August 31, 2008

English Lessons & spiderman

Abenezer is doing pretty well in english. He is picking up a lot. We got in the car today and he said 'where we going?'

We've discovered that he thinking 'little bite' means a little bit. I've told him little bites so many times while he is eating that he thinks it means little bit (or possible small)...Joshua was pushing him on the swing and he was yelling 'little bites Joshua" and he wanted us to roll the window down "a little bite."

He loves spiderman and had colored a page (always only one color per page) of spiderman and had us tape it to his shirt to have a spiderman t-shirt. Penneys was having a sale today so we went and got him (you guessed it) a spiderman t-shirt. He was very excited and he also got a big kick out of light up shoes and spiderman slippers. It's really neat to look at everything through his eyes.

August 28, 2008

Part 2 by Sara Groves

International Justice Mission Part 1

Lately something that has been on my heart and I have a burden for is The International Justice Mission. There is a benefit dinner in DC on Dec 11 that we plan to go to (Gary Haugen will be speaking--author of Terrify No More) The video below is by Sara Groves speaking about the things that they are combatting daily. The spirit of this group and God's hand upon their work is amazing. If you want more info ..just ask. My sunday school class is beginning their youth project in a couple of weeks called "The Justice Mission" which takes a look at what God's heart is for the oppressed. For more about their work, go to www.ijm.org

Questions I've been asked

I've been asked a couple of questions several times and thought that I would answer them here.

1) Is he missing his mom and dad? Yes, the other night he was sitting on his bed at bedtime and was kissing the pictures of his mom and dad (from the photobook they gave us) The hard part is that I can't communicate with him about it. I try and I just hope he understands at some part what I am saying. I ended up just sitting on the bed with him while he looked through the photobook and told me who everyone was. (we've done this many times)

2) Do you plan to keep in touch with his parents? Yes, we do. They love him dearly and want them to know that he is doing good and loved. We have their address and plan to send pictures and letters from us.

3) How is he adjusting? On the outside well. But it is hard to tell really how he is feeling. He is smiling and laughing but that doesn't always tell you alot (how many times do we put on a smile when we really don't feel it?) Alot of times the grieving for the loss may not happen until months down the road..and attachment issues may not fully be seen until later on also...that is why we may seem a little 'over the top' on some of the things...but we have been advised by people who have been there to take attachment very seriously. I'd rather go the extra mile now rather than wish I had later.

4)How are the other children doing? They are all doing well...There have been adjustments and some learning to share and learning to be patient and have compassion and seeing things through someone else's eyes (for the kids and mom and dad!) And I am sure we will have alot more to learn in all of those areas.

Update

Thanks for the prayers...

The dentist appt. went well. He wasn't sure about the numbing. He kept poking his lip and saying 'mom' or 'dad' and he took our finger and poked his lip. (He thought we could feel that it was numb) We go back Sept 5 to get the other side done and pull the front two baby teeth (One is broken and both have bad cavities)

Then we are done with that!

August 26, 2008

Dentist Appt today

Asking everyone to pray for Abenezer today..

He has a dentist appt at 2 to get one side of his teeth worked on. (He has 9 cavities to do--they are doing one side and then the other) They will lightly sedate him. He loved the dentist yesterday (teeth cleaning and exam) so I am praying that it will go well.

August 25, 2008

How to Have Fun at Home

Put on your baseball cap, bike helmet, rollerskates and go for a ride on the tricycle!

Get in the back of dad's truck and empty out all of the ammo in your water guns!



Fun At The Park

He wasn't too sure about the slide until big brother Joshua went down with him...

Swings were a hit!
Rachel, Joshua and Abenezer checking out the ducks


Fish! There's a fish!



Gotta love this church!


We had our first church day with Abenezer on Sunday. He seemed to do well...looked around alot, shook hands with people, high fived and hugged a select few.

Rachel went home with a friend and he didn't understand that. He started yelling Rachel when we pulled off and was looking all over for her. I tried to explain that she would be home later but he kept looking for her. When we ate lunch, he counted us at the table and said 5 and then said Rachel 6 and frowned. Communication really makes a difference!

