Saturday, April 30, 2011

We Arrived

Lots of romanticized blog posts had this momma arriving in Ethiopia with great expectations.

I expected to arrive at the hotel with endless energy. I was tired.

I expected to be staring off my balcony over the care center. I was on the other side of the hotel.

I expected a sleepless night. I'm not sure that happened because of excitement but rather the uncomfortable bed.

I don't need to compare every moment for you, but you get the idea, right?

I think I was crying the moment we walked into the care center. I knew what was coming. When the time came for them to carry Judah down the stairs, I thought it was my son but what if I was wrong? After all, I'd read that you immediately know it's your kid and they know you. But then again, I'm the parent who got a refferal picture and a few months later an update picture and thought they weren't the same child. I was an emotional wreck.

As I took Asfaw from the nanny, I prayed that he wouldn't cry. I feared rejection. He did fine. Problem was I knew he was overwhelmed. I expected that. Have you ever been in a scary new place where you sulk, drop your shoulders and wait until it's over and back to normal? That was our Asfaw. He let us hug and hold him but he didn't reciprocate any emotion. Where I was finally wanting to make that emotional connection now that he was in my arms, he was there. Just there.

The glamour of that first meeting didn't occur with us. It did for other families. I remember Tami running into his parents arms almost knocking his dad over. I remember Mebratu's big eyes as he saw Claire and Michael. It was so cool to see them. Our little Asfaw didn't move much, didn't even make a sound. Maybe that was because they had him in 3 layers of clothes and he was hot. Kidding. He was sweating though. Even so, it didn't stop us from taking a ton of pictures.

It had been a long journey so far. We had finally arrived and were able to touch his face, smell his skin, hug his little body and give him lots of kisses.

And because the others are linking, I wanna link to... I had a wonderful travel group. Some of them are bloggers and you can read their accounts in the order of my favorite to least favorite.

Kerry hails from Missouri. Her Semi Feral Mama blog is one of my favorites to read. We are so different. I certainly wouldn't have thought she'd be one of my friends. After all, she's not a fan of DVM's and I happen to love one. Check her out if you need a smile on your face. This one is my favorite posts lately from Kerry.

Sarah may be from Oregon but I think the Southern Belle style fits her well. It was great to meet and get to know (a little) Sarah and Jason. I didn't take the time to get to know her well enough. My bad. I'm still learning new things about my friend by reading her blog Petals of Zuzu. I wanna be like Sarah when I grow up. She homeschools, has adorable children, and amazingly independent. Her facebook status updates are sure to make me laugh! I look forward to Sarah passing through this summer, even if we are a little out of the way.

Jamey is a military wife. I had been reading her blog for months before we travelled. We were very close in the paperwork process together and I remember commenting more than once that maybe we'd travel together. Jamey's tell-it-like-it-is personality is much like my own. I knew we'd get along. Lots of people know Jamey because of her Zahlahlum Family blog and/or her soft and cute adoption flag blankies she makes (have you ever made a blankie from Holland or Mexico???). We did travel together of course. One of these days I hope we meet up again! I hear Ms. Lauren travels well... come on over.

And then there's my dear and sweet and wonderful friend, Shonda. Yes, I may be sucking up a tad to try to get her to come see me this summer. I met Shonda at GodWillAdd before she had her own domain name. Yes, she's that cool. She broke my heart and gave me hope when she emailed asking if I was going to be part of Travel Group 8. Shonda is a wonderful hostess, even when she's in bed puking. She's following an amazing journey right now to adopt her 5 year old son. Read about it with her "Call that Changed it All" post.

Of course I was kidding about the favorite thing. Seriously! There are a few others that either don't have blogs so I can't link to them to tell you how cool they are!

Friday, April 29, 2011

More than a Picture

ONE year ago we held him for the first time.

He wouldn't say a word to us!

Now, we can't get him to stop talking!

Even if you talk non-stop, we love you Judah-bugs. You are adorable, talented, funny, and obedient.

(we met him on a Friday so I'm posting this today and a more thorough one tomorrow)

quotable quote

Listening to President GW's book: Decision Points and heard a good quote in reference to those countries struggling for freedom.  He said:
"Their plight can look bleak but it is not hopeless."
Isn't that the truth with the work that we're (FOVC) doing in Ethiopia.  The work that others are doing in different little pockets of the world.  How are you giving hope to those who's plight looks so bleak?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

87 dresses

Isn't that a movie title? Well, today I received a package in the mail of 86 dresses. And a precious note came with it.

