Yesterday there were power outages and we weren’t able to get online, so this is a delayed post.
I wanted to make a comment about the inconsistencies of Ethiopia. My friend Charlene commented on how modern the roadway looked in the photo from the last post. And it is! But all along that modern-looking road are dirt alleyways lined with tin and dung-covered shacks. Families carry water and have no plumbing, refrigeration etc. Daily we see adult men urinating publicly next to the sidewalk. There are filthy and often injured feral dogs, and we frequently have to navigate around large raw bones (presumably thrown out by the butchers…probably how the dogs stay alive), open holes, or piles of rubble. And yet, we are greeted regularly by the beautiful smiling faces of people, and children want to hold or shake our hands.
Here is a little dog we see every day…he clearly lives with a family at this shop next to the butcher and he seems unusually healthy. He’s almost always lying in the middle of the sidewalk.
Here is the butcher shop next door. These are common around here, and some of them have an outdoor eating area where locals eat kitfo (might be spelling that wrong), which is chopped raw meat. Wow, they must have guts of steel!
Here is a little shop on the corner near Layla:
Monday was a very busy day at Layla with lots of visiting parents and quite a few going to court. To my knowledge, everyone passed! There were lots of happy families. To our great delight, we met the new mother and sisters of Mesfin, a 15- or 16-year old boy who has been at Layla for some time. He is a sweet and helpful boy, and I was so delighted to hear that he had a family. It is so difficult to place older children. Mesfin has a young brother, Henok, who is about five years old who will go home with the family this week as well. Joy!
The longer we’ve spent here, the more our hearts have broken for the older children here. There’s a 13-year-old boy, Ebenezer, who is a quiet and sweet boy with excellent English skills. He is one of the children who showed concern over Alex’s tears a few days ago, and then yesterday asked us if he was doing better. I believe Ebenezer has been in the orphanage for four years or so, and he has a brother who is HIV+ who lives in another children’s home.
This morning we attended the most wonderful “Morning Glory” prayer meeting at 6:30 at the church. May, a joyful Ethiopian woman, led us in prayer and worship filled with the spirit. We prayed for Ebenezer and his brother.
Our hearts are also broken for a sweet little girl, known as Melili, who has three other siblings. We pray that a family can be found for these four sisters and brothers. Melili was the little girl who was singing at the top of ther lungs in Melkam’s music class the first day we were at the orphanage. She is oozing with personality. It took about a week for her to warm up to us, but she has climbed in my lap several times. She is funny, bossy, and smart. She and her siblings are wonderful children and we hope they can find a family!
We’ve been here long enough to have the children get comfortable with us and begin to expose more of their personalities. We experienced a bit of a tantrum yesterday afternoon by Melkam. I have a feeling he’s capable of some pretty ugly behavior, and it will be our challenge to parent him through it. As a wise adoptive mother told us recently, focus on the relationship first…the bonding and attachment are vital if any discipline is to be effective.
We accomplished a special goal yesterday: We presented the boys with bracelets symbolizing each member of our family, as well as the bond between Ethiopia and America. Eleny translated for us as we tied these bracelets on them and ourselves, and showed them the one we would tack to the wall above Eliana’s crib. We had our friend Laura shoot video for us.
We were at Layla for almost the whole day yesterday, except for a lunch outing with Michelle and Todd from Florida who are adopting a baby girl from Eliana’s room. We continue to be humbled by the reality of our family expansion and what we are taking on. We know it will not be easy, but God is faithful and we believe that He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t also provide the strength for. We continue to be grateful to be on this journey!
I must end this post by saying that we are very sad to have just learned that in the past couple of days, water pipes broke in our home and there is a great deal of damage both upstairs and down. We are so grateful to you friends and neighbors who are doing what you can to help. We are not sure what we will be returning to when we get home.