Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Year of Isaac

2011 was an amazingly quick year.  It feels like just yesterday we were telling you we were embarking on our international adoption journey and now Isaac is home and adjusted pretty well and we are so blessed.
Isaac, Age 2

Senior Portrait, note the hand in his pocket. It says it all!

Don't let his happy face fool you.  He did not like lunch this day!

Sometimes we have to stop and think, wow, he's only been home for 6...7...8...9 weeks, so it's okay if he {insert not so good action here}.  It's amazing to think that it was only in March that we first saw his cute little face in an email, and almost immediately following that our case was held up because of the change in staffing in Ethiopia and then the US Government changes, yet here we are home with him.

It's also hard to think that it was just a few months ago that we traveled 20,000 miles together to meet Isaac for the first time, and then have the HUGE garage sale and then I traveled the 20,000 miles to pick our little man and bring him home.  It's amazing how the access to world class medical care, supplies and doctors healed many of Isaac's issues so quickly too.  Sometimes we wonder if God brought him home sooner, because he needed the immediate medical attention.

Today we went to the mall and we ran into another family with a little boy from Ethiopia.  I actually had bought the same hat in Ethiopia for Isaac as the little boy was wearing, so it was pretty need to see how the two boys interacted and how the parents and siblings were so excited to see another Ethiopian-American family!

As we look to 2012, I am almost immediately heading back to work, the boys are heading to my Aunt's while we work.  More changes and more blessings I am sure.

But the part of 2012 we really hope to see is how God will use our knowledge and experience to bless others.  There are still other children waiting to come home of families we met and know, and yet other children, waiting to be matched to a family and come home.  While our prayer is that Ethiopia will be able to keep more of the children in their families and in their country, with 1/6 of the population orphaned, we pray that international adoptions can continue to move forward and more children can have families that care for them and love them.

We pray God will bless you in 2012 as much as he has blessed us!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More American Than Apple Pie

Last week we got Isaac's Certificate of Citizenship in the mail and then went and applied for his Social Security Number.  Just a couple of more proceedings and his adoption will be completely complete!

Isaac eating apple pie

Kev's newly returned gee-tar.

That's right, an electric Guild, it's pretty unique I guess, at least that what's every person I ever have talked to about it has said.  I say, yep, she's a looker. ;)

Daddy showing Isaac the ropes, or the cords.  Depending on who you ask.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Change for a Good Cause - Love

Today is one of those days where Isaac needs to be held and interacted with all day long.  We had made plans to go out, but we cancelled those after the dog made a mess of the carpet and I saw how much Isaac needed to stay home.  Some examples:

  • He can't get close enough - he's tried climbing over the top of me to see if he could get closer.  
  • He has said Mama about every 5-10 seconds for the last hour. No I am not kidding.
  • He has not been more than about two steps behind me if we go anywhere.

And since I am a person who appreciates personal space and schedules, this can sometimes get a little overwhelming.  But all it seems to take is that little smile to win me over.  Poor little guy has a molar and an eye tooth coming through at the same time and he's quite the trooper, but it's taking a toll on him.

When I look at the "sacrifices" we have made to bring Isaac into our family, I can take one look at a photo or a memory like the one below and know of the many blessings our little "Isaac Bissac" brings us and know this was exactly why God called us to this.
Is our family the only family where wrestling requires a snack cup?
Seeing how a little bit of love can change another persons' life really changes your life too and I'm happy we are changed!

Progress, Progress, Progress!!!

Isaac's sleeping through the night, him and Dane are BFF's and we are all getting along pretty good.  Lots of room to grow, but the progress has been tremendous.  Yeah!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleep, or lack thereof...Fun Facts

Did you know that if you consistently loose 2-3 hours of sleep a night, you are actually losing 2-3 nights of sleep a week.

2 Hours a night x 7 nights in a week = 14 hours ~ 2 nights sleep
3 Hours a night x 7 nights in a week = 21 hours ~ 3 nights sleep

And for those special nights:
4 Hours a night x 7 nights in a week = 28 hours ~ 4 nights sleep

These fun facts along with my decreasing my caffeine intake have resulted in the following:
  • Slow to respond,
  • Lots of yawns,
  • Unintelligent correspondence,
  • Continued cough,
  • Lots of typos,
  • and on-going forgetfulness
So in case you were wondering, I am a horrible friend right now, but I appreciate all of the friends who are patient and understanding through this.

Now what was I doing again?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Muna Is Home!!!

I can't post her picture, but Isaac's crazy roommate Muna is home now!!!  It's so awesome to see how quickly these children are going home and what loving families they are going to!  What a great way to start Thanksgiving week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Iris...The Complete Story

Some people ask us why we chose to adopt internationally, and while there are a variety of reasons why, one of the reasons we chose not to adopt through the US foster care system, is because of the number of children who cannot be adopted through the US foster care system.  Their lives are put on hold, because their parents, while not able to take care of them now, hope to someday be able to.  While it is important for these children to have families, we felt God calling us to adopt a child, and not be in a transitional phase.

Well, we found out that this transitional phase is a lot larger of a problem in Ethiopia.  In the orphanage Isaac was in, there are EIGHT, children who cannot be adopted, because their birth parents will not relinquish them. 

One of those children is Iris.  So Iris' status can be changed, but only by her biological Father. What we would pray is that her biological Father will overcome the financial, physical, medical or whatever battles that face him and don't allow him to care for her now, and be able to bring her back into their family, or if this is not possible, for him to know this and allow her to be adopted.  Either way, our wish for her is a forever family.

But that's not the end of the story.  So with the water project in progress, recently learning of another child who got malaria while at the orphanage, and learning of the number of children who are living in this limbo status, we are asking God, Why did you put the little girl who loves zippers and velcro on our hearts?  What do you want us to do?  Is it to provide mosquito netting for all of the children there?  Are we to move forward to pay for a teacher for the children in the orphanage in this predicament?  Is is to commit daily prayer for them?  Is it more? Our prayer for us is discernment in figuring this out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scared the Poop Out of Him

I have heard people say "that scared the poop out of me" before, but yesterday, we witnessed this first hand with Isaac.

Sherman was at the top of the stairs and Isaac was telling him all sorts of things in Amharic.  Sherman seemed to understand completely (and here I thought Sherman was slow).  And then out of no where, Sherman went into protector mode and started barking and howling.

Isaac, who I had just checked his diaper, let out a howl and a little something else.

"Yes, I was so scared I pooped." ~ Isaac Hendrickson
So the point of this post, the saying is a true story. ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome to Our Dinner Table.

Verified. No male patterned baldness at age 5.
Kevin predicted Isaac's male pattern baldness and Isaac thought it was hilarious.  Dane then told Kevin about how he doesn't want to loose his hair because then he wouldn't be fancy, and then the bomb dropped.  Kevin asked if he was fancy, and as I cringed, I mean seriously cringed, Dane told Kevin, you are loosing your fanciness Dad.  Then Isaac spit his food out, which makes me almost throw up and we called it a meal.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Orphan + One Family + One Week =

A bigger family.
Isaac pointing out the health info on the Ethiopian box of childrens' cereal.

Mr. I can do it myself has started to be Mr. I need your help.  This is a pivotal point in adoption attachment and one where we have to be very careful.  He's still feeling out who his parents are and "who's in charge" but we had thought we would be waiting for weeks before Isaac would accept us as his family, so we are very happy with this transition so early.  This success has primarily done with sequestering.

