I will be posting my journal from each day of our week in Ethiopia this week. I pray reading these entries will bless and encourage you on your journey, wherever you are!
Ethiopia Trip #2
|After 24 hours of travel, we made it to Africa!|
Upon landing at Bole International Airport, the crew immediately turned off all the air. Within minutes it got HOT on that plane. Fatigue, altitude, and heat are not a good combination and they sent poor Katie diving for the nearest barf bag as we exited the plane. I felt awful for her.
We went through customs, got our visas, exchanged money, and got our luggage then headed out to be greeted by Job's smiling face. What a welcome! It is amazing how different I felt this time. The familiarity was so comforting, and his easy smile and enthusiastic hug were well-timed for both me and Katie. She was thrilled to meet one of “the guys” she had heard so much about and he, in turn, made her feel very important to be in AFRICA. We chuckled about the workers who all mistake her for an Ethiopian and begin speaking to her in Amharic. It is hilarious. She gets this funny blank look on her face and they soon realize their words are falling on American ears and switch to English. But she loves it. She loves that she looks African.
We were driven to the Yebsabi Guest House and given a room on the 3rd floor with three twin beds all in a row. We quickly unpacked and organized because our first order of business was going to be to get Little Sister and begin life with her! Katie could hardly wait. We made the bumpy drive to the Transition Home, much to her delight, and her face lit up brighter than sunshine when that familiar blue America World sign came into view. I handed Job my camera and camcorder, then waited in the drive as he went to find Mari.
Just a few minutes later he rounded the corner, smiling. I blinked and there she was, grinning from ear to ear. I squatted down and held out my arms and she ran FULL SPEED into them and gave me the biggest hug her little body could dish out! Katie was squealing with delight, exclaiming “Oh my gosh, Mom, she is SO CUTE! Oh she is so TINY, just like you said!” The girls began examining each other, Mari quickly realizing that Katie was the girl in her pictures and deciding instantly that she liked her. Katie had her giggling and soon was carting her around on her hip. What joy, what a fulfillment for my daughter who has prayed her heart out since she was 7 years old and now here she was face-to-face with the fruit of all that prayer.
Job ushered Katie into the schoolroom so she could be greeted by the children, and they did it beautifully. They sang for her and their sweet faces were beaming with smiles. I could tell she was overwhelmed and just trying to take it all in. The reality of life here, of the poverty and need, was eye-opening. I felt like I was watching her heart grow before my eyes.
We spent a little time with the children while they had a very short break from their schoolwork, and I gave the older ones journals in which they could write, draw, or whatever. They were very happy about them. One special boy, who had stolen my heart on the last trip, I gave the book “Because of Winn-Dixie”. He was thrilled. It was so nice to do something special for them, as they are often the recipients of candy but I thought they needed to be blessed with something on their age level, something meaningful. I pray those journals are windows into their hearts for the parents whom I KNOW God is preparing to come for these children.
Mari's nanny came to say goodbye, and I was blessed to have the chance to thank her for taking such good care of her. Her eyes filled with tears as she whispered last words to her, and I choked back a lump in my throat as she walked away. We got into the van...all of us...and Mari's eyes were filled with excitement. We drove across town to the Makush Italian Restaurant and she was nearly asleep when we pulled up to the curb. I hoped I wasn't making a mistake by taking her out during naptime!
We sat at a table with 4 other families who are here this week for court. What fun to hear their stories! They were all fascinated with Mari, of course, and she seemed to not be phased by the attention. She and Katie split an order of lasagna and, upon taking the first bite, she declared it “yummy” and proceeded to chow down. She also drank enough water to fill a bathtub! We then went back to the Guest House and I began to grow concerned about Katie because she was obviously not feeling well again. Now she was going on 24 hours without sleep and her body was letting her know that she had to stop. We went up to our room just in time for her to...well, she got sick again. She burst into tears, wanting her Daddy, and I just wanted to bawl. Here we were, in Africa, her dream come true, and she was miserable. I decided that the enemy needed to be reminded just exactly Whose we are so I got down on my knees and did just that. I prayed with tears running down my cheeks, laying hands on my daughter and beseeching the Lord to put a stop to the sickness so she could see all that He has for her this week. As I prayed, Mari quietly crept up beside me and laid her little hand on her sister's leg. She reached up and wiped the tears from my eyes and smiled, and I knew in that moment that the Lord was, indeed at work.
It was 2:00 in the afternoon and Katie fell asleep. She slept for 2 hours while Mari and I went downstairs to do our Embassy paperwork with Duni. We skyped Daddy and I loved watching her try to figure out exactly where he was! Job, upon finding out Katie was ill, sweetly ran to a drugstore to get some anti-nausea medication. Bless him. Then we went back up to the room to check on Katie. I roused her out of her sleep and she said she was feeling better. She changed into her pajamas, drank a little water, took her medicine, and was back asleep within the hour. As I write this it is 8:30 pm and I have a feeling she will sleep easily until morning, praise God.
I hit the wall, myself, around 6:30. I decided it was time to give Mari a bath and try to settle her down for bed. I had NO idea how that process would play out. The Guest House has no bathtubs, only showers, and she obviously had no intention of getting in the shower. So I filled the bathroom sink with warm water and bathed her there. I undressed her for the first time and my heart hurt to see how her body still shows the signs of a child who has been chronically malnourished. Skinny arms and legs and a distended belly...I was taken aback by the reality of what she has survived. She giggled as I put “smelly good” lotion on her beautiful brown skin and slipped on her very own pink and white pj's. She LOVED the pj's...just kept looking at herself over and over and touching the fabric. We brushed her teeth and I laid her in her bed. I lay down beside her to read a book, pray, and then put on my pj's and crawled under the warm covers. Within 5 minutes I saw her gathering her teddy bear and book. She walked around to my bed, smiling, and crawled in next to me. She snuggled in close and was sacked out within a few minutes. I dozed off with her warm little body next to mine and wondered when was the last time she had done this...with her birthmother? With her nanny? About an hour later I awakened suddenly to those DARN dogs again. (Thankfully I brought my noise machine this time! I quickly plugged it in!) It took me a moment to realize where I was and who was next to me, then it hit me...she is here. She is HERE, next to me, asleep in complete peace and trust and...she is my daughter. I looked at Katie and at Mari and marveled at what God has done. My heart ached to be home with all of my children together and have a great big snuggle fest on the big couch upstairs. I thought about Drew crying on the phone earlier because he misses me, Gracie telling me she can't sleep well because I am gone, and DJ saying so sweetly that he loves me. How in the world did I ever deserve this? What have I done to be blessed with all of these precious, beautiful children? I am so unworthy, yet the Lord has done this. He has given me a husband whose heart is so tender that he willingly said yes to God's call to adopt and melts at the sight of one of our children smiling.. He has blessed me with a man that my children absolutely adore. Time with him is their greatest joy in any given day. And together we get to walk this beautiful road of adoption not once, not twice, but FIVE times.
Yes, indeed, my cup overflows.