This week marks 3 months since Mari first set foot on American soil. In some ways it has flown by, but honestly it feels like she has always been here. She is doing so well, integrated her sweet self into our family so inexplicably that we feel the void left when she is away. Her English progresses daily and I am sure she understands 90 percent of what we say...unless she is in a "mood"...
...at which point she suddenly only speaks Amharic.
But these days are just leading one into another quite effortlessly and, once again, I wonder at the miracle of adoption and how God knits families together so perfectly.
Her manipulative behaviors lessen weekly. She skips around the house singing songs and playing with her siblings, happily pretending her "baby" is hungry or riding her little 4-wheeler around the yard until the battery begs to be recharged. She rarely speaks Amharic any more. The only phrase that she consistently uses still is "Eh-weh-de-shal-lo" which means "I love you."
I pray that phrase never leaves her vocabulary.
She has begun to talk about Ethiopia, about her memories. I wish I could see what she has seen. There is so much we will never know, but some things we DO know.
1) She has seen babies born.
2) She has seen Elephants and they are "nice"
3) She likes Ethiopia...because in Ethiopia they dance. Then she showed me her cute version of the Ethiopian shoulder dance!
I promised her that one day our whole family will go to Ethiopia to "visit friends" and that thrilled her. She loves to watch environmental documentaries such as "Planet Earth" because they remind her of Ethiopia. I must say I miss Ethiopia myself...as does Katie. We talk about it often: the sights, the sounds, the smells...how we long to go back again. We definitely left a part of ourselves in that country.
Mari's English still makes us chuckle at times, like when she says "Be quiet boy!" which I finally figured out means "Use a quiet voice!" She loved celebrating "Ballentimes Day" and still can't figure out why her "Happy birthday is all gone." Abstract concepts like "next year" just haven't become clear yet. Thankfully she still has the cutest African accent. She no longer requests injera, but instead asks for pizza or waffles. She adores all of her siblings, but has a special relationship with DJ who is so very tender with her. She and Drew have gotten over the hump of sibling rivalry that was created by their close ages and now they often go off together holding hands. My heart sings when I hear him say "Good job!" and especially when one of them goes to the other so they can give a kiss on the cheek.
Insert happy sigh here.
Not that our days don't have their challenges. They do. But the challenges seem normal. Just part of having 5 kids and all the diplomacy that must be exercised in a large family. There is always something to learn, grace to be shown, mercy to be received. God is not finished with us yet.