Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Embassy! and Reading - Day 3

We got an email tonight saying . . .

"Congratulations, your family’s paperwork is being submitted to the US Embassy tomorrow."

. . . and all  I can say is "YIPPEE"!!!!!  This means that if all goes well and their file looks good, we could be cleared for travel in as little as 8-10 days.  PRAYING! We feel pretty confident that it will be a smooth clearance.  Usually, hold-ups occur because of questions in their status (are they true orphans?, etc.) or issues with health (positive TB test, etc.).  Our kids' case is well documented, well investigated and they are healthy.  And yes, we are praying!  It would be such a gift to have them home and settling in before Christmas morning.  As a homeschooling mama, I would also love that month-long break to allow all the kids to have time to 'mesh' before the grind of school picks back up.

We've been gathering little gifts to send over to the kids with another family, but maybe, just maybe, we'll be delivering them in person!  :-)

And now, here's Day 3 - Waiting in anticipation . . .

Isaiah 42:1, 5-6

Behold, My Servant, whom I
My chosen one in whom My soul
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the

Thus says God the LORD,
Who created the heavens and
stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its
Who gives breath to the people on
And spirit to those who walk in it,

"I am the LORD, I have called You
in righteousness,
I will also hold you by the hand
and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a
covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations." (NASB)

Isaiah 60:1-3, 19-22

"Arise, shine; for your light has
And the glory of the LORD has
risen upon you.

"For behold, darkness will cover
the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon

"Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of
your rising.

"No longer will you have the sun
for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon
give you light;
But you will have the LORD for an
everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.

"Your sun will no longer set,
Nor will your moon want;
For you will have the LORD for an
everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning
will be over.

"Then all your people will be
they will possess the land
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.

"The smallest one will become a
And the least one a mighty nation.
I, the LORD, will hasten it in its

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Reading - Day 2 - Prophecy Candle (Waiting)

Isaiah 11:1-2

Then a shoot will spring
from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his
roots will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will
rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and
The spirit of counsel and
The spirit of knowledge
and the fear of the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:5-6

"Behold, the days are
coming," declares the
"When I will raise up for
David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king
and act wisely
And do justice and
righteousness in the land.

"In His days Judah will be
And Israel will dwell
and this is His name by
which He will be called,
'The LORD our

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent - Day 1

In our family we celebrate the anticipation of Christ's birth with Advent readings.  We gather around the table either right after dinner or right before the youngest ones' bedtime, light the Advent candle(s) and read.  Sometimes we cue up Christmas songs and sing along, sometimes not.  With younger kids, sometimes simple is best.  :-)  I have also printed out coloring sheets that relate if the readings are longer.  It keeps little hands busy and usually buys us enough time to read without interruptions.  (I'm also not above bribery with cookies and milk!)

(This year we're planning to combine this with the traditional Christmas Advent calendar (opening the little windows or untying a piece of candy each day of December).  I'm hoping to post some photos of fun things we've done in the past.  So many creative, easy and FUN ways to do this with kids.)

Over the years, our kids have looked forward to this time and it really does prepare our hearts for what the season is truly about.  On days that have been especially hectic, the calming effect of a quiet room, dark except for the glowing candle light, brings us all back into focus and recalibrates our hearts.  I think this year especially as we wait for our children in Ethiopia to make it home, it will mark these days of waiting with even more meaning.  Anticipation.  For Christ and also for what He has brought to our family this year.

The first week of Advent is marked by a theme of 'Waiting'.  We use a simple Advent wreath with three purple or blue pillar candles and one pink.  In the center we use a white 'fatter' candle.  Week one we light a purple (or blue) 'Prophecy' or 'Waiting' candle.  Week two, we light the first purple candle and then add the second purple candle or the 'Bethlehem' or 'Preparation' candle.  Week three, we light the first two purple candles and now add the pink candle.  This is also known as the 'Shepherds'' or 'JOY' candle.  It represents the message of great joy that is brought to the world about Jesus' birth.  On week four, starting with the fourth Sunday of Advent,  we light the three previous candles and now add the fourth candle (purple), the 'Angel' or 'Sharing' candle, which represents the love which God shared with the world when He sent His Son, Jesus.  It also represents the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and they then shared it with others.

On Christmas morning we light all four candles and last, and best of all, we light the white candle in the center.  This represents CHRIST, our Messiah.  Jesus, Light of the World, is finally here! 

