Verse of the Day

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Last! Pick up from the Thomas Center and US Embassy

First moments together!

T. and I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, May 20, 2012. We managed to sleep a few hours before meeting sweet S. on Monday morning. I had the great pleasure of seeing my dear friend, Tsebay again!

Manager of Ethio-Comfort, Tsebay Bekele
After enjoying a delicious breakfast of coffee, scrambled eggs, steamed whole-grain wheat, firfir (injera with onions, garlic, and tomatoes), toast, and waffles at our favorite Ethio-Comfort Guest Lodge (251-911-662894), we waited for our personal driver to arrive.  Children's House International now gives parents a referral for English-speaking drivers to assist you with all your needs while in country. This person only works with one family at a time, and is totally dedicated to serving you--- day or night. Initially, we thought the price of $80 a day to rent a van was rather steep; however, this turned out to be a good investment. Not only did our driver speak fluent, understandable English, but he was a wealth of information regarding Ethiopia. I learned a lot more about Ethiopia--- its politics, its culture, and its place in the international arena-- than I had known before. Our driver (Yoftahe, ET number is 0911 210712) is also a father of young children, so he was quite an asset and seemed to really enjoy his work. Additionally, our driver was, for the most part, on time... which is indeed a wonderful thing for a time-conscientious American!

Yoftahe picked us up at the Ethio-Comfort Guest Lodge at 9:30 a.m., and we drove to the Thomas Center. The drive gave T. a very quick glance at the congestion and busyness of Addis--- lots of people, all trying to cross mini-van filled streets. Donkeys and goats decorated the highway medians, providing another obstacle for our driver to dodge.

View from balcony of Ethio-Comfort (newer or the two houses)

We had our very own cows to watch!

Upstairs bedroom with private bath (sorry for the mess)

Inside Ethio-Comfort. Kitchen serves all meals and offers "American-friendly" cuisine

Inside Ethio-Comfort

Inside Ethio-Comfort

View from outside guest lodge

Pulling through the huge metal gates, we were instantly greeting by S. and another YWAM family. What a greeting it was! Flowers and huge hugs from my new son, and tearful greetings to another traveling family (who also endured a long process).

First mango ice cream

Not the first orange soda... but still delightful!
S. was very comfortable with T. and with me almost immediately. I was very surprised that he seemed to adjust so readily. The best thing I did was give him a kid's camera that had a video function on it; this kept his hands occupied for HOURS! He photographed and videoed every moment of our initial time together.

We only spent a short time at the Thomas Center, and then headed out to get some coffee, orange soda, and ice cream. I was rather shocked that S. liked ice cream--- it took our other three Ethiopians several months to enjoy that treat (one still does not eat ice cream). Samuel enjoyed the time out with us, and he stayed close to us. He did not attempt to run off into the street, and just sat rather confidently and quietly chugging his soda. Again, my other kids would have run off in all directions and become a total nightmare... would the good behavior last? His behavior was so good, that we did do a bit of grocery shopping for all the "essentials," including berbere, dabo kolo, kolo, shiro, Addis Tea, and a couple cases of purified water.

After shopping, we headed back to the guest lodge. S. loved the guest house! He jumped up and down the stairs, dove and flopped on the sofas--- all the while singing to his new family. He truly loved having someone cherish him!

We did bring S. a bag of little toys, including coloring books, sticker books, Play Dough, and cars. However, the "hits" were still the camera and the play cell phone. He didn't care much about anything else... except the new clothes and shoes. He currently wears a 4T top and pants, and a size 10 shoe. Pretty small sizes, considering he is at least 5--- he has already lost his bottom two teeth, and has permanent teeth growing in.

The rest of Monday was spent playing, reading, and bathing. It is very obvious to me that his nannies at the Thomas Center truly loved him. He enjoyed being read to, and could let us help him. S. was busy, but not hyper. He was happy--- ate well, slept well, and just seemed to love everything. 
Little man with his nanny--- and camera

Tuesday was US Embassy day. We spent the morning relaxing and getting to know each other. S. had one episode of tears, but it was short-lived and not too intense. The staff at the Ethio-Comfort stepped in, reassuring him. They truly helped make the transition smooth. The lodge's driver and all the staff spend a lot of time with us; they played with S. and interpreted all his conversations. Ethiopians are extremely hospitable people, always wanting to spend time with people. The Ethiopian staff prepared him for  the Embassy, warning him that it may take some time. He didn't seem to care.

The new US Embassy is visually impressive and quite beautiful! The staff was professional, friendly, and efficient. The substantial waiting room has a play house and a play slide; this kept many kids occupied and happy. Our wait time was a short 30-45 minutes. I was called up to the window, and signed a form. The agent then asked for AN ADDITIONAL Power of Attorney... thankfully, I had taken an extra copy--- just in case. I could only lift praises to the Lord for placing on my mind to take an extra POA, as Children's House did not ask me to take one. 

After the Embassy, we took a short drive up to Mount Entoto. Compared to our last visit, there were many more women hauling huge loads of wood down the mountain. It just pained me to see the women's expressions: exhaustion and pain. Just what were those massive loads doing to the spines of these women? 
A woman hauling a load of fire wood: Mount Entoto
T., S., and I went through the Mount Entoto/St. Mary's museum and Palace grounds. S. was not too interested in the museum part of this excursion, although the museum guide was able to keep his attention for about an hour. S. did enjoy climbing the stairs at the site, and loved the view of Addis from the summit.
St. Mary's

Palace grounds

These ladies love me!

King for a day!

View of Addis from Mt. Entoto road; shepherd hats made by local children

View of Addis
When we pulled over on the side of the road to take pictures, we were quickly surrounded by children and women--- each attempting to sell us the items they made. We did not feel uncomfortable; we felt humbled. We did purchase 5 boy's shepherd hats and some spices from one of the women. Yoftahe, our driver, explained to us that he sees the same women every time he drives a tourist up the Mount. He often brings the women things for their children, as it is very difficult not to want to alleviate some of the very apparent suffering these people endure. We saw the stereotypical image of Africa: lots of kids, skinny and unhealthy looking--- kids not even bothering to brush the flies off their faces because they are too weak to do so. These images deeply pained T.; she gave the kids some money... and then quickly realized that doing so only invited more people to congregate. It's a tough call. You want to help everyone, but then see that you just can't. 

Yoftahe saw our hearts, and asked if we wanted to truly help some of these women. He then led us to a store that sells scarves and purses. The women who made these simple, yet attractive items were once women who trudged up and down the mountain, carrying wood. They have been trained to make things so that they can escape the back-breaking work of gathering wood. We purchased many scarves and purses, knowing that it would encourage the women to continue in their new venture.

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