Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shopping for ribbon and fabric
Lunch at Island Breeze
Lion Zoo
Transition Home
Leaving for home!

Today we stopped at the coffee factory to try again to buy some coffee and go on the tour. Success! We were able to get coffee gifts for friends and also to take the kids for the tour. It’s very interesting. This is one of the suppliers of Starbucks, but you can get a caramel macchiato there for less than a $1.50.

These ladies hand-sort and choose quality raw coffee beans. 
They remove the defective ones and leave the "good" ones. 
The belt moves every few minutes to deposit the good ones in a bin at the end of the row.
Wyatt's expression after chewing a coffee bean. 
We were told that many people just chew the roasted beans, so all the big boys tried it.
 Then we went on a search for some ribbon and fabric. There are lots of places that sell dresses other hand-made items, but I wanted to purchase just some ribbon and fabric to make some dresses for the girls myself. Dawit was very sweet to help me go on this wild goose chase. We asked a few people and the only place anyone could think of that might possibly have ribbon or fabric was the market at the bottom of Entoto Mountain. We looked and looked and finally found ribbon all the way at the back of the market. Then we went in several shops to see if they had fabric, but in all of the ones that would sell just fabric, the fabric was SO expensive. I finally found some that I really liked and Dawit was able to get me a really great deal on it. I can’t wait to make Easter dresses for the girls!

While I was shopping, the boys entertained themselves by trying to jump up on some of the raised sidewalks, etc. The market is on different levels, and there are many places with 2 or 3 steps to go up or down. The boys decided to try jumping flatfooted up to the other levels. All was going great until Eli missed the level and scraped the front of his leg on the concrete wall. I was talking to someone about ribbon and his fall caught their eye. I saw them cringe and look at me as if to say, “Isn’t that your kid?” I just looked around and said, “Yeah, he’s mine. He’ll be fine.” Job went and found some medicine and cotton and doctored Eli’s leg. (Thanks, Job!) I kept shopping…

Next was lunch at Island Breeze again. We had a great time visiting with Dawit and Job and eating the delicious food. The owner of the restaurant is originally from Ethiopia but lived in the US for a while. So glad we got to go there again before we left Addis.

We went to the Lion Zoo after lunch. It was very interesting. We’d heard that it didn’t take long to see it all, and that was correct. They had about a dozen lions, a couple of ducks, 6 or 7 monkeys, a tortoise, an twiching and jumping animal that was kept on a rope, and a few greater kudu. It was sort of like a cartoon zoo in that the animals were all kept in concrete-bottom cages with metal bars. We were not very far from the monkeys or lions at all. And we just walked right up to the greater kudu wire fencing. I had to tell a couple of the kids to get their hands out of there!

greater kudu



After the zoo, we took the kids back to the Transition Home to say goodbye to their friends and nannies. Again, they were so excited to go down that street again. It was bitter sweet for all of us. Glad ours now have a family and so happy that we ARE that family, but sad to know they may not see many of their good friends who have become like brothers and sisters to them again. We do plan to keep in contact and try to visit with all the ones we can.  Their closest friends will (or already do) live in TX, IL, IN, and MO, so it will be difficult, but we will work hard to allow them to maintain any relationships they have from Ethiopia. It's the least we can do for kids who have already lost so much.  We pray for all the kids who do not yet have families and for the families who are still waiting for the children God has planned for them.

TJ and 3 of his friends (2 of the families have not yet passed court, so I can't show their faces.)

Brielle and her friend who now lives in Indiana.
We went back to the Guest House to finish packing, eat dinner, and get showers before the long trip home. It was hard work trying to figure out how to pack things so they wouldn’t break and to fit it all into our suitcases. We were one suitcase short on the way home because one of them nearly fell apart before we got there. It was in rough shape before we left because of the abuse it had endured on the previous trip, and we knew it probably wouldn’t be worth bringing back home, but I apparently didn’t accurately plan on how much stuff we would want to bring home.
Finally, I got it all to fit and then went to take a shower. However, there was NO hot water. The kids had had showers earlier, but Michael and I were waiting until last. Monday night there had been a power surge which apparently damaged the solar water heating system they had. Therefore, there was no hot water when it was dark. We hadn’t had showers that morning because there was no hot water, and we were in a hurry and just figured we’d get one in the evening before leaving. We HAD to have showers! We told the Guest House staff our dilemma, and they heated water for us and brought it to us in buckets. So, we had “bucket” showers. Whatever. At least we were clean and felt better!

