Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ethiopia Day 2-3 Pictures

Here are some pictures from some of what I wrote about here.

I haven't had much time to post updates on how we're doing now that we're home. Up until now I've always eagerly checked the blogs of families who have returned, and have wondered why on earth they don't post as much. Ha!! Now I know! There's not much time to be on the computer, and that's as it should be. I've spent months and months dreaming about this wonderful person and now he is HERE. I want to spend as much time interacting with him as possible!

We have had a wonderful week and a half home... complete with two birthday celebrations (Minte's and Bethany's), Minte jumping right into karate class with all his new friends and playing in our church's soccer league. (I swear, he smiled for the entire game last Saturday!) We also had a wonderful celebration at our African church last Sunday, where he got to wave his Ethiopian flag and sing with the other children. He enthusiastically enters into every activity, whether it's dinner as a family, playing ball with his Dad and I in the backyard, attending church or a birthday party in his honor. He is genuinely a happy boy! We have had some great conversations involving lots of charades-style motions and pointing to objects, but we always know what the other one is trying to say! He is learning more and more English every day. We have begun his schoolwork this week, and he is eager to do his work and loves to show Dad when he gets home. (I'll post more specifics about this on my homeschool blog. When I can. LOL)

Okay, here are a few more pictures I just uploaded today:

He loves the camera. He has photographed many things around his new home. I like it when he takes pictures like this!

And this!

A lovely shot of me, vacuuming. LOL (The sign says "Welcome Home Mintesinot" painted by my sister-in-law Tammy and waiting here when we got home. We left it up for awhile!)

And the ever-popular, "picture-of-a-picture."

Finally, here are Kyle and Minte singing with the other precious children at Africa church on "Celebrate the Nations" Sunday. Fun!

I have SO many more thoughts I want to share, and I need to get it all written down so I don't forget, but I'd better close for now. Thank you SO much for stopping by to check in on us, and for those of you who have commented and emailed us. I know I keep saying this, but you are very much a part of this process with us. We love y'all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Catching Up...

We have had a wonderful weekend settling back in at home, beginning the "new normal." Friday we began the slow process of going through all of our bags and unpacking. I finally reached an end to the laundry pile yesterday! Yey!

Minte has loved discovering his new home. It has been fun to watch him become acquainted with his new surroundings. He loves the wood blinds, the piano, the garage door that goes up and down at the touch of a button, the water hose, the treadmill, the water from the refrigerator door, riding the scooter, playing at the park near our house, and most of all, the dogs! He and the "wushas" get along famously! He loves to watch them catch food, and they LOVE to entertain him that way (LOL) so they have a great relationship!

We have had some precious times together each day. I wish I had the time to write a big ole update (which I'll hopefully do soon, for my benefit as much as anything... I don't want to forget all of this!) His English is coming along great. Two days ago he began asking "Where is..." and today he started asking "What is..." Yey! Sentences! After two weeks of mainly nouns, this is progress! He, however, doesn't feel that there is a language barrier at all. He said this yesterday on the phone when we called Ethiopia to talk to Tegist. We videoed him telling her all about the trip home. I just love hearing him talk animatedly in Amharic! She asked him if there was anything he wanted her to tell us and he told her the if there was anything, he would tell us himself... that we understand him perfectly. Well, alrighty then! Seriously, communication between us is wonderful, and I can only attribute that to the Lord Who has knit us together as a family and helps us understand each other.

I'll close this post with a slide show of pictures of our trip over and our first day together, which was two weeks ago today! Oh, happy day!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I've Never Posted at 3:15 AM Before...

but thanks to jet lag, I am! We are home! We arrived home yesterday afternoon. Another first... I've never seen so many of my family and friends (and been photographed) after being awake for 36 hours, either. I'm just glad everyone was at the airport to see Minte and not me, LOL.

