Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 29th post


January 29, 2011

Today was a good day.  When we got to the orphanage this morning, there was a couple sitting there with their little boy.  We got a little excited when we found out they were from the States (okay, so maybe we’re craving a little hang-out time with Americans), and THEN we found out they were from Owensboro, just 3 hours from Lexington!  In addition, they are with our agency.  We started chatting the time away…Okay, so maybe I chatted the time away, while Wes was in and out with the babies.  After a bit, another couple showed up who was from Chicago.  They also came to pick up their little boy.  Turns out they were with our agency too.  So needless to say, we had a really good time meeting some new people (who also happen to be staying at our guest house!), and then had dinner with the couple from Chicago.  Actually they just hung out with us in our living room for a few hours.  It was really refreshing.

*Emotional Moment of the Day*
The couple from Chicago was saying goodbye to the staff at our orphanage, and one of my favorite nurses just had tears streaming down her face. The nanny that spends the most time with Alex & Eliana was crying too. They were  crying because they were saying goodbye to beautiful little Emanuel, who had been there for months, and they loved him so much.  I can only imagine how difficult it is to grow to love these children so much, only to eventually say goodbye to them.  Needless to say, tears were streaming down my face too. 

*In the middle of the day Wes and I took about a 20 minute stroll to take some quick pictures of our surroundings, to kind of give you an idea of what we see each day. 

Our Guest House

The rickety ol' basketball goal outside of our guest house. Works for Wes.
The road outside of our guest house.

The little alley we walk to get to the main road (Bole Rd.)

Bole Rd.

Bole Rd.

New York New York Supermarket

The little "mall" down the road. We like to eat at Cloud 9 which is where all those little white tents are.

Taxis and such.

Lovely wooden scaffolding.

Another look at Bole Rd.

Ice Blue actually delivers to our hotel. Love it!

This is the cafe/apartment building right at the end of the alley from our guest house.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One from Nina, and One from Wes...

January 27, 2011

Nina's Post....

Have I mentioned that the weather here in Addis Ababa is AMAZING?!  I mean seriously, it is like 70 and sunny every single day.  If there were some beaches, clear blue waters, and hula skirts, I’d think we were in Hawaii.  Okay, so I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I hear the weather is pretty amazing there too. 

Actually, today was crazy windy.  And with the dry climate right now, we had to use our camel instincts, and use our eyelashes to protect our eyes from the blowing dust.  This brings me to a traveler’s tip for those of you coming to Ethiopia during this time of year (pretty much any time but rainy season which is in July & August).  Our Ethiopia program director suggested it to us, and I’m going to pass on this jewel of advice:  Bring some Saline Nasal Spray (we brought Simply Saline).  I woke up with a bloody nose one night because of the dry weather.  Yuck. 

Wes and I decided to do some more exploring today also.  We visited the Friendship Mall and a bunch of grocery stores.  Can somebody tell me why there is NO sugar in any of these stores?  Anyways, as we walked down Bole Rd., we had about 50 people ask us for money.  This is the norm here, and it is very difficult at times.  I have experienced the same thing in India & Nepal.  In Nepal, I would see the same people every day ( I lived there for 4 months), and they would still either ask me for money or offer to sell me hash.  I said no to the hash every single time (duh), but no matter how many times they saw me, they never really saw me.  This is what’s difficult for me.  I know I am a white face, which usually indicates I come from a wealthier country, which makes them hope I will give them some of my wealth.  Granted, I am not here to say that we are not wealthy compared to many Ethiopians.  We are.  There’s no denying that.  What’s difficult is knowing that I can’t give to every person who asks.  Over the years I have learned you really have to use discernment when giving money to people.  And sometimes, you give even though you have no idea whether or not you’re being scammed.  Many people say you shouldn’t give at all, because it only encourages more poverty and cycilical begging.  But I don’t necessarily agree with this.  Not EVERY person who asks for money is a scam artist.  Not EVERY person that says they are hungry is being hired by some slave driver who gets all that money.  Sometimes it just doesn’t matter because  it is not your responsibility to figure out the motives behind every request for help.  You never know when you might be entertaining angels in disguise.  Also, God doesn’t ask us to give to the poor only once we know what their level of poverty is, or how sincere their request for help is….He just asks us to care for the poor. 

This doesn’t mean I think you should always give.  Believe me…I’m not saint.  Sometimes I can get fired up.  Like today for instance….as Wes and I were out exploring the city, a guy started walking next to us and talking to us.  I knew from the very beginning of the conversation where it was going, but it was hard to brush him off before he got to the end of his spiel.  He started out by telling us where he was from, and how he makes little money, and that he thinks Americans are the most friendly and giving people, and that he is glad we are Christians because he is too, and finally…..after about 15 minutes of talking our ears off as we are walking toward the Friendship Mall….”Can you give me 100 birr?”  Ugh.  I knew it was coming.  This was not one of those instances I felt led to give.  Instead I was ticked off.  I stopped walking, looked him in the eyes and said, “Let me tell you something.  If you want to be friends with Americans, you don’t start out by asking them for money.  It will only tick them off.”  Ooh I was angry.  I know….I’m not always Nice Nina.  ☺  Please don’t judge me too harshly.  You really do get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of Nina here.  Hope you’ll still keep reading the blog.  ☺




Wes’s Post...

Today was the first day that I have felt at ease in Ethiopia.  Just being at the orphanage was so comfortable.  Alex ate for me...well kind of…I still had to shove most of the food in to his mouth while he is wiggling everywhere (he was in a Bumbo seat but he just can’t sit still).  Ha.

Nina and I walked down Bole all the way to Friendship Mall, which was about a 20 min walk.  It was refreshing…ahh all that thin air and pollution….  It really was a good walk. Nina and I always walk to get around in every country we have been to, and it is just how we roll.

The longer we are here the more I realize that this is a chance for me to revisit spiritual highs and intimacy in Christ.  Most of us climb spiritual mountains and get the edge of cliffs and we have this desire to jump.  There is a call to dive recklessly into complete surrender to Christ for our lives and trust him for everything; Deep calls to deep.  We do this many times in our lives, because our flesh and desire draw us to the rocks below, but after we hit the bottom we can dust ourselves off and start the climb again.

Here is a poem I wrote today to express this desire and dream in all of us.

Jumper:

I’ve been to this precipice before
I’ve closed my eyes and pondered the leap

The memories of weightlessness flood my mind
As the reminiscent flutterings fill my chest

I salivate slightly,
Remembering the taste of sweet air rushing over my face

I inch nearer to the edge
Pushing pebbles and rocks, unwillingly, into the depths below

Again I move closer till my toes hang over

Raising my arms outward
Stretching my fingers as far as the will go

The gusting wind blows my hair and clothes like an obedient flag
Whipping around the pole

For a moment everything stops

My breathing slows
My Heart is barely beating
I take one last deep breath
Bend my knees
 A deafening silence rings in my ears

Then like an Olympic diver, I spring forward
Soaring Hundreds of feet above the impending ground

It is not until now that I remember the pain of smashing into the rocks

I smile

Maybe this time I will make it past them
Maybe this time I will Fly

It is every Jumper’s Dream
 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Settling In...

