Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Update from Ethiopia-Here's everything that has happened up until Wed.

Found the Stroller…Yeah!!

We are at Dulles in gate D23 awaiting our flight to Ethiopia. It is 7am Iowa time, 8 am here in DC. This morning has been good, we slept great in our hotel and got up excited at 5am and got ready. Our luggage is hilarious, we have huge bags that are packed to the rim. I am so glad we won’t have to deal with it on the way home. We will have plenty to think about.

We found the stroller that we left last night at the baggage claim area after we checked our other luggage in, so we are taking it on the plane with us. We ate breakfast at Subway, Egg and sausage wraps, Tanya had a sausage muffin from Dunkin Donuts. We took our malaria meds with some milk and shot a little bit of video. We are now about to call the kids, it will be a little while before we get to call and talk to them again. The internet is not free here at Dulles, so I am journaling and I will blog this later. We are going to keep taking little snippets of video and saving a lot of our pictures for when we are in Addis and for our trip south. I’m going to shut this down now and charge the battery, maybe I can write more when I’m on the plane.

Almost done flying…

We’ve been in this plane all day and then some. It has been a long flight. We stopped in Rome and sat there for about 45 min. while crew changed and some Italian men came on and cleaned, then we were back in the air. The food has been fabulous, but we haven’t slept much. Mom called just as we were boarding and said the drains in the kitchen sink and the bathtub were backing up with sewage. I don’t know how it resolved because we had to take off, but I hope everything is fine.

I can’t stop thinking about the boys and what the next few days would bring. In my attempts to sleep I would just be praying for our meeting with the biological parents and our meeting with Levi and Jesse. I would find that I was ending my prayers with just praise and adoration, awe and wonder about how God has brought us to this place. I am also praying for the kids back in Sioux City and what they are doing and if they are sad missing us or just having fun and being excited about our next phone call. Tanya and I will go from smiling at each other to looking at each other and getting choked up and then just sharing our feelings and emotions. There have been so many moments of just feeling overwhelmed, looking out the airplane window and seeing God’s creation and feeling so small and yet so confident in Christ and his incredible work of grace in my life. We just filled out our little cards for the visa thing and I guess we hand it in when we get off the plane for our temporary visa. We have a meeting right away when we get there. It is now 8:00am Ethiopia time, however my body thinks it is midnight. I hope I can make it through the day without crashing. I have to shut down the old laptop, time to land in Addis Ababa.

Monday Morning

I haven’t written since we were on the plane and so much has happened, I don’t know if I can write it all now. I have pictures along the way from getting off the plane, getting through customs, visas and passports stamped, to getting our luggage, then to getting on the mini-bus that brought us to the office. Then right away we were wisked to the care center to meet Jesse. It was amazing, he was so happy, then we spent a little time with him and then wisked to the school where we met Levi, Jesse was with us. He came running out of the school to see us in the van and then the video guy picked him up and took him into the play yard to get video of our first meeting. He was so smiley and there were no other kids around and we talked with him and got to sit on the ground with him and Jesse and introduce ourselves. We spent a little time there and then went to the care center again with both boys and played. Levi played soccer and Jesse was happy to just push balls around and toddle and giggle with us. We are still just in awe. We had to say goodbye to Jesse and then Levi rode with us to the place where we eat and he LOVED riding in the car. He played there with us for just a few minutes then he had to go back to the place where he eats and sleeps and we had to eat. He kept waving and smiling from the van and he sat in the front seat with the driver, big grin!! I tried to blog real quick at the office and then it was right to bed (we had been awake for over 20 hours.)

Trip South:

The next morning (Sun) we got up very early (3:45am) and got in some land rovers with the other families to make the 4 hour drive south. I have lots of pictures and we did a video diary to document everything, so I won’t write much here. It rained the whole way, sometimes down pouring. The road was in very good shape most of the way. The closer we got to Hossaina, the worse it got and in Hossaina we did some serious off-roading, sliding down muddy, tire-trenched streets. Our driver, named Casa, was a very good driver, but didn’t speak English that great. It was very quiet most of the ride. The countryside is tremendous and beautiful, the mountains were so misty with fog and very green, our eyes could hardly believe how beautiful everything was!! Meeting Asefa and Aster was such a tremendous experience!! They also love Jesus and the Holy Spirit made our meeting such a union of peace and love. They were obviously so sad, but so happy to see pictures of the boys and video of them playing and smiling and laughing. It was a very intense moment that was made into unexplainable worship by God’s grace. We prayed together through the interpreter and then in the ceremony, I prayed for all the families in English and Asefa prayed for all the families in Amharic. It was absolutely amazing and unforgettable and truly and life-changing moment. We have pictures of us together and of them together and of each of them alone. It was fun to turn the camera around and show them the pictures of themselves. They smiled and giggled to see their pictures.