We had a major battle of the wills today (and I won! heehee) He wanted to go on the deck and play volleyball with the beachball (our deck is high up!) and I told him to play in the front yard with it and we had a no / yes rebuttal for a while. I finally sternly told him yes and that Abenezer needs to listen (while pointing to him and to my ears) He then marched out to the front porch and laid down on the swing and pretended to go to sleep. I left him alone for a little bit and then went back out and told him that I loved him and hugged him and he gave one of those big old grins.

August 23, 2008

A Different View


Seeing the world through Abenezer's eyes:



  • Riding a tricycle at grandma and grandaddy's house, when they gave it to him to take home, he shouted 'yes, yes' and during the ride, blew kisses to it in the car

  • At our shopping trip in Kroger's, he was amazed at the produce department and cheered when I put grapes and corn on the cob in the cart.

  • Cheering when we Greg put hot dog buns in the cart.

  • Thinking that the highlight of the day was the ride in the beat up old truck

  • Shouting "America America' when he saw the flag during the Olympics and being upset when the women lost the volleyball game to Brazil

  • Thinking bathtub is a big enough pool to try to swim

  • Any song is a reason to dance

  • Everything is a reason to smile

On The Way Home

Dinner at the airport in Addis...Let's just say Dramamine works quickly :)


Checking out the plane!Finally..He slept this whole trip after we got going...There was a guy directly behind us that threw up ALOT! Ugh...Casey and I were leaning forward breathing through our shirts...

Waiting in Amsterdam....stickers came in handy..


Finally! After waiting in line a long time in the 'non-us citizen' line, and then being told I didn't have to (after I had been told to go to that line), was sent to get my luggage and to another guy who then sent me to another waiting area to get our green card and then was told I couldn't take my luggage in, dropped off luggage, waited in room, called up, sent to get luggage and have it go through agriculture...and then FINALLY we were done!

A walk through the journey-Last Day

This is the last day in Ethiopia. We met at Hannah's Hope at 10 to load up the van with donations for the other orphanage. I already posted about this experience (see recap last day) We then hung out at the hotel and got ready to go.

We left around 6 p.m. to go to the airport (flight was at 10:45--we left so early because traffic was awful)...We ate dinner at the airport (yucky dinner..I ordered a chicken sandwich and the waitress said "chicken not fresh..order beef" I ordered a cheese sandwich.

We had our flight to Amsterdam and then a 7 hour layover there. We had to eat lunch there and 3 happy meals at McDonalds cost $29!! Ouch!

The kids were fun at the airport..they loved the escalator, the moving sidewalk and the 'lift' (elevator) They also loved Ronald McDonald..as soon as they saw that statue, they all ran up and hugged and kissed him. It was fun to watch. Everything was new to them. Helps you to appreciate things!

Our flight to Dulles was delayed due to having to replace a hydraulic water pump...and then we were off. Remember all of those airplane toys I got? Didn't need them...He was enthralled the whole time with the window and the map screen. We did do a couple of puzzles.

Meeting Dad at the airport

video

August 21, 2008

Sprinkler Fun







A walk through the journey-Fourth Day

Wednesday was the day that the kids all got to go back to Hannah's Hope and play with their friends while we went shopping. They were excited to play with their friends and it was nice to have a little break. We went to the markets and a coffee shop and a little italian place to eat that was also an art studio. They had some beautiful pictures. On a funny note, one of the people ordered sausage pizza. It came out and had something similar to vienna sausage on it. Looked exactly like it.

We enjoyed the shopping. I got a plate and trinket box with Ethiopia's Millenium on it (it's their 2000 millenium there..they go by a different calendar) to commemorate the year we adopted him. I will give it to him at some point to mark a special event. We also got some ethiopian wear for him and Rachel and some necklaces for Bekah and a goat skin for Joshua. We also bought some ethiopian music cd's. We then went to the coffee shop and got some 'real' coffee. It was really cheap. $2.20 a bag and it tastes great! Our clothes all smelled like coffee from it being packed in our suitcase


The Orthodox church had just let out services...there was a sea of people in white robes as far as you could see. We were woke up each morning (very early in the morning) by their call to worship as well as the muslim call to worship.