Okay, we are far from being experts, but we are learning our way through Addis. Right now it is strictly confined to grocery stores, restaurants, and banks close to our place. Today we went exploring down the road near our guesthouse. We found a couple of great grocery stores where we can get water, soda, soup, milk, etc etc. for some good prices. Tonight we will be cooking up some Norwegian rice pudding. Yum. (I know you’re jealous) We were also triumphant in finding a place to change our money. ☺ And finally, we found a really good Indian restaurant about 3 minutes walk from our place. Score. Yes, we have accomplished great things today. . It’s the little things…

On to more important things. Mainly…our babies. ☺

Did I mention that I got to give Alex a bath yesterday? Oh my gosh I loved it! He was SO cute! Loves the bath water. Today, when we first got to the orphanage, as soon as Alex saw Wes, he started crawling as fast as he could toward him. Victory. And then when Wes put Eliana down so we could leave, she started crying. Victory. I know it sounds strange and mean to call that a victory, but that means they are starting to attach to us just a teeny bit. Actually, the director told us today that after we left yesterday, they both started crying, and it took the nannies a while to get them calm. Ugh. It made me want to have them with us all the more. Soon. It’s coming soon. Can’t wait.

While we were sitting outside today, a white couple walked in. We were guessing they were going to meet their child for the first time. They looked scared to death. No smiles, just plain ol’ nervousness and fear. I know the feeling. I whispered to Wes to ask them if they wanted us to take pictures. From the sound of the woman’s accent, I’m guessing she was from Germany, or somewhere close. When Wes asked her if they would like us to take pictures of their first meeting, in a very nervous voice she responded, “They said we were not allowed.” She then walked away with her husband, and into the director’s office. Two of the nurses walked a little boy out, who seemed terrified himself. He cried a little at first, but then seemed to get comfortable in his mother’s arms. Wish I could have captured that for them.

In just a few days, we’ll be documenting another meetcha day with one of our agency’s families! Can’t wait! See you soon, Amanda! And then hopefully, in February, we will get to document our buddies, Bex and Josh, as they meet their little Mercy for the first time. Oh my goodness, I cannot wait for that!

Well, that’s our hum drum update for today. Catch ya next time.

p.s. I just wanted you ALL to know that I am getting ALL of your comments on the blog posts, and I CHERISH them. Please keep them coming. They mean so much to me. I can't pull up Blogger here in Ethiopia, but I have all the comments forwarded to my email. I love them! Thank you for the constant encouragement! It really does make a difference!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Day and Feeling Better...

Today is a new day, and yes, I am feeling better. Sometimes you just have those kinds of days. I am so thankful to my adoption/bloggy/friend-of-my-brother friend, Bex for putting things so perfectly in the comments from yesterday’s post. Sometimes it just has to be okay to feel crappy. (love you bex!)


Today we got a new driver. His name is Sammy, and he actually does a lot of driving for the groups in Korah. He is just picking us up and dropping us off at the orphanage right now, but we are very grateful for this service none-the-less. To be honest, another thing that added to my crappy feelings yesterday was our previous driver. He was so good to us. He spoke English very well, and took us to lots of great places. After our first week, we hired him privately (we had originally hired him through our agency). We told him that all we wanted to do was hire him to pick us up and drop us off at the orphanage. He knew this quite well. But yesterday he asked for his money, and ended up charging us for a full day’s service for the last four days. I told him this was way too much because we only used him for about 20 minutes each day (he didn’t stay while we were at the orphanage). But he tried to make us feel guilty because his car broke down last week, and he had to use all his money he made that week on his car. And then he said he charged us a full day’s work because he didn’t take any other customers during the day after he dropped us off. Argh. I was so angry. He was like a friend to us during our first week or so here. And then he took advantage of us. I know it may not sound like a big deal, but it was. It felt crappy. It sucks to be taken advantage of by someone you trust. Needless to say we will not be hiring him anymore. The same thing happened to us when we left our first guesthouse. The manager was really upset and told us they were struggling financially (they live VERY affluently). Guilt trip again. Ugh. It doesn’t feel so good when those are the closest relationships you have in a foreign land during your first week there.

Well, things are looking brighter. We are feeling much more settled, and this new place is so nice. We are at Weygoss Guest House and it is fantastic. The electric works great. We have awesome water pressure, and the water is always nice and hot. The wireless works pretty consistently and we even have cable tv. Of course, it’s mostly old movies, but who cares. I don’t mind watching Murder at 1600, Minority Report, Enemy of the State, Kindergarten Cop, and You, Me & Dupree….oh, and Arabs’ Got Talent isn’t too bad either. Yeah, that’s right. Arabs’ Got Talent. It’s all Arabic television stations at this guest house.

Today we had a really good time with the babies. We put both Alex & Eliana on the floor and they were having races to the toy on the floor. We put Alex on one end and Eliana on the other, and a toy in the middle. Alex is WAY faster than Eliana, but Eliana’s got spunk and while Alex would get distracted by other things going on around him, she kept her eye on the prize. She’s quite the scrappy little girl (Friends reference for all my Friends fans buddies!). As Wes says, Alex is the hare and Eliana is the tortoise, and slow and steady wins the race.

As usual, Alex fought sleep the entire time, until the last half hour we were there. In the What to Expect in the First Year (thank you again, Angela, for that book!), it says that babies that fight sleep are usually very bright, because they are taking in so much and trying to observe everything around them. Well, he must be a genius. ;)

We have taken a ridiculous amount of pictures and video of them. We look at them all the time. We are already those annoying parents that adore every minute of footage of their little ones. Hopefully we won’t try to make everyone else watch the videos all the time….well not unless they want to.

Okay, time to sign off. Leaving you with a few shots of our rooms at our new guesthouse. ‘Til next time!

p.s. Our agency told us today that it may take 8-10 weeks AFTER our second court hearing (as long as we pass on Feb. 7) to get an embassy date. Well, I'm going to go for a miracle instead, and hopefully it will just take 3-4 weeks. Sound good? I think so. Will you pray for that miracle with us?





Monday, January 24, 2011

Another Day, Another Birr...

Another day has passed here in Addis, and not much has changed.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little bit discouraged today. Sometimes you just have these days, and I guess today is one of those days for me.

Today I am just struggling with all the unknowns and all the waiting. Yuck. Going to the orphanage to see our children each day is a blessing and a curse all in one. It’s a blessing because we get to spend time with our babies. There is nothing sweeter than that. Seriously. It is awesome. It’s a curse because we have to say goodbye after 3 hours.

I want to be a super trusting and patient Jesus freak girl 24/7, but every once in awhile I cave. Today I ached knowing how much more time we have to spend going on daily visitation to see our own children. We are confused by the whole process of court here, but I think everyone is in the same boat. You wonder to yourself, “Why does it take so long to get notes finished, while other people are passing court while we wait?” Yeah, it kind of sucks. And then they say it could take forever to get an embassy date. Yuck again. I wonder sometimes if anyone is fighting for us, because you feel so out of the loop. But at the same time, I have met the people here with our agency, and I know they are doing their very best. I know they care. It’s just so hard to really feel that, when your babies aren’t living with you, and sitting in your arms. Your mind tells you the truth, but your heart still aches.

