As I sat in our hotel room recording this wonderful day on my laptop journal, I could hear the staccato beat of the music playing loud outside just a few blocks away. It was a beautiful, cool night in Addis. I had spent glorious 3 hours with my kids, followed by something at a restaurant called an "Egg Burger". Mind you, in Ethiopia, I'd much rather eat Ethiopian food, as at least I know they can do it well! This particular place didn't have anything traditionally Ethiopian on the menu though. By the way, an "egg burger" means a hamburger with a very strange taste topped with a fried egg with an equally strange taste! But at least my belly was full! Now I sat here nice and clean after a shower that had washed away all of the dust of the day. Along with the music, the smells of Ethiopia wafted through the open balcony door; berbere, incense, dirt, bunna, goats. All of the things that signified the nearness of my children....oh yeah...it's also New Year's Eve. Well, that's what CNN said anyway! Aside from those wanting to be welcoming to the ferinj, you wouldn't know it, as Ethiopia's New Year celebration happened back in September!
The best part about our second day in Addis was seeing Yosef and Mihret. They were a bit more comfortable with us today. Mihret came up to me and kissed me on the cheek all of her own will. It was worth gold. I bribed her to sit on my lap. She wanted to use the video camera and I told her she couldn’t unless she sat on my lap. So she agreed and after that, she was okay with sitting on my lap. She’s so cute!
Yosef handed his Bible to me and said, “Gift.” I thought he was trying to give it to me, but it’s very important to him, as Avery gave it to him on his first trip in July and Yosef told me that he reads it everyday, so I of course didn’t want to take it. I laid it down and later he tried to give it to me again. I was incredibly honored that he wanted to give me something that is so important to him. Yet I couldn’t take it. So I asked him if I could have a different gift from his room instead. He agreed and took me to his room. I noticed that he has a bunch of small religious pictures, mostly Mary and some Jesus pictures too, taped up in the corner of his bed where he lays his head. He hunted around for a minute before choosing a different gift. He handed me a small pink booklet and said something to me about “Catholic” I think. It’s all in Amharic and the front says something about Mary and the back has “Ye Exhiabiher Law” which I assume is the 10 commandments. Anyway, I will definitely treasure it! It's one of the best gifts I've ever received.
Today was definitely a little more relaxed than yesterday. I sang the Aiya Djebo (Mr. Hyena) song, which helped them to relax and laugh a little, especially Mihret. The nannies must play that game with them too, as when one of them heard me singing it to Mihret, she got the little kids in a circle and put one in the middle, the Djebo, and they sang. When Mihret got to be the djebo, she was so cute, as she ran around pretending to bite the kids.
I laughed at the boys, as shortly before we left, all of the boys were near the gate riding bikes and scooters. That’s when two of them got a jump rope, held it out across the courtyard, and all the rest lined up ready to…to...I actually don't know what they were thinking! But one of the nannies saw it just as I did and made them stop, as they were obviously getting ready to hang themselves! Boys are boys the world over! Yosef was right in there with them. Lucas is going to love having Yosef for a big brother!
A couple of times, Yosef and I were trying to communicate, but we just couldn’t find the words and when that happened, I would start laughing and then he would laugh too. I will be so glad when I can really know him; his thoughts, his dreams, his fears.
I was sitting on the floor holding a couple of toddlers and Mihret kept coming over to me to kiss me or touch me. I really think that she understands that I belong to her. At least I hope that is what she was demonstrating. Once, I felt little hands rubbing my hair and it melted my heart all over again to turn around and see that it was her. Priceless. Truly priceless.
About 10 minutes before our visiting time was over, I was watching them play and was so overwhelmed with the fact that I will have to tell them goodbye. I felt the tears come to my eyes, but knew I had to hold it together while I was there. It will be so hard to leave them. They are so very much mine. When I was holding Mihret, I teased her saying, “Yane Mihret!” (My Mihret) like a little kid saying, “Mine” over his favorite toy. I squeezed her close when I said it and she thought it was so funny.
Yosef read some of his Bible to me, and he reads Amharic really well! I read a book to Mihret, sort of! She chose a kids’ Bible story book. I suggested an ABC book, but she shook her little pointer finger at me and said, “aiy” and held up her Bible book. So, the way we read this English book is one of the older girls read the English with my help, then I explained what it meant to the older girl in broken Amharic/English/pointing, then the older girl explained in Amharic to Mihret. Perhaps not the most efficient way to read a book, but it worked and all three of us had a great time.
When we had to say goodbye to the kids, as soon as we walked outside the gate I began to cry. I can't tell you how fast three hours feels when it involves spending time with two of your favorite people in the whole universe! Two kids who are so very much mine, yet the "system" hasn't realized this yet! I just looked up all of the synonyms for the word "sad" but none of them really even touched on how sad my heart was. When I looked up the synonyms for "anguish" we started to get a little bit closer: "torment, agony, torture, pain, distress, sorrow, grief."
And yet, in spite of my sorrow that day, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Those three hours were so precious to me. I wish it had been more. But I've said before that no amount of time will ever satisfy my heart until they are safe and sound in America with our family. Soon...