A sparrow when I'm broken, and eagle when I fly.....

Welcome to my world. I am an ordinary wife and mom who has been extraordinarily blessed by an amazing husband and house full of beautiful children. My prayer is that you will be somehow blessed by our family's story. It is a tale of God's grace and forgiveness...His loving kindness and patience with us His children as we strive & struggle everyday to bless His name with our lives

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Ideal Vacation Day

1) Slept six straight hours before waking up to the loud speakers of daily chanting from the mosque a few blocks away.
2) Made coffee and peanut butter and crackers, then had breakfast with God for company.
3) Internet at guest house hooked up first try! Then checked email. You guys can write me…I love it. May not return emails (maybe?) till home.
4) Did a backpacking bath in bathroom sink (wiped down dirty parts) and wet down hair to get the dust out. Refreshed!. Dug through clothes to find the least dirty to wear for today.
5) on walk to AHOPE passed out bread and crackers to beggar mommies and their children. ***Yes, It is SOOO much better to give than receive. To be here surrounded by need and feel so powerless is hard for me. Making a child smile with food because they are hungry makes ME so happy and helps ME feel better. Pray
6) At AHOPE in time to greet Assefa waking up. So sweet. Hugged a bunch of kids and passed out dabo kolo (tiny fried bread pieces) Pray
7) Get picked up by Mesfin (Muffin) who is Selamne’s brother driving for Ketema. Go to Kidane Mehret (orphanage called KM) to visit a ton of kids. Visit children I already know and love and meet a ton more kids home from school. Hold babies, toddlers and big kids. Talk to teens begging me to find them a family. Sit in the sun for an hour holding a little boy I fell in love with the other day. His name is Fitsum and he is four years old. He was born with a major spinal deformity and some skull deformity. He is smart and sweet and will not live more than a few more years without surgery in U.S. Said “Choa” to all the kids promising to be back before I leave for America. Pray
8) Went to supermarket to buy food stuffs to take home (berebere, green coffee beans, Shiro etc….) Found Diet Coke at this new supermarket! Oh happy day! Thank you Lord.
9) Rest and drink two cold Diet Cokes at my guest house. Ahhhh. Bread and cheese for lunch.
10) Visit Layla, hold babies, and walk around Layla carrying my baby Gezehegn. Check on some big Layla kids for their new parents in U.S. Gezehegn and I watch kids playing soccer till he falls asleep. Hold more babies, babies, and babies. Pray
11) Visit little AHOPE and Assefa again. Play with kids, hold babies, play with kids, hold babies…Say good night to 28 of the world’s sweetest kids. Pray
12) walk back to guest house again visiting with my new friends on way (beggars) feel safe as I have anywhere in the world at night on streets of Addis. Pray
13) Ran three inches of cool warm water in tub and stripped off my clothes covered with every form of bodily fluid, then basked in that water and really washed hair for the first time in a week. Thank you God again…enough water and water pressure! Put on last clean clothes, it felt good.
14) Talked to my darling husband who called me to say good night. I love him. Miss the kids, counting the days till I go home to them, counting the days till I have to leave here. Pray
15) Listen to Third day songs as I go to sleep. End of my perfect vacation day…could only be better if Mike and other kids were here.
P.S. The comment regarding bodily fluids didn't paint a nice picture of me. I will change it "that my clothes were covered with ALMOST every sort of bodily fluid."

and several different kinds of pus and drainage

that is enough said about that.

P.S.S. Kidist and her sister wash clothes for guests and getting your clothes cleaned at Addis Kidan guest house is no problem. I just hate to make more work for them than I have too. They are so wonderful here at the guest house. I only wished they lived next door to me always. Nice, nice, nice

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Partying the Night Away: Part 2

I had a great email version of the second part of the big night out but it went off into Internet land never to be seen again. I am just going to highlight the best parts my second try....

The food was wonderful and such a feast. No way we could eat it all but we sure tried. The dancing started as we ordered and all through our meal and coffee ceremony after dinner. There was a group of dancers male and female who danced traditional dances from all the major tribes in Ethiopia as well as a few modern dances. There were also several singers and musicians using traditional Ethiopian instruments. The dancers changed their costumes many times throughout the evening to reflect the kind of clothes worn by the tribe they were reflecting. Traditional dancing is very popular here and is on the TV a lot. Towards the end the dancers came out into audience to dance for tables individually.

I would have paid a $1000 for our Ethiopian daughters to see this show! The meal for all five of us adult plus two children was $46 or 4600 birr. In the U.S. I would expect to pay $3-400 at least for such an experience. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone coming here for adoption or something else to check out this place.

