Monday, December 26, 2011

Last Day in Ethiopia - Day 10!

Shopping - Packing
Saturday  November 26, 2011

Lazy morning.  Great breakfast by Aster.  Omelet and fresh, homemade biscuits with jam.  Just coffee for me and a bite of Frank's biscuit.  Haven't had much of an appetite since I got sick on Monday.

It's so nice to hang out with everyone at breakfast.  See the babies play.  Great to see the bonding happen between the babies and their new forever family.

Koen was loving all the daddy time he was getting on this trip.  Love watching them play super heroes and pretend.

Beky picked us up about 11 am.  We had a few last minute things to do.  We stopped at a church to buy wood crosses.  The crosses in Ethiopia are really different and there are crosses for each region.

I really wanted one last macchiato so we went to Tomoca - so good!  We bought some more books at the book store and a map of Ethiopia from a guy on the street.

A lot of beggars today approaching the car.  Moms nursing their babies, little children, disabled - so sad.

We then returned to the Post Office Market to buy the puzzles we saw last week.  A wood puzzle of Africa and one with all different animals - stamped "handmade by the disabled in Addis" on the back.  Also bought a silver cross.

It was neat, awesome really, to see the little boy again that sold us the root toothbrush last week.  Once he saw me he got the biggest smile of recognition on his face and his eyes lit up.  He just kept shyly waving at me.  Loved it.

Back at BJoes we had about 45 minutes to wait for Nate from Connected In Hope to pick up some scarves.  In the meantime Becca and Kirk got home and said the Wood Carriers Shop was closed for some bazaar and she really wanted scarves.  So Becca and Kirk rode with Nate to the shop and helped get scarves ready and picked up a few for themselves :)

Gave baby M his last shot.  Such a good little baby :)  He let me hold him for about 10 seconds then wanted Daddy.  He started really laughing today - loved seeing that!  He is doing so much better now.

We said goodbye to baby M and his mommy and daddy around 4:30 pm.  We plan to keep in touch - at least through Facebook :)

Packing wasn't as hard this time around - thank goodness! 

We all ordered an early dinner from Makush and had our last dinner at BJoes.  Genet and Marta were there tonight.  Marta is just the sweetest.  Genet is wonderful. 



Genet walked us over to the art gallery across the driveway.  Five artists have studios in this real cool house.  Very artsy.  We met 4 of the 5 artists and walked around their gallery and in each studio.  Just beautiful.  I mean eye-catching pops of bright color; amazing talent.  We bought one piece that I knew was meant for our house as soon as I saw it.  It screams Ethiopia.

We said our final goodbyes, paid our tabs, took last minute photos, hugged and said goodbyes again.  Beky drove us to the airport and had help this time with our luggage - needed 2 cars because we do not know how to pack light.  He knew some of the porters when we arrived and they handled all of our bags and raced us right through to the terminal.  Tipped them 100 Birr each - about 6 USD.

goodbye photo with Becca, Kirk and Mollie

goodbye to Beky

As soon as a child is spotted in lines they are whisked right up to the front (at least in our case).  This happened both trips with Ethiopian Air.  The children are served first on the airplane too.  No waiting in lines for visa or immigration with Koen :)

So now we are sitting her at the gate waiting to board.  It's 9:40 pm and Koen is sleeping on the bench.  I'm hoping we all sleep most of the way home.  We are scheduled to land in DC at 7:40 am.

Side Notes

Book World - bought Ethiopian Traditional Games for 15 Birr.  Has a great story behind it.

Other things I observed during our stay: 

1.  No road rage.  There are no traffic signals and cars/taxis/trucks/animals everywhere but did not see road rage once.  Everyone just takes turns.  Nice.

2.  No smoking.  I told Beky that I didn't see one person smoking anywhere (and there are a LOT of people).  He told me it is very shameful to be seen smoking, especially for women. 

3.  Very affectionate.  Men often walk holding hands and ladies arm in arm.

Sunday  November 27, 2011
My Birthday

We arrived in DC on schedule.  Shuttled our tired bodies to the hotel - checked in - dropped our bags - freshened up - and met Cary and Kaylin for a late birthday lunch.

When we met Yoftahe - one of the drivers in Ethiopia - he told us his brother had an Ethiopian restaurant in Alexandria.  We decided then that we would be having my birthday meal with the kids at this restaurant.  It was perfect really - close to where Kaylin lives and Cary was traveling through DC heading back to Duke.


Food was amazing.  His brother knew who we were since Yoftahe took a picture of us with him while in Ethiopia and sent it to his brother.  It really was great meeting him.

