"We are all handmade people created by a God who is not safe or small." Rend Collective Experiment

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 6~

At 9:30 a.m. our faithful driver Dawit arrived to take us to Kidane Mehret the orphanage our 3 yo had lived for most of his life.

It was a gray, chilly, and drizzly day.The drive took us through some pretty harsh scenes. The shacks were heartbreaking as were the many homeless people on the streets. I noticed that there were many blind people. I guess there is little hope afforded those born with a disability. We passed a young mother laying on the side of the road. Next to her was a tiny little baby. I wondered where they had been during the torrential downpours that had ocuured the night before.

Dawit pulled up to a gate where a yellow building could be seen in the distance. I was thinking this looks nothing like the pictures I have seen of Kidane. The bewildered look of the lady who answered the gate confirmed we were at Kbet Teshaye the government run orphanage, not Kidane. Dawit was VERY embarassed that he had brought us to the wrong place. I assured him over and over that it was FINE. He called Selamneh to get directions to Kidane and then drove furiously through the streets of Addis. He was driving so fast that my dd and I got the nervous giggles. I didn't have the nerve to ask him to slow down as he was already mortified.

Soon, we came to a gate and Dawit honked and a child opened it up to reveal the large brick and concrete structure that is Kidane Mehret. Dawit let us out and we headed towards the building. They were having some serious sewer problems the day we arrived. I won't even begin to tell you what we saw everywhere. There was a man working on it and I felt so bad for him to have such a job. The smell was indescribable. Kidane is rather famous for it's odor but somehow I have to believe on this day it was more than the usual stench.

We were told that Sister Lutgarda was expecting us and we should go to her residence and her servant would let us know where she was. We walked back the way we came and headed down the path to her residence. On the right of the building I noticed a room where a lady was working on an old sewing machine surrounded by piles and piles of children's clothing.

We knocked and a lovely Ethiopian Lady opened the door and then went to get Sr. Lutgarda. Sr. Lutgarda is a very short lady but what she lacks in size she more than makes up for in presence. She said, "You, Yohannes Mom?" Have pictures?" I handed over the photo album I had made. She looked at the pictures and said, "He is SO big, he is SO fat!" She puffed out her cheeks for emphasis and then asked "He is glutton now?" I giggled nervously and was immediately taken back in my mind to my Catholic High School Days.. I wondered silently if I could get a detention for having a tubby toddler.. I nervously answered," He does like to eat." Satisfied she said, "Come, I take you to Sr. Camilla."

We went upstairs to the baby/toddler floors where we met Sr. Camilla. She grabbed me and kissed me three times. Sr. Lutgarda gave her the photo album and she studied it very carefully exclaiming how happy Yohannes looked. She said he was a sad boy at the orphanage and she was so glad to see him smiling and laughing.

She took us to show us the rooms where Yoahnnes had lived. He was there for some time so he had spent time in several of the rooms. As we walked down the hallway crowded with highchairs and baby equipment I noticed a movement in a stroller. It was a baby girl with a severe case of hydrochephalus. Her poor little head was grossly swollen. I looked into her little eyes and saw LIFE. In that sad little body in the hall of that orphanage was a precious little girl who had been made in the image of God. It was as if her very soul was speaking to me and saying "I am in here!" I wanted so badly to hold her and comfort her but I was afraid to move her would cause more pain. Sr. Camilla noticed I had stopped and told me they had tried surgery and then shook her head. This little one would be with Jesus soon. Oh the unfairness of it all I thought. Any child dying is a tragedy but a child dying in an orphanage and not in the arms of a family seemed unbearably cruel to me. I took her picture. I will never forget that little one. She mattered. She may die in obscurity but she will live in eternity with Jesus free from pain..

We went into the baby room. On the floor were the sweetest little rolly poly babies. It looked like the famous sugar milk at KM was doing it's work. Sr. Camilla took me around the room and told me about the babes in the cribs. One had just lost a twin...one little boy was 5 months old and maybe weighed 5 lbs. He was so tiny and his face was drawn. "If he makes it"...Sister said.."will go to a family in Europe". The word hung in the air.."if". I thought back to the day before when Gail told me of a little one who had died at Layla on Monday. The reality of Ethiopia is that babies die..children die.. mommies and daddies die. That is the reality people there live with every single day.

