Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 3 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Our third day in Ethiopia started with a trip up Entoto Mountain (10,827 feet above sea level) with three other families.  I had NO idea what we were going to see, but I was game for anything outside of the city.  The drive up the mountain was beautiful.  I had wondered if I would need a sweater.  Would it be cooler due to the altitude or warmer due to the sun? It was cooler...in the shade.  To my surprise there were great treasures waiting at the top of the mountain.

We had a wonderful guided tour of the first Emperor's palace, which included a history lesson on the Emperor himself as well as Ethiopia.  Our guide was well spoken and loves his country.  He made us want to hear more.  He spoke of an Emperor who saw himself as one of the people.  We learned that Ethiopians have concidered raw ox a delicacy for hundreds of years (maybe more).  Our guide reminded us that Addis Ababa means "New Flower".  He explained that the city, when it was moved down the mountain for convience, was named after a rare flower that no longer exsists.  We saw sick people who come and live on the mountain because they believe the water can heal them.  Our guide told us that the healing is not immediate; it takes time, but that it can heal a person of AIDS.

We saw the first church in Ethiopia and the beautiful christian orthodox church that is built in three tears to represent the trinity.

Our guide walked us through a museum of Ethiopian history (mostly of the Emperor) where we saw a painting that represents Psalm 68:31  Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God. KJV
There were also many beautiful umbrellas which I knew related to the ones the women in town carry over their heads ALL the time, but I couldn't remember what the biblical connection was...so I asked.  The umbrellas are a covering of the NEW ark of the covenant...followers of Christ.
I thought these were both such beautiful images.

On our way down the mountain, we saw donkeys and women that climb up the mountain every morning and walk down the mountain every day loaded down with sticks and wood. These women earn about 20 birr a day.  That is the equivalent of about $1.

We stopped and bought each of the Kuykendall girls a traditional Ethiopian dress which we wore to church on Resurrection Sunday (Nazeret's will be here for her when she get's home.) and then we finally made our way to the TH to see our girl!

On this day, we took pictures and delivered care packages for other families.  It was great to hold some little ones, but it was hard on Nazeret.  She didn't understand what we were doing and she did not want to share her new family.  I can't say that a blame her, but it is also such a precious gift to other families and their children to take this time for them.  We had a great time with Nazeret.  She had this cute new little hair-do done with silly bands.  At the end of our afternoon, she got to take us over to the "big kid transition home" to see where she eats and sleeps.  When we had to leave....she stayed there.

It was a great day, but it ended with such an emotional THUD!  We had a scheduled traditional Ethiopian dinner complete with dancers that night, but none of us were excited about it.  We went, but we left our hearts at the TH that night and the next morning....was court.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

In the morning we went to the TH.  When you arrive, the driver blows the horn to get the gate opened.  The vans FULL of parents pull in and unload.  The kids that were waiting on their families were on the playground.  She was so happy to see us.  She grabbed her Daddy by the hand before he even made it out of the van.

Our daughter is a very active child, but on this day....I got her to sit on my lap for just a little while.  For the first time, I planted little kisses on her cheek and her neck.  She giggled in delight!  She colored with her big sister and then without waring we were off and running again.

On this morning, some families were saying goodbye to their children and tree families were at court.  One of our daughter's little friends had been sent out to wait on her family, but they were at court so we added her to our play that day.  At recess, ALL the big kids come out from school and they ALL want a little of your attention.  They are all so precious.  I bet everyone of you reading this would consider adopting an older child if you spent one morning with these kids.

That morning when the parents loaded back into the van, our daughter hovered at the open sliding door until she realized we were sticking out hands out the window to her.  She took our hands....and I got my first kiss from her! (freely offered, not even asked for).  At that moment, my heart was SO FULL! (tears are streaming as I think about it)  I am so in love with this child!

We met up with the court families for lunch and then we visited two local orphanages.  These are well run and well maintained orphanages in the capital city.  The kids were so sweet as they sang and played games.  The girls and I, along with one of my friends and her two daughters, made 75 silk hair clip flowers to distribute to the girls in the orphanage.  They looked so pretty with them in their short hair, but the surprise was the joy they brought to the workers.  Some of the workers put them in their own hair, but most wanted them for their daughters at home.

