Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just a quick update

I know I haven't been super faithful in blogging the past few weeks. I really think I will get back in the groove when all the kiddos are feeling completely well. So, I am just going to give you all a boring update. No pictures today.

Eden will be finishing up her medicine for giardia tomorrow morning. I am hoping that tomorrow morning will be my first morning that she has not pooped through all her clothes onto her sheets. But.....if that is what greets me we will smile, pull up our sleeves and dig in yet again. Her appetite wasn't as good today. Could be that silly parasite is dead and not demanding so much food. Overall, she is as happy as always and busy. Have I said lately that I am in love with her?

Tristan. Oh Tristan. He is on antibiotics right now and getting over a double ear infection and tonsillitis! My family was together on Sunday and we took the poor miserable little guy. I apologize to all my family yet again for having put them through listening to his screams for most of the day!! I think the medicine is making him slightly cantankerous as well.

Judah and Shane are still being helpful, having their little disagreements and I am continuing to try to help them resolve conflict without harsh words and brute force. Yesterday Shane called Judah a stinker so Judah told me, "He called me a stinker so I had to whip him." Hmmmmm....we have a ways to go yet with conflict resolution. It is a mystery to me how to keep the testosterone from dictating the outcome of the fight.

I have been feeling bad that Judah and Shane haven't been getting as much one-on-one time with me lately but Shane has suddenly become super affectionate. He has never been one to hug and kiss me. But lately he has been coming to me numerous times throughout the day, hugging me, kissing me and telling me he loves me. My heart is a goner!!

Mark has been working long days as this is his busy season! I have been through this season enough times now to know what he needs from me is to hear that I am fine and we are having fun times even on the long and not so easy days. I don't lie if my day feels overwhelming. I voice my frustrations but then assure him we'll be fine.

Tomorrow I will try to sum up what our first month with four children has entailed. And I will make sure I post more pictures. What fun is a blog without pictures of adorable children?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A few pictures and a story

We were eating dinner a few nights ago and the boys were listing their best friends! The list was some of their cousins and each other plus God and Jesus. Really cute! Judah started listing all the things that Jesus has done for us, suddenly stopped and said, "Well, what have we done for Him?" A very thought provoking question for a little guy. Well, really a good question for anyone. Shortly after that he stated that sometimes Jesus can't be his best friend and these were his exact words:

"When I am being mean or being a villain than I can't be His friend." I was thinking to myself, "Villain? Where did he come up with that word." Shane must have been thinking the same thing and also wanted to set Judah straight. So Shane said, "Judah, we are not villains. Villains are robbers." Good that we got that whole scenario sorted out. Here are the boys in the backyard getting ready to break open one of the remaining duck eggs. Notice Judah's stick over top the yellow egg? Shane wasn't as interested in breaking it open. Is it just me or does Shane suddenly look like he has grown an inch or two?
And here is my Tristan boy. Again, any of you that would like to pray for him please do. He is has been sick for almost two weeks. He has had a few days in the middle of the two weeks were he was doing better. He had high fever again this evening and is just really miserable. I don't know if it is a continuation of the virus he had last week or if we are dealing with something new. We were at grandma and grandpa Eveleth's tonight and they laid hands on him and prayed for him. My in-laws always challenge me - they quickly pray and believe for healing no matter what ailment you are dealing with.
And here is Eden when she wasn't feeling good this week. Notice the snotty nose and redness around her eyes. She had a crazy rash that spread all over her body. The doctor felt like it was viral - fifths disease. Goodness!! We have had our rounds!! And we received some preliminary results back today for some tests they are running. She also has giardia!! No big surprise to me. I am the one changing her sheets every morning and changing her clothes at least once a day. She will start her medicine on Monday after the pharmacy orders it in. We should be getting other parasite test results on Monday as well. Just a day in the life of me right now. I love my children, I love my husband, I find comfort in knowing we are walking with a wonderful Father and I keep looking forward to when the babies are better!!

