Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wrong about Korah and Hair pics

Here is the after pics of Aliya after her relaxer yesterday. Yep, just what I said I wouldn't do, I did. Our stylist did a great job and used a gentle relaxer and it really turned out great. She really loves it!

Also, I wanted to say that I was incorrect about Compassion coming to do a sponsorship program. Sammy facebooked me and told me that it was all a misunderstanding. So sad about this!

But there is LOTS of great opportunity to change things in Korah. More, much more to come!!!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Good news for Korah

I'm sure you're wondering why I haven't posted any pictures of Korah (the leper colony we visited). I've been dying to show you the beautiful people there BUT Jill is in the process of making up a picture book with Sammy's personal story and I don't want to compromise any of the pictures for her. The plan is that it will sell for roughly $25 and all the proceeds will go toward sustaining a feeding program in Korah. These people desperately need nutritious food which doesn't come from a dump. This is a rough estimate but we figured to feed 75,000 people one healthy meal of beans and rice a day would cost about $1800/day. That's incredibly inexpensive for 75,000 people!

When we were there, Sammy told us that finally some Christian organizations had visited him to try to get some sort of program started for the children (or childrens, as Aliya says!). Yesterday, I heard some WONDERFUL news from an adoptive mom who visited Ethiopia and specifically Korah last week. She said that Compassion International had visited Korah on Feb. 22 and have agreed to begin a sponsorship program for the children!!!!!! This is GREAT news for them and will change Korah forever.

As people begin sponsoring these precious and extremely needy kids, they will enter an education program that includes learning about Jesus. They will get medical care and one meal a day. They will receive letters from their sponsors which will encourage them and show them that they are NOT forgotten and unworthy, as they have always believed.

I LOVE Compassion International and Blaine and I sponsor 2 boys in Ethiopia, in the area where the boys are from. They are accountable for the money they take in and are completely trustworthy.

Sammy and the leaders of the church will be responsible to choose the most needy of the children to be in the program, orphans will be first I'm sure, just as it is now there with sponsorships. They are best to choose who gets into the program first as they know the families and situations better than anyone. I cannot wait for this to begin and see how God changes people and raises up great men and women from Korah!!!

When the book is finished, I will offer it on my blog so you can have a chance to see what we've seen and have an opportunity to help the people there.

We are still planning on raising money for a well in Korah. Jill's daughter, Lexi has already raised enough money for a well in Sudan. I'll keep you updated on this, as well since I've heard from many of you that you are interested in giving to this project.
You will remember that the women of Korah walk 45 minutes one way for a jerry jug of water and it is not clean water. So this is so important for the people there...clean, accessible water in their community.

With the promise that Compassion is coming to Korah, God is beginning to radically transform that ignored and forgotten place. It is such a privilege to be a little part of it!

Aliya did well in school with the ELL teacher Thursday and Friday. She liked being there and truly, everyone is SO friendly. It seems as though she is currently at about a 3rd grade level in math and 2nd grade in reading. So this is where they will start. She is very good at sounding out words but often doesn't know the meaning of the word. Like yesterday, she sounded out the word, "high." But when asked what in the room was high, she didn't know.

This all will come with being immersed in the English language. She's a smart girl and seems to only need to be told something one time and she gets it. She is truly amazing in this way!

I can only imagine if I was in Ethiopia and learning Amharic, I'd be in the pre-school class and probably wouldn't advance for a LONG time!

She has no problem reading in Amharic. I bought her an Amharic Bible while we were there and I'm so glad I did.

Blaine and I keep marveling at how well she fits into our family. But of course, God knew this, didn't He??

Today, Aliya has a hair appointment to have her hair trimmed and we'll see what else. Pictures tomorrow!

Keep praying for Sammy and Korah.

Praising God for His wonderful blessing to them today!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can I brag, just a little?

I just have to tell you about Aliya.

This girl is funny, smart, adaptable, perceptive, knows when to be serious, knows when to have fun and confident. I keep looking at her wondering, "How is it possible she has only been home for 10 short days?" She just fits in so well with our family that it amazes me constantly.

Today, she really began coming out of her shell. Little by little, she's beginning to open up and speak more English. She is beginning to laugh and tease her brothers and sisters, and ME! She lights up when her dad walks through the door. I am so surprised all these things are happening so quickly! I didn't expect it! But we are so grateful for her beginning to trust us already.

Yesterday, she and I were baking muffins. I had her peeling apples with a knife. Then I offered her a vegetable peeler. She tried it but went quickly back to the knife. She was a pro and I questioned her about her experience. Yes, she had peeled potatoes while in Ethiopia. I told her that most 14 year old girls in America could NOT peel an apple with a sharp knife like she could. She was shocked! She said, "Boys??" I said, "No. Girls!" Her reply, "Well, then they are NOT girls!" So funny.