That carries over to my next thought. If God is for us, who can stand against us? Deep down, where the foundations of my faith burns bright, I know that God has brought us this far. I know that it is because of Him that we are here. When I worry about how much time it will take, and if we will have enough money to make it, and if Wes will be able to stay the entire time (he only gets 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and we were hoping to spend some of that at home in Kentucky…we really don’t want to use all 12 weeks), I can’t help but come back to this one thought: He knows our needs.

He has known our needs all along. He is our provider. We are fully funded for goodness sake! How could I doubt that He won’t take care of things now? I feel ashamed for doubting Him on this issue. But sometimes my flesh just gets the best of me. And the enemy tries to come in and steal away my peace. Yuck.

And yet, my mind knows that He is a God of miracles. He can do anything He pleases. He could get those notes from MOWA in a heartbeat. He could give us an embassy date tomorrow if He wanted to. He is capable of anything.

In the meantime, I wonder what He has for us while we are here. I wonder what He is saying. I wonder what He wants to teach us. I don’t want to miss Him. I want my ears to be open when He speaks.

Months from now I will be telling more about all the miraculous things that happened throughout this adoption. Right now, I just need to have a good night’s sleep, so I can wake up to a new day, full of peace, and the heart knowledge that God will never fail me….because it’s true.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Part Time Father...


...But I'll have to keep my day job for now.

It has been a little over a week since we landed in Addis and since we first met our children.  I know that people want to know what it feels like now to be a father and to have children…well, I am not sure yet.  We have been going to Enat Alem (their orphanage) every day for 3 hours, from 10am to 1pm, and we get to hold and love on Alex and Eliana during that time.  During those 3 hours they usually sleep for about an hour, that leaves 2 hours of bonding time…but really it must seem to Alex and Eliana that we are nothing more than volunteers or white nannies. 
I think for me, it is such a natural event to feed, change (I did my first Ethiopian cloth diaper today!  I thoroughly impressed the nannies and nurses! Ha!), and entertain Alex and Eliana that there is not always a romantic emotion but one of just Fatherly Love.  I like to whisper in their ears (so that the nannies won’t hear me...even though they speak and understand little English), “Daddy loves you, Daddy loves you…”  I want it to sink in while they sleep, subliminally, that the giant white man is their Daddy.
But if you ask me if I feel like a father, I would say I do for about 2 hours a day.  The other 22 hours I feel like Wes Mullins:  husband, writer, UK fanatic, basketball player, and hobbyist musician.  I can say that when they are with me it feels so natural and right that not even the sight of a full diaper makes me react.  They are my children and I love them.  I have kissed them more and razzied (basically making farting noises on their bellies and necks) them more than any child I have ever met.  I am very partial to them; I will still hold other children but not unabashedly as I do with Alex and Eliana.
They are the most gorgeous children in the world.  They have eyes so dark that you can’t even see their pupils and they just mesmerize me when they stare at me for long periods of time (like when I am feeding them a bottle or rocking them to sleep).  Alex is so attentive to details and object permanence; he is so smart and inquisitive.  Over the last few days he is starting to use his legs when he crawls and not just his arms; he is a brute, so strong…”he is strong, like Bull.”  I think he may be tall; 6’9”, and 245 lbs., so he can play power forward for the Kentucky Wildcats.  And he will be more like Brandon Knight who is a 4.0 student and not like your average jock.
Eliana is more delicate and petite, but she is getting stronger in her legs and tries to crawl like big brother.  She bounces all the time, especially to music and singing or dancing.  Her smile is enough to melt the polar ice caps…maybe she is the cause of global warming (that is for you Aimee and Jeremiah).    I love her scrunchy face, where she sticks our her little tongue and starts bouncing.  Both of them are so happy and healthy.  It is such a miracle just to be able to be with them everyday.

So I think that I pass the part time father debut.  Next up is complete fatherhood.  I am about to join the ranks of the elite forces.  Fathers have such an impact on the world, but they seldom get their due (that is for another piece all together).  I feel blessed and honored to get to raise these children, even if they don’t know that I am their Daddy yet, they will, and soon.

Other Thoughts about Ethiopia:

Nina has kept you well informed about our goings-on, but I thought a little male perspective might be just the thing your thirsty eyes needed.

Addis Abeba is nothing like the other capital cities I have been to before in a 3rd world nation.  It seems content with it’s place the world; between urban and rural and contemporary and traditional.  I can’t remember feeling so relaxed and settled.  Even now I am looking out my balcony window at the palm-like trees and the cityscape that is capped off by a surrounding mountain range, and I feel at ease and content.  It is as if I could be sitting in Lexington, Kentucky or Addis Abeba, and I would feel the same.

We have been only to one or two places since we have been here, when Cara Dee was here and we wanted her to see all of Ethiopia that she could, so she could squeeze every moment into a CF Card and produce images that will stand for an eternity.  We spent some time in Korah.  I am not sure how to verbalize how I felt. I wasn’t shocked and awed, but rather I felt a sense of reality…this is what it is and the only thing to do is roll up our sleeves and help.  I did not pity them shamelessly nor did I look at them with disgust…I saw them for what they are, people who have had unfortunate events happen in their lives and with whom I can not even come close to relate to.  I mean, if you take my early days in Lexington, starving and lonely, it pales so much in comparison.  So I realize that I can’t relate but Jesus can: He Hungered, thirsted, had no place to lay his head, was abandoned and shunned by those supposed to be friends and family, stripped naked, beaten, humiliated, wept, rejected by society, and one time he even “sighed”.  They need to be introduced to Jesus Christ, not Wes or Nina Mullins, all we have to give means nothing if we don’t get the introduction right.
The people at Project 61 are doing just that and they are so beautiful!  Beautiful are the feet of them that carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And the leaders of this organization exude and radiate that transforming Love of Christ; God is Love, his people must bear that fruit…and there is only one way to Love, sacrificially.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”  You can’t love without sacrificing yourself…because your love is not meant for you but for everyone else.  The world needs your love and it will reciprocate with their Love for you!

Having said all that here is a prose/poem/psalm that I wrote about Korah:

“A City built around an unending landscape of trash, it is full of unwanted people, societal outcasts that have been ignored till they were forgotten. 
Now they have created their own diverse community, complete with every age and sex, packs of dogs, flocks of fowl, herds of small goats, and swarms of insatiable flies.
Steady streams of Garbage trucks shake the ground as they rumble to that day’s dumpsite.  The earth feels entirely unstable and crumbling.
The air is thick with smoldering fires and stench, breathable but very heavy, creating an oppressive atmosphere culminated with barking dogs, braying goats, and swooping fowl.
A clan of people armed with homemade digging tools and sacks, attack the fresh trash pile with a deftness and vigor that was as impressive as it was mesmerizing.
Quickly they spy out and grab food or resalable goods before another heavy truck demolishes the pile into nothing but more rotting landscape.
I am amazingly at ease, without great judgment or unnecessary emotional pity…it is what it is and nothing to be romanticized or championed; it is just hungry people being resourceful.
We carefully walk around the mounds of debris.  You don’t want to misstep and sink down in the mire because you could cut yourself on broken soda bottles.
With each careful step thousands of feasting flies dismount and investigate the interruption to their dinner; they are not so bad as long as the wind is blowing, but there aren’t enough horse whips in Addis to keep them off when it dies down.
It is an endless sea of rotting food and decaying carcasses, there are hooves strewn everywhere, it is nearly impossible to move without stepping on them.
The smell was not as bad as what I expected, I say that has something to do with the wind and the cooler climate in Addis.
The most unnerving part of the dump is the groups of men and children just lying on the mounds of decaying debris, as if they were on a Sunday Stroll and decided to sit down and enjoy a shady spot.
Then an event happened that I will not soon forget, a man lounging near us found a young rotted goat’s head in front of him (just a few inches away) and he began to playfully toss it back and forth, then an idea struck him…He grabbed a jagged rock and began to try and scrape away the hairy flesh in hopes of finding some taste of meat.
And then I made a statement that I wish I could have took back, “This is what we were before Christ found us…you know spiritually.” 
What a feeble attempt to sound spiritual in the most inopportune moment, it paled in comparison so badly…I know nothing of this life or of their misfortune.
But something spiritual did occur to me as I stood there…on these same mounds stands a Clan of Men that are familiar with Korah and its curse.
They are living and breathing Miracles!  They are giants!  New Creatures!
I stood looking at these men as they talked about their days as one of the forgotten peoples.
By mere appearance you could not tell them from an Addis Urbanite, but in their eyes burns a fire, a deep cleansing fire. 
For years they lived, ate, slept the trash dump to create an existence for themselves and their families.
Now they live, eat, sleep in the city of Korah to help create new lives, as they reach in and pull out the real treasures, the people.
They introduce them to Jesus Christ, where they can trade a curse for a crown.”


So I will close this lengthy post with a couple of stories about other children at Enat Alem, our orphanage:

There aren’t many men who volunteer, at least that is what I can gather from all the children calling me “Baba”=Daddy.  You might think it is because I am white but they call Nina “Ferenje” (foreigner), no matter how many times she tells them to call her Nina.  One little girl in particular, who is very smart but sassy, calls me Baba all the time and wants my attention (but not in demanding way, just in a “I would like to have a father” way).  Today I showed her how to beep box.  Yeah that’s right…I got mad skillz.  And an hour later she was trying to do the deep bass note with her throat…I am so influential and cool.  Then I was going to write something in my Journal and I asked her if she would like to write, and she shook her head yes.  Then she said and wrote out the entire English Alphabet; that is something I will always cherish.

There is also a girl there who is blind and deaf.  I haven’t paid too much attention to her over the last week, but I did feel religious pity for her.  Today God changed that and I looked at her and said, “Wait, isn’t my God a healer.”  So with the Mark 7 story in my heart (I read it earlier that morning for this very reason) I went up to her today and sat beside her.  She put her hand in mine and then up to my face.  She smiled when she felt the scruff from a three day beard on my cheeks.  She then lay her head on my shoulder and hugged me…my heart leapt in my chest.  Then she crawled in to my lap and just stayed there for a few minutes…so calm, so quiet, like she wasn’t afraid anymore or that she was just soaking in a few minutes of fatherly love.  I rubbed her arms and head as I gently prayed for her and asked God to loose her tongue and give her sight.  I am going to pray for her every day and ask my Dad to heal her, because that is His nature….to create and recreate.  Whether He heals her or not is up to him, I offered up the petition and will continue to lift it up.  But I will give her what I can, Love.

- Wes

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Day in the Life...

January 22, 2011

Okay, so perhaps today’s post won’t be that glamorous or exciting, but it’s a little insight into our daily lives here in Addis Ababa. 

8am  We usually eat breakfast at this time.  Anything from omellettes, to oatmeal, to pancakes, to things we don’t really recognize, but taste fairly good.

9:30am  Our driver, Solomon, picks us up and takes us to our orphanage, to see our beautiful babies.  We get to spend 3 hours with them each day.  Three glorious hours….

1-2pm  We eat lunch at some restaurant Solomon picks out for us.  He seems to know all the restaurants in the city.  The most we have paid per person for a meal is about $4.  We try to stay in the $2-$3 range, though.

2-10pm  It just depends.  The first week we were here, we were driving all over the place.  We went to internet cafes, we went to Korah, and in the middle of all of it we go to dinner.  Now that we are at our new guesthouse, we will probably drive around a little less since we are closer to everything.

We usually go to sleep around 11pm.  That is a bit early for us night owls, but in Addis Ababa, when you are constantly on the go, it is just right. 

That’s our life here.   We haven’t gone on too many touristy expeditions, but we figure we have plenty of time, so we’ll get to that eventually.

As for our time at the orphanage….we cherish every moment. 
It is a really nice orphanage.  The gate is black with a gold oval design in the middle.  When you walk passed the gate, you step into a stone courtyard.  You usually can’t see straight through to the building across the way because there are about 5 lines of laundry draped in cloth diapers and baby clothes.  When you first walk in, the director’s office is to the left, about 80 feet away.  Beside his office, there appears to be a room for some of the staff.  It mainly just has mats on the floor with blankets.  I think many of them may stay there when they are working. About 30 feet to the right is a room where several children stay.  If you could look straight ahead (without all the laundry in the way, that is), you would see the infant and toddlers building, which is about 50 feet away.  This is where Alex & Eliana spend their days and nights. 

In their room there are about 10 cribs.  They are all connected, and fairly shallow.  I’m always wondering how in the world they keep them in there now that they are crawling and sitting up.  Ah how childcare differs here.  ☺ Not to mention them giving my little boy rice, injera, and lots of licks on a ring pop.  Everything goes in Ethiopia!

We’ve been sitting in the nursery holding them and sitting with them most of the time, but the nannies always take them from us and want to play with them themselves.   So we’ve realized that if we want any time with them at all (they also nap for about an hour or more during the 3 hours we have), we have to take them outside. 

Yesterday I feel like I made real connection with the nannies.  For quite awhile Wes and I sat and went over many different Amharic phrases with them.  We are trying to learn as much as we can during our time here.  They laughed and giggled as we butchered much of the language.  After a little bit, I grabbed a little box of various shades of nail polish.  I sat down on the floor and started painting nails.  Girls will be girls no matter where you are in the world!  After some good girl bonding time, I stepped outside for a few minutes.  At around 11am they eat lunch.  There is one 9 year old girl who stays at this orphanage (this orphanage only has 0-3 year olds) only because her twin sisters are there.  She’s actually getting ready to go be with her forever family in just a couple of weeks (with her sisters, of course!).  One of the nannies said something to her as she started eating her lunch.  Apparently she was telling her to give me some, because she got a huge piece of injera, stuffed a TON of their stew-like food in it, and then proceeded it to hand-feed it to me.  I could barely get it in my mouth!  And then she motioned for the little girl to give me another humungous bite.  At first I told her not too, because I could barely handle the first bite, but she insisted, so I smiled and took it willingly.  It seemed to make them very happy.  Later that day in the evening, we were reading the Lonely Planet Guide for Ethiopia, and it mentioned that when an Ethiopian offers you food by hand, you should never refuse.  It says it is a sign of great affection, and that you should always accept a second bite.  Very cool.  On a side note, our driver hand-fed both Wes and I food today.  I told Wes that next he and Solomon would be holding hands (it is very common for men to hold hands here.  It is simply a sign of affection between friends.)

