We've actually been home for a few days, but I haven't had a chance to post anything. You see, I came home to a throwing-up Lucas, then I spent a few days throwing up myself (jet-lat/exhaustion/migraine induced), and now today, Lucas is throwing up again! Anybody want to come for a visit to our house right now????
I will spend the next several days giving an account of our time in Ethiopia. I will be telling the tale for the benefit of those in our family, our local church, our local friends, and those who haven't had the good fortune to experience Ethiopia first-hand. So, for those who have already had this experience, please forgive me if I seem to belabor the obvious. Maybe I can be used to help recapture for you what it was like when all of this was still so new.
First, let me just say that it is a very long plane ride to Ethiopia, especially if you're prone to motion-sickness and Dramamine makes you feel completely out of your mind. Enough said.
On the plane, you can follow the plane's path on a monitor that tracks location, altitude, temperature, etc. As we traveled across the endless Sahara Desert, it was so exciting to know that Ethiopia was getting closer by the minute. As soon as I could look down to the earth below and know that I was seeing Ethiopia, the land of two of my children, I began to cry. So much of this week is nearly impossible to capture with words, as the human heart in a situation like this is so teeming with emotion that it's perhaps impossible to describe. But I will try. I can't really say why I cried. It's been nearly two years since we took those first steps in this adoption, so maybe it was just the release of two years of anticipation. And yet, it was something deeper. Something that my heart has felt for this land since I was a little girl watching the famine of the 1980's on television. It was like God was showing me the fulfillment of a deep connection to this land that had previously existed only in my heart...
Later, as we began our decent over Addis Ababa, I was once again overwhelmed with emotion knowing that somewhere in the dark city below, Yosef and Mihret were fast asleep in their beds, completely unaware of the arrival of their Mom and Dad who had traveled so far just to be with their babies. The entire world felt right knowing that I was so close to my children for whom I have prayed since before either of them was conceived.
Once we left the airport, I smelled first-hand all of the smells of Ethiopia that Avery had brought home with him on his luggage after his first trip to visit our kids in July, 2006. That first night, the smell wasn't so bad; a mixture of city traffic, berbere, incense, bunna, fire, and goats. It was the smell that signified the nearness of my children. I loved that smell.
I was as emotionally prepared as I could have been for the overwhelming poverty. However, I wasn't ready after that long, tiring flight for my first glimpse of true poverty to be looking into the eyes of a dirty little boy asking for money, signaling that he was hungry, separated from him only by the taxi window. As Avery handed him some money through the front window, I sat in the back seat with tears streaming down my face, knowing that two years ago, my Yosef was this dirty little street kid.
Yes, there was a lot of crying that week in Ethiopia! There was also a lot of laughter, a lot of pain, and a lot of peace. My life lately has reminded me of Charles Dickens novel, "A Tale of Two Cities" where he opens the book by writing, " It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..." I slept very little that first night in our tiny hotel room that had a smell that never did become identifiable. How can a mother sleep under the weight of anticipation that comes from knowing that in the morning, her children will be in her arms for the first time?!
Below is a picture of the great unpacking of Yesus on the Streets that happened that first night. Not a very flattering picture of me! But let me just say that any direction you turned, you saw a flood of treasure-filled ziploc bags. We had to climb over them to get to the bathroom, the door, and the TV. I'll get to Yesus on the Streets later in the week. For now, let me just say that it didn't turn out anything like what we expected. But we're completely confident that it turned out exactly as God intended it. But you'll have to wait. :)