Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Update from the Hams

Sorry it has been so long since we've had time to update. Our days here have been very full!

We are very emotionally spent. What we have seen and heard has definitely changed's hard to explain the heartache we have felt for so many of the people here. I can't help but cry now as I even think of it. Last night Sammy, a wonderful young Christian man that drives/translates here for our guest house took us over by Kora, the leper colony. Sammy (and also his friend that accompanied us) grew up there and mostly lived at the nearby city garbage dump because they were so poor that was where they got their food. We went to the dump...........Sammy knows all the people who live there now because he tries to minister to all of them. Just these huge massive mountains of filth and garbage............... some piles are burned as they are dumped and the stench was more than I could bear! There were mothers living there with babies strapped on their backs.........there are pigs and dogs that live there, too. All the children there had on two different shoes on.......whatever they find in the piles of garbage. It's just hard to process it hard to believe people really live like this and children grow up digging for scraps of food in a garbage dump.

Over the weekend, it was arranged for us to go and visit Leku, 5 hours south of the city where Hana's birth family lives. Hana's birth mom had been brought into the city to meet us, and so we were given the option of going with them to take her back home. She is just the most beautiful Christian woman who is very, very destitute. Actually, the entire community she lives in is very poor. She attends a protestant church in her community and her faith is very strong. She told us she had been praying for a long time that a wonderful Christian family would adopt Hana. She was so happy to be able to meet us. It was such a huge blessing to all of us to be able to meet together! I really feel like the details of our meeting were ordained by God. But also, it was one of the most difficult things emotionally. Eric and I just wept and so did all of her family as we said goodbye. Meseret, Hana's mom, and her older brother and sister all live in a very small little dirt floor room ( maybe 6 x 8 ft?) with a small grass filled mattress on the floor where they all sleep. Everything they own is in a little corner of that room. The walls and ceiling have large holes everywhere so there is no shelter from the rain. This is where Hana lived before her mother brought her to the orphanage. It was so much to take in emotionally.........I felt like I was going to break in two from the pain of seeing it. We also met Hana's aunt, Meseret's sister, and her children and husband. Please pray for them. They hugged us and didn't want to let go as we wept. We were able to take Meseret to the local store to get some groceries for her family............mostly dried beans, rice, and corn and some spices. As diffiult as all of this was, we feel SO very blessed to have had this time. It was priceless!

Today we have our Embassy appointment and we'll be bringing the kids back to stay with us for good tonight. We've really enjoyed getting to vist them twice and spend time with them. Edilu, I think will be a fairly easy transition.......he is such a sweetie. Hana has done pretty well. She's taken to Eric and I pretty well, but for SOME reason she is not so sure about Caleb. Poor Caleb keeps trying........but she doesn't really want anything to do with him. Hopefully it's short lived! They told us she gets homesick sometimes and can be a little bit sensitive. I think with time she'll be just fine, but she has so much to process. She is old enough to remember her mother and brother and sister. She's been moved to different orphanges 3 times........ I think I would be feeling much the same as she is . Confused, sad and wondering if THESE people (us) are going to go away after a while, too, just like all the others do. Please pray for her little heart. I can see sadness in her eyes and I can tell she is thinking/remembering.

That's all for now. Love to you all!

Friday Post

Today was quite a day! We were SOOOO happy to be able to spend a few hours next to Hana's birth mom at Tikuret orphanage (where Hana spent about 8 months before she was moved in January to the care center). Definitely an emotional time, but SO SO wonderful to have the chance to meet and speak with her. She was so happy to learn we were Christians and said she has been praying for a good Christian family for Hana and was thrilled to meet us. We learned so much more about the family situation and see clearly that she loves Hana with all her heart, but only wanted a much better life for her. We of course will share many more details when we see you all. It was just a precious time, even for Caleb who spoke up all on his own to tell her we will always be praying for her and that we will love and take such good care of Hana. She loved hearing those words from the boy who is to be Hana's older seemed to mean a lot to her. Tikuret also planned a special coffee ceremony and lunch ( I'm trying to like ET's interesting). Unfortunately we weren't able to get hardly any video of Hana's mom b/c the battery had gone dead. But we did get several pictures, and those will be priceless.