He LOVED the trip home. He absolutely loved it. We took one last drive through his sub city before we went to the airport in Addis. He was all smiles all day because he was excited about the trip. I'll never forget how precious his voice was when we got into the terminal to wait to board the plane, and he saw the plane through the window. "Ohhhhh, Mommy-look!! So BIG!" (Bless his heart. He has to cram so much enthusiasm and almost-10-year-old wisdom into so few English words! He's learning more and more each day, though...)

Let's see. He loved: Watching the planes at the airport. Taking off. Airplane food. Sleeping with his head on my lap. Watching "Kung Fu Panda." The music on the headphones. Airport escalators. Airport moving sidewalks. Chicken wings at the McD's in Frankfurt. Pushing the button to get the flight attendant's attention. The airplane bathroom. People watching. Cloud watching. Seeing the city as we landed. It was so fun to experience everything from his perspective, for the first time.

The BEST part was arriving at the airport in TX. He had memorized the part of the video we sent him that had some of his new friends waving at him, and that was what he was eagerly anticipating when we arrived home. He was not disappointed! There was such a precious crowd of people waving at him when we walked through terminal... all cheering, waving signs, clapping. His face lit up! The first person we walked over to was a precious little baby girl who he had been at the children's home with. She is the first one home, he is the second. What a fun reunion! So many of our family and friends were there, I am overwhelmed with gratitude on his behalf. I couldn't have imagined such a welcome! He greeted person after person, with a smile, reading their names on their nametags in Amharic (thanks to Luke and our fun friend Andrew who printed/wrote them.) I don't think he was as overwhelmed as I was! It was amazing!

We went and got some dinner with family and friends after we left the airport, and he LOVED eating and laughing with his new cousins and friends. It's as if they've always known each other! It was like watching a miracle unfold all afternoon. And we're still watching it, moment by moment.

I am going to try to upload some pictures soon. My resident expert-photographer-daughter took about 2,000 pictures on this trip, so after I have strung more than 4 hours of sleep together I will post some. She is a great photographer!

Okay-- before I sign off and try to get some more sleep, here's one. Here we are, meeting for the first time:

What an amazing trip. What an amazing transformation of our family. What amazing God. He continues to write an amazing story.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Coming HOME!

(from Cyndi...)

One Day More!

I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to send any updates since the weekend. We are keeping quite a busy schedule, but internet is also “iffy” so whenever we would have a few spare minutes, the computer wouldn’t connect. We have had a wonderful past few days… and it’s just one more day until we are HOME!

Yesterday Minte woke up first thing and exclaimed, “Mommy! Negah! (Tomorrow) Plane!” He is SO excited about coming to Texas, he chose some clothes to wear on the plane and set them aside before he dressed for the day yesterday. Of course, today he woke up and realized it was TODAY that we are leaving and he is dressed and ready to go! While I am typing this Luke is upstairs packing… we don’t depart until 10:00 PM Ethiopia time tonight. After we pack we are touring some of the Bright Hope ministries and Luke is having one final meeting with Getahun at his office.

Let’s see… what we’ve been up to… Saturday Luke spent the morning with Getahun while Tegist, the kids and I found this REALLY fun mall. Any thoughts I had of Chuck E. Cheese overwhelming him went right out the window, because we played at a place there that put’s Chuck to shame! The kids had a blast playing games, driving bumper cars, crawling through tunnels and sliding down huge slides. It was so fun to watch the boys laugh and play together! Then we met Luke and Getahun at a wonderful Italian restaurant (Minte has had spaghetti every. Single. Day.) and while we were there it absolutely POURED down rain. We could hardly hear ourselves talk over the rain. We were so glad for their 4WD vehicles to navigate the flooded streets back to the guest house. We had dinner at the guest house with the other families, whom we have really enjoyed getting to know. There are three other families here with their newly- adopted kiddoes and we have really formed a bond!

