Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013 Trip, Day 10 (Lori)


Tuesday
We slept from 11pm to 4:30am and then it was back to the airport at 5:30. We met a really nice couple from Florida coming back from India. They were on our flight to JFK. They took Benjamin and me under their wings and helped us through the Dubai airport which is very large. They helped us get through passport checks, to find our gate, and even had breakfast with us. I truly believe God knew exactly what we needed and placed them with us. They even sat right in front of us on the plane.

Our flight taking off from Dubai, was late. We had 4 crying babies on our section of the plane. We started taxing off and got to the run way, when they discovered that we were carrying bags for a passenger that never boarded. So they took us back to the gate to remove the bags. We were then up in the air. They told us hours later that there was a passenger having medical problems and that we were going to need to make an emergency medical landing in Munich, which soon changed to Amsterdam. After landing and the passanger being met by a medical team, they had to get his and his wife's bags off the plane. Then a diabetic passener started having trouble and had to have a doctor who was a passenger give this passenger medical care. After that our wings were icy and we had to wait for de-icing. We then had 2 more passengers with medical problems and yes the babies were still crying. There was a lady from Pakistan, we guess that she sedated her self for the flight, she knew nothing. Unfortunately she had 2 children under 20 months, that she was not taking care of. The stewardess were getting on her for not changing the kids diapers and for not feeding them. The passengers around her and the stewardess ended up taking care of the kids. We ended up being on this flight for almost 24 hours. Benjamin ended up having a long brithday. He started out in Africa, spent the night in Dubai Asia, spent a couple of hours in Amsterdam Europe, flew back into the US North America and drove through 3 states NY, CT, and MA! A birthday to remember. We finished our flight about 6 hours late. Made it through immigration, baggage, and customs, with out any trouble. Glen picked us up with pillows, bottles of water, and cookies for each of us. He dropped us all off on our door steps. We arrived home just after midnight. What a long time of travelling but it was great to be home!

2013 Trip, Day 9 (Lori)


Monday
Monday morning, we loaded up all of our stuff and said good bye to the staff at the guest house. We were off to visit Kind Hearts where our other sponsor child attends. Fikre, Zellalem, and the new driver Joe picked us oup. We stopped by the bank to exchange money, bought Addis tea, 200 bananas, and 200 mangos. The bananas and mangos cost 840 birr, about $44 in US money. Can you imagine buying all that fruit in the US for that amount of money? We then continued our journey to Kind Hearts. It had rained the night before. Some of the dirt roads were mud pits. I can't believe that we made it there without getting stuck. When we arrived at Kind Hearts (another care point center), where our sponsor son Yibeltal is, the kids were smiling and waiting for us. They were all lined up and holding a poster that said happy birthday Benjamin on one side in English with our date and one side in Amharic with their date. Ethiopia is one of the only countries that do not follow our calendar system. They have 13 months and are 8 years behind us. The kids sang a happy birthday song to Benjamin in Amharic. They also sang other songs to all of us. It was very sweet and touching. A true reminder as to why we were there. We handed out treat bags filled with hacky sacks, granola bars, and pens. While Myndi and Carey loved on the kids and passed out the fruit, Benjamin and I took a walk with Yibeltal and my aunt and uncle's sponsor daughter. We sat with them and talked to them. We gave them each a care package and recorded them getting it and having their letters translated. Yeibetal kept saying I love you mom. They were both so excited. When he saw our family picture he was able to name everyone in it and remembered us from our visit 2 years before. Aunt Shirley's sponsor child also remembered us. Her mother and little brother also came to the center to visit with us. It was a great visit with some really great kids.

It was soon time to leave Kind Hearts. The kids were holding our hands, hugging us, kissing us, and saying I love you. What a great way to end our trip and a great reminder as to why we came to Ethiopia! To plant seeds, share God's love, and to give hope to these wonderful kids. We made one stop on the way back to the airport at a sports store. Benjamin finally got the Ethiopia jacket that he had been wanting all week. He saw it in the post office shopping area, but they were trying to sell him an adult XL. If you know Benjamin you know the adult small is much better (even though it still has growing room). Carey found an Ethiopian soccer jersey to wear as a running shirt. We were then off to the airport.

