We woke up from an ok night's sleep. Even with the Motrin PM I didn't sleep all too well and I had no problem getting out of bed. I had a rough start to my morning. I banged my knee in the shower pretty hard and then as I was drying my hair, the hairdryer shocked the tar out of me. It wasn't a little shock, it was a big one. It upset me up a bit and I cried it out and then I was fine. I think the mix of the nerves, excitement, and then the electrical shock surging through my hand and arm sent me over the edge for just a couple minutes.
After we got ready we rushed downstairs for yet another order of french toast and coffee, and hurried through our breakfast so we weren't late for our ride. Abebe, (pronounced Ah-buh-buh) our in-town representative had arranged to pick us up at 9:00 to head out for Nazret, also known as Adama. This is where the widows and the orphan home is where our son has grown up all but 2 weeks of his life. Abebe and our driver Abraham were right on time. They piled all of our luggage full of donations on the roof of the van and strapped it down so none of it flew away. Me and Aaron, and Todd and Becky climbed into the van and we were on our way. Adama was about a 2 hour drive from Addis Ababa where we were, and let me remind you about the driving in Ethiopia. There are no rules of the road. A lot of honking, and driving on the wrong side of the road, and almost hitting pedestrians goes on a lot. Abebe made the comment, "it's just best maybe if you close your eyes and not look at the road,." Good advice, Abebe...good advice :)
We saw alot of this on the way...
The ride to Adama was a good one, although it seemed longer than 2 hours. We were able to see some countryside. Aaron and Todd enjoyed looking at all the farms we past. We saw many people plowing their farmland the old-fashioned way with a cow pulling their plow.
Aaron was amazed at the different shades and types of soil there were even within the same field. One part of the field looked to be sandy soil and just right next to it the soil looked rich and black. We past HUGE vultures the size of my 3 year-old perched on top of the African tree tops. We past many farmers on the roadside selling watermelon.
Homes made out of straw seemed to be the common house for this area.
It was great to get to experience the country-side a little bit. It was a lot different from the busy streets of Addis Ababa. On the way, Abebe made a phone call to the orphanage to tell the nannies we would be there today. He was talking in Amharic but I kept hearing him say our son's name and the Gerig's daughter's name. When he hung up he said that the nannies had misunderstood him and thought we were coming to take our children today and they were freaking out, because they weren't ready to say goodbye. Once he told them we were only visiting they calmed down. He was laughing as he told us this. Abebe has a contagious smile that makes you smile just looking at him. What an amazing man he is! He and his wife dedicate their entire lives helping orphans, among other things, and living the life the Lord has called them to, to the very fullest. I felt inspired just listening to his stories and hearing his passion about the work they do.
Once we got into Adama, we went straight to our hotel to check in. We stayed at the Hotel Maya, which was just beautiful and surprisingly very modern. To get to our rooms we had to walk under this tunnel of greenery and trees blooming with beautiful flowers of all colors. It was breathtaking.
Our rooms were super clean, had a stand up shower and modern bathroom, and even a flat screen TV. This would've been a really nice hotel even in America. The only thing, is there was no running water. We were given a bucket of water to pour into the toilet when we had to use it. It wasn't a big deal. I kept thinking to myself...' don't be a spoiled American, you are in Africa.' I did pretty good. We went to the lobby where we met the other couple that would remain with us the rest of the trip....our new friends, Mike and Brandy King.
Mike and Brandy had arrived several days earlier than us and traveled a 17-hour trip both ways to several different orphanages, one of where their daughter was. They brought their daughter, along with 4 other kids, back to the Thomas center and the Adama orphanage with them. Mike and Brandy really got to see the countryside, monkeys and all. We then left for lunch and we enjoyed hearing about their journey and getting to know this sweet couple! So lunch was over and it was time to go. I asked how long to the orphanage. Abebe told me maybe 5-10 min. By this time Aaron and I, along with Todd and Becky were more than ready to meet our kids. Since Mike and Brandy had already been to the orphanage, they offered to video and snap pics of our first meeting. Mike videoed and snapped pics of us meeting our little guy and Brandy did the same for the Gerig's. Brandy and Mike, if you are reading this, we are so grateful to you for capturing this moment. It is a treasured moment that we will value forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! It's been comforting reliving the moment over and over for us!
Mike told me that when we reached the cobblestone road that we would almost be there. So once we were on the cobblestone road I grabbed the camera and the video and got them ready to go. We pulled up to the gate of the home. It was a work in progress. The bottom 2 floors were finished and the top 3 still were being worked on. I think each layer was built in stages. When the funds would come in to continue, they would continue.
We walked in and were immediately greeted by Tezera( the director of the widows and orphans home) Tezera and Abebe led the way back to where our children were. The sweet widows were sitting in their favorite spot waving and watching us as we made our way back to the nursery.
As we walked in, it didn't take us long to spot him, and it seemed he spotted us right away as well, because he cut his eyes right to us. I know that may sound absurd, but I don't doubt that when he saw us he knew in his spirit that we were his, because we have been praying for so long for this moment!!!!