So ends our first week in Addis.  It has been very pleasant, to say the least.

view from the new guesthouse room

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Korah and beauty in the trash dump….

First of all, let me stress again, that we are doing great.  We have a wonderful driver named, Solomon, and he takes great care of us.  He takes us everywhere we go, and it is wonderful.  We are very comfortable here in Addis Ababa, which is obviously a total God thing.  I think a city like this shocks many people from the Western world,  but Wes and I feel quite at home.

Okay, let me start with yesterday.

Yesterday, we went to the trash dump by Korah.  Apparently they have gotten a lot stricter about who they let into the trash dump, so when we went the first day (Monday), we didn’t get to go.  On Tuesday, Sumer (with Project 61) told me that a film crew with Session 7 Media was going into the trash dump on Wednesday, and that if we could make it we could go along. 


Well, we made it. 

What I am about to write, may get a little graphic, so if your stomachs get queasy, you may not want to read further.  I have struggled with how to share our experiences there, because I feel it is so important to honor the people there. I don’t want to exploit their stories and their lives, or romanticize the lives they are leading.  There is nothing romantic about this life in the trash dump.  It is what it is, and nothing more.  I am only sharing what I am about to share because I feel it is important to really know what lies beyond our four walls in the States.  I believe it is important to share the story of the beautiful people of Korah, because they are not forgotten.  They deserve to be looked in the eyes, and told that they are beautiful.  The deserve to be told that they deserve more than what the circumstances are handing them in this moment.  

When we pulled up to the trash dump, it was about 3:45pm.  The sun was getting a little lower in the sky, and fires were burning in various spots throughout the dump.  The smoke rising up into the afternoon sky, overshadowing the acres upon acres of trash, left almost an apocalyptic feel.

We were with other men who had grown up there, but are now a part of Project 61.  They are amazing.  They were very protective of us, and made sure to lead us in the right spots, so as not to fall into a hole in the midst of the trash.  I am in awe of these men.  They exude such love, and such care.  You immediately feel drawn to them because of the great love they radiate from within.

At first, the smell of the trash didn’t seem very strong.  But as we continued to walk along, the trail got more and more difficult to walk, and the smell of every dead and filthy thing, hit our nostrils. The smell mixed with the ash from the burning debris was overwhelming.  I have never seen so many bones in my life.  Dried up carcasses were strewn throughout, including the remains of dogs and goats.  I had unwisely worn my thinly canvassed TOMs this day, and they were not ideal for walking through mounds of carcasses, rotting food, and broken glass.


We eventually made it to an area where new trash was being dumped by various garbage trucks.  Since it was a holiday, there were not many people there that day.  But those that were there attacked the fresh piles of trash with diligence and expertise. 


To my right was a boy lounging on the ground, as if he were just relaxing on a pleasant sunny afternoon.  To look at him just in the position and calm he was in, you would never think he was lying in a pile of trash.  A moment later, he reached over and found half of a goat skull, with skin and meat still attached to it.  I watched him scrape the meat off with a jagged rock her found, investigating it to see if it was edible.  In the end, he threw it to the side, and continued to lounge.

Several young men sat over several yards away, smoking cigarettes, and laughing at one another….perhaps laughing at us.  It was hard not to feel like we were invading and intrusive of their space.  I didn’t want them to feel that we were gaining from their unfortunate circumstances. I didn’t want them to feel like they were some kind of tourist attraction either.  I wanted them to know how respected they were, and how much they were cared about.  Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to speak with any of them that day.  I hope to soon, though.


Over the new piles of trash, mainly women and children searched for anything of value…perhaps for recyalables they could sell, or food they eat.  In the mix of it all were dogs.  Dogs were everywhere.  They were scavenging for food themselves.  Random dog fights broke out throughout the entire half hour or so we were there.





The people here are beautiful.  Even in the midst of the filth and decay I saw beauty.  I could see what God had intended these people for, and it is much greater than this. 



It was a surreal experience.  It is hard to fathom that there is life like this.  It is hard to believe that any human being could be stuck in such a place.  Our driver, Solomon, had never been to this part of town.  I asked him how he felt about it, and he told me that he was glad to see it and to know this life existed.  He also said that the city of Korah reminded him of Kenya….I don’t know what he has seen of Kenya, but apparently shanties and huts remind him of it.  I found it odd that even an Ethiopian was surprised by what he saw in Korah, within his own country.


Our time in the trash dump has been eye-opening and life changing.  It is something we will not soon forget.
(this photo credit to Cara Dee Photography)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Court and birthmother meeting

January 18, 2011

*some of the names have been changed out of respect for the people in this amazing story.

 
Today was court day. It was a day that will never be forgotten.

Solomon picked us up at 9:30 this morning and drove us to the courthouse. We drove up to a six story building. It didn’t feel like a courthouse at all…just a regular building filled with offices.

We finally got up to the fifth floor, and walked into a large square room with very little furniture. It was filled with Ethiopians and white foreigners. Most of the Ethiopians were birth families, and the white people were the ones adopting their children.

It was a strange scene to be a part of. In some ways I felt a little guilty. It felt like the Ethiopians were there to experience great loss, but the adoptive families were there to experience great gain. The foreigners were there chatting with each other, and it seemed that the Ethiopians were so quiet.

A large group of adoptive parents finally showed up who were with All God’s Children International. I had met several of the mothers through blogs and facebook. One adoptive mother had a solemn look on her face. and she told me she was worried about meeting with the birth mother, and she was trying to hold it together.

That was the other strange thing….we were sitting in the same room as Alex & Eliana’s birth mother, but we had no idea who she was. I kept scanning the room, looking at different women’s faces, wondering which one might be her. I looked at one and thought, “Maybe that’s her.” She had fair skin and looked young. It wasn’t….

After our first few minutes there, our attorney showed up. She is young and beautiful, and very kind. We sat down by the wall and starting chatting. She asked me how I was feeling and I told her I was a bit nervous. When she asked me why, I told her I was nervous about meeting the birth mother. She responded by saying that we didn’t have to meet her, but of course I knew that we did. It was the most important thing we needed to do. I started crying when I talked about it. Just the thought of the sacrifice she made, and how she must have felt leaving them at the orphanage….it was almost too much for me.

One by one, groups went in and met with the judge. They would be in there for about one minute, and then they would come back out. The entire group of AGCI families came out and said that MOWA still hadn’t gotten the notes written. They looked so disappointed. They were leaving the country without having a solid “pass” from the Ethiopian government. I knew it wouldn’t be as difficult for us since we were staying in country, and we could still spend time with our babies.

At one point during the waiting, our attorney said that the orphanage representative had showed up with the birth mother. My nerves kicked in again and after a while, we eventually knew which one was the birth mother. I tried so hard not to stare in her direction. I didn’t want her to know that I knew who she was. I wanted her to be able to hide…to not hurt. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking. Was she sad? Was she relieved? Was she hurting?