Once at the airport, we thanked Fikre and Zellalem for a wonderful week and headed into the airport. We made it through the intitial screening and check in with out any problems. We walked around the airport and sat down for lunch. We soon headed to our gate. It wasn't long before we were told that we could board because we had a child with us. We had a good flight to Dubai. As we were deboarding, they told Benjamin that he could sit in the cockpit with the pilot since it was his birthday. He was wearing the captain's hat and I took his picture.

We then made our way through the airport in search of visas and our hotel vouchers. We kept getting sent in different directions. Benjamin and I had to leave the airport while Myndi and Carey stayed at a hotel in the airport. It took us almost 2 hours to get out of the airport and to our hotel 10 minutes away. The night drive through Dubai was really neat, the buildings were all interesting to look at and lit up. We arrived at our hotel which was very nice. We checked in and headed to our room for bed. We walked into our room, there was one small light on, and the rest of the rooms were dark. We tried all of the light switches, checked to see if the lamps were plugged in, tried the lamp switches. We could get no lights to turn on. I was so frustrated. So back down to the front desk we go. I asked the guy at the front desk, why we have no lights. He tells me to use my key card. I looked confused, he walked us to our room to help us with the lights. He opened our door with the key card and then proceeded to place the key card in a slot in the wall. He told me that this ensures that people don't leave the lights on when they leave the room. That this is how they save elctricity. I now know what else to try if flipping a switch doesn't work.

2013 Trip, Day 8 (Lori)


Sunday,
Sunday morning, I finally woke Benjamin up after 13 ½ hours of sleep. He had a quick breakfast of bananas and water melon. We then loaded up the van and headed off to church. We went to the Beza International Church, the English service. We started out with an hour of praise songs. We were in a large beautiful building, praising God with people from all over the world. Everyone was smiling and worshiping one God. If was beautiful. What an amazing God, we all worship! After about an hour of singing, they collected offering and dismissed the kids to childrens church. Benjamin decided to join the kids and went outside with them to a tent in the parking lot. I was proud of him for going. I have to say that I was more nervous about him going than he was. The service was good, there were a few things that were said that didn't sit quite right with our group. It made for an interesting chat after the service.

We then had a picnic lunch of rice and vegetables and rice and meat. It was delicious. While we were eating, a mom with a small baby came over begging. It is so hard to eat, when you know others are so hungry. We offered her a plate of food, some snacks, and some birr (Ethiopian money). She finished the food and then moved onto the next car to beg for more. It is really sad and heart breaking to think this is the only life they know. If this is the only life they know, will this also be the life for the child, or will the child be able to break this cycle?
I know that we are planting seeds, sharing God's Love, sponsoring the kids, and giving hope and opportunities to the kids to help them break this cycle. I just wish that we could help more people and do more. It is so hard to see people living like this and going hungry. It is amazing to me though, that we have so much and yet we complain. They have so little, yet they have big beautiful smiles, and would share what very little they have.

After our picnic, we went back to the post office area shopping. I love all the little shops. We found a few more things to buy. While walking around these street shops, you constantly have people approaching you. With out guards on Sunday it is even worse. Some people are trying to sell you maps, shoe shinings, belts, sunglasses, or anything else. The shop keepers are trying to get you into their store. They will follow you down the street to show you items from the shops. There are also people begging, little children, mom's nursing their young in the open, handicapped, or very sick people. It is very hard not to be able to help them all. Benjamin saw the same little boy from Monday that had touched his heart. He gave him some more birr and a hug. Benjamin really loved this little boy and would have loved to bring him home. He thought he would be a great addition to our family. He really struggled seeing him on the street living like this. I saw a boy Michael's age or a little older selling gum. I asked him if he knew Robel, (our guide from 2008, when we adopted Daniel). He told me he did. Robel took in boys off the street, played soccer with them, found them sponsors so that they could go to school, and got them started selling gum. They sold gum to earn money instead of just begging for money. I met this boy in 2008, saw him again in 2011, and met up with him again on this trip. It is bittersweet. I am glad that he is alright and working, but it is sad that after 4 ½ years of selling gum life has not gotten better. A cycle continues. I gave him a hug and gave him some birr. I told him to keep the gum. I really need more time to pray and digest all that I have seen.

