Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Great Ethiopian Adventure (Day 3)

Somewhere during the night (I'm guessing around 3:00), Gatlin woke me up and asked me to come into the bathroom with her.  I was so afraid there was going to be some barfing going on so was relieved to find out that it was just a major mosquito attack.  She had 13 bites on her body and was woken up by that pesky little dude buzzing around her head.  I tried not to think about the malaria possibility and just decided to believe the people who said the elevation was too high there and thus, the mosquitoes are not carriers.  With that positive thinking we were able to go back to sleep.  I hate mosquitoes.

We all woke up somewhere around 6:30 again and headed downstairs for breakfast shortly thereafter.  The ladies had made French toast and it was excellent.  We all ate a ton.  Shortly after breakfast, Bennet came out of the bathroom, looked at me and said, “I pee pee’d and wiped, I poppied and wiped and I washed my hands”.  It was SO funny cause she said, “poppy” instead of “poopy”.  I cracked up.  She is SO stinkin’ funny.  She was so proud of herself for remembering what we taught her about proper hygiene.  Adorable.

After breakfast, Cooper and Brian made the very familiar trek over to the airport to see if any of our bags had arrived.  They walked over each day and Brian said his feet were sore because all the terrain was so uneven and bumpy.  One bag was found on this day, so that made for the forth one recovered.   We had brought one bag for Amanda’s sister, Ashley, who is now living over there doing work for Project 61.  This is the suitcase that arrived, and honestly, if only one suitcase was going to arrive, I was so thankful that it was that one because there were important things in it that Ashley really needed for her work there.  But, once again, we were stuck with none of our personal things and were resigned to our same clothes for yet another day.  (Oh, when I walked downstairs for breakfast one of the guys was sitting in the living room area and he said, “Hey, Wendi, I like your outfit”.  I know that doesn’t read that funny right now, but at that time it cracked me up!!)

After Brian and Cooper got back, a group of us headed out for some shopping to find some cool Ethiopian stuff to have so that a little of their culture could be at home with the kids when they get here.  Ann, Nick, Sallee, Brian, me and Alazar (the awesome guy who works for the adoption agency and the guest house) had a great time shopping and bargaining.  Many funny moments were had as Ann was too nervous to just “walk away” and “play the game” a little bit.  Sallee and I were great at it.  Surprise.  LOL   Sweet Ann was ready to pay top dollar for everything she was buying.  It was so funny.  We bought darling hats, shirts, bracelets – just lots of great stuff for really cheap.  The people were so nice and we really had a lovely couple of hours making fantastic memories.

After shopping, we headed back to the guest house and stopped to grab “take away” Chinese.  This food ended up being fantastic.  Everything we got was really, really good.  The kids loved it.  In fact, they don’t seem to be picky at all.  Kali may be a little more particular than the other two, but she wasn’t near as picky as half the kids I know over here in the good ole’ USA.   Speaking of Kali, while we were shopping, Gatlin thought it would be a good time to wash Kali’s hair, so she and the nannies took to that task.  However, when the nannies styled her hair after washing it, Kali was visibly upset (this is what I was told when I got home).  Apparently they had styled her hair in the exact way it was before they washed it and she had really wanted a different do.  So, the big pouty face came out and it was made clear to all that she was not happy.  With that, she went upstairs and took a nap.  She woke up when we got home with lunch and came down with a happy heart and ate her noodles and rice – she ate a lot – and smiled the whole time.  She had wanted some rice the day before and we didn’t have any, so she was happy to see it on the table. 

After lunch, we all just hung out together – the kids played outside, either shooting baskets or kicking around the soccer ball.  We were all dreading the upcoming return back to the orphanages and there was definitely a heaviness in the air.  Bennet asked me numerous times what time Alazar was coming to the house to take them back.  I had told her it would be after dinner, so when we found out it was going to be 4 or 5 o’clock, she was pretty bummed. 

I spent some time getting their things together (which wasn’t much since none of the things I had packed for them got there).  I felt badly sending dirty clothes back to the orphanage, but there wasn’t any other option.  I was so thankful that there had been a couple outfits in the orphanage donations that worked for them – they were able to take a few extra things back with them and I was grateful for that.   They also got to take the soccer ball we bought for them to play with at the guest house – and Kaleb was thankful for that.   (;

When Alazar pulled up the driveway it was like all the air was sucked out of the room.  A huge, collective sigh of sadness.  Our family huddled in front of the guest house and prayed together and then the four families piled into the van.  Our family of 7 sat across the back row – a couple on laps.  The Tunheims, Couches and Van Nestes were the other families – and each of them held their precious little ones in their laps.  The first stop was an orphanage called, E Olam.  It was about a 20 minute drive and it was very, very bumpy and very smelly.  Many times Bennet covered her nose and commented about the stench.  I thought they would be used to it, but apparently not. 