Our Resident Duck

This is a beautiful duck we discovered in one of our flower beds close to two weeks ago. Mark was doing some spring cleanup in our beds and he spooked this duck. This sweet duck chose our home to build a nest and lay her eggs. Thirteen eggs!! As I'm sure you can imagine this created quite a stir!! The boys had to check on the duck multiple times a day and had to be reminded on numerous occasions to give the poor duck some space. They figured out when she started fluffing her feathers she was warning them that they were intruding too close to the nest. The above picture was taken when Judah came to me and said sadly, "There is only going to be 12 duckling. One of the eggs is broken and outside the nest." Hmmmmm.....could they be hatching?
Sure enough!!! A few minutes later the boys rushed into the house exclaiming, "The ducklings are hatching!! And they are gorgeous!!" Now, my boys haven't determined yet that words like gorgeous and beautiful aren't really cool for them to be saying. They had one friend that informed them that the word beautiful is dumb and definitely not cool!! Fortunately they must have forgotten because they flow out of their mouths pretty unabashed.
So, in all we had 10 little ducklings that waddled away the next morning at 6:15. We contemplated waking the boys and then reason took over. In hindsight we should have woken them. Four days later I am still hearing about how disappointed they are that they didn't see them leave. Hopefully they will find it in their hearts to forgive us someday. So, our resident duck has taken leave and now we have an empty nest! Except for the three eggs that remained. Oh, two eggs. The boys took one egg to see if there was a duckling inside. I will spare you the description of what oozed out of the egg. Just suffice it to say I almost lost my lunch!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Judah and his friend John Paul

Judah has this new friend that rapidly became one of his favorites. His name is John Paul - JP for short. There is a long story behind this and I will try my best to give you a very short version.

Mark's father is connected with this young man and his brother. They are from Rwanda and are survivors of the genocide. Their family owned somewhere around 20 acres - give or take a few. (You have to forgive me because the details aren't real clear in my mind.) I can't even remember how my father-in-law became connected with them. I believe the older brother, I don't know how to spell his name, was in school in Pittsburgh and that is how the original connection was made. Long story short - they have built a home in Rwanda on their families land for street boys. These are boys who have lost family in the genocide or their families are unable to care for them. These boys are given a great education, given a stable environment in which to grow and most importantly taught about the Father and His heart towards us. These two young men lost family in the genocide. In fact, they had an older brother who was murdered along with his wife. They were able to hide their baby and so he survived. It is now the responsibility of the next brother in line to provide for him and make sure he gets an education. These men are amazing!! Mark's father has been to Rwanda two times within the past few years, is going again in July and possibly again in November. They are preparing to build another home and also build a technological type center for people to be trained. There is so much more to be said about these men, their hearts to rebuild their country and the connections they have with the government of Rwanda. These men are not "little" men - they have garnered the attention of the Rwandan president and one of them has gotten to meet and talk with him. They have some influence and have a heart to see reconciliation in their land. We have no problem investing in their lives and the work that they do.

So, John Paul was here in State College for 3 1/2 months. He arrived sometime in January and just left two weeks ago. During his time here Judah became friends with him. One of the times we called home while we were in Ethiopia and talked with Judah he said, "How's it going mom? ......Well, John Paul's here and we are jumping on the trampoline. I need to go." He just loves John Paul!! I will make an attempt to spell his brothers name - John Pierre. John Pierre lives in the D.C. area as he is finishing up his education. He came to pick John Paul up and they had to stop by our house on their way out of town. We felt so honored!! Judah didn't realize how precious their time was but he was completely thrilled that he was able to say good-bye to John Paul. They had to have quite the photo shoot! I am just upset that I got some of Mark's equipment in the background.
Judah has a real strong desire to visit Africa. We always thought maybe when he got a little older. John Paul and John Pierre both think he is the perfect age right now. He would remember most everything about the trip and he is very impressionable too. Mark was already hoping to go to Rwanda later this year or next year and our hope is to be able to send Judah along. He often expresses a desire to see JP, see the boys and just be in Africa. Do I feel slightly anxious at the thought? Not anymore. After being in Africa myself and falling massively in love with the people I would love nothing more than having my son go experience another culture and come away forever changed! We love you JP!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Arrival Home