As much fun as it isn't, this short term sequestering him provides:
  • Stability.  He's so used to people coming in and out and nothing being permanent.  By keeping all of the key players in his life the same in the same place, this provides the stability he hasn't experienced before.
  • Lack of non-family stimulus.  Everything that Isaac does is new to him.  Whether it's opening a fridge and seeing food in new places, or even new foods, driving in a car in a car seat that doesn't beep at everything and slam on the breaks or swerve. Elevators.  Escalators. Stores. Cold. Toys. People. Everything.  If he gets to much stimulus, he falls apart, starts hitting, yelling, trying to bite, etc.  This is a sign that he no longer feels safe and secure, so when we start to see this, we know it's time to pull back the reigns.  By making family the familiar, this means he will go to family when he needs comfort today, tomorrow and forever.  Kind of a big deal.
  • Confirmation he is no longer in an orphanage.  The more children he sees at one time, the more it brings back the orphanage feelings and behaviors.  We've seen it happen a few times when we have too many toys out or when it gets too loud.  When he goes into this mode, he starts zoning out, getting angry and possessive.  Pulling out of this is getting gradually easier, but it's not a picnic.
  • A better relationship with Dane.  When Dane and Isaac are alone, Isaac has to chose Dane as his playmate, so Dane is not having to compete with other kids for Isaac's attention.  This means that Dane feels more important and he responds as the super-hero big brother rather than a minimized child.
  • Much needed time for adjustments.  Adding a toddler into your household is a challenge, I'm not going to lie.  Luckily for us, he likes to pick up small items on the ground bring them to us and tell us they are "ca ca" and hand them over, so we are doing pretty well with that.  The tantrums, well those are not a picnic.  We have figured out how to prevent and calm the tantrums, but when we make a mistake and do something that a normal toddler would get mad and then move on, but Isaac decides it's the end of the world, well those are the times we struggle with.
  • A non-stop food supply.  So if Dane is a good eater, then Isaac is an excellent eater.  We kind of wonder if once the parasite(s) clear if his eating will be more normal, or if his eating constantly is an orphanage supply-type issue.  He has turned his nose up to a few things, so we think he might be making up for lost time.  But seriously, he eats nonstop.
  • A healthy environment.  Until we get all of the medical tests back and prescriptions completed, we are going to try to keep him home.  No need to risk passing any of the bugs he brought with him along to anyone else.  We think he is now "clean" but until we have confirmation, we just don't want to risk this.  (Although, we might start getting commissions from Huggies and/or Pampers if we do...Maybe I need to think of this from a different light).
So, Isaac's progress has been significant, Dane's progress also significant.  Mom and Dad are tired, but doing well.  I'm pretty sure that each struggle we have now is one we won't have to hurdle as Isaac grows older, so we will just roll with the punches.

We have decided to advocate for Iris, which means we are trying to find out any way to overcome her current status and if we can't, find out how we can make a long term impact on her life (including making sure the clean water source is installed ASAP at the orphanage).  It's taken a bit more time to get information on the next steps, but it allows us more time to pray for discernment. With 150 million orphans worldwide, we hope that there will be more advocates, as Iris is not the only one in a bad predicament.

Busy, but life changing week.  Wonder what this week will bring?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mommy's Little Biohazard

Being the germ freak that I am, Isaac has been handled with "kid gloves" or "biohazard gloves" or what have you since we first met him in August.  We don't share drinks, we don't share food, we keep everything seperate.
"Want some snacks from my bowl Mom?"  "No, no I don't."

Now I feel justified, Mommy's cute little biohazard has 3 issues and there are still more tests pending:
  • He has already HAD Hepititis A.  He no longer has it, but he probably had it when we were there in July/August.  He has some high liver readings, but they will retest for his 2 year old well baby appointment.  No more Hep A vaccines required, he got the immunity the hard way.
  • He has Giardia.  No wonder we have been going through diapers like they are going out of style.  Rx to start tomorrow, as I am sure you can imagine it is not common here, so the pharmacy is having to go through some extra steps to get it on hand.
  • Ear/Sinus infection - Amoxicillin to the rescue.  Except I can't have it exposed to my skin without risk of another anaphalactic reaction, so this is 100% Kevin's job.
The best news is that good hand-washing and access to clean water sources are the best way to prevent these diseases, so there is really no reason we have to worry about it spreading.  We feel like it is just another reason that putting in the clean water source is so important.  We may be looking at what we can to do bolster the clean water supply at the foster home too.

Even better, our insurance has decided to cover him, which on Monday was in question.  I guess my knowing all of the laws and quoting them or asking if they needed to speak with our attorney paid off.

Dane's still the world's best big brother!  He is helping Isaac with everything that he needs help with and being so kind and loving.  Not that he doesn't get upset if Isaac takes his toy or gets something he shouldn't have.  It's almost like they have been living together since Isaac was born.

The county health department has called twice this week, and who's to say what tomorrow and next week will bring. And since all of his records have his name recorded as it is spelled in Ethiopia, I am enjoying hearing all the different ways to butcher it.  Is Y-is-a-Q's mom there?  ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Heart is Broken

While I was in Ethiopia, I asked God to speak to me and to allow my heart of be broken for what breaks his. To clarify how He would ask me to live my life in love.  Well, my prayers were answered, and I am so sad to report why.

Remember, the little girl who loves zippers?  This one who absolutely loved Kevin, called us Mommy and Daddy and hopped in the van to come home with us? Iris?

Upon arriving at the foster home, I looked for her, as we had been told her parents were arriving the week after us, so she should be there.  I asked, I couldn't wait to give her this special gift I brought for her...A jacket with a ton of zippers.

Well, when she wasn't there, I asked everyone, and I mean everyone where she was and what happened to her, was she already home, at the Mati Orphanage still?  Where was she?

I was told that her parents came, but left and would not be adopting her.  So I immediately began to pray and try to get a hold of Kevin. (Yes Laura, this was one of my SOS messages). When I got a hold of Kevin, we immediately agreed and wanted to know how we could add her to our family and if I needed to stay longer to start the process I would.  They told me that as we had both already met her, they could proceed without me being present, so I was free to go home and proceed from the US.

So after a week of waiting, and Kevin and I wondering about what the next few months would look like we found out today, she is unadoptable.

Yes Lord, my heart is broken.  Without a miracle, that little girl four-year-old girl, will live her life in an institution.

Please pray for Iris that God will be her comforter and her deliverer, that whatever has caused this status will be lifted and removed.  And please pray that the special gift I sent back with the orphanage director for her can remain hers for a while that that the other children will not take it from her.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Road Home and the Good Samaritans

Starting at 5PM Ethiopian time (3AM PST) on Thursday, October 27th, Isaac and I began our journey home.  We arrived at 6PM PST on Friday, October 28th.

This was two days early because for some wonderful reason, his Visa was issued a day early, the appointments I had made were all on on the Wednesday and there were seats available on all of the flights home on Thursday.  Friday's Delta doesn't offer flights out of Addis, so I was thankful we were able to leave on Thursday!  Also, this gave us two extra days at home with Daddy and Dane before we had to start the medical appointments and then Daddy is only able to take three days off, so that gives us five days as a family!

One of the things I am really not good at is asking for help.  I generally think I can do everything myself.  So this trip was a bit of a social experiment, because I chose to say yes to ANY offer of help that was made.

