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3 days in Africa

So we are home and recovering from a whirlwind of a week. We traveled hard for two days, went nonstop for three days in country, and then hopped on a plane and traveled for another 40 hours. I am a little jet-lagged and alot exhausted...: ) a good way. But I wanted to post and give a little more detail about our time in country.

Our time with Abby was wonderful. We got to spend about 6 hours each day with her at the House of Hope. It is not the best context for bonding: playing in a small, hot room with three other families and their kiddos, and doing whatever you can to engage a little girl in activity. We had beach balls, crayons, bubbles, stickers, lollipops...played lots of chase...anything to give us something to do together. We did play outside a little, but that is harder for the other kids who are there to watch, and so we limited that. But it was still wonderful, getting to know her better and also getting to know the other traveling families. I have a feeling those might end up being some long term friendships, as we will travel again together in December.

Our routine was a few hours in the morning at the HOH, lunch out in Addis usually connecting with friends, back to HOH for afternoon playtime, and evening dinner again with friends and errands somewhere in the midst of all of that. It was a blessing to see old friends, introduce Joe and Katie to them, and also to make new ones.

Hiring our driver Ephrim is really what made our trip so doable and seamless. I highly recommend his services, if you need or want to hire your own driver while in Addis. Staying off-site and having our own driver gave us flexibility that we really enjoyed. He's so much more than a driver--he'll get you anything you need, translate, and provides you with a cell phone and laptop. Not to mention he loves Jesus and is just fun to be around, so we enjoyed every minute of his company. (Stay tuned...because he is not only a driver, but also has a coffee business, and I just might have some coffee available here on my blog in the near future!!)

We stayed at our friends the Trier's home, which was such an amazing provision. Their house workers became like family to us and we can't wait to see them again in December. The Triers are in the US on furlough, and we were so thankful for their hospitality, as well as our new friends the Duttons who have been renting their home. They will be opening a guest house soon...stay tuned because I'll be telling you more about this awesome couple and their non-profit guest home on behalf of orphans.

We saw Peter and met his new wife. We hung with Bisrat and talked about church planting. We ran into some of my street kid friends we played soccer with on the mission trip in January. We met up with Katie's friend Ben from school who now teaches at a school outside of Addis. We met the Steuers, friends who minister there that we've known online only up until now. We visited Drawn from Water's new children's home and dropped off donations. We missed Sammy this trip, as he was out of town at the boarding school, but we will see him in December.

We shopped at the market. We walked the streets and saw some sites. Joe went on a morning run with Ephrim and Kebede (the Trier's guard) on the streets of Addis, and loved it. We ate some wonderful Ethiopian food prepared by Ephrim's wife, Yeshi. And each night, we attempted to get on the internet and usually ended up yelling at the computer screen. Good times. (One sidenote: never buy a card reader for your camera on the streets of Ethiopia. You might just loose about 200 pictures trying to use said reader....just a suggestion--no charge for that one. : ))

So it was a wonderful trip. Of course, time with Abby was the highlight. We enjoyed every second we had with her. Leaving was hard, but...ok. She has a tough exterior--after all, she is a survivor. So she tried to be very strong. There was one moment, when we were leaving, that she looked up at us and said "To America?" But she knew already, because they had prepared her....not yet. We told her we'd be back, and she hugged us, waved "chow!" to us, and turned to go play with her friends. I know she is loved there at the HOH. While I do believe she is looking forward to coming to America, she feels safe and secure there, and it made leaving her just a but easier knowing that.

In order to keep it real, let me say this. We were both struck with the realization that now is when the work actually begins. Adoption is a beautiful picture of the redemption story, but it is not a fairy tale. We can tell we have much to face in the next six months, and alot about our lives will change. There will be wonderful parts of that change, and we know there will be very difficult parts as well. Abby has many adjustments coming her way, and some will be fun and exciting and others will be painful and difficult. We love her so much, and are committed to being there through it all.

And it became very clear to me that my life is about to change drastically. The freedom I have enjoyed with my older kids in the last year or so will disappear completely. The areas I serve outside of the home will decrease for a while. My circle will tighten, and my home will not be as open as it has been. I am a gal who likes my freedom, so I'm just being honest when I say that will be hard for me. Because every moment of my day will be mostly consumed with investing in this little life and building the security and bonding that she needs. It is a privilege to get to be the one who gets to fill that role for her, to be her mommy. It's almost as if I see this as a "labor" that come after instead of before birth. And, like most moms, I am ready to embrace what I fully expect will be draining and exhausting so that I can see the fruit of that labor: her little heart beginning to open up and receive the love of a family and of her Creator.