His sweet nanny, wearing her big beautiful smile immediately brought him over to us. She handed him off to Tezera and Aaron and I stood admiring our boy as she held him. He was looking back and forth between the two of us just smiling away. I was anxious to get my hands on him, but Tezera held him silently for several seconds before she handed him over. It seemed to me like she was giving silent thanks to the Lord for bringing us together. I knew in my spirit this was what she was doing. I will share with you some other time after we have officially past court more of our son's story, but it was definitely a praise-worthy moment for our little guy and us and Tezera!!!! And Tezera..I could write an entire post on this woman. She truly is a picture of the heart of Jesus. What an amazing woman!
I held my arms out to him and and he leaned into me inviting me to grab ahold of him. Of course, I was a crying mess (happy tears of course) and I couldn't believe we were there in that moment. This was a dream come true for us. My sweet Aaron waited patiently and let me have my turn with our boy, as he always selflessly does. He was more beautiful than any of his pictures revealed to us. His big brown eyes and sweet angelic face combined with all his rolls just melted our hearts. He was beyond beautiful. To top it off, he was so mild mannered, so laid back, and smiley. Just as happy as could be. The nannies were speaking in Amharic to each other and Tezera told us that they were saying that "M" looked just like his daddy. I thought this was funny at first, but Tezera said that they thought "M" was so handsome and Aaron is also handsome, so they said he looked just like his daddy...so sweet!!!!
What I didn't realize was that when we arrived his sweet nanny was in the middle of changing his diaper, and didn't finish in all the excitement. So I was holding a half-naked baby. She took him from me so she could put the rest of his clothes back on. We were kind of warned that the nannies might be sizing us up when we were around our kids. Afterall they have raised our children and loved them as their own for most of their lives. Truthfully, we never once felt this was the case with these wondeful nannies. They were amazing from the very moment we arrived! You could see the joy they felt for our children and they were so helpful and just perfect in the way they handled everything. This particular nanny handed our son back to me and said "Mama and Papa." She was telling him that we were his mom and dad. It was so sweet. I held him for a smidge longer and drank in the moment, admiring my boy, then I let Aaron hold him. It was wonderful finally being able to see Aaron holding his boy! He just looked up at his daddy smiling and studying this strange man that was holding him. We then were able to take him wherever we wanted, so we walked out into the center of the home, where all the widows were. I was so amazed at how laid back our little "M" was. His eyes started to get heavy and I told Aaron that I thought he looked tired. Aaron gently pressed his head into his chest and baby "M" literally within 3 seconds was out like a light. No crying or fussing....he just laid his head down and went to sleep on his daddy's chest!!!! It was wonderful! Aaron then handed him over to me, and I sat on the stairway for about an hour and held my boy as he slept in my arms. I studied all his features and watched him make that sweet little sucking face that babies make with their lips while the sleep. And he has the sweetest most lucious little lips might I add :)
While he was sleeping, the men helped Tezera unload all of the donations we had brought! They were so blessed by them! Thank you to all that donated.....I want you to know that you were an answer to their prayers. Tezera said that they had just given all their older clothes away last week and she said "Look the Lord already provided more." Then also just a few days earlier one of the nannies was telling her they were in need of shoes. Some friends of ours found a bunch of shoes on sale at Target and sent them with us. So they were very excited to see that the Lord had provided shoes. It must be a wonderful thing for them, as they do the Lord's work to constantly see Him provide through others when they are in need!!!! They literally are living on faith alone!!!! So a big HUGE thank you to those that donated. Their storage closet that was almost empty is now almost full!!! This is life to these children! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You blessed them more than you will ever know!
(Unfortunately this is the only pic I got of Tezera without our son in the pic. You can't really see her face, but after we officially pass court, I will post more of her. Please keep praying that the paperwork comes in this week for us)
After "M" woke up, he looked a little frazzled at who was holding him, but still didn't make a peep. His nanny brought him a bottle, but he wasn't too hungry, he only ate about half. We then moved to the floor area where we sat with the other families and watched him play with some toys. As we were watching him, I noticed he would start to look around and then get this little look of panic on his face. Then he started to cry the saddest little cry I ever saw. He was fine with us until he noticed there were no Ethiopian people around. His wonderful nanny came in to soothe him, and he was fine. Tezera said that "M" never cries. I thought,' great only with us.' But she then went on to tell us that it's good that he cries. It shows signs that he cares and that he knows how to bond. So then I was ok. He really would only cry for just a second and then be done. Then we would be good to go. He did this several times, but it was never a big crying fit, just sad little whimpers, that only lasted about 5 seconds. HE IS SO SWEET!!!!!
Next it was bath time. His nanny came and got him and took him to his bath. We took lots of pictures and videoed his bath. HE LOVED HIS BATH!!! I have a feeling he's going to enjoy the swimming pool. He smiled and giggled and splashed around the entire time!!! Then when it was time to get out, he threw his head back like...no I want more! After his bath, he was a new man. He was even more smiley, and playful! It was awesome!
Before long it was time to leave back to go back to Hotel Maya.
Us, the King's and the Gerig's met in the restaurant area and enjoyed dinner together and reflected and conversated about our day, and the AMAZING staff at the widows and orphans home.
I had pizza and pepsi and Aaron had Ethiopian cuisine again. It was an emotional day, so we were tired. We headed back to our rooms and slept pretty good under our mosquito netted beds.