When we pulled up to that orphanage and they opened the gate, all the little kids ran to look out at us.  They were all so adorable and I recognized a couple of them from pictures I’ve seen from their soon-to-be parents.  I can’t describe how sad it was when Ann and Nick and Scott and Angela crawled back into the van without their children.  There was shoulder heaving sobbing.  There were silent tears.  There was deep, heart-felt pain.  Awful.

The next stop was the Transition House.  Kids are brought there when their parents are ready to go to court because their orphanages are so far away.  They need to be closer to the city for all the paperwork, the medicals and everything that needs to be done before the Embassy appointments.   Sallee and Montie had to return their precious son, Samson.  I wanted to run into the house for just a minute because a couple of my friends have children waiting there and I had promised to give them hugs and kisses.  It was so amazing to see their sweet little faces and get to tell them that I know their parents and that they’d be there with them soon.  But I hurried as quickly as I could because I knew that it was so hard for Sallee and Montie to be sitting in the van waiting for it to pull away.

I got back into the van and we headed to our kid’s orphanage, Resurrection.  The ride was extremely bumpy and at one point we had to go off the beaten path because of a wreck in front of us that must have been pretty serious because an ambulance was on hand.  Kaleb asked if he could sit by the window and get some air and I was worried that he was getting car sick, but he made it to the orphanage just fine.  

We got out of the van and Bennet started crying.  We all had tears in our eyes and were doing our best not to lose it, but she was full out bawling.  I felt so badly for her and just kept telling her how proud I was of her for being so brave.  She asked me again how many days it would be and again I told her that I thought it would be between 30 and 60 days.  She said, “Mommy, please, only 30 days, please, Mommy”.  I told her that we would pray and ask God to please let it happen as quickly as it possibly could.  We walked them to the steps and the doors opened – and when they did, all the kids started screaming Bennet’s name because they were so happy to see her again.  She is such a helper to the little ones there and I know they are going to miss her very much when she is gone.

We got quickly back into the van and pulled away.  Immediately Cooper began to sob.  Uncontrollable, big, heavy sobbing.  It completely tore everyone up.  This strong, adorable, cool, teenage boy sobbing because he loves his new siblings so much and hated leaving them.  It was something I will never forget.  Gatlin, Cooper, Brian and I held each other in that back seat and just cried and cried.  I then did what I almost always do when I’m sad or afraid – I started to sing.  “Beautiful One I love, Beautiful One I adore, Beautiful One my soul must sing….”   Gatlin and I sang the whole song together as others joined in as their tears would allow.  It was a wonderfully painful ride home.  Wonderful because it wouldn’t have been so painful had we not already loved them so much.

We made the 20 minute drive back to the guest house.  Cooper and Gatlin were exhausted and all they wanted to do was go to our room and lie down.  Brian and I walked to the coffee shop to eat dinner with Scott and Angela, Nick and Ann and Yonaton.  We had a really nice dinner and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Yonaton a little better.  We’re hoping that one day he’ll be able to come to America to visit us.  He would love it.

We got some food for Cooper and Gatlin and headed back to pack up and leave for the airport.  Everyone else had earlier flights than us (except Rick and Amanda who were staying one more day) so we said goodbye to our new friends and watched their van pull away.   We woke up Cooper and Gatlin to eat their dinner, but Gatlin opted to skip it and just slept until it was time for us to leave.  About an hour later we loaded into our van and drove to the airport.  We had borrowed a suitcase from Sallee so we could put the things we had bought while we were there in it – we checked that one lone suitcase – and we prayed that we’d see it again when we arrived in Nashville.  (;  

And all the way to Nashville we prayed for our precious new family members!  

To be continued…


  1. Oh my goodness, Wendi.
    We have many of the same memories from Ethiopia, but I just don't know if I am strong enough to have done the two-trip thing. You all amaze me!

  2. Tears are rolling down my face reading this, it was so painful and still is. There are no words to describe how much we miss Malia Grace. We couldn't choose any better families to share this time with than ones we did.

  3. My heart hurts for you and your family during the long wait. I love your blog! I cant wait to see you bring your new additions home.

  4. Wow... This is so awesome, and so sad at the same time. I pray that the time goes quickly. I know it will, because it always does. Ben and I are so excited for you guys!!