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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Days 9 and 10

Monday and Tuesday, June 2-3, 2014

We got ready for the day, and then headed outside to play with the kids for awhile. In the photo below, Ashton is hugging little K, who is coming home to his family in Ohio soon! He will live near us, is the same age as our twins, and all 3 boys are from the same tribe and remote village in Africa! I'm so excited about that!

Chris and Wass hanging out:

Richard and Ashton played soccer with the kids:

I began to walk around and take photos of Hannah's Hope. They are moving to a new and smaller facility soon, as adoptions have slowed so much in Ethiopia that it makes it too costly to operate such a large compound with fewer children and families involved. I will certainly miss the current HH, as we have so many memories attached to it. HH has been a safe and loving haven for so many children over the years, and this is the place where we met 2 of our sons!! It is sad to think that we won't ever be coming back here, but I am happy that AGCI is being a good financial steward. The new HH is very nice as well, and will hold great memories too, I'm sure.

The guesthouse:

Alem cooked us one last breakfast:

Ashton collected pop bottle caps all week, and decided to share some with the boys at HH. 

We also handed out a pair of shoes to each of the special mothers:

 Soon, Chris, Larisa, Azeb and I walked to the new Hannah's Hope to take a tour. AGCI's director, Hollen, wanted us to take photos of the building and email them back to her so she could include them in today's announcement to all the adoptive families about the upcoming move.

The new HH:

The building was still under construction, but the workmen let us take a tour.

The street to the left of the new HH:

The street to the right:

The street straight ahead:

An Ethiopian Coke truck:

The old HH:

 When we got back, Danny was there! Chris gave him one of the Africa shirts we had made.

Chris and Tom:

 Wass took the rest of the team to pick up all the coffee we had ordered and then on to visit the rehabilitation center, where AGCI has another project planned for next year. They stopped on the way to buy 2 goats to donate to the rehab center. Meanwhile, Chris, Larisa, and I stayed back at HH to visit with Almaz, who came to see us. It was so good to see and catch up with her again!

 Almaz and Mathewos, the former and current directors of HH:

After Almaz left, we visited with Mathewos for quite awhile about the projects that need completed next year. Chris and I have offered to lead another mission team next summer, so he filled us in on some of the details.

When the rest of the team got back, we played with the kids for a little bit before loading up and heading to the market to do some shopping.

Staci, Geb, and Wass:

Everyone enjoyed checking out the different shops, and we compared our purchases on the way back to HH.

Back at HH, we showered and flew into packing mode as we soon had to be back at the airport. Mathewos called me downstairs and handed me a little cloth bag. "This is for Shana," he said. "It's a necklace. I think she will like it." I thanked him and gave him a hug. It was so sweet! 

We finished packing, hugged the staff and kids goodbye, took some last photos, and shed some more tears.

Ashton gave Tom his watch, some pop, and some snacks, and they hugged for a long time. Ashton told him that he is his best friend in the world, and cried so hard when it was time to leave. 

Wass took us back to the airport, and there were more hugs all around. It took a long time for us all to check in, and we got through final security not long before our flight boarded.

 We stopped in Rome to refuel on the way home.

This is what Ashton looked like for much of the flight.

We finally arrived into Washington D.C, where I bought myself a big salad. Ah, fresh food! We parted ways with Larisa, and then boarded our flight to Indianapolis.

Almost there!

Home! It was so good to see the kids again, take a nice, warm, clean shower, and sleep in our own bed. And of course, the kids had decorated the house with "welcome home" posters for us.

Ashton and the twins model their new traditional Ethiopian outfits:

And one last photo...we were, of course, so jet-lagged. But that didn't stop Ashton from getting up (before everyone else!) the next morning and making pancakes for all of us! :-)

It was a wonderful trip, and we're already looking forward to next year! Goodbye, Ethiopia! Until next time...

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