She then took us to a room with metal white cribs all pushed together. She told me how the toddler like to climb from crib to crib to crib. She told me one day they heard Yohannes screaming and they came running to find he had gotten his feet caught as he was climbing and he was stuck hanging upside down! I immediately thought how much he hates to be held upside down. Our other children think it's great fun but it scares him so..

Sr. Lutgarda then took us up to the courtyard where the young childrens' play area is. We had to step over a river of questionable liquid that had invaded the play area..it seems it was more fallout from the sewer issues. The toddlers weren't really playing just kind of wandering. Sr. Lutgarda said something in Amharic to the caregiver and she immediately put them on the merry go round. A lady was standing holding a little one looking out over the city. Sr. Lutgarda told her she needed to put him down lest he become spoiled. I looked at this little boy with sad eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair and thought he may be the least spoiled little child on the planet. I asked the lady (hopefully) if she was his mother.. no, she was a volunteer from Belgium.

Sr. Lutgarda pointed out a little boy in a pink shirt and told me that his name was Efram and he and Yohnnaes were good friends. She showed him the photo album and he smiled. I wondered what was going through his little mind. I was so thankful to meet this little one...I think of him everyday and pray he finds a family soon.

We went to Sr. Lutgarda's office to see if she had info we didn't have about Yohannes' past, but there was none.

It was time to leave. We walked out chatting with and photographing a little group of children who were following us. They were so sweet. I just wanted to hold each one and thell them that their parents would be coming soon.. but I didn't know that to be true.

Our hearts were so heavy from all we had seen and heard. I thought about our sweet Yohannes at home and how God had taken a sad, scared, shut down little boy and brought joy to his heart. I marveled at how blessed I am to be his Mama.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Day 4 cont../Day 5

After returning from Sele Enat we had lunch and then met with a Missionary Family. It was such a blessing that we could meet. They *just* happned to have business in Addis on the week we were there. Isn't God great? Sherri and I had known each other through a homeschooling board and never dreamed that we would meet in Ethiopia. They are working in Nazareth which is a town an hour and a half outside of Addis. They are building an orphanage for 160 children. Here the children will receive food, education, medical care, and learn about the love of Christ. It is a ministry which will have eternal ramifications. I am so blessed to know Mike and Sherri and their three precious children! They are a WONDERFUL family!

Day 5~ Embassy day!!!

Day 5 was the day we were to go to the US Embassy. Gaill was picking us up in the early afternoon so we spent the morning shopping. I had wanted to get my dds and friends of ours dds some traditional Ethiopian dresses. They are so beautiful!

Next my dd went swimming as Wee Baby and I snuggled. They had drained the pool the day before (it is fed by a hot springs) and had refilled it and it was REALLY hot on this day. We ran into Gail who had come to swim laps and she asked if I had gotten her message. I hadn't. I loved the Hilton but I never once got any message anyone had left for me! She was coming a little earlier to pick us up.

We had meant to take a picture of the sign they had outside the the pool at the Hilton. It was a huge sign that said something like "Please do not spit or blow your nose in the pool. If you have the flu or open sores please don't swim." Africa Pool Rules. I wouldn't let my dd put her head under the water.

We met Gail downstairs at our appointed time. This time she arrived in a red van. It was packed. Shelly and her two children. Maribeth, her SIL, her neice, and her two children, Danae and her 4 children, and then the 3 of us.

We arrived at the Embassy. They have the front blockaded as to prevent car bombers so Gail parked up the road and we walked down the rocky road to the entrance. I don't know what I was expecting, but the Embassy was so un-Embassy like :o). It's an old building that in the US would be considered run down. We went through all the security and then made our way up a narrow staircase. As we went up the stairs there was an amazing amount of Ethiopians descending down the stairs. We later learned they had to clear the room because US citizens take precedence and we were to be served first. That felt really icky.