By this time, we were running late on getting downstairs to load up all of our luggage and get to the airport. While on the way, our van got stopped by the police. He told Dawit that the luggage in the back was piled too high and took his license. The way it works in Ethiopia is that you can keep your license if you pay 150 birr ($9) to the officer on the spot, or you can have your license taken and pay 300 birr ($18) later on. Dawit chose to pay 300 later because most of the time when you pay the officer, they just pocket the money and never report it.

Finally, we made it to the airport. We were so ready to get home, and not because Addis was horrible - we actually love it there!  It’s just that home is HOME, and we were ready for a daily schedule and routine and our own “non-taco” beds and bathroom drawers and sweet tea and no restaurant food. Not looking forward to the long flights, but SO ready to be home.

No Facebook posts from today:
None... no time.  :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Zebra Grill for dinner

Today we hired a driver named Samuel who was recommended to us and went outside Addis to the gorge. It’s about a 2 hour drive, and I don’t know an official name for it – we all just all called it “the gorge”. It was great to see the countryside. You really don’t have to go very far outside Addis to see a completely different way of life. The drive was absolutely beautiful.

Today was an Ethiopian Orthodox religious holiday.  That is the reason for the white clothing and head coverings.
This is a small church in the countryside.


Family working

Another homestead

Even the horses get dressed up for the religious celebration

A larger church (in the background).
There were people walking for miles from both directions toward this church.

A carved rock wall just outside the city of Addis.
The Lion of Judah is a national symbol for Ethiopia.

We parked at a restaurant situated on the edge of the gorge. We walked to the back where we could see. It was SO beautiful! We walked down some steep and rocky trails to a bridge where there were some local boys who offered to escort us across the bridge for 30 birr each. We agreed that that would be a good price, so we said okay. We walked across a bridge called the “Portuguese Bridge” that was built about 400 years ago. Except for TJ who decided he didn’t want to go and stayed with our driver to wait for us at a little hut before the bridge. The boys were great at showing us some very cool viewing areas and being patient with all of us who weren’t used to climbing all over rocks up and down the side of a mountain. There aren’t any tourist trails, of course.

The Portuguese Bridge

View from the bridge

Samuel and TJ

The waterfalls are smaller this time of year because the rainy season is over.

We had heard that there were baboons in the area that you could see and sometimes get close to, but they were not in their usual area so one of the boys ran to find them while we waited. After a while he came back and said he found some. Mattea, Brielle and I stayed and waited while Michael, Deke, Eli and Wyatt went to see them and took a couple of photos for us. There were only a couple of them out because it was an overcast and kind of rainy day so they were hiding out from the rain. TJ was very happy to see us when we got back because we had been gone for nearly an hour.

On the bridge - TJ came running across the bridge when he saw us coming.

After the tour was done, the boys told us we needed to pay a few hundred birr extra because they went to find the baboons for us. (Oh, well… we should have expected it.) We walked (I should say climbed) back to the restaurant where the van was parked. We were told we could either go into the restaurant and purchase drinks or food or we could pay for our parking. We decided to go in and only get some drinks. (We had brought some food with us because we had heard from some other families that the food was not good and that all they had was some odd spaghetti sauce with cold noodles or traditional Ethiopian food.)

Next, we decided to go to the restrooms before we left for the two hour trip back into the city. We had to walk up a hill to a little building where the restrooms were located. There was no electricity, and the stalls were completely enclosed so if you closed the door it was pitch black. There was no toilet paper (thankfully I had brought some!), and no running water. After we were “done” a lady came in with a bucket of water to pour into the toilet to flush it and then dipped water out of the bucket with a tin can so we could rinse our hands.

We drove back and stayed around the Guest House until dinner time. We walked down to eat at Zebra Grill one last time. (We should have had photos made with the waitresses there since we came to know them so well during our stay in Addis!) On the way back to the Guest House, we stopped in one of the shops and bought Deke an “Adidas Colors” jacket that he wanted  - only about $20. We also bought Mattea a shirt that she liked.

