Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Days One and Two
This is my third trip to Ethiopia in as many years. Arriving at the airport last night, and driving around town, I’ve realized that this country is starting to have that familiar feeling, like the country is a part of me as much as I’m a part of the country. I will say, though, that Addis Ababa is a huge city, and while I recognize a lot of it, I still find it hard to get my bearings. Today, we drove by the plaza where last year we watched a bunch of kids playing soccer last year. It reminded me of the great trip we had last year, how much has been accomplished since last December, but how much there still is to do.
We got to meet our new daughter today! She is the sweetest little girl that you can imagine. She recognized us right away, and took to us pretty quickly. Sara is her pal, spending more time with her than any of the rest of us. I sense that she’s going to pick up on her English pretty quickly; she knows her letters and a few words. By the end of the day, she was asking for Lori (“mommy?”). We spent most of today with her, but also spent time loving on the rest of the kids. They love being held and carried, love being hugged, and love to laugh.
We received a DVD with a recording of her grandmother being interviewed. It’ll be nice to have this for her when she is older, but there’s a sad tenor that will likely have an impact on all of us every time we watch it.
Financially, bringing the kids with us was a really bad idea. However, it’s been an experience for me to see Ethiopia through their eyes. Yesterday at lunch, Michael started talking to a couple sitting at another table. They were asking him about his impressions of Ethiopia. They asked, “it’s a lot different than what you see on tv, isn’t it?” He agreed. Sara has been affected as well (even though she won’t admit it). She has made small, off the cuff, comments about things she’s seen. Both kids have gotten into helping out with the donations. Both are playing with the kids at the transition home. It’s fun to see Michael playing soccer with boys his age. They can’t understand a word that each other is saying, but “goal” seems to be a universal language, and the smiles and high fives need no translation.
It’s also great that they’re getting to experience a culture other than their own. They’ve seen that just because something is different that it’s not necessarily bad. They’re learning what it feels like to be a minority (something Daniel and his new sister will live with while they’re with us). Tonight we went for a walk through a shopping district with no guide or translator. It was a little intimidating, but it was good for us to be out without that safety net. (Sara was excited to find a “cute” pair of shoes for $12.)
Today, we went shopping. Even though I’ve been to this particular market each of my previous trips, it’s still overwhelming. There are lots of kids asking us to buy things from them (we saw Robel’s soccer kids!). The stores are small, dark, and crowded. However, once you get inside the stores, there are some *really* cool things. Luckily, we set a specific budget for our shopping. We’re buying things from Ethiopia each time we come here to make sure D and T always have part of their heritage around them. Still, it’s hard not to go overboard.
Yesterday, we visited a famous Ethiopian church. I will post pictures once I have better Internet access, but I can say that the pictures I took do not do justice to its beauty.
And, we did spend time with our daughter today. She is bonding with us (especially Sara). She started bawling when we had to leave tonight. While it was heartbreaking, the psychologist told us that it was a good sign that she was growing attached to us.
Sara’s “gem of the day” after taking a picture of the back end of a herd of donkeys strolling down the street. “I want to put that picture on Facebook, with the caption, “I like big butts.”