As the orphanage representative spoke to our agency representative, the birth mother just sat there solemnly on the other side of the room, staring down at the floor. There were no smiles, and no chitchat, but why would there be? She was saying goodbye to her babies for good.

The room was finally almost empty. It was just us, our attorney, and then the birth mother with the orphanage representative and agency rep. They called the birthmother in first. A minute later she came out and then Wes and I went in.

It was a small room with a few chairs to sit in. At one desk sat a woman who seemed to be the secretary. At the other desk sat the judge. She was a beautiful woman, who exuded a sense of power and grace at the same time. She wore a scarf over her head. She asked us several questions in a voice so quiet that it was hard to hear her.

Have you met the children?

Yes.

You still want to adopt them?

Yes.

Have you taken adoption training?

Yes.

Are you prepared to deal with their identity issues?

Yes. (But is anyone ever really ready for this, though?)

Will you teach them about Ethiopian culture?

Yes.

Do you know other people who have adopted from Ethiopia?

Yes.

And that was that. She didn’t saying anything else to us. We already knew that since the other families hadn’t received their notes from MOWA, we hadn’t either. So we didn’t officially pass today, so they are not officially ours yet.

They told us it would be another 3 weeks (February 7th) before we would hear anything more, which would mean it would be at least another three weeks before we have Alex & Eliana with us 24/7. They will stay in the orphanage until then. And I’ll be honest, both Wes and I are still a bit confused by this. So we are just going to pray for miracles, and hope something changes.

After the judge finished asking us questions, we stood up, exited the office, and entered back into the waiting room. The whole thing took about 2 minutes, literally.

Once we were back in the waiting room we met Meseret, the children’s birth mother. Up close you could see how young she was. She was wearing a pink scarf around her neck, an orange top, with a striped & multi-colored cardigan, and black pin stripe pants. Her skin was dark, and her deep black hair was back in a ponytail.

She was quiet and quite shy. It felt surreal to think that this woman bore our children and brought them into this world. She seemed like a child herself.

I had mentioned to our attorney and agency rep that we wanted to privately talk to Meseret and ask her some questions if she were willing. The head of our agency staff here in Ethiopia was very firm in that she wanted us to go to the office first to have the meeting. At the same time, our agency rep that was with us said that Meseret wanted to go see the babies one last time at the orphanage. We didn’t really know what was going on or where we were going at this point. We were just trying to do what they told us to do.

And then before we knew it, there we were, getting into our car with Solomon, and Meseret was getting in the car with us. I never thought it would go like this, but nothing goes according to plans here. I was so worried about her, hoping that it didn’t hurt too much for her to be in the same place as us. And so we drove to the orphanage. Meseret was in the front passenger side seat. Wes, Cara Dee, and I were in the back.

We arrived at the orphanage about 10 minutes later. All the workers know us there by now, and welcomed us in. They were very confused about Meseret at first. They asked me if she was our friend, and after repeating it several times, they finally understood that she was the birth mother of Alex & Eliana. When the light bulb finally went on, two nannies brought out Alex and Eliana. They handed them to Wes and I first. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I almost felt as if I didn’t have a right to be handed these beautiful children first. Meseret was the one who brought them into this world, and was brave enough to bring them to the orphanage, in hopes that they might have a chance at life. I felt like she deserved all their attention, and yet I was the one they would call mother. It was a very strange and awkward feeling.

After giving Eliana about 10 kisses, I handed her over to Meseret almost immediately. You could see that Meseret was completely taken in by her. Eliana just sat there being her usual smiley self. She was so beautiful sitting there in her birth mother’s lap. She just cooed and smiled at me across the way. Wes sat with Alexander for a little bit before we passed him over to Meseret also.

So there both of them sat on her lap, just as easy going as ever. I snapped several photos while she sat there. I kept thinking how important it was for Alex & Eliana to know what their birthmother looked like. Her skin is much darker than theirs. They both have her ears. Eliana has her nose. I think Alex has her eyes.

While we sat there, we asked a few questions as the director helped translate. We found out that Alexander was born first, and Eliana was born second. He was big, and she was tiny and thin.

She held on to Eliana, and I took Alex and handed him over to Wes. Alex just chilled in Wes’s arms, like it was just the most comfortable place to be. We got the impression that she seemed to favor Eliana more, since she sat with her more, but when we asked her if she favored one over the other, she said that she loved them both very much.

We stayed for about half an hour. We then stepped out of the office into the courtyard, where we took a couple of pictures of Wes and I with Meseret and the twins. It was supremely surreal. There we were smiling as if it was just any other day, and all the while knowing that this was a day of loss for Meseret.

She gave both Alexander and Eliana a final kiss, and that was it. We left the orphanage and headed over to Illien’s offices.

Wes, myself, and Meseret sat down at an office table with Dinkenesh, a nurse and social worker that works for our agency. Dinkenesh told us that we could ask any questions we wanted to. So we started asking away. We learned so many things. Many of these things are too personal to share on a public forum, but we wrote everything down, and will cherish every detail. When Alex & Eliana are old enough we will have the chance to tell them so many things about where they came from. We learned about their maternal and paternal descent. We learned about the day of their birth, and the time they spent with Meseret until the day she brought them to the orphanage.

When we asked her if there was anything she would like them to do when they grew up, she told us that she wanted them to be educated and become doctors. Her only other request was that we raise them as our own. She asked nothing of us but that.

She said that she was sad the day she left them at the orphanage, but that today she was happy because she saw that we were a good family. I asked Dinkenesh to tell her how grateful and thankful we were to her for the wonderful gift she had given us. Honestly, how can you say thank you in a situation like this? There are no right words. Each time I tried, I started crying. I couldn’t talk anymore, and hot tears fell from my face. Again, her loss was our greatest gain. It just didn’t seem fair, and yet at the same time there was nothing I wanted more in this world than to be the mother of Alexander and Eliana.

One detail I will share is about their birth date. We had been given one with their original paperwork, but weren’t sure if it was accurate or not. Many Ethiopians don’t know their birthdays. This is very common. Even Meseret didn’t know her own birthday. But when I asked her when the twins were born, she knew the answer immediately. June 13th. There was no hesitation. Dinkenesh looked at Wes and I and said with a big smile, “You are very lucky! Not many people know the exact day.” Who knew that the knowledge of something as simple as a date of birth could be such a huge and unusual blessing?

At the end of our meeting, I asked Meseret if we could pray for her before we left. She said that she would like that. So Wes and I both grabbed her hand and began to pray over her. I got through about 3 sentences when the tears got the best of me and words would no longer come. Wes continued on with the rest of the prayer. It was a very special moment, and a very difficult one at the same time.

The meeting was over, and I asked Dinkenesh if Meseret had eaten. She said, probably not. I asked if it was possible for us to buy her lunch. So directly after the meeting, we all headed over to a very nice Ethiopian restaurant. There we sat and continued to ask more questions about her life and any other things we thought that Alex and Eliana might want to know some day. I knew this would probably be our last chance, and I didn’t want to forget to ask anything important. We told her about ourselves too, hoping that she would find comfort in knowing who her birth children were going to grow up with.