Kaight is the mastermind behind the dresses. I wish she blogged. Kaight, you need a blog :P

Kaight emailed me early on in this FOVC trip process. She committed to sponsoring us financially. I didn't know Kaight except for the facts that she was adopting twins through the same agency as me and that I loved how she spelled her name. That's it. But she saw the value in FOVC and supporting people in the area her children were born in. Thanks Kaight.

A few days later I got another email from Kaight. She had been to Ethiopia to meet the twins and was waiting to go back to get them. Waiting stinks. Kaight and some friends at church were wanting to do something while they waited. So, she suggested making the pillow case dresses for FOVC. I told her that I'd be happy to take them to Ethiopia. She thought they could make 20 dresses.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email on the 15th that said she'd mailed 86 dresses. Very cool Kaight and friends. Her note explains (and I hope I repeat this correctly since I'm too lazy to get up and grab the letter out of my purse) that her mom made some of the dresses and then some of the older ladies in church made the rest. How cool is that??!?!

Six months ago when FOVC wasn't on my radar screen, a friend of mine from church suggested we make the dresses. I thought it would be fun. Still haven't managed to make any. This just might be my encouragement to do so... after I return in June.

Thanks Kaight for organizing, sewing and mailing. FOVC recently began work in 2 more communities. My guess is the dresses will end up there. Suh-weet!!!

FOVC Update

Well, we just sent off the check that should take care of the rest of our in-country travel expenses for Ethiopia. Feels so good to have that done and taken care of. Again, thanks so much to those who've donated. One particular family has donated 3 times towards the FOVC seed project. You rock my socks off!

In other news, I'm still not sure what exactly I'll be doing. I read Desalegn's (guy who runs FOVC) Crops for Widows Project proposal the other night. He's an amazing dude and is a gifted visionary. I look forward to sharing more of that with you all. We had a brief FB chat last night and then I followed it with an email of questions to him about the crops. So, hopefully I hear back from him fairly soon on that.

I'm looking forward to meeting up with our team. Lory, Dr. Jo, Denise, and Rick, please don't be suprised if I hug you when I meet you the first time. So excited. And you guys will love Ryan. He's amazingly smart although quiet when he doesn't know people.

Donations are coming in. Although one big one is missing. Kaight and her friends sewed 85 dresses for the girls in Shanto, etc. She mailed them from Vermont on the 14th. They still haven't arrived here. 12 days later. Not sure why. So, if you're the praying type, please pray that those things show up in the next few days. I know, we don't need them to be here much before we travel, but it really would calm Kaight and my nerves if they did. *edited to add that Kaight's dresses showed up today. Whew!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago today we left for Ethiopia with 2 suitcases of donations, 2 suitcases of our stuff, a binder full of adoption information and a few pictures in my hot hands.

The first picture was of Shonda's family since we were meeting up with them prior to a stop in Amsterdam and I wanted to be able to find them in the airport. They sat right behind us on our flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. So fun to get to know them over this past year.

The second, third and fourth photos were of Chrissy's kids. I didn't really know Chrissy but was drawn to her story of fighting for her kids and had been praying for them for months. I was carrying their picture around so that I could maybe see them at the care center in Addis and love on them for Paul and Chrissy. Boy did I ever see them. I think it was the middle one that attached herself to me upstairs when we were helping Judah finish his lunch. And it was Jamey who pointed out it was one of Chrissy's kids. Way to go Jamey. It was so good to pick her up, hug her, tell her that her momma was coming soon and pray over her. Well done.

One year ago was just the start of the journey. We had a few days of holiday in Amsterdam before going on to Ethiopia. But it was one year ago that we said goodbye to our oldest two as we headed off to get our youngest. Wow, how things have changed in that year!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Crops Proposal

Friday night I read Desalegn's Crops for Widows Proposal for FOVC. His desire to love and serve the widows and their families is awesome. Desalegn is a wonderful visionary. I'm so excited to participate with FOVC's crops for widows program!