Sunday we had a leisurely morning over breakfast and then went to the afternoon/evening church services at one of their churches. It was all in Amharic, but it was such a worshipful experience and it was awesome to be in church with Minte. He really enjoyed the music and knew all of the songs. He “amen’ed” and “hallelujah’ed” along with everyone else and clearly enjoyed the message. Two guest preachers preached, so Getahun came down off the stage and translated for Luke and me. So, I “amened” and took notes on the translation! There were two services back-to-back, and we enjoyed them very much. We enjoyed a wonderful meal at Tegist and Getahun’s home afterward.

Yesterday after a trip out to Bantu to tour the school (a highlight of this trip… going to a village) we had the opportunity to meet with one of Minte’s relatives. It was very, very moving. In fact, I will share that I had not cried once during this trip (I know! I can’t believe it either!) but after our meeting with her, I absolutely LOST IT. It is Minte’s story to share, but I will tell you that it breaks my heart. She gave us some pictures of when he was little, which are now some of our most prized possessions. He was (of course) absolutely adorable, and I LOVE that I get to see what he looked like as a preschooler! Minte has lingered over the photos a few times, smiling. Someday hopefully he can tell me what he’s thinking. As we were leaving the meeting, he shared with us (through Tegist) that someday he wants to be a pastor like Getahun and help “neglected children” (his words). He also wants to be a singer, he says. So, there we were driving home from that emotional meeting, I was boo-hooing with my face to the window and he was singing a sweet song next to me. He’s been through so much and he still has a song in his heart and a smile on his face. God clearly has a great plan for this special young man. He is so precious, I can’t wait for you to meet him!!!

Yesterday was our shopping day, which is not always my favorite part. I don’t like the “haggling!” But, we got a few things to remind us of our special time here. I was also able to buy some things to give Minte each year for his birthday until he’s 21, to remind him of his homeland. (Speaking of birthdays, we found out his birthday is different than we were originally told… it’s Oct. 2nd…) Last night we went to a wonderful “cultural” restaurant with Tegist and Getahun and enjoyed REAL Ethiopian food (no spaghetti this time!) and enjoyed music and watching dancers representing the different people groups. As the music started, Minte got up and grabbed a seat as close to the dancers as he could. He loved it! We all enjoyed experiencing the food, coffee and music one last time.

Today we have been zipping up the bags and getting ready to head home. Yesterday we felt like we weren’t ready to leave (except Minte, who has been ready since the day after we met!) but today we are ready to get back and see everyone. We have missed you all! Minte is so excited to see some of the friends that were in his video. He just knows that when he gets off the plane everyone will be standing there waving, like on the video! We have an inflatable globe and a small plane and we’ve shown him that we’re flying to Sudan, then Germany, then Texas. He says, “Negah (tomorrow) plane to German. THEN, negah, plane to TEXAS!” with a HUGE smile on his face!

You will see his huge smile soon! We love you all!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Church, Relatives & Construction

(from Cyndi's hubby)

Yesterday, we went to a service at one of Getahun's churches in Addis and enjoyed a great worship service - all in Amharic, but Getahun came off the stage and translated the 2 (yes, two) sermons that the guest speakers delivered. After that, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with Getahun & Tegist at their home.

It's Monday evening now and we're at the guest home visiting with a couple of other families after a great day. We went all the way out to Bantu today and toured the school construction project. (Buckner/Bright Hope is building it in the president's home village on land he donated) We had a great time walking the site and visiting with the local kids and adults from the village that walked along with us.(By the way... there is so much more to tell about ALL of this than I can fit into this email... this is definitely the Reader's Digest version, for fear of losing this connection...)

When we returned to Addis (and this is the part that will really take more time and words to properly relay) we met at one of the Bright Hope offices with Minte's aunt (cousin, actually, as we learned). We had a very nice, short visit with her and she was so glad to see Minte again before he leaves. We spoke with her, in private, about Minte's parents, his early childhood, etc... Afterwards, we were so blessed by her with 5 or 6 pictures of Minte, his mom, and his dad. These pictures are our new most-valuable treasures, for sure. Too much really to convey in text - we're actually still taking it all in.