So I thought I would make a list of the "Good Samaritans" along the way:
  • Mike and Lauren for letting me eat meals with them in Ethiopia,
  • Hareq for shopping for me, taking care of me, and helping me make decisions on the gifts when we didn't have enough for everyone,
  • Mr. Allemu, our attorney, who made sure that all of my requests were met, and that our safety was insured,
  • Tefasa, Mr. Allemu's assistant, for driving us anywhere and everywhere we needed and keeping us secure,
  • Firegent for making sure I had clean clothes, cleaning my room and the guest house and helping Isaac feel more comfortable as he transitioned to me.
  • Regatu for being like a Mom and making sure I got a good healthy breakfast to start the day,
  • Sister B for helping Isaac and I make connections and allowing me to explain how to use the medicines I brought, as well as the medicines she already had,
  • All of the caregivers at the foster home, the security guards, the servers at the restaurants, and the store owners who helped me select items for Isaac to remember his homeland,
  • The KLM agent at the Hilton who helped me move our flights and got us great seats!
  • The gentleman who helped me with my luggage, finding me a seat while I waited for the check in line, getting me to the front of the check in line, and kept telling Isaac everything was okay in Amharic,
  • The customs officials in Ethiopia for letting me go to the front of the line because Isaac is not a huge fan of strollers,
  • The bathroom attendant in Addis for holding Isaac while I went to the bathroom (those stalls are seriously small) and this was seriously the most nerve wrecking part.  It proved to me that praying while peeing is okay,
  • The security officer for helping me through the gate security early,
  • The boarding agent who helped me to my seat on my flight from Addis to Amsterdam,
  • The gentlemen who sat next to me on the flight from Addis to Amsterdam who helped me with everything and didn't complain that a person in the middle seat had a child in her lap,
  • The flight attendant from Addis to Amsterdam that got Isaac a bassinet and let him sleep in it on the floor.
  • Isaac for not crying on this flight, at all.
  • The gate agents who helped me off the flight and helped me figure out the gate for our next flight was across the hall and where we could get a bite to eat,
  • The Amsterdam restaurant server who brought me our food and drinks, even though that wasn't the norm and she was really busy, 
  • The AMS to SEA gate agents that let us through security and board early,
  • The Ethiopian/US Citizen who helped explain to Isaac what was happening on this flight while in the boarding area,
  • The next Ethiopian/US Citizen we met who sat next to us on the plane.  He works for a company I work with and we were able to chat about the oil industry a bit.  Then anything and everything he could do to help with Isaac, he was on it.  For the 10 hour flight.  He's a saint.
  • The funny immigration officer in Seattle who made the two hour wait less painful with his wit, eventually making fun of a grown man who didn't want to wait and be patient telling him that Isaac was more of a man than him.  It probably sounds awful, but it was actually pretty funny.  The guy was being a baby.
  • The customs agent who decided that we didn't need to go through an additional search.  Not that he would have found anything, but we were tired and hungry and it must have shown.
  • The Horizon flight attendants for helping us out to the plane in Seattle, then back in, then back out.  And then when there were four people in the same seat as us, they fixed it and made it so that Isaac and I didn't have to move. Again.
  • The nice lady next to me for taking all of my luggage while I carried Isaac to his Daddy and brother.
  • For Kevin and Dane being right there waiting for us past security,
  • For PaPa Jerry to be there to take pictures when we arrived,
  • For the crowd of people with signs and there to welcome us.
  • And the many, many people who prayed for up to and through this journey.
It's hard to explain how each and everyone of these people made this trip happen, but while I don't know a lot of your names, thank you!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's the Embassy Like You Ask???

It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right...
"Let's do the time warp again."
Time Warp Video...

No, the US Embassy is actually very nice and probably one of the newer buildings here.  It's illegal to take photos, so just close your eyes imagine a nice government building.

Now, look up to the TV monitor in the DMV style seating area and see the movie "Rocky Horror Picture Show." Now try explaining this movie to your attorney and his assistant while holding a sleeping child when he has no cultural reference.

Yes, that is how I spent part of my afternoon.

And in case you were wondering, US Citizens get priority admittance, so while I felt like a schmuck cutting in front of 200 people, I didn't feel bad enough to go to the end of the line.

Current status - Awaiting Isaac's Visa.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

48 Hours - Ethiopian Style

In the last 48 hours, I have (in the following order):
  • Met and befriended a National Geographic photographer (or maybe he has befriended me),
  • Flown over 10,000 miles,
  • Learned some interesting tidbits about Ethiopian politics,
  • Learned how to put on flip flops while wearing socks (it's about force and determination),
  • Unpacked and repacked 4 suitcases,
  • Listened to beautiful music from a local mosque and orthodox church, at the same time, 
  • Reunited with our son Isaac who was warm with welcomes and ready for me!
  • Fed Isaac for the first time!  And it was to the point where he was telling me "more, more" (when before he would look at us like we are crazy to think he would ever eat with us),
We like the fishes 'cuz they're so delicious...

  • Was asked by a woman living on the streets to take her children please (in English, probably the only English she knows),
  • Seen the family from Wisconsin who had a very sick four month old in the hospital when we left trip.  I am happy to say have two healthy children and are here to take home them home! (I'm pretty sure our cases got grouped with theirs and that is why our paperwork moved extraordinarily quick).
  • Took and sent pictures of the children from the foster home who's parents we met when we were here last time.  Their camera has been broken, and as I found out today, Isaac broke it, so they should be better off tomorrow since I have a new camera for them!
  • Spoke with Kevin and Dane and Dane told me he wishes he could jump far enough to get over here to give me a biiiiiggggg hug!

So let's just say it's been an emotional two days, but I am happy to have been blessed with them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

SOS (EEEA) Commence...

After a brief stop in Seattle, it's almost time to head to the airport and get rolling.  This week was VERY busy, including trying to get the last minute items complete and finishing up work projects, house projects and some good family bonding before our entire world changes.  Sorry for the lack of sharing this part of the journey.  Two almost overnighters catching up on work really made it so that I didn't get around to blogging...

We received a wonderful anonymous card in the mail with a $500 check.  I opened it a couple hours after some not so nice things were said/done to me, and I got pretty choked up.  I stand in awe to think of how awesome this person is and how God has blessed us by their presence and at just the right time.  The day before I left.  Since the garage sale we have had several donations that have now made it so the water project will move forward.  I will meet with the attorney's in Addis Ababa and discuss what the best way to handle it.  Clean water seems so simple here, but it's really not across the rest of the world.  We buy water out of bottles, they get water out of contaminated lakes, rivers or non-sterilized rain catcher tanks.  Given the drought in Northern Africa right now, the rain catchers are not able to be used as much, so this leads to finding other sources of water, which leads to more illnesses.  We are so blessed to have the "guarantee" that water will come out of the faucet when we turn or pull up the handle and the rarity that that water will contain a parasite, etc.

All of the support (financially, emotionally, timewise, etc.) that you have provided is helping us to help others, which is what it's all about right?  We aren't here on this planet to become self absorbed and self loathing, but to be a blessing to others.  (Yes, I claim Abraham's promise!)  We feel to blessed to have this opportunity and to be getting Isaac so much sooner than we expected!

So what we would ask for you to keep in your thoughts and prayers are:
  • Dane to know he is loved through this transition and for him to not feel marginalized,
  • Isaac to be able the grieve the losses he is about to experience, but to embrace the love he is about to encounter,
  • For my safety and health during the trip and when I return,
  • For Kevin and Dane to get alone wonderfully and be prepared for our return,
  • For my trip to be fruitful and for Isaac and I to bond, specifically for him to trust me to eat and care for him, and
  • For God to reveal himself to us through the next stages of this process.
Again, thank you all.  I can't even explain the love and support we feel.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5...4...Tomorrow is 3...

Wow, the countdown is on!