We went to the Middle School that she will be attending this morning. She is anxious to start school! I was very impressed with the school and teachers there. She will be starting 7th grade this year and next year, she will be an 8th grader. Our district believes in placing the students according to their age, not their ability.

She will spend tomorrow and Friday with the ELL (English language learners) teacher, just getting to know her for a couple hours each day. Next week, she has a dentist appt. and an appt. at the International Adoption Clinic, which will take all day. So she will begin full days on Thursday, next week.

The school is set up so nicely. I remember being in jr. high and having to search all over the school for my classrooms. In this case, they have a 7th grade wing which makes it so incredibly easy to find your classroom. She won't have any problem finding her way around at all! The only thing we need to work on is "the dreaded combination lock" as she will have one on her locker and one on her gym locker:-)

Tonight she is attending our church's Wed. night program for the first time with her new friend, Courtney. I took her last week for a look but we didn't stay long. Tonight I will drop her off (ok, not drop off but leave her) there with Courtney. She's very excited!

Can you tell...I LOVE this girl??

We went to Target today and she picked out 4 frames to send to her friends at the orphanage. We'll print off the pictures we took while we were there of Aliya and each of them and put them in the frames. She couldn't stop thanking me for buying them. She told me how happy they would make her friends. I can imagine their faces in receiving such a simple gift. They will love them, they are very cute!

Thank you for your prayers on our behalf. God is definitely answering and making this a very easy transition!


Laura...the proud mom!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trip to Enoto Mountains

These women are known as "women woodcarriers." They walk for miles up the mountain only to walk miles back down with a 30 kilo (about 60-70lbs) of wood on their backs. The people in Addis Ababa (the city) need firewood for cooking and there is no wood in the city so these women provide a valuable service. However, they do all this for about $1 a day, just enough to feed themselves and their family for one day. Tomorrow they will do the same thing and the next day and the next...

I cannot blame this woman one bit for the look on her face. What a miserable job!

We encountered these boys on our way up the mountain. What they hold in their hands is a homemade soccer ball. They played a little soccer for us right there on the road. It is a moment like this that you would give anything to be able to pull a soccer ball out of your back pocket.

Two little cuties we met near the Orthodox Church on the Entoto Mountain. I think they had parents who were visiting the church. I hope.

These adorable boys were near the church. I gave them each a piece of mint gum. The boy in the tan sweatshirt with the orange stripe made a face when he put the strange flavor of mint in his mouth. Katie suggested that they looked hungry and I should give them the snacks we brought for ourselves. They accepted it quickly and began gobbling it up, with both hands. They were indeed very hungry.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church that sits nearby Emperor Melinik's palace.

This is the way these two sisters walked around every place we went. How sweet it is...

The group of us...Marie, Jill, Lilly, Me, Katie and Aliya standing in front of a door of Emperor Melinik's palace. He's the one who made Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia way back when.

There was also a museum on this site, which cost less than $10 for all of us to go into, including our wonderful driver, Z. It ended up being a bit of a surprise with amazing royal robes, a royal saddle, drums, etc. inside. We were not allowed to take pics inside because of the delicate state of the treasures inside, but we all enjoyed it to the fullest! The artifacts inside were gorgeous! WELL worth the money.

If you're going to Addis Ababa and want a day trip, I would highly recommend the Entoto Mountains!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Some pics

Katie and Aliya standing in her room at Layla House. As you can see, we just came in from the rain after meeting Aliya 5 minutes before. Ok, I didn't mean to upload 2 of the same pics...but you have to admit, they ARE beautiful sisters!

This is back at the Guest Home. Many of the family back home sent gifts or cards for Aliya. Cousin Benjamin sent gum!

Katie gave Aliya her old iPod. She had downloaded Aliya's favorite singer, Teddy Afro (he's Ethiopia's Michael Jackson). She really liked it and began singing along.

I promise there will be more pictures!


It's going well!

Sorry for the pathetic lack of updates! I actually did a nice, informative one yesterday and LOST IT! So here it goes again with hopefully better results!!

I wanted to let you all know what some of you have probably already been wondering about and that is Aliya's age. She is 14, turning 15 in late summer/early fall. We found this out while we were stuck in the snowstorm in Dulles. Her birth certificate was sent via email. I didn't dare open it on the hotel computer, so Blaine did it at home. When he got to the birthdate part, it said, "9/28/95." I'm no math whiz but even I quickly realized that meant she was 14 years old!

Since being home, I've asked her about when she told the social worker what her real age was. She told me she told her after she passed court.

Please realize, the knowing of your birthdate is a luxury that comes with wealth. In Ethiopia, as well as many other countries in Africa, the day a baby is born is special but more often than not, the date is not remembered. Most of these kids are not born in hospitals with a nurse offering up the very minute junior comes into the world. So most Ethiopian children do not know their exact ages or birth dates.

But Aliya does know. Her mother told her and she remembers. However, when an older child is brought into an orphanage, often times, or should I say usually, they are told to say they are younger than they really are. I think the reason for this is obvious. The younger the child, the more likely they'll be adopted. Survival, simple as that.