We'll do a little bit of shopping tomorrow morning after we pick up Minte's transit visa at the German embassy.

I know this doesn't seem like much of an update, but I've probably already pushed the limits of what I can shoe-horn across the Internet when I hit the "send" button, so I'd better say goodbye for now. Much love from all of us to everyone who reads this. Thanks for all your prayers; can't wait to see everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"C'mon, C'mon Everyone!"

The latest update from Cyndi....

We were able to get on the Internet for just a second and I thought I'd let you know what we've done the past couple of days. Please know that we are praying for everyone back home in the path of the storm and the winds! If you happen down our street afterward, please see if our house is still there! :)

Yesterday (Thursday) was New Year's Day here, and everything was closed so we stayed at the guest house all day and played. We have some puzzle books that Minte really likes, a couple of videos with the portable DVD player, a hot wheels track, etc. One of the most fun things we played was making things with some pipecleaners I brought. I wish, wish, WISH I could upload some pictures! Everyone made crazy glasses and Luke and Minte made matching Ethiopia-colored bracelets. SO fun! As Luke tagged on to my last update, we had a pretty big hailstorm at one point, so it was nice to be huddled up all together inside. After it was over everyone but Mom went out and had a "snowball" fight! (More like slush...) I stayed upstairs so I could video from the balcony... yeah, that's it... Minte has told the story today to some of his friends about how he acted like he was throwing a "snowball" up to Mommy on the balcony and diverted it to the right... right on Dad's head. He is very funny! It was a very fun day to welcome the New Year.

We went today to the German embassy to turn in the paperwork for Minte's transit visa. We will pick that up on Monday. Then we went to the Ethiopian Museum where we saw "Lucy" (the oldest homo sapien from Social Studies... remember?) It's actually a replica and we heard she's in Houston. She's survived this long, surely she'll survive Ike... Then we went to the "Lion Park" where we saw the only black-maned lions in the world. They were HUGE and there was nothing but bars separating us. Very cool! (And a bit scary!) I can now say that I've been close enough to a lion when it roars to know that it does not have great breath. I never thought I would know that. LOL It is a fun memory for us all!

Afterward we went to the children's home where we had Minte's "Thank You" party with his friends and caregivers. He had SO much fun last night assembling the party bags for his friends and wrapping the gifts for his caregivers. I could tell it made him feel good to have something to give them. Last night he wrote in a card to Tegist, and since it was in Amharic I had to ask her today what it said. She cried when she told me that he had written “May God give you back all that you have given to me.” The party was a wonderful success. Bethany and Kyle did a very entertaining “Silly Mammo” puppet show, and we had pizza, cake and cokes. The biggest hit was Silly String. They had the most fun spraying each other… and I think some of the adults laughed harder than the kids! They had never seen anything like it! Each prize bag had an inflatable globe and a foam plane, some candy a bouncy light-up ball, and a “Silly Mammo” storybook (in Amharic and English.) Each caregiver got some pretty soap, some chocolate and a Texas t-shirt. It was a very special afternoon for all of us. I’m not sure if we will go back to the children’s home, so Minte said all of his good-byes and then he *skipped* to the car. He is really, really happy about his new life in America. I think he was hoping we were leaving for America today!

Later this afternoon when we were in our room, the funniest thing happened. Kyle started singing a song from the "Camp Rock" movie: "Let's start-start-start the party..." and Minte jumped in with "C'mon, c'mon, everyone..." and sang the song with him! The kids were so excited to know the same song (and of course, Luke and I were clueless!) Who knew they had Disney channel, or that Camp Rock would help us bond? So fun!!!

So many more stories, but not enough bandwidth!! Thank you for your prayers, and again, we are praying for everyone back home. We love you!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy New Year from Ethiopia!!

(from Cyndi....)

Happy New Year from Ethiopia! According to the calendar here it is 2001!

