We arrived in Ethiopia half-asleep early Saturday morning. We loaded all the families' stuff on the tops of several vans and headed to the guest house. There we happily discovered that we had been assigned to room with our dear friends the Stengels. Laina and Addy spent happy hours rolling on the floor together,
and Adrienne, Dillion, Jeremy and I hung out and talked most evenings after the girls were asleep. What a blessing they were to us during the last, long days away from home.
(the Stengels being stalked by a lion at the Lion Zoo--our last day in ET)
After dropping off our stuff, we all went to the kids' medical appointments, where we sat outside in the African sun (it was surprisingly pleasant out!) and tried not to fall asleep while waiting for our babies' names to be called. The doctors weighed and measured Laina (15 lbs! A whole pound gained since the hospital!), and asked us a few questions about her development. They checked her vaccination record. Done. They would deliver the report to the Embassy later on in the week, and we'd proceed to get the visa and go home.
We went to lunch at a place called Amsterdam. It was pretty good, and the restaurant was very interesting (inside, outside, tents, roofs, second story dining, patio dining). Then we tried to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime could be had.
(every time I tried to get a picture of Addy, Laina tried to steal the spotlight)
Sunday morning, we went to church. Although I missed most of the message (out in the lobby with a fussy baby, along with at least one parent/baby set from most of the families traveling with us), I did get to sing "Might to Save" and "The Stand" while holding my baby girl. Those two songs were special to me throughout the waiting time. So many times I sang them and thought about my daughter, and now, I was standing in Africa singing them with her in my arms. Thank You Jesus for that special gift.
After church, we went to a restaurant called Lucy something-or-other, which is connected to the museum that houses the Lucy remains. Laina choked during lunch, making my heart stop, and right when I finally got the tiny pieces of bread out of her mouth and she breathed again, a man in a suit who had apparently been making his way over to us when he saw what was happening, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "in Jesus name!" And then he picked up her bottle and stuck it in her mouth, telling me to give her a drink.
When lunch was done, we headed to the Lucy museum. My nerdy anthropological self was delighted.
We saw all the archaeological stuff (Ethiopia is home to a lot!), and then some historical artifacts, and some beautiful artwork (a lot of which was political in nature. So interesting!) I loved it. Especially because our contact in ET was incredibly knowledgeable about ET history and culture, and how it as a country fits into the world today, and where it is possibly heading in the future. Did I mention I love this stuff? One of the most interesting facts we learned is that Ethiopia uses a different calendar than much of the world. So while we were in Ethiopia, we were in the year 2003. Time-telling is different too, but I can't remember exactly how, except that it makes a lot more sense than our way. We also talked about communism, conservation, culture, and the Nile River.
(there she is: Lucy)
(isn't that beautiful? Thanks to the Stengels for these pictures!)
Much of our time in Ethiopia is mixed up to me. We went to the Embassy a few times. We prayed that a certain item of paperwork that they were giving us trouble about would be accepted. It was. We took visa photos of the kids in a really hot room (all of us in there at one time, plopping babies down assembly-line style with the photographer snapping away). We encountered much more visible poverty than we had seen in Rwanda, and we had our hearts broken. But there was a strength in Ethiopia, too. And there was beauty.
We planned and celebrated a surprise second birthday party for Avivah McLennan (Adrienne and I were proud of ourselves for finding presents, a banner, and a party hat!).
We wandered up to the rooftop of our building and watched the Father paint the sky.
We took in the sights and smells of Ethiopia as well as we could in such a short time. It got under my skin, that's for sure. I was fascinated by this country and her proud people. And by the mannequins that were held in place by nooses around their necks. They were all looking in the same direction off to the side and I knew that any moment they were all going to simultaneously turn their heads and look the other direction. With their nooses. Creepy. But I digress. Here are some cows!
And we took a group picture.
On Wednesday morning, we had our visa appointments. We heard that there was a strong possibility that we'd be getting our visa that day. After some discussion and prayers, we and one other family decided to try to leave that night. Yes, we booked our tickets home before we had the visas in hand. After some more drama and craziness, it appeared that it just might work.
We were going home! We had to get back to the hotel and pack, but we had wanted to see the Lion Zoo before we left. With only a few hours before our flight, we decided to throw caution to the wind.
We went to the Lion Zoo.
(look at this one closely. That baboon is yawning and you can see his fierce teeth!)
It was small and the animals were in small cages. They were up close and personal though! People were feeding candy to the baboon. And the flowers were gorgeous!
After the zoo, we headed back to the guest house. We packed and took quick showers. Laina and Avivah got their pictures taken in their matching dresses (Alison and I got them independently of each other).
(do I see a best friendship in the making?)
We were really going home! I couldn't believe it. We missed the boys so much, and we were going to see them soon. I think if we had had them with us in Africa, I would have been happy to stay much longer, but as it was, I was anxious to see my people. But amid the joy, there was sorrow too. We had to say our goodbyes to the people who walked this road with us. The two families leaving that night were the first two to go. It was the beginning of us all going our different ways, after having shared some of the most difficult and wonderful moments of the adoption journey with each other. I was sad to leave them, and sad to leave Africa. But it was time, after over three weeks, to go.