Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Little Things...

Okay, now that I’ve written about our crazy-difficult struggles, I thought I would brighten up things a bit with some of our favorite things in Ethiopia….well, at the very least, they are things that bring rest to our weary souls in the midst of a very trying adoption process.

Last week we went to the pool at the Sheraton for the first time in the 10 weeks we’ve been here.  Wow.  Talk about getting a little R&R.  It was AMAZING.  I know it sounds silly to say it was amazing.  I mean, it’s just a pool with some palm trees right?  Oh, but it is so much more!

When your daily walks are composed of pollution filled streets, cars and traffic everywhere, crowded sidewalks, people begging for money, people trying to sell you everything under the sun, picket pockets, etc. etc….well, if your daily walks were composed of that, you would understand what a day at the Sheraton can do for you.

The Sheraton is a seriously nice hotel in the middle of Addis Ababa.  It is nicer than any hotel I have ever been to, and it is outrageously expensive.  If you had talked to me 10 weeks ago, I would have been embarrassed to say I went there, because it seemed like such an overly opulent hotel in the middle of extreme poverty.  Well, as an American staying in Ethiopia, once you’ve been here for a while, that hotel is a welcome respite from the every day life in Ethiopia.  It feels like a little slice of America, and the air is fresh and clean (I think this might have to do with all the flowers, trees, and green grass they have there).  There are some fantastic restaurants with delicious club sandwiches.  And then there’s the pool.  Oh the pool.  We just basked in the glory of the pool.

It was Alex & Eliana’s first time in the pool and they loved it.  They just splashed and played.  Alex had absolutely NO fear.  We were in this really shallow part of the pool, but he kept crawling/swimming deeper and deeper.  We kept having to stear him away from the deep waters.  I think he’s going to be an excellent swimmer.

 After a little play time, the twins took a nice hour-long nap poolside, as the adults relaxed and swam some more.

I don’t want to leave out the wonderful Mann family!  They were with us too, and what would we do without them?!  I can’t imagine having done the last 6 weeks without them.  They live in the room next door to us, and we spend at least one meal together a day.  Usually, that meal is a meal at Kaldi’s.  But the other day (Thursday) they treated us to a meal at the Sheraton in celebration of their documents being submitted to embassy (may they go home soon!!!).  It was a huge blessing to us, as we definitely needed some cheering up.  Well, the Sheraton worked.  We ate lunch, and then decided to splurge on a little poolside fun.  I just can’t tell you how relaxing it is, and how tempting it is to just want to stay there forever.  Fortunately, I think it costs a minimum of about $400 a night, so the temptation is nothing more than a sweet imagining.

We left the Sheraton around 5:30, and decided we might as well get dinner at Kaldi’s.  Oh sweet Kaldi’s.  Once again we must thank the Mann’s for really getting us into Kaldi’s.  And then the mango juice…and then the strawberry juice (holy crap it’s amazing!)…and then they introduced us to the French toast…..oh….my….goodness….some of the BEST French toast you will find in all of Ethiopia…maybe even the world.  It is AWESOME.  I would probably eat it at every meal if it was across the street.

So here’s to sweet times in Ethiopia, and sweet times with generous friends.  May we all go home soon, and may all of this some day be but a sweet memory.

Friday, March 25, 2011

When the Unknown is just too much....

The last few days were a very dark time for me here in Ethiopia. There are many emotions I have gone through. I have cried many many tears, and questioned God, and wondered why this has all been so painful.

About 3 days ago, I lay on the bed crying. I couldn’t understand why we were hitting delay after delay. Why couldn’t one single thing go smoothly? Why were there so many questions? Why were there so few answers. We have hit snags with the birth mother. We have had the question come up about whether or not the twins could be taken away from us. We have had problems with our agency. We have had constant miscommunication with just about every person we have met here. It has been so hard. It has been overwhelming. It has been almost too much.

As I lay on the bed crying, Wes sat down next to me and began to read scripture aloud. He read for quite a while. After he finished reading through the Word, he began to pray, and as Wes prayed he began to cry also. And there we were on our bed here in Addis Ababa, while the twins were sleeping, after 9 long weeks….and we wept. We wept together over everything. Great sobs escaped my lips, and my heart ached with the pain of everything that had happened. We had tried to be strong for so long, but we were at the end of our strength. And so we wept more. We had nothing left. God had to come through, or we would have nothing left to give. We would have nothing left to be able to continue to hope.

