Monday, May 30, 2011

One Step Closer

For those who want to know, I have a wonderful travel buddy for this Ethiopia trip. I happen to love him bunches. My favorite part of the day was when he opened the door of the van for me. So sweet.

Luggage is weighed and packed. Was able to fit some of Ingrid's amazing pics from last January to share with FOVC. Four bags at just under 50 pounds a piece. Hopefully our scale that we just bought at T9rget is accurate!!! Now, time to hit the hay for a few hours before our 3am alarm wakes us.

Thanks for praying guys. We are one step closer tonight.

And my daughter who for two days has wanted to go home with her grammy has finally changed her tune and missed her momma and her daddy tonight. Thanks mom for keeping them and for our many friends who will hang out with them at night. May they grow up knowing what it means to serve others - both at home and abroad. We love you babies!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting Ready

Yesterday while my kids were destroying my house and my kithen sink filled up with more dishes, I packed. What a tedious job. When are the airlines going to get with the program like the post office: "if it fits, it ships". Weight limits on carry-ons??? Seriously, that stinks. My carry on has NEVER been weighed... but once. And man, oh man could we have been in trouble.

On our trip to Ethiopia last summer, we stayed in Amsterdam for two days. When we left Amsterdam, they weighed Ryan's carry-on. Since my amazing husband is also way strong, he had the bulk of the weight in his carry-on. So, we took some out of his and moved it into mine. That one time, it could have mattered. So now, I pay close attention to the weight restriction.

A limit of 17 lbs for a carry-on stinks! It's horrible. I so could have packed ALL my clothes into my carry-on if it weren't for the 17 lb limit. Now instead of a neatly, tightly packed carryon that doesn't allow for crap to move, I have a 3/4 full carry-on where stuff is going to move around. So annoying to this slightly OCD person. And worse than that, it meant that I had to put some additional stuff into my checked luggage which means less room for donations.

Oh well, I guess I should get over it. The thing that really bugs me is if they're not going to check, then I would prefer to just fill my carry-on and let it be over by 3 lbs and be less stressed about it. Have you ever seen the commercial where someone is checking in for a flight and has layers and layers of clothes because of the weight limit of the bags. That's so going to be me on Tuesday. I'm going to have my sweatshirt on and every pocket filled with snacks, make-up, etc. Ug, so retarded... the rule that is.

Anyway, we're all packed. Mostly. Yesterday I packed myself and the kids. This morning I dropped the kids' stuff off at my mom's. Bethany had to pack every dolly she could find in her room! Ryan, well, he's packing right now. He carried the suitcases down the stairs for the 4th time lately. I had determined that we weren't using our luggage cause it was just too heavy. The big suitcase weighs 17 pounds. So, we've packed in smaller canvas luggage. I wanted to do the rubbermaids but Ryan didn't want to carry those suckers around at the airport. Down to our last bag to pack, we might have to move to the big suitcase and give up weight for cubic inches of space. I have about 15 pairs of crocs left to get packed. They don't weigh much at all but they take up space. And Ryan has 150 blade/needle/surgery things (sorry can't remember the techy term) and they weigh nothing but take up space too. So, we'll see what we get accomplished.

By the way, Ryan just came down and weighed his carry-on. It holds our camera equipment, and the laptop. It weighed 18.5 pounds. I told him to just go with it. Pray with us that our checked luggage makes it through customs (lots of vet meds that are worth moola) and that our carry-ons don't get weighed :)


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Find me Elsewhere

Today, I'm a guest blogger on the FOVC blog. Check it out to read my thoughts on being an "average" person and being able to help.

Click here to read.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Check. Check. Check. Check

I'm a list maker.  It helps keep me on task.  But often times the list gets too long so I don't really pay attention to it.  One of my recent lists has been a great way for Ryan to jump in and help me get things checked off my list.  He's wonderful like that.  We make a good team.  Here are a few things off my list now:
1. Finish "A Hole in Our Gospel".  Check.
2. Finished prayer letter for our trip.  Almost Check. 
3. Weighed all our donations. Check.  Thanks to the many hands that provided 120 pounds of donation.
4. Received our tax return in the mail.  CHECK! 
Less than two weeks...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunshine State

I do not live in the sunshine state. The state of our sunshine sucks. I'd like to state how little sunshine we've had lately. To state that my skin needs sunshine is an under-statement.

You get the point, right?

We've had little sunshine. Lots of rain. Lots of cold weather. Even for Iowa. If it would actually warm up to normal temps here, I might have a chance to get a little sunshine on my skin before I skin both loves and hates the constant sunshine in Ethiopia.

What's today? I think it's 16 more days until we leave for Ethiopia!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Holt informed me today that they aren't staffed well enough to help me with a search for Judah's birth mom when we're there in a few weeks.  I'll take that as it's my own responsiblity to find her and the part of Holt that says I have to use them as the middle-man goes right out the window.  Thanks Holt for focusing on the orphans and not me.  I'm fine with that.  Please continue to focus on the orphans and not me when I seek to find his birth momma in a few weeks.
a to-do list a mile long,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

About the Widows

I was curious and asked Desalegn about the widows I will be working with. Here was his reply:

Hi Tamara, The widows are new to FOVC that means they have not been included inFOVC's other Widows Hope Programs (like Sewing Projects, Livestock forWidows Projects). The widows will be part of FOVC's Crops for WidowsProject only. They are some of 50 widows who will be included in ourCrops for Widows Project in Shanto area. By the way we are not includingwidows in two programs at the same time i.e a widow who is benefitingfrom FOVC's Crops for Widows Project can not be included in Livestock orSewing Projects or Small Scale Businesses for Widows Project. Crops forWidows Project is new to FOVC. So the widows are also new to FOVC.