Lots accomplished this weekend!
  • Drop of books at The Book Parlor, and say hello to Casey!
  • Opened up the secret entrance into the boys room (the front closet opens to their closet and then into their room.  So the "passageway" is open!
  • Move the furniture around so that Isaac has his own dresser.
  • Straightened up the laundry room
  • Straightened up the guest bedroom and went through the toys and brought a bunch into the playroom!
  • Shopping for the items on "the" list
  • Weekly E-Mealz shopping trip
  • More shopping to get {almost} the last items on the list
  • New pants for Dane, that boy just keeps growing!
  • Date Night
  • Celebrate Uncle Mark's debut on the front page of the local paper!
  • Consolidating our clothes into one closet
  • Moving Patty's clothes back to the other closet because the bar in our master bedroom broke
  • A trip to Goodwill with a truck full of donations
  • Clean the deck
  • Clean the garage
  • Decide on gifts for the caregivers, Necklaces from StrangeFire Studios, made by the aunties!!!
  • Take the last items from the garage sale (wine glasses) to the neighbors, as they had asked for them
  • And the normal...Dishes, Laundry, Family Time, Reading, Cooking, Cleaning...

Dane had an ultra exciting weekend at Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan's, staying the night Saturday night and then on Sunday going with all of the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa on a train ride to Metalline Falls. He was so tired, but he still helped with the baby proofing and putting a way of a few last items.

The last "big" project left is  cleaning my office. Well that and finishing up packing.  I'm indecisive on which bags to take, so until that is decided, I am on hold.  You would think with all of the traveling I do, this would be just a little more work, but as it turns out, it's WAAAAYYYY more work. 

With three days left, I am confident that all will be completed at home.  This week, well let's just say the fire is going to be turned up at work...Pray for me to keep me work-life balance fair for all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

T-minus 6 Days and Counting

Today was crazy.  But Awesome.
  • Work, lots of work, feeling the intensity of being gone for my leave on short notice is going to do...starting to wish I was a little less important at work.
  • Got my nails done.  Very girly thing, but for whatever reason having shiny toes makes me smile.  Hopefully it entertains toddlers for about 30 hours straight. ;)
  • Took Dane to dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant in town, Queen of Sheba.  The gal who owns it was extremely gracious and we talked about things I should buy and bring back for the little man.  She is from Awassa, which is a little further out than the orphanage Isaac was at.  She was surprised and happy to hear of the orphanage in this area!
  • Got the Chicco Stoller in the mail and tried it out.  Yes, in fact, this is the best stroller I have ever and/or will ever touch.  A must have for those who are traveling with toddlers.
  • Called Delta because they were supposed to issue paper tickets for Isaac and I don't have them.  Well, as it turns out, they can't issue one way paper tickets in the US for international travel TO the US for a person traveling on a non-US Passport unless I pay for roundtrip tickets (fun fact that I am sure I will use every day from here forward, lol!).  Then when I get home and he gets a US Birth Certificate, we get a refund for more than the difference of the ticket prices.  Go figure.  As a result, they are upgrading me and we are saving more than $300.  Yeah, I could stand to do this again.  My only "cost" is needing to arrive to the airport 15 minutes early to be sure I have time to pay for the tickets and the time I spent on the phone.
  • Found out the Seattle airport has a storage company that will hold baggage for a small fee.  For whatever reason, it was $400 cheaper for me to fly from Spokane to Seattle on Thursday and Seattle to Addis on Friday/Saturday.  So, I have to check my luggage out and then back in.  This was very time intensive in Amsterdam last time, so this way, I pickup my luggage, pay ~$15, pick it up in the AM and check it back in.  This will allow me to take the train to my brother and his girlfriend's apartment in Seattle and not have to "lug" all of that luggage around.  Most of it is return supplies for Isaac and donations for the orphanage and foster home, so I won't need it while I am there anyhow.
  • Beginnings of packing...So last time I had wanted to be very meticulous about what was packed where, etc. etc.  But it ended up Kevin did most of that packing, so it was all put in the bag, but not very organized.  I took the time to pack Isaac's items and to get the donation items together.  Let's just say I am very happy with the Rick Steve's travel cubes. :)
  • And then there was the list of items that need to be purchased.  Thank heavens it is much shorter this time!  Well that list is now ready to roll, and I'm just waiting to take action!  Dane and I have a shopping date early tomorrow AM.
  • Kevin prepared for the class he is giving the x-ray techs at work tomorrow AM.  It's something they only trust him to do and it saves the company money.  I'm a little bummed that one of the three times a year fell on our last Saturday as a family of 3, but I'll get some Dane time, so it'll be good!
  • Add to that spending quality time with the boys, and today is pretty well AWESOME!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

T-Minus One Week...

A church meeting tonight
Go through open work projects
Keep going through checklist, open items and more
Trying to get lots of sleep
Trying not to stress
Spending lots of time in prayer
Spending as much time with big brother (Dane) as possible
And ready to begin S.O.S.E.E.A.A.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend, Scmeekend

Scary Pumpkin Skeleton, held by World Renowned Wrestler Dane Michael Hendrickson
The accomplishments over the weekend were minimal compared to the rest of the week, but it's strongly outweighed by Patty's very much needed 20 hour nap!
But we were able to:
  • Get both vehicles back in the garage (just in time for it to start freezing here!),
  • Take care of some ministry work at church,
  • Contact some grandparents who aren't electronically connected to let them know we are going to get Isaac,
  • Put the door stop back on the front door that has been broken since 2007!!!
  • Talk to another adoptive family that is looking at going with the same agency and had some questions on the process and how things worked.
  • And best of all, spend some quality time together!
 And then today, Patty went to the doctor and got clearance to fly on the 20th, along with six prescriptions. A trip to the pharmacy, well actually two that were funnier than snot (yes, snot).  And some more work accomplishments.

This next weekend Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan will take Dane overnight and then Grandma will take Dane on a train ride in the morning and then come back and exhaust us with all of his exciting news of the weekend.  And of course, we will get to spend some time together without the kiddo which will be a nice break from Phineas and Ferb (although lately, I've been turning it to PnF when I'm all alone, so I guess there's a risk we might be watching it then).

I'm not counting the days until I leave, but instead the days until we come home, so we are 20 days from Isaac's gotcha day, the day he becomes a US Citizen, the day we have all been waiting for.  I feel like I need an "American"playlist on the iPod to play for him as we are walking through the customs gate in Seattle, as I am sure the person there will probably not give him the "Welcome to the USA" that Mommy would want for him.  And if he's crying too loud, then I can listen to it and pretend he's enjoying it too. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy as a Beaver...Or a Crocodile as Dane Likes to Say

More and More and More....That's what it feels like:
  • New Mirror for the F150, oil change and troubleshooting on issue
  • Made a GREAT stew!  Everyone ate it without complaint!
  • Lots more work-work accomplished and a big project is winding down!
  • Kevin had 2x as many patients as a normally busy day, 4 of them new patients!
  • Made a fun project with Dane that is a game too.  Seems kinda like he makes up the rules as he goes, but that's okay.  It's fun.
  • Purchase the stroller and final decor (including bedding) for they boys' bedroom (this was painful, as I had to make sure I got the best deal on everything, and probably spent 10 hours over the last two weeks on searching upon searching)
  • The boys put the train set back together in the playroom.
  • Taught Dane some things you can and can't do with little brothers.  (Yes to putting weird socks on them, no to spitting in their eyes - You're welcome Paul) ;)
  • Camera for the Foster Home arrived!
  • Laundry supplies arrived!
  • Bought supplies for orphanage at Spokane Discount.
  • And re-prioritized list of things to do before we leave.
  • I'm working on ordering photos to put in the frames we have had for a while and finish up some decor around the house I have bought, but never put up. 
Tomorrow's agenda includes some big items on the list, and we hope to take Dane to eat at the local Ethiopian Restaurant and explain to him how the food tastes different and how this will be what Isaac is used to and what all of our food will seem like to him (strange, flavorful, and sometimes hurt a boys tummy).

I'm thinking it will seem like a million times busier every day with two busy little boys, but I can't wait!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nesting, eh?

It feels like I am nesting right now...So many things on my mind to be done, this deadline quickly approaching (two weeks exactly until I take off), and accomplishing a ton!

