Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ethiopia Flashback #2

Sunday, March 6, 2011
Finally, we got up to dress and prepare for our day!  On a humorous note, Pat thought she would investigate the Ethiopian-style bidet.  Just as she was saying, "How does this thing work?" she squeezed the handle and sprayed herself in the face!  I was rolling on floor laughing!

Breakfast was served in the Guesthouse basement and seemed more American  than Ethiopian--fried potatoes, toast with butter and jam, fried eggs, coffee/tea, oatmeal and real fruit smoothies with mango and banana.  We leisurely walked up to the lobby to wait for our guide and driver, who were expected at 6:00.  Much to our surprise, we discovered that our trip was to be an overnight trip and we were to stay in another city!  So much for our leisure!  We rushed up all four flights, huffing and puffing, mind you, threw our suitcases together and rushed back down.  No one seemed too disturbed by our tardiness and we hit the road.

There were three Ethiopians with us, Mulu, our host and a social worker with Holt, Ciyun, our driver, and another gentleman who also worked with Holt and just needed to travel down to the South care centers.  Then there were the three families: Me and Pat representing our family, Emily and Steve, and Liam and Melanie.  The van was large enough that we had room between us and felt quite comfortable.  Heading out of town on the main road, we saw people already out, sweeping and cleaning the road or just walking to their place of work.  

Sunrise over Addis Ababa

The sun was just coming up and, being Sunday, the traffic  was lighter than usual according to Mulu. 
Herding cattle along the road
As we drove further into the countryside, we noticed more and more people walking by the road, herding cows, donkeys, goats, carrying water containers to the local well, and many carrying Bibles on their way to church.  Mulu said that many people were on their way to church.  We saw children everywhere and so many toddlers without an adult in sight and so close to the road!  Some children looked only 5 or 6 years old, yet were waving sticks to guide several cows or donkeys across the road.
Local residents on their way to church
Our group having our first rest stop
We drove for a couple of hours before stopping at a hotel/cafe to use the restroom and have a cold beverage.  We were beginning to get to know the two other couples who were travelling with us as we shared our adoption experience thus far and took turns bragging on our children.

We continued south toward the towns  of Durame and Soto, the locations of the two care centers in which our children were residing.  At a junction, we met another van and Pat and I along with Steve and Emily, moved to the second van and continued down to Soto, while Liam and Melanie remained with Mulu and Ciyun and drove up to Durame.  Our new guide was Wolde, another Holt case worker in the Wolayita zone.  They took us to a hotel/restaurant in Soto to get some lunch, but when we found out that the care center was only 1 kilometer from the restaurant, we were all wishing we could just skip lunch and go straight there!  Sigh! 

It was hard to know what to order on the Ethiopian menu so I just had spaghetti with vegetable "sauce."  Service is different there--timing doesn't seem to matter so much.  First Steve got his meal, then about 10 minutes later, Emily got hers, and another 10 minutes later I finally got mine.  By that time, my stomach was in so many knots knowing that I would soon see my little boy, but I forced down a few bites.  While we were waiting for our lunch, Wolde asked with which children we had been matched.  When I told him ours was Yoseph Simon, he grinned and nodded his head and told me that Yoseph is "very active boy."  When I asked him what that meant, he told me that Yoseph was a little ringleader and would organize his little friends and get them to sing and dance together.  When I asked Wolde how much Yoseph knew about me and about his adoption, he made a phone call to the care center and asked the head nurse.  She told him that they had told Yoseph that we were coming and that he was "very excited."  I felt such relief upon hearing that as I had already played out every possible scenario, good and bad, in my head and had been praying that he would receive us well.