Isn't that cool!?!? Love that FOVC is working to serve many women and their families.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lightbulb went on

Today as I dug out my notes from the agriculture training I did in Nicaragua, I was reminded of how crazy and unorganized they were. How would I even begin to organize them? And then I remembered my friends, the Varlesi's, who I was in Nicaragua with. They went on to serve with YWAM and then did their own thing in Agriculture missions focused mainly in Mexico. They were just the people I wanted to talk to.

So, I messaged them on facebook. Jennine and I caught up for a bit IM-ing. Then I chatted with Marco over the phone. He knows this stuff. He's done it in a developing world. He has so much to offer, I'm sure. He gave me some basic thoughts and points to focus on. I agreed to send him an email with some of my thoughts of Ethiopian agriculture. He'll shoot some information back. I'm super excited about the role they will play in helping those in Ethiopia that I'll be serving.

Did I tell you that I recently heard from Desalegn. He informed me that I'll be teaching 8 widows with no experience, 10 existing model farmers, and 5 trainees who will go back and train their communities. Isn't that exciting!?!?!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to the United States

Talk about emotional when you arrive back in the U.S. with your new son and hear "welcome to the united states". Lack of sleep might have been part of the emotion there.

As expected, we missed our connecting flight to Iowa. No worries, we'd only been travelling for a full day already. We got home, late, and were met by several friends. It was such a blessing to have friends that met us at the airport.

By time we got home, we were ready to fall over and sleep. Grammy and Papa came over to see their newest grandson. The older kids loved on their brother for a while and we all hit the hay.

We were finally together as a family of 5. Whew!

Going Home

This day one year ago we left Ethiopia to bring our youngest child home to the United States of America where he was loved by many he'd yet to meet.

On this day, we prepare to return to Ethiopia to serve the widows and love on the orphans. One year ago, I knew I wanted to return so I could give back. Today, I'm working on the specifics of how I'll give back when I'm there.

Tis so sweet!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finally Ours

So, I'm tired and just edited a bazillion photos from Awana Awards so this is going to be brief. Yes, I'm as glad as you are about that!

Since I didn't post yesterday, I just thought I'd share quick that we got ripped up on a taxi ride Monday night to go to the Hilton where we got ripped off again but had an AMAZING meal and got to check our email. And hung out with Shonda and Travis. It was a good and fun night.

We took custody of Judah one year ago today. A few highs and lows were thrown in the mix on custody-day:

  • Pooped through his outfit before we got him into the hotel

  • Did NOT like his first bath. I would so post the video of his screaming if it wouldn't be considered porn.

  • Did not like the toy taken out of his hand before said bath.

  • Conked out after said bath and momma left to go shopping. Get used to it son, there will be many a naps when momma will sneak out while daddy tends to you and your siblings.

  • Embassy appointment. No fun. Not so intimidating. At least not what I remember a year later.

  • This is when I got home-sick. Judah was ours and I just wanted to get him home to his siblings who I suddenly missed so much my heart ached.

  • I think it was this day that we gathered in Kerry's room. Judah was sitting in Travis' lap and had a blowout. Travis smelled the stink and gave Judah back. I took him to get cleaned up. Some time later we met downstairs for supper. It was then that we all noticed that Judah's blow out decorated Travis' shorts. He's a bit of a germophobe and rushed right upstairs to change. I laughed a lot and it's still stinkin' hilarious a year later!

  • He didn't go to bed perfectly that night but it wasn't miserable either.

So, with the end of Tuesday we basically had 2 full days before going home. My how, those would drag out! Thankfully I was in good company of my rockin' travel group.

Monday, May 2, 2011

We met her one year ago

We met Judah's birthmomma. She's beautiful. It didn't go as I'd planned. It was my only chance to get some information for our son. It didn't go so well. I wish I would have showed her my camera with his pictures and video right away. It might have helped break the ice.

Did she trust us? Were we too much to bear? Did she feel obligated to meet us?

I've written her letters and never heard back.

Some day I hope to meet her again. I hope to build a relationship of trust with her. I love this woman. I pray for her - not near often enough. Maybe we'll meet again. After all, we will be in Ethiopia in the next month. One can hope, plan and pray, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2011


[picture removed. thanks to Mrs. Hopper for connecting the two boys' families!!!!]

One year ago while at the care center we met this little boy. He was the best friend of a child in our travel group. His name in Mattias. Travel buddy, Claire, is still looking for the family that adopted him. It would be great to see Mattias and Mebratu connect back up. Do you know this little boy or who adopted him???

Cultural Day 2010

Day 2 with Judah showed some improvement. We got kisses from him, saw a few smiles on his face but still wondered when that personality would come out. It certainly wasn't the non-stop talker that we have today.

This was the day we experienced Ethiopian Culture. The day we saw Lucy, the very incomplete skeleton. The day we ate out at lunch together with some good food, a great coffee ceremony and a nerve-wracking money exchange. Don't be the sucker that helps the Ethiopian exchange money cause if they come up WAY short, you'll feel horrible and not enjoy your lunch! That evening we did a little more culture and this white girl danced all Ethiopian style. Okay, maybe danced isn't the quite word for me, but I tried.

On this day a year ago here on the home front, we completed our quilt fundraiser thanks to my mom who purchased, pieced and quilted the really cool quilt. This was the day that Bethany drew the winner of the quilt. The picture to the right is a recent picture with Judah standing in front of the finished quilt that Jeanie won.