Wednesday, September 3, 2008 – Addis Ababa & Diebre Zeit, Ethiopia
Montezuma is not done with me.
I’ve been battling an intestinal foe since Monday. He keeps hanging around, but has been tolerable. Yet, as today wore on, things got worse. By the time we arrived back at the hotel with the girls, I was big time sick. But enough about me. On to the real news of today.
Before going to get our girls, who are at an orphanage in Diebre Zeit, we had to travel to Adera, an orphanage here in Addis. At Adera was the child of another family in our travel group. We went with them so we could all be briefed at the same time by the orphanage director who oversees Adera and the orphanage in Diebre Zeit.
The visit to Adera was good. First impressions: the orphanage was small, but well cared for. The men and women who care for the children are compassionate and patient. The sense of community and family in Ethiopia is strong. Adults and children of all ages interact freely. Each adult seems to take responsibility for children near them, even those not their own. At our hotel, the adult employees interact with the children in wonderful ways.
With Montezuma waging war inside me, we headed for Diebre Zeit around noon. It’s about a 40 kM drive from Addis. It was an anxious 40 kM.
Upon entering the neighborhood area where the orphanage was located, we were greeted by the familiar chanting of Muslim prayers (no roosters this time). The orphanage itself was slightly larger than Adera. As we walked into the main room, we could see the children having lunch. Our oldest daughter was seated at the end of a table right next to the door. Our other daughter was next to the wall at a different table. I recognized them instantly. One daughter gave me a knowing, but empty glance. The other was more interested in lunch, and seemed a bit perturbed by our interruption. They both looked scared. I know they had seen our pictures and been well coached as to why we were there. In fact, on the way back to Addis, we asked the social worker if our girls knew what was happening. He asked the girls if they knew, and our oldest responded, “We are going to America.” Still, the experience was surreal for everyone.
All in all, there’s not much to say about the actual getting of the girls. It was a bit anticlimactic. They were in shock. So were we.
As we toured the orphanage, our girls close, but wary, it didn’t take long to observe their sisterly bond. The younger imitates the older in nearly everything. The older is definitely a mother hen. In fact, before leaving the orphanage we found her in a bunk with a little girl, about 18 months old, who was new to the orphanage. Our daughter was comforting and playing with her. We hope this is a sign of a soft and nurturing heart.
As we went to leave the orphanage, one of the caretakers called our daughter to her, kissed her, and said an emotional goodbye. It was obvious that in the 3 months our oldest had been at this place, she had captured many hearts.
With our van full of curious, excited and anxious people, we scurried back to Addis. It was about 4pm when we settled back into our hotel room – this time with twice the occupants. I immediately crashed on the bed. Montezuma had me expelling and wanting to expel from all ports. I also had a headache as intense as I’ve ever had. Not the best state of health from which to begin bonding with our two little girls – girls who were getting more comfortable by the moment with their new surroundings and feeling a fresh boldness to test boundaries.
In these early moments of life with our little ladies, Katrina and I are very grateful for family and friends who have been praying for us during this trip. We have certainly felt that support. Even though I am quite ill, Katrina is receiving and displaying supernatural patience and unusual energy to deal with our lively and lovely girls. She’s awesome!