Monday, November 30, 2009

Back in America, but not home yet

Hello everyone. We've made it to Washington DC. We're at Dulles Airport which has the strangest looking shuttle buses that take you from the gates to baggage claim - something of a cross betwen a bad sci-fi movie and the coneheads. Anyway, it looks like we'll be at the airport for a while. We just tried to get on an earlier flight but some United Airlines woman with a thick German accent said "no possibilities." That's ok.

The flight from Addis to DC was fine, just LONG. We had a 100-plus mph head-wind for most of the flight so we were over an hour late getting into DC. Neither Sweet Momma or I got much sleep so we are really running on empty. Sunshine and Little Buddy are doing pretty well, all things considered. They are pretty exhausted as well. We just tried to introduce them to American fast food. The result? Thumbs up on French Fries and lemonade but they didn't care for the chicken nuggets.

Please pray for patience and sleep on the plane as we are all exhausted.

Stand-up Dad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On our way home . . .

Hello all. We are writing to you from the Addis Ababa airport. We've added a picture of Sweet Momma, Sunshine and Little Buddy, but it is taken from the airport on my iphone, so please excuse the quality. It is Sunday night in Addis. We have a 10:15 flight that will get us into D.C. tomorrow morning. We then have a lengthy layover (unless we get an earlier flight) but we should be back in Seattle sometime Monday evening.

We have enjoyed our time in Ethiopia, but we are anxious to come home. The children are wonderful, though our parenting skills have definitely been tested. All those years of teaching parenting classes are coming in handy.
Our week has been very busy. We had a "city tour" on our first day, went to the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday (think D.M.V), Wednesday we went to the zoo, where the lions and monkeys scared Sunshine and Little Buddy, especially the monkey who wasn't in a cage. Friday we had a traditional Ethiopian meal and coffee ceremony. Saturday we went shopping with one of the caretakers at the orphanage who is a very skilled shopper. You may be aware that there are no set prices for anything in Ethiopia. Everything is "bargained for" and if you don't have a local with you, you get the foreigner price. It was very entertaining to watch her at work as she got us amazing Ethiopian prices. All in all, traveling around Addis Ababa is an adventure. There are no rules of the road, only suggestions (and maybe not even that). There are few working traffic lights so nearly every intersection is chaos. I never thought I'd say this, but after a week in Addis Ababa, I'm very thankful for our auto emissions laws.
We are very tired and excited about coming home. Hot water has been a scarcity, so we are really looking forward to hot showers and American food. Please pray for safe travels and for our two Ethiopian little ones as this is all new for them.
We will try to post from Washington D.C. tomorrow morning.
Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Greetings from Addis Ababa

Hi all. We've been in Addis Ababa since Monday morning. Around lunch time, we met Sunshine and Little Buddy. They are even more beautiful in person than in their pictures. We've been quite busy, traveling to various places. Yesterday (Tuesday) we had our U.S. Embassy appointment and all went well. So we should get their passports and visas today which means we are clear to travel home with the kids.

From the first day, Sunshine and Little Buddy have been with us at the guest house, which is a few miles from the orphanage. They are doing great, with the normal adjustment issues (and sibling rivalry) which is complicated by the language barrier. Sunshine knows a little bit of English, but Little Buddy really only knows what we are teaching him (please and thank you are some of the first words learned). Please pray for Little Buddy as he is three and exhibiting all of the normal three year old behaviors, but with people he has never met who speak a different language.

We are trying to get our flights changed so we can be home a bit sooner, but that is still up in the air. Thank you for all your prayers.

Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Selam (Hello) from Ethiopia

Hello everyone. It's Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma writing to you from Mekele, Ethiopia.

We arrived in Addis Ababa Saturday morning (Ethiopia time) about 9:00 a.m. We never left the airport, as we waited for our flight to Mekele later Saturday afternoon. We arrived in Mekele about 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

In Mekele, we were greeted by Gebe, who along with his wife Connie run the orphanage where Sunshine and Little Buddy have lived for the past 14 months. Gebe took us to our hotel in Mekele and we had a nice dinner with him last night.

Today (Sunday) we visited a Bible College in Mekele, where 120 men are learning to be pastors. We then traveled to the orphanage where our kids have been until just a few weeks ago when they were transported to the House of Hope in Addis Ababa (the transition house for our orphanage).

The orphanage in Mekele is beautiful, as are all the children who live here. They are truly delightful children, full of love and hugs and we feel very welcomed. One of the little girls who lives here made and served us our very first Ethiopian coffee ceremony. It is also an honor to vist and get to know Gebe and Connie and see the marvelous work they are doing here. We also get to learn more about Sunshine and Little Buddy. Later this afternoon we will get to meet with our new children's brothers and sisters.

Gebe and I just finished putting together the bike that we brought for the kids (it's a Green Machine and it's really cool). We've also been playing with the kids outside. Mekele is a bit windy this time of year, and the hills around us remind Sweet Momma of the hills and mountains she grew up around in eastern Washington.

