The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Journeys of Faith

Last May, just one year ago, I was in Malawi, and Uganda, and then in Ethiopia meeting Ariam.

I don't just travel all over Sub-Saharan Africa for fun. (Although traveling for work is a special kind of fun. A fun that brings me into lives and villages and stories in a way that traveling "for fun" as a tourist never could.)

I traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Uganda in 2009 and 2010 to write the stories that are part of Journeys of Faith. Stories of U.S. churches partnering with African communities that care for orphans and vulnerable children within families. It is a resource guide for anyone interested in becoming involved in "orphan care." It was a labor of love and a true journey of faith. During the two years it took to create this publication our lead writer was diagnosed with cancer, our designer's father died, my husband had to have surgery (during a crucial phase of work), and my supervisor and I both became incredibly, debilitatingly sick for several weeks. Faith. And a lot of long nights and weekends.

I hope that whether you consider yourself a "Christian" or not, you will read the publication. I think it is relevant for anyone who has, or who hopes to, adopt from Africa. And anyone who cares about orphans and vulnerable children.


Because blogger isn't functional in Ethiopia, I want to mark a milestone on our own 'Journey of Faith' - the anniversary of passing court and officially becoming parents on May 24th, 2010. Sitting in a hotel restaurant in Gulu, Uganda, in the dark (power went out), dipping french fries into ketchup and eating chapatis. I had the cell phone sitting right by my plate and drifted in and out of conversation as the hope of a "We passed!" text consumed my mind.

When it came, the emotion just rushed over me and bubbled out all over my lovely colleague and Ugandan aquaintance. I sat blubbering at that table knowing that our lives would never be the same. The time, place, and moment are forever seared in my memory.

Tonight I am in a hotel, heading back to Ethiopia to participate in The Way Forward Project.

I was sad to say goodbye to J and the little A. Concerned to say goodbye to Cassidy who has been slipping away from us little by little. My stomach was tight through my whole first flight. And then I arrived in Dulles tonight and the familiar thrill of traveling took over. The world is SO WIDE. And so full of beauty and pain. It holds so much fascination for me. I stood a little straighter, pulled back my shoulders, breathed in the familiar Dulles airport, and my heart began to ready for Ethiopia.


(The video I received from a traveling friend right after passing court.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Day In The Life: Tuesday May 17, 2011

Our day began at 4:30am.
Cries from the room next door.
Only Daddy would do. And so I got to drift in and out of poor early morning sleep. 
At 5:30am the Buttercup (also known as the Doodle also known as Ariam) was deposited in bed with me and we managed to doze, with the aid of the coveted (but supposedly banned) bottle of warm milk, for two more hours.

Lots of yawning. Apparently too bright for bare eyes.
We don't speak a lot in the morning. Ariam and I like to greet the morning quietly.

This is our morning conversation:
Me: "Let's get in the high chair."
A: "Eggies."
Me: "Ok, I'll make eggies. Drink some orange juice."

Stimulating huh?
Sometimes we turn on quiet radio. If I remember I drink a cup of Zen tea.

I feed the dogs.

The clock rolls over to 8:00am.

Ariam and I work on finishing her meds and her hair routine. Both accomplished with a little help from E.lmo or Yo Ga.bba Ga.bba. (Love that portable DVD player!)

I critically assess how dry Ariam's hair has become. We love Daddy dearly. But leaving him in charge of hair for four days while I traveled did not produce good results.

  I fly through our normal hair routine: soak with water/spray bottle, use fingers to spread Kinky Curly Knot Today leave in from roots to tips (finger detangling), detangle with more detail using wide tooth comb. Add a style (today two flat twists into two puffs) and use Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey to add some finger coils for definition.

The dishes begin to procreate like bunnies. Soon they have taken over the sink and counter.
The dishes and I have a come to Jesus moment.
I win. Dishes remain dirty.

This special corner of the couch calls softly and sweetly.
I curl up to quickly check email and order a slew of Darcy's Botanicals hair products for Ariam.

9:00 - 10:00am
The Doodle and I ready ourselves. It isn't pretty. There is chasing, squealing, cajoling, lost shoes, misplaced barrettes, several diaper changes, and pounding on the shower door as I try to take the world's fastest shower.
Somehow we end up strapped into the car. Finally.

With the early morning over, Ariam and I become much nicer versions of ourselves. We sing Indigo Girls and Sara Groves loudly until the peanut gallery begins requesting a twinkle twinkle duet.

We discuss big trucks, red trucks, cars, airplanes, and helicopters on the drive to the mall.
Ari reminds me at regular intervals that she wants to EAT.

We arrive at the mall and EAT immediately!

We share Ariam's favorite combo: beans, avocado, rice, and fish mash. Ariam feels very strongly about cutlery but only as an accessory.

We shop. Ariam rides in an expensive green cart she begged for. After five minutes she demands to be let out and alternates between wanting to be carried and running wild and free. The cart, however, is very useful for lugging drinks, bags and the giant camera I'm hauling through the mall...

The mall trip was supposed to be lunch, play, and the return of a $7 pack of batteries.
Ice cream is proffered as a peace offering. Ariam forgives me the lengthy mall wandering.


Naptime part one takes place in the car. Naptime the sequel in the nursery.

The dishes. They are still there. Now growing tentacles.
I order a pair of jeans online and avoid eye contact.

We are running late for immunizations.
Ariam is in a delightful mood. She sings "the doctor the doctor" and chows on grapes and cheese in the backseat. We are only 15 minutes late. I consider it a tremendous success.

We are in. We play with babies. We get shots. There are tears and accusatory looks. But she's still standing.

Arrive home and Daddy is there!! Doing the dishes!!!!

Ariam takes the opportunity to share her sorrow with Daddy regarding the injustice of a lovely trip to the doctor ruined by long scary needles. She cries sorrowfully into his shoulder. I miss the photo because every time I approach with the camera she flails and increases 100% in volume. Daddy is properly sympathetic.

I catch one photo of post-sob play. Note the huge lingering tear.

Freak rain storm. I put desperately dehydrated plants out to catch a few drops. J and A run garbage to the alley. Fascinating stuff huh?

Starving toddler syndrome + giant foot "owie" (it was her first spliner!) join forces to produce this....

Food is produced post-haste.

A state of the union is held regarding what has (or hasn't) been found in Ariam's diaper over the last 24 hours. Conclusion? A fruit "smoobie" is needed for improved digestive comfort.

It is the best smoobie ever.

With a vastly improved mood, Ariam joined us for dinner on the front porch. It was lovely.

Ariam becomes a dancing frog.


Bath. Lotion. Books. Cuteness.


The Dishes. They're back.

First wake up from the Doodle. She's angry - telling us all about the owie where she got her shots this afternoon. Ib.uprofen is doled out liberally along with a soothing warm water bottle. (Weren't we banning bottles from the crib?)

I am eyeing the suitcase of gifts packed for friends in Ethiopia. There is a brownie mix calling my name....