First make sure you go read the Compassion links in the post below this one and second, I wrote this post while in Ethiopia about our next to last day there but couldn't post it then b/c the internet was down so that is why it seems odd when I am using present tense verbs. I wrestled with whether or not to post it b/c it is a kind of a blah-sounding post, but I wanted to be consistently transparent about how our whole trip went and include every day of the trip so here it is...I will give more details about the last day and our Compassion visit in the next post, I promise :) (hey, you know what? I should really use the word "post" more often don't you think?)
Today started off difficultly as we were the first ones on the schedule to have a meeting with our birthmother. We got up and dressed but neither of us felt like eating as we were nervous and on the verge of tears the whole morning. We made the walk up to HH, barely speaking and silently praying all the way, and got to HH about 10 minutes early as we didn't want to run into her at the gate as we were already feeling self conscious about the meeting. We went to Almaz's office and sat down and chatted with her a bit while we waited. We talked about what to expect and what we might ask her, etc. But then we waited, and waited and waited-she did not come, which does sometimes happen for any number of reasons. The family who was supposed to be after us got there very early for the same reason as we did, only their birthmom was there so we left the office so they could meet and we went outside and played with all the babies-it was their sunbathing time. Zoe fell asleep on Pat so he wandered around the compound while I kissed and prayed over and hugged and held as many as I could, assuring them they had mommies and daddies coming as soon as they could and shooing flies away so they would not pester them. I wanted nothing more than for all their parents to come get them RIGHT. THEN. AGCI provides them excellent care as much as they can, but it is not home and it is not mom and dad. Some loved to smile at me and let me tickle them and give them kisses, some eyed me suspiciously, and some flat out cried when they saw my pasty white face making googly eyes at them. Can't say as I blame them, those Ethiopian Special Mothers at HH, like most Ethiopian women, are strikingly beautiful--I would prefer to look at them too!! We prayed while the other family had their meeting and we cried with them and hugged them when it was over. We weren't sure if we were relieved we had not gone through it or we were terribly sad that we hadn't—such mixed feelings. A little guy at HH befriended me and we sat and played with his little car for a while, zooming it back and forth to one another across the concrete. I let him wear my sunglasses for a bit, which were WAY too big on his tiny head making it extra funny, but he accidentally broke them so that didn't last long. It was getting close to Zoe's bottle time so Almaz told us to go back to the hotel and if the birthmom showed up, she would call us to come back up.
We got back to the hotel and just sat and talked for a bit with Sarah and Allan, another AGCI family who we have loved getting to know on this trip. We eventually went up to our room where we crashed, dead to the world, for a while-the activity of the week, the emotional overload, the teetering on the edge of feeling sick to our stomach from any number of things all took its toll and we were spent. We rested until we had to eat a quick lunch and go back to HH to go over paperwork that will come back with us through immigration and how that will all work. We spent the afternoon hanging around HH some more, then it was back to the hotel for another Zoe feeding and crash on the bed-my stomach is seeming to be discontent right now and I just wanted to lie down. We are so tired right now, weary actually-we have so enjoyed our time here and have seen and done so much, but we also want to take a real shower where you can breathe while showering without fear a drop of contaminated water has gotten into your mouth, we want to get our sick baby to the doctor, we want to eat food we recognize and know how it will affect our stomachs, and most of all, we want to see our other girls because we miss them SO much. We feel a little lost without them, truly. We took the babies up to HH in the evening to say goodbye to the Special Mothers who do the night shift as they have not been there during the days when we are there (thanks Captain Obvious! I am such a clever writer, no??) and it was again wonderful and difficult all at the same time.
We left there to head to a local restaurant that featured traditional food and dancers performing the dances of different regions of Ethiopia. It was ok, but not as lively as the other night and I didn't eat most of the food because I still just felt mildly yucky. They did have COLD drinks though-wahoo! You have no idea how much you miss that until you cannot have it!! There is no ice here because of the contaminated water so most things are room temperature to “cool” which = yuck when you are super thirsty from the hot dustiness--mmm, nothing quenches an intense thirst like tepid water or warm coke. I actually had a dream last night that I was drinking a gigantic fountain coke-it was the Best. Dream. Ever. Anyway, Zoe totally lost it towards the end and fortunately we left soon after-she enjoyed the bumpy breezy ride home though and calmed down quite a bit-phew! We came back to the hotel to find the internet was finally working after 2 days of being down and we immediately got on to check email and were blessed to hear from so many friends and family back home-I cried just knowing how many people care and are following along with us and praying for us-we need it and we appreciate it so much! Most of our suitcases are packed and ready to go tomorrow as we will have a busy day right up until it is time to go to the airport-we are hoping our Compassion meeting works out this time so we can end our trip with one more gigantic blessing! Either way, this has been the trip of a lifetime and we will always treasure it for so many many reasons, the biggest being it is where we were finally united with our Zoe forever.