The trip back was amazing to see all the villages and all the people. We stopped at a hut and got to experience how they live, what the grow. I got amazing pictures and video at this home and the children were so precious! When we returned, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. They told us we wouldn’t see the boys because there was no one to drive us to the care center. So, we walked with some other families, it was nice to walk after 8 hours in a bouncy land rover. We got to play with Jesse, he was happy to see us and loves to toddle around and play. He is very content and only cried for about 30 seconds when we didn’t do something right with his toys. We gave him a little rattle to chew on and he loved flicking the little wheel and biting on it. He is getting some big back teeth and has very stinky diarrhea. We didn’t get to see Levi because he is in a different building now, so we were sad about that, but we will see him today. We hope to take Jesse to Levi’s place so we can see where Levi sleeps and eats and we can play with them both there. It is now 6:30 am here (10:30 pm)

Tuesday Morning, July 9, 2007 Tanya’s Entry

Words cannot adequately express the range of emotions I have been feeling since our plane landed in Ethiopia. God is already giving us such a deep love for these precious little ones of HIS. As I was holding Jesse yesterday my eyes filled with tears as it really sunk in that he was my son. All that he has been through along with Levi is unimaginable to me. At times they seem confused, but each time we see them they become more familiar with Layne and I. Yesterday we arrived at the infant and toddler center ( Levi is at a different house) and dashed to the playroom his was in. As we opened the door, our eyes met his across the room. His face bursted into a huge smile and he ran into our arms. I scooped him up and he nuzzled himself into my neck. He loves to be held and snuggled. We have been carrying him around in a hip carrier. He enjoys this and slept for 2 hours on Layne yesterday. It is obvious that he was most likely carried like this as a baby with his Ethiopian family. Jesse is such a sweet sweet baby. He is very affectionate and loves to smile and be held. He plays gently with Levi and gets excited to be with him.

We arrived at Levi’s school yesterday and he was quick to run up to us and let us scoop him up. The nannies took us to a room that must be like an activity room as it had a larger open space. We had brought 25 cans of playdough to donate to the school. So before we gave these away, we played with it with the boys. Levi enjoyed opening up each color and rolling it into balls. Jesse used all the cans as blocks and stacked them up on top of each other. He also kept dumping them out of the big ziplock bag and filling it up again over and over. He was a boy on a mission. We colored with Levi. He was very careful to keep the crayons separate from the pencils. Levi was a bit over stimulated and was extremely excited. It was hard for him to stay focused for very long on one particular thing. He seemed very happy and comfortable with us.

Layne’s Entry

Since Tanya wrote about our time at the school, I’ll kinda pick up there. Closer to noon, we had to get ready to go and the boys were going to eat with us. However, the little bus was not there yet and so they wanted Levi to eat with his friends. Tanya had to change Jesse, so I watched Levi eat. I’m so glad we got to see this, because watching 30 kids eat at a regular size picnic table was so incredible! They were almost on top of each other and their arms were folded while the nannies handed out Tupperware bowls and cups with lids on them and goulash inside. Every child got their food and then they prayed a little song, it was really cute, I hope I can get the words from the nannies, it was all in English. Then they began to eat, all had their own forks and they had to eat all their food before they could get up. Levi was continually taking a bite then looking to see me and smiling, he was sooo polite and quiet with the other children. He got a little silly when he would look at me.

We took them back to the guest house where we eat and they really loved this. Jesse ate Ethiopian food, Injera and wat and some creamed corn with lentils, he really liked the corn! There is a lot of corn here, very popular food. Levi played soccer and rode a big wheel around in the driveway area and we had some fun. He is verrrrry active!! When he was running up to get the big wheel off of the porch, he slipped on the very slick marble and bonked his head. It scared him more than anything because he was going full tilt. I scooped him up and comforted him, he was crying. He settled down and then was much calmer and had fun pushing the buttons on the little big wheel thing. Jesse came out too and Levi was good to share and take turns with the balls and toys. We are learning so many Amharic words, but we forget them so fast. Communication is definitely a factor. We then had to go back to Jesse’s place to have our doctor’s appointment and that is when Jesse fell asleep hard!! Geremu played with Tanya while I had the sleeper in the sling. Levi had fun wearing the headphones listening to Toby Mac and PureNRG. Levi then got really sad and fell asleep too, but he was uncomfortable. Our Dr. appt. went well, we learned about Habtamu that he has had 3 different rounds of anti-biotics for various things since he got to the care center. Ears, skin infections and the most recent is that he got the end of his right ring finger smashed in the door on Thursday and lost the nail, it looked really nasty on Sat. when we got here and he’s on amoxicillin, and it is clearing up. On sat. it was so infected, he couldn’t bend it. It is getting better but needs to be cleaned up. Levi has been very healthy since he has been here, a little infitigo on his head but that is it, no antibiotics. When he came to the orphanage he had a swollen eye. It was huge, the Dr. said, but it was just a bee sting, so he has to allergic. They didn’t give him anything for it, but we will have to keep some benadryl on hand at all times. After that, Jesse woke up happy, but Levi was very sad and confused when he woke up, it was hard. Please pray for him and the confusion, frustration and sadness he must be feeling.

Habtamu went back with his Nannies in the care center and we delivered Levi to his place. It was really nice and when we got there 29 kids had the playdoh that we brought out at little tables with little plastic primary colored chairs. Then we had to go, Levi seemed sad to watch us leave.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed pictures & your wonderful write-up as to what's been going on. Anxious to see all of you & view the videos, etc. We are all fine here & glad you are too. Nathan is coming over to bake cookies this morning for fair entry. He likes our oven - uh huh! Talked to Pam & Wally - they are all doing good. The boys are precious. Our prayers are with you all - have a safe trip home.
Love you,

Shelly said...

Wow! We are so happy for you! It is so unbelievable to see you there, with the boys. The boys are sooooooo precious. Yes, so are you!!! We are looking forward to your safe return. We will pray for a smooth, uneventful and peaceful trip... HOME!!!!