We were approved in our home study for a 9-15 year old child, since we weren't sure how old she really was. It was a little surprise but we suspected that she was older since she looks older than 12ish. For us, it is not a problem at all. We don't mind a bit if she's 12 or 15. We wanted her. God meant for her to be in our family, regardless of her age.

I'm actually relieved that she knows her birthdate and age. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things. You don't always have to wonder:-)

We had a wonderful first meeting with her in Ethiopia. Our flight was really, really delayed and by the time we got in, we were concerned that it would be too late to still meet her and take her with us to our Guest Home. Well, it was a whirlwind, but we made it work!

When we arrived at the orphanage, we had to do some paperwork right away then off to meet our girls (Jill and us). It was pouring rain by this time but as soon as a couple kids spotted us, they began to SCREAM (literally!) "TARIKWA!!!!! TARIKWA!!!!!" She had fallen asleep after since she was told that due to our late arrival, we would be coming tomorrow instead. So she was surprised.

We met her in the courtyard with hugs and tears. I was so surprised how tall she was! She took us to her bedroom and then we had to leave, since the other children had dinner waiting for them. She took her gallon sized gift bag that we had sent to her and a stuffed pig (which she thinks is a puppy-we don't have the heart to tell her it is a pig!) and off we went to the guest house. Before we left, we told her she needed to clean off the shelf in her room. But it turns out that that gallon bag and and stuffed animal were all her worldly posessions. I had seen she did receive a gift for Christmas, and I asked her about it.

"A house mother wanted the box it came in and I gave everything else away to my friends."

Wow, can you imagine? She knew she'd get more since she had a family coming for her so she let it all go. Boy, could I learn a lesson from her.

She had fun going through her suitcase, trying on all the size 12 clothes I brought. But guess what?? Size 12 she is NOT. She kept coming out in these tiny jeans, saying, "It's good." So funny! Katie and I could not stop laughing. So Katie finally gave her a pair of her jeans and they fit like a glove! The shoes we brought for her were also too small so she wore flipflops the whole time, which was fine and worked for her.

She's doing really well with us and seems comfortable. Her English is good, although she isn't using it a lot and she reads pretty well. She read, "Hop on Pop" for the boys the other night without trouble. Amazing for a girl who's only spoken English for a little over a year!

On Tuesday, we had our first hair emergency. Monday, we began combing out her hair, doing a hot oil treatment, etc. No problem, right?? Well, finally she took the comb and began yanking out her hair. Once that was done to her satisfaction, I began my first attempt at twists. At least, that's what I call them. After 1 1/2 hours, she began to fall asleep so I told her, "No problem. We'll finish them in the morning." I had the whole thing figured out. It would take me about another hour and a half, then some grocery shopping, etc.

HA! When she woke up, the twists I'd worked so hard on were already sort of falling out and the other half of her hair, well, let me say was a disaster. Like I wouldn't take her out of the house disaster. I panicked!

I called in for reinforcements but unfortunately each salon I called could not see her right away. I was stuck.

She kept telling me, "It's ok, Mom. It looks good." So sweet but even this white mama could tell that this was not good.

So back to work we went, with a little more experience this time (very little) and after 2 more hours, it actually looked cute! Really cute!!

I considered taking a picture of the hair emergency but it was so bad, I just couldn't!

It ended up being a good thing that no one else was available because it forced me to try again and it gave me confidence that I could do a fairly good job.

We've had some more "firsts" recently. We went on her first elevator ride yesterday. When we stepped onto the elevator, it didn't dawn on my that she'd never done this before. So the doors closed and it began making a noise and she looked very scared and made a little noise of her own. I reassured her that it was taking us up and the doors would open and we were safe.

Today, after talking about it for a couple days, we went into the car wash. First, I made sure that the sunroof was closed :-) (which you should always do before entering a car wash) and walked her through each step and she made with only a little cowering in her seat when the brushes came by her window. Not bad!

I remember when Rene (from Ghana) was living with us and I took him through the car wash, not knowing he'd never been in one before! I still laugh at that one. I couldn't figure out why he had such a look of panic on his face while we were having a perfectly civil conversation in the car wash!!

We also went to the zoo today and Aliya says her favorite animals were the dolphins.

Thank you for all your prayers and again, I apologize for being such a bad blogger!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What you really want to see:-)

Hello my family!

Look at this girl...making a bee line to her dad!

Welcome to America!

Sisters...look how close in size they are?

Our family! This is the first picture taken of all of us together. When I saw it, I, that looks like a big family! Gotta LOVE IT!!!!

Things continue to go well with Aliya. This morning we took Mihiretu to his bus stop and then took Misganaw to pre-school. Aliya and I then did a little shopping at Sam's Club, hoping to see my Ethiopian friend who works there but she wasn't coming in until the afternoon...bummer. We'll try another day. She and Misganaw are watching Bee Movie right now, as she's feeling tired since it's like after bedtime in Ethiopia. It sure takes time to readjust or adjust in her case.