This gentleman was very nice. He took time to explain us about all of the churches. He was very helpful. He gave Casey his business card :) She was the expert shopper.


These young boys were tending to all of the goats.



A whole lot was dedicated to the millenium celebration.




Time to get some bargains!


August 20, 2008

A walk through the journey- Third day--More Details on the Birth Family Meeting

I woke up early on Tuesday while Casey and Abenezer were still sleeping. I went down and got coffee (that tiny little cup of some major strong stuff) and sat on the steps of the hotel and just tried to soak all of Ethiopia in. I wanted to remember all of it.

This was the day I would meet Abenezer's mother and I was pretty nervous about it. Sally prayed with me before I went. I wanted to make sure and get there at the right time because I didn't want an awkward meeting outside of the gate without Almaz there to guide us. Well...God seems to like letting me know that I am not in control. Because..on the way there....Abenezer and I turned the corner to walk up the road and a gentleman came and started to talk to him and give him a hug (this in itself was not unusual because the ethiopian people love children and will give them attention) so we continued to walk with Abenezer holding my hand and this gentleman's. John looked back questioningly (he walked up with me to HH) and the gentleman said to me "I am his father" .......Oh man.

He at first thought John was my husband and we got that cleared up. As we went in, A's mom and maternal grandmother was waiting and another relative (an aunt I think)....I was very nervous but they all three set me at ease pretty quickly. They had gifts for A (ethiopian dress outfit, some pop and candy for him to eat, a necklace, and photobook and his favorite clothes) The photobook was very emotional for me. It showed me what a loving family that he was a part of . There were pictures of birthday parties and group photos with friends and family. It reminded me what he was losing.

We talked and hugged and did lots of picture taking. I asked them what they wanted me to convey to him and the told me that they loved him and for us to raise him in the Lord and to raise him to love the Lord and serve Him and everything else would be all right. I told them that their heart was my heart. At this point the paternal grandmother came. She immediately went to A and hugged and kissed him...she them came and hugged me and held on to me fiercely..she had a bouquet of flowers that she gave me. She was crying and that's when Casey and I both began to cry. Alot more pictures were taken..most of them have me sobbing. Almaz came and gave me a hug at some point during the process. It was all just heartbreaking to me and seemingly so unfair to them. Their sacrificial love was so amazing to me. I still cannot comprehend it. A at this point was beginning to be confused and upset. His dad stepped down to talk to him and hug him and placed his hand in mine and the family began to walk towards the gate...his dad looked back and saw him crying (we were both kneeling on the ground crying at this point) and came back and took a tissue and wiped the tears from his eyes and spoke tenderly to him. He then left. Abenezer and I went to a chair and sat down and I just held him. A young girl about 8 came up to us (an orphan at HH) and looked at us and said "God is love"

As hard as this way to go through ( and honestly, I have a hard time even writing that is was hard because in comparison to his mom and dad's pain, mine was minimal.) I am so glad that I will have those pictures and memories to share with Abenezer. His family were beautiful people. It was also a beautiful picture of sacrificial love. I hope and pray that we will all love our children and everyone else enough to set ourselves aside--whatever that may mean in our lives...

Please remember them in your time of prayers..that God will give them an assurance of A's well-being and that He will be their comfort...Also for their physical health.




His dad took this picture during our meeting. Abenezer is wearing the traditional clothing they gave him.




What in the World?

It has been funny to watch Abenezer's reaction to things. Here is a list of things that he is getting used to:

1) Driving...He is used to that crazy Ethiopia traffic. He thinks we are boring. He tells Greg, "Dad, mmvvvvmm (using his hand to be a car and go fast)" He cheers when we pass cars and says "Oh no dad" when they pass us. We are going to let him ride with Rodney M. That should satisfy him.

2) The toilet seat. --putting the tp in the toilet and not in the trash and which seat to sit on. There is some confusion there.

3) The exhaust fan in the bathroom. He comes running out with his hands on his ears when he accidentally turns it on.