If you have experience with crops and a heart for serving others, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

you know who you are.

I'm blessed. All the time. But feeling super blessed right now. Based on the gifts we've received, we are fully funded for our trip to Ethiopia. With 6 weeks to go before travel, I'm thankful to have this part of our trip done with and for the most part, taken care of.

Thank you for believing in us and the work that FOVC is doing. I'm super excited! So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Since the next 6 weeks will likely be spent doing normal life things, like planting a garden if it ever gets warm here, and preparing for being gone 12 days, formal thank you's aren't making the "to do" list. But I have a really cool idea for thank you's. And if I can remember my idea when we get back, I'll make sure to send you a formal thanks :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick Update

I've heard that we're less than 7 weeks from travel. We're growing with excitement with each day. I thought I'd tell you a few things regarding our trip:

  1. There are 12 people going on this trip focusing on various areas: livestock and crops (that's us), teaching, water, medical, and more. The email string and facebook messages have been a fun way to get to know each other just a bit before we travel.

  2. Our airline tickets are purchased. We fly out on the 31st of May early in the morning. Thankfully, after our long flight to Addis Ababa, we won't be getting in a car and travelling hours South right away.

  3. I've been told the women are being chosen for the crops training. I still don't know what I'm going to be training them on specifically.

  4. Still having back problems. Improvement but not 100% yet. Borrowed a tens unit from a friend. It's electo-stimulation which calms the tense muscles in my back.

  5. Some of the different things that FOVC is raising funds for include wells and the orphanage. I'm pretty excited having recently heard that we'll see a new well in "progress". Not sure if that means it will be running or in the process of being drilled. Either way, that means enough people have donated towards a well project because they see the value of people and choose to treat others as they want to be treated. So, thank you to those who've donated to such a worthy cause.

I think that's it for now. I'm sure I could have put together my thoughts in a better way but it's been a long week and I'm tired.

If you'd like to read more about what FOVC is up to, check out their blog here:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Both Books are Saying the Same Thing!!!

Okay, so a while back I posted on one of my blogs about the many books I have started. It was as bad as the crafts projects I've started. Only, I really want to get through the books.

  • Foreign to Familiar. Done

  • There's No Me Without You. 2/3 the way through.

  • Decision Points. On part 3.

  • The Connected Child. Collecting Dust.

  • A Hole in Our Gospel. Umm, who knows where I'm at on that one. My lack of reading goes hand in hand with my increasing mid-section. Just for the record, I am NOT pregnant to those who might wonder.

  • Isn't there one more?

Anyway, the two books I'm actively reading or listening to are saying the same thing right now. In There's No Me Without You (TNMWY), I was reading lots and lots about the details surrounding the aids crisis. It's sad and heart-breaking. The statistics are staggering. But I found myself feeling like the statistics were a bit on overload compared to the way the rest of the book has presented itself. Fortunately, I read through that part and moved on. I'm not trying to make light of the HIV/Aids pandemic, I'm just saying that it became very statistical and not very much of a story in comparison to the rest of the book. Okay, so don't get all crazy on me thinking I'm heartless and don't care about those dying of aids while I shop for another pair of keens. Really, these details are overwhelming. Anyway, the point of my post wasn't this.

Monday while I got my electro-stimulation during physical therapy, I listened to Decision Points on my ipod. Knowing I was near the end of a section, I wanted to finish that up yesterday while doing some mindless task at work. Suddenly I found myself laughing at the topic. Not because it was funny. But because it was saying the same thing as TNMWY. Seriously??? Am I listening to President Bush's memoirs and hearing the same facts that I just read the last few days in TNMWY. I most certainly was. And it was interesting to hear the same information from two different perspectives. Regardless of political interests, President Bush has a big heart. He thinks of others and not just himself. Does that make him without fault. No. Anyway, I wanted to get my notebook out and starting jotting down the stats. But I was WORKING and would never take away from my work. :) While GWB was president, he put lots of money towards Africa's HIV/aids pandemic. He also went on to talk about how malaria was killing "x" number of people (sorry, I'm not stats nerd like my hubby). And how he sought to focus on that too.

