Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ethiopia - Trip 2: Meeting Missionaries (June 21, 2012)

Two months ago today, we arrived in America with the newest member of our family...and I STILL haven't finished blogging about our trip to Ethiopia! Anyway, here's an account (finally) of our 2nd day there.

When Sintayehu woke up on Thursday morning, he looked around quietly for awhile, staring solemnly at us with those huge eyes of his, and then he snuggled up against me and was all smiles. We got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast, where Sintay ate 4 sambosas, a roll, a hard-boiled egg, a piece of French toast, yogurt, porridge, and fruit. The kid was definitely into exploring all of his options! Afterwards, we played in our room for awhile until David headed back to the airport to search (again) for our lost luggage. Sintay and I went outside to walk around and chase a ball back and forth.
Thankfully, David returned fairly quickly with our luggage in tow. Yay! So much fun new stuff to explore with our little guy: toys, books, balloons, snacks and clothes galore. After rooting through all of the suitcases and consolidating the donations for HH into 2 bags, we went outside to play with the new loot. Michael A and Alaysia were outside walking around too, so we gave Michael's aching back a bit of a break while Sintay "shared" (in the most loose definition of the term imaginable) his balloons and bubbles with Miss A. She was starting to adjust a little bit to her new environment and wasn't crying constantly for the first time in several days. Poor little girl....the changes are SO difficult for these sweet children....especially when they don't have any way of expressing themselves and their fears.

In contrast, Mr. S was taking everything in stride. We were absolutely shocked at how well he did with us. I remember telling David in Ethiopia, "This is making Yikealo's adoption look hard...and I didn't think that was possible!" All I can say, Michael and Mindy, is that God must have known that you could handle more than we could....or something! We were so thankful that S was adjusting beautifully, but it was hard not to feel guilty too, when we looked into your worn-out, exhausted faces.

When we went inside for lunch, we met our first missionary family of the day. Brittany and Ian Bentley had just moved to Addis a few days prior, and Michael and Mindy had brought over some items for them. We had also brought some items to Ethiopia for E, an Ethiopian friend of ours....and in a God-ordained set of circumstances, E just happened to be the Bentley's driver for the day as they scoured the city looking for housing! We were able to give E the items that we had JUST retrieved from the airport that morning, and we were also able to give him a book of photos for Yikealo's birthmom. We had tried in so many ways to arrange to meet her on this second trip, but God had other plans. Maybe someday we'll know some of the reasons, but at least for now, Mihiret will have about 300 photos of her son's life over the last 3 years. As we ate lunch, we were able to talk to the Bentley's about their new ventures in Ethiopia. Their little girl and Sintayehu shared french fries, E shared some new information about Y's birth family, and we all rejoiced in meeting some English-speaking friends on the other side of the world. You can follow the Bentley's journey at

After naps and more play time, we met our second missionary family over dinner. Before we left for Ethiopia, David had been e-mailing Allen and Susan Stoller over the possiblity of meeting up while we were in Addis, and the Stollers had arranged to come to our hotel for dinner that evening. Allen and Susan are in Ethiopia working with Loving Shepherd Ministries in combating the sexual exploitation that runs rampant in Addis Ababa. You can read about their work at Loving Shepherd and at Sharing Hope with Hearts. We had a wonderful evening sharing food and stories and discussing the difficulties of moving to a third-world country with one of the world's top-5 most difficult languages. We had asked Michael and Mindy and the R family to join us, so we had quite a table-full!

The R family was just getting ready to head back to the US with their sweet girls, Esther and Emma. Emma and Sintay had spent a lot of time together at HH, being the youngest two of the "older kids" and it was good to be together during their last moments in Ethiopia.

After finishing dinner the Stollers wanted to wait for the streets to clear somewhat before heading home, so after bidding farewell to the Rs, the rest of us went to our room to continue our conversation.