Gail was all business and had info and cash flying at the lady at the window. We hung out and chatted under the three enormous pictures of President Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice. The children played and entertained each other. They were all incredibly sweet! It took quite some time but eventually we were called up one by one and processed. Yippee! Our children could immigrate to the US. It really is a huge step in the process!

As we left we saw the Ethiopians who had to leave for us waiting in benches under an awning outside in the drizzling rain. It really struck me how blessed we are to live in the US. While we were in Addis we watched the Immigration protests going on back in America. It hit me that 150 people were killed and thousands arrested in protests in Ethiopia last year. We are so blessed to live in a country where if we disagree with the government we can express it. Most of the world is not so fortunate.

We walked back to the van in the drizzling rain. A school had just let out. Children in tattered uniforms seemed to be having fun looking at these strange white people and yelling ferenji (foreigner) at us. It was hard not to giggle along with them.

A few families needed to exchange $ and confirm airline tickets as we went back to the Hilton first. This time the gurads not only stopped the van but did a bomb search. Gail said someone important must be visiting the Hilton. Security inside was noticably tighter too. They metal detectors you have go through each time were more sensitive. My bracelet set them off which had never happened before.

We e-mailed Daddy to let him know all went well at the Embassy and had a quiet dinner and went to bed. The next day we were headed to Kidane Mehret. It's the oprhanage our 3 yo lived at for most of his life.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Malachi 4:6~

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; Malachi 4:6

Happy Father's Day to the godliest man I know! Our boys are so blessed to have you as their role model and example of what it means to be a real man.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Day 4~

Day 4~

Our sweet Babe slept blissfully until 4:30 in the morning. We had him tucked into the King size bed in the middle of dd and I. As I got up to fix his bottle our dd asked if I would like her to feed him so I could sleep (Is she a sweetie or what?)I told her we were fine and to go back to sleep. She told me she couldn't sleep because she was so happy our baby was with us and she kept waking up just to watch him.

Today we were headed to Sele Enat. Sele Enat is the orphanage our 2 yo had lived at. It is also the orphanage where our Babe had spent 5 days before moving to Layla because he was so terribly ill.

Dawait came at 9:30

Here is an e-mail I sent to dh upon returning from there.. (excuse the lack of capitialization and poor grammar and spelling- at 2 Birr/minute I was typing as quickly as one could with one hand, the other hand had the Babe)..

i really miss talking to you so i had to tell you about our morning at
sele enat. it is located on the edge of addis aso we had to drive
through quite a bit of the city. i have gotten accustomed to the no
rules crazy driving so i could really concentrate on seeing the city.
it is so hard to describe but i wanted to try. there are a gajillion
cars mostly little blue and white lada taxis left over from the
communist regime. the rule seems to be drive until someeone gets out of
your way. somehow this works.. despite the gajillion cars spweing black
smoke, the goats, sheep, donkeys, adn cattle walking in the middle of
the road and the thousands .. of people walking about. there are
literally people EVERYWHERE in the road on the side of the road in the
median and they walk in front of the cars who either stop short or honk
and narrowly miss hitting them. i asked dawit our driver if he ever hit
anyone and he said nothing serious ;oO.

the houses and shops are made of corrugated metal and are about
8x8. very tiny . men are on the side of the road.. sewing, shining
shoes, and rolling worn tires to somewhere...and variuos other things
we also saw a butcher eww. some women wear western wear and some are in
the traditional dress. there are many many people who are just laying
on the side of the road. i guess that is where they live. it is very
sad. by the railraod tracks we saw children.. tons of them homeless and
barefoot. we saw a little girl about 5 with a little sibling about 3
laying on the side of the road.. we saw men, women, lying under
blankets.. homeless left to die. honestly some of them already looked
dead and i wondered how they could tell.. there are police around with
their blue khakis and rifles and UN trucks are frequently seen.. in
between this you see some tall buildings going up (with wood
scaffolding) that look very nice it is an odd mix of poor and rich..

we turned down a rocky dirt raod that was full of the tiny 8x8 shacks
the people came at our car begging but dawit just drove on.. we came to
a gate and he honked and that was the orphanage. they opened the gate
for us and we went in.