4)The dog---I have told him 'It's okay' so many times that he thinks that what you say to make Clyde behave. When Clyde comes to him he says 'It's okay!'

5) The booster seat for the car...He just didn't get that...in Ethiopia..no seatbelts...no booster seats...he does like the horn though.

6) The window button and the door handle...let's just say we use window lock and the child lock on the door now.

7) After learning Clyde is a dog, we had hot dogs that night..he asked what they were and we told him... he looked at the dog... ????

I am sure there will be many more things to get used to.

A walk through the journey- Second day continued


Tuesday night we were taken to a restaurant for an Ethiopian Culture Dinner. We sat in a circle and first were brought water and pitcher to wash our hands (towels followed)...There was singing and dancing. The food was good. The kids loved it and were dancing also. (videos below)
We also had honey wine...which to me tasted awful...very strong...

The one video shows a guy dancing..his legs were moving so fast..it was amazing..all of sudden he fell and the music stopped...we thought he was hurt (the band jumped up) the kids were laughing and we were fussing at them for laughing...turns out it was all a joke.






video

video

My Heart

I found those quote on a blog today..I LOVE it!

I WOULD GATHER CHILDREN

Some would gather money Along the path of life,
Some would gather roses, And rest from worldly strife;
But, I would gather children From among the thorns of sin,
I would seek a golden curl, And a freckled, toothless grin.
For money cannot enter In that land of endless day,
And roses that are gathered Soon will wilt along the way.
But, Oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven I can take them in with me. -unknown

August 19, 2008

A walk through the journey- second day

Good Morning!






After a great night of sleep (he slept like a rock!) We went down and had breakfast. Yummy pancakes (and yes, they do taste like funnel cakes!) We played with our friends...


We went to a local coffee spot for lunch...It wasn't too long of a walk but it was a really hard walk for your heart. There was people everywhere and kids as young as 2 begging me for food. I walked by countless people just sitting on the ground and on the bridge. The spots were clearly their home. When I share this with people here, their immediate response is that they are scamming the tourists and they should get a job...that's our 'western' way of thinking. These people are truly desperate...how do you get a job when there is none? how do you buy food when it has recently gone up 75%? we just can't understand that type of poverty. This walk literally pierced my heart. I will never forget the look in the mother's eyes as she sat in the corner of the bridge (her home) and held her infant child.


We also had our embassy appointment that day. We were a rowdy a bunch :) I don't have any pics because you couldn't take your camera in. They called us in family by family and we received our court documents and birth certificates..We all cheered when each family came down. We all went and got gelato as a treat (thanks to Bob!) afterwards...the kids really enjoyed it.




A walk through the journey-First Day

Doing Paperwork for the Embassy!


Walking to the HH's gate to meet him!




Inside the gate with Almaz. This lady is amazing! She is filled with God's spirit to the max. She does so much with the children, with the parents (adoptive and bio), with the government. I am truly in awe of her.

After meeting, I gave him a mustang to play with ..all the kids loved it. Hint to adopting parents: The boys loved the cars that you would roll and it would go on it's own..if I had known how much, I would've bought a couple extra to leave at Hannah's Hope....Even the big boys loved it.





Abenezer discovers Casey's camera and takes a thousand pictures.. Hint: This seemed to be very theraputic for him and the other older kids with us. They were able to take pics of what was special to them. Make sure to let them see the camera. If I had known, I would have taken a cheaper digital so I wouldn't have to be so nervous of him running around with the 'good' one.


Walking back to the hotel together as mom and son





Lunch together at the Union. As soon as the kids sat down at the table, they bowed their heads and prayed.. All of us families ate lunch together and it was hilarious! We had 11 yr old, 8 yr old, 6 yr old twins, Abenezer, and 2 babies. The kids were so funny! They tried to salt and pepper (by sniffing and licking), They drank coke and made awful faces and then would take another big gulp...we were just rolling with laughter...The food came and was shared by everyone..There was no 'your' plate. They even would offer to Danny and Yohannes as they walked by. Good thing none of us were sick...because every germ was shared. Yes, it was yucky...but at that point, none of us cared.





After lots of play with the other kids, we went to our room and got ready for bed.



