Monday, 16 May 2011

Another Great Blog

In the absence of my blogging (more is coming, I promise!), go on over and visit my mom's blog about our adoption - Road to Addis. She just updated it after a long break!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Day Six Part I

    Day Six was spent in a variety of different ways - everything from holding babies to feeding monkeys. The monkeys were pretty cool, but the best part by far was meeting the director of the two orphanages we visited and hearing her vision. Stephne is a South African woman who moved to Ethiopia because her husband, a dentist, was going to do some dental work in Ethiopia. Stephne wasn't looking for a job, but she was soon asked by an organization if she would run their orphanage program. After the initial reserves and concerns resided, Stephne agreed and has since, by the power of God, run an amazing program.
     She met us at our hotel on the morning of Day Six and took us to one of the orphanages that she runs in Awasa.

The orphanage in Awasa

     She, together with her assistant, Hanook, told us about the history, vision, and current news about their orphanage. We were absolutely captivated.
Hanook and Stephne
     They each shared their stories (Hanook quit his successful job to join Stephne - he now specializes in maintaining a fabulous relationship with the government, a relationship crucial to running an orphanage), their desire to help the community (the organization they work for views adoption as the last option - their desire is that orphans stay in the community with close relatives and the organization invests a lot in community work), and the joys and struggles of running an orphanage. When talking about working with abandoned and orphaned kids, Stephne said, "We cry here more than we laugh. But there will be rejoicing in heaven." 
     After hearing their stories, we walked through the orphanage and snuggled the adorable little babies. Due to privacy restrictions (these kids will be adopted out of Ethiopia) we weren't able to take pictures. However, just imagine about the cutest baby you possibly can, multiply it by five, and you've got the baby I held. 
     Finally, we detached ourselves from the babies and joined everyone out in the courtyard for a delightful time of drinking more coffee and hearing more stories. 
One of the caregivers performed the coffee ceremony for us. It was amazing.

Tamara and Stephne clicked right away.

One of Kenny's many cups of Ethiopia coffee. 

     One of the stories Stephne shared with us is that Ethiopians drink this powder made by crushed grain dissolved in tea. It's highly nutritious, and it's commonly used for pregnant women in hospitals. After much research, Stephne has developed her own mittin, as it's called in Amharic, made from eleven grains native to Ethiopia. She kind of stumbled upon the mixture by accident, but after sending it to a nutritionist back in the states she discovered that her mixture is the perfect blend of grains resulting in the best possible amount of nutrients and vitamins. They have started making it by hand at the orphanage and feeding it as a supplement to the kids. The results are obvious - the baby I held had clear skin, shining eyes, and made my arms sore to hold! Always a good sign. Stephne is in the process of patenting her mittin and is hoping one day to open a facility to produce it. And that's where her vision really kicks off. Her dream is make a self-sustaining village dependent on the mittin sales which would employed by handicapped people. All the proceeds will go to fund an orphanage in the center of the village. Tamara asked her if, once this village is up and running, she would consider having high schoolers or college kids come and help out for the summer. She said yes. Hmmm, something to think about...
     Even though that was all the interaction we had planned with Stephne and Hanook, we were all too fascinated to be done. Very graciously, they both agreed to take us to the other orphanage about ten minutes away. We again held babies and chatted with Stephne and Hanook. By then, it was early afternoon, so we all went out to lunch together.
     Before we left for Ethiopia, Tamara and Darlene (both veteran missionaries) went out and bought gifts to give to the people we met in Ethiopia. How glad we all were to have something, even if it was small, to offer to these two!

Tamara picked out the towels to give to an American missionaries - she knew how much they're coveted overseas. And she was right!

I absolutely love this picture because of the faithful woman who's reading the book. 

*     *     *

     A couple weeks after ago, Tamara heard some news about Stephne. An outbreak of measles and pneumonia swept through the orphanages and took the lives of six kids. We had probably held some of them. So if you think of it, pray for Stephne and her orphanages. 
Is not this the fast that I choose... to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him... Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' ... if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:6-11

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Day Five

     Can you believe it? We are now officially halfway!! This is kind of a big deal for me - hey, I haven't even finished my scrapbook from last year.
     Day Five was mainly spent leisurely traveling down to Awasa, a sizeable city outside of Addis. After a pretty intensive Day Four, our team leader, Mike, graciously let us all sleep in a little at our compound before cramming into Land Cruisers, yet again. Since the drive to the village was so squished and hot, we decided to take our time with this trip. After attending the MAKBC staff devotions, which Kenny led, we came back to the guest house to pack and eat a quick lunch before setting off. About halfway into the trip, we abruptly pulled off the road and into a sunny, grassy little hotel. One look into our scary, colored eyes surrounded by pale white skin and the staff were all too glad to let us invade their outside dining patio. We used the reprieve enjoyed breathing in the fresh air, drinking the strong coffee, and laughing with each other.

(L-R) Mike K., the guy who made us laugh, and Mike M., the guy who made our trip happen


(L-R) Pastor Kenny and Binyam (Alemnesh's son, our translator and friend) enjoying a story
Dave enjoying his coffee and his God

     There was an interesting building in the back of the hotel, but the guard was adamant that we not take pictures of it. I'm not sure why all the caution was needed since I'm pretty sure it was just a bar.
     After our coffee break, we hopped back in the car, stopping once more for some wildlife along the side of the road... Camels. Of course. 

     Although the car ride was pretty long, I was able to use to journal, steal Elise's copy of Future Grace, and think about the fact that I was within driving distance of the town that Lizzie and Sadie were from. After such a success with finding Sami (no idea what I'm talking about? click here for enlightenment), I was entertaining the though that maybe, just maybe, I could find their birth father. We knew a man in Awasa, Adhanom, who had found the birth father and brought him to Addis when he needed to appear in court to finalize the adoption, and I was hoping Adhanom could find the father again.
     During the car ride, however, I was content to look out the window at the rural villages whizzing by and imagining that one of them might have been Lizzie and Sadie's. I marveled at the fact that the old man walking along the road might be the man who gave life to my sisters. And I got teary when little girls covered in dust waved to us as we drove by - they might have been Lizzie and Sadie had God not called us to adopt.
     We arrived to a rainy Awasa around seven that night. We all ate supper in the hotel's restaurant, thoroughly enjoying the Western food and TV. None of us had any idea what was going on with all the revolutions, so we were all surprised to read the expanded list of countries in revolt. Adhanom, who's nephews and nieces my dad had helped bring to America, came over to eat supper with us, and told me how much he loved "Mr. Joel" several times. I think he was rather hurt that I was staying at a hotel and not at his family's house. He made me promise that the next time my family was in town, we'd stay with him. I talked with him and Alemnesh about finding the birth father and they both agreed that it was crucial that I find a phone number or address for him. I tried to call Mom and Dad several times on our team's cell phone several times until finally the network wasn't overwhelmed (it was almost impossible to get a call through in Ethiopia from 6-8 because so many other people were making calls). I got several names of other people to call to try to find out info, but nothing concrete. I went to bed discouraged, but trusting that if God wanted to me meet the birth father, he'd make it happen.