Yesterday, the whole family, minus me (since I needed to stay home and rest from my cold) went shopping and came home with bags and bags of clothes. Lots of great sales, thank God!! She did a fashion show with each and every thing they bought, right down to the purple Nike's. So cute!!

When I ask her how America is different than Ethiopia, she tells me that everything is different. She's doing well with food. We had lasagna last night (thanks Heather!) and everyone loved it. She likes pizza, ice cream, french fries (no ketchup), oranges and bananas. She likes scrambled eggs, toast and pancakes. She does not like lettuce or fresh veggies.

Her English really is good although she seems hesitant to use it too often. She takes everything in and seems to pick things up quickly, only needing to be told once. She's not too timid but not too bold. In short, God chose the perfect girl to be in our family. She laughs at the boys and thinks Dad is very nice. And she absolutely LOVES her sister, Katie.

Tonight, we're going to do some serious hair work. We'll start with a little hot oil treatment, then I'm going in with the comb. I have a feeling this is going to take some time to get through all her thick hair:-) Once we get it combed through, I'll have her wash it, add our hair milk and then I'll try to put a million little twists in it and finish it off with the most delicious smelling hair oil, Black Vanilla. Heavenly!

I'll post some more pics soon, just wanted you to see our homecoming! Life is definitely busier but wonderful. I'll be happy when I have my full voice back.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

What could be sweeter...we're home!

Thank you everyone for your prayers for us while we were on our trip. You will never know how much they need to us.

I'm up early this morning, the house is quiet but I am still a little under the influence of sleeping pills so I'll do my best! I can't sleep about 8 hours last night.

I have so, so much to say that I don't know where to start except for telling you about the main reason we went to Ethiopia...Aliya. She no longer wants to be called Tarikwa, but Aliya.

I promise to post pics either today or tomorrow.

This girl has definitely been hand picked by God Himself to be in our family. She 'gets' our jokes AND laughs at them! She's very intuitive and seems to know when to be quiet, when it's appropriate to joke around, when to be serious, etc. It's amazing to me. We spent such wonderful time all together in Ethiopia, us girls!

Katie and Aliya bonded immediately. They walk around holding hands, poking at each other, and teasing each other. She is pretty independent and was not at all afraid of sleeping alone in her new room last night. It was so cute... she went up stairs, took the few belongings she had and made her room her own. A teddy bear here, a table scarf (from ET) there, jewelry tin and books and journals in her bedside stand drawer. She has definite opinions on how she likes things.

We thought size 12 clothes were going to fit her so that's what we brought her, but size 2 is more like it, juniors size. She is actually the exact same size and very similar body shape as Katie. So she ended up wearing her jeans the whole time there! Can I just say....ADORABLE??????? When she puts some new clothes on she gets this cute little hop in her step and just bounces when she walks. I can hardly stand it!

So needless to say, on Monday Mall of America here we come! Her super cute Nikes' we bought her are also too small. Shirts seemed to fit perfectly.

Remember when I told you about how fun it would be to see her "firsts"? Well, let me tell you about them in the last two days. At the Bole Airport in ET, they have an escalator and you have no choice but to go up it. We both had to explain what it was, what it did, hold her hands and count to 3 to step on! She kept making a face and little sounds like, "Oh, my gosh, what am I doing? This is crazy." Incidentally, when we got home, Mihiretu asked her if she wanted to go to the Mall of America and go on some rides. I told him, "Honey, I think the escalator was enough for a while!"

Then while we were sitting for our plane, occasionally a flight attendant or pilot would pass by wearing their uniforms and she'd sort of in a scared way ask Katie, "Who is that??? What are they doing???" When they'd announce something over the loudspeaker, she would jump and look up at the ceiling saying, "WHAT'S THAT?" We just couldn't stop laughing at her. She was a little afraid of walking down the walkway to get into the plane but after we showed her how it worked, she went like a champ.

Our flights were long, but does that actually need to be stated?? They were good and everyone did get some sleep. She asked about each leg, when we'd get there, what we'd be doing there and when we got back on to go again. This girl is very, very smart and observant. I left my water bottle in a shop while we were paying for a bandaid for Katie's huge cut finger in Dulles, and I asked, "What did I do with my water?" We all thought for while and then Aliya says, "Market??" Yep, that's right girlfriend, I DID leave it in the shop. Jill, I know you are laughing right now at that one because you know how much help I need in the organization and remembering field!

As was expected, Mihiretu and Misganaw LOVE her (so does Blake but he actually does quit talking to her at times). In the car on the way home from the airport, sweet, sweet Misganaw asks her, "Aliya, did you fart? Or is that how your gum smells?" Dead serious and without any ill intent, he just smelled something and was wondering. It actually was neither, thank the Lord, but was just the smell of the river or something outside. She laughs at him.