Night Night!


August 17, 2008

First Swim




When Abenezer saw the pool, he started shouting 'wanna wanna' which we believe means swim..he makes breaststroke movement when he does it...well he went straight to the water and fell over and floated face down...so, we quickly found out that he doesn't know how to swim...another Knight for Teresa to teach! He LOVES the water...he giggled the whole time...he just hasn't learned yet that face down with your mouth open isn't a good thing...




video



When we first met!

Below is a video when Abenezer and I first met...He came running up the walkway and Almaz said, "this is your mom" He gave me a hug and Casey started taping:


video

August 16, 2008

more pics


This is the road we walked up to go to HH. It was right beside the hotel..if it had rained (it was raining at least once a day) then water was flowing down it. I was walking this day and one of the donkeys butted me in the rear and almost knocked me down :)


Pics from Ethiopia--view from our hotel














Recap on Last Day

I didn't get a chance to share about our last day there. We meet at 10:00 and went to another orphanage, a privately run orphanage. They don't have alot of funding, HH sends their extra donations over there to help. Almaz had warned us that it would be sad. We pulled up and it was very very sad. We went into the baby room..there were several babies in the cribs and they looked so pitiful. Bottles were propped up into their mouths and some couldn't reach them anymore. One baby had deformed hands and feet. It totally overwhelmed me. I just stood there and looked around and cried. It just doesn't seem right. Bob (the missions guy) stood there with me and I just bawled. The people running the orphanage love the children, but without funds they need, they can't supply everything they need or have the workers they need. It's very frustrating.

We went out and played and talked with the older kids. One little girl (about 3 maybe?) , I gave smarties to and I helped her open them up. I was going to hold them for her while she ate them so she wouldn't drop them but she immediately stuffed them all to her mouth. This little one had crusty sores all over her head. I held her for a little and she just melted into my arms.

After that we went back to HH and the kids told all of their friends good-bye. I wasn't expecting it at that point and it was very emotional for all of them. the kids truly become like a little family. They cried (especially the older ones) and the kids still at HH cried and all of us adults were crying. The scene reminded me of when it talks about wailing in the Old Testament. Abenezer and I went and hung out in the hotel room for a little bit...He just laid down on top of me. He was worn out emotionally, as was I.

Abenezer went out on the porch and came back in like this...joshua tried to show him it was a baseball glove...but he insists that it is a hat!

We're Home!


Good Morning Friends!


We are home! We arrived a little late due to technical difficulties before we left Amsterdam (by the way..it cost us 29 to get 3 happy meals at their airport..we were stuck for 7 hours and had to eat..it just about killed me to do that)


Abenezer did great...fell asleep on the way home and I carried him to our bed with me so he wouldn't wake up scared..
He slept through the night and woke up around 6:30 and looked at me and said "dad?" So we went and woke dad up!




August 13, 2008

We went shopping today..all the adults were having Casey bargain for them...it was fun...traffic was crazy! It's unbelievable how close cars can get without hitting each other...kids were everywhere begging again...we gave some candy right when we were leaving so we wouldn't get mobbed and gave some some money (small change)...

We then had lunch at this Italian art place...the food was great..really cheap.....

Got A's passport and American visa today. All the kids played at HH while we shopped and ate..it was nice to have a break.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we will meet at 10:30 a.m. and go to the government orphanage and then to lunch. At 5:30 p.m. will leave to go to the airport for our 10:45 p.m. flight (we have to leave so early due to traffic)

After a 7 and a half layover in Amsterdam we'll fly to Dulles arriving at 3:40 p.m. Friday if we are on time.




August 12, 2008

Birthmother meeting

We just heard from mom after the birth family meeting. Her note is below:

"We just got back from the birthmother meeting.........It was good but really, really hard. Casey and I were both sobbing by the time it was over.

The dad, mom and both grandmothers came along with someone else....an aunt I think. They brought a photo album of Abenezer, traditional clothing, his favorite clothes (a suit) and pop and cookies to eat with them.

