As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ethiopia - Trip One - Day One

The first few days of our trip blended into one as I didn't really sleep in between. After spending the night in Indianapolis, we "awoke" on Sunday morning, July 31, at about 2:30 AM and headed to the airport. We flew to Washington Dulles, where we boarded one of the new Ethiopian Airways 777's. There was a huge mission group on our flight that was headed to Uganda and the Korah dump in Addis Ababa. As we walked down the long, totally dark hallway to get on the plane, someone from the mission team mentioned that it felt like we were entering a different world. As I look back, I realize just how true that statement was.

Africa - here we come!

Monday, August 1, 2011
My mind cannot even begin to process what happened today. I am severely jet-lagged, light-headed because of the altitude, and so overcome with emotions that it is hard to comprehend the day's events. We got off the plane at around 8:00 AM, went through the visa line and customs, and headed to the hotel.

Bole International Airport

We checked into our suite, and were handed a schedule from Hannah's Hope. It said that we were supposed to meet the boys today at 1:00! We were told previously that we probably wouldn't get to see them until Wednesday, so we were a bit shocked! We had made plans to travel to Ziway today to meet Gary and Peggy Ifft, who are working with Lifesong for Orphans to build schools, but we called and changed our plans to go there at the end of the week instead.

After a while, Wass picked us up and we headed to Hannah's Hope. We turned down a very bumpy mud road, and then, down on the left, I spotted the famous black gates.

We walked inside, and were ushered into the office of Almaz (the director). She informed us that the boys' birth mother was there (she was in town for her court appointment), and she would like us to meet her. Be still, my beating heart! We filled out some paperwork, gave Yohannes some money so that he could exchange it into Birr for us, and ordered 10 bags of coffee to take home with us. (side note - Ethiopian coffee is the best!) Then, we waited very nervously while Almaz went to get the boys' birth mother. I sat there and prayed that God would bless our meeting. We felt so unprepared, and hadn't even thought about any questions we should ask her about the boys' background, etc. We weren't even supposed to arrive in Addis until tomorrow night, but due to the short notice, we hadn't been able to get airline tickets as such. It was definitely God orchestrating our meeting, as this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Then, into the room she came - tall and beautiful, with a commanding presence. We hugged, and then sat down while Almaz went through the birth mother's photo book we had made (which we just happened to have along with us - perfect timing!), translating as she went. Almaz also translated the letter we had written to "A" (the birth mother). "A" said that she can feel our prayers and believes that God has blessed her. I then asked what she would like her boys to remember about her. She said that she wants them to know that she loves them very much. We found out that she can read and understand some English, and we discussed some other heartbreaking and beautiful things, which I won't share here. It is the boys' story, and we will leave it up to them whether or not they wish to share someday. : ) We told her that we loved the boys so much already, even though we had never met them. We had a wonderful meeting, and feel so privileged that we had such an awesome opportunity. Then Almaz brought in "O" and "U" - our sons! My eyes filled with tears. This was the moment we had waited so long for! And one of them was wearing the exact same shirt that my nephew, Yikealo, wore on the day that his parents met him two years ago! We hugged them, and then went outside, where we took pictures of all of us together. I am so glad that we have all of those photos of the boys with their first mother!

We noticed that "A" had made each of the boys a necklace, and she had on a matching one as well. Precious keepsakes, indeed! When she called them by their names, we realized that our paperwork was wrong - we had them mixed up! She told the boys that we were now their mommy and daddy, hugged and kissed them goodbye, and then walked away, looking back and waving as she went. Then she was gone.

Chris, Shana and I were left alone in the courtyard with the twins.

We took some photos, played ball, showed them the photo albums we had made for them, blew up some balloons, looked at books, and gave them some fruit snacks. It was so much fun to see their personalities come through! After awhile, we went inside so they could get their baths. I towel-dried and lotioned them, and then we dressed them in their PJ's. After they ate dinner, we played with them and the other children for awhile longer. Then, it was time to leave, so we told them goodbye. "O" clung to Shana and started crying - just silent tears running down his little cheeks. He looked so sad! We told them we'd be back again tomorrow, and then headed to the hotel.

Here are a few other photos from today. I legally cannot show pictures of the faces of our boys or other children yet.
 This is written on the wall in the toddler/older children's house at Hannah's Hope.

 Here is the room where my little guys sleep!

 Hannah's Hope. The building clear on the left is the toddler/older children's house. The building to the right of the car is the baby house.

 Between the two buildings.

 Views on the streets of Addis. There are animals and people everywhere!

Tomorrow is a new day with our boys!!!


  1. I've been obsessively checking your blog to see if you'd started posting about your trip yet! :-) I cannot wait to see photos.

    I love the way that God has been moving in the story of your thankful that you got the chance to meet A. Those moments will keep working themselves deeper and deeper into who you are, and they will change your life forever.

    Love you!

  2. Oh, I cannot imagine the emotions you experienced in that first day at HH! It brought me to tears.

  3. LOVE the picture of their room!!! It looks so bright and cheery!!! Sounds like an astonishing first day! And what a blessing to meet "A!" Praise God for such a beautiful story!