She and Mihiretu were kicking the soccer ball around her room and this girl, as already witnessed with her friend Lilly, can play soccer. She can really be a great teacher to Mihiretu!

We did and saw so much in Ethiopia. I knew this experience would be very different than our last one when we picked up the boys. But it was in every way just as wonderful and life changing.

I will be going into this a LOT and I mean a LOT more but I just have to tell you about Sammy from Korah. Someone already mentioned him in a comment earlier and I'm so glad there are other people who've met Sammy and have been to Korah.

God has anointed this 23 year old man with a love and passion like I've never or rarely seen. He loves the Lord and serves Him with gladness. It was truly one of my greatest honors in my life to be in his presence, hear his story and follow him through his neighborhood. As in the times of the Bible, the Orthodox Church members believe that lepers are outcasts and therefore cannot live anywhere anyone else. So many years ago, the government established a leper colony way outside of town, but it is now right in town as Addis Ababa has grown.

Literally, the paved road ends where Korah starts. Police won't come there nor will ambulances to help the people when needed. If a person is ill and in need of medical treatment, the leaders from the church (and I'm talking about young men Blake's age as the leaders of the church) will carry him on a gurney for miles to get him/her help.

They have so many needs that I cannot even begin to go into them right now but I need to tell you they need our help. The Lord has raised up mighty leaders there and I can guarantee that GREAT men and women of God are there, learning, growing and in God's timing will become some of the greatest Christian leaders, evangelists, missionaries, care givers that this world has EVER seen.

First, they have no wells, nada. The women walk 45 minutes ONE WAY to get water in a jerry jug, on their back (looks like a plastic gas can) for their families, and this is by no means clean water.

The Addis Ababa garbage dump is right next door to their little town and this is how the people eat and get whatever little they have. There is really little option for them as they are outcasts and no one wants them around. Some do go outside of Korah and beg but this is basically their only income.

They also have a little shop where they make handicrafts and sell them. Think I bought anything there??

We passed by a woman who was trying to sell a pile of mangoes, covered in flies. Sammy told us that she'd picked them out of the dump and was trying to sell them.

These people are smart, beautiful beyond words, ambitious, and desire work but they are the lowest of the low in everyone's eyes. God gave Sammy, who learned perfect English from Young Life who came to visit when he was a 12 year old and spent a year with him. They led him to the Lord. God has a great purpose for this young man, wise beyond his 23 years. He had originally wanted to join the Army because there at least, he'd get food. But even they rejected him as too scrawny and worthless. All in God's plan, all in God's plan.

A mere $35 a month will allow a child of Korah to attend school and get a meal a day, learn about Jesus. $60 a month will take a child who literally lives in the dump and get the into a boarding school in Sheshemane (where Aliya is from) and give them an education and a future They badly need pastors to go train the leaders there and encourage the pastor they have so they can learn and more.

These are truly a forgotten people.

They were honored by our presence. Can you imagine??

As we were leaving on Saturday, I had saved some money that I wanted to give to Sammy. But when I received my end bill from our guest house stay, it needed to be paid in cash (I'm thinking I could use my credit card...don't know why I thought this!) and I had very little to leave him. I was so devastated by this that I could not stop bawling. They were all asking me what was wrong and after I was able to compose myself, I shared this with them.

Listen to Sammy's response..."Your presence in Korah was more than enough. You did something no one else does. You came to Korah."

I will NEVER forget this as long as I live. And I pray you won't either.

So for Mother's Day this year, hear this friends and pedicure for me, no flowers, no gifts...only money for Koreh.

Jill and I (Jill the organizer!) are commited to helping the people of Koreh. Within about a month, they will have their first well built, with many more to come. 75,000 people live here with no water! Jill has connections to many people who will help with this, including publishing a book that we will sell with all proceeds going to Koreh. It would take about $1800 per day to feed 75,000 people one meal of rice and beans in Koreh. That's ridiculous!! Otherwise they don't eat of eat things from the dump that are NOT fit for a dog to eat.

These are children of God, the least of these. If we do for them, we do for Jesus, and not just for Jesus but for the ONE who sent him...God Himself.

Much more to come on this...can't wait to see what God will do!

This was an amazing trip to share with Katie and Aliya. We did and saw things that we should and will never forget. Korah even shocked Aliya, who said she had never seen anything like that before.

The day we were to go to Korah, I woke up at 2am and God and I had a long conversation. I told Him that I knew we HAD to go see this place, but that I did not feel I had the strength to be broken anymore. He has broken me so much in this past year with the house fire and Blaine getting sick and paralyzed that I cried out to Him to spare me this. I just could not take it.

But you know what He did? Yes, it was a 'breaking' experience to see Korah but God issued me a challenge... a challenge to be an advocate and do something to change the way life is for these precious people. I was inspired and humbled, but not broken into little pieces all over the place as I have been before. I needed to be strong for my girls and God did give me that strength. Praise His holy name!

