Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kaiy Baher- "Red Sea"

I have no idea how to say "bad" in Amharic and don't have the ambition to look it up right now, though "Bad Day" would perhaps be a more appropriate title for this post. I'm thinking that if baetantero means "very good" that perhaps putting aiye in front of it would mean "not very good"???? It doesn't matter...

For those of you who are reading this who are of the praying sort, I hope you'll take a moment to pray for my Ethiopian children who are in Addis Abeba awaiting adoption. We have had many hold ups in this unusually lengthy process (unusual for Ethiopian adoptions). We have been waiting on just one signature for a long time now and were informed this morning that the person who had agreed to sign the paperwork has decided that she will not do it. So, that leaves us...well....I don't know where that leaves us. It leaves me with two of my kids on the otherside of the world still.

I think of how the Israelites must have felt when they were fleeing from the Egyptian army and they came to the Kaiy Baher (Red Sea). There was no way of escape. God told his man Moses to lift his arm toward the sea and to pray. Moses did that, but there was no instant miracle. Actually, God performed the miracle all throughout the night by sending a nice steady wind to dry up a path right through the Kaiy Baher for the Israelites to pass through on. Even in light of this miracle, can you imagine walking on a path with a huge wall of water on either side of you???? I think I'd have been scarred stiff! Well, that's how I feel right now. We've come to this place where it seems impossible that our kids will ever leave Ethiopia. Like Moses, we've obeyed what we think God has asked of us, but we haven't received an instant miracle. I am not ready to give up, but I don't see how it can possibly happen at this point. I do know though that we can trust God. My heart of hearts tells me that someday, my children will indeed be home in my arms in America. But I have no tangible reason for believing that other than the fact that I trust God. I've come to the place of finding comfort in knowing that even if the worst happened and my kids never come home, that I can still trust God. Even if things don't turn out the way I want them to, I know that I can still trust God to lead me down the paths that He has chosen for me to walk on. He is faithful to never leave us or forsake us, nor will he ever forsake my Ethiopian children for He is a father to the fatherless.

So, with that said, though I am having an aiye baetantero day, nothing can shake the fact that the things that God has planned for our lives are always baetantero, even when we can't see the way of escape. Amaseganallo (thank you) for taking a moment to pray for my children.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Motar Biciklaet na Zenab- "Motorcycle and Rain"

Avery and Heather 7 Year Anniversary


This is Avery and I right before we rode Avery's motorcycle to the Ethiopian restaraunt for our anniversary dinner. The trip was close to 1 1/2 hours and we have evidently started a new anniversary tradition. Halfway there, the bottom dropped out of the clouds and we got wet. Last year for our anniversary, we rode to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and it rained almost the entire 4 hours it took to get home. I've never been so cold in June, especially in hot and humid North Carolina! So, we have apparently started our own biciklaet na zenab (motorcycle and rain) tradition! I'm just not so sure it's a tradition that I like though...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Buruknen- "WE are blessed"

Avery took me to a fantastic Ethipian restaraunt for our 7th anniversary this weekend. It was absolutely wonderful. We had a wonderful time talking with the owner over bunna (coffee). We talked about Ethiopian politics, religion, tribes, language, the Aiyadjebo (Mr. Hyenna)song we like to sing, and food.

He told of the difficulties faced by Ethiopians; the many freedoms that Americans take for granted. He said that Americans might think that terrorism is a new thing since 9-11, but to many people, including Ethiopians, terrorism is nothing new. He talked about the religious persecution he and his family faced as Christians in a Muslim-dominated part of Ethiopia. He told of the five years he spent as a political refugee in Sudan and the religious and ethnic persecution he endured there. He told of friends that have been slaughtered in Ethiopia because they were Christians. He told of how it took him years of being in America before he no longer feared the police. Yet, this man was one of the most kind and confident people you would ever want to meet. With great pride, he told us of his people as a shy, yet confident people who are very respectful of others. He spoke with fondness of enjoying bunna several times each day with his many friends in Harar, and of teasing the djebo (hyennas) at night. As a child, he and his brother would throw just one piece of meat to the the djebo just to see them fight over it! It did my heart much good to spend the evening with our new friend.

The waitress had told him that we were adopting from Ethiopia, so when he came to introduce himself, he said, "Ah, so you are the ones who are doing this noble thing!" Now, we get that a lot. People who want to tell us what a great thing we're doing; how we're "saving" these kids. Don't get me wrong, the statistics for Ethiopian orphans are staggering. It breaks my heart to imagine what would become of them if they weren't being adopted into a family. But I never want them to feel like they are our "project" or that they somehow owe us for coming to the rescue. They owe us nothing. They are our children and we would go to any length for any of our children. Period. Our love is as close to unconditional as you'll find outside of God's love. So, normally when people tell me how lucky my kids are, I respond by saying, "No, we're the lucky ones." I know that comments like this are mostly pure-hearted, but I just don't want to encourage them because I never ever want my children to sense that they need to feel indebted to us.