So there we sat, And in that hour, we shared the same plate of food with the birth mother of our children, in traditional Ethiopian style. I never imagined we would see a day like this.

After the meal was over, I walked over to Meseret, shook her hand, gave her a hug, and kissed her cheek. And then we said goodbye. From there she was taken back to the people who would see her back to her home, a couple of hours away.

It was a day I will never forget. And through all the pain and difficulty of the emotions of such a meeting, I am so grateful for it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Now, we just wait. We supposedly have to wait 20 days for the court to approve things, and then we must wait several more weeks for an embassy date. I continue to believe for miracles in the timing of it all. We will just have to wait and see. All in all, though, I have peace that all will happen at just the right time.

Today we thank God for his goodness and His faithfulness. It has been evident in every step of the way. Thank you God for who you are and for how much you love us. We are in awe of you today.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 2 in Ethiopia

Today was another wonderfully beautiful day.  We got up at 8am, had breakfast served in our guesthouse, and then headed over to see our babies. 

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think that they actually remembered us.  Eliana immediately took to Wes today (yesterday she wasn’t too sure at first), and Alex just cooed and played the whole time. 

The orphanage they are in is absolutely wonderful.  It is so obvious that the nannies and nurses there care a great deal for all the children there.  They shower them with kisses, make sure their diapers are always changed, and it is SO clean there.  We have been SO impressed with this place.  It’s no wonder they have such sweet temperaments. 

I took some time to hold and play with a few of the other children today.  Two of the older girls just sat and braided my hair.  We skipped around the courtyard and just had fun with each other.

Cara Dee has done a fantastic job of documenting everything for us.  You MUST check out her blog at www.caradeephotography.com/blog.  She has captured memories that we will cherish forever.  Perhaps one day she and her husband Jacob will be back here themselves.  *hint, hint*  Okay, so maybe I’m really hopeful they will adopt.  J

Once again, Eliana fell asleep in my arms.  She breathes these deep breaths  that just fill my heart so much.  I love hearing her breathe.  It’s so real now.  Alex did NOT want to go to sleep.  He slept for about 20 minutes, and then woke up again.  He was so tired, but he just wants to look around, be held, and not sleep.  Wes tried everything.  Oh, and while Eliana takes her bottle fine, Alex can’t get enough!  The boy eats like crazy.  He went through two bottles while we were there, and THEN right before we left the nanny was feeding him traditional Ethiopian food and he was eating like a pro.  J

Alex is as big as he looks in the pictures.  Eliana is a little bit smaller, and much lighter.  They are both such happy babies.  It is truly amazing.

After we left the orphanage, we had lunch at a really good pizza place.  We practically licked the plates clean!  SO good.  We have not gotten sick yet, and we are planning on keeping it that way.  I think taking our probiotics and vitamins have helped, and  being careful what vegetables we eat and the water we drink.

After lunch we headed over to another orphanage, to deliver a few gifts to a little girl there.  Her parents have already passed court, and are just waiting for their embassy appointment.  She was so sweet, and showed off her gifts to everyone.  She also got new pictures of her with her parents, and even the cat and dog.  When I asked her if she thought it was strange that a dog would be living in her house (dogs don’t live in houses here), she responded matter of factly, “He doesn’t bite.”

And now here we are.  Sitting at a internet cafĂ© full of other Ethiopians.  We are about to go to dinner.

Tomorrow, we are going to meet with our agency staff to go over court proceedings (which are on Tuesday!), and then to see Alex and Eliana again.  Then we will go meet up with the director of Project 61 over in Korah.  SO excited!

Until next time, thank you all for praying and loving us so much!  Your investment in our journey means so much.  It makes me cry just thinking about it!   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

We met our miracles!

Okay, so today has been amazing.  I can’t write much, because we’re kind of on a time crunch where we are, for internet. 

We arrived in Ethiopia on time and without a hitch.  Our guesthouse is very nice, and we have a LOT of room, which is wonderful.

Okay, to the point….

Today we met our miracles. 

At about 10am, we walked through these black gates and into Enat Alem, the orphanage where Alex and Eliana have been for almost 5 months.  Across the courtyard, we saw two women holding both of them.  They slowly walked across the courtyard, and hand Eliana to me, and Alexander to Wes.  It was surreal to say the least.  I felt calm and nervous at the same time.  Tears welled up, but there was no crying.  Just lots of smiles.  It was like this moment was simply natural…as if it was always meant to happen, and it didn’t feel strange or overwhelming.  It just….was.  It was beautiful and it was perfect.

with Eliana

Alex & Eliana

It is SO obvious that the Alex & Eliana are EXTREMELY loved by all the staff at their orphanage.  We were so impressed by the care there. 

Eliana has TONS of personality.  She makes hilarious faces and knows it makes people laugh.  She just chills most of the time.  I held her for quite a while, fed her a bottle, and then she fell asleep on my chest.  She slept for about 20 minutes.  It was SO precious. 

Eliana
Alex is SO active, and very independent.  He loves to be held, and just wants to see everything around him.  His laugh is beautiful.  He has curly and wispy hair.  Such a handsome guy.  Wes finally lulled him to sleep, where he just laid for about half an hour. 

I want to write so much more, but just know it was an amazing day.  Our hearts are so full.  It feels so good to be here.  It just feels right.  There’s no other way to describe it.  God has blessed beyond our wildest imaginations.  I am in awe.  I cried when I said goodbye to them. 

Okay, I will update you more when I get a chance.  Thank you all for your prayers!  It has been SO effective!  ☺
Eliana & Alex

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For the love of my life...

Okay, so I meant to do this post several months ago, when Wes and I hit our 7 year anniversary (October 4th), but with the craziness of wedding season and the preparations for the adoption of our twins in Ethiopia, time got away from me.

But this post is for you, my Wesley.  I love you with all my heart.


Seriously, how much more gorgeous can he get?

Have I ever told you about how Wes and I met?  Well, I'll give you the short version.  I had been out of school for about a year and a half, and I had just gotten back from about 5 weeks in India.  I needed a job.  I had heard that the airlines were hiring, so I went over to our local airport and walked up to the Continental counter.  There stood Wes.  I asked him if he was the manager.  And with quite a bit of attitude, he said, "I wish, " and then walked away and got the actual manager.



I started at Continental Express Airlines in March of 2002.  When I walked in for my first day of work, Wes's buddy, Josh (who also worked there at the time) made this strange whistle sound to Wes.  It was some kind of silent communication they had.  (I later found out that they made this whistle any time a hot girl came around, or any time it seemed like a guy and girl were into each other.)  I still remember that after 7 years.



Fast forward about 8 months, and I broke up with my Mexican boyfriend (who lived in Mexico).  Everyone noticed that Wes and I flirted with each other from time to time, so as soon as everyone found out that I had broken up with my boyfriend, they all teased Wes, saying that he was going to ask me out.  Well, he kind of did.  He told me one day when we went to the grocery store together after work, "You know, I could see myself going out with 2 girls."  And then he told me the name of some other girl at the airport, and then me.  I know, who uses that kind of line to tell someone they like them?  Wes.  And honestly, it was pretty endearing.  It was his way of telling me that he liked me, and was very interested.

