Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ethiopia Trip #2 Day 3

We all slept through the night. Can I even find the words to express what a huge blessing that is? I dove into the Word after all was quiet, prayed until I could pray no more, and finally I fell asleep with my Bible on my chest. When I awakened at 6:30 I was in much better spirits. I dressed, got the girls ready for the day, and went downstairs for breakfast. We chatted with other families while we ate and then headed out with David, Job, and T for the AWAA Transition Home. I had a meeting with the pediatrician and social worker and Katie really wanted to spend more time with the kids so we planned to spend as much time as possible there. I asked Job to explain to Mari that we were just visiting her friends, and she nodded in understanding. I was concerned that she would think I was taking her back. Earlier in the morning she had become very agitated and I finally realize she was muttering the name of our State over and over. I can only guess that she can't figure out why we have not gone home yet.
On the way to the TH she fell asleep, so when we arrived she did not see the excited faces of her friends or hear them all calling out “Mari!” like she was a rock star. It was so sweet. I carried her up to the front porch and sat on the sofa while waiting for her to wake up. On my way to the porch I kissed a dozen beautiful faces and caressed a dozen more sweet heads. I got hugs from every direction and beautiful smiles flashed at me just for being there. I gave a zillion hugs and watched as Katie took it all in. This was reality. Every single one of these children are orphans who wait. Her sweet heart was growing again.
Eventually Mari woke up and we spent time playing on the playground, hanging out with the other kids, and I met with the professionals who wanted to give me whatever information they could before we left Ethiopia. The doctor gave me some antibiotics and eye drops because she had some respiratory junk going on and had woken up with her eye matted shut this morning. I told them honestly that yesterday had been a hard one, but today seemed to be better. She seems to be “getting it” and learning to obey me. Thank God. The nurses had a FIT over Katie. They all thought she was Ethiopian, of course, and just praised her for her beauty. She ate it up. One held her arm up to Katie's and showed her that their skin is exactly the same color. She also said that Katie looks like her, but is more beautiful. I loved watching them fawn over her like that.
We spent time talking with the kids over age 10 who had just finished school and were heading back to their Transition Home. Katie soon was begging me to bring J and his sisters home too. I reminded her of the fact that we have all we can handle in Little Sister right now! I felt so relieved to see her making an effort with Mari again. Tickling her, chasing her, and laughing with her which resulted in Mari repeatedly asking for Katie whenever she was out of sight. WHAT a relief. After we returned to the Guest House we tried to Skype but could not get more than three minutes of broken conversation. My mother-in-law reminded me of something that I knew after I told her how hard yesterday had been on Katie and me: that there is “someone” responsible who wants this to be hard. And she is exactly right. I will say that today was SO much better, though. The incidents of scratching and hitting were fewer and she seemed to want to obey at times which made me very happy. I also noticed that her man-sized appetite was gone. She barely touched food all day. I then witnessed the mother of all tantrums in our room at the Guest House. I still am not sure what caused it: She just fell to the floor and started screaming. Any attempt by me to console her just made her more angry and scream louder. I calmly sat on the bed and she calmed down after almost 30 minutes. She started asking for Katie. Katie was downstairs preparing to eat dinner and I had left her down there since I was just running to my room to grab a cup for Mari. By the time we came down she had eaten and was wondering where in the world I had been. I couldn't believe they had not been able to hear that tantrum! One of the ladies who work at the front desk tried to get her to tell what had made her upset but she refused. I though maybe her tummy was hurting so I allowed her to have Sprite, which brought back her smile. But she didn't touch her dinner, then started crying and told me she needed to go to the bathroom. Apparently her tummy had been hurting.
She was very calm after that. We went up to our room and Katie climbed into bed, exhausted, while I got Mari ready for bed. I tried a different approach to bedtime. Instead of announcing it I suggested...matah, matah? (night-night?) She started to shake her head, but stopped. She then looked at me with happy eyes, gathered her things around her, and smiled.

“Matah matah, Mommy. Ciao.”


It made me chuckle.

“Ciao?” I laughed. “I'm not going anywhere...just night-night.”

She smiled and got out a toy. I watched from across the room as Princess Tiana gave the teddy bear a kiss and Mari just chattered away to them in Amharic. She then began to sing...oh my heart. I listened quietly while turning on my computer, and before I knew it she was quiet.

And asleep.

Praise God.

I checked the internet connection and saw nothing but a big ol' X where the green bars should be, again. ARGH. I was missing my babies at home SO much and Katie really needed a dose of sibling silliness to curb her homesickness. I clicked on the Skype button out of habit and realized that my home computer # was lit up. How can that be possible with no connection? I clicked on the “call home” and was SHOCKED to hear DJ answer, loud and clear. I ended up getting to talk with them for nearly 30 minutes...with NO internet connection! Yes, I believe that was a miracle. God KNEW my heart and my limits and he KNEW I needed to see a sign from Him after the last couple of days. And in His mercy he sweetly gave me that very small, yet oh so significant gift of a miraculous internet connection that did not exist without His intervention.
Just to be sure, after the kids had all talked to Mommy and I had been able to say I love you and miss you to them all while listening to them play and giggle with each other as they played computer games. I tested my theory by attempting to log on to the internet. Nothing. Not even a blip.

Yet I had been able to Skype.

You will never convince me that it was anything less than the work of God.

So here I am on my last night in Ethiopia. I have watched my daughter see the world through new eyes and experience TRUE boredom. (I don't think I will have many more complaints of that in the near future!) I have seen her notice the lame, the poor, and the suffering for the first time. I have watched her heart soften when the face of an orphan boy lights up because she smiled at him. I have seen the shock on her face as we walked into a room with 20 babies propped up with their bottles as the nannies constantly work to keep the bottles upright and reposition those who crawl away so they can finish theirs. I have laughed with her while 6 children all try to peer into her mouth at the same time to figure out what those metal things with blue bands are on her teeth. And I have cried with her as she realized that her little sister comes to us wounded. What a rollercoaster of emotions she has experienced this week. I am so proud of her. I am so VERY proud of her.

Tomorrow we are going up to Entoto mountain to see the beauty of Ethiopia from up high. We will receive Mari's passport and visa, and then we will begin the long journey home with a little girl, once orphaned, to unite her with her forever family...our family. Her life-change has just begun. She can't possibly imagine what awaits her in America. I pray with all of my heart that it is a journey that will draw her heart to Jesus, knit our family closer together, and bring glory to the Father to the fatherless who, once again, has shown Himself faithful. I pray all of my children will love each other fiercely. And I pray that every one of those precious children that we have had the privilege of loving this week will soon be home, with THEIR forever families, where they belong.

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