Our total travel time including our 5 hour layover in Frankfurt Germany was going to be somewhere around 30 hours. I was not looking forward to the trip. I felt very nervous about the flights with Eden. Especially since I felt like I was still getting to know her. We boarded our flight to Frankfurt, found out a tire needed changing and were going to be delayed 2-3 hours. Shortly after boarding Eden had her first major blow-out poop so we changed the entire outfit, snuggled in our seats and promptly fell asleep. Neither her nor I woke up during take off. I woke up a few hours into the flight and was very confused. I handed her over to Mark and kept sleeping. Eden slept the entire first leg which was a little over 8 hours. She was then awake for our layover in Frankfurt, slept again almost the entire leg to Philadelphia which was another 8 1/2 hours. She didn't cry one time!! Everyone around us kept commenting on what an amazing traveler she was. We felt so, so blessed!! Our flight was delayed from Philadelphia to State College so we didn't arrive until 9:45. After finding out our flight was delayed I think I had a little mental breakdown. We were so close to our boys yet having to wait an additional two hours seemed very long. We finally boarded our last flight and I let myself cry. I held it in until that point. I had anticipated this moment for so incredibly long! I could hardly wait to see our families that were waiting for us. My mom, brothers, sisters, spouses and most of Eden's new cousins were waiting for us. Marks parents, sisters Grace and Christine and Suzanne and Mo were there as well. Some friends from our life group, our church, friends from Lewisburg, and some other friends from State College were waiting. We landed, Mark took Eden and we started walking for the terminal. I caught a glimpse of everyone through the window and I felt like I could almost collapse. I needed to see our families and friends so much and knowing they had all waited at the airport for that long meant the world to us!! Eden had no idea on that day how much she was loved but she will grow to know and understand how amazing this moment was for all of us! This is some of my nieces and nephews and Judah holding a beautiful banner my sister Beth made as well as flags our boys made!! Can you understand why this sight made me start crying? We walked through the doors and everyone started yelling, "Welcome home Eden". I started frantically looking for my boys and spotted them coming towards me. I felt so complete as I got on my knees and hugged my boys!! Tristan looked so huge to me after holding Eden for a week! I was worried he wouldn't want to see me but he came right to me and didn't hesitate when I picked him up!!
Here are Grace, Mo, Suz and my wonderful friend Barb meeting Eden and telling her how much she is loved! I honestly don't know how people survive without affection! The five days I was without Mark and the week without my boys was really hard for me. I need and love hugs and affection. I was getting an overload here!!!
This is one of my favorite pictures. You want to talk about some of the best hugs you can ever receive - my brother Joe's hugs!! They are all encompassing and ooze love!! Here he is hugging me, kissing Eden while his little angel Avery watches.
Mark and his father as he meets Eden. In the right hand side you can see me coming unglued on my mom's shoulder. Poor woman! I was a crying mess by this point!!
Here I am with the two older boys as they check their new sister out!! Tristan was off and running again!! I love Judah's little smile. He has the most tender smile.
Joe and Miriams little girl Avery was so fascinated by Eden. She sat on the floor next to Eden and was so gentle as she talked to her and touched her. It was priceless!!
Here is Eden sitting on my mom's lap as Avery continues to talk to her. I think this picture is adorable!!!
I think some of the highlights at the airport for me was finding out later that a woman on our flight stopped to just watch this all happen. My sister Beth said this woman just stood their with tears streaming down her cheeks as she watched everyone welcoming us and getting acquainted with Eden. There were also two different young men there who are drivers for a local taxi service. One was from Chad and the other from Senegal. Mark talked with one of the them for a while and he was visibly crying as he watched. They both know the reality of growing up in Africa and they said the same phrase we had heard numerous times before - "she is a lucky one". Luck had nothing to do with bringing her into our lives but we understand the sentiment. The one young man even verbalized that maybe he could do this someday. You could almost see the course of his life being altered!! It was truly amazing! And really what our desire has become through this process. That people would follow their hearts and do their part in helping the broken, innocent and forgotten children of the world!!
We were home, our family was together and we could head home knowing this part of the journey was completed!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I know I need to wrap up our trip but I feel like talking about my day instead. Well, actually the past few days. We seem to be getting into a routine again which feels really good to me. I function much better with routine. I try to remind myself that I have some children who are more like me and I also have children who enjoy being spontaneous and throwing new things into the normalcy of life. I also try to remember that I have them for such a short time and to spend time on the things that really count. You know, like spending time with them. I can have a spotless house in 20 years, right? Except then I will wish that they were little again and making messes. I know how this cycle works.

