it mean for us???? It means that we won't have our children home until at least October/ November.
What we would love is if you could be praying for God's favor over our case, and our new friends, the Gerig's and the King's. We pray that our paperwork will be processed by next week and that the judge will sign off on our case before she leaves for rainy season.
We stand together in agreement that God is fully capable of making this happen. To think of having to wait that long to go back and get our children is just heart crushing. It was the hardest thing in the world to have to leave our children behind. Please please please be praying for us and our new friends. Our other prayer is that we will all be able to travel together again to bring our children home on the second trip! What a wonderful reunion and homecoming it will be!!!!!
Believing together that GOD IS ABLE!

Friday, July 29, 2011

We are home and Post 1!!!

(all our bags we took)

We are home! We arrived from our trip last night and were so excited to see our girls, but also very sad to have to leave our boy behind. The trip was just too short. We had the priviledge of traveling with 2 wonderful families. Todd and Becky Gerig, whom we met in Germany, and Mike and Brandy King, whom we met a couple days later in Adama. It was really a neat thing thinking about them before we left. We felt like the Lord had hand-picked the people he wanted us to experience Ethiopia with, and we were excited to meet them! After being with them on our journey, I am now convinced more than ever that He did indeed hand pick them! We love the Gerig's and King's so much! We had an emotional and spiritual connection with them and after the trip was over, we felt like we had known them for a long time! I am so grateful for our new friendship with them, and being able to share this journey with them. It was really special, and their children will forever hold a place in our hearts as well. LOVE them! Our plan is to vacate together ever-so-often through the years!!!!

(from left to right...The King's, us, and the Gerigs)

While we were there, I journaled everyday of our trip so I want to share some of that with you over these next few days:

Day 1:
As I got off the airplane in Addis Ababa, I was overcome with the feeling that I wasn't in America anymore, or anywhere near it for that matter. It was a little intimidating and frighteing, but exciting all at the same time. We immediately got our visas and went through customs. Our driver was waiting outside with a sign with our names and new friends that traveled with us, the Gerig's. As he escorted us to our car, I was taken aback by a woman holding a tiny baby. She followed me to the car and was begging for money. I knew this was going to be a common thing in Ethiopia, I just didn't expect it so quickly. I gave her some money and she told me "God bless you." and went on her way. Driving down the streets in Addis was so surreal. I still couldn't believe we were there!!!! Could not believe it!!!! By the way, the drivers in Addis are crazy. Addis Ababa has the most car accidents than anywhere else in the world, so that was interesting all in itself :)
As we got into town I was struck with the reality of Addis Ababa. It was 10:30 pm and the streets were packed with children EVERYWHERE. I saw some walking around alone; we passed a group of young children (with no parents) all huddled together and they were laughing, like they were playing a game. There were women holding their babies sitting on the sidewalk....their home. It was dark out, and I couldn't imagine what I was going to be seeing in the daylight when I could see better. As we finally reached our guest house we nearly hit an older gentleman that just walked out in front of our car. I was sitting in the front and my eyes locked with his. He looked so tired and old. He didn't even flinch, just moved out of the way for us to pass. I guess they are all use to the crazy driving.
We stayed at the Addis Guest House. By American standards it wasn't anything special, but by Ethiopian standards it was very nice. We had a clean bed and running water and that was good enough for us. The rooms were very simple. The staff at Addis Guest House was invaluable! Yonas was the owner's son and he was so friendly and helpful. He lived in America most of his life and spoke perfect English and Amharic and he made our stay much easier. The Guest House accomodated our every need, and didn't let us carry any of our bags. They were so great!!!! LOVED THEM!
Since it was so late, we wanted to go straight to bed. To unwind we decided to turn on the TV. One thing we weren't expecting was to have American TV channels in English! We wound down our first evening and fell asleep watching "Friends" and the movie "21." Other than not mentioning our soap exploading all in our suitcase, I think I pretty much covered our first night.

Side note I wrote verbatim: "I wish I knew if my phone was international so I could call home. I miss my girls! But at this moment, I am glad we didn't bring them on this trip. It would have been hard. My prayer while we are here is to experience God's heart even more for the Ethiopian people; to see such things as we saw on our way over here from the airport is so heartbreaking, and I could see how it would be easy to carry a heavy sadness while we are here. I want to come home with a broken heart, but while we are here I want to take it all in and see with God's eyes, and experience His heart. I want to make room for more growth in my Father."

(We would absolutely recommend the Addis Guest House to all families traveling to Addis. Don't expect luxury, but the staff was excellent. They had a nice patio area in front of their cafe where you could sit and drink coffee and had complimentary breakfast each morning. Ask Yonas ( the owner's son) to call Yoseph Mulugeta with "Yoseph Taxi Service as your taxi driver. Pay him extra to stay as your guide. He was absolutely wonderful!!!!)

Stay tuned for more entries of our trip!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The first day of the rest of our lives!