I have much, much more to say (I'm sure you all know that!) and wonderful pics to post.

Please do say a little prayer for me as I have come down with a cough and don't want it to frighten Aliya, who is afraid of sickness as she has seen loved ones die who were very ill, which included coughing.

Continue with your prayers please, much more battles to be fought for Ethiopia!

Love you,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Girls are back in the USA!

Friday the girls had a busy day of shopping, a farewell ceremony and packing to come home. They had a great time and got on the plane yesterday afternoon our time. I just received a quick phone call this morning saying that they are back in the USA! They just have two more legs to their travel and they will be home safe. I miss them very much and can't wait to hold them in my arms again.
I know you are all going to miss my posts but my work here is done! Laura will be taking over again with lots of stories to share.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Embassy is Done!

They went to the Embassy early this morning and everything went smoothly! After they were done, they went with the christian driver that took them to a leper colony of 75,000 forgotten people! The people there no longer have lepersie but they are still labeled as outcast and are the poorest of the poor. They were originally colonized far from the city but the city grew out to them and surrounded them. They are now a dump site for the trash of the surrounding communities. The trash that is dumped is there food and clothing! This is Ethiopian trash not USA trash (there's a big difference)! They came upon a woman trying to sell rotten mangoes, things that make you cry. They have to walk 45 minutes one way if they want water. Many people were walking around with limbs missing. These people are some how stuck here, they have no chance of getting out. Laura is on a mission to get these people wells! They are looked upon as outcast. Even in this dire situation they somehow still smile and are happy. You will hear more about these people I'm sure when she is back.

Their plans for tomorrow have changed. The place they were going to travel to is not at this point safe, so the people they (3 adoptive families including Laura) were going to see are all coming to Layla house. Instead of a long day of travel they are going to take a group of kids from the orphanage to a nice hotel and go swimming. Friday they will get some shopping in and then attend a farewell party.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Update on my girls!

I have only been able to communicate through phone calls to Laura as the Internet is so slow it pretty much is useless. So you are stuck with my wonderful writing skills for now.

They are doing very well and getting to know Aliya, she is very loving and has a good sense of humor. She should fit right into this goofy family just fine. They spent today going back to Layla house to get Aliya's belongings and take hundreds of pictures. They also went to Entoto mountain which wasn't much of a mountain but ended up being a beautiful church that they toured (I think I got that right but I'm not much for detail). Tomorrow is the Embassy first thing in the morning. Then they are traveling to a very, very poor part of town which will be very sad and un-forgettable according to some other adoptive families who have already been there. They will be guided by a young christian man that has a passion for these people and tries to help them as best he can. Then they will be doing a little shopping of course. Thursday they plan on traveling to Aliya's home town which will be a full day. Friday they start they journey home, Yeah!

According to Laura, Katie and Aliya are like to peas in a pod and are having a great time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mom, Katie and Aliya are together!

I thought I would give everyone an update since Laura did not have much time today to write. They made it to the orphanage at the dinner time. When they got there a bunch of kids recognized Laura and Katie from the pictures that we sent and started screaming for Tarikwa! She came running and they sat and cried and hugged each other in the rain. I am sorry that I wasn't there for that moment. It sounds like they got it on video. Aliya (Tarikwa) is a 1/2 inch shorter than Katie and wears the same size shoes. I wonder if they will share clothes or not? Her English is better than Laura expected. She showed Laura and Katie around the orphanage and her room, all the time holding their hands and wanting to carry Laura's heavy backpack. She sounds like a very sweet girl that is ready to come home. I will let Laura share the rest when she gets the chance to. Please keep praying for their safe travel home, I have not heard yet how Katie did with her sinuses. I am assuming good.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

They are on their way

Laura asked me to post her and Katie's progress. They were re-scheduled to leave Sunday at 10:00 am. Naturally as expected with a storm of the century they were pulling their hair out at the airport waiting. They eventually boarded the plane and departed around 2:30 pm. Praise God for getting them on their way and giving them a gift of only 20 passengers on the whole plane!!! This will allow them to stretch out and get some good sleep on their long plane ride. They should arrive in Addis around 6:30 am on Monday our time and 3:30 Addis time. Katie is not happy about getting there late as it will put it closer to supper time before they would have a chance to go get Aliya. According to her this is not acceptable and she will not have it, she is demanding that she will be with her sister on Monday no matter what!

The long delay at the airport allowed them to meet some wonderful people that Laura is chomping at the bit to tell everyone about. One women in particular is a 78 year old, Palestinian Christian that travels the world helping the poor and the orphaned. She has given up her worldly belongings and is totally trusting in God to provide for everyday needs. She was just what Laura needed to hear. The Lord is good!