We’ve all been together a couple of weeks now. Here are some of my thoughts and observations at the two-week mark: TJ and Brielle have some really great habits. They are very diligent about brushing their teeth, putting their dirty clothes away, lining their shoes up beside their beds at night, washing their faces, bathing themselves and putting on lotions. They also are really good at sitting still and waiting – they’ve been really great at restaurants and in church. Some of the things we still need to work on are: racing while eating, grabbing things from others, and trying to be FIRST to everything.

Facebook post from today:

Can't believe we'll be heading to the airport in about 24 hours. We have had a great trip, and the kids are already saying, "Next time we come to Ethiopia..." Not looking forward to the long flights, but ready to be HOME. Please pray for easy, uneventful, sleep-filled flights for all. THANKS!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post office market to finish shopping
Lunch at Metro Pizza
Coffee Factory

We went back to the market near the post office to finish our shopping. We saw Samuel again today and gave him the gum we brought for him. He is a 15-year-old “street kid” who basically lives on the streets near the post office. He makes money for his family by shining shoes, selling gum, and donations people give him. He is such a sweet kid, he is super smart, and has a great smile. He has such a great personality that he has made friends from all around the world who return to visit him every time they are in Addis. I pray God will send a great opportunity his way soon.

Samuel and the Pierce kids

One of the shop keepers that we bought several things from on both trips. 
Next time you're in Addis, go by and see her.  Her shop is on the corner.

After the market we went to Metro Pizza for lunch then to the Robera Coffee Factory to purchase coffee and take the tour. However, they had no small bags of coffee and there was no one there to give us the tour. We decided to just go back to the Guest House for the rest of the afternoon. 

We saw one of the funniest things of our entire trip on the way back: two policemen holding hands.  In Ethiopia men and guys often hold hands or put their arms around one another as they are walking just as a gesture of friendship.  It was strange to see at first, but we sort of got used to it after a while.  However, we were NOT expecting to see two policemen holding hands - that was just a little much for us!  When we got back to the Guest House, the kids played and I washed more clothes. (Eight people sure mess up a lot of clothes!)

In Addis most restaurants serve both Coke and Pepsi products,
and they are DELICIOUS!  Soooo much better than the stuff they sell in the states.
In Amharic

TJ, Brielle, and our wonderful friend Yonas!

More clothes...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Church at IEC
Lunch at Island Breeze

Today was a very calm and restful day. We went to the International Evangelical Church again. Then lunch at Island Breeze. Then we rested for a while and played a little at the Guest House.

Job and Dawit discussing how the "fork trick" works
(Deke did the fork trick everywhere we went - we have LOTS of photos of forks, toothpicks, and salt shakers!)


Brielle and her "Mirinda".
Everywhere we went she ordered "Mirinda and sambusa"
 (Sunkist orange and samosas - a kind of deep fried pastry with beans and/or meat inside.)
Facebook posts from today:
I just love spending time in Ethiopia with other adoption families and America World staff! Getting to know all these wonderful people is a part of the adoption process that has been an unexpected blessing, and we are so thankful for the privilege of getting to know all of them. :)
TJ and Brielle danced for the Guest House staff and Job down in the lobby. The desk ladies would play songs for them so they could dance. They had everyone laughing and clapping - it was a hoot! They are so funny (and pretty good dancers, too!) LOL

TJ: "Mommy, please, my game. My game, please. Pleeeeaaase! Pleeeeaaaase! My game, Mommy!" (About his new iXL... such a Pierce kid!) LOL

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010 - CHRISTMAS DAY

Celebrating Christmas in Ethiopia
Lunch and the "mall"
Visit to KVI orphanage
Christmas dinner

We got up, got dressed, and ate breakfast downstairs at the Guest House. Afterwards we went back to the room and began our Christmas celebration. First, we read the Christmas Story from Luke 2. Then, Mattea read The Tale of Three Trees for everyone. We read it every year. We LOVE that book!

Mattea reading Tale of Three Trees and her sweet big bro Eli holding it open for her

Next we watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” which Steve and Lorena let us borrow. (They are a couple from the US staying in Addis for 6 months. He works for Pfizer, which is donating millions of dollars in medicines and resources to help with some health and disease issues in Ethiopia. We met them on our first trip and were glad we were able to visit with them again this time.)