God had told us to pack our bags and get ready. He had told us to just trust Him. And yet here we were, once again, being told it could be several weeks before we left. More interviews had to be conducted. Paperwork had to be redone. Fear was plaguing us. What if we lost our babies? What if Wes had to go home ahead of me? How long would this take?

Had we missed God? Had we misheard Him? Had we done something wrong? Why couldn’t one single thing go right?

These were the questions that were hitting us….well, mainly me. My faith had been challenged, and I felt like I was losing the challenge. I had been strong for so long. I had been positive for so long, but I felt like my tank was empty. God was going to have to come through in a big way, or I would lose all hope.

Two days ago, when we were actually told it would be several more weeks, I felt crushed. I felt worse than the day before. There is nothing more difficult than the unknown in the adoption process. The unknown can mean so many things. It can mean long stays. It can mean faulty paperwork. It can mean losing your children. You just don’t know, because it is unknown, and all you can do is wait on the unknown, and pray it doesn’t steal your joy away.

And yet, in the back of my mind, and in the deepest parts of my soul, I still know that God is good. I know that He is for us and not against us. And as I lay there on the bed, weeping once again, Wes said something very important to me. He said that the enemy can try and take many things away from us. He can take away our homes, our families, our possessions….but there is one thing he can never take away from us….he can never take away our intimacy with Christ. And once again, we sat there, and just entered into His presence, and into His rest.

And today I am feeling a renewed sense of hope. I am sensing a refreshing of faith and rest. God has not left us, nor will He ever leave us. Today I hold firm to that truth. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I can tell you that we will persevere, and even after everything we will stand.

Right now, we are believing in miracles, and praying that we will be able to go home next week. This will take miracles in many forms, but we know that our God is able. Would you believe with us?

And just so you know we can still laugh and have fun here, we thought we'd share a little video of our booger monster. She has been quite sick, but it makes for great video footage. I'm also enjoying watching Alex try to gouge her eye out with his toy...Ah, siblings.

video

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Another Day...


Not going to write much today.  Just thought you'd enjoy a few snapshots of the regular sights that can be seen in our everyday lives.

Alex & Eliana both love looking out the windows of our room.  They love looking at the people playing in the courtyard down below.

Eliana has become an expert at crawling onto and off of the shelf on the table.  She thinks she's hilarious. 

They both love crawling all over Wes.  He is like a magnet to these babies!  He is such a good daddy! 

These are the sweet times.









Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 62 of Our Lives in Ethiopia...

Well, my buddy Bex has inspired me with one of her more recent posts, to blog about our daily activities. I did a post like this in the first few weeks we were here, but I haven’t done one since we’ve had the twins, so here goes.

7:00-8:00am

Somewhere in this hour of time, the twins wake up. Sometimes they are up at the same time, and sometimes it is in half hour intervals. If they wake up at the same time, you can often walk in their room and find them laughing at each other from across the room, as if one of them has just told the other a really funny joke. These are my favorite wakeup times. I love that they are enjoying one another now. At the orphanage, they didn’t interact much, so seeing them really know one another and play with one another is a real treat.

8:00-9:30/10:00

This is breakfast/play time. They usually have a bottle and some oatmeal during this time, and then they play with their toys. They have already learned how to be selfish (or perhaps it just comes naturally), and they are always stealing each other’s toys. It doesn’t matter if one has the exact same toy. If the other one is holding it, it is much more enticing. Right now Alex is trying to steal Eliana’s bottle of formula right out of her mouth even though he has his own.

As you can see, there is some good jealousy going on here.
This is the time we also get our breakfast served in our room.

10:00-11am/12pm

This is usually nap time unless we are out and about the city.

12pm-1/2pm

We usually have lunch around 12 or 12:30. If we are all very motivated, we leave the guesthouse to go eat with Josh, Bex & Mercy. Josh and Bex have been our constant companions these past few weeks. They are staying in the room right next door to us, and they are also some of my brother and sister-in-law’s very best friends. Pretty cool, actually. The got their little Mercy about four days after we got Alex & Eliana, so we have all been learning the joys and frustrations of parenthood together. It’s been a true blessing.