Tomorrow morning we are going to go meet Hana and Edilu at the care center and spend a little bit of time with them. In the afternoon, Tikuret has arranged for us to go South to the area Hana is from, and it sounds like we may have the opportunity to go with them as they take Meseret (her mother) home and to see where they live. From what she told us, she and her other two children are renting out a corner of a kitchen. Hopefully we will get the chance to meet the older siblings and see where Hana lived before being brought to the orphanage. We'll be spending the night about 5 hours from the city for tomorrow night if everything goes as planned, and then we'll drive back home Sunday morning I think.

Please continue to pray that our health will hold out for the remainder of the trip. We both had bad headaches when we woke up this morning and just felt a little icky. Maybe some of it is just from the huge time change on our bodies.

Won't be here tomorrow night to update, but will be back and can hopefully update you Sunday eve.


Thursday Update

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010, 3:32 PM

Wow! After 30+ hours of travel we are finally here and are at our guest house!!! I've actually spent 30 minutes just trying to access our blog to post an update. I will never ever complain about our internet connections being slow at home again! I gave up on the blog, but for now wanted to email you guys and let you know we arrived safe and sound. We appreciate EVERY prayer lifted up on our behalf! Everything with our flights really went well, but it truly was an exhausting trip. Caleb was especially looking VERY weary tonight, and I thought at first he had a fever. I think though, really, it is just sheer exhaustion. He's been in a fog the last several hours and hasn't had much sleep at all and is SO tired. It's REALLY hard to sleep in those airplane chairs. We're praying we'll all wake up feeling rejuvenated tomorrow!

Thankfully I had gone to that prompt care to get that antibiotic for the sinus infection before we left, because as soon as we boarded the plane from Minneapolis to head to Amsterdam yesterday, I knew I had a fever. I had had the chills all morning and just couldn't get warm, then I'd feel like I was burning up and would take all my layers off. I was really glad I had also packed a thermometer and all sorts of meds in our carry on. Today has been better, so hopefully that antibiotic is working!

It was SOOOO neat seeing the Sahara Desert and the Nile River today from our airplane window!

I know there are many more details to tell, but for tonight just wanted to let you guys know we arrived safe and sound and that all is well. Please keep praying that we will all stay fairly healthy. It seems impossible between lack of sleep, stagnant airplane air for hours on end, airplane food, etc... We are SOOO thankful that ALL of our luggage arrived with us.......hopefully we didn't forget anything major!

Tomorrow, we are HOPING to meet Hana's birth mom at the Tikuret orphanage where Hana was for 6 months. We are hopeful it will happen, and yet we know there's the possibility that she won't/can't make it into the city. Pray for wisdom for us either way. We still haven't decided for sure if we are going to try to visit the area the kids were born in. We'll keep you posted. It's looking like we'll get to meet the kids on Saturday am for the first time. Then Monday, Hana will come back to the Guest Home with us, and Tuesday Edilu will be handed over to us.

We'll keep you posted and will try again another time to post on the blog.

Love you all,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This is it!!! Leaving in less than 24 hours!!!

Everyone's still asleep and the house is quiet......thought I'd better get on here and post before the rush of the day begins and it gets too busy!!

I can hardly believe this is the last night we'll be home to tuck our kids in as a family of 5!! Life will surely be much different after this point! It's a strange feeling. SO excited, and yet just like I remember feeling as I was whisked off to the hospital to deliver each baby.......that sobering time of realizing you are entering a new phase of life. Even though it's exactly where you want to be, you sort of mourn the loss of life as you now know it and realize you are closing the door to many things this past season of life had. Definitely no more running off to the grocery store by myself to leave Caleb to babysit the others.(Who can basically fend for themselves anyways!) Here we come bottles, diapers, sleepless nights and LOTS of sign language!!! We've had the privilege of watching many friends tread through similar waters, and we're thankful it has given us a realistic perspective of what to expect. It'll be rough for awhile, but we know God will give us the grace to get through ONE day at a time!! =)

So we leave our house at 4am tomorrow and head to Peoria airport. We have about 33 hours of transit time before we arrive in Addis Ababa, and then when we do, they are 9 hours ahead of us. So upon arrival, it will be bedtime (11pm) in Ethiopia and only 2 pm Illinois time!! (on Thursday) Hopefully we'll quickly adjust to the flip-flopping of nights/days because the week is too special to be walking around in a daze! We ARE bringing a sleep aid amongst a whole HOST of other drugs.(Really, we could have our own pharmacy.....just in case!)