Yoftahe's brother in his restaurant

outside the restaurant with Cary and Kaylin (Koen is sleeping in the stroller)

We about passed out as soon as we got back to our hotel.  Heading back home in the morning.  Can't stop thinking about my little girl we had to leave behind :(

Present day - December 26:  I'm going back!  Koen and I leave on January 1st to take custody of Beza!  Excited, nervous, anxious!  We will be living in Ethiopia until the US Embassy says we can bring our little girl home.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ethiopia Day 9

Shopping - Government Orphanages
Friday  November 25, 2011

We were meeting the Robbins and Belay at Kolfe Orphanage at 2 pm today.  Before that we did a little shopping.

We visited the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association Project.  This is a place where women can now sit and make scarves instead of walk Entoto Mt. carrying 75 pound bunches of eucalyptus on their backs for 18 miles.  (p.s. please visit to read more about these women and order one of their scarves - I have a few and one of the tote baskets!)

We then shopped at Shiro Meda for traditional clothing for Beza and Koen.  Bought a few other things there too.  It's a great place for the clothing though.  Thinking of getting more outfits in bigger sizes for Beza to have through the years.  I asked one of the girls at BJoes what would the one thing be she would absolutely want to have if she was moved to the U.S. and she said traditional clothing.

I can't even put into words my thoughts about our afternoon at the orphanages.  First Kolfe, the boys orphanage; then Kebebe TShehai, the babies; and lastly Kechene, the girls orphanage.  I'm going to have to come back to journal about all that - just so heart breaking.

boys chopping wood for cooking

sweet boys looking for a little attention :)

Each boy I looked at I thought this boy does not have anyone; no one to bring schoolwork home to; no one to comfort him when he's sick or hurt; no one to clap for him on the sidelines of the soccer field.  These boys learn very young how to fend for themselves.  I wanted to fix it for all of them.

the orphanage puppy - very friendly and so cute

A Gladney mom started a music program for the boys and brought over several instruments.  They get lessons each week.  We asked this young man to play for us and he shyly accepted praise - he was very good.

the dorm buildings

puppy brought Koen a shoe

playing soccer - Koen noticed right away that one boy did not have any shoes

Kirk doing pull ups with one of the boys :)

every time I see this it amazes me - sharing the road with the mules

the baby orphanage - picture taking is forbidden once inside

Beza spent 2 months here

Kechene - the older girls orphanage - ages 7 to 18

Belay invited us to join him for a traditional Ethiopian dinner tonight.  This is usually done during the second trip for embassy but since Belay is resigning and won't be with Gladney in January when we hopefully return to bring Beza home he asked us to join him now.  We had an awesome dinner at Yod Abyssinia with the Robbins and McDonalds.  The food was so good.  And there was dancing for entertainment.  Really good dancing. 

Becca had her hair braided by one of the girls at Kechene earlier today

Belay getting his groove on :)

Koen is behaving like a rock star.  He has been so good on this trip.  A great little traveler with a big heart.

Gave baby M another shot tonight.  He is such a trooper.  Tomorrow one more.

I can't believe we are in Ethiopia - heading home tomorrow.  I wish we didn't have to leave without Beza.  This has been a crazy emotional roller coaster ride for me.  A trip of extreme highs and lows.  Guilt, confusion, love, doubt - just crazy. 

Leda left with little B today.  So excited for them and can't wait to hear how they are once home.

Side Notes

Kalekidon (kale key don) - little girl about 4 or 5 years old at Kechene orphanage.  As soon as we arrived she took me by the hand and didn't let go.  I asked why she was at the girls' orphanage and not at the babies.  The girls' orphanage starts at age 7.  I was told sometimes little ones do end up here.  She was too young to be there.  She held my hand the entire time Belay took us on tour of the buildings and grounds.  She led me to see the cows and roosters.  And then took me to an office to find a piece of paper and crayon.  I drew a pink heart and colored it in.  She smiled - looked at it for awhile - turned the paper over and drew her own heart just like mine.  I was so impressed and clapped for her - she was so proud.   Her head was shaved and her pants had a tear down the whole backside and her blue undies were showing.  The pants were too big and she had to hold them up with one hand.  I folded the waist over a few times so they would stay up.  I was watching her play on one of the  jungle gym climby things when I saw that it was time for us to go.  Belay and the others were getting into their cars so I started to walk toward our car.  A bunch of the older girls started to follow and got in between Kalekidon and me.  By the time I got into the car I could hear her crying but couldn't see her.  I couldn't stand it.  I got out of the car to look for her and  when I found her she was looking at me as if to say "how can you leave me?"  I motioned her to come to me.  She wouldn't and looked down at the ground.  I went to her and scooped her up.  She was crying so hard she couldn't catch her breath.  My heart hurt so bad - it was horrible.  I held onto her so tight.  I wanted to take her with me.  All these girls need moms - someone to hold them when they're scared, someone to clap for them when they draw pink hearts.  It was time to go.  I will never forget her.