Advent Reading, Day 1:

Psalm 62:5-6

My soul, wait thou only
upon God; for my
expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my
salvation: He is my
defense; I shall not be
moved. (KJV)

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in
perfect peace, whose mind
is stayed on thee: because
he trusteth in thee. (KJV)

Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who wait for the Lord
will gain new strength;
They will mount up with
wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not
become weary. (NASB)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Best Part of All

First of all, we want to say THANK YOU to so many people who have walked beside us in this journey.  Your prayers, kind words, helping hands, donations, time and love will forever be etched in our hearts.  We have learned so much from you about being His hands and feet.

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause the playlist before viewing and please . . .

Meet the newest members of our family . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We Made It and The Contrast That is Ethiopia

We made it to Ethiopia in one piece (Four pieces actually.  Ha!) and were able to spend time each day visiting the Transition Home and getting a good chance to see different parts of the city.  Such an incredible experience of extremes.  On the same streets you see well-dressed business men, mothers with babies begging for food or money, new Range Rovers and this . . .

As you can see in the photo, the roads are terrible - as is most of the infrastructure.  While a few people are wealthy and able to purchase whatever they need, most are not.  If gravel is needed . . . well . . . people mine for rocks right out of the roads and alleyways.  Our drive to and from the Transition Home each day was very BUMPY!  :-)  This was not an uncommon sight and tucked right in between several roadside storefronts, there were patches of grass where the goat herders brought their live animals to sell to local purchasers.  Yes.  They would kill and skin the goat right there on the street and sell to the local butcher shops (there were several) or sell live goats to take home and slaughter.  Gives a whole new meaning to fresh meat.  :-)

This is a charcoal vendor.  Most of the local people cook over charcoal fires and coffee beans are also roasted this way.  Often frankincense is mixed with it to give a sweet smell to the fire.  Coffee is a staple of this culture and no matter how rich or poor, the coffee ceremony brings all people together.  I must say as a coffee addict, this tradition should definitely make its way to America.  Such a beautiful way to bring people together.

These . . . ?  I have to admit I thought it might be an impressive store of firewood for some ambitious person.  It turns out that these nice, straight, uniform pieces of wood are used for this . . .

Scaffolding!  All over the city, wherever new construction is happening, you see this.  Looked kind of pretty to see all those sticks lined up and strapped just so, but it also made me very glad to be from America.  :-)

From our Guest House balcony we could see this . . .

A 'middle class' home with their chickens.  (A common sight)  They also had two dogs who barked ALL NIGHT LONG.  Ava said after the first night, "I think dogs in Africa are nocturnal."  :-)
And this . . .

We got a kick out of the white mannequins.  This street was like fashion row.  All shoe and clothing and a few jewelry shops.

And this . . .

This family lives right behind the chicken family.  SUCH an incredible difference in lifestyle, yet they were friendly next door neighbors.

And this . . .

This one shows the extremes here.  Note the satellite dish and right beside it, large bowls of corn ready to be hand ground.  On the tarp drying?  Chile peppers.  (Most of the Ethiopian food we experienced was very spicy.)   And my gardener's heart loves the vegetables planted along the perimeter of the fence.  Clothes lines are everywhere.  Hand washing and line drying are just a part of daily life.  Seems romantic, but I sure am thankful for my Maytag.

Coming soon . . . . Meetcha Day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2nd Leg Is On The Way!

I elected to leave my laptop at home and use hubby's while away.  Unfortunately, that meant I also needed to remember all of my passwords/login information after many hours of flying and serious jet lag.  If you've been following this blog over the past week, you know that didn't happen.  :-) I could not remember my login info for the blog.  Not.  Tried every password I could remember (and there are several) but not one worked.  Not one.  So . . . I am just going to pretend it's one week earlier and post our updates like I wanted to from Ethiopia.  Please, play along . . .

This is the second team heading out for Dulles at 4 a.m.  Our dear friends graciously offered to drive us to the airport.  They got up at 3:30 a.m. in order to be at our house on time.  I did not sleep more than an hour before having to get up and go.  I never sleep well before traveling and this was no exception.  Longer trip + farther away + leaving kids at home = no sleep.  Eliza and I were running on fumes, but VERY excited to go and meet our new kids and reunite with Daddy and Ava . . .