Note: Ethiopia uses the Gregorian calendar which has 13 thirty-day months plus an additional 5 or 6 day month at the end of the year. It is 7 years “behind” our calendar. It won’t be Christmas in Ethiopia until January 7th on our calendar, so this is just a normal Saturday here.

We went to lunch at the Lime Tree and then walked over to Friendship City Center for some shopping (mostly looking). Friendship City Center is a multi-level “mall”. It’s very modern with lots of stores. In the lower level is a store which is likely the Addis equivalent of Wal-Mart. Some food, personal care items, household goods, furniture, jewelry, a few toys, etc. Wyatt bought some hot sauce for Lorena because she used it every morning on her eggs, and he noticed she was running low.  (That's SO Wyatt!)

Friendship City Center
Sisters at Lime Tree

Deke at Lime Tree

Deke's pizza with 2 bites out of a slice - it made a heart, so we had to have a photo
When we arrived back at the Guest House we loaded up all the red bins full of donations and headed over to KVI orphanage for a few hours. We took diapers, wipes, clothes for all ages, shoes, blankets, sheets, soccer balls, American football, jump rope, and a home-made version of cup-ponk. We joined T’s youth group from the International Evangelical Church there for fun with the kids. (T works for America World, is the youth pastor at the church, and is attending seminary, as well. Such a great guy! ) We made bracelets with the kids, painted fingernails, played soccer and football with the kids. However, kids in Ethiopia aren’t that interested in playing with American footballs because they’ve never seen football played on TV and don’t understand the game. (Honestly, what good is an American football if you haven’t seen that crazy sport? The ball is just weird and not good for much if you don’t “know” what to do with it. So, American footballs are not such a big hit with the kids!)

Making bracelets

A student from the church painting nails

The kids swarmed us for bracelets. They were pushing and shoving, and grabbing beads and hoarding them. It was chaos, but no one was hurting anyone else – they just all wanted to be sure to get one. Deke and some of the boys from the International Church played soccer and tossed the football around. Mattea, Eli and Wyatt helped with bracelet making then just spent time playing with the kids. It was a great experience for all of us. All the kids called me “Mommy”, and I was so heartbroken for them. I pray they will all have a real mommy of their own soon. We didn’t go inside to visit with the babies and toddlers because it was nap time. I didn’t see what the conditions were this time, but I do know that lots of people have taken donations recently so they should be better. Plus, with all of ours they should be doing a little better. I also know that others are planning to take more in the future. Hopefully, the kids are able to have their basic physical needs met now. Now, to get them all families…

In the evening, the Guest House hosted a Christmas party for all the guests. Michael told the kids there was a Christmas party that we would be going down to for dinner and tried to get Brielle to say “Christmas party”. She tried really hard, but all she could ever come up with was “Christmas FARTY”. Oh my goodness, we laughed SO hard! I’m sure that is one that will forever be a part of our Christmas vocabulary! We went to the party, the food was DELICIOUS, and we had a great time visiting with all the other families who were there.

The kids' table at the Christmas "farty"

It was a special Christmas day we will never forget. We gave no gifts to each other. We only gave to Jesus today. BEST celebration ever!

Facebook posts from today:

Merry Christmas from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! :)

Celebrating Christmas in Ethiopia today: Breakfast. Reading THE Christmas Story. Reading Tale of Three Trees. Watching Charlie Brown Christmas. Gifts (AKA candy bars!). Lunch at Lime Tree. Delivering 6 full bins of donations plus a big bag of toys to KVI orphanage and playing with the kids this aftenoon. Christmas dinner at the Guest House. An awesome day, indeed!

Just came back from a couple of hours at KVI. It was fun to see the excitement of the kids, but so sad to think that there are so many children in the world today - not just those we saw today - who have no family, no one to love them and keep them safe, and no happy expectation of wonderful things on Christmas day. "To whom much is given, much is required." Lord, let us be good stewards of YOUR blessings.