Anyway, Tristan was sick again this week. He had croup, fever, pink eye and lots of fussiness. Poor little guy. His croup warranted a trip to the ER for a steroid treatment and then two days later we ended up having to take him for bloodwork, another throat culture (for the strep looking rash on his torso) and to have an antiobiotic shot. He was quite a trooper through it all. It only took three people to hold him down so the nurse could draw his blood. And only two people to hold him down for his shot. I felt horrible!!! His bloodwork came back looking normal so I guess he just had a nasty virus. The doc's were confused at his prolonged fever and that fact that he was so lethargic. Today though my little boy started immerging again!! He was playing, eating and talking again. Someone in our church organized meals for us the last two weeks. Initially I felt kind of silly since I hadn't physically had a baby. Wow!! Am I glad I haven't had to cook every night since I have either been sick or had a sick child since returning. I think that my scrubbing of the house and opening all the windows and airing things out has kicked the last sick germ to Timbuktoo. At least I hope.

Today I had a very nice, relaxing afternoon with just the two little ones. We have this friend who we love and who really loves our children. Her name is Ellen. A few times a year she will call and ask to take the boys for half a day to do something fun. They love going to her house because in her basement she has all kinds of instruments that are used for her house church. Anyway, she teaches at Penn State and of course is an avid Penn State football fan. Today was the blue/white game (scrimmage) and she took the boys. This is the third or fourth game she has taken them to which is no small task. They were so excited!! They slathered on their sunscreen, got their sunglasses, made sure they looked "sharp" (because dad always looks sharp) and were off. I love hearing them talk about things like looking "sharp". Hearing them process things of this nature is very humerous. So, I had 6 1/2 hours of just me, Tristan and Eden. It was lovely!! The one luxury I afforded myself was to take a nap when the two of them were sleeping. I had a momentary thought of dragging my behind out of bed and getting something worth while accomplished while they slept. But it was definetely only momentary because my next conscious moment was almost an hour later. Pure bliss!!! We then went outside and played for a while, came in and had bath time and then fired up the grill. We had a little cook-out when Ellen came back with the boys and just enjoyed hearing their tales from the day. Thank you Ellen for giving me a little break and for loving our boys so much!! You are a favorite of theirs and you are building life long memories with them!

Oh, and by the way.....we had to celebrate Judah's first kill yesterday!! He actually shot his first bird. He came running in the house and said, "Mom, mom!!! You have to come see this bird I shot!! It is just GORGEOUS!!!" I would never classify any dead animal as gorgeous but I appeased him by assuring him it was indeed gorgeous. I did take a picture of him with his kill but decided it may be somewhat offensive to someone. After his pictures he informed me that hunters get really hungry after a long day hunting (I think he had been hunting all of 10 minutes) and they need to have good snacks.

So, this was the past few days in a nutshell. We are on the up and up and enjoying this wonderful warm weather. Hope to post about our homecoming real soon. I would say tomorrow but I can't promise anything.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 7

We woke up on our last day with so many different emotions swirling through our minds. Today was the day Eden was going to be signed out of the orphanage and her life would be forever different. I felt a little unsure of may abilities at mothering four children and so was a little nervous about leaving with Eden. I knew her nannies understood her so much more than I did and I felt kind of sorry that her little world was going to be turned upside down again. I was sad that I wasn't going to wake up to the sights, smells and sounds of Ethiopia again for at least a long time. I had fallen in love with Addis and did not want to leave. If our boys would have been with us we would probably still be there. There was something about the people of Ethiopia that I felt I needed to learn. A week just seemed to short a time to soak everything in. At the same time I could hardly wait to squeeze my boys again. Hearing their voices on the phone helped ease the ache of being apart but I really needed to see their smiles, feel their arms and know they were okay.