By the way, our very favorite lunch spot is Island Breeze. All seven of us hire a taxi and devour their awesome chips and salsa (the only truly good chips and salsa we have found here in Addis), and have some amazing entrée.

3-5pm

This is afternoon naptime. As long as we are at the guesthouse during this time, the twins both usually go down during this time. Sometimes it is for an hour, and sometimes two. During this time Wes and I usually just rest. Sometimes we surf the web (if the internet is working), sometimes we read, or sometimes we just veg and watch some lame movie on our television (okay, this would mostly be my activity. Wes is much more inclined to put on some praise and worship and write in his journal.).

5-7pm

Play time once again. They are crawling up a storm these days, and their speeds are increasing exponentially. When we first arrived in Ethiopia, Alex could drag himself across the floor with his arms. Both him and Eliana had the same crawl. They both used one leg to help push them along on their bellies. Alex was really good at this, while Eliana was still learning and very slow. Now they are both quite speedy on all fours. No more dragging themselves on their bellies. Actually, Alex is cruising now. He can stand up by himself, as long as he has something to pull up on. He then cruises from one piece of furniture to another, always trying to reach for some “illegal” item that he is not allowed to touch. Eliana is just learning to pull herself up. She is not as strong as Alex yet, but she is scrappy (we call her Scrappy Doo), so she figures out how to get where she wants to go, even if it takes her a bit longer.

7-7:30pm

This is winding down time. Usually we feed them some oatmeal and some form of gerber baby food. We top it off with about a 4oz bottle of formula, and then hopefully lull them into a milk-drunken sleep. Eliana must be going through some kind of growth spurt or something, because she can seriously pack in the food this week. She eats and eats and eats. Alex is not quite as eager to eat all the food, but he loves his bottle.

Eliana loves to eat. I think she looks like Alex here (not because of the mess, but because of the eyes).

We seem to have broken the habit of going to sleep with a bottle. In the orphanage, they would always put them to bed with a bottle. It became a comfort item for them. Sometimes we could give Eliana an empty bottle, and she would fall asleep. This past week we started doing bedtime sans bottle. We just got them nice and full so they were still giddy on their milk-drunk. It seems to be working! Very exciting!

7:30-9pm

Once the twins are in bed, we usually order dinner from Ice Blue. They deliver to our guest house which is a HUGE blessing when you have little ones! Mercy usually goes down at the same time as the twins, so Josh, Bex, Wes and I often have dinner together. We sit and chat about life, spirituality, parenthood, movies, etc. etc. We relax and have a good time together.

9-11:30pm

Josh and Bex usually go back to their room at about 9pm, so Wes and I just hang out together until we get too sleepy to stay awake. We usually watch a movie and chill. Last night it was Ice Age and Bourne Supremacy (these were the two movies that were on tv at the time. I switched back and forth between the two of them.). Okay, I will have to admit that Wes didn’t really watch those with me. He spent most of his time writing, and checking on the March Madness schedule. I’m such a couch potato!

And finally we lay our heads down and go to sleep.

Alex and Eliana usually wake up once in the middle of the night (around 3am), but it is nothing a few ounces of formula doesn’t cure. Then they are right back to sleep. Although, the last 2 nights Eliana slept through the night. I can definitely get used to that!

So there you have our days in a 24-hour time-span. It’s not bad! Once we got into some kind of schedule, we got a lot more rest and started enjoying the twins a lot more. They both have their own charming ways that melt your heart when you are the most frustrated with them. Alex may be banging on the window or wall until you want to pull your hair out, but then he crawls up to the side of the bed, pulls himself up so you just can just see him from his neck up, and a huge smile spreads across his face, as if he has just came out of hiding and surprised you. That never gets old. He has yet to show us his true personality, but we know it’s coming. We think it has taken him a bit more time to really adjust and come into his own. We think he grieved the loss of his nanny and orphanage much more than Eliana did. I can’t wait to see what kind of boy and man this little baby grows into! Eliana tends to be our easy baby, and she is hysterical. She has developed her own little personality, and it is so funny. Our favorite thing she does is to throw both of her fists up in the air as if she has something important to say, and she starts shouting, “Geh-geh, geh-geh!” It is awesome. We have no idea what she is saying, but we love it.