We had Minte with us at the guest house last night for the first time. He was very, very eager to stay with his family. We have felt like family from before we got here, but certainly from that moment of our first meeting in a parking lot... we were knit together as if it's always been that way. Such a miracle, and such an answer to our prayers. Thank you to those of you who were praying for that. The answer came on that bright morning as we all embraced, and continues right this moment.

Yesterday we played all day at the children's home. It was our second day to spend time with the precious children there, who we feel like we know from the videos. Apparently Minte felt like he knew us too, from the DVD we sent. In fact, the first day all of the children said, "C'mon! C'mon!" and pulled us into the room where the TV was and put in "Minte's Family" DVD. Every child there had memorized every word we said to him, right down to our voice tone and everything. They had obviously watched it repeatedly over the past few months! Very, very fun!! So, we all felt very familiar to one another and have played football (soccer), frisbee, tag, sang songs, laughed, tickled, and enjoyed each other's company for two days. All the while, I am absolutely STARING at our precious new son, whom it feels I've known always.

He is amazing. He is beautiful. He is witty. I say "Mommy.... loves.... Minte." and he looks into my eyes and says "Minte... loves... Mommy!" There are no words to express how that makes me feel! He does that with his brother and sister, and his world lights UP when his Dad walks in the room. Yesterday Luke left the children's home for a couple of hours to meet with Getahun, and when he got back I didn't realize he had come through the gate until I heard Minte yell as loudly as he could. "Dah-d!!!!!!!!!" and he ran *full-speed* into Luke's arms. Bethany snapped a picture of their embrace that I can't wait to share when I'm not on Ethiopian dial up! Minte was 100% ready to come stay with us. He had begged to on the first day, and then yesterday he kept saying "Mommy? Dad? Bee-tany? Kyle? Minte? House?" He had been out to the guest house to see our room and see his bed, and was very excited about being with his family, especially with the holiday this week.

Last night we celebrated New Year's Eve- Ethiopian style! Here at the guest house we had a wonderful time as a family celebrating a ceremony where they lay bundles of sticks ("chibo") on the ground in a star-shape and light them on fire. It is for fathers and sons to do together, so it was very meaningful for Luke and his two sons to light their stick bundle with the others, and then we all danced around and sang. Of course, Minte knew every word of the songs we sang. We stood on our balcony and watched fireworks pop up from around the city. Then we enjoyed time together as a family in our room, with the kids playing hotwheels cars, travel games (Hungry Hippo and his favorite, Perfection), and a small RC car we brought.

Language is not nearly as much of a problem as I anticipated. I have to admit, it feels odd to speak to my child using a phrasebook! But we talk slowly, in almost all nouns, using many charades-style gestures, and we all understand each other perfectly! Most of all, we repeat how much we love each other... the most important message of all. So much of what it means to be a family is unspoken, and he is picking up that message loud and clear. Last night after the New Year celebration, it was time for showers. Luke helped him figure out the shower in the bathroom, and then he happily put on his new pajamas, brushed his teeth with his new toothbrush, snuggled down in his top bunk over his big brother, kissed us all and smiled as he lay his head on his pillow. This morning after he woke up he looked over at Luke and I in our bed. Our other two were still sleeping, so Luke went over and invited him to come sit with us on our bed. He came over and we sat and woke up together for a few minutes, and then Kyle joined us. All at once Minte grabbed the flashlights that were by the bed (a must-have here with the power outages) and without a word they began playing flashlight tag on the ceiling and sheets! It was so fun! Our days are filled with moments like that, where we just start something and everyone understands.

...and we're just hanging out together now. A few other hightlights from the day:

- a big, big thunderstorm
- about 15 minutes continuous pea-size hail
- stayed on the ground for a couple of hours due to the cool temps
- "snowball" fights in the courtyard
- tunafish pizza for lunch (surprisingly good - really)
- coffee ceremony send-off for a family that departed today... frankincense... charcoal... good coffee... smoky dining room... very cool.