Arriving at breakfast we had the wonderful opportunity to meet another couple who had just arrived and would be meeting their daughter Savannah. We enjoyed the little bit of time we got to spend with them on Monday and only wish we could have gotten to know them a little bit better. They had 5 children waiting for them at home. This was their second international adoption experience so it was fascinating hearing the differences between how the Guatemala and Ethiopia programs differed. You can see their family and see some really nice pictures of the orphanage if you visit their website They really captured some neat photos of Toukoul and posted some neat info about the orphanage system as well. We did some last minute shopping in the morning, visited Eden and then went back to the villa to finish our packing. In the afternoon we arrived back at Toukoul and sighed our little Eden out of the orphanage. I don't know that any single signature ever packed so much punch for me. Signing that paper was the last step to having Eden released into our care forever!! This was more monumental for me than meeting her I think. There was something so final, so life changing, so life giving and eternal about those signatures!! We changed her clothes and put her first set of clothes on her that we had brought with us. The picture above is after she was changed and Mark scooped her up!! I took her into see the nurses one last time. They took such amazing care of her while she was in their care. The on sight pediatrician and on sight nurses were so patient in answering questions and obviously loved Eden. They handed me her complete and comprehensive medical files including her chest x-rays and gave her one final kiss. They made sure I understood that they wanted to see pictures of her - this was not the last time they wanted to see her. I had tears as I took her from them and walked out of the infant/toddler house for the last time. There were so many cuties remaining in there and I had to have one last look at them. still hurts thinking of them.
We arrived back at the villa and the woman who had cooked my breakfast all week wanted to hold Eden and talk to her. Hopefully she wasn't telling Eden that I was a crazy lady!! The young girl next to her is her niece. Sweet, sweet girl who served me tirelessly.

This was the first bath we gave Eden. After arriving back at the villa we decided to give her a bath before starting the long trek home. She started getting excited as soon as we started stripping her clothes off. She loves getting baths!!! Don't judge her enthusiasm about bath time from her expression above.
Drying off after bath time. She was so, so cute and petite. I couldn't get over her tiny little feet. I don't know that the boys feet were ever as small as hers.

Saying good by to Gabriel was one of the hardest things of the trip. For some reason he just worked his way into our hearts. This young man was adopted from Ethiopia as an infant by a couple from France. His father was the man who started the non-profit Toukoul orphanage system. From what I remember from our conversations his father is an engineer and has ongoing projects in Ethiopia that he helps facilitate and oversee. The orphanage system has farms that are self-sustaining with very nice equipment, irrigation, spraying - the whole nine yards. Gabriel grew up in France, spent close to two years in the states going to school and is now in Addis Ababa. Out of all the places he has lived he said he would choose Addis hands down. He loves the pace of life and the people. We had so, so much fun with this young man!! Since he was raised in a western culture he finds the same things funny that Mark and I did. Like dead donkeys in the road, crazy drivers, etc. I don't know .....there is just something about him that we wish we could have brought him home. We kept telling him Mark has some pretty sweet sisters!! He seemed pretty happy cruising around Addis though. I expressed some of my anxiety at removing Eden from such a beautiful culture and he assured us that she is a "lucky" one. We heard that phrase over and over from different people in Addis who had themselves been adopted. Our hope is that Eden will grow up feeling secure in our love.

Mark and Gabriel!
A random water cooler in the Frankfurt airport! I just couldn't resist taking the picture. I am working on getting some pictures from our arrival home at the airport. After I have what I feel sufficiently depicts our homecoming I will post about that wonderful evening!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Random photos

Here is Eden proudly displaying her rather rotund belly. This little girl enjoys eating and being without the encumbrance of clothing. She fits right into this family. Hopefully we will be able to curb the peeing outside on the trees with her.
We are loving the warmer spring weather around here. The boys have been outside quite a bit. I get a lot of satisfaction watching Judah and Shane playing together. Usually they get along quite nicely. They do have their days though.

Here is Shane reluctantly posing for the camera. He is so stinkin' cute!!

And here is my little man. After having a rough week transitioning from no longer being the baby of the family Tristan has returned!! My happy and carefree little boy is once again cruising around the house at a high rate of speed. And the giggles are often and loud. I really missed hearing his laughter. He came to me on Friday morning and voluntarily said, "I love you." This is completely out of character for him. After telling me he loved me Tristan came out of the horrible grumpy shell he had been entrenched in for over a week. From that moment he has been night and day different. I think he finally forgave me for bringing another baby into his world. This was no small answer to prayer!!

Eden enjoys having her picture taken. As soon as she sees me aiming the camera in her direction she crawls for me. I have a hard time getting really nice pictures of her.

This is Eden's typical happy little self. She has so much personality and loves to giggle and laugh. I love knowing she seems comfortable with us and with being here. We are so, so grateful that God brought her to our family. Already it feels as though she has always been a part of us.

There is a story behind this picture. Tristan loves opening and closing the microwave door. We used to put a chair by the counter so he could spend 20 minutes just opening and closing the microwave. Well.....we remodeled our kitchen this winter (yeah for me!!) and we now have a microwave that is over the oven. The old microwave was in the basement waiting to be taken to the salvation army. One morning Mark plugged in the old microwave so that he could warm something up before leaving for work. It was a very early morning and he didn't want to possibly wake up the kids. We forgot the microwave was plugged in and went on our merry way. Tristan decided to take one of Mark's travel mugs and put it in the microwave one morning. Forgetting it was plugged in we just let him open and close the door. As you can imagine he activated the microwave, walked away and we had no idea until we smelled this funny plastic smell. Upon investigating the source of the smell the above picture is what we found. One very melted plastic travel coffee mug, broken glass and a charred microwave. So much for passing it on. These are the things that make me laugh during the course of my busy days.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 6

I have a lot of pictures for today. Before leaving for the orphanage on Sunday morning we just walked around the gardens at the villa and took some more pictures of the flowers. One of the things I found so interesting was after Mark arrived he pointed out at least 10 different varieties of trees, plants or flowers that I hadn't even noticed. Clearly he enjoys gardening/landscaping and he is in the right business. I enjoyed all the different plants but wasn't so aware of the different shades of green. I watched him in amazement as he walked around finding new things. Plants I wouldn't even have noticed. Like this unique flower. These flowers grew on either a tree or a very large bush. Shows you how much I know. Cut me a break - their plants are different.
This man was one of the guards at the villa. He was 65 years old and very spry. Anytime someone pulled up to the gate and beeped the horn he would run to let them in. He captured our attention as he was putting together this contraption below and we soon realized he was spinning cotton. Apparently he spins cotton most days to help his family. I really enjoyed this man. All the guards would greet you as you arrived or left the property but this man would always salute you.

More children at the orphanage. I wish I would have had more time to spend playing with them.

This little boy did not want to share his picture with anyone. If I tried to get his picture and he noticed someone intruding into his space he would get a vicious scowl on his face and walk away. I had to really coax him to get this one shot of him. Had he known the little boy behind him was smiling for the picture I'm sure he would have had some choice words for him. Oh, he was spiteful!!

This little girl doesn't really need any explanation. Just super cute!!