I apologise for my inability to write, I never did master the English language like my wife has. Please excuse my grammar and don't laugh too hard, I am Norwegian you know. Thank God for spell check! Please continue to pray for their Journey and especially for Katie, who is struggling with her sinuses that are extremely painful during landings.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Still hanging out

We are waiting here in Dulles for a pizza to be delivered. Here's hoping!!! If a pizza guy can get here, we can get to Ethiopia, right??

The snow has stopped and Katie and I went outside and took some pics and video of the snow, which I'll post when I can. Looks like Christmas day in Minnesota!

We've packed and repacked our suitcases and backpacks and are all set. We must leave here on the 6:15am shuttle to get to the airport with plenty of time for our flight. The shuttle got stuck today so they aren't running one anymore today. Should be fine tomorrow.

The letters that Blaine posted yesterday were obviously written before the last ones we received where she talked about her name change.

We're fine and just wanted to check in to say keep praying for us. Seems like everything that can go wrong is...just small stuff so don't worry.

Katie is doing well, but do pray for her that she doesn't have that pain again. So very severe!!

Much love and blessings,

Our next post should be after we meet Aliya!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Present to Mom & Katie from ALiya

Crazy Virginia

Wow, is all I can say! We made it here safely to Dulles and are here at the hotel. Boy, I have to tell you...everything is so weird. I don't have time to go into all of it, but do know that we're safe and warm.

Katie had a horrible pain in her sinus while we were decending so we just took a taxi to CVS to get some Sudafed. So hopefully and prayerfully this will help her, as she is now afraid to fly again! The cool thing is that just as I was looking at 100 varieties of Sudafed, I told Katie that we really needed to ask a pharmacist what they would recommend, when a voice behind me said, "I am the pharmacist, can I help you??" How wonderful is that!! So like God to send us a person who we need while the taxi is ticking away. Can I tell you...I must be a spoiled American who drives herself everywhere and not a city girl anymore, but this taxi ride (cvs was 5 mintues away) cost $30. I'm like, "13?" No, 3 zero. I about died! Oh, what we needed.

This is the storm of the century here. It will rival the Great Knickerbocker storm of 1932 (that means nothing to me but sure sounds good). Our flight has been rescheduled at this point to leave Sunday at 10am. This will be just fine but do pray we get out then. We should arrive in EThiopia then Monday at 9 or 10, and then go to the guest house, drop our stuff off and do a little clean up and go get the girls!!!!! That's the point, isn't it??

I was told today by someone who will remain nameless :-) that someone should have called the Washington DC area and let them know that Laura was coming...that way they could have been prepared for any disaster that I would bring with me!! They do just seem to follow us, don't they? I'm really laughing at that one. It is humerous! We know how blessed we are and have seen the faithfulness of theLord all along the way.

just think if we hadn't been alerted by Jill, we would never have come early and it really would have been bad. We are so thankful.

Just a couple more days and we get our girl!!!!!

Pray that we can find things to do here while we are on "lock down" in the snowstorm:-) We're enjoying being together and having LOTS of laughs at the irony of absolutely everything.

We love you all and covet your prayers for us and the family at home.

Mommy and Katie LOVE you guys and miss you so much. Be good for Daddy!!!

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who don't know...Dulles is in Virginia!! Who knew?


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beating the storm!

Well, the east coast storm looks like a bad one so we've decided to make a change. Katie and I will be leaving tomorrow morning and staying the night in D.C. Our original flight into Dulles was going to get us in Sat. at 6:30pm and we leave on ET Airlines at 8:30pm. Perfectly fine in good weather but in this case it sounds like a recipe for disaster. We're hoping at this point to arrive before the storm gets too bad, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, then snowplows, "Do your stuff" and get us out sometime Saturday night as the storm subsides.

We must make our embassy appointment on Wed. No way around this.

And if we don't get out on Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sat. night, they do NOT fly on Sunday.

I actually think it will be nice to break up the journey, even it if is only a little bit. But we are scrambling to get everything done, but we will be ready.

We CANNOT wait to meet our precious daughter in only 4 short days! 4 DAYS!!! I wonder what is going through that sweet little girls head right now? Surely by now they've told her we're coming. Can you even imagine??

I do want to sincerely and humbly ask you for your prayers for this journey until we get home. And I'm not talking about, "Lord, help them to have fun." Not that kind of prayer, although we do hope to have fun!

As many of you know (and if you are new to our blog, please go back to the very first and second post and you read on forward and you will understand why I'm asking) this adoption journey has been a huge battle, literally from day ONE. Day one of our beginning the process to adopt this child our house burned down. And it has been been one huge battle after another. So how do you think it will end? Piece of cake?? Not happening.

So what do we run into when we try to leave? A huge snowstorm. Big surprise there!

Every think we're trying to be stopped or at the very least discouraged?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is a spiritual battle. It's pretty hard to miss, even if you are not a believer. Coincidence it is not. No way.

So I am asking for prayer warriors, the kind of people who will do battle for us in the heavenly realm, because this is not a battle against flesh and blood. It's an eternal battle.