More updates to come....

Quick Update from Ethiopia

Their embassy appointment went very smoothly and Minte's visa was approved. They all spent most of the day at the children's home, hanging out with the kids. Wednesday night is New Year's Eve, when they do their traditional celebrations for the Holy Day tomorrow. They are planning on celebrating a tradition where fathers and sons burn bundles of dry sticks on New Year's Eve. They are hoping that Minte will be able to stay with them tonight. He is completely comfortable with his new family and it would be nice for him to stay with them tonight, since it is a special occasion. They wished eveyone a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

O Happy Day!!

Hi Everyone,
Cyndi has been unable to access her blog from Africa, so you get me, a friend with no writing ability whatsoever! But, I know you all want an update, so here we go...

First of all, big sister said that they met Minte and he is "precious! just precious!" The love in her voice just moved me to tears. She said that he is very funny, loves to joke around and has already been playfully pranking her with his big brother. :)

They actually met Minte for the first time at a local coffee type shop. They were there, standing in front of the shop and saw Tegist drive up with Minte! After watching them find a parking spot and stop the car, Minte got out of the car, opened his arms as he walked towards them and then hugged all of them. They have had a lot of fun with him today and he even asked if he could go back with them tonight. (such an answer to prayers!)

He speaks some English and his birthday is actually on October 2nd instead of in September.

They had their Embassy appointment this morning and that went well, no glitches.

Tomorrow they will get to be with Minte again for most of the day, get his Visa and visit a museum in Addis. They also plan to visit the baby home and love on the precious little ones there.

They sounded tired, but so joyful. They were getting ready for bed and hoping to get a good night's sleep tonight. Please pray for that.

More updates to come...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

One Day More

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face shine upon us,
that Your ways may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for You rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations on earth.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Psalm 67

What a fitting Psalm to read today. This day that we embark on our journey to another nation, another land, and another season in our family's life. This is truly what it is about! What a great God we serve.

"One day more" until we are in Ethiopia! Today is the day, our departure! We have been working feverishly all week, and finally all the bags are zipped up and ready to go. Along the way there have been moments of sheer excitement and moments of utter panic, with every emotion in between. I am learning to stop and actually picture myself in the palm of God's hand, holding me and all of our circumstances. Our loving God started this process and He is with us even now.

We depart today at around 4:00 PM our time. We will fly from DFW to Frankfurt, and have a short 1 1/2 hour layover there. From there we fly to Sudan, where we will be for just under an hour while we refuel (and where some passengers will deplane) and then it is on to Addis Ababa Ethiopia! We will arrive at approximately 8:00 PM there, so after we clear customs we will go straight to the guest house and try to settle in and s-l-e-e-p. Early Tuesday morning we will go to the childrens' home and meet our sweet Minte for the first time. What a precious moment that will be! Sometime while you're sleeping on Monday night, across the world a new family will be "born." (So if God wakes you up in the wee hours Monday night, please spend some time rejoicing with us!)

Our Embassy appointment is Tuesday as well, so after spending some time at the children's home with our new son we will head over there, where we hope and pray all will go smoothly. Then we will go out to dinner to celebrate!

Wednesday we will spend the day at the children's home with Minte and all of the precious children and babies there. We have brought some games to play and some music and activities. We are anticipating just soaking them in! Minte is there with his 3 friends who are older boys as well, a 3 year old little girl who is a sister to his bestest friend, and about 8 babies. It is a beautifully-designed, brand new home where they have lived for just a few months. We hope to be able to enjoy time with him (most of all!) as well as play with his friends and love on their caregivers.

Thursday we will go do some sight seeing. Minte is a "history buff" we've been told, so we are planning on going to the museum where "Lucy" (the oldest human skeleton that we all learned about in Social Studies) is. There are another couple of museums and a palace that we might visit as well. We are excited to soak up some of the rich history of this ancient and beautiful land.