However, when an Ethiopian says this to me, it is different. It is different because they know first-hand what a blessing it is to live in America, free to enjoy religious, ethnic, and political rights that they never before tasted. When Ethiopians see the pictures of my Ethiopian children, there is a pride in their eyes. One Ethiopian woman I met kissed their pictures and cried, "Oh my children are so beautiful! My children, my children!" It's as though they understand something that I as an American will never comprehend. I feel very humbled and honored when I am blessed in this adoption by an Ethiopian. Yet still, I reply, "Aye, Aye. Buruknen" No, no, WE are blessed!" I hope that I will be able to bless them, but there's no doubt that they are already a blessing to me.

My prayer is that the next time I sip bunna with an Ethiopian, that it will be in Addis Abeba with my children eating injera and wot next to me.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Muzeikayae- "My Music"

I made my pants myself- Can you tell?!?!
Originally uploaded by Heather Ababa.
A big thanks to my new adoption friend, Tammy in California for turning me on to Aaron Shust's new song, "My Savior, My God." I spent this morning figuring out how to play it, and I must say, I'm hooked. It's one of those songs that perfectly expresses where I am in relation to God at this moment. It just kind of puts it all into perspective. That's what God does with songs like this- He makes them songs that I can sing to Him to express my heart. He makes them muzeikayae- my music. (Click on the title of this post to listen to Aaron Shust's new hit song for free.)

I can't understand why my children aren't home with me tonight. I can't understand what God has planned in all of this. But I do know that even if my children never come home, that God is still good and He is still sovereign. I know that "my Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me."

A few months ago, I was at such a low point in this adoption. There was political stuff happening in Ethiopia, and my biggest fear was that my children would never come home. My heart absolutely couldn't bear the thought of that. It was possibly one of the lowest points in my life. One day though, I was crying out to God in utter desperation, trying to understand why He would put it in our hearts to adopt, only to bring us to this point of uncertainty. The thought occurred to me, if not to God, where else would I go? What if God had led us through what was turning out to be a very dark valley? I know what it is to live with a heart that doesn't know how to trust God. I could never go back to that. So, where else could I run but to God? So, I have turned to Him with my aching heart. He comforted me that day with a verse from the book of Isaiah in a version of the Bible called "The Message." The 43rd chapter in Isaiah says this:

"So don't be afraid; I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I'll send orders north and south, 'Send them back. Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from far away places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name..."

So, with a heart that desperately aches to kiss all four of my children, I turn to God on my good days, my bad days, my angry days, the days when I can't stop crying, and the days when I'm frustrated beyond belief. I turn to God and He is always there for me. "My God He was, my God He is, my God is always gonna be..." He knows what it feels like to grieve for your children who are so far away from you, yet so close to your heart. He is the one who will round up my son and my daughter. He is the one who will send the order to bring them home. God is always good and always sovereign.

Kaldanyanetyae "My Sense of Humor"

Avery says that I think I'm much funnier than I really am. The last time I taught a Living Waters class, one of the participants commented to me that a good comedian never laughs at their own jokes! I kid you not, there are people who call me when they're having a bad day simply because they know I'll give them something to laugh about. I'm not exactly sure what that says about me??? It seems though that not everyone appreciates kaldanyanetyae! Who knew?!?!

This adoption has gone on far too long. The "excited" phase ended a long time ago. Next came the "anxious" stage. Then the "what if my kids never come home?" stage. Then the "have I been scammed out of a whole bunch of money?" stage. Then the "cry all day" stage. Then the "come to God with my broken heart" stage. Then the "acceptance that regardless of what happens, God is still good and God is still sovereign" stage. Now that I've made it to that stage, I'm at the "might as well laugh- it's better than crying" stage.

To mark this stage, I've decided that from now on, all of the posts that I send to our adoption agency's yahoo user- group will be written entirely in Amharic! The significance of this is that I'm claiming to our adoption agency that this process has gone on so long that I've had time to become completely fluent in Amharic. Last week, our adoption agency's director feared that I was becoming panicky and possibly wouldn't know how to handle all of the baggage that adopted kids come with. Her suggestion was that I spend some time reading adoption related books. As soon as I read it, I knew that she was merely trying to keep me busy! I actually would follow her advice, but I'm sure I've already read every single book that was ever written about adoption! So instead, I'm taking up "mommy-blogging" and posting to our adoption agency in complete Amharic! That should keep me busy for a while.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lucas is bashetanya

Lucas is bashetanya- sick. My morning went like this: Lucas wakes up shaking. Shaking means there will be vomit in the not so distant future. When child asks for candy, I assume my mommy-radar is broken today. Surely I misinterpretted the shaking. So I let him have candy. We sit down on the couch to eat candy and watch TV. Child asks for "thorw-up bucket." I get it; child immediately vomits. Upon finishing, child reaches for the candy! Now that I'm typing this, the thought occurrs that maybe a good mommy doesn't let her her kids eat candy first thing in the morning anyway...hmmm....I'll have to ponder that one!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wend Lidjyae- "My son" Lucas

Lucas and Carrots

Lucas and Carrots
Originally uploaded by
Heather Ababa.

