Surprisingly, I was disciplined enough to write down our experiences while we were in Ethiopia and I plan to share most of them on our blog soon. Before I do that, I want to share what the days were like before we left. Please remember much of what I write is for my benefit, to help me remember - understandably, some of this may bore you.
My sweet friend 'B' helped me pack up all of our donations in my basement the week before we left, so the 4 rubbermaid totes were ready to go. I am so thankful she offered to help me pack these babies up because she is a decisive one and I am not. She knew what to put where so it only took about 2 hours. If I had done it on my own, I'd have been in the basement all night long! She also bought us some pretty neon colored zip ties to secure that the totes would not open in transit and then suggested we color code them by order of priority- so smart she is. I got them labeled so in case they wouldn't make it to the hotel when we did, they might get to Hannah's Hope eventually. We used the travel space bags- I would highly recommend them for clothing and diapers. I also had fun using the new drill my hubby got for Christmas or his birthday last year. It rarely makes it out of it's case, but I gained a little confidence working with plastic totes rather than a nice piece of wood or my walls!
We were able to take 3 of the 4 totes with us and one large suitcase, so the 4th tote of donations will go with us on the next trip. I had a few donations left that didn't get "toted" the first time around, so they will get packed up to go along on trip two, which, BTW, might be as early as TWO WEEKS from Monday!! I can't believe it could happen that fast but some of the families that were on their second trip while were only had 3 weeks between trips. CRAZY, but so exciting! I was not completely packed on the morning we left, although everything was pretty much ready to go. The kids wanted us to have lunch with them, so at 11:00 we ran a few errands and went to school to join them for lunch- their teachers let us all sit together at the first grade table. It was difficult to say goodbye, but they all did well. We shed some serious tears after getting in the truck to leave, but the kids were troopers.
***This is where I would have inserted a picture of us, had I not forgot my camera at home :(***
To help easy the pain of our absence, I had purchased some fun things for the kids to open each day; on the first day, they opened a book with a recording of our voices reading the story. A new friend I met at a local grocery store the week before (who had also adopted from Ethiopia through AGCI) bought this book for us as a gift to either take to ET to leave for Amani, or at home with the kids. I was torn on what to do, but decided to leave our voices home for P, A and A just in case something would happen to us. On the second day they each opened a fancily wrapped Tervis Tumbler, each with their own specially chosen design (thanks Aunite Linda and Amy for providing these at 'You're Special' :) Payton- a big Packer 'G', Ava - a brightly colored 'Peace Sign', and Alaina- a box of chocolates with 'Choc-a-holic' written on it --- so fitting for each of them. On day three, I had to come up with something less costly, so my friend 'G' suggested the perfect thing- straws with chocolate flavoring in them to use in their new cups- what genius invented that?!? On day four I think we went with gum - 3 packs for each kid and a sweet note. Imagine my surprise when Alaina told me today that she had hers gone in 3 days! That girl has little to no self-control when it comes to gum. Day 5 I decided to get something different for each kid. Payton got a Super Bowl edition of a sports magazine featuring our Green Bay Packers, Ava - some neat magnetic book marks and Alaina a necklace beading kit in a teacup. Day 6 was a gift cert to Dairy Queen for our friends who watched the kids (thanks Lance and Korena!!!) to take our three and their three down for a treat- after the massive snowstorm that had hit two days before and gave the kids their first snow day of the school year. And on the last day, I had run out of ideas, so candy it was. I know I have put myself in a position now that whenever we go away, I must do this for each trip, so any suggestions are welcomed.
The kids got out early the day before, one of their early-release days, so we had a chance to pack up their clothes, two separate bags for each place they stayed. They were able to stay home with Auntie Kara on Thursday night, to Auntie Kara and Uncle Brian's Friday and Saturday nights and our sweet neighbor's and friends, the next 3 nights. They did really well and kept busy with activities, playing in the snow or going to school, so not a lot of down time.
We are so grateful to have had many friends offer to help us out with the kids, we are truly blessed with awesome family and friends!