Finally, it was time to go.  We all piled back into the van and then...the driver couldn't get it to start!  Soooo, we all piled out again and started walking up the street.  Apparently seeing white people is still unusual enough that most everyone stared at us as we walked by, friendly though with some offering a greeting or a welcoming gesture.  We crossed a deep ditch and turned on a narrow dirt road with shacks lining it.  A pair of mothers with their children saw us and smiled.  One little girl, brightly dressed in a yellow African dress, came up to Pat and said "salem", the word for hello (meaning "peace") and shook her hand in the Ethiopian tradition with the left hand at the right elbow and right hand extended.  As we crossed the ditch and began the uphill climb to the Care Center, she fell in beside me and offered me her hand to hold.  It was so endearing, but frankly, all I wanted at that moment was to see my Joseph and hold him.

We turned right one more time and a few yards up and on the left was the Care Center compound.  As the gate swung open and we stepped inside, we were greeted by a whirlwind of a boy hopping from foot to foot and calling out something in Wolayita language, who was unmistakably Joseph!  His smile was radiant and his expression clearly said he was thrilled to see us.  I couldn't have imagined a better reception!
We took off our shoes and were given some "indoor shoes" to put on and then we were ushered inside and joined Joseph on the floor, where the doctor and a nanny introduced me to him as his mommy.  I pulled out my bag of toys and let him discover them while I peppered the doctor with questions.  Joseph kept trying to stow everything in a small box and couldn't make it all fit, so finally I gave him my little backpack so he could keep it all in one place.  His nanny kept teasing him that she wanted to have his toys but he was clearly insisting they were his.  I asked, through an interpreter, if he would sing me a song.  He didn't want to sing but he offered to pray.  He stood up, folded his hands, closed his eyes and prayed.  The doctor told me afterward that he had asked the Lord to bless the guests and the time there.  Wow!

As I showed him his photo album of our family back home, I said Jack and Beth's names and he repeated them so quickly and his pronunciation was excellent!  I think he will pick up English very quickly.
Joseph's backpack
We were served Ethiopian coffee with the traditional popcorn while we visited and played and took photos.  One of Joseph's friends begged to be allowed to come in and meet Joseph's new mommy so the nannies let him come in and greet us.  I hope that he will be adopted soon, too! 
 When we had finished our coffee, I asked Joseph to show me where he sleeps.  He jumped up and started to put on the backpack, not wanting to let it out of his sight, I guess.  Then he scampered out the back door without waiting for us to follow.  We had to change from indoor shoes to outdoor shoes again before we could catch up with him.  He was in the room  where he sleeps with 4 other young boys and the other boys were all hugging him and kissing him when we poked our heads in.  I asked if I could take a picture and then had someone take a photo with me and Joseph together.  I think I leaned over to give him a little kiss while my arm was around him and then one of the nannies apparently told him to kiss me.  The camera operator was having trouble and so they kept having to tell him to do it again and again.  I didn't care if it was staged or not, I was eating it up!  Oh, those kisses were sweeter than chocolate and melted my heart!  We ended up with me tickling him and laughing together. 

Joseph's not much for standing still, though.  As soon as he heard that it was time for the guests to leave, he started running for the gate and told the nanny he wanted to go with us.  Before they could even respond, he had run back to the room with the other boys and was starting to say his farewells.  They finally caught up with him and explained that I was his mommy, but I had to leave and take care of some paperwork and that I would be back.  Apparently he accepted that fairly well, as I didn't see any tears while I was there and he and I blew each other kisses as I backed out of the gate.  Oh, it was all too quick!  It felt like we had just arrived and then left again.  And boy did I wish I could have scooped him up and brought him with me!  What an amazing afternoon!  What an amazing little boy!  What an amazing God we serve!

P.S. I cannot post recognizable photos of Joseph until we officially adopt him, so if anyone wants me to email a photo, please email me at and let me know.  And if you do, please don't post any either. :)  Thanks!


Faith said...

I am so thrilled for the Wofford family! I'm praying for safe travels and speed for Joseph to come home.

Harold Holman said...

Margaret, what a wonderful post. Thank you so much for taking us along with you on this. It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. Sending our love to you.