sele enat is a tiny and well kept orphanage. they were so excited to
see "N" (who they know as baby john) all of the kids loved on him and
the caregivers went crazy to see him again. they took me to hana the
director and she greeted me in typical ethiopian greeting 3 kisses on
the cheek. she told me john was "born again" she wanted to be sure i
knew what condition he had been in 900 grams is what he weighed when
the police found him. she thought he was dead the first time she saw
him. he is the miracle baby ..

they showed me his bed and then i told them i was eyassu (philip's)
mom too. i pulled out the photo album i made of him and she went crazy
eyassu eyassu, eyassu she yelled and called the children over to see
they all remembered him as well.. then to the caregivers who yelled
eyassu, eyassu, eyassu while kissing his pictures. it was so touching
to see how loved he was and still is.

a 10 yo boy approached me and let me know he thought i would be a good
mom for him and his two sisters 8 and 6. :o(

he wanted to hold "N" and he took such good care of him. he was
showing me what a good son he would be...he stayed at my side the whole
visit to help with whatever i may need.

"K" made friends with a few of the girls and abraham and alimayhu two
little boys 9 and 6 (although the size of 4 and 5 yos) became my
playmates. we played bolleyball which is a lot like volleyball with no
net. then an older ethiopian couple came to the gate and they had two
children with them a girl about 6 and a boy about 12. i hoped what was
about to happen was not going to happen.. i didn't want to see. but it
was they were putting the little girl in the orphanage. i don't know if
they were granparents or aunts and uncles but they had her dressed in
her best clothes and her hair done beautifully. the boy's eyes were red
and crying. the lady looked at me nodded and then turned around to go
the girl went to folllow but the lady said something in amharic and
pointed at me.. i went over and heped the little girl on the merry go
round and began pushing her trying to smile and reassure her.. she
looked so sad and confused.. hanna gave her a lollipop but we both knew
that her little life had just changed .in an instant.. she had become
one of ethiopias 4.5 million orphans...

i love you, i just had to share,.. it was a blessing byeond words to
spend time with the children at sele enat. they just wanted to touch
and to be touched. to love and be loved..it was wonderful and
heartbreaking all at the same time.

I loved our time at Sele Enat. There was a sweet spirit that permeated throughout. It was small enough that we were able to really spend time with the children there (I believe they have between 10 and 12 children there) and play with them for hours. I will never forget the children swinging and breaking out in a spontaneous chorus of "Go tell it on the Mountain".

There is a song by Danny Oertli callled "Dancing With Orphans". One of the lines says "I think I know what heaven is like, I'm dancing with orphans tonight." Thank you Lord for letting us experience that little bit of heaven on earth at Sele Enat..

Friday, June 09, 2006

Day 3 Continued~

Well, Blogger was being a pill yesterday for me. So, here is the "Rest of the Story"...

We spent the rest of Day 3 enjoying our sweet boy. My dd swam in the pool while Baby Boy and I snuggled and got to know each other. There was a ton of people at the pool as it was a Holiday. It made for great people watching.

We eventually headed to dinner at the Pizzeria at the Hilton. There one of the funniest things happend. My dd and I are were seated with our Boy and a lady walks by and leans over and says, "I've read your Blog". I have to tell you I felt so famous like Owlhaven or something! My dd was like "Mama what's a blog?" (Incidentally she was shocked to learn on this trip that I shave my legs. The things you learn about your Mama when it's just the two of you!)

She came back after they were seated and we talked briefly. Her family had just adopted a beautiful little girl and a very handsome little boy through AFAA. They were leaving the next day. It was a blessing to meet her!

The food was very delicious and we were very well taken care of.

We headed back to our room and by this time it was late and very dark. We were pretty worn out and the three of us were quickly in La-La Land.