Some wonderful friends of ours blessed us with a laptop, so we'll have a way to communicate while we're away. It sounds like the guest house we are staying in is really safe and wonderful for adoptive families to stay at. It was actually started by an American couple who adopted from Ethiopia themselves. ALL of the profit they make goes right back to the orphanages surrounding them. They have generators so that we can have HOT showers even when the electricity is out!! (which it sounds like happens very frequently) We hear internet is "spotty" at best in Ethiopia, but we should have some times where we can update throughout the week. We'll try to post after arriving safely and atleast once or twice throught out week before leaving.

Here are some ways you can pray for us:

1.) That all three of us (Eric, Caleb, and I) will stay healthy for the extent of the 9 days we are gone. SO many people are sick from one thing or another by the time they come home. We want to be able to soak up this trip and don't want anything to take away our short 6 1/2 days in country.

2.) Safe travel on our long flights there and back. And for the way home, being able to manuever our 1 and 4 yr. old through the airports with our luggage in tow. Hopefully they will SLEEP for a good part of our LONG trip back the the USA.

3.)For the kids we are leaving behind.....that God would bless them with comfort and peace at having mom and dad gone for so long. We're so thankful to have loving grandparents to step in and help us in that area. That makes it MUCH easier to leave them.

4.)That Hana and Edilu would quickly begin the process of attaching and bonding to their new dad, mom, and brother. We have a lot to learn about each other in the days ahead......

5.)That God would grow our love and faith in Him as we step into this foreign land.......that we will be impacted by what we see in a positve, life changing way.

And finally, that God would give each in our family wisdom and grace as we figure out how to transition into a family of 7.

We've been SO blessed..... It is hard to explain the love we have felt from the support and encouragement of so many. Please continue to keep us in your prayers this week! Hope I'll be on here again SOON! =)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A few more of our cuties.......

Got home from teaching History this afternoon and a few more pictures had trickled into my inbox of the kids. I have to say our agency is SO SO good about updating us with pictures all the time. I just LOVE it! Makes it feel like they're not SO far away..... =)

Getting to know you...........

So FUN to see pictures of our two new ones TOGETHER!!! Hana and Edilu were both moved to this transition home in January, but before that were in separate orphanages 4 hours apart and had never seen each other. Even in this current transition home, Edilu is pretty much kept in the "baby area" where all the cribs and baby toys are lined up, so they don't really see each other very often. We were thrilled to get photos of them
spending a little time together. I wonder what Hana thinks about being told this is her new baby brother? =) She seems to like him in the photos!!!! Of course, she might think differently when she's stuck next to him on the plane for hours and hours and he's crying in her ear! Only time will tell..........actually only 15 more days til TAKE OFF!!!!

We are still crazy busy.........organizing, sorting, finding missing crib hardware, digging in the attic for baby stuff, etc., etc, etc.... We have been so blessed by so many who have helped us! We're SO SO thankful for our friends and family! I AM feeling a bit better, although still hanging onto the sinus stuff and praying it's gone very SOON! Should help now that we are ALMOST done painting! Just our upstairs bathroom and our bedroom baseboard trim to go.......

Below are some pictures I just received this morning of Hana and Edilu with the little photo albums we sent them over a week ago! We filled the albums with pictures of our faces and home so they could get a little aquainted with us before we pick them up in a couple of weeks. Looks like Eddy likes Hana's album better than his own! Maybe once he figures out that he can chew on the handle, he'll like it more! =)

Thanks for your continued prayers!!!!!!!!!