We then headed back to the guest house to get ready for dinner. It was sad to see the rest of the team head off to the airport to fly home. The four of us from Belchertown headed back to the guest house for our last night in Addis. Fikre from Children's Hopechest and Zellalem from One Child Campaign came back with us for a little while. It was great talking with them. They are two incredible Christian men. They were with us the entire week helping us every step of the way. They love the teams that come to Ethiopia, they love the children, and they love serving others. We always felt safe with them around. They are our guides, our translators, and our friends. This was my first time meeting Zellalem, but my 2nd time meeting Fikre. They were both very helpful with Benjamin this week. Out driver this week was Teddy. He did a great job driving us to Kombolcha and back and around town. If you have ever seen the driving in Ethiopia, you know it takes a special person to safely drive a 20+ passenger van in traffic, through detours when you aren't on a road anymore, through a small river, around the mountains, dodging camel, cows, sheep, mules, dogs, people or anything else in the road. Teddy did a great job and tonight we had to say good bye to him. We soon called it a night and packed up our things, as Monday we would head to the airport.

2013 Trip, Day 7 (Lori)


Our drive back to Addis.

We were up and on the bus by 6:30. We made a few stops in nature for bath room breaks. At one of our stops that was supposed to be a very short stop Rob Tennant, our leader and pastor, said to Benjamin, (while standing behind the bus) I will race you to the top of this mountain.
Ready? Well Benjamin just started to run, I yelled stop, you are in the road, Rob grabbed him. Thank goodness, because there was a car coming. They then walked to the other side of the road and said go. They ran about half way up the hill and then had to walk the rest of the way. I was getting nervous, it was a pretty good size mountain. They made it to the top and smiled for a quick picture. Well let's say going up was much easier than coming down. I was really scared that they were going to fall down the mountain. Well Rob did manage to fall a little and come back with a need for a few bandages. I finally asked Fikre to go and save my son. Rob later gave me a hard time about not trusting him. Fikre ran up the mountain put Benjamin on his back and was going to go piggy back, this made me even more nervous. He then put him down, held his hand, and ran down the mountain. I swear, Fikre may be part mountain lion. They all made it down the mountain and only a few battle wounds to show. Unfortunately a while later Benjamin was sick again in the van, thank goodness for a bag with out any holes. Wegave him some anti nausea medicine and he was soon fine. We stopped to see the baboons, unfortunately there weren't any. After few more hours of driving, we finally arrived back to the guest house at 3:30. Benjamin laid down for a nap. We decided to stay behind at the guest house, while the team went out for a Mexcan dinner. We met an adoptive family, worked on our journals, and played Uno. The others brought us dinner back.

2013 Trip, Day 6 (Lori) - Friday, the Good-Bye Day


Well it is now Friday, our last day with the kids! I don't know that we could have ever prepared ourselves enough for this day. Our day was amazing and beautiful. I know I have used these words a lot, but I don't know how else to describe it. We arrived at the care point and were greeted like every other day. Kids were everywhere blocking the door way, just waiting to touch us whether it be a high five, a hug, a kiss, or a hand on our arm. They were waiting to show us that they were wearing their new stuff for their sponsor families pictures. We were greeted every day with so much love! All of the kids were happy and just wanted to be close to us.

After loving on the kids for a a little bit, Benjamin and I took Kalkidan aside and gave her the new shoes. I don't know for sure, but these may be the first new pair of shoes that she has ever had. She was so excited, smiling from ear to ear! I gave her the sandals first and she tried them on and smiled. I then asked her to take them off. She looked confused, I gave her a pair of socks and asked her to put them on. After she had them on, I pulled out a pair of sneakers. I put them on her feet. Her face lit up, she was so proud. She walks over 20 minutes to school everday, and good shoes are going to be so much better for her. She decided to wear the sneakers and put the sandals in her back pack to take home. While we were alone with her, Benjamin gave her one of his t-shirts that he had worn this week. He asked her to give it to her little brother. She smiled and said thank you! He then gave her a stuffed animal that he received on the airplane, also for her little brother. It was so hard knowing that we had given Kalkidan snacks, a care package, and shoes, but her brother was home getting nothing. We asked Kalkidan each morning and afternoon if she had eaten anything at home that day. The answer was always the same, No! She only had the snacks we gave her. She was only eating a small amount once a day at home. My heart breaks, I know that we are planting seeds, we are sharing God's love, we are giving hope, but I wish we could do more! These kids are amazing, they have so little but they truly shine! They have so little but they would share every little bit they have. They simply want to be loved.