It's 51 degrees here today and 72 in Addis.  I'm thinking Isaac's going to need a coat right away!

Today's list, for your viewing pleasure:
  • Car's 36k service + battery check + oil change + alignment = good to go!
  • Major progress at work!
  • Some reports for church complete,
  • Go through and sort ALL of the kids clothes, shoes, etc. downstairs and FOUND...
  • Halloween costumes, shoes, blankets for the orphanage, hats, bottles, toys,
  • And lots and lots of memories thinking of Dane wearing those clothes, oh man...
  • And the best part, is that they are now all organized by size, in bins, with the smallest on top and largest on bottom, so when we need them it should be a quick change out!  I thought I had done this when I put them away, but it appears that I may have been really tired when I put his clothes away!
So Isaac's first full day in the US, he will either be a bumble bee or cookie monster...just depends on his size. :)

It's beginning to look a lot like October.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today's Accomplishments

  • Clean my work desk
  • Get the truck recall taken care of (have to return for the mirror, boo-hiss)
  • Check in with the Adoption Agency
  • Get an update on Isaac's health
  • Mail packages with pictures to Grandmas
  • Pull out 18 month toys from the basement
  • Look/find shoes and coat for Isaac in our basement.
I also successfully made dinner, went to Egger's for meat, finished two books, worked, breathed, saved Dane from his brilliant idea of putting soap in his eyes, cleaned the kitchen and didn't have any panic attacks.  Yes, that is success!!!

Yesterday's Accomplishments :)

  • Dane's annual pediatric appointment
  • Isaac's first pediatric appointment
  • Isaac's first dental appointment
  • My hair cut appointment
  • Truck recall/oil change/mirror replacement appointment
  • Car <36k appointment - Goodbye warranty. :(
Used Carter's website to determine the clothing size Isaac is wearing
Went through 18 months clothes and pulled out the clothes to take there
Updated list of items to take
Put together packages to mail out
Sent the list of requests to the adoption agency for the trip, and
Had a margarita to celebrate the accomplishments of the day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Phineas and Ferb

Things done today, outside of work, meetings, dinner, breakfast, breathing and showering:
  • Make a list of things to do and prioritize
  • Power of Attorney written, copies made - Check
  • Schedule air duct cleaning - Check
  • Review documents to take to Ethiopia - Check
  • Freak out (a little more than a little) - Check
  • Family Fun Time - Check
 We just figured out how we are going to get everything done in time...
"So stick with us, 'cuz Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Special Operation Swift Espresso Eclipse Extraction Addition

We got THE call, we can now go pick up Isaac!!!!

I was reading a blog of another couple who adopted from the same foster home and they started naming each step toward bringing their boys home in terms of special operations, so I decided I would hop on that bandwagon.  It often seems like a special operation with all of the planning, paperwork, sign off, coordination, etc.!!!  Each of the names of the operation were used to describe real special ops involving Ethiopia over the last fifty years by the US and/or the UN.

A few weeks ago in church, we were taking about what types of jobs people are "called" to vs. getting a job etc.

So when we "got THE call" I had to laugh a bit.  We are still ironing out the details, but Special Operation Swift Espresso Eclipse Extraction Addition (SOSEEEA for short) is in full planning mode.

Isaac will be home in time for the next widely celebrated holiday in the US.  In fact, his first full day in the US will be Halloween.  Hopefully we don't have any scarey trick or treaters.

We can't explain how or why, but the Embassy completed their investigation approximately 5 1/2 months early.  No one here is complaining, in fact, we are pretty ecstatic.  But of course, that will make for a very busy next 2 1/2 weeks as we prepare.  We almost have the boys' rooms ready to go, the fridge is cleaned, we have begun shopping for the items the foster home and orphanage have put on the list as needed, so the only thing we might be behind on is sleep.

Anyhow, thought we should share the good news!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drumroll Please....

We are happy to announce that the grand total raised by the garage sale is....wait, have you ever wondered what a house full of stuff looks like, how about a garage, or a living room, or a bedroom, or a front yard?  Well...Today is your lucky day!
Every surface of our house was covered.

And then we stacked on top of that.

Then we took bookcases out of our basement and put them in the garage to, you guessed it, stack more stuff.

Then we took it out into the driveway

Further into the driveway

Into the yard and into the street

Into the neighbors' yards

And pretty much let it take over our neighborhood!

So what does all of this look like in cash form????


Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm sticking with the last post, no news is good news...Ignorance can sometimes be bliss...

We just got word from the Embassy, they have decided to open up further investigation, which is apparently becoming the norm. :(  Looks like we could be waiting longer than we had hoped and expected.

Please pray for Isaac's cough to get better so he will not need to go into isolation and for the Embassy to process his case and find no errors. Yeah, and let's pray for our family to be patient as we wait through this process.  It's been exponentially harder knowing he's not feeling good.

Sorry to keep you waiting Isaac, but we promise it will be worth the wait.

No News is Good News

So we haven't heard any updates about Isaac's health, but that is good news, because other than the regular 7-10 updates, any other updates mean he has gotten worse and will be going to isolation.  So in this case, no news is good news.

Still no news from the embassy, but this is also good news, because right now it would mean they would want additional information from us.  I have no idea what part of our lives they are not aware of, except how many times a day we use the restroom {in case you don't understand this joke, it's about how much personal information you have to provide to complete strangers during the adoption process} so I am not sure what else they could ask us and have it be relevant to the adoption. ;)

Anyhow, I was reading a blog post from another family traveling home this week with children from Isaac's foster home and wanted to share what we could be looking forward to on the ride home...

"The journey home made the trip to Modor to destroy the ring look like a cake walk. We had our own tough little hobbits.  The boys were really strong."

While it sounds really difficult, we are looking forward to bringing our little "hobbit" home. ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Please Pray for Isaac

We just got word that our little man in Ethiopia is "ill" and is taking medicine.  Sometimes it's hard to translate the reports, so we called and have confirmed that he is not in isolation.  We pray that he does not need to go into isolation, as kids with all serious illnesses end up in isolation.  Chicken pox, Pneumonia, etc.  Which means he could get sicker.  Please pray that he gets better and this is just a result of something simple like a change in weather or something he will quick to recover from.

Thank you!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Been Crazy and I Love it!

So since we last posted, we have celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary, our nephew's first birthday, Dane's 5th birthday, Labor Day, a "Big Boy" Shower for Isaac, and been collecting and picking up items for the garage sale.  I (Patty) also did a quick run down to Portland for my last "girl-time" last weekend and had some R&R. :)

So what else have we been up to...collect and pick up, and pickup, sort, clean, collect, yes, that's what we have been doing!  We have collected items to date of over 35 families, our basement is the storage area for clothing and other "cloth" type items, our upstairs guest bedroom is where we have put the over-flow items that haven't been sorted yet, the basement guest bedroom is where we have been putting our items for months, the garage is stacked up, but sorted and organized, and we have a week and a half to go.  We have raised over $300 from items we have been able to sell on Craigslist, and just picked up some more items are going to be listing too!!!

This weekend we are going to {hopefully} finish sorting, price, make our last pickups, place our ads and get our "workforce" in place.

With all of this craziness, it's easy to see how we haven't posted lately, and we think it should help with our transition with Isaac, because we have about 6 weeks of things to catch up on after the garage sale, and who really knows what it will look like in a week and a half, but then after that the holiday season will start, so it looks to be non-stop until we begin 2012, but we wouldn't have it any other way!

If you have any items you want to donate or schedule a pickup, email us right away so we can get you on our schedule!  Pick ups are ending on 9/20 so we have time to sort, clean and price it all!

Thanks again for all of your support!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Fundraiser...In Awwww!!!!