We had our first coffee ceremony at the first orphanage we visited.  It is Ethiopian custom to roast coffee beans and make fresh coffee for your guests.  It is wonderfully strong coffee that leaves "mud" in the bottom of your tiny little cup.

At the second orphanage we visited, the older kids were in one large classroom for school.  We interrupted them with an art project.  It was organized chaos as we painted their hands and then cleaned them.  The result was beautiful!  I wish I could show you all of their smiling little faces.

Every one of these hand prints represents a child who is waiting for a forever family.  Just think about it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ONE DAY......

Last Friday was our second court date and we received an email that basically said "not today, maybe tomorrow".  Today we received a phone call that said "not today, maybe tomorrow".

So I've been thinking a lot about passover, Jesus' last week, our redemption, our adoption and how ONE DAY HE WILL RETURN FOR US!

You see God has used this adoption journey to reveal so much about MY adoption.  I was broken when He payed the ultimate price, His life, to redeem me.  He never gives up on me!  God made me a joint heir with Jesus  (Seriously? ME? Joint heir with Jesus?) through adoption.

I love our daughter so much that I am willing to fight for her, if it comes to that.  I would NEVER give up on her.  How much more does he love me?  He died for me!

Jesus' last week in this life was hard, but He stayed focused.  He "finished well".  There are times that I just want to have a BIG ol' pity party.  Nobody deserved a pity party more that Jesus, but He didn't waste His time or energy with that.  He stayed focused on the Father and His plan.

On our first trip to Ethiopia, we spent our time showing our daughter how much we love her.  When we had to leave, she understood that we were going to prepare a place for her and we would be back to bring her home.  Sound familiar?  I worry that if too much time passes she will wonder if we ARE coming back for her.  Do I ever wonder if Jesus IS coming back for me?  Will He take me home to a place He has prepared for me?  I know He will.  I don't know when and there are days that I wish it was NOW, but I really don't question that He WILL return.  I don't think she does either.  She knows we will be back for her.  She would like it to be today, but she does know that we will return.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 1 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Our first day was ridiculous!  We spent almost thirteen hours on a plane, met two other families and our driver at the airport (after literally fighting away very persistent men who wanted to "help" us with our bags), and had an exciting ride with eight people and ALL of our luggage in and ON a little van.  When we arrived at the guest house there were so many people!  We were the last three of fourteen families in our travel group.  I'd connected with most of these families on Facebook, so they were introducing themselves and I was trying to make the mental connections.  We were told we had five minutes to check in the hotel and grab everything we needed for the day.  We were leaving to meet our daughter.  Okay....STOP! 

Go with me here:  We couldn't sleep on the plane (even with a sleep aid) because we were so excited!  We get to the hotel and there is so much activity and so many people.  We take our stuff to our room and we barely have enough time to use the facilities much less process anything that is happening.  You with me so far?

Eight families were leaving for court and the rest of us were headed for the transition home (where all of our children live).  The experienced families were great.  They explained what would happen, took our cameras, and assured us it was all going to be great.  Do I have to tell you that we were in shock?  We were in Ethiopia about to meet our daughter.  We were sleep deprived, confused, and hungry.  I'm pretty sure that even this part was God's plan.  The families explained that it would happen right away.  They would be bringing her out of the house as we were getting out of the van.  There is so much emotion that you can literally feel it in the air.  All of the families gather on the porch and they get your child and encourage her to go out to her new family (and a crowd of people with cameras).  She was just as overwhelmed as we were.

I can't show you the pictures of her when she came out, because we haven't passed court yet.  That is a story for another day.  We all smiled at each other, gave some timid hugs, and them moved out of the "spot-light" to get to know each other.  We played together all day; she called us Mommy and Daddy from the start.

Our little girl was so proud of HER Daddy!  She introduced him to everyone: adults and children.  She wanted him close to her.  This was also the day that she discovered he could lift her high over his head.  She was all smiles and her giggle was the sweetest sound to our ears.  We had a wonderful day!  She had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger on Day 1!