Later I will tell of our experience meeting the groups of adopting parents at this restaurant with their new babies. PLEASE people, obey and respect the rules implemented by the government officials here in Ethiopia. When you don't you are jeopardizing future adoptions here! More on this subject later

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Partying the Night Away (part 1)

It is 6:00 Dec 11 here in Addis as I write this and 7:00 Dec 10th at home. I just want to share about our fabulous evening! Ketema picked us up with his family in tow and we went to the Yod Abisynia Cultural Restaurant. This is also where we had lunch the other day. The food is fantastic there. It is near to the guest houses and orphanages too. Lots of families like to go to Crown Hotel to see the dancing but the show last night at this restaurant can not be possibly improved on. We had so much fun.
We got there about 8:00 PM and Ketema had reserved the best seats in the house. For those of you unaware of traditional Ethiopian meals....we sat on short chairs around the taller round basket tables. The top of basket holds the round injera about size of giant pizza. First of all the beautifully dressed waitress come to pour wash you with soap and warn water poured over your hands into basin. Then we were served our feast. The injera (soured flat bread) in then covered with plops of all different kinds of delicious "wats". Wat is many things like meat or vegetables cooked up in spices from mild to really hot and spicy. The food must be chopped or minced before cooking to ensure you can eat it all by tearing off a piece of injera to scoop up food to your mouth (no silverwear of course) I have tried one thing this trip that was new to me. I have heard from many they don’t like it. I don’t know the Amharic name but it is "false banana leaf bread" which is really good with kitfo. I had the cooked meat Kitfo version not the raw meat version.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Play Day

I guess everyday can be called a play day when you get to spend it with kids. Until today I have spend most of everyday hanging out with and playing with kids here in Ethiopia. Today was a "play day" as it seemed more tourist type "play" stuff for my friend and I. It costs 600 birr ($60) to hire a driver for whole day or 70 birr ($7) per hour. This is more than in the past and because gas prices have gone up so much here. Anyway, it is really better use of money to hire a drive for all day and use that day to do a lot of stuff. Today we shopped at Haile Sellasie shopping center and Sorvino shopping. Selassie is a shopping place all enclosed in one building. The prices seemed good and it was kind of easy not dealing with a large market type crown. Sorvino shopping is where I have been before. It is a long row of open front shops to find all sorts of traditional Ethiopian kind of goods. I am watching my money but I did have a small list of things I wanted to bring home. There are some common things adopting parents buy for their new children from Ethiopia. Most parents try to get a traditional outfit or two, the fancy carved wooden crosses, silver necklace cross and other jewelry, and scarves or other lines. Of course there are endless things to buy that speak of Ethiopia. Every main Orthodox church here has it's own style cross design. I like the Lalibela style and have worn the silver necklace I got in 2005 constantly since then. The different woven linens of all types are extremely beautiful. I bought some more tablecloths today. I love to have things from here that I use every day. I also did a little Christmas shopping for our kids. That was fun. We also went to buy Ethiopian music CDs (psst...it is a secret, don’t tell the Ethio teens) I bought some Teddy Afro music. He is the popular young singer sentenced to six years in jail last week for having some wording in his songs that the government didn't agree with. sigh.

We had lunch at a fun place I hadn’t heard of. It is called "The Old Milk Can" and had both American and Ethiopian food. We ate Morracan and it was good! The nicest thing is that the restaurant is on top floor of tall building next to place grounds. The view of Addis from the top was amazing and worth the price of lunch.

We stopped by the Ritmo guest house to visit some other adopting parents there. I saw Gail there before she took a small group to their embassy appointment. The embassy appointment is to apply for their new adopted child's visa to enter the U.S. We also went to big AHOPE to deliver donations and to the Fantu supermarket. There are so many beggars and giving out money to them is discouraged. I have found great joy is always having bags of bread
to give out, especially to the moms with little children. So I bought a lot more bread
and small packages of crackers, etc....to share. I wish I could tell you how happy their faces looks to get the food. We also stocked up on bread and cheese for ourselves and the times we can not get out to get food.

Tonight at 7:30 Ketema is picking us up to have dinner at a place where we will see a lot of traditional dancing. The food is suppose to be great Ethiopian fare also. My friend and I invited Ketema to bring his wife and two young boys with us. I look forward to meeting them. I'll let you know tomorrow how the dancing was!

I missed being able to spend the whole days with my boys. My heart and mind was with them all day, but the break from orphanage emotions was restful for me. I love being in the orphanage so much. It is just so emotional. I knew this was a good day to have our "play" day. My friend leaves Friday night and I wouldn’t have wanted to do this stuff without someone along with me for company.

Maggie at home is feeling better but MyHao and Solomon now are ill with fever and tummy upset. Good to know Maggie was dealing with a bug rather than something more serious but sad more of my kids are sick when I am not there. Bless Kayla our older daughter helping Mike care for the kids. She is really doing a great job! I guess she slept on the floor last night between Maggie, MyHao and Solomon. Bet she is tired.