So when Kevin and I decided to do the garage sale, we were hopeful it would be big, but didn't really know what to expect.  Since Saturday when we posted about it... 
  • We have four family donations in our house right now,
  • About five more to pick up this week, including two full loads in the truck tomorrow from one place.
  • Others who will have items before the 20th,
  • Fliers to hand out at garage sales this weekend are almost done.
  • Thank you post cards are designed and we hope to order tomorrow.
  • A strategy for item placement and pricing.
  • Collecting boxes and bags to move items and give to people we are selling to.
  • Volunteers to help with baked goods.
  • Some volunteers to help with pricing
  • Some volunteers to help with the day of.
  • And some volunteers to help organize ahead of time!
We filled up our room upstairs on the second day, and then Kevin cleaned the carpet in the basement and we have been sorting things, returning calls, scheduling pickups and checking prices on ebay.

I should have taken pictures, but in all of the excitement I forgot.  Anyhow, we are in awe of the generosity of others and really, one person started most of this.  A friend from Facebook called had us pick up some items, told someone else about what we are doing, who told someone else, who called and has the two truck loads for tomorrow, and then they told someone else, who has a bunch of furniture they were going to sell, but decided to help our cause, so more phone calls to return tomorrow.

So we have confirmation, that we need to do this fundraiser and we will be raising some serious money for it!  We are very excited at how excited all of you are and want to thank you again and again!  And please, keep those donations coming, if you don't want it anymore, we do!!!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fundraiser...And How You Can Help!

After much prayer and contemplation, Kevin and I have decided to do a fundraiser for the travel expenses back to Ethiopia.  This is totally out of our comfort zone and it's our first time at this rodeo...

But between the truck breaking, the window incident, Mr. Peabody's vet bills, the first trip costing twice as much as we planned (thank you fuel prices), the speed of the process (praise God!), the cost of travel shots/medicines, Dane's dental surgeries and eye therapies, my recent medical bills, etc. etc. etc. it's been a year of financial out pour. 

So we will be doing a Garage Sale.  As is typical Patty-style, we have started this a little later than we probably should have, but we are going to make the best of it and power through it!

We will hold it at our house, in the front yard, garage and backyard the weekend of September 23-24th.  We are shooting to raise the cost of the travel expenses for the second trip and anything we raise beyond that will go for the items needed by the Mati Orphanage in Ziway, Ethiopia that need to be purchased in-country.  Some of the things they needed that we would need to buy there are water container to filter rain water to clean water, printer/copier, laundry machine.

So, we are all in and here's what you can do to help:
  • Donations of used household items (no encyclopedias or hide-a-beds please, pretty much anything that Goodwill will take we will).  If you are willing and able to drop them off, we we love that, but if not, we will pick them up.
  • If you are at a garage sale, know someone who is having one, or having one yourself let them know we will take their "leftovers" same rules as above, on pickup and restrictions) and I can send you my phone number privately if you would like and I will be making fliers for this shortly. (If you are planning any big yard/estate sale shopping days, please let me know and I will give you fliers to drop off!)
  • Pricing, Cleaning and Organizing - We will be doing runs to houses and garage sales through the 20th of September, but we will need to have people check the incoming items for potential high value items on eBay and then pricing and cleaning items as they come in so that we can get top dollar without a bunch of left over items!
  • Setting up and tearing down on the sale day(s).  We will have the ability to do some pre-setup since we will be using our garage and our backyard, and we probably won't tear down at night.
  • Sign makers and posters!
  • Baked goods for the days of the sale - We will be selling drinks, snacks and probably some hot dogs too.  If you are a whiz at making treats, cookies, etc. or have a way with the BBQ, we would love your help as part of the fundraiser!
  • When it comes time for the Garage Sale - Tell all of your family and friends for us!
  • Pray for success of the event and to raise enough money for the trip expenses as well as the Mati Orphanage items!
A couple of disclosures: If the items donated are something the orphanage and/or foster home have requested, we will earmark those to go to Ethiopia (see 8/12 post for more details).  Next, at the end of the garage sale, we hope to send any leftover items on to another good cause, but it may not be adoption related if we do not find another family doing a garage sale as a fundraiser that is able to take the items.

And for reading this post, we will post the first ever picture on the blog of Dane's little brother, Isaac!  100% of your help on this will be to help him get home and to help his "classmates" from the orphanage in Ziway!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Girl Who Likes Zippers and Velcro (and shares Patty's Humor)

Many of you know that when Kevin and I arrived in Addis, there was some confusion and our little man had not been brought up into the city yet.  This was actually an answer to prayer because we hadn't fully decided if we would go down to the area he had been living or not, and this confirmed, we had to go to pick him up. 

It turned out to be a terrifying drive, but a totally enriching experience.  The caregivers were awesome, we were able to take them much needed supplies and the children were just awesome.  Let me say that again, the children were AWESOME!  Here's a sign that they made that we think shows why:

When we arrived it looked like a relaxing day were the kids were just being kids, and as soon as they saw the van, it was time to sing and rejoice and be excited, for someone's Mommy and Daddy had arrived.

Now remember we were traveling with two guards and a translator, so I jokingly called it our "entourage." The children started singing about Isaac's Mommy and Daddy along with the caregivers.  (Isaac's name is pronounced e-sock in Ahmaric) so if I ever call him that, it's because that is what we were calling him there.

And then...The person who looked just like the photos we had received...arrived...wearing a bright pink shirt with ruffles, light blue shoes, some brown pants with a pink stripe and a TERRIFIED look.

They tried to hand him to Kevin, and you would have thought we were hyenas.  Now, one thing about me, is that I am the queen of inappropriate giggles and you guessed it, I started laughing.  Hysterically.  How ironic that we should travel 20,000 miles and a terrifying drive that we felt was miraculous to live through, and then the main man, the person we traveled to see was NOT happy to see us.  And then there was a little girl who shared my humor.  Here name is spelled different, but let's just call her Iris.  A beauty, 3-5 years old with a rich and cheerful laugh.  I had a friend!

Now, in the many books we have read about adoption and "attachment" we knew Isaac's reaction was a good sign, because it means he has built healthy relationships with his caregivers and he wasn't willing to run up to just anyone.  It took about two hours and some serious patience, and then he decided to warm up to Kevin.  And then we went through a much shorter process, but an upsetting process of him transferring to me.  We learned that he really liked to be talked to and point out things in the courtyard (what little guy doesn't like that kind of attention?).

He decided to get down and take us on a tour of the place.  It was actually pretty fun.  Especially to know his favorite place is where all of the boys go to the bathroom (early potty-trainer I hope!).

So then the chorus of Isaac's Momma and Isaac's Ba Ba (Daddy) started again and the children all sang and then they pulled the children and caregivers away and the orphanage director arrived.  Some how the little girl who shared my humor stayed and hung out with us, and she and Kevin started playing a game.  We were wearing REI/The North Face, clothes with a ton of velcro and zippers and she would unzip or unvelcro a pocket and then giggle and let Kevin figure out which pocket.  I got some gorgeous pictures of her and Kevin and just her. I will never be able to post these, but hopefully I can share these with people in person.

So in the change of surroundings they started just calling us Momma and Ba Ba.  And little Iris got confused.  She thought we were her parents.  Oh my goodness, it was heart wrenching, and how do you respond to an orphan who thinks you are her parents?  I started correcting her when she called us that and telling her we were Isaac's parents, but I was fighting back the tears.

So we met with the orphanage director, went through Isaac's records and then it was time for us to head back to the city and take Isaac to the Foster Home. I asked if Iris had parents and with the language barrier I got a mixed answer.  The good byes for the caregivers, nurses and orphanage director were very emotional and very difficult.  Seeing how much they cared for Isaac, it felt like we were doing the wrong thing. But knowing they were at their capacity and there were many children in the area who were waiting to be placed there, everyone knew this was the right decision, just a tough one to follow through on.  Oh, but parenting is really about the follow through, right?