It was soon time for the camp to begin. We started with our Bible story. We started with the Bible story about foot washing. You could see the small snickers on the kids faces when we told them that we were going to wash their feet. We had the kids sit on benches, we kneeled in front of the kids, and washed their feet. It was amazing, the kids were embarrased in the beginning, but soon enjoyed it. We washed the feet of the church leadership, and then they started washing our feet. We were all equal and one, just loving one another. We then painted all the girls toenails, and a few of the boys that wanted their nails done. The girls then wanted to paint our team's nails. Many of the guys were good sports, we had some with pink toe nails and blue finger nails. Benjamin was even a good sport, Kalkidan wanted to paint Benjamin's toe nails pink. He let her, yes he came home with pink toe nails. We then moved onto face painting. We started painting flowers, hearts, and simple things. Benjamin then came up with the idea of painting the Ethiopian flag on the boys faces. They loved it! They loved being with Benjamin. During all of this the Ethiopian music was playing and it was truly a big party! I was so proud of Benjamin, he washed feet, he painted nails, he painted faces, and he truly got it and loved on the kids!

Time for the feast! We were giving so many donations for the feast. We were able to buy 6 lambs, lentils, and all of the food for the feast dishes for all of the kids to eat off of, bowls and rags for all of the foot washing, soda for everyone, and bananas and oranges. The kids had bananas and granola bars for snacks each day. On the last day they were given oranges. Some of these kids had not had oranges in over a year. The funny thing about the oranges, they were yellow and green, not orange. They looked like oranges on the inside just not orange on the outside. I was told they are a little more sour, not quite as sweet as our oranges. The kids were given full plates of injera and all the traditional Ethiopian foods, a bottle of soda, and an orange. They looked so happy eating. I stopped by to see Kalkidan, and she took a bite of her food and fed me. It was so sweet, this was the best meal she had in a long time and she wanted to share it with me.

Soon after the meal, the kids began to cry. Some were sobbing. There was a bench with Carey Douglas sitting in the middle. She had crying kids to both sides of her, she had crying kids hanging over the back of the bench, and kids kneeling in front of her crying. She just sat there touching them and silently reassuring them that they would be ok and that we would be back! They knew that since the feast was over, that it was soon going to be time for us to say good bye. We started handing out the give aways. The kids each got a hygiene kit filled with a wash cloth, a tooth brush, tooth paste, chap stick, pens, band aids, soap, bandannas, and sunglasses. I can honestly say the kids loved the sunglasses. All the kids around the room had sunglasses on. They were very excited about their colorful bags full of goodies. They then received inflatable globe beach balls, hackey sacks, and wooden recorders. After the hand outs it was time to say good bye. It was so sad, some kids were trying to hold the tears back, some had tears flowing, and some were sobbing. We held them and cried with them, telling them that we loved them and that we would be back. We loved on the kids and said our good byes for a long time! I held Kalkidan in my arms loving her, telling her that I would be praying for her, that we loved her, and that we would be back. Crying even harder than Kalkidan, was my Aunt and Uncle's sponsor child. She was sobbing, saying but we are relatives. I promised to pray for her, and told her too that I loved her and promised her that we would be back. After the last kids left, we were cleaning up in the church. I noticed that Benjamin was not in there with us. I walked outside and found him on the steps with tears streaming down his face. He hadn't cried up to this point. He was so sad. He asked, why do we come here and make things so fun and make the kids so happy all week and make them cry when we leave? Maybe we should make them mad all week so that they are happy when we leave. Rob Tennant, told him that it was good for the kids to experience God's love, to know that people love them and pray for them on the other side of the world, to be able to trust that we would be back (they have seen our group 3 times now), and that we were giving these kids HOPE!