It is taking some time, but bonding is taking place. It hasn’t been easy for me. I have found myself feeling like a horrible mother at times, because I just get so stinkin’ frustrated with them at times. I don’t know what is going through Alex’s head when he is crying and moaning about going to sleep. Is it because he is grieving the loss of his other life at the orphanage, or is he just being stubborn? And why is it that sometime it seems like Eliana is inconsolable? But I feel like the questions are slowly being answered, and I am starting to understand their needs better. And as this happens, I feel more capable to be a good mother, and they seem to be much happier and more comfortable with me.

I wouldn’t trade this time with Alex & Eliana for anything. It has been hard, but irreplaceable. I cherish it. Both Wes and I have cherished it. And now we will cherish being home in a way that others may never understand, who haven’t been through what we have been through. We started parenthood in a very unconventional way, and I am SO thankful for it. So many people talk about how they were super anal about every little thing with their first babies, and then became a lot more lax with their next children. Well, here in Ethiopia, there really is no opportunity to be anal about parenthood. I watched nannies give our babies lollipops in the orphanage. I watched them let them hold objects that were total choking hazards (no matter how many times I tried to hide the objects!). They sleep in shallow cribs where it’s VERY easy to fall out of (Eliana did! But that’s a story for another day.). These are just a few of the things you have to chill out about. It’s all a part of the experience, and needless to say, Wes and I are pretty darn laid back with Alex & Eliana.

Life is good. We just can’t really complain too much. But we miss home, and will definitely not complain when we get the stamp of approval to head that way! ☺


Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 59 in Ethiopia...

es, it’s true. 59 days ago, we arrived in the beautiful land of Ethiopia. I remember walking out of the airport and into the cool night air. I breathed in the air deep, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me. We were finally here. After so many years of hoping to get to this point, that hope was finally becoming reality. We were about to meet our children for the first time. We were about to go from a family of 2 to a family of 4. It seemed almost too good to be true.

And here we are, 59 days later, getting ready to go home. No, we have no guaranteed date of departure yet, but we are still getting ready. About a week ago Wes felt like the Lord said to get ready to go home, just like the Lord told the Israelites to get their sandals on and their belts fastened on the night of Passover. They needed to be ready at any moment to leave. That’s when Wes started to pack our things. Of course we had no clue when we would be able to leave, but we wanted to be obedient to what the Lord had spoken to Wes. So we have two suitcases packed right now, just ready to be thrown on a plane. Do we know anything for sure? No. But we are trusting that God is taking care of everything.

Our hearts are nervous and eager with anticipation. We are so excited to be going home soon. I don’t think either of us has thought much about what it will feel like to leave our home of the last 2 months. We are too excited about the thought of being in our own home at last, and getting to start life with the twins in the States.

Today is a new day filled with hope and promise. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

And here’s a few pics of the twins from yesterday. They took their first bath together in the bathtub. They LOVED it! They couldn’t have been any cuter. Makes me want to give them baths all the time. :)






*Sorry about the partial nudity, but who can resist a picture of a cute baby tushie!



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy 9 Month Birthday...

So today is the twins' 9 month birthday.  I thought some pictures were in order.  And seriously, they just keep getting cuter and cuter.

Exactly 8 weeks ago today, we met them for the first time.  It seems crazy that we've been here that long.  It's crazy that we've had them with us for a month now!  Kind of unbelievable.

Their latest activities:


Alex is cruising now.  He can walk from one fixture to the next, as long as it's within his reach.  He LOVES to walk.  He has no fear at all.  Aside from when he is tired, he is a happy boy, full of energy and smiles.  When he is tired, he fights sleep as hard as he can.  He literally cries and cries even when his eyes are closed.  Can't wait for this phase to pass.  :)


Eliana clapped on her own for the first time this past Wednesday.  It was awesome.  I have been doing a lot of clapping and silly songs with them, but they haven't repeated anything.  The other day at the doctor's office, Eliana finally put those cute little hands together, and smiled the whole time.  She is really our easy baby right now.  She doesn't fuss much, and talks a TON.  Her 4 sounds are, geh-geh, bah-bah, da-da, and ma-ma.  So cute!


All the pics were taken at the Sheraton, if you're curious.  That is the most ridiculously nice hotel in Ethiopia.  It's pretty much the nicest hotel I've ever been to.  We just used it for a nice photo backdrop.

*praying that we will be coming home soon!  Our documents are being submitted to the embassy soon, so we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grateful for the Little Things...


We have now been in Ethiopia for almost 2 months.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  In some ways, time seems to stand still here.  We often have to remind one another what day of the week it is, because there is no work schedule, and no weekly meetings to keep us on track.  Living in Ethiopia has been different.  I can’t really complain, because we have not lacked for much.  We have a nice little apartment setup here.  We have food delivered to our room every day.  We have two precious little ones who have changed our entire world.  For the most part, we have it really good. 

Of course, Dorothy was right….there really IS no place like home.  I can adapt pretty well to any country and any culture you set me in, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love home.  Wes and I both love home.  We love our house and our friends, and we love our Kentucky.  And there are some things about home we pray we will never take for granted again.  So today’s post is devoted to just that….

Things we miss and will forever cherish in the United States:

Strollers:  Wow, am I excited about using our stroller!  We got ourselves a double City Mini Jogger, and it is awesome.  I already did a trial run with my buddy Lisa’s children.  It is one smooth ride, and folds up perfectly into the trunk.  LOVE it.  Unfortunately, even if we had it with us in Ethiopia, it would be pointless.   For the most part, there is no stretch of sidewalk that lasts longer than 20 feet.  Usually, it is run down or busted every few feet.  Small piles of rubble are everywhere, and strollers would be pointless.  We are SO thankful for our Ergo carriers, but it will be nice to not have to carry our babies all the time.  Plus, I’d love to take a walk without having big sweaty marks all over my shirt from the little boiler makers that are our twins. 

Car Seats:  Oh how I can’t wait to have car seats!!!  After the 8 hour roundtrip with our twins the other day in a little mini-bus with no reclining seats, I am truly looking forward to car seats.  Oh my goodness!  I can only imagine what it must be like to not have an infant in your lap while you are riding in the car.  My butt would not be in pain from the hard seat, and my back wouldn’t feel like it was breaking, from trying to carefully hold my baby while we are going over bumpy roads.  I am dreaming of the day! 

Our own car:  Gosh do we miss having a car!  Here we pretty much have to depend on other people to do our driving.  And sometimes that means you leave late, because Ethiopian time isn’t always on track with American time.  It also means you have to spend a chunk of money any time you want to go anywhere that’s not within walking distance.  We really miss being able to jump into the car any time we want. 

Quiet Neighborhood Strolls: In the States there have been plenty of times I didn’t feel like going for a walk in my neighborhood because I felt like there were too many people out, and I just wanted peace and quiet.  Hahhahaha (I am laughing to myself).  What a ridiculous notion that was!  Now I am aching for that kind of stroll!  A quiet walk here would be virtually impossible!  At least here in the city.  Any walk here would entail people constantly coming up to us and asking for money.  People are always staring at us.  Everyone wants to come up and stare at and kiss the twins.   Traffic is never-ending.  Pollution fills the air, and there is no escaping it.  So now those neighborhood strolls are sounding like a dream come true.  I can just imagine it now.  As soon as we get home, I am going to bundle these little ones up, and we are going to take a nice afternoon walk through our neighborhood and it is going to be amazing.  I will breath the air in deep, and I will gladly smile and nod at the people sharing the same street as me. 

Our own kitchen:  Okay, so we have a kitchen here in our little apartment, but it is just a basic setup.  We have two electric burners, a sink, and a mini fridge.  We have no oven, so there is no baking taking place.  Plus, we only have a limited amount of dishes, so we are constantly washing those and bottles.  There’s just something about your own kitchen.  I miss it.

American Grocery Stores:  One of the reverse culture shock situations most people deal with when leaving a 3rd world country and returning to a 1st world country is grocery stores.  They are overwhelmed by the aisles upon aisles of food.  Well, right now, I am missing those aisles and all the variety.  I can’t wait to hit Kroger when we get back.  I’m going to get rotisserie chicken, cookie dough,  shredded cheese, hamburger meat, etc. etc.  I’m drooling.

Milk:  Well….good milk.  If any of you know me well, you know I LOVE milk.  I LOVE it.  It is like a midnight snack to me.  Nothing like a tall glass of ice cold milk.  Add it to a batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies, and I’m in heaven.  The milk here bites.  I have yet to find one that tastes good.  Thank you, Aimee, for sending that powdered milk.  It’s no Horizon’s Organic Milk, but it is WAY better than what they have here.