I might add that our guards played with the other children and turned from tough guys into teddy bears about two minutes after we arrived.  But when it was time to go, the tough guys showed up again.  And, one slight problem, Iris jumped in the van and was ready to go with us.

I think I cried for the first half of our trip as I remember seeing the caregivers pulling her out of the van screaming for her Momma and Ba Ba.  Isaac pretty much slept in Kevin's arms the whole time, and Kevin was tense and freaked out by the driving.  I was just feeling the cause of the orphan like never before.

So immediately after we dropped Isaac off at the foster home it started with the massive rains and I'm not really sure the driver could see two feet in front of the van.  In the process of getting back into the van, I cut my leg on a rusty bar (thank you tetanus shot) because I couldn't even see two feet in front of me (and according to Kevin I am a class A klutz).

We got back to the guest house and shared about our day with our fellow guests, and that night we discussed what had happened with Iris.  We both knew that God had presented us with this situation in order for us to respond.  And respond we did.  We asked every person with the agency and the orphanage if she had parents.  We got mixed answers, and the day we returned to the US, we called our agency and asked about her status.

And as far as attaching with Isaac, it got better each day we were there.  I'm sure I'll post more details about that later.

Yesterday, we found out that Iris has parents, and they came in right after us and moved her to the Foster Home, so we may see her again!  Praise God! 

We feel like God presented us with the option to test us and see if we were willing to put our plans on hold for what He would have for us.  We feel like this situation confirms our call to the cause of the orphans.  We are not sure what this looks like in the long term, but we know that God knew we were Isaac's parents long before anyone else did.  We know that there are millions of children without parents worldwide and we know that God has given us a glimpse into what needs there are.  According to the Ethiopian Program director there, he said that International Adoption doesn't even address the increased pace of needs in their country.  There needs to be a long term solution, but as of right now, no one has that solution.

And we know that "The Girl Who Likes Zippers and Velcro" will not fall far from our hearts.

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” ~Mother Teresa

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Asked, I'm Telling...Donations for the Orphanages

So many people have asked what kind of items they are needing at the orphanages, so these are the items they told me.  Keep in mind that some of these items cannot be brought into Ethiopia, so we would have to buy them there, and some we are still checking on exact details and prices, these are marked with an *:

{Remote} Orphanage
Clothe Diapers
Children's Blankets
Clothe Diaper Covers
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best)
*3000 or 5000 liter water tank, to capture rain water and purify into drinking water
*Computer Printer
*Photocopier (3 way printer would work)
*4WD Car
(They also do work for HIV/AIDS education there, which is why the printer and copier are so important.  We are trying to find out if there are any specific needs for the HIV/AIDS portion of their work).

Foster Home in Addis
Clothe Diapers
Clothe Diaper Covers
Slip on Shoes for women and children
Children's Blankets
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best) 

Guest House for Foster Home
Wired Mouse for Computer
Working phone (not remote, just plug in wall type with large numbers)
Computer Printer/Copier
Reusable Grocery Bags (Costco type would be best) 
Small toys that can be sanitized with bleach and water
Color Crayons and Paper/Color Books

Now we are not 100% sure how many bags or how much room we will have to take things this time, but we will prioritize the items based on the essential needs, which are listed here. Toys will be given the lowest priority on these lists and most likely, Kevin and I will buy a few things to leave there based on the room available. If there are any specific items you have and want to check on feel free to ask.

I have made contact with a person at each of these places and right before leaving, we will get an updated list and let you know too.


It's the {Not So} Small Things

While we were in Ethiopia we obviously saw some significant differences in our ways of living.

For one, they walked everywhere or took a "bus" that was a blue and white VW van from the 70's and 80's and played, how many people can you fit in this bus?  It was a 11 passenger vehicle on a good day and when it was raining once, I counted over 20 in one bus!!!  Yes, keep up the good work STA!!!  We like your A/C comfy seated limousines aka buses!!!  Definitely a {not so} small thing!
Street Full of Buses and Houses and Shops in the Background

When we rode down to Ziway and back, we rode in one of these vans.  The two of us, two guards and a translator/guide. All along the way people would try to get on our bus (as there was no way to mark it as charted), because it had quite a few less people than any of the other buses.  I was instructed to keep my electronics (read camera) low profile and if we came to a stop or slowed down to drop it out of site so as not to encourage anyone to come near the bus.  Right now, on the US State Department warnings, taxi's are seen as the biggest threat in Ethiopia.  So our guards would call anyone away from the van, or if they needed to come near it, they would watch them intently.  It was the same with our taxi-cab in the city.  They actually left the van running while they fueled it, which I am sure is dangerous, but they didn't want to make us vulnerable.  Hey, potAto, potaaato.  I guess that's something I take for granted each day.  When I park at the grocery store, the mall, or the open air market, I can leave my vehicle and lock it, and unless I am on a movie set, there's not going to be anything planted on my vehicle to endanger me.  Yeah, someone might break in and steal something, but it's a pretty remote chance. A {not so} small blessing.

It was amazing to see how the farmers were using Ox and Bulls to plow their fields, how they were using donkeys and horses to pull carts, how children four and up were herding animals right alongside the road.  It really looked like pictures I have seen of in US history books, yet they are making it work today.  The Ethiopian program director of our agency explained to us, "We are a very agricultural country, and while we are moving forward, we are still building the bridges to get to a more industrialized society.  We have no insulation from famine and disease, and what the people of your country are doing for these children is important for us to help build a better country and for them to live better lives." A big {not so} small thing.
Men at Work...Alongside the Road on the way to Ziway.

During this drive, I observed the number of people using five gallon containers to carry water back and forth (on their shoulders and heads), yes the National Geographic photographer in me wishes we could have stopped and I could have switched lenses and gotten some awesome pictures, but for some reason, our escorts were more concerned about getting us there in one piece than my photographic journal of the Ethiopian people.

For any of you who have read "The Hole in Our Gospel" you might remember back to what access to clean water and what shoes can do for a person, especially women.  The author of the book lives outside of Seattle and his wife decided to try to gather water from their local source of water and at the end of the day, she was exhausted and didn't have enough water to do 1/2 of what they normally do every day and hadn't even started the household chores.  Providing direct water sources can help so that children and women can go to school rather than spend the time carrying water, which allows them to move their society forward and provide incomes in places that were not possible before.  When we came home, I kept expecting to turn on the water and have it not work.  For the record, it's worked every time I have turned it on.  What a {not so} small thing.

And shoes, oh the shoes.  Let me tell you, while I hate wearing shoes, I LOVE to buy them.  And to think how the money I have spent on shoes go to waste in my closet.  Uggs, Ahnus, Crocs, Nike's, Adidas', Merrill's, Birkenstocks, ohh how I love my shoes...But when I return, I am taking MY shoes back.  My closet doesn't need the shoes as much as the people there do.  I am very much in favor of what Keen and Tom's shoes are doing in Ethiopia!  A pair of shoes can make a huge difference in a five-ten mile trek especially for those who are carrying heavy loads as many were. Another {not so} small thing.

In the orphanage in Ziway, the children spend a lot of time outside and wear shoes most of the time.  It's close to the hottest place in the world (year round), but the weather seems to me like southern California.  At the foster home in Addis Ababa, the children spend more time inside, as the weather is more like Seattle and the court yard for them to play is very small.  Here, when you go in and out of their facility you take your shoes off, but since the caregivers are going in and out all day, having shoes that slip on and off easily are very helpful! A {not so} small thing I take for granted entirely too much.
Kevin and Isaac's shoes (and more) outside of the foster home entrance.