After cleaning up, we headed back to the hotel. Fikre found a person with a camel and asked if Benjamin could have a ride. The guy said no that he had to get to work. A little while later we passed a river where a camel owner was washing his camel. Fikre jumped out and ran down to the river, the guy agreed to come to our hotel. He showed up about 45 minutes later and gave Benjamin and some of the other team members a camel ride. Benjamin was thrilled. He had been asking for a camel ride all week.

We then headed back to the church, for a meal with the leaders. They had prepared a full meal, a coffee ceremony, popcorn, music, and a camp fire. We have met some really nice people. It was hard to say good bye.

When we got back to the hotel, there was a surprise party for Benjamin and Josh. Benjamin was super excited, when he saw the cakes, he said “for me”! Thank you to our wonderful team. We didn't have forks, but Benjamin had fun eating his cake with his hands. We soon headed to bed as we had to be on the road back to Addis by 6am.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Trip, Day 5 (Lori)

We woke and went to breakfast. Benjamin had dry corn flakes as the milk here is scalding hot. We then grabbed supplies and headed to the care point. When we arrived once again all the kids we're hanging out the gates to get to us. I was I the back of the van, last one to get out. Kalkidan was there waiting reaching in the van window and yelling "Lori, I love you", she took my hand and led me into the church where Aunt Virginia and Uncle Jim's sponsor child was. They both were stuck to me like glue. Once again, Benjamin was surrounded by kids. They absolutely love him. He has been a real trooper. I have received many compliments about how well he hanging in there, being the only kid on our team. Benjamin has a really great heart and is really getting it. He has even learned some Amharic phrases to help lead the kids activities.

We handed out more care packages, hair ties, dresses, decorated t-shirts, played volley ball, and much more. Today the church team started preparing for the feast. Unfortunately they brought over 6 lambs and 3 were slaughtered before we left. I chose not to watch. I had the opportunity to  make injera. I got to pour the injera batter on to the new injera maker that we bought them. Mine was not perfect, but not bad for a beginner. Benjamin also got to try making injera, his had some holes in it. It was amazing to se all the food for the feast. I have never seen so many onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, lentils, etc. They were working very hard, it was great to be able to see how much work goes into a feast like this.

In the afternoon, during our Bible study, a girl really started crying. A leader from Ethiopia, came to her and the called for an elder. They removed the girl, then we heard terrible screaming. Later we were told she had a demon in her and that they had to perform an exorcism on her. This is something very new to me, I am not sure what to think. We hear that they did this on 3 different children while we were here.

I will say this again, Friday is going to be really tough. I don't know how we will say good bye. Kalkidan already cried today because she knows Benjamin and I will be leaving. She is such a beautiful girl inside and out. Her clothes are all tattered, her shoes are falling apart, and she is very thin. She has a smile that lights up the room. Before meeting her, I bought her a purple shirt that says always shine. That shirt was perfect for her! I bought her some sunglasses, necklace, bracelets, and hair ties. She was wearing all of it. She liked to put her sunglasses on top of her head to look like me.

We came to the Sunny Side for dinner, Benjamin decided to try spaghetti. After dinner I had the opportunity to go shopping for new shoes. I rode with Fikre and Aaron in a little blue taxi. Benjamin stayed with Myndi. I was able to buy her sneakers and sandals. We spent the rest of the evening sitting outside talking and sucking on sugar cane. Only  in Ethiopia! The weather has been beautiful and the scenery is beyond amazing. We have all gotten some sun.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013 Trip, Day 4 (Lori)

Today we left the hotel at 8:30, to head to the drop in center. Once again we were greeted with so much love. Kalkidan, was right there waiting for me. She was all smiles and yelling "Lori", when I got close to her she rn into my arms, she was stuck to me like glue!