And this guy was so patient. I just had to reward him with his very own picture. He was pretty pleased.
Upon arriving at the orphanage on Sunday morning I realized we were once again going to witness families meeting and being united forever. Mark hadn't gotten to be a part of this yet so I was excited to see his reaction. I knew what mine would be - tears and a snotty mess. There were three couples from France and they were all waiting for their little boys to be brought to them. This was by far the most emotional meeting I had seen during my stay in Addis. All of the couples were probably mid 20's to early 30's. I'm not such a good judge anymore since I am grouped in with the 30's now. Everyone looks young to me. Two of the woman in particular already had very red eyes and had used numerous tissues. I would have loved to know what their stories entailed. Was this their first child? Had they waited a long time for their son? Eden actually was brought out first and they started crying again. I think it was just the anticipation and seeing us with our baby brought a fresh wave of emotions. Pretty soon a nanny rounded the corner with a handsome little man. Honestly, I am sitting here crying just remembering their reactions. This little boy was around 18 months old and he just sat on his new mommy's lap. She was a beautiful woman and her smile just beamed!! The other two women still waiting were buried in their husbands shoulders literally sobbing. I glanced over at Mark and saw the tears about to spill from his eyes. Now, there is something you need to know about my husband. He has an amazingly tender heart but is not one who cries very often. The last time I had seen him cry was watching a video showing work that is being done in Rwanda with boys who have lost families due to the genocide. Something about Africa stirs up a lot of emotion in him. So, I'm looking at Mark who is visibly having trouble keeping his tears at bay and see a second little boy come around the corner. I could go on and on about this experience. We got to watch these specific couples on Sunday and Monday playing with their boys and it was so clear that all three little boys had different personalities. Each one equally precious and each one finally in the arms of parents. Upon arriving back home I have thought much about the children who remain. They receive amazing care - both physical and emotional. But the fact remains that each one deserves a family. Mark has had a harder time with this than I have. Something happens within you after you have been where we walked. The week that I was at the orphanage I watched 15 children, including Eden, get to go through the blue gate and never have to go back. But I will get to the whole leaving experience on Day 7. Suffice it to say our Sunday morning at Toukoul orphanage was emotional but incredibly life giving. For us and three little boys.

Just a common sight on the city streets. We thought our boys would laugh hysterically if they had a chance to see this.

This is Gabriel, our driver, who showed us this neat trick. If you walk up behind a tortoise so they can't see you and you climb on their back they will still go on their merry way. They will just carry you with them. I still need to tell you about Gabriel - maybe tomorrow.

On Sunday afternoon Gabriel took us out of the city and to one of the surrounding mountaintops to get a panoramic view of Addis. There are seven mountains surrounding the city and of course I cannot remember the name of this particular mountain. The mountain had eucalyptus trees so the smell was amazing!! My sinuses felt clear!! We were a little over 10,000 feet on the top of this mountain. Of course some of my phobias crept in as we drove up to the top. You know-curvy slightly narrow road without any guardrails. I kept telling Gabriel that my life was in his hands. He thought my nervousness was a little bit humorous. At the top the young man in the pink soccer goalie getup gave us a lot of local history and was an extremely educated young man. His English was spectacular!! He told us he has a special English tutor and he aspires to go to the University in Addis. We tipped him a few Birr but he seemed offended at our tip. Gabriel assured us that no tip was necessary and that what we had given him was more than adequate. I am so, so glad we had a driver with us at all times.

This was a view of some of the countryside. Very, very beautiful!!

We visited an old church located at the top of the mountain. The church was in the shape of an octagon and the entire interior from floor to ceiling was covered in paintings. The artwork illustrated and depicted scenes from the Bible. This painting here was of the 12 disciples and how they all met their demise. Some of the paintings were quite graphic and gory.

This was a tomb outside the church. I cannot remember the significance of the person who had been laid to rest here.

This is a painting we bought at a small gallery at the top of the mountain. This man is a fairly well known artist - there were several newspaper articles on display about his painting ability and his style. Of course the painting depicts the traditional coffee ceremony as well as some well known historical buildings in Ethiopia. We can't wait to get it framed and hung in our home.

The view of Addis Ababa from the top of the mountain. The picture doesn't due the view justice at all!! It made me feel quite small seeing the large scale of the city and the surrounding mountains. Truly beautiful!!

These stone walls were everywhere on the way up the mountain. It was to control soil erosion. We just found them fascinating!
The anticipation was starting to build for me knowing we were leaving Ethiopia the next night. I could hardly wait to see my boys at home but was already feeling like I wasn't ready to leave this country that I was falling in love with more every day. So, we just returned to the villa for the evening and relaxed in preparation for the long trip ahead.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pictures from the restaraunt

This was our hostess. I think she thought I was funny since I wanted to take her picture. But my goodness - she was beautiful!!!

I wish these pictures weren't quite so dark. These two girls were stunning!!! We just couldn't get over how beautiful the people of Ethiopia are!