He sucks the first two fingers on his left hand... isn't that sooo cute?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Day 3~

So SORRY for the delay! Had a few problems with my pregnancy, I will spare you all the drama but we have the good news that our little babe in the oven is doing well. I have been banned from my excercising on my stepper, so that should give me more time to step heavenward with my Blog :o)

Day 3~

My dd and I slept fitully and finally decided that at 5:00 a.m. we should just get up and start our day. We showered again thankful that this time there was HOT water. The night before the water was c-c-c-old, thankfully that was our only experience with cold showers at the Hilton (spoiled Americans, we truly are!) We read and had our quiet time and then decided to go down and explore. I stepped out onto our balcony to check the temperature and was greeted with the most amazing sounds of hundreds of birds singing. A thrill ran through me as I realized we were in AFRICA! Our view was of the gardens and it was truly lovely.

We went downstairs in search of H2O bottles. The night before, for the first time in my life, I had used something out of a hotel mini-bar! I knew it was pricey but we were parched! We saw all the little shops, the steam rising from the pool fed by the Hot Springs, we eyed the breakfast buffet (well known for causing travelers to become ill), and finally asked a hotel employee where we could buy water. I had heard there was a grocery store at the back of the Hilton but we could not find it. He immediately sent us to our room and told us room service would be right up with some. ERR.. not quite what I meant. So, we headed upstairs to wait on water while we feasted on breakfast bars brought from home.

I had determined if I had not heard from Gail by 9:00 that I would call her and at 8:45 she rang our room and said, "Can you meet me downstairs at 9:30 to go pick up your baby?" I said "YIPPEE!!!", and she laughed. We were so excited we were downstairs ready and waiting by 9:15. There we met our good frined the Hilton doorman, Yoseph. What a nice young man he was. He told us about his family and being raised with 10 sisters. He loved looking at our photos and wanted to hear all about our family and our baby boy.

Gail whipped into the parking lot in her blue van and we got in. Her little boy "Zacky" was in the back seat and chattering away happily. It was so nice to finally meet Gail. She said we were going to ther Ghion to pick up Maribeth and her family. Gail has acclimated to Ethiopian driving VERY well ;o). We arrived at the Ghion with it's lovely gardens. Soon we saw Maribeth heading up the hill with her family. We were all so excited and chattered away happily.

Soon we were at the gate of Layla and Gail honked her horn as a guard swung open the gate. There was a gathering of children watching us and one of them was Maribeth's daughter. It was so sweet to witness this first meeting between mother and daughter.

Gial then took us through the yellow door the The Wanna side of Layla House where the little ones are kept. There was a little one standing there dressed in pink.. Gail quickly told us, "He's a boy, his favorite color is just pink". The laundry area was on the left and a couple of kitty cats were on the right.

Gail took us through the doors and into the Baby Room. There were babies everywhere! Some were being held, some in cribs, many were playing on the floor. Gaill said something to one of the caregivers in Amharic and then scooped up a little one dressed in a girl's sleepr. It was our Baby!!! She put him in my arms and he felt so good and so sweet. I couldn't get over how beautiful and smiley he was. It was a blessed moment just as when our others were born and our boys were placed in our arms the year before. Adoption and giving birth are both miracles and can only happen when orchestrated by a Holy God!

I finally relinquished him so my dd could hold him and then the caregivers came and wanted their pics made with him too. He was definitely loved by many!

I tried to snap some pics of the babies for the waiting families. It was fun to see the babies I had known from the videos and hear who was going home soon.


Gail came back and said Dawit would be bringing us back to the hotel and would be there soon. We went out front and my dd quickly made friends with a beautiful little girl. I was playing with this cute little boy who eventually went upstairs and proceeded to spit at me. It was really funny and cute although I am not sure it comes across that way in the translation.


Dawit was soon there and he drove us to our hotel. Our wee little babe slept in my arms and I couldn't wait to get him back to the hotel. We arranged for Dawit to take us to Sele Enat the next day. Yoseph opened our door and took our little babe from my arms to love on him.. little Babe started to whimper and he quickly handed him back.

We brought him upstairs undressed him and gave him his first tub bath which he "really" did not care for!

We quickkly dressed him and cuddled him and fed him a bottle. We decided to order Ethiopian food to celebrate. I loved the Shiro dd liked the doro but was especially fond of the injera.

Then we headed downstairs to e-mail Dh to let him know we had our Boy! We wanted him to wake-up to our happy news!