Tarikwa is a precious child of God who needs and deserves a family. She deserves to live a life that is full. She deserves a future that doesn't hold terrible things that orphan children who age out of orphanages often face in order simply to feed themselves.

The evil one doesn't want anything of this to happen. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Oh, how he'd love to devour a helpless orphan girl.

Not happening!! At least not to this one.

We believe the Bible to be true, not fairly tales.

So if you've followed this blog, you know how viciously the evil one has attacked us. This is why I beg you for your earnest prayers on our behalf. Prayers that we'll have protection, that our paperwork will all be in order, that all will be well on the home front, etc.

We go with great anticipation to see what our Lord will do for us.

Thank you for your prayers! It means everything to me to know that you are praying for us.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

If you think you're in control, think again!

All I can think is that we are slow learners because it seems like God must teach us lessons over and over for us to finally learn:-)

Misganaw is hacking up a storm and Katie is worse, with no voice this morning. I catch upper respiratory stuff very easily and it often turns ugly with me. This morning, Jill emailed me with the title, "BIG SNOWSTORM TO HIT EAST COAST FRIDAY AND SATURDAY."

Ok, all stuff I have NO control over. None at all! I also still have no birth certificate or information on my other docs. Nada.

With all of this, I lift my hands and say, "Ok, Lord. You can make the kids well. You can protect me from catching it. You can turn the snowstorm so that it won't be a problem with our flight on Saturday. You can and are getting our paperwork all in order for us. I can do NONE of it. Only YOU can. Only YOU can."

I did call the travel agent this morning to see if indeed there is a huge snowstorm, how do we handle that? She reassured me that they had a snowstorm last weekend, as well with NO delays at all. So unless it is the storm of the century, we should be fine with our arrangements.

With all my heart, I do believe that God wants me to always live like this. For some reason, we think that in some way we control some of the little things in our lives. Some of us even think we control the big things.

We don't. We never have and we NEVER will.

That's God's job and He's the expert. (I'm not suggesting we have no responsibility in how we live our lives and the choices we make, however!)

So sit back and enjoy the ride and watch Him work. My guess is that some of you need this message today.

And please keep praying for us.

3 more days!!!!!!!!!!

We're coming, Aliya Tarikwa!!!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just because I know you're wondering

We have heard nothing again today in regards to a birth certificate or anything. I sort of expect that we won't but if we do it will just be a bonus. We just feel that God really wants us to trust in Him alone. Even though having these papers would be reassuring and nice, our trust still lies in the Lord alone. He will provide all we need when we need it.

I ran around this morning buying last minute little things, like snacks and toothpaste. When I got home I did a little packing. As I was looking through our airline tickets, I noticed that our seating looked weird for the flight home. So I called our wonderful travel agent, who told me that the flight had a lot of empty seats in the rear of the airplane. Did you hear that???? Empty seats!!! So we moved our seats to the back, sort of an every other seat situation in the hopes that no one will want that window seat or the middle one in the center section. Can you imagine actually getting to stretch out a little?? On our last trip to Ethiopia, there was not even ONE empty seat on the entire plane. This is really beyond my wildest imagination! Please do pray that it works out the way we're hoping:-) Otherwise, it could really stink!! We also will be in the rear of the plane, which doesn't bother me at all (closer to the bathroom I say) but getting off last will cause customs to take longer because there will be a lot of people ahead of us. We have a 4 hour layover in Dulles where we will be going through customs so it should be fine. Pray that it is, ok??

Lastly, please pray for Katie as she woke up with a sore throat this morning. She was very sick the last time she traveled and it made for a miserable flight for her. Also, pray that she doesn't share it with me. Thanks so much!!


Monday, February 1, 2010

What I heard today

I called our agency and was told that they still do not have our court decree or Tarikwa's birth certificate. She was sending an email to Ethiopia to request it again. And she said that the court decree must be complete as it was submitted to the embassy and wouldn't have been if it wasn't complete. We still don't know about the status of her passport or her TB test. She also said if our travel was delayed, she would know by now.

So it all looks like there are no red lights popping out right now but we've made the decision to continue praying for all these crucial details and not to put our faith in any person, agency or government but ONLY to put our faith in the One who is completely trustworthy and faithful. We trust that God is working behind the scenes on our behalf and taking care of details for us.

Could you please also pray for my new friend, A. who needs an open or closed door from the Lord regarding travel to Ethiopia. She needs to have a solid embassy date set by Wednesday this week. Will you ask the Lord to make it clear to the which direction to take?

Thanks for your continued prayers! We definitely need them.

5 more days, people!!! Katie and I are beyond excited!!!!!

Many blessings,

I failed to mention that today is my little boys birthday. He's 20!!! We are incredibly proud of the man he's become. He loves the Lord and strives to follow Him. What more could a mom want?? How could I be the mother of a 20 year old man? Crazy:-) We love you, Blake.