Tomorrow we leave Mekele to return to Addis Ababa where will we meet our kids for the first time! We are very excited to take this next step in our journey. Thank you so much for all of your prayers - please keep praying for safety, for our first meeting with our new children and for a smooth rest of the trip.

We'd also like to ask for prayers for our four children back in Washington. To Elsie, M&M, Sweet Pea and Pumpkin - we love you very much and we miss you. We know how excited you are about having a new brother and sister. We'll be home before you know it! To Pumpkin - Happy 7th Birthday! We are very proud of you and how you turned your birthday into show of love and support for the orphanage here in Mekele. We will try to call later tonight (Sunday morning Washington time) to wish Pumpkin a a happy birthday and say hello to you all - but we aren't sure if we will be able to get through. If not, we will certainly call from Addis Ababa. Finally, thanks to the host families back in Washington - we couldn't do this without you!

We give thanks to God for bringing on this adoption journey and bringing us here to Ethiopia. God is truly at work here.

We'll post again from Addis Ababa if we can.

Stand-up Dad

Friday, November 20, 2009

They are there!

We just got a very "bad connection" call from Sweet Momma - they have arrived in Addis Ababa - she sounded great! She had a very brief conversation with Elsie while M&M waited eagerly nearby. The call was lost and we're hoping for another call so M&M may talk with mom ... we'll see - but all is well and they are there! We'll keep you posted as we hear from them!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We're in the "other" Washington

We just landed in D.C. It still amazes me that just a few hours ago we were on the other side of the country. The flight was uneventful but very full. We even got to watch the movie "Up." We only go to a couple of movies a year but wouldn't you know it, we actually saw "Up" in the theater. Maybe that's why I fell asleep in the middle of the movie.

Anyway, thanks for your prayers. Our next post, assuming we can get Internet access, will be from Africa - you know, "Dr. Livingstone I presume?"

Stand-up Dad

We're on our way . . .

After three days of scrambling, we have arrived at SeaTac airport. We're all checked in and waiting for our flight, scheduled to leave at 1:20. The last three days have been filled with a birthday party for Pumpkin, packing four kids for two weeks and figuring out just how much you can stuff into a suitcase and still have it weigh less than 50lbs.

Please pray for travel safety, cultural sensitivity, sleep for Sweet Momma, and a smooth transition when we meet our kids. Also, please pray for all our kids and especially for Pumpkin. Sunday is his 7th birthday and this will be the first time we've missed any of our kids' birthdays.

We'll check in when we get to D.C.

Stand-up Dad

Monday, November 16, 2009

Change of Plans!!!!

We were thrown some amazing and surprising news this morning...

Last night Stand-Up Dad and I were talking about our Embassy date. I said that I hoped we would hear about our ability to travel and keep our December 10th embassy appointment by friday. Stand-Up Dad said that he hoped we would hear tomorrow (Monday.)

This morning I opened the email and saw there was an email titled "Embassy Appointment." I thought, "Oh, isn't God good to answer so quickly." But God also has a sense of humor and there is nothing that throws Him, but He threw me off today.

Here is what the email said: "We just heard from Tsegay that you would be able to come for the November 25th visa appointment if you want to change your flights and leave a few weeks early!"

Oh My! I walked over to the calendar and realized that a visa appointment on Nov. 25th meant that we would need to leave in three days. This Thursday!!!!!!!!!!

It has been a very busy day of phone calls with travel agents, my agency, friends and family who will watch our children and of course my husband. We changed our flights and have moved my son's birthday party to tomorrow. It is going to happen and we are very excited and completely overwhelmed!

This is God's plan, He has known it all along. Once we get on the plane, whatever we didn't pack will not matter. Our kids here are going to be so well cared for, for that I am thankful.

Speaking of being thankful...we will meet our new son and daughter one week from today and spend Thanksgiving in Ethiopia with our new kids. Wow!

Please pray for those here at home. We will be gone for Pumpkin's seventh birthday. He is definitely OK with it. When I asked him what he thought about it he said, "Mom, you need to go and get them and bring them home. It's OK." Such a mature almost seven year old.

Please pray for quick packing, safe flights and God's continued protection over all of us.
Sweet Momma

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Showers of Blessing!

We are so blessed to have so many family and friends who have prayed with us through this adoption process. They are all so excited about God's work in our lives and the lives of these two precious children that God has chosen to become a part of our family.

This week we were blessed twice by Adoption Showers. Last Wednesday the ladies of our care group put on a beautiful shower for me and my children. They are so creative. They made their own version of Pictionary where all of the words that we had to draw had something to do with adoption, family, or Ethiopia. Some of the most difficult to draw were "dossier" and "70 million" (that would be the number of people in Ethiopia.) We had a great time and I was very impressed at some of the drawing skills I witnessed. I am not skilled at all in that area. The shower ended with a precious time of prayer. I don't know what I would do without the covering of prayers during this process. I am overwhelmed by the power that it carries. Thank you ladies for your time and the adorable books that you made for our children.