Did I mention how cold it was in Addis?  It was definitely Seattle winter weather, and Kevin and I had known this (in our heads and when we packed), but somehow when we were going to Africa in August, we assumed it would be warm.  I cannot describe how much I love polar fleece, as they don't use A/C and heat.  So it probably gets down into the 40's and 50's at night and it's cooooold.  But it made me think about the children in the foster home.  For the whole facility they have ONE small heater.  They use it in the isolation room to keep the sick children stable, but what about the other children?  They have blankets, but for those of us who like to use (non) down comforters in the summer, those blankets are very thin...So next comes what else I am taking back, blankets, clean, lightly used children's blankets...And then, what about the people living on the streets.  The {not so} small things become even bigger.

Laundry baskets, yes simple laundry baskets we would buy at a dollar store, are prized possessions there and they would transport just about everything (besides laundry) in these baskets.  Now, I have gone through two laundry baskets this year, and both of them were made of higher durability products, so I can't even begin to imagine how all of the things they were doing to these baskets would allow them to last long, but I will tell you, those baskets get a much bigger work out than ours. And when my handle breaks, I get very frustrated, but they used robe, and zip ties to fix theirs, no duct tape though. Yet another {not so} small thing.
Laundry Baskets and Washing Bins

Housing, ranging from teepees, to huts, to sheet metal over sticks, and for the very rich, concrete buildings, was very different.  Our guest house was very simple, but it was VERY nice for there.  We were right next to a huge housing district with sheet metal roofs and satellites.  We didn't get to go into any of these houses, but I asked the guest house keeper and she said they are generally one room 10ft x15ft.  One bed if they have one, wood stove, or fire pit in the "yard" and a TV.  And usually 5-10 people live in each home to share the costs.  I am right now sitting in a room two times that by myself with a "few" more amenities than that. Our house is about 20 times that size.  Housing is yet another {not so} small thing.
Home Along Side the Road to Ziway.

Disease and Medical.  The first day we are there, all of the families in the guest house decided to go to the open market and get some food.  Kevin wanted to sleep off his motion sickness, so I went out with the group.  The very first thing we encounter 10 feet from our gate was a man with gang green and the flesh literally rotting off his body.  It was horrifying.  I asked the guest house keeper and there are no government programs for people in these situations, additionally, you have to pre-pay at the hospitals, and most couldn't even afford or have the means to get to the hospital.  I pray for that man, but as I have worked through some "serious" issues this week, and it turned out to be a reaction to the anti-Malaria meds I have been on, which they don't have even have access to that medicine, even though they are potentially exposed to it daily, I can't imagine what I would have done in his position. A painful {not so} small thing.

And the last, {not so} small thing, is the amount of hope they have.  Despite all of the challenges they face, Ethiopians in general have a very happy disposition.  They do not complain, and they hope that things will go well for them.  Talk about not sweating the small stuff.

I attribute this hope to three things, but first off, the lack of "things."  The more that we accumulate, the more we want to be like the Jones' and the more dissatisfaction we have. 

Second, is their faith.  According to the Ethiopians, Addis is the only place in the world where Muslims and Christians can co-exist in peace.  I couldn't figure out why they feel this way and why they can co-exist here and no where else, but I can tell you that the people we met were devout to their faith and found hope from it. 

And the last is their work ethic.  I feel like I am a hard-worker, but after seeing the excruciating pain and difficulty the people in Ethiopia work at, I now am going to categorize myself as lazy.  Their hard work builds their pride, which I believe builds their self-worth and hope.

I'm not sure that America has all of the ideas right or wrong, but I know that I have become dependent on too many comforts and am ready to break that dependance.  I am going to look at the faucet each morning and thank God when it works.  I am going to thank God when I go back to my truck and no one has broken into it, or done harm to it, and I will thank God for the medical advances and capabilities that are available less than three blocks from my house.  In other words, I will be thankful for the {not so} small things in my life.  I hope you can too!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For God so loved the World...

Some of the most powerful words in the Bible to us...

God.Love.World. which means Hendricksons.Love.World.

Created by StrangeFire Studios, Palouse, WA

And in order to follow this calling, we had to have complete faith in the last year, but more specifically the last couple of weeks.  At the last minute, some of our travel arrangements changed and things were not quite as tidy as we would like as we left work.

In addition, on our trip, we ran into a few things that could have been frustrating too.  When we arrived in Addis Ababa, we had to wait for almost an hour for our ride, late at night after 44 hours of traveling and a surprise stop in Sudan.  Then when we got in the car, the drive was supposed to be five minutes.  Twenty-five minutes into it, we had to wonder what was going on.  We arrived, I asked about payment and there were some language barriers and we decided to discuss in the morning. 

Well, morning came at 5AM local time as a local mosque and the Orthodox Ethiopian church were singing in Arabic and Amharic and kind of competing.  It was beautiful, but loud and for those on a different time table, this was not helping the change and our fear factor as to where we were really at.  Then there were the rapid dogs that were fighting all night, and a misguided rooster who wasn't sure when it was supposed to wake everyone up.

Add to that finding out we were at the wrong hotel when we woke up, but it was a blessing in the end with all of the fantastic people we met (which we later found out the hotel we were supposed to stay at was still waiting for our arrival), Isaac wasn't in the city and we wouldn't see him for another day which would require eight hours of traveling in less than desirable conditions.  Kevin wasn't feeling well, so I joined the group of people staying at the guest house and we went to a market and dinner without Kevin to make some lemonade out of lemons.

As the National Geographic photographer I aspire to be, I was taking pictures of this that and the other, when out of no where, I was grabbed by some local men and they tried to shove me in their van.  I had read the guidebooks that warned of this and responded appropriately, and they were not able to take me, thank God.  I have to also thank the people we were staying with, as they were also quick to respond.  (Please note, I did not go anywhere without Kevin and a security person after this).

But after all of this, I still had an overwhelming love, and appreciation for the Ethiopian people.  And I can't quite figure out how in a place I felt so out of place how I could feel this way, and it all boiled down to this...

For God so loved the world...What does it say that He did?  "...that He gave his only Son, for whoever should believe in Him would have everlasting life."  Basically, He put it all on the line for us.  So here we are in a place, where we have left (at that time) our only son, we are feeling unprotected, resources are scare, our expectations were ruffled, we had put it all on the line, and things didn't seem to be working out. 

What was our response?  To whine and seclude ourselves?  No...It was prayer, and I don't think we have prayed more in our lives.  Our prayers of our own safety, the safety of the Guest House, the safety of the children in the orphanage, the children at the foster home, the families traveling, and those without food.  Our family we had left behind and more.

It became impossible to take any action that didn't require prayer:
  • Before food and drink - to ask for the food to be a blessing rather than causing food poisoning,
  • Before driving - to ask for protection from all the wearies of driving in their driving conditions,
  • Before meeting Isaac,
  • At the orphanage,
  • While traveling back to Addis with Isaac,
  • When returning to the Guest House,
  • While traveling to the Foster Home,
  • Before we went to bed,
  • When we woke up...

Pretty much, we became dependent on God, which is what we are supposed to do as Christians.  This dependence brought about some revelations, of which were how spoiled we are, and how we have not been loving the World as He would.  Why did it take this scare for us to turn to Him (again)? 

Well, the Lord has our attention and we are praying through what he has presented us with.  The orphanage that Isaac was in recently had two children die because of their lack of access to transportation to medical resources, in addition to this they have many other needs, the foster home has some needs, and quite honestly, Ethiopia still has millions of orphans.  So Lord, now that you have our attention, please tell us how we can love the World the way you desire for us. 

In His Name.