Verse of the Day

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 7: Ethiopia Court Visit, December 1, 2011/Court Day and Mount Entoto

... from my personal journal

Well, I couldn't sleep again past 4:00 a.m. Darned dogs! Yap-yap, all night long.... At least it gave me plenty of time to "get my head on straight" before court. I need peace that only my Father can give.

T-Man and I were told to be ready to go by 8:15 a.m.; our case was set for 9:00 a.m., and the court building in some distance from the Ethio-Comfort. Well... it was about 8:45 a.m. by the time Pastor Abdissa arrived. I'm trying not to panic, imagining what might happen if we missed our official court time. Turns out that Pastor couldn't drive his car up the street as the road had been ripped up the day before and large chunks of cement blocked roadway access. Pastor Abdissa, bless his heart, had to "hoof it" from the road to the guest house, adding a good 10 minutes to the already shrinking morning schedule.

After picking up another CHI couple, we finally managed to get to the court building by 9:20 a.m. The court waiting area was not too large--- but it was already jam-packed with people. I'm not a good at estimating numbers of people, but I would say at least 75 to 100 people waited. There were only about 30 chairs lining the perimeter of the white-walled room. Most people stood. It doesn't appear that our tardiness made any difference!

We waited and waited and waited. 10:00. 10:30. 11:00. 11:30. 12:00. Finally, Pastor and Attorney Abdissa is able to make an inquiry. When would we been seen? We were the last people in the room, and we were starting to get a bit antsy. Did we simple miss our appointment? I wasn't too concerned; I figured this sort of thing has probably happened plenty of times. I was just glad we had packed some snacks for the road.

After a few more minutes, we find out that both CHI families had been left off the court docket! Our cases had been returned to archive last week, as neither or our children's remaining birth families had been able to make it to court. Abdissa to the rescue! Abdissa was able to convince the judge that it wasn't our fault that the our names had been left off the docket; He also managed to personally retrieve the files from the court archive. Thankfully, the judge agreed that the mistake was on the court's behalf, and she took the files into her office for review. After about 20 minutes, both families were called back to court (a small room with two metal desks).

In court, we were asked very basic "yes" and "no" questions. All of them were listed in the CHI document regarding court; no surprises. The proceeding only lasted about 5 minutes.

Unfortunately for both CHI families, because the birth parents had failed to show for the final adoption decree, we did not receive our final approval for adoption. This was a bit disappointing, although Abdissa had already warned us that the court would not have all the necessary documents to complete the adoptions. In S.'s case, his grandmother is his legal guardian. She has moved to Southern Ethiopia, working as a migrant coffee bean harvester. She has already missed 3 court proceedings, and another is scheduled. In the mean time, CHI is trying to "track" her and send a driver to her location. All we can do is wait. I am so grateful to have been through a previous long adoption waits; it has prepared my to stay relaxed. No sense it getting all upset about things you have no control over. Take this one, too, God. You deal with it!

After court, we headed back to the Ethio-Comfort for delicious hamburgers! T-Man was quite excited to have some American food. I was quite thrilled to just be out of the court room.

Kassa and his driver picked us up about 2:30 p.m., and we headed to Mount Entoto.

Mount Entoto is the highest peak overlooking Addis Ababa. Mount Entoto is over 10,450 feet above sea level and houses Addis' first palace (Emperor Menelik II). It is considered by Ethiopians to be a sacred mountain, and holds the palace grounds, a large church, several monasteries, and a museum. Mount Entoto is also covered with fragrant eucalyptus and massive juniper trees. People living nearby trudge up the mountain roads, gather fire wood, strap massive loads to their backs, and walk back down the mountain. Most of the firewood gathers are very elderly women.
Mount Entoto

Juniper and Eucalyptus trees of Mount Entoto

The winding roads made T-Man a bit uncomfortable; he remembered seeing a YWAM painting of an accident on that very mountain... glad I didn't remember that while driving up the narrow pass! I did take note that there were no guard rails on the roads, just lots of people, carts, and donkeys making their way up the mountain. I also note the extreme importance of a car horn. Drivers in Ethiopia use horns more than the brakes, if you get my point. Driving in Ethiopia is always an adventure!

The trip up the mountain must have only been about 20 minutes, but it was significantly cooler at the top. When we got to the top, hundreds and hundreds of people were all gathered: some in traditional Ethiopian dress, some in Western-style clothing. The entrance of St. Mary's had a few stands were devout Orthodox believers could purchase umbrellas and other items. The street was lined with overhead  flags; it was decorated like we might decorate our US streets for a Fourth of July parade.

Right as we pulled up to the church entrance, our car died. After multiple attempts to start the car, several people standing nearby simply pushed the car backwards and to the side of the street. Our driver looked at me and told me not to worry. He promised the car just needed some water. He was right.