We quickly set up camp for the day, Bible skits, recreation, crafts, and care packages. I worked with the care package station. I can't even begin to tell you, how Important that package is to them. They were so excited about the letters, pictures, and goodies, They went around showing every one that had time to look. While working with care packages, I passed out back packs and had them write their name on them (sim means name).i then gave very one a cloth doll, girls got dresses, and hair ties, Benjamin helped entertain the kids while they waited for care packages. He is sure that he worked much harder than me. We then left the drop in center for lunch, Kalkidan, got to go with us so that we could go to her house for a home visit. We went to her house and met her mom and little brother. Her mother is anemic and gets sick, her father works daily labor ( he breaks stones and gathers sticks for construction , her  older brother a mechanic, at a barge. He helps to support the family. Kalkidan, is in. 6th grade  born in 2001, they told us her little brother is 12, he looks like a 6 year old. I don' t see how he could be. They live in a mud house. The mud has been painted  for the inside walls. It has a dirt floor with sheets down, there were 3 small chairs, a small couch, a small mat for mom and dad to sleep on, a small cabinet with a few dishes, They had electric and a tv witch really surprised me. They had a small fire to cook on. Her mother was very upset that she didn't know that we were coming right then, and she did not makes us coffee. They have lived in this house for 4 years. They pay 30 birr a month for their mud house. That would be like 15 dollars a month for 10 years (about $1800! Kalkidan was all smiles the whole time we were there. The care point center only takes in one child per family. Unless the other child can find a sponsor. I would love for someone to sponsor him. It was really hard for me that Kalidan would go home with goodies and her little brother would get nothing. I wanted to be able help this family so much. We took them coffee and oil for a gift. Myndi gave them dried fruit. I hope to buy Kalkidan new shoes while we are here. Her shoes are falling apart. I love this little girl. In the afternoon we went back to the center and ran the vbs program all over again. The kids are great, it is going to be really hard to say good bye on Friday. After the center we came back to the Sunny Side for dinner. Benjamin has eaten a lot of French fries and cheese pizza. After dinner we went outside an had our first experience with sugar cane. Then it was off to write in our journals and head to bed!

2013 Trip, Day 3 (Lori)

On Tuesday we left for Kombolcha 6:30 am and drove until 4:00. Such great scenery on our way. We started out in Addis with the wonderful sites and smells of Addis (lots of exhaust fumes).

Our first stop was a nature bathroom call. We lined up in a row of trees and did what we needed to do. It wasn't pleasant but it didn't kill us. We drove a while longer then stopped to get our driver some breakfast. We then drove a few more hours, stopped along the side of the road, climbed a hill, and had a spaghetti picnic. It was a beautiful view. We ate. The kids down below us walking home from school, were wondering what we were up to. The kept laughing and waving to us. 2 kids climbed the hill to see what we're up to. We invited them to eat with us. We fixed them a plate of spaghetti. They were not sure what to do with it or the forks. Eventually they ate some with their fingers but they were not fond of it. We took a team picture on the hill, and then headed back the van.

What we saw on this drive was beautiful, we saw mud houses, huts, camels, goats, lamb, and much more. It was a long but interesting drive. When we got to the bridge it was closed and we had take a detour, it was dusty and times steep. We had drive through a shallow river to get where we needed to go. Continuing on our drive we saw 2 crashed vans, and many dead cows. Benjamin loved seeing the camels and was begging to ride one.
At 4pm, we finally reached our Sunny Side Hotel. We got our rooms, used the restroom, and then headed off to the care point center. As we parked the van, the kids came running, you couldn't move. The kids were so full of excitement and love. They just stayed in our arms, hugging us, shaking our hands, kissing us, anything to be close to us. We got to spend a little over a hour with them. We met Kalkidan our sponsor child. She was so sweet and happy that we were there.We did a Bible skit for the kids and Benjamin was in it. The kids were completely amazed with Benjamin., they had never seen a white child like them,he received many hugs, high fives, and even some kisses. There was always a group  of kids around him. They would also follow anyone with a camera. They wanted to see the picture, so that they could see what they look like.

For some kids that is the only way they know what they look like. They are precious. After promising the kids we would see them tomorrow, we got ready to board the van. Benjamin decided  to give some of the kids on the street pens. Th kids were begging. They surrounded Benjamin, and Teddy our bus driver had to help him. Then we headed back to the Sunny Side, for pizza and rest.

