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....