Orthodox Christians trek up Mount Entoto to worship at St. Mary and St. Michael's churches. By the church ground gates, crowds of people clog the entrance. Women have traditional head coverings; some men wear shawls. The outdoor loud speaker blares the pastor's message; the tone of the address reminds me of Muslim call to worship. Followers repeated the chants and performed ritualistic stances and motions. Many had their own pray mats. Believers bowed, bent down, and even kissed the ground as part of the service. 

Saint Mary's

Flag-lined streets

Orthodox Christians, praying

Services are hourly; sermons are blasted over loud speakers

View of Addis Ababa

The poor air quality of Addis

One of the tree-lined walkways on the Palace Grounds

As part of the compound, the country's first palace stands. The rooms were very interesting: simple, thick white plaster walls with dark bamboo wood ceilings. The ceilings looked like an intricately woven, inverted basket--- quite beautiful, considering the age of the structure.

The Palace

Wheat fields surrounding the Palace

Rickety stairs and unsupported walkways made for an interesting tour...

Inside on of the Palace rooms

Ceiling detail 
After leaving the Palace and touring its surrounding buildings, we wandered back to the parking area. We notice a long line of people; they are waiting patiently for a small amount of Holy Water from the priests. Believers claim that many have been miraculously healed of diseases such as HIV and cancer.
Holy Water line
We also viewed the museum associated with the monastery. It was an interesting tour, personally escorted by priest. He was very kind, and showed us the many treasures of Ethiopia. We saw ancient Bibles, clothing and crowns from past rulers, and even several Olympic gold medals that had been donated by talented Ethiopian athletes. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the museum.

We headed to the parking lots--- car in perfect running order! T-Man had an opportunity to try a small stalk of sugar cane. All I could think of was the germs on the knife that cut the sugar cane... God protect him!

We drove back down the mountain and prepared ourselves for our last meal at the guest house. We already had suitcases packed and ready. Suddenly, who should be at the front door but Fekadu, our son's father! What a sweet surprise! Fekadu brought individually wrapped gifts and hand-written cards for each member of our family. He gave Glen and me colorful beaded cross necklaces; he also gave all the children either traditional clothing or scarves. He was very generous, considering this man makes no salary. I am overwhelmed by his kindness.

Fekadu shared with us that his nephew has been admitted to the hospital for diagnosis of a possible heart condition. It is a sad moment. We all gather, arm in arm, and lift up the needs of this little one to the Great Physician. No need to translate. God is present. It was a holy moment. 

I was strengthened by the prayer, as I did not cry when Fedadu left. I felt humbled and at peace--- no need for tears. Fekadu is a strong, gentle man. I think he knows that the Lord has knitted our families together in a very unique way. Oh Lord, how do I deserve such blessings?

T-Man, Kassa, and I finished a quick dinner and brought all of the luggage downstairs. Tsebay then convinces me that now is the time to learn a little about injera! Nothing like packing as much living into time as possible!

Tsebay led me to the injera prep room. She showed the proper consistency of injera batter, and then proceeded to show me how to pour the batter in circles onto the hot griddle. This is not as easy as it looks, I soon discovered! I took my pitcher in hand, ready to pour... and I look to the side of me: 3 men, videoing the session! Just a bit intimidating....

My first and only injera looked like a one celled organism. Not too appetizing.

Next, Tsebay brought out several large, heavy bags: teff flour, berberre,  and shiro. She wanted to encourage my injera making. Now I have no choice but to try!

Soon came the tears and the hugs of saying good by to so many dear people--- all the people in the guest home, my sweet Tsebay, along with her husband and her beautiful mother. It is so difficult to leave people you've grown to love and to care for.

Kassa accompanied us to the airport, walking as far as he could before we entered a secure area. He hugged T-Man and then me... he fought the tears that had fallen so freely in the van ride here. Kassa calls me his "Mum." Right now, I truly feel that this is true. God has given me a tender heart for this orphaned young man. I want to help him grow into a man of honor and courage who can survive in such a battered world. 

We were advised to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of our flight time. It does take quite a bit of time to get through airport security screenings--- 3 of them, plus the time it takes to fill out the exiting country paperwork.

During our wait, we met more wonderful people. Of all the Ethiopians I have spoken with, all of them expressed great joy and curiosity as to why people would want to help their children. As a Christian, this provides me a perfect opportunity to share my convictions. I love this country!

We left the airport, flying Ethiopian Airlines direct to Washington, D.C. via Rome (re-fueling stop). Our flight leaves a 10:15 p.m. We had an hour or so lay over in Rome, and then headed for Washington. We again stayed awake until the final stretch of the trip; this really helped with the jet lag.

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