It such a long and very emotional story. I'll tell you more when we get home. But it was very good. A was crying by the end and his dad came and placed his hand in mine and gave him a kiss. It was heartbreaking. The mom could barely walk. The dad's mom hugged and kissed me and gave me a bouquet a flowers. Almaz said that it went very well and that hardly anyone ever gets a photo book like that. They even wrote on the back of each photo in Amharic and English of what and who it is. They also gave me their phone numbers. The dad spoke some English.

They kept thanking me over and over...I asked them what they wanted me to tell Abenezer...and they said that they wanted us to teach him in the Lord and to teach him to serve the Lord and love him and everything else would be alright.

I have so much to tell you and share when we're home.



It seems our assumptions that the father was uninvolved were incorrect and that the family is a solid and loving one. Circumstances have forced them to make excruciatingly difficult decisions for their son's future well being.

While we are rejoicing at the privilege of having a new son to raise and nurture while another family is lamenting over the fact that the best thing they can do for their to release him into another family's care. It's very hard to understand but we know that God is sovereign and that He has blessed us immensely.
-Greg

August 11, 2008

It's Official!

Mom sent this email around 12 EST so about 7pm there...Just before they went to dinner..

We went to the Embassy today and got everything taken care of. So it's all official!!! We have Abenezer's birth certificate and we will have his passport Weds. The workers were pretty interesting.

We all yelled and celebrated when it was done...We've declared we are the noisiest bunch everywhere...2 3mos olds...6 yr twins, Abenezer, and a 7 and 8 yr old.

Afterwards Bob (the mission guy from the one church) treated us all to gelato for a celebration.

Our birth parent meeting is tomorrow..will let you know how that goes...we will also have our cultural dinner tomorrow.




Update

Another update from mom:

Bedtime with Abenezer was great...he went to right sleep in bed with me and slept all night through....One family had the birthmother meeting today..all the family was there ...cousins..aunts everything..they said it was really hard...we went to a 'starbucks' today for lunch.. along the way kids were asking for money and food...people everywhere..it was heartbreaking. We were easily out of breath in the city because of the high altitude...they kept following you and begging ...some looked to be about 2 or 3....We also went back to Hannah's Hope to play with the kids (there are about 60 of them)...it was really sad when we left..they were all hugging and kissing each other...

Abenezer has been awesome though....listens pretty well, once he understands what I am saying...

August 10, 2008

Mom sent this e-mail update earlier..


Almaz, the orphanage director, came by at 11 a.m. Sunday and we went over paperwork. We then went to Hannah’s Hope and met the kids. Abenezer came running up and gave me huge hug and then took me to get shoes for him. He followed me everywhere for a while and then went to play with the kids and the car I brought. The mustang was a big hit with all the boys but then they got frustrated with the other car that wouldn't move on it’s own the way it would.

We played for a while and toured the home...

We then came back to the hotel at about 3 and had lunch. All the kids tried the salt (some licked the bottle) and the pepper...we then got them coke to drink...their faces were priceless...they were so excited and took big drinks and it burned their throat...and they made awful faces..and they kept doing it! We were all laughing.

then some of the food came..bit by bit...and the kids were sharing out of our plates with everyone ....feeding us all by the same fork...it was communal dining big time...

Abenezer is doing well, working on a candy stick. If I’m not with him, he keeps looking to see where I am at....He’s got some major curly hair...

He will go with me to meet his mom because Almaz thinks it is a good idea. Almaz said that he is very affectionate and smart...He took Casey and my camera and took a picture of everything and everyone in the orphanage...and had figured out how to work it.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers...It couldn't have gone any better...Each of the families had a great first meeting...it's amazing...The oldest boy is translating some for us for Abenezer which is good.

By the way, we were saying his name correctly. Almaz pronounced it like the other lady at the Ethiopian restaurant (short vowels) but all the kids are saying it the way we were.


August 9, 2008

They've Arrived!

Mom (Chrissy) and Casey have arrived in Ethiopia..The plane ride was uneventfull (If Chrissy says so it must have been VERY SMOOTH) They will meet Abenezer on Sunday and his mom on Tuesday.

Taking Off!

Here Casey and Chrissy are at the Dulles Airport getting ready to take off to Ethiopia!
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