Friday, March 19, 2010

To Never Forget...

That's a lot of stuff...

Madison was a little anxious about our journey...

our view of Paw Paw and Mamaw for the first flight

Madison and Nani...

now that's a mini pretzel...

saying goodbye as Matt and I get ready to board from Amsterdam to Addis Ababa...

we each had our own personal tv screens where you could track your location or watch movies or tv or play games...really cool!!

Daddy's getting excited to hold our precious boy!!!

seeing the clouds from above is a really cool experience...

we made it!!!

I took a journal on our trip to Ethiopia because I knew before I left that I would experience things I would never want to forget. Honestly, I was selfishly wanting to make some memories of a really cool trip! God had other plans! He planned to break my heart for these people as His is broken, to see the extreme poverty up close and personal and to be humbled by the gentleness, love and joy these amazing people display. I see their poverty, they see God's grace and provision. What a lesson that teaches me. In a country of such extreme wealth we have such a more, more, more mentality. Give me more toys so I'll be happy and my friends can be impressed. I know we don't think in those words, but if we're honest, we do take comfort in things much more than we should!! I know I need to take this time to journal these thoughts, because it is too easy to just take my place back in American culture and become numb to the hunger, disease, homelessness and loss of family of the Ethiopian culture. May my heart stay broken!

February 10th...DAY 1 it really time to zip up these suitcases that have lived in my living room for a few weeks slowly being filled to overflowing? Somehow looking at all of the things that had to go in our four giant suitcases and two Rubbermaid bins I thought we would never make it all fit, but not only did it fit, each suitcase was within 2 lbs of 50lb weight limit! What a cool God thing!
Shockingly, even to me, I had a very peaceful heart this morning. We had decided to leave early to take the kids out for breakfast. It was a great plan to get to spend some relaxed time with them before leaving Abby and Max for 10 days. From the restaurant Matt took Max to school and I dropped Abby off. Then it was back home for a final inspection and loading up Lester's car for the ride to the airport.
I had gone to the airport a few days earlier to find out if we could ship the bins free (since they were filled with donations). I had been told on the phone that I could, but that I had to go early to talk to a manager to confirm it. Well, after being told no way and that there was no manager there for me to talk to (lovely) I stood my ground and asked to use the phone to get through to customer service, which was a busy line for about 20 minutes. I think I exasperated the Delta guy enough for him to realize I wasn't going anywhere without an answer. He finally said, "Well, maybe there is a manager back there, let me check." Mmmmm Hmmmm!
Said manager was able to authorize the bins to travel free (which saved us $100 bucks). Totally worth it!
Anyway, we met Paw Paw, Mamaw and Nani at the airport and after checking in made our way to the terminal. It looked like our flight was scheduled to leave on time and since we were about 2 hours early we had planned to have a leisurely breakfast at the airport. While hanging at the gate for a few minutes before breakfast, Dad happened to talk to the ticket guy about his air miles. At that exact time the ticket guy said he heard there was a problem with our plane and that even though it hadn't posted yet, it would be delayed and we would miss our connecting flight in Atlanta. But, there happen to be a plane leaving right at that moment at the same gate and we could get on that one and be fine. Go God!! How awesome was that! So sans breakfast we boarded the plane!
We made it to Atlanta in time for a quick lunch at Qudoba and off to Amsterdam. That 10 hour flight wasn't too bad. Matt and I had a bulk head seat and had plenty of leg room. I don't think we appreciated that leg room as much as we should have, as I would realize on later flights!!!
In Amsterdam Matt and I had to quickly find out gate and say our goodbyes to Dad, Sarah, Mom and Madison. When we got in line another couple from our agency also going to adopt recognized me! How fun! Another about 9 hour flight with an hour layover in Sudan and we were in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I had kept my emotions in check until we stepped off the plane. The reality that we were in the same city as our son hit and the tears began to flow!
It was great to be able to go through the Visa line with Angela and John.
Then it was time for luggage. We had been warned about the relentless bag guys. We grabbed a luggage cart and piled our own luggage on. We had everything but one missing bin. I went to an empty line to report my missing bin and had my first experience with the laid back Ethiopian culture. It was about an hour later (maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit) that we had a claim number to call and pick up my bin if it came the next day) and it was out to the terminal to find Dave. It was such a relief to see Dave and know that he would be with us the rest of the way!
I think it was something close to midnight Ethiopia time and about 24 hours after we began our journey, but we were there and were so excited to be taking it all in!
When we got to Bingham academy (where Dave and Christy work and live) Christy greeted us with banana bread and cookies...YUM!!!!!) Seeing Dave and Christy again was like we had never been apart. If we weren't so exhausted we could have talked and hung out all night!!!! LOVE THEM!!!
After all that travel I had to take a hot shower and the plan was to take an Ambien to help me sleep. Even though we were exhausted my body felt like it was the middle of the day (because of the time change). It didn't help that I had accidentally taken a Tylenol (which I thought was my Ambien). I went to bed at 2:30am and tossed and turned until about 6-7am before finally crashing. Christy woke us up at 10:30 am so that we could begin to get our bodies adjusted to the new time change.

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