Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ethiopia 1st Trip - Day Seven/Good-bye Day!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We felt so good when we woke up this morning around 7:30 a.m. (my earliest wake time yet!) because we had gotten a really good night's sleep.  I woke up to the sound of lots of voices right outside our bedroom door.  Our room was the only bedroom on the first floor, and we were right next to the front door of the guest house.  Later that morning, we discovered a new family from Atlanta had arrived on their 2nd trip to pick up their precious little boy!  Those were the voices we had heard outside our door that morning! :)

I was still feeling good, but I decided to take one more cipro, just in case.  Then I got in the shower and washed my hair because I knew we had a long time of traveling ahead of us.  We also started trying to pack up some of our stuff for the trip home later that night.  And our itinerary said that Wass was going to take us to tour the Youth Rehab Center that AGCI works with in Addis.

The day before I had asked Almaz about celebrating our baby girl's 1st birthday while we were there.  Her birthday was still a few days away, but we wanted to do something for her while we were there.  Almaz told us that we were welcome to go ahead and celebrate with her now!

So, we knew the special mothers had just taken the babies out to the courtyard.  We thought this might be a good time to take "L" her 1st birthday present!  We also had a 1st birthday party hat and two different 1st birthday bibs for her (these were all things we had for Callie Grace and Caty that I had saved all these years).  And we had also brought her a soft baby doll for a birthday gift!  We wrapped it up in the pink polka dot birthday bag and pink tissue paper that I had packed for this day!
We walked out to the courtyard and told the special mothers that we wanted to celebrate her 1st birthday!  All of the older kids and special mothers gathered around her and began to sing the "Happy Birthday" song to her in Amharic!  It was so cute!  Jody videoed it, while I took pictures!

The song sounded a lot like our "Happy Birthday" song in America.  She absolutely loved the song and all the attention! :) She was rocking back and forth when they sang her the birthday song.  Baby girl LOVES music!!!
We put her pink fluffy hat on her, and the special mothers held her hands so she wouldn't try to pull it off her head!  :)
Also, we put her "1st birthday princess" bib around her neck!  And they all sang again to her! Precious!!!
Then we helped her pull out all the pink tissue paper to find her new baby doll!  She seemed to like it okay, but she was definitely more interested in playing with the tissue paper! :)  We took lots more pictures, and then it was time for us to go with Wass (and Emma & Chris) to visit the Youth Rehab Center, which is kind of like a juvenile detention center.

We all piled back up in the van and headed out with Wass.  We first pulled up to the office of the rehab center.  The buildings looked very old, but as well kept as possible.  And there was some very pretty landscaping out front.  We met the director and some of the counselors/social workers who work there.  They were very kind, and they took us on a tour of the facility.  They showed us the counseling/therapy room, the wood-working area, and the rug making area.

All of the buildings were very old, and they are hoping to be able to get the funding to re-build them.  But it will be a very expensive project.  We asked them to give us a list of things they needed, and we are hoping to bring some donations back for them on our 2nd trip to Ethiopia.

Then they took us to tour the girls and boys dorm areas.  Our friends on the mission trip, who have been with us all week at the guest house, and Kiersten had come out here twice already that week to pass out shoes and to paint the wall of the girls dorm.  It looked so good...so bright, cheery and clean!  And we loved seeing all the new shoes along the courtyard where all the boys were hanging out.  There were over 100 boys living there, and it was so amazing to see them and hug them, give them high-five's, etc.  They wouldn't let us take pictures of them, but they were amazing kids!

It breaks your heart because most of these children are there for theft, due to living life on the streets.  Most had probably stolen food or such because they were starving and had no structure, support or family in their life to turn to for help.  And you see these sweet kids, and you just want to show them love and that you care about them...and mostly that God loves them and cares about them!

While they are in the rehab center, they get food, clothing, counseling, medical care, and they go to school!  We saw several boys reading in the library at the center while we were there.  The above picture is the 1st grade classroom.  It was the biggest classroom because a lot of the kids who come in (no matter what their age) have to start in 1st grade because they have never had any type of education.   It was really an incredible experience to see this facility, and we walked through that center with a desire to do anything we could to help them and show them God's love.

Next, it was time to leave and go to lunch.  Wass took us to Garden Paradise restaurant on the top floor of the Adams Pavillion shopping mall (the same mall we had been to the day before).  It was really good!  I was still feeling good, so I tried to eat about half of my chicken sandwich and some french fries.  And we all got bottled cokes!  Yum!  We loved getting to hang out with Wass some more before we left...he is always so much fun to be around!

Then, it was time to go back to Hannah's Hope for our last afternoon with the babies before we all headed to the airport that night.  We went into the guest house for just a little bit, and we got to meet the new family that had arrived for their 2nd trip to bring their son home.  They were so sweet, and we immediately hit it off great with them!  They decided that they would go eat with us that night on our way to the airport.

Next, we all walked over to the babies house.  I just wanted to soak in every minute with her until we had to leave.  She was just waking up from her nap when we got back.  This is what we saw when we walked in her room...
There is not much cuter than a sweet baby standing up in their crib just waiting on some strong arms to come pick them up!!!! :)  Love!!!

So, of course, we scooped her up and took her to the floor for some play time!!! :) We had some great play time with her.  She was so happy that afternoon!  And then we got to help with her bath time again, which was always so much fun!  Jody then went back to the guest house to pack up some more of our stuff, and I decided to stay with her for a little while longer.  She later got a little sleepy again, and guess what???
Baby girl let me rock her to sleep again!!!  Ahhhh!  Thank You, Jesus!  It was just perfect!  It started to rain again that afternoon while I was rocking her, and it was just the best way to spend a rainy, relaxing afternoon in Ethiopia.  Love!!!
Later on, Jody came back and we all hung out some up in her room.  A few of the older boys, who we just fell in love with (they were with us a lot), were taking turns with my camera!  They loved to take pictures, and it was fun to let them!  You can see more of her cute room in the above picture!  That is her crib behind Jody and little Y!

