Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ethiopia Day 3 and 4

Day 3
We went over to Layla after breakfast and again got to see the kids in their classes. I sat with China during Math. He still has difficulty writing with his cast on. He is in the oldest class, but has never been to school before this. We’ll probably put them in the same grade. Later he started feeling badly and had to see the doctor—not sure what was wrong, but something to do with his stomach. From there we went to lunch at a nice restaurant right next to the national museum. Ana and I shared a pizza and Matt ate at least two pieces! Then people went shopping some more. We were just looking although we did see some pretty nice crosses. We need to make a list of all the things we want to buy. I’m hoping to get a lot of the shopping done this trip, so we can do more important things the next trip. We had a nice dinner of rice, vegetables, bread and French fries then all went to bed early. This was so important for the next day.

Day 4
Today we went to court. It was a crowded room with very little seating. There were a lot of Caucasians—some were French. One group when they went in had another group praying for them which was sweet. Our group went in all together. One couple already knew that were going to pass. The judge didn’t have one couples file and at first only said Mitike’s name. The lawyer reminded her that China was also part of our case. We didn’t have our letter, neither did the other two couples. (Out of nine court cases this week, only three passed.) It was disappointing. You fly half way around the world to answer two minutes worth of questions and be told that your MOWA letter wasn’t there. Oh well. We have had a great time meeting, playing with, and watching our kids in class. We’ve learned a lot about them already.
We ran back to the guest house to quickly to change and give Ana some medicine. Then the driver took us back to Layla. We didn’t have lunch because Matt and Ana weren’t feeling well, but we did eat with China and Mitike. She eats a lot very quickly! I then went to a computer class. They were doing lots of tricky things with Word. This will be helpful for them at school.
Suddenly, kids came running for Tukura and China. Both of their uncles had come from very far away to see them. After a disappointing court date this really amazed me. These two men could have come at any time on any day. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we skipped lunch and shopping and were there. We went down to the social workers office and through a translator we asked questions. We got the father’s and mother’s name, the place where they lived, and many other details. China has been an orphan for about four years. We found out which tribe he's from and some about his uncle. At the end of our time I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say to us. He said, “He is your son now. I hope that you will do your best for him and help him rise to a good position.” Although we didn’t hear these words in court, it meant much more to me to hear them from him! We took lots of pictures of them together as well as with Tukura and his uncle. I’m really thankful to God for giving us this experience. It was a true blessing. We made sure to find out where the uncle is so that hopefully we can take China to visit in the future. It was obvious that China had an attachment to him. As China has so few relatives living we feel it very important to keep in touch with this uncle.

Ethiopia Day 1 and 2

Day 1
Travel—ugh!! Lufthansa is a great airline. Each seat has touch screens even on most of the old planes. They serve the kids first and have puzzles and coloring things for them to use. Ana watched movies and cartoons. The first flight was a night flight and Ana probably slept about eight hours out of 12—not bad. We had quite a long layover in Frankfort. Because there are different “wings” to the airport and you have to have a ticket for that wing, you kind of get stuck. There wasn’t too much to do. There was a small playset that had no slides—basically it was a house with stairs. Ana did play with several kids there. (In contrast Singapore’s airport had the most awesome play area I’ve seen in a long time. Ana played about and hour there and there were only four kids on it the whole time.)
We had no problems getting our visa. It did take a little while as they are done by hand and the line was pretty long. But we eventually got through. We ran into problems in customs. We had collected two boxes of used but nice shoes. The customs guy said that they shouldn’t be allowed in because they weren’t nice enough. After 15 minutes of carrying Matt’s passport around he eventually let us go. Our guest house met us there and took us to the house. It was only about ½ hour away. We were happy to go right to bed (after a cold shower!)