Wend lidjyae means "my son" in Amharic. My son, Lucas, is one of the funniest four-year-olds I've ever seen. This kid is so funny that there are times when I really ought to discipline him, but all I can do is laugh!

Tonight, we watched NBC's new talent search show, "America's got Talent." There was this old guy who is a stripper. He wasn't reallly sexual so much as he was disturbed. Yea, I know- enough said! Well, the guy had already taken off his shirt and barred his oiled up chest before we covered the kids' eyes. During the commercial break, Lucas announced that the next time he dances, he's going to take his shirt off. Then, he asked, "Why was his skin so sparkly?" All of the other acts were quite fine for the kids. Lucas has spent every commercial break immitating the acts in order to get us to laugh.

We live in a world where it's pretty acceptable for people to say they "pray" or "talk to God." But once you start letting people know that God talks to you too, they want to medicate you! Well, Lucas definitely knows what God's voice sounds like. Last March when we started talking about adoption with the kids, we told them that we were going to adopt one sister. From the get go, Lucas insisted that his new sister also had a brother and that we needed to adopt him too. You see, at the time, he had an imaginary brother and to him, his brother was every bit as real as this "adopted sister" who for all intensive purposes, was Mommy and Daddy's imaginary daughter! The poor little guy would break my heart talking about his brother and how he didn't have parents or food to eat. He insisted that this brother was real. We told him that God would have to tell Mommy and Daddy if we needed to adopt a brother too. The little guy prayed every single day that God would bring his brother home. God must have smiled because eventually, Avery and I both knew that God did indeed have an Ethiopian son for us as well. Truly, when we started this adoption, we had no intention of adopting two kids. We were certain that we were going to adopt just one daughter. It was Lucas constantly talking so passionately about his brother that started to make my heart break for a son as well. I thought, if this is really what God wants us to do, then Avery will know too. I'll never forget the night I heard Lucas talking to Avery about his brother. Instead of the typical "ask God to give you a brother," Avery told him that he could have a brother! Had it not been for Lucas's love for his brother, we may have missed what God was wanting to do in our family.

If only I could have the faith that he has! Wend lidjyae is amazing!

Saet Lidjyae- "My daughter" Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn at Mudcats Stadium, NC

Originally uploaded by Heather Ababa.

Saet lidjyae means "my daughter" in Amharic. Now, my firstborn child, Kaitlyn is American, but in an attempt to cram as much Amharic into our minds as possible, I refer to her as my saet lidj and I am emaiyae (mommy). What can I say about her? Kaitlyn is the most beautiful, intelligent, wonderful little girl you could ever meet. When I tell her that though, she says, "Mooommmmyyyy. You can't say that. I'm your most beautiful peach daughter and ***** is your most beautiful brown daughter!"

In the winter when her hair is darker, I'm sometimes asked what ethnicity she is. My husband has a little bit of Catawba Indian (Native American tribe located near Charlotte, NC) in his ancestry. The genes must be dominant though, because last year when we went to visit the Catawba reservation, the similarities between Avery and Kaitlyn and the other people was uncanny. Some of the older Catawbas on the reservation would approach us and tell us what family Avery and Kaitlyn looked like. I've never seen so many little "Kaitlyns" in my life! I constantly am stopped and told how beautiful and unique she is, but on the Catawba reservation, she was just one of the girls!

Kaitlyn lives in this fantasy that even though she gets irritated with her little brother, Lucas, that she will never fight with her new sister when she comes home. I think the logic is that because they're both girls they won't fight?! That's insane to me though because Kaitlyn can't even get along with her girl friends for an entire day! Oh well, who of us doesn't live in a preconceived fantasy world at least part of the time???