2013 Trip, Day 2 (Lori)

We woke up Monday morning, got up and had breakfast with the team. Benjamin was not feeling well. We managed to sneak out long enough to go shopping and I bought some great stuff. We saw a little boy begging. Myndi and Benjamin were heart broken. Benjamin gave him some birr and they both gave him a snack. Shopping in all those little shops is truly an experience. You have people trying to sell you stuff, begging for food, wanting to wash your shoes, wanting to sell you gum, etc.

After shopping we headed to fashionAble. Benjamin was really sick, so our driver dropped off the team and took us back to the guest house. Benjamin rested for a while and then started eating and drinking, we even went for a walk and even looked at some little shops. We came back to write in our journals and play games. It was a fun evening of UNO with Myndi, Carey, and Benjamin.  We headed to bed, so we could leave for Kombolcha in the morning.

2013 Trip: Day 1 (Lori)

We got up at 3 am to get ready for the airport. At 4 am we headed to pick up Carey Douglas. We then headed to JFK airport in NY. We arrived there just before 7 am. Tom pulled up to the curb to drop us off and say good bye. Carey,Benjamin, and I loaded 6 50 pound bags, 1 70 pound bag, and 6 15+ pound bags onto 2 carts and headed into the airport. We went to the Emirates counter, since they weren't en for another few minutes the lines were not long. The guy that checked us in was super nice and put everything through and didn't charge us anything extra. We then headed for breakfast knowing it would be a while before our flight. After breakfast we ran into Myndi, Glen, and Ty. Ty and Benjamin had fun being silly. After a while we said good bye to Glen and Ty and headed through security. We had no problem getting through security, unfortunately though we found out our flight was delayed by 2 hours. 2 hours is all we had between flights in Dubai. They kept promising us we would be alright. While waiting at the airport, we met a nice lady and her daughter, they were headed to Dubai. She asked about where we we going and what we were going to do. She then asked if she could make a donation, she gave me 20 Euro (about $26).

We soon boarded our 13 hour flight to Dubai. Emirates was great, they brought each child a blanket and stuffed animal, a book and colored pencils, kids meals, and even collected the kids to take pictures of them so they could remember the trip. We watched movies and ate. Benjamin never went to sleep.

When we landed in Dubai and got off the plane, there was an Emirates employee waiting for us. We were late and about to miss our flight. Dubai has a very large airport and we had to cover a lot of ground. We sprinted to elevators, escalators, through another round of security, on moving side walks, on a train, and much more. When we reached the gate it said closed, but they were waiting on us and let us through. I was carrying my 15 pound back pack, Benjamin's 15 pound back pack, and our 15 pounds of clothes for our trip. We are all tired, by the time we reached our plane.

We were late leaving, but at least we were on the plane. Our flight was great, it was a little over 4 hours. Emirates came around again taking pictures, this time of everyone. I asked them to take pictures of the 3 sleeping beauties, Benjamin, Carey, and Myndi!

When we landed in Addis Abbaba, we sailed right through Visas and customs. Exchanging money and luggage took a long time. After watching the carrousel go around it became obvious one of Myndi's bags were missing. It was a bag filled with camp supplies. 

While Myndi went to declare a missing bag, I went to have the other bags scanned so we could leave the airport. Security really gave me a hard time about my 200 hacky sacks, they thought I was smuggling drugs into the country. They tore apart a hacky sack, sniffed the pellets, bit the pellets, called over more security, and told me if I gave them soccer balls, chocolate, etc. that I could have my bags. I told them that I only had enough for the orphans. I had to fight to get my stuff. By this time they had detained me by 15 to 20 minutes.

We then met up with Josh, Brittney, and Zellalam to head to the guest house. We got to meet the rest of the team and found out that as a team we are missing 11 bags. We had team meeting and decided to head to Kombolcha Tuesday, hoping to get our bags Monday. We then headed to a traditional Ethiopian dinner. We were exhausted and slept well other than barking dogs and the speaker chants.