Oh, and our little Konjo can sleep through anything!!!  She is totally used to kids running around and making noise, and it doesn't phase her a bit!  :)  So thankful!  Because having 3 older kids at home, our house is always a little wild!  And she absolutely LOVES the older kids at HH.  They are always playing with her, picking her up, and loving on her...and she loves it!  So, I think she is going to quickly fall in love with her older sisters and brother when she gets home!

Little M took this picture of me and baby L, and I think it shows how happy I was to have her sleeping peacefully in my arms on our last afternoon with her! :)  This is my very last picture that we took in Ethiopia, and I think it was the perfect one to end on!

She finally woke up, and it was time to kiss and hug her good-bye.  Of course, she did not understand what was happening because this was our usual routine of coming and going every day while we were there.  I tried not to dwell on the sadness of the moment.  Surprisingly, I didn't cry.  (Well, we all know that was because of God's grace and strength that He gave me in that moment!!!)

It was bittersweet because we were sad to leave her, but we were really missing our three older kids at home.  We had only talked to them once the whole week, and we knew that it was time to go home to them.
Also, we had seen firsthand how amazingly LOVED and CARED FOR our baby girl is by all the staff at Hannah's Hope.  It was the most beautiful thing to see!  They have literally been the hands and feet of Jesus to our baby girl over the past 8 1/2 months, and we are eternally grateful to them!  I really can't express in words how beautiful their hearts are!  It makes me cry just thinking about it!  God is just using them in a mighty way to love and care for these children.

We went back to the guest house, and gathered up all of our suitcases to load up in the van.  We were leaving with much less than what we came with!  Although, we now had one suitcase full of all of our souvenirs, plus the 12 bags of coffee that Johannes (one of the kind staff guys) had gotten for us that morning!  We hugged our sweet friends there on the mission trip good-bye.  We had bonded with them over the week too!

Then we loaded up in the van with Wass driving, and went to a delicious Italian restaurant called Antica to eat on the way to the airport.  Also, we had realized somehow we had not gotten home from the market with our coffee pot that Callie Grace had specifically requested!  We had the little coffee cups, but not the pot!  I told Wass that I couldn't show up in Mississippi without that Ethiopian coffee pot! :)  We thought they might sell them at the airport, but we weren't sure.  And Wass, being the great guy that he is, made sure that we stopped by and found her one on the way to the restaurant!  He is the best!!! :)

We had fun eating dinner with Wass, Emma & Chris, and the J family.  And the power only went out once that night at the restaurant! :)  The restaurants are all used to power outages, and it doesn't even seem to phase them at all!  They start bringing out the candles immediately!  It is kind of fun, and makes the meal more exciting! :)

Then it was time for them to drop us off at the airport!  We got two of the luggage guys to help us with our luggage, said good-bye to Wass and the J family, and went inside to have our luggage screened in security before we went to the gate to check-in.  The line to check in was really long, but our flight didn't leave until 10:15 that night, and it was only about 8:00 p.m., so we had plenty of time.  We were so thankful that Chris and Emma were on our flight home too!  It was so great to be able to hang out with them in the airport.

We went through customs, and it seemed like we went through at least 2 more security checks.  Then we went to the gate and had to show our boarding passes again in a long line at the gate.  Finally it was time to board!!!  At that point, we were getting tired and just ready to get this long 17 hour plane ride over with!!!

Jody and I knew that the flight was full and our seats were not beside each other.  I was praying as we got on that plane the Lord would put someone on our row who would be gracious to let us trade seats with them.  We were both assigned middle seats, so we knew it would be hard for someone to give up their window or aisle seat to trade with us.

The Lord was so gracious, and the most precious man who had been on a mission trip to Malawi gave Jody his aisle seat in the middle section so that we could sit together!  I cried when he told us how he missed his wife so much and wished she had been on this trip with him.  He told us how she had passed away in his arms a few years before.  I think he just had compassion on us, and wanted us to be able to sit together.  It was so sweet, and we were so thankful!

It was just a few minutes later, and then the plane was taking off!  We were heading back home to the United States, and leaving Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and one of our precious children behind.  My heart was a mix of emotions, and my body and my mind were just exhausted.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep.  A few minutes later, I heard the lady in the aisle seat beside me call the stewardess.  Her seat would not recline, and she wanted to change seats.  The stewardess told her there were only 2 empty seats on the plane, and they were both middle seats.  She said that she didn't care, she just wanted to be in a seat that worked.  So, she got up, gathered her things, and looked at me and said, "Spread out!  I am leaving!"

Oh my goodness, I about cried tears of joy then as I got to spread out and sleep curled up on those two seats!  It was so wonderful...I was so thankful!  Next stop was Rome to re-fuel, and then Washington, D.C.!!!


sydney said...

I love following your journey! I can't wait to see her precious face. Your journey & trust in God has deepened my faith. Thank you.
You need to write a book some day!

Meredith said...

I have cried as I read each of your posts depicting your week with Caroline Faith. Praying for a swift embassy appointment and your sweet family of 6 to be together soon.

Stephanie said...

So awesome to read these posts after 3 years of reading your blog and we were in Ethiopia meeting our daughters within a week of each other! God is good