Recently, my best friend found out that she is pregnant. I told Kaitlyn that my friend was going to be having a new baby soon. Kaitlyn's reply was, "Oh! Is Stephanie adopting a baby?" Sweet little thing. When strangers find out that I'm adopting two kids, they often ask in reference to Kaitlyn and Lucas, "Are these ones your own?" My response is, "All four of my kids are my own." Kaitlyn really understands that she was born in my belly, her sister was born in my heart, but that I love them both beyond any comparison. She was 4 when we started this adoption process. We asked her how she would feel about having a sister who was dark brown (Kaitlyn describes a person's race based strictly on which crayola crayon best matches their skin!). She gave it some genuine thought, then replied, "That's okay. It does not matter to me." If only adults could see the world through her eyes!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Balae- "My husband" Avery

Balae is Amharic for "my husband." I have been married to Avery for nearly seven years now, and what a seven years it has been! Never a dull moment! At our wedding, our pastor said, "One of the things you two do well is laugh!"

Avery is an extremely devoted husband and father. I call him burakaeyae (my blessing) with absolute conviction. This man has enriched my life and blessed me as my friend beyond what words can possibly express. I question whether there is a more protective, patient, strong, gentle husband to be found! He even laughs at my jokes. Even when acts as though I'm not funny, I am sure he's dying laughing on the inside. :)

I met Avery in 1995 when I started attending a church in the town where I was enrolled in college. After spending some time as friends, we began dating in 1996. Avery was very sure that God intended for him and his family to one day live in East Africa. I think he assumed I wouldn't be interested in such a crazy plan, but when he shared his heart for the African people he had fallen in love with on a summer mission trip, I was captivated. I had always been fascinated with Africa. My heart broke as a child in the 1980's when Sally Struthers would come on TV with the starving Ethiopian children. I had never forgotten the compassion I felt for Ethiopia, so I was completely on board with his vision for East Africa.

When we married in 1999, our plan was to work like crazy to pay off our school debts and to move to Kenya as soon as possible. We were planning to chaperone a 3 month youth mission trip in the summer of 2000. But, as is so often the case, the plans we have aren't nearly as big as the plans God has for our lives. As it turned out, I was giving birth to our first daughter during the summer of 2000! Well, I wasn't giving birth for the entire summer, just one day! Our plans for Africa took a back seat to our new family. Our son was born in the winter of 2001. In addition to having biological children, we had both always wanted to adopt. In March 2005, we began to sense that the time to adopt was now and our hearts were both drawn to the beautiful children of Ethiopia. Now we are waiting for our two Ethiopian children to join our family.

Avery works very hard as a computer consultant for a large company based in North Carolina. We both really wanted me to be able to stay at home with our children, and he has been more than willing to make all of the sacrifices necesary for that to happen. God has always faithfully provided for us everything we have needed. I have been so blessed by a husband who has relentlessly supported me in my desire to be a mom. As I am allowing God to transform me into the woman He intends for me to be, Avery is my most enthusiastic and supportive encourager. He has faithfully love and supported me through thick and thin. He is a man who is piece by piece allowing God to transform his life, and I do not take lightly the honor it has been to watch that transformation take place before my very eyes. I am honored that Avery is balae.

Burakaeyae- "My Blessings"

Burakaeyae is Amharic for "My Blessings"...or at least that's what I think it means! I've been studying Amharic for several months now as I've been waiting for my two Ethiopian blessings to come home and join my three American blessings. (If you're more advanced in Amharic than I am, you will hopefully let me know if I ever write anything offensive in my limited knowledge of the language!)

My first burakae (blessing) is my husband of nearly seven years, Avery. Together, we have four of the most beautiful children God ever made! Seriously, they really are! Unfortunately, only two of them actually live in our family right now. The other two are well cared for at the orphanage/foster home operated by our adoption agency in Ethiopia, though it is my constant prayer that they will soon be home with our family. Our Ethiopian son is 9, our American daughter is 5, our Ethiopian daughter is 4, and our American son (the baby of our family) is also 4.

My primary hope for this blog is that through sharing with the world a glimpse of the wonderful, scary, exciting, happy, painful, funny, quiet, beautiful days that our family has been given, that the name of Jesus will be lifted high and that God's love will be evident through the joys and the sorrows alike. I also would like to invite our friends and family to check back often for updates on the eminent homecoming of our two Ethiopian burakae.

As I type, the house is quiet...well, Avery and I are actually watching the final game of the Stanley Cup and I believe we're about to see the North Carolina Hurricaines win the Stanley Cup! For those of us living in North Carolina, that's a huge deal! OK, truthfully, I don't know the first thing about sports, but who can help but to get caught up in the excitement?!

My two American burakae are sound asleep in their beds right now. No, I take that back. They're sound asleep in their Ethiopian siblings' beds right now. They've decided that "keeping thier beds warm for them" is a job of utmost importance! It's really very sweet. I cannot wait for the night when I can finally tuck all four of my burakae into their beds and kiss their sweet little faces and ask Jesus to watch over each of them while they sleep. What a beautiful night that will be...