When offered some goldfish crackers, my newest daughter just said with her cute little accent, "I don't want no fish!" while laughing hysterically. Then we all were laughing hystertically! :)

Just came back from the Guest House "Christmas Farty" (as Brielle called it). It was great - amazingly delicious food and fun visiting with new friends - a really fun farty, indeed!
Well, our Christmas day is coming to a close now... hope your day is blessed and filled with worship of the King of heaven and earth!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shoe shopping for Brielle
Pottery shopping
Lunch at Makush
Transition homes

We walked to shops around the Guest House looking for some shoes for Brielle since she only had the ones we picked her up in. They were okay but bordered on being too small, and I knew she wouldn’t wear them after we got home.   We finally found some and bought them -VERY cute but a little big.  We also went to a small shop that had pottery pieces at some really great prices and bought a coffe pot and a couple more things.  I just hope they make it to the States intact.

We went to lunch at Makush again then to the Transition Homes for the afternoon. As we turned on the street to the Transition Home, TJ knew exactly where we were and started cheering! They just couldn’t wait to see their friends and the nannies. I am so glad they loved it there so much. It really says a lot about the quality of care and the atmosphere our agency has established there.

Our kids were SO loved and cared for at the Transition Home... We are incredibly grateful to all the wonderful people there!
We delivered care packages for 3 families and had so much fun playing with the kids. Since we’ve had ours with us for over a week and will have them leaving with us, we felt free to play and have fun with everyone else’s kids. Deke, Eli, Mattea and Wyatt enjoyed playing with all the kids, too. It was so much fun! The kids are amazing, and I so enjoyed watching all of mine love on the kids in the Transition Home. I am so glad they were able to have that experience. It was priceless and life-changing for them.
TJ being TJ
Brielle being Brielle
By the time we left, Deke was insisting that we adopt a wonderful sibling group of 3, but I just don’t know where in the world we would put 3 more kids in our house. They are all wonderful kids, and I am praying for their forever family to come soon. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a plan for them, and I believe He does. I hope I get to follow their story – I know it’s going to be a great one!

At the end of our visit, the kids sang Christmas carols for us. Those without an earthly father singing songs to their Heavenly Father… nothing better on this earth.

Facebook posts from today:

Another great day with the family... Shoe shopping for Brielle this morning, then lunch with the other adoption families who are here. Transition Homes this afternoon delivering care packages and loving on kids. TJ and Brielle were so excited when we started down the road to the TH. They just couldn't wait to see all their friends. It was so sweet! :)

Forgot to mention that the kids at the Transition Home sang Christmas carols for us! It was amazing... those with no earthly father singing songs about the One who came to give Himself so that we could have a relationship with our Heavenly Father - now, THIS is how Christmas should be celebrated!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bora Amusement Park

We drove through the Merkato – the largest market in Africa. VERY interesting. You can buy anything there. There are different areas for different types of items. There are areas for clothing, shoes, building supplies, plumbing, accessories, car repair, windshields, food, etc. We only drove through and didn’t get out because we were told we should stay in the van. Once we left the Merkato area, we went to a street with a lot of upscale shops and jewelry stores. We bought Mattea some silver hoop earrings for the equivalent of about $4.20.

While we were walking, TJ decided he didn’t want to walk with us anymore and decided to just stop on the sidewalk. We kept on going because we don’t beg kids to do what they should do. He began to cry, and people began to stare, but we just kept on going. Someone stopped Michael and asked what was wrong with TJ. Michael told them and they thought we were horrible parents. Oh, well. Eventually, he decided to walk with us and ran to catch up.

We had lunch at Amsterdam where Job told us that our embassy paperwork was waiting for us at the Guest House. After lunch we went to Bora Amusement Park. It’s a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, a merry-go-round, a chair swing ride, and a small train ride. They were just typical carnival rides except that there was no music (so we could hear all the grinding and squeaking noises all the rides made). We were the only people there, so there were no lines except for the one we created. We only spent about $12 total for 6 kids to ride all the rides they could for an hour. Not a bad deal at all! They had a great time.  (Camera battery ran out, so no other photos.  Got some video - maybe I can get that posted later.)

A relatively quiet night in the room. The V family left this afternoon, so it was just us for the evening...

Facebook post from today:

Anoother fun day! We are so blessed to be the parents of 6 fantastic kids. :)