Today we were blessed again by more friends that love to celebrate growing families. Two of my friends, that already have six children, took time out of their very busy lives to bless us with a shower at our church. Our good friends the Averills also came and helped with games and sound. The cakes and tables were so pretty. I wish our new kiddos could have seen it. But I am also glad that we had it before they came home.

We played a game where we quizzed our friends on their knowledge of Ethiopia and our adoption process. We also showed a video that told all about the orphanage that our children are from. The video showed life in Ethiopia and told about all of the work that they plan to do for the community.

This shower also ended with an amazing time of prayer. Stand-Up Dad said that it was his favorite part of the shower and I completely agree. Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf. We treasure each one and know that God hears and will move because of them.

We feel so incredibly blessed to share this experience with so many people who love us and love the Lord! May He be praised!
Sweet Momma

Saturday, November 14, 2009

National Adoption Awareness Month

This month is National Adoption Awareness Month. Last Sunday was Orphan Sunday. If you have some time you should watch this:

My kids and I were amazed and moved by this message. We are so humbled to be a part of adoption and hope you will consider how you might help the orphan.
Sweet Momma

Friday, November 13, 2009

Earrings for Ethiopia

Elsie and M&M have been very busy making jewelry. They love to make earrings and necklaces. They had a brilliant idea to make earrings and sell them at our home school co-op. They would then donate all the money they made to the orphanage where Sunshine and Little Buddy were.

This last Monday they took their wares to co-op and were so excited when they sold 18 pairs. I have so enjoyed watching my children step out in boldness for orphans. They understand how fortunate they are and want to do what they can to support those that are not as fortunate. What a blessing that they understand this at such a young age.
Sweet Momma

More Pictures!!!

Today we received two more pictures of our kiddos!!! We have been looking at the same six pictures for the last four months. It seems so strange to see them wearing different clothes!=) They are just adorable! Sweet Sunshine has a little longer hair and it is beautiful. We couldn't be happier.

I believe these pictures were taken at the House of Hope which is our agency's transition orphanage. They flew on a plane last friday to get there. At the House of Hope they will complete a final medical exam and prepare them for being adopted. Children's Hope International tries to prepare them for life in America. We are so incredibly thankful for all of the people that are caring for our children.
Sweet Momma

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Autographs, please!

Take a look at what was in my mailbox on Saturday! They are so adorable. It is so strange to see the picture that I have been staring at for weeks on the cover of a catalog. This catalog was put out by Children's Hope International, our adoption agency, to give people an opportunity to donate to various humanitarian efforts. We were thrilled when they asked us if they could use this picture for the cover.

I was looking at it when I realized that Saturday was one month to the day that we hope to meet them. I became overwhelmed with emotion and had to explain to the kids in the car that I was just having "a moment."

It seems as if we are living life as the "before they are home." And the next sentence is always, "After they are home we will..." The truth is, we are not sure how things will go after they are home. We are going to give them all of the time they need to adjust to our family, new culture, new food, new everything. Please pray with us that God will lovingly walk all of us through the process.

There is no news on our Embassy appointment. It is still tentative and we hope to hear in a couple of weeks. Please pray that we will be scheduled for the Dec. 10th appointment.

Thank you again for lifting up our whole family in your prayers.
Sweet Momma

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good News!

This has been a good week! We received a wonderful email from the Orphanage Director at our kiddos orphanage. We sent him a list of questions concerning our children. He was so kind to answer each question in detail. He and his wife are doing such a wonderful job with our kids and all of the children at Hope Community Services. The story about how they chose to build an orphanage is amazing. I will tell more about that another day. The letter let us know that our children are loved and being very well cared for.

Good news #2! A family member of mine had surgery yesterday. We were not sure what the outcome of the surgery would be, but God heard our prayers and she was given the best possible diagnosis! Thank you God!!!

Good news #3! The quilts and pillow shams are complete and on the beds!!! Pumpkin did a happy dance when he realized that I had completed everything. It feels so good to have this big project complete.

Now I just have to plan a birthday party, purchase Christmas gifts, decorate for Christmas, pack for our trip and gather items for donation to the orphanage. We will get it all done.

After I finished the quilts today I made a twirly skirt for Sunshine. I heard that she loves to dance and I don't know a five year old little girl that doesn't love a twirly skirt with sparkles! So much fun!!
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One Down, One to Go!

Today I finished the binding on one of the boys quilts. Pumpkin has been so sweet during this process. He told me last week that if I didn't have time to finish both quilts, he would like to give the first one to his little brother. I told him that I was sure that I would be able to complete them both. I really like how they turned out. They are more patriotic than I thought they would be, but they are great for two little boys and will grow with them over the years.

Here is a look at the first quilt already on his bed. He says that he loves it. It is so warm. I put polar fleece on the back of them, so that they will be very cozy in their beds. The second quilt is finished except for the quilting and the binding. I hope to finish it this week.

The really big news today is that I booked flights to Ethiopia! (Yes, I purchased changeable tickets in case there is a change in our plans.) If all goes well, we will leave one month from today!!! It is so hard to believe. There is so much to do...I better go get sewing!
Sweet Momma