We are so excited to share that we passed court on Monday, officially becoming Amanuel's parents! We loved every moment we were blessed to spend with him and I will share more in future posts about our trip. Today I am trying to balance my time between getting unpacked and just taking in everything that happened in the last week for our family. Surprisingly, I am not an emotional wreck, but on the contrary, I am still feeling at peace..... missing A-man like crazy, but not freaking out. God has so been in control of our journey and I am not going to stop trusting in that now.
Thank you for all your prayers, support and well-wishes. I hope to post about our trip over the next week or so!
MY GOODNESS! Can't believe we will be on a plane in just 5 short days! It really is quite amazing how long this process takes, yet when it comes down to the final days to leave, it really is going fast. We've been trying to stay busy though. The kids had off school yesterday and Thursday, which was such a blessing to have that extra time with them before we leave. We visited with some good friends, Auntie Kara and cousins and had lots of fun.
Now, the packing begins. We were so blessed by our church congregation with lots and lots of donations to take with us to Hannah's Hope- I'm guessing 3 to 4 of the Rubbermaid 22 gallon totes full! We were also blessed with generous monetary donations, which we will use to help cover the cost of shipping if need and to purchase more donations when we go on our second trip, things that the orphanages really need. Yesterday I picked up 20 pounds of organic flaxseed and 4 bottles of flaxseed oil, as that is a great need. So happy to be bringing nourishment to the sweet children of Hannah's Hope.
Just to give you an idea of our schedule, here's what it looks like from what I can gather:
We will arrive later on Friday evening, (Ethiopia time 9pm, our time 12pm). So while we will feel like having lunch, it will actually be bed time. Hopefully, we will be able to get some sleep!
Saturday: We will be picked up to go to Hannah’s Hope to meet with the Director for orientation about the court appointment. We will also have the opportunity to ask questions and meet our Amanuel and all the other precious children!
Sunday: 9:30 AM: We will be picked up to go to Hannah’s Hope for questions, answers, and time to spend with the children.
Monday: • 8:30 AM: We will be picked up by Haile (Case Processor) and Wass (HH driver) and head to the court directly. We could be at Court until about noon- hopefully leaving with very good news that Amanuel is ours! • Once we are through with the court appointment, we will head out for lunch at Makush, an Italian restaurant (YUMMY). This is also an art gallery and we will have the opportunity to purchase art. • After lunch, head out for a brief shopping trip - YAY! - Although what women likes the phrase "BRIEF shopping trip????" • Around 4-5 pm, we will be dropped off at our hotel for dinner and the rest of the evening.
Tuesday:• 10:00 AM: Wass (our driver) will pick us up to come to Hannah’s Hope for our last visit. We will be able to spend more time with Amanuel and the other children and ask any other questions. • 12:30 PM: Head back to the hotel. **Nothing planned during this time- so we might try to get in some more shopping if possible - can't sit in the hotel room for 7 hours!** • 7:00 PM: Be picked up from our hotel and head out for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. This will be a great time to experience traditional Ethiopian food, as well as singing and dancing from the different regions. **Can't wait for this experience- planning to take lots of pictures and video here too!**
10:00 PM: Time to go. Sad to leave. Hope to be back VERY SOON!!!!
Payton sporting his Clay Matthews look- (looks like Clay had some highlights and maybe some extensions put in?:)?
So, you can't live in Wisconsin (just 35 miles from Green Bay) and not be:
Prepared with food for 40 when you are only having 4 other people over Anxiously anticipating the Green and Gold to take the SUPER BOWL field at 5:30pm Cautiously optimistic that the team from Green Bay will dominate tonight's game Kind of in disbelief that the #6 seeded team is in the big game, but having no doubt they will make it a good one Excited beyond belief that your favorite team in the world is playing in the biggest game EVER! Resting, and relaxing your voice all day long so you can yell, scream and cheer in victory tonight! Spending the game with the people you love - realizing that it is all just a game- pure entertainment and nothing more.
I am a 40 year old wife to an amazingly wonderful husband, mom to 4 beautiful and spirited children, 3 from the belly, one from the heart, a princess of God, and I am striving to live my life for Christ, the way the Lord intended. My life has changed drastically since I began to follow the passage "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4.