I really wanted to know how I could simply write to our past president and ask him if he's read TNMWY. I know he's an avid reader. I know he's interested in the aids problem. I wonder if he's read it. And since I was willing to contact him, why not share about FOVC, right? I bet he'd be interested in hearing about the success of FOVC and the work they are doing. Do you think I could google him and get his address in Crawford? I would so love to do that!

Anyway, isn't it amazing that I'm reading two totally different types of books and am hearing the same information. Wow. I'm so amazed by that today!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Year Later

One year ago, we had recently passed court and were anxiously awaiting news to travel to get our son. Travel group 8 had all been notified that they were going on Friday. On Monday I chatted with Shonda from She encouraged me by telling me there was still a chance we could be called cause one family had backed out. Hours later, I refreshed my email one last time before leaving for the day. It was shortly after 5 and on my screen appeared the news from Holt I'd been waiting for. We would be travelling with Shonda and Jamey to get our son from Ethiopia. That was exactly one year ago.

About that same time we were selling raffle tickets for a quilt being made by my mom. It was a huge project and huge labor of love for Grammy. There was lots of washing, pressing, piecing, more pressing, and quilting done on this beautiful quilt each night after her daycare kids were gone. Pictured here is Judah in front of the quilt that was raffled to help bring him home. Thanks Grammy for making the quilt and sharing the picture. Thanks to those who purchased tickets. To the lady who won the quilt, if you ever decide to get rid of it, please let me know first :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rockin' my world

So, I've been reading this book called "there's no me without you". If you don't know about it, just spend 5 minutes with me and you will. This book is rockin' my world. I knew it would. Part of the reason I hadn't read it before. But now that I am, I can't put it down. Yet, I force myself to close the book - sometimes because I need to get off my couch and sometimes because I just can't take anymore of the truth that reveals itself through the words on the pages. I'm maybe 2/3 the way through the book. If I could comfortablly lay in one spot and read all day, I would have finished it the day I opened it. It's that good. But it's heart wrenching too. I just read about a little boy who stands and watches the gate, waiting for someone to come in and be his momma. Four year old kid literally waiting all day for a momma to come claim him. Finally the perfect lady shows up. She's vibrant, the perfect age, has her own car. She's perfect for him. So he greets her and sticks close to her side. She leaves and the boy understands that she's going home to her husband to discuss adopting him. The woman returns and the boy is elated. Can you imagine his excitement? The woman he's been waiting for has come to claim him. Finally a momma for him. Yet she leaves with a girl and until the moment she backs out of the driveway, he thinks he's going with her. My explanation of the story doesn't do justice. You'd have to read the book but I can give you the basic idea. Why do I share this story? Because it broke my heart. I was sad for the little boy. And then it broke my heart again and I almost couldn't swallow the truth as I began to grasp it. I was in Ethiopia. I saw orphan children. Some of them called me "momma". I hugged them and rocked them. I prayed over them and told them their momma was coming. I had them in my lap, playing with my hair. And then I left. Emptiness. Did I give them a false hope? Did they think I was coming back to be their momma? Those kids, I'm sure, are trained to understand that the white people will come, hug them, and take them home. And that does happen. But was I the woman they talked about in the book who held a kids hand, sat by his side, pinched his cute cheeks and then walked out of the orphanage with another child on my hip? Wow. I'm going back to Ethiopia in less than two months. I expect to be busy while I'm there. And when I'm not busy working on some project, I planned to be busy loving on children, kicking a soccer ball, holding hands with the girls, just loving on the kids. But how many of those kids spend their days wondering if they'll ever have a momma to love them? Or a daddy to teach them how to work with their hands? Sometimes we are well intentioned but our intentions don't do well for those who interact with us. I don't want to be that person. I want to be used as God's hands and feet to bring love and hope, not hurt and heartache. I sure hope I have a better grip of this before we go to Ethiopia. I certainly do look forward to loving on the kids and women I interact with!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Needs Upated