High Chairs/Booster Seats:  Seriously, there is no way you can know how amazing high chairs are until you live without them.  Ironically, since our first experience with being parents has started in Ethiopia, we can only imagine what it must be like to have high chairs accessible to you all the time.  Right now we usually just sit the twins on the couch or bed, and hope they don’t move too much while we feed them their apples and bananas.  Lime Tree is the only restaurant that has had high chairs (well, ones that don’t look like death traps), and the couple times we have been there, it has been like a dream come true being able to sit the twins in a chair instead of our laps, so we can actually eat.  It’s not like we can trade off.  We have TWO babies!  Each of us has to hold one, and try and wrangle them while we attempt to get some food into our mouths.  Once again I am so happy to have the Ergo.  They often hang out in the Ergo while we eat, as long as they aren’t too hot and cry to get out.  Note to self:  I MUST buy booster seats upon arrival in the States.  That’s one item we have yet to purchase!

ESPN:  Wes threw this one in.  Especially since we are in the peak of basketball season, we are really missing this one.   Lord let us PLEASE be home in time for March Madness!  Not really because we want to be home to watch basketball, but because we really really want to be home before the end of March!

3G:  Wow, we really miss being able to use our iPhones.  I know that sounds shallow, and it’s probably the least of our worries, but we still miss it.  Once you have access to the internet 24/7, you really miss it, and appreciate it.  We might as well throw in Internet access here also.  Internet access here is kind of crappy and very inconsistent.  I miss my high speed internet. 

Clean Air:  Aaaaah….clean air.  I love clean air!  Granted, after a while you kind of get used to the pollution here in the city, but you never forget about it.  I especially noticed the affects when we entered the U.S. embassy a few weeks ago.  They’ve got all this green grass and flowers, and are constantly watering everything.  It’s amazing what plants and green grass can do for your air quality.  When we were there I just kept taking in deep breaths.  It was so refreshing!  I just wanted to bottle up the air and take it with me.  I can’t wait to be in the beautiful rolling hills of Kentucky again, and soak up all the beautiful clean air.

Good Friends:  Wow.  I miss my friends.  Especially my girlfriends.  They know what this girl needs.  Aimee is especially good at anticipating my hair-playing needs, and cookie needs.  She knows me the best since we’ve been friends for the last 15 years. Lisa fulfills my funny bone (we laugh a ton together), and Angela is fantastic at getting passionate about everything I am passionate about.  Can’t wait to go to Chili’s with my girls again!  (mmmmm…margaritas, chips & salsa, chicken crispers, chocolate molten lava cake….)

Blue:  No, not the color.  Blue is our North American Retriever, and she may be the best dog I have ever known.  We miss her TONS!  She is SO sweet and loveable, and I can’t wait to introduce her to the twins.  She is SO good with kids and babies.  I think they are going to love her!

Okay, I’m sure I could go on and on….and please don’t take this post to be an anti-Ethiopia post.  It’s not!  It’s just a sincere appreciation of our home, and our country, and our culture.  I love traveling the world, and I love meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures, but there will never be any place like home.  For now, I will just go with my husband and two darlings (once they are fully strapped on in their Ergos, of course), join our friends, Josh, Bex, and their little Mercy Bear, walk down the stairs of our guest house, walk through a rocky alleyway, take a few deep breaths of exhaust fumes, and eat a good meal at Cloud 9.  Ah, life is good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Road trips and explosions....

On Thursday we took our first big road trip with the twins.

Back in the summer, we started sponsoring a 14 year old boy named, Brihaney,
through Project 61.  Our sponsorship allows him to go to a private school in
Shashamani where he is getting an education, 3 meals a day, clothing, and a
chance at a life he wouldn’t have had otherwise.  We feel so privileged to
be able to sponsor Brihaney.  It has been a true blessing to us.  So
needless to say, when Sumer told us she was taking a group up to Shashamani
on Thursday, we jumped at the chance to go, so we could finally meet
Brihaney in person.

Outside of Wes and I, 6 other Americans came along.  It was refreshing to
share this time with them, especially since we all sponsored children at
Project 61.  We all packed into a little mini bus, which seats about 12
people.  Shashamani is about 3 ½ hours away, so we settled into our seats,
and braced ourselves for the drive ahead with two 8 month olds in our laps
(no car seats required in this country!).