Love from Addis,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From Addis

My friend and I are having a grand time here at the Addis Kidan guest house. Last night a whole crowd of people checked in and so we shared a room. It was slumber party time. Most of the those folks are checking out tonight. They have been working short term mission trip in a village down south of here.

My schedule has been visiting AHOPE and my baby Assefa first thing in the morning as it is a close walk from guest house. Then I have Ketema (driver) or one of his friend pick me up and take me to Layla/Wanna to see Gezehegn. Sometimes my friend will come to Layla with me. We may do errands like change money, grocery shop or stop for lunch. Yesterday we went to the Yilma for lunch. I was longing for a Diet Coke and the Yilma Hotel restaurant is the only place in Ethiopia I have ever seen "Coca Cola Light".

AHOPE is amazing for the care they give the kids. It has been so fun to watch them all begin to get to know all the children's personalities. Our Assefa is never put down. He is being held or loved on every minute by the caregivers. He has really matured the last two months and coos and laughs and giggles. He is also a very mellow baby. We'll see if he is still as mellow after coming home when not being held every second. Actually knowing my kids that baby is going to be held a LOT at home too! Gezehegn is so wonderful I am so in love with that little boy. He seems pretty in love with me too. I have never ever seen so many babies and toddlers at Wanna! Today was calmer there for my visit and it was a great time for me. I was able to get a good dose of cuddling Gezehegn and also help with the other toddlers. They are so hungry for affection. Any kind of touch or attention is like a special gift to them. I have asked God for an endless supply of hugs and prays to give out to these precious little ones. Can you guess how many toddlers you can hold on your lap at one time? I cry every day to leave Gezehegn. It isn’t so hard to leave assefa as he is always being carted around and every whimper or need immediately addressed. I love both our boys so much and feel so very blessed to be here with them.

Maggie has been ill at home and I have been worried about her but Mike has stuff all under control. I miss all the kids a lot but feel guilty not to be with her when she doesn't feel good.

Tomorrow will be a fun day, we have Ketema for whole day. Can't wait to report it to you tomorrow.

Seven years ago Dec. 9th Mike, Michael and I were in China adopting Anna. Our first adoption. Today is a special day for another reason too. Happy Birthday Cody! My first child , my baby boy. You changed my life and maybe saved my life because I wanted to be a better person for you my little baby...now all grown up to a wonderful man. Sooo, family who has his phone number...call my boy Cody and wish him Happy Birthday for me.

Blessings, Julee

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back in Addis

I am here in Ethiopia. I got in late last night after leaving home Tuesday afternoon. Good flights even though United made me check my carry on in D.C. because the plane was too full and heavy. That will show me not to wait till last minute to board.

I am staying at the Addis Kidan Guest House which is walking distance to AHOPE. It is nice here. There is internet access which is handy. Tonight I go back to the airport to pick up an email friend who is visiting her daughter this week. It will be so nice to have another mo to hang out with here.

First thing this morning I walked to AHOPE to see Assefa. He looks wonderful and has gained weight. He slept my whole visit so haven’t seen him awake yet but will tomorrow. For others with children waiting at little AHOPE, I saw and loved on your kids already! I will be there daily for two weeks but wanted you to know they all look great and I am taking lots of photos. I will try to write to each of you. There is a new little girl way, way cute there....bet she'll be referred soon if not already. She is about 18 mos old?

I then went to Wanna/Layla to see Gezehegn. They shaved his head! Just recently too. I knew that they certainly would have too as his hair was really long in recent photos of him. His hair is very straight for Ethiopian but that is normal for Down Syndrome people. Seeing him bald was a little shocking but of course he is still as cute as ever. Looks a little like a chemo boy though. It is very crowded at Wanna. LOTS of toddlers. I don't think Gezehegn recognised me...but he warmed back up to me after awhile. I saw a group of kids at Wanna that were there from KM that we had gotten to know in October. There were there for medicals. It was really fun to see the two teen girls we had met at KM who came into care while we were there. They are both LOVELY if anyone is looking for an older girl. Mike and I spent a lot of time with them in October.

I went to the Hilton to confirm my flights and change money....there was 70 people in Ethiopian airline office to confirm flights. "bag this" I said. I will go tomorrow with my friend who is coming in tonight.

Ketema is free to drive me my time here. He is Endala's (the driver we used in October) brother that usually drives for a Canadian agency. He is free for another month. What a great guy and I am thrilled to have him taxi me around my trip here. He knows all the places adoptive parents like to go. Gas has gone up and so has the price of taxis. It is cheaper to pay for a day than by the hour now.

Best news!! I found out this morning we have a court date for our Group D. We are January 21. Please keep praying for our boys and especially pray that they pass court the first time. They need to be home!

Love, Julee