See how happy we look?  So far, all was going as planned.  HOWEVER, that was about to change.  When we got inside and ready to check our baggage, the ticket agent informed us that we were flying to D.C. and then the FOLLOWING day flying out to Addis Ababa. 

"Hmmmm . . . could you please repeat that?" 

"Your ticket has you flying out from Indianapolis to Washington D.C. today and flying on to Ethiopia tomorrow."

"Umm . . . that's not gonna work.  I have to be in Addis by the morning of the 7th.  Can you please call Ethiopian Airlines and see if you can change the flight?"

"Sorry.  I tried their 800 number and they said they couldn't change it because the tickets were purchased through a travel agent."  (Using my ticket to cover his mouth as he coughed.  Gross.)

"Okay, well, I HAVE to be on that flight.  Any suggestions???" 

"You can try to talk to the agent in D.C. and see if they have room on the flight.  I can't guarantee they'll have room though."

Time to think on your feet mama!  There was no way we would make it to Ethiopia if we didn't risk it and go on to D.C.  Praying all the way, I decided to head on and trust God would make the way to get us on that day's flight to Ethiopia.  Once in D.C., we had to go down to baggage claim, get ALL of our bags (thanking God we sent the biggest donation bags with Rob the day before), go back through security (for the third time this trip - note to self:  do not wear a belt while flying!) up to the top level and BEG the Ethiopian airlines guy to let us on the flight.  He was willing, if we were willing to pay an extra $200/ticket!  Can you say, "Not in the game plan!"???  Once he realized it was the travel agent's mistake, he took pity and let us on for no extra charge.  Not the way we planned for the day to go, but it taught us both a lot about staying calm and trusting that God would work it out for good.

After that, the flight to Ethiopia was great.  Nice, new plane (Boeing 777), smooth, and decent food and movies.  We were blessed to be on the same flight with three other families adopting through America World who were in our travel group.

More to come . ..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We're On Our Way!

Today, bright and early, Rob, Ava and I got up around 4 a.m. and prepared to go to the airport.  This little lady woke up about ten minutes before Ava.  Out of the blue.  A little alarm clock?  She started crying and was having no part of going back to sleep.  That is completely out of the ordinary for her.  She's a through-the-night sleeper.  Being wise to the ways of children, we knew our only options were to take her along or let her cry and wake up all the other kids at 4 a.m.  Hmmmm . . . didn't seem like much of a decision.  :-)  So . . . we grabbed the nearest hat - her brother's - and along she came. 

She did not stop talking the entire time we were in the car.  "Is that the airfort?  No?  Oh, maaaaan!"  "Wook at doze wights.  They pretty.  Is that the airfort?"  "You going to Afica Daddy?  Oh, maaaan. . ."  "Doze wights is pretty."  The.entire.time.  So sweet and nothing sweeter than baby kisses to say goodbye on.

Here's the first leg team . . . They should be touching down in Addis Ababa at around midnight our time.  Ethiopia is about 8 hours ahead of us.  Unfortunately, that means they will have to hit the ground running as it will be 8 a.m. Addis time.  Hoping they slept on the plane . . .

Eliza and I will be flying out at 5:45 tomorrow morning - bright and early with bells on!  The best little gift is that tonight starts daylight savings time so we'll get an exta hour of sleep tonight.  :-)  Doubt mama will sleep much anyway, but the idea of an extra hour still sounds nice.

We'll try to keep the blog updated from Ethiopia.  Internet is spotty, so can't promise, but we will definitely give it our best shot. If we pass court on Thursday, we can post photos of the kids.  PRAYING we pass the first time.  If all goes well and all the letters are there, we should pass.  That could mean that our Embassy date will come within 4-6 weeks (or sooner, God willing!) and we can bring these little guys home forever!  In an ideal world that would be sometime just after Thanksgiving and a couple of weeks before Christmas.  (That pretty much narrows it down to the first week of December!)

THANK YOU to ALL of our friends and family who have been and continue to pray for us.  We have felt and continue to feel the peace and sense that you are praying.  Keep it up.  Please.  We love you all and can never put words to the emotions we feel - gratitude doesn't seem to come close.  There is something so precious about knowing you're being lifted up in prayer - truly a peace that passes all understanding.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Field Guide or "How to be the Village"

Hop on over to Jen Hatmaker's blog to read her post on "How to be the Village: