We woke up at 6 am to the sounds of Ethiopian music being played in the gym directly under our room. Now, this didn't sound at all like what we would categorize at "work-out" music. Instead, it sounded much more like the chanting, wailing sounds of a muslim call-to-prayer, with the main difference being that it went on for hours! Between that, the smell of sewage wafting up through the floor drain in the bathroom, and the fact that we were using 2 liter bottles of water to brush our teeth, it was pretty clear that "we weren't in Kansas anymore." :-) We got ready for the day and headed down to breakfast at the hotel restaurant, where we met the "F" family, another AGCI family that we had connected with online. We hugged and enjoyed getting to know them for a bit before they left for their court appointment that morning. After breakfast, we lugged our heavy bags of donations down to the lobby, and caught up on some e-mails while we waited to be picked up for the trip to Hannah's Hope.
Before long, Wass showed up to get us. I recognized him immediately from the pictures that Erica had taken last year, and as we climbed into the van, I handed over a bag of candy that Shana had wanted me to give to him, along with her picture. He laughed and laughed, saying, "Of course, Shana would give me the candy!" He wanted to know how she was doing, how her schooling was going, and how the twins were doing. He taped her photo up in the window of the van, so that he could "see her whenever I am driving around!"
The drive was short, and before long, we were pulling up to the famous black gates.
We are not allowed to post his name or any full-on face shots of him until we bring him home, but I'll probably cheat just a bit and show some photos anyway. :-) He walked up to us, and Almaz told him that Yikealo was his brother. He wasn't too sure what to make of that news!
Yikealo handed him a sucker, and then I scooped him up and held him for awhile. I got out some of the books that I had brought along, and he LOVED looking through them. He would sit quietly in my lap for long periods of time, paging through and looking at the pictures. David snapped some photos of us together, and then he got out some balloons and was immediately surrounded by the older kids.
S is the youngest of a group of 10 older children who all hang out together. There are 3 boys and 7 girls, and we had SO much fun playing with them all week. This trip was drastically different from our trip for Y's adoption due to the fact that there were only two adoptive families at HH while we were there, and for 2 of the days, we were the only family visiting. Our travel group in 2009 was made up of 12 families! It was such a blessing to have so much great one-on-one time with the children this time around, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of their little personalities emerge as they grew more comfortable with us. For future travellers...the FAVORITE toys that we took were rocket balloons. The kids loved pumping them up and then letting them fly all over creation...although we did lose quite a few on the roofs or outside the gates!
We didn't really see any meltdowns from S on that day. He cried quietly once or twice when someone took something away from him, and he did NOT like any of the other children touching his books, but most of the time, he was smiling. David started referring to him as Mr. Smiley. He loved letting me hold him, although he was not as fond of David or Yikealo. When David tried to hold him, he would submit for a short time, but then he would start to whimper and reach for me. (That's okay though...Y greatly preferred David to me, so I should get my turn this time around, right?)
Our schedule for the day had said that we would only be at HH for about 3 hours, but we were really there for closer to 7 hours! (Ethiopia is a great place for a type A person to learn to just go with the flow.) Except for a brief time during his lunch, when we filled out some paperwork with the staff, we spent the whole time playing with him. I got to feed him lunch,
and then afterwards, we brought out some beads and string for the children to make necklaces. The children loved that, and so did the special mothers! One of the little girls made a bracelet for me, which I will treasure always.