Friday we are having a "Thank You" party at the children's home, for all of the children. We have prepared a fun puppet show of one of their favorite children's stories, "Silly Mammo." We also have Twister, songs to dance to, a few other games, some silly string and all kinds of fun planned. What a day of celebration! This will be Minte's final goodbye to his friends and caregivers there, so it will be an emotion-filled day for sure.

Saturday we have an opportunity for more sight-seeing. This day is somewhat open, and may possibly be when we go to a village where we have been working with our non-profit and have identified two orphanages with paper-ready kids but who have no known affiliation with an accredited agency. Please pray that our relationship with them will be strengthened and that we can love on these kids, and that God will give us some direction for this area of our ministry.

Sunday we are excited to attend church for the first time with Minte. I absolutely cannot wait to worship in Ethiopia. Cannot wait! There is simply nothing like worshiping in an African church. And to do so as a first time family of five... "one day more"of celebration!

Monday is a shopping day. It will be interesting, I am sure! I am not good at the "bargaining" side of shopping in other countries, and am easily overwhelmed in markets. I usually come home with such odd assortments of items because I simply buy things just to be able to move on the the next vendor! But, Bethany has never met a market she couldn't navigate through, so I'm counting on her!

Tuesday we have another free day, and it could be that on this day I meet with some teachers who are coming in from a village where Buckner/Bright Hope has a school. I have been asked to provide some "teacher training" for these precious teachers. I have prepared a few things, but since I'm not entirely sure what their needs are, I'm praying that God will completely guide our time together and that they will be blessed by the materials and information. We also pick up our German visa on this day.

Wednesday is our last day in the country, where we will have some last minute running around and then depart, following the same path home. (Ethiopia to Sudan to Frankfurt to USA!!) "One day more" until we arrive at home!

We will arrive back on American soil on Thursday the 18th, at around 2:30 PM. And begin life here where there will be a "new normal." :)

** Note: I have written all of the above with this scripture running through my mind: "Man makes plans, but God directs his steps." We know that it is all in His hands, and that each day will take the turn that He planned for it. **

Internet is sketchy there, so I'm not sure how often I will be able to update. I have given some trusted friends my blog password so if I do get a moment in between power outages and when the internet is up, I'll shoot them an email and they can post it on the blog. Or if the internet is okay, I'll post here myself. I hope I'll be able to send some pictures, but that may or may not happen. It will be pictureville on this blog when I get back, though!

Thank you, THANK YOU for your prayer up to this point. We would not be going forward if not for those faithful prayers and our powerful God. Here are some things that we would love prayer for in the days ahead:

*Physical health for all of us. I have had quite a few issues in recent weeks (not the heart this time, thankfully!) Luke began getting a migraine last night, and realized he only has one "one time use" migraine medicine left. Please pray that he experiences NO migraines while we are there. Please pray that if any of us experience any stomach difficulty that we can manage it and that it is short-lived. Minte has been on medicine for a tapeworm and has had discomfort, and we have been praying that he is much better. (We have heard that he has not been slowed down by it at all!)

*Bonding, bonding, bonding. This is our main prayer request. If our family comes to your mind at any time, please PLEASE pray for our bonding with our new son. This is our first and utmost concern on this trip and in the months to come. He is the reason we are going there and we are trusting God ahead of time, believing him for the miracle of knitting our hearts together as a family. I am so prayerful for his relationship with his new siblings. Please pray that for them as well... that they will not be able to imagine a time when they were not brothers and sister. I am taking my Power of a Praying Parent book with me, to pray through on the plane, and the prayer about family relationships is a powerful one. If you have that book, will you join me in praying that for my children? I will be praying that repeatedly while we are on this trip. We have been told that he is excited, but also quite nervous about meeting us. He is wondering if we will like him. He is wondering if he will like us! And there is a fair amount of nervousness on our side of it as well. So, above all, please pray that God will do what only He can do. He is a God who makes things new, who creates, who knits secret things together, who sets the lonely in families.