Those fundraising meters on the side. They need updated. But it's late. My contacts are irritated. My laptop is running low on battery. And I'm too lazy to get up to grab my external hard drive or plug for my computer. [edited to add: when I plugged my laptop in, I thought I might as well sit down and update the meters. It only takes 5 minutes. Plus, that would allow my phone to charge for 5 minutes - enough to text a friend who turned 31 today] I will say that we've been blessed beyond measure. Well, I guess most of it's measurable (as in dollars), but it does go beyond that. Thanks to those of you who've given on our behalf. Truly it's for the children and women in Ethiopia, not for us. But we know that we're blessed and look forward to being a blessing in return. We have raised/saved almost all of our travel fund. And we're just over half of the seed money! Isn't that awesome! I can't wait to see FOVC in action... 7 weeeeeeeeks! And then bring it back to you guys to share.... Speaking of which, does anyone have a flip camera I can borrow? How about a GPS unit? Anyone willing to hang out with my kiddos for an evening while we're gone? I need to get that lined up too. I'm hoping some friends will stay with them here or they can stay at my moms. If they stay with mom, I'd love it if people would take them for the evening since my mom has them ALL day for daycare. Anyway, heading to bed now... [okay, now I really am heading to bed. Phsyical Therapy at 715am. Woo!]

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fundraising Meters

So, I went to update the fundraising meters on my side-bar. I had updated my spreadsheet and added a column to compare with has been committed to us in funds with what we/Lory have actually received to date. I had been showing the amount that people have committed to us. As of right now, I'm only going to show the amount that has come in. Because we technically don't have that money and maybe shouldn't count on it. Hopefully that will help some visually see that we'd love for them to send their gift in if they haven't. Overall we're doing really well with our financing. We're totally thankful for our friends and family who've sacrificed on our behalf and the behalf of FOVC. If you've told me you would like to partner with us, please get a check sent ASAP. The details of where checks can be mailed is towards the top, just below the picture/border. Thanks :)

Planning While I Work

For those of you who don't know, I work in conservation of our natural resources with private landowners. That includes everything from tillage operations between crops, to designing grazing systems, to drawing and coloring pictures with a really fancy computer system, to writing federal contracts, to refilling the toilet paper roll. Okay, okay, I don't really do that last one but that's because it takes a scientist to figure that thing out. Anyway, when I was hired, I was expected to spend half of my time in the field planning, laying out practices and checking them out after installation. Because we have an awesome technical staff, and because we have lots of programs to implement, I spend the majority of my time in the office. When I do go to the field, it's usually crummy weather. Like yesterday.

Strong winds with spitting rain was the weather I got to work outside in. I wasn't dressed for field work but have a change of clothes at the office just in case. I was ready all except that extra pair of gloves I took home last Friday. While out in the field, my boss and I were laying out contour buffer strips. As we worked through the field, I had plenty of time to try to keep my hands warm and let my mind wander. Using a simple hand level, we were able to lay out a contour line. It's likely confusing but trust me that it's important and very valuable. Farming on the contour can make a huge difference. As we worked through a fairly sandy soil (which I imagine I'll see in Ethiopia), on a steep slope, you can imagine that with 30" of rain each year, that sand is going to move down the hill.

That got me thinking, how is the topography in Shanto and surrounding areas? Is it fairly flat? Is it 20% plus slopes? I wonder how helpful it would be to bring my hand level along. What are the soils really like? And then, because I had plenty of time to wonder, I tried to think of other tools that I don't use often enough that would be helpful to take with me. A measuring tape? Some canisters to bring soils home for my soil scientist friends to tell me about??? Is it legal to bring soils home and have them sent to a testing lab for evaluation?

Oh, the things I have yet to learn about Ethiopia!

Monday, April 4, 2011

We have Tickets

I received our flight itenerary today. Yipee! We're leaving on the 31st. It's a direct flight from DC to Ethiopia. Direct flight is good. Lengthy time in the airplane seats well test my ADD, I mean, my patience. So, I know when we're leaving and returning. Looking forward to knowing how our days will look while in Ethiopia!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

There's No Me Without You

It stinks being stuck on the couch when the weather is beautiful outside and I'd love to be working outside.  On the plus side, I did pick up a book that I'm quite interested in.  I had read the first few pages of There's No Me Without You earlier this week.  I'm about half way through the book now and having a hard time  putting it down.  I would love to share with you about the book but I think I wouldn't do it justice.  So, just go to your local library and borrow it, or ask them to get it for you.  As you might imagine, after my kids go to bed, I'll be grabbing my book back up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thank You

We are overwhelmed by your generosity. Thank you for partnering with Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Crops for Widows project. Your donation towards the seed money will be used wisely.