Day 2
Ana got up at about 5:40. I had to try to keep her quiet as there was another couple staying right next door. (Matt was in another room.) We had a nice breakfast of fresh bread, juice, and cereal. After a while someone came to take us to Layla. On this day there were five cases going to court and 1 going to embassy. We were literally dropped off and had no idea what we were doing. When the kids figured out who we were they quickly rounded up China and Mitike. (Usually I think they let you meet them one on one without a crowd of observing children. ) They both greeted us with lots of hugs and were very happy. I felt like crying. It didn’t seem real, we’ve waited so long. They drug us along to see their rooms. For the rest of the morning we watched them in PE, English, Library, Computer, and Math class. I got to look at Mitike’s homework book which gave me a good idea of where she should be placed in school. We also had lunch with the kids which was injera (a bread made from teff), wat (which is a stew) and a mixture of potato and beet. The kids ate far more than we did. I think we’ll be purchasing a lot more food soon!
We went out to the National Museum. This was very hard with Ana because she couldn’t touch anything and had to be quiet. She was also exhausted by then because she had played all morning and not had a nap. It was interesting though. It included some information on the different tribes from the South as well as Emperor Hallie Selassie’s bedroom and bathroom. We went briefly to do some shopping at Churchill Street, but it poured and we soon left.
Back at the guest house we had a nice Ethiopian dinner that was very similar to lunch, but also included a spicy meat dish and some French fries. (Ana was so tired I took her up to bed during dinner and she fell asleep in 30 seconds!) Following that we had a coffee ceremony with the other family. It takes a lot of effort to do this from roasting the coffee beans over hot coals, to grinding them in a mortar /pestle to reheating the coffee over the coals. Usually they say during this they talk about their day. There is ample time to find out every detail! Matt had two cups—it is strong, but didn’t keep me awake. I’m running on fumes and will probably sleep for a week after this!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just So You Know...

I went to a doctor over by Mustafa's, told him my situation, and he gave me some strong antibiotics, zyrtec (I laugh because customs wouldn't let this through in our FedEx package), some nasty cough suppressant, and some extra medicines in case we fall sick in Ethiopia--after India I hope not!!

I am better although I don't have much of a voice. The weather is quite cool in Addis this week--not even making it into the 70s (between 14-21 C). Please continue to pray for good health. Us Singaporeans (or expats who have lived here for 10 years) do not handle cold well.

I hope to update more while in Ethiopia, but we'll see how the Internet does. If its too slow I'll post later from the States.

Thanks for praying!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Please Pray With Us!

We're excited to be leaving TOMORROW for Ethiopia! Here's how you can pray
with us:

1. In the last 12 hours I've developed a bad cough. I'm going to the
doctor this morning which still gives me two full days to get better! Pray
for good health throughout the trip. I don't think that this is a
coincidence that I'm getting sick right before the trip.

2. Pray for Ana as she has 2 1/2 full days of travel in the next week.
Pray that she'll be able to sleep well and that I will be especially

3. Pray for our court date (May 27th) specifically that the MOWA letter
would be there so that we would pass. This is not impossible, but would be
a minor miracle!!

4. Pray for Matt as he returns to Singapore to finish off the school year

We thank you for praying and will send out another update after our trip!

Matt, Valerie, and Ana

Friday, May 20, 2011

Packing and So Long

I have finally allowed myself to get the suitcases out today. (If you pack early here--it starts to smell!) We will have three full boxes of donations for Layla--a lot of which has come from the school. It is a little bit tricky packing because Ana and I have to bring stuff back for the States too. I guess if we forget something Matt can always bring it later.

On Thursday Ana and I said our goodbyes. This is always a hard time of year because you say farewell to the Seniors, staff, and families. Expat life is a constant goodbye (and often you have no hope of seeing these people again). It tends to wear on you when you're in one place for a long time. We also found out that some of Ana's playmates down the hall will be going back to Bangladesh. You either get really good at moving on emotionally or you can get really bitter! So, we move forward (in this case to Ethiopia)!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Neighborhood Play

Ana loves to play everyday with her friends. She just waits to hear them yelling at the door, "Annnnaaaa, bicycle?" Because of the extra room on her bike, she (or whoever is using it at the moment) is responsible for carting around the little one. She's so cute I've never heard any protests, BUT try to take her seat and you'll hear some screaming for sure!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Sorry I haven't been posting. The heat index here for the past couple of days has been over 110. We haven't been doing much!
We did get plane tickets and will leave on Monday the 23rd. We fly through Germany. I had to go to Memphis in the States because it is race weekend in Indy. (We arrive there on the 29th in the late afternoon--sorry you'll have to miss church mom and dad!) At least I had two options.
Today we spent some time at Vivo. The highs in Ethiopia are in the lower 80's (which will be very chilly for us!) We found two Children's Place long sleeve shirts for Ana for a couple of dollars. I also found a new pair of shorts and a shirt for pretty cheap. We're looking forward to shopping in the States as well!
Hope to post some pictures soon! Just can't venture very far from the fan!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Court Date!

We have a court date! (May 27) I was expecting to have more bad news from the agency and was shocked to find that there are no problems. Now we are scrambling to get tickets and decide summer plans. Matt wants to return to Singapore for graduation and all the admin. stuff he needs to do, but Ana and I will probably go directly to the States.

We thank God for sustaining us through and almost 2 year wait (not that the waiting is all over!)