Today is the day we have been dreaming of from the time we started this long process. As I sit here blogging in the early morning hours, my kids are still sleeping, and Aaron is at the Farmer's market in Dallas doing some last minute work before take-off. He left the house at 2:30 this morning so he should sleep like a champ on the plane! My sweet Alyssa got up twice last night. First to go potty, then the second time was at 5:30 am and she came over to my bedside and said "mommy, I'm sorry I got up again." Bless her heart she couldn't sleep. I let her crawl into bed with me and she held my hand and asked if today was the day me and daddy were leaving. I think she is a little apprehensive of being away from us for so long, but I am praying that the girls have so much fun while we are gone that they won't have time to miss us. Last night I told them we would bring them back a surprise. Aubrey said she wanted a babydoll. When I asked Alyssa what she wanted she said, "I want you to bring my baby brother home." Oh, my heart! I told her not this first trip, but the second one we will be doing that!!!!
I can't believe this day is here!!!! It just seems so surreal! We have a very large amount of luggage packed full of donations of formula, clothes, shoes, diapers, creams, infant vitamins, etc... I really just want to say a big heart-felt thank you again to all of you who prayed for us, gave financially, spoke words of encouragement when needed, and have been cheering us on this whole time. And a special thank you to friends and family who are taking care of our kids, house, and farm while we are gone! We are so grateful beyond words to you for contributing towards this big adventure the Lord has us on!
So all our bags are packed and waiting as we also wait!!!! We are leaving today to meet the precious little guy that we have been praying for and dreaming about for the last year and a half! We get to see the sweet face that we have watched grow over the past 6 months in pictures. We get to visit the country and experience first-hand this beautiful culture our son is from that we have fallen in love with, and will forever be united with! It is an indescribale feeling!!!! Please be praying as we leave our girls for the first time, and also as we are meeting our son for the first time!
This is the first day of the rest of our lives! We can't wait to get started!!!!

A friend of mine texted me this verse last night! It was just what I needed to hear...."Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27. Just want everyone to know that we are feeling the peace this morning from all the prayers! Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Don't ignore the broken heart!

There are so many things in this world that are just heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking to see children without families trying to survive on their own. To try and even imagine a child growing up without the love and guidance of a mom or dad is just unthinkable. To think about the Aids orphans in South Africa that ONLY get to eat twice a week when the feeding ministry program stops by their village just makes me sick to my stomach. Or what about the 8-year-old girl who was kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. It's too much for this heart to take!
It would be so much easier to ignore this kind of news or statistics, to just go about our busy, comfortable lives, to save us from feeling sad that day.
The truth is, our hearts are broken for a reason. Our hearts break because our Father's heart breaks. The fact of the matter is...WE REALLY ARE HIS HANDS AND FEET! He allows us to feel a tiny smidge of the pain and hurt He feels so that we will be moved to do something about it!
So the next time you hear something that just really breaks your heart, don't ignore it and go about your own business! Embrace that broken heart and let the Lord use you to be the change in at least one person's life!
I sure am glad we embraced our broken heart over the global orphan crisis. If we hadn't listened to God's heart...if we had chosen to put it out of our minds....we wouldn't be blessed with this enormous gift of getting to board a plane to meet OUR SON in just 4 days! What an incredible and awesome gift! We will be praying for the Lord to show us His heart and to break ours even more while we are there!!!!! Broken hearts move people! So let me encourage you, don't ignore it, embrace it, and be moved to action!!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Big Accomplishment!

(in case you can't tell she is saying..."HEY, don't take my picture.")

FINALLY I think is the word that sums it up! We made sticker charts, handed out gummies, promised her chuck E cheeses, gave her consequences and....NOTHING, so we backed off. Finally on her own she decided one day she was ready! PRAISE THE LORD!HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU JESUS!
We did indeed make good on our word, and took our big girl to Chuck E Cheeses to celebrate! She did however proceed to potty in her big girl panties while we were there :) But I am happy to report that since then, she has been doing awesome!
So proud of you my big girl! Just in time to be a big sister too!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My little Mermaids

We spent the last 2 weeks in swim lessons everyday, and they sure did pay off. Look at these girls go!

I sure am proud of these 2 little mermaids :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 4th Weekend

July 4th for us was spent at my brother's house. I couldn't think of a better place to spend it than there! There was swimming, tons of food, lots of sweet smiles, and fireworks every which way you looked! No need for firework shows for us. Literally every direction you looked you would've seen fireworks. It was beautiful but loud. We had such a good time. Oh how I Love the laid back, just plain fun, summer Texas July 4th nights.

Here are some of the pics :

Friday, July 8, 2011

Foto Friday

I just love them to pieces :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We got a court date! CELEBRATE!

Yes that is right....We really did get a court date! I didn't think this day would ever, ever come! This is really real; it's really happening!!!! We prayed and prayed that we would make it to court before the rainy season hit, and God, once again answered our prayers. This whole experience of Him answering prayers and really just unfolding every little detail for us has been humbling. I can't say enough that we are just in awe of our ever-so-powerful, loving, and personal God we get to serve!!!!!
One thing I did not know was how short our stay would be. We will get to meet our son, and spend 2 days with him at his orphanage, then we will appear in court and will leave for home that same day. All-in-all it's about a 4-day trip with an added 2 days extra for the travel. This trip will not be one of site-seeing and shopping. It will be all business. On our second trip we will have more time for site-seeing and such.
I cannot believe we are going to meet our little guy! We have been dreaming about him for a year and-a-half, and have been gazing at him and watching him grow in pictures for about 5 months, so it almost seems surreal. It will be so tough to leave him, but we know the sooner we go the sooner we will be able to return to bring him home!!!!!!!! Please be in prayer for us as we scramble to get this all put together before we go! Pray for this stay-at-home momma's heart that has to leave her 2 daughters behind as well! This is the part that is hard for me. I know, I know...they will be fine, and so will we, but those words don't seem to help me. It is for sure all worth it though! Please keep us in your prayers as God puts us on your minds to do so!