Thank you again for all the love and support. We appreciate your prayers more than you know.


Lara said...

That was a crazy whirlwind trip!! When I saw on Facebook that you guys were already home, I thought I had just lost track of time.

I totally appreciate your honesty about the work just starting. I think it gets to be a little romanticized for those of us waiting, and that's certainly far from the truth of what coming home will be.

Love said...

oh, isn't this the truth that the work just begins. i would naturally go towards a tighter circle & cocooned in my house [as an introvert] so i assume you're probably an extrovert? i love that you recognize this. showing her love of a family & her Creator? yes! i love it. what a blessing.

Evan said...

We have anxiously been watching and waiting for more pics and info of your trip. Sooo very exciting!! We can't believe how much she has grown since we saw her in June. So BEAUTIFUL!! Ya know I was thinking back to June when I spoke with Tsegay about adopting Abby and how I knew deep down in my heart that she was not meant for our family no matter the desires we felt!-no she has been devinely matched as a Walser! I see peace in her eyes!! And EXCITEMENT! We will continue to pray for your growing family through these next couple months of transition-especially for this sweet girl who is still waiting to make the journey across the big blue see to her forever home! Congrats!!
Much Love-The Westra Gana!!

Erica said...

Tears fill my eyes as I read the beauty in this post. God is so so good. He hand picked Abby to be a Walser before the beginning of time. He has prepared you for her and her for you. Knowing the road you face will be tough but the rewards so rich. Just like our walk with Jesus and His redemption. You will be supported but this is the toughest part. Coming home and teaching a child who has only known survival of the fittest how to depend on a mommy and daddy and how to participate in a family. Love you all. Love Abby, excited to see the transformation of a little girl and the growth of a family we love so much. He is faithful.

Jenn said...

Wow! Just reading about the trip made me tired! SO glad you got to love on Abby, and so thankful for your honesty. I agree with Lara that things tend to get romanticized, and people need to remember that this isn't an easy road...there are adjustments to be made, healing to happen, trust to be built,etc... Praying for you daily!

Barry and Amy said...

What a beautiful little girl! So very happy for you! Can't wait until we can travel to meet our little guy!

God bless you and your family!

To God be the Glory! said...

A principle from 1 Chronicles 11:10ff comes to mind as I read your blog. Just as God's chosen leader was given strong support by his mighty men as well as from the people, we at LifeBridge Church are here to support the leader He has graciously given us...and his precious family...

Psalm 40:8 "I delight to do your will, O Lord."

Angela Zollo said...

You are an AMAZING family and I know Abby is so blessed to have you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make the transition easier for all of you...not sure what I can do, but I would love to be there for you. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. YOU ARE AMAZING!! Abby is absolutely beautiful and I hope that she will have Annamaria and Mikey in her circle of friends.

Connie said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and its realistic, as far as your eyes can see, expectations. God's grace will daily prove to be sufficient as you tighten your circle and focus on nurturing your new daughter as she transitions. As her whole world shifts without really being able to comprehend or prepare for all the changes, there will likely be a lot of fears, self-protective walls, and confusion but over time you will have the incredible joy of witnessing her begin to flower as she begins to trust you and understand her new world. You are absolutely right, there will be a labor and hers may be even harder than yours, but together with God's grace you will all grow to be more like Jesus. I'll be praying for patience, compassion, and aha moments of joy along the journey, among other things for you in these coming days...but first we need to pray you through the season of separation. Love you, friend.

Alicia Brewer said...

Thank you so much for posting about your trip. I'm sorry that sammy wasnt able to meet wth you while you were there this trip. It is so exciting to hear about your experiences with Abby. I was able to go with someone to see their child before and that is such a precious experience! One little bit of informaton for your pictures you think you lost, if you go to the CVS in seminole mall and go to print pictures fast, all of your pictures will show up :) Also if you would like any help when you get little Abby home and if you want her to remember any of her language i might be able ot help a little bit with that. I love oyu and cant wait to see you and talk to you.

Anonymous said...

I saw the joy in your daughter's face when I met her and took photos for you in September, but now I see peace there as well. She is a sweet and special girl, and you are so lucky to have her as a member of your family. Congratulations to all of you!

Hillbilly Rockin' Robin said...

Thrilled for you. On the adventure ourselves and waiting to bring our little one home. Praying for you. It's amazing, isn't it?