The thing that I remember the most from that night was a story that Allen related. A few months before, when they had gone out on the streets in one of their rescue missions, the counselors had stopped to talk to a young prostitute. They told her that although they would not use her "services" they would pay her for her time if she would just come talk to them. She agreed and eventually shared her story with them. Several months before, she had become pregnant by her boyfriend. When she learned that she was carrying a child, her boyfriend left, and her family kicked her out....not wanting to take on yet another mouth to feed. She had been wandering the streets for several weeks, pregnant, alone, and afraid....trying to find enough work to stay fed. In desperation, she had finally turned to prostitution. Here's where the story gives me chills: the night in question was her 2nd night in her new "profession." The first night had not yielded any customers, and the counselors were actually her very first "clients." Instead of taking her up on what she had planned to offer, however, these people took her to a safe place where she heard the gospel message, and learned that God had other plans for her life. Today, she is a believer, and is supporting her new child by productive, legitimate work. She has a support network and a good life....all because there were people willing to step out of their comfort zone and listen to the call of the Holy Spirit on one dark night in Addis.

"And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire..." Jude 22-23

May each of us be open to His voice and ready to reach out in His name.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Glasses and Twists

Both of my boys are sporting a new look this week: Yikealo just got his first pair of glasses and Sintayehu has his hair in twists.

We learned last week at the eye doctor that Yikealo is nearsighted, and over the course of the week he has gone from his initial disappointment to being ecstatic over the fact that this is just one more way to be like Daddy. When he first tried on the frames last week, his response was, "I look stupid." I asked if he thought that his daddy and I look stupid when we put our glasses on, and he said that we didn't. I said that although he looked a little different, he certainly didn't look stupid, and his mood improved a little. I told him that I had been six when I got my first pair of glasses too. By the time that David came home last night toting the new specs, Mr. Y was VERY excited. He put them on right away and ran around the house and yard exclaiming over the things that he could see. Then he did the next important thing: claimed a spot on the bookshelf for his glasses case....right next to Daddy's, of course. This morning when I told him that I wanted a photo of him in his glasses, he also insisted that I take the following pictures that show him "being just like my Dad."

Sintay's hair is a MUCH different texture than Yikealo's, and it is also much dryer. I have to moisturize it several times a day, which gets a little harder to keep up with as it gets longer. Over the weekend, I decided to put it in twists. It takes awhile, but his very kinky hair will hold the style for a few days. The good thing about it is that the twists hold the moisture into the strand of hair for a longer period of time and when I take them out, his hair looks really healthy. He loves it, and wants to keep looking at himself in the mirror while running his little hands all over his head and giggling. If anything, it makes him look even more ornery, don't you think?

Oh yes, and since the rest of us now wear glasses, guess who thinks he needs to wear his "ga-shashes" constantly too?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Week of Summer Break, First Day of School

It's hard to believe that our summer break is over, but indeed it is. We tried to fit some extra fun in last week before school started up again.

We met some cousins at the park:
Four little Ethiopians
Notice how Erica's 6 children are smiling nicely, and my 2 are not...

Loving on Shana...

Sintay loved playing with Mimi in the pool.


We went to the zoo:

Sintayehu was absolutely GLUED to the monkey enclosures. He also loved the "ephalants" and begged to see them over and over.

We enjoyed time at James and Susan's:

We stomped around in Mommy's shoes after church:
I'm pretty sure that nothing looks more ridiculous than a 3 year old in a pull-up and high heels....especially when he is chasing after a ball with his brother.

We read lots of books together and checked off the last boxes in Y's summer reading flyer from the Library. His name was drawn for the grand prize, and he won a $25 Target gift card!

So, yesterday was our first day of school. We are homeschooling again, using the same program that we used last year. Mr. Y is a first grader now....I can't believe it! Our first day went great: he said at one point, "Mom, first grade is WAY better than Kindergarten!" His favorite subjects from the day were language arts and art.....hmmmmm.....maybe a child after my own heart??