Alex & Eliana were fantastic!  As we drove through the Ethiopian
countryside, we saw beautiful landscapes covered in trees and camels.  I can
only imagine what it all must look like during the rainy season.  It must be
so lush and green.

I have never seen so many camels.  They were everywhere!
some of the gardens at the school in Shashamani.

About half way through the ride, Eliana had a nice little explosion in her
pants.  The pillow I was comfortably resting her on was now covered in it
too.  So much for riding in comfort!  It was quite the scene to watch as Wes
tried to move over 2 inches so I could somehow get a changing pad underneath
her and clean her off.  I was working in about 2 feet of space, so it was
nice and challenging.  But don’t worry.  There was victory.  She was changed
and in a new outfit in no time (okay, it took a little time, but thankfully
I had the help of several people in the bus).

We finally made it to the school at about 10:30 in the morning.  We met
Brihaney about an hour later once he got out of classes.  He is a sweet and
quiet boy.  He is polite and very respectful.  He just has a kind and gentle
spirit about him.  He doesn’t speak much English, but we had a few of the
other kids translate a few things for us.  We asked him what he wanted to do
once he was finished with school.  He said he wanted to be a doctor.
All the boys wanted to hang out with Wes.  These are several of the
kids from Project 61.
In the meanwhile, Eliana was being passed around from one student to
another.  Every once in awhile she would realize she wasn’t with me, and
would whimper to get back in my arms, but for the most part she allowed all
the kids to enjoy her company with ease.

At about noon, we went to eat lunch with Brihaney in the cafeteria.  I
brought a HUGE plate of injera and sheero to share with us.  As I was
finishing my first bite, I was alerted to a very precarious situation.
Kelly, one of the Americans with us, motioned to Eliana (who I was carrying
on my back at the time), and then told me not to move.  Yup.  You guessed
it.  Another explosion.  Lucky me.  ☺  Only this time it was worse.  Because
she had already had one earlier that day, I had wrapped an extra scarf
around me between myself and the Ergo, just in case of leakage from my
little girl.  Well, apparently, poo was leaking down the side of the Ergo,
and yes….there was even a pool of poop on the floor.  I mean seriously…that
takes some talent.  How in the world?!!!
Family picture.
Well, Kelly was my rescuer, and she walked carefully with me outside.  We
stopped under a tree, took the changing pad out, and she delicately helped
me get the Ergo off along with Eliana, without getting too much goo on me.
☺  I think the kids really enjoyed the sight.  Then Ben (another American
with us) joined the fun.  He’s also a father, and was SO gracious and helped
cleaned all the nastiness off of the Ergo and my scarf, as Kelly and I
worked on myself and Eliana.  They were my saviors!  Thank you, dear
experienced parents/friends!

So that was the excitement of my day.  Wes held Alex close in the Ergo the
entire day, and yet Alex decided to be kind and create no messes.  So nice
of him.
Doesn't Wes look good in a baby carrier?
Alex is also much more sensitive than Eliana, so he doesn’t do too well when
other people hold him for too long.  He is a complete Daddy’s boy, and
doesn’t want to be away from him too long.

Brihaney was really good with the twins.  He was the only one who got to
hold both of them, and he was very gentle and kind to them.  I love the
pictures of him helping Alex walk.  It is not uncommon for the kids to think
of their sponsors as family, so everyone was calling Alex & Eliana
Brihaney’s brother and sister.  It was really sweet.
I LOVE this one of the two of them.  Eliana is our little
smiler.

So that was our Thursday adventure.  Totally worth it.
okay, could that onesie be any cuter.  It's our favorite one for
Alex.

As for updates on embassy (I know you are all waiting to hear SOME news from
us), there isn’t much.  We are still waiting on one document in order to
submit all of our paperwork to the U.S. embassy.  It is not a difficult one
to obtain, though.  We should have it this week, and then perhaps we can
come home in 2 weeks or less.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?!  We think so.  We
will just wait and see, and trust that God has all things under control.  Of
course, we covet your prayers so keep them coming.  We are definitely ready
to come home, but are trusting that God knows what He’s doing.  He’s pretty
wise, after all.  ☺