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!!!!)