*Details. There are so many details which must come together on this trip. Namely, all of the documents that should be waiting for us at the embassy, and all of the documents that we must carry over with us. What we are supposed to say and when, to what authority, etc... Until Minte is sitting right here with me on this couch someday there is are opportunities for this to fall through! (Okay, that was dramatic, but still. There is much to still be done to get him here!)

*Above all, that God will be glorified in each area of this trip, in each one of us. It's all for Him. He has faithfully brought us this far and will continue... not for our glory but for His. And there will be such gladness!!

Thank you, thank you. You are such a blessing. Thank you for reading this far, for praying with us all the way from the "we-think-we-might-adopt" stage, through the "we-think-it's-him" stage and now the "bringing-him-home" stage. You are very much a part of this with us! For those of you we will see at the airport on the 18th, I can't wait for you to meet him!!!! I know you will be such a blessing to him, and I know he will bless us all.

We love y'all.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Considering an Older Child

"Two years ago, my family adopted a 10-year-old boy from Ethiopia. Of our seven children — four by birth, three by adoption — Fisseha has been in every sense the easiest transition. I tell people now: You should simply start your family with a 10-year-old Ethiopian boy."

Melissa Fay Greene
Author of There Is No Me Without You

(The entire article is found here. Her blog is found here.)


If you live in the Gulf Coast area or have connections there, please know that we are praying for all who are being effected by Hurricane Gustav. My heart goes out to all who are having to evacuate, and I admire those rescue workers who are going in to be on hand to help.

This is the first year in a l-o-n-g time that we haven't gone to my Grandmother's house for Labor Day weekend. We usually spend this long weekend with her and celebrate my birthday there. I am so sad that we couldn't go this year, but since this is our last weekend at home I find myself with quite a bit of preparation to do for our trip. The rest of my family is out hunting today, so I have the house to myself to finish some packing details and work on our preparations to travel. Ahhh...

Speaking of preparation, I wanted to share something I came across this summer. I have this printed out and on my mirror in my bathroom. I realized a few months ago that many times I have gone on with my day, not fully "armed," and thus, not truly prepared to do what God has for me to do. I hope this blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

“Father thank you for the provision You have made for victory over Satan.

Now by faith I put on the girdle of Truth. May my life today be motivated by Truth. Help me to maintain integrity.

By faith I put on the breastplate of righteousness. May my heart love that which is righteous and refuse what is sinful. Thank You for the imputed righteousness of Christ.

By faith I put on the shoes of peace. Help me to stand in Christ’s victory today. Help me to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker.

By faith I take the shield of faith. May I trust You and Your Word today and not add fuel to any of Satan’s darts. Thank You that I can go into this day without fear.

By faith I put on the helmet of salvation. May I remember today that Jesus is coming again. Help me to live in the future tense. Protect my mind from discouragement and despair.

By faith I take the sword of the Spirit. Help me to remember Your Word and use it today.

Father, by faith I put on the armor. May this be a day of victory.”

Dr. Warren Wiersbe
From “Strategy of Satan”


And now, our menu for the week. This is my last week to cook at home before we leave and come back with a new member of the family (who told us that his favorite American food is pasta!) so it feels a bit strange. I'm not sure why. I'm in the midst of thinking through what I would like to have in the freezer for when we get back. I may make some things this week. Or when we get back, we may have lots of pasta and frequent the Ethiopian restaurants in the area!

Monday: ~Labor Day~ my family is out, so no kitchen "labor" for me today!
Tuesday: Broccoli Cheese Soup (from FIFI but similar to this recipe), salad, bread
Wednesday: Happy Birthday to Me! Pizza for the kids and date night with my cute husband.
Thursday: Baked Chicken and Zucchini
Friday: Spaghetti

For more menus, visit Orgjunkie.com. Have a blessed week!