 

It moved pretty quickly after that.  One night a couple weeks later (December 20, 2002), we kissed for the first time.  And from there on out we were pretty much inseparable.  But about 2 months later (because it was already in the plans before we started dating), I headed off to Nepal for 4 wonderful months.  Wes flew to Nepal the last week I was in Nepal.  We flew back to the States together, but decided to meet up with my parents and hang out in Bergen, Norway for a few days (where my mother is from).  And a couple of days into our stay in Bergen, on top of a beautiful mountain, where the midnight sun was high in the sky at 10pm.....as we were overlooking the sea, the mountains, and the fjords, Wes got down on one knee and proposed.  It was a beautiful moment.

The view from where Wes proposed.  Bergen, Norway.

We got married about 3 months later on October 4th, 2003. We had a couple of really difficult first years of marriage, then got into some really awesome years of marriage, and here we are over 7 years later.


We are about to become parents of two beautiful little children.  The two of us have had some rough spots even in this last year, as we have struggled through some of our own baggage in the midst of the anticipation of this adoption.  It hasn't all been daisies and roses, but it has all been worth it.   I have to say that since we received the referral for our sweet ones, it seems like Wes and I have grown closer and closer.  I mean, we've always had a blast together, and we've always been best friends, and we say "I love you," about a million times a day, but these last four months have been special.  We are a bundle of nerves as we prepare to leave in less than 48 hours now.  Wes's stomach has been upset for the past few days, and my legs have been achy, and the other day I even found it painful to breath for a while.  Stress much?  :)  But we are excited.  We are in love.  We are one.


Wesley, my Wesley, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways....
-I love the way you pace the floors when you're watching Kentucky basketball.
-I love the way you crack up whenever you watch Scooby Doo or Danger Mouse.
-I love the way you nurse an itty bitty glass of bourbon for hours as you work on your writing.
-I love that no matter how many times I tell you your Jerry Clower jokes are not funny, you keep telling me them anyways, always hoping that one day I will laugh.
-I love how passionate you get about pretty much anything.
-I love that you will sing your heart out, even if you aren't in the right key.  You don't care, because you love to sing, and I love that.
-I love that you love to cook for us, and are always willing to make dinner after a long day of hard work.
-I love how great you are with our friends' kids.  You are SO great with kids.
-I love how compassionate you are, and how willing you are to help anyone in need.
-I love how unselfish you are, and how you have taught me so much about giving.
-I love that you are such a wonderful and patient teacher.  You have taught me how to shoot a basketball with good form.  You made me learn to shoot with my left hand, which I hated at first, because I told you it was impossible.  Now I can shoot pretty well with my left hand and I love you for that.
-I love how passionate you are about the Word, and how you really study and think about it.
-I love your obsession with good pens.
-I love that you love almost any food out there.  Nepali food, Chinese food, Ethiopian food....you get excited about it all.
-I love that you are quicker than me at whipping out pictures of our babies to show anyone who cares.
-I love how excited you get about teaching Alex & Eliana about good literature, and of course I love how excited you get about teaching them to shoot a basketball the right way.
-I love that you tell me when you are nervous or scared about being a parent (because I am too)
-I love that you tell me you love me no matter who's around.
-I love that you tell me you love me even after a two second conversation on the phone.
-I love your blue eyes.
-I love your big lips.
-I love your curly hair.
-I love the twinkle in your eye when you smile, which looks like you've got a secret that you are excited to tell me.
-I love how you love me.
-I love you.

I am so excited to walk this journey with you, Wesley!  There is no one else I'd rather walk it with.  You are an amazing husband and my best friend, and soon you will be the greatest Daddy the world has ever seen.  I love you!

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I thought I'd go hippie here in honor of the two days we have left until we leave.  Peace.





Monday, January 10, 2011

Need I Say More?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The heart of a child....

Today I'm going to do something different, and I'm going to tell you about a beautiful girl named, Annie.  She is 7 years old, and she is the daughter of Kristi, one of my of my dearest friends from college (go Asbury!).  Annie (along with her parents and two younger brothers) lives in Kurdistan (Northern Iraq).  

Toby, Kristi, Annie, Tim, Jesse
They moved to Kurdistan in May of 2009 and never looked back.  Annie's mom is one of those awesome women that tends to just go with the flow wherever she is, and she is a complete hoot.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, we started calling each other, Fatty.  Don't know why, but I DO know that we're the only people we can say that too, and we think we're hilarious when we do.  Ah I miss laughing with Kristi.

Before they left for Kurdistan, God gave me a picture of Annie.  She was dressed like some kind of Samurai princess.  She was holding up a big Samurai sword high in the air, and she was standing on top of a mountain, looking over all kinds of valleys and mountains in the distance.  I knew then that God was saying that this little girl would be a warrior for the Lord, and that she would be a defender of the weak and of those who have no voice.  She was bold, and had now fear.  Wow, right?

Beautiful Annie.
Well this little girl also has a hugely generous heart.  One day in home school, Kristi was teaching the kids about Ethiopia.  



She told them that Wes and I were adopting twins from Ethiopia.  When Annie heard that Wes and I were raising money to help bring our twins home, she wanted to help.  Apparently she ran into her room and came back with all the money she had and declared it was going toward bringing Alex & Eliana home.


 Yeah, I had a pretty good cry after I read that post.  It was so humbling, and wow, it seriously touched our hearts in a big way.  I pray that our children will grow to have generous hearts like Annie's.  Annie's money was one of the last contributions that helped us get fully funded.  How special is that?  Awesome.


Those eyes and that smile show so much beauty, kindness, and generosity.  Love it.


 So just for fun, I thought I would do a little interview with her.  I sent her a few fun questions, and she gave her real and honest responses.  I love it!


What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a famous artist. I love drawing and painting. I would paint pictures of my house and Kurdistan! It would help people who have never been to Kurdistan to see how beautiful it is and then maybe they would come here and help tell about J.sus!

What is your favorite food?
I love Kiri. It’s a kind of cheese that you can get here. It’s salty and soft…like cream cheese.

What's your favorite thing about Iraq?
I love the big tree that we can see from our house. We call it the Tree of Life. We love to go there for picnics and adventures. One time I went there to draw it for art in home school.

What's your least favorite thing about Iraq?
I don’t like that there are scorpions, centipedes and cochroaches here. We have had all of those in our house before. Mostly scorpions.

Why did you want to give money to our adoption fund?
I wanted to give my money because I just wanted to. I felt the need to give it to you. In my heart I guess I just felt J.sus wanted me to give it to you.

If you could be any super hero, who would she be?
When I play dress up with my brothers, I am “Super Star”. I flash my light on bad guys and they would be blinded for a little bit and then I would punch them out.
 
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I would give half to you and keep half for us and buy a bicycle, a scooter and a car since my parent’s car is broken down right now. It would be my car though and I would drive my parents around in it if they needed to go places. It would be a black mini-van!


You are beautiful girl, Annie!  The Lord is growing you up to be a strong, beautiful and bold daughter of God!   

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*And just a side note.  It's 4 days until we leave for Ethiopia!  Gulp!  All bags are packed and ready to go!