Please visit if you want to see 2 adoptive moms making a difference for the children in Ethiopia.  One of them is the Gladney mom I wrote about who brought over musical instruments for the boys at Kolfe.  I have had personal contact with both these beautiful moms and just think they are amazing.  Their latest work was raising money to purchase Christmas gifts for the children at the government orphanages.  I know people are often skeptical about donating money not knowing whether the funds really go to where it's supposed to go.  Frank and I made a donation for Christmas gifts for boys at Kolfe knowing without a doubt the funds will be used to bring a little joy to those boys on January 7 - Ethiopian Christmas.

Please also visit and/or if you are interested in sponsoring a child in Ethiopia.  I contacted Karen Wistrom (through her blog family from afar) when we were interested in sponsoring and that is how we were connected with Firtuna (Ethiopia Day 2) a year and a half ago.  Karen is another beautiful woman making a difference for the children in Ethiopia.  I can't say enough wonderful things about her and this organization.
Karen took pictures of each and every child receiving their care packages from their sponsor family - she sends every family a picture so you can see the wonderful things happening through your sponsorship.  Just love this.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ethiopia Day 8

Beza - Thanksgiving
Thursday  November 24, 2011

Very emotional visit.  I knew it would be.  Having such conflicting feelings today.  I knew she would not want anything to do with me.  Every visit was worse than the last.  As soon as she saw me she started to cry.

One of the caretakers took Koen and Beza outside and Beza was very happy with that.  When I showed up the fear and tears were evident on her face.

 happy outside with Koen - taking him by the hand

 the look on her face when I showed up

my sweet babies

I gave her her first lollipop.  Took lots of pictures of that.  At one point, 45 minutes into the visit, she seemed to warm up a little and was sort of holding my hand.  And the caretaker actually slid away.  But then Beky showed up and approached her and it was all over.

the caretakers are beautiful inside and out - love the children

not sure about this lollipop thing

my cute bug

Saying goodbye was absolutely awful.  How many weeks or months until we see our little girl again?  I've had a very hard day; crying every time someone asks how our visit was.  I am a ball of emotions.

saying goodbye was not easy

(p.s. During out visits we did play with all of the children and gave them loving.  I just can't share those photos - wish I could because the children are just adorable.  There was one little girl probably under 2 years that wanted me to hold her the entire time.  She was a little love.  Kept thinking to myself "why doesn't Beza want this?"  We were not supposed to bond with Beza this trip.  I don't think it's possible to bond in an hour anyway.)

We were going to go to Entoto Mt but on the way Koen started crying about bad belly pain.  We had to pull over at a coffee shop and find a bathroom.  The toilet had no seat and it was filthy.  I tried to hold him hovering over the potty - gross - trying to get the germ-x and toilet paper out of my back pack that is on my back while holding the hovering Koen the whole time listening to him insisting on sitting lower into the toilet.  Dropped the toilet paper into a dirty puddle on the floor.  It was a mess!

Frank and Beky were sipping macchiatos when I came upstairs from the bathroom disaster.  I may or may not have shot daggers at them with my eyes :)  We cancelled our trip to Entoto for today.

We then drove to Gladney Kechene Girls Shop and picked up a few things.  Had a second episode of diarrhea there.  They had a toilet seat :)

Beky stopped the sugar cane guy pushing cane in a wheelbarrow on the side of the road and we bought 3 pieces for 10 Birr.  He sliced it open and then we chewed pieces and sucked out the sugar and spit out the bark.  It was sweet - a good treat.

I cried on and off all afternoon :(  My poor housemates - I think they were afraid to even look at me because if they did I would just start to cry.

Genet and the BJoe ladies made a wonderful Thanksgiving feast for all of us - chicken, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, salad, rice and gravy.

the chickens soaked in vinegar

the potato smasher

the wonderful ladies of BJoes

It was a wonderful gathering and felt like family. 

Genet brought her 2 children and Koen was in heaven having playmates.  Zak asked if he could stay the night :)  They played outside, on the iPad and DS, sliding in the halls - it was great.

Becca and Kirk bought 2 awesome cakes for dessert and honeywine.  We brought flowers for the table.

I needed a happy, loving, thankful end to this day.  It really was wonderful.

Mollie baked the brownies and we gave them names: chocolate crackers and chocolate brittle.  We weren't sure what happened to the brownies.  It wasn't until after dinner that someone figured out the brownies baked at 250 Celsius (which is 482 Fahrenheit).  When Mollie told Genet the brownies needed to bake at 350 Genet replied that her oven only went to 250.  It was pretty funny.

Good laughs, conversation, company, food and just feelings of thanks.

Other Stuff

scaffolding on new construction

the scaffolding for sale - it's eucalyptus

Doctors without Borders

our room which is out back

back yard at BJoes