We are the Snyder family and ... we are different

This is the story of our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. God is preparing our family for her and preparing her heart to come home to her family. We chose the difficult road of trusting and obeying God. It is worth every step!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Do you remember when everyone used to say "psych" or "psyched you out"?  Well that's what I felt like this week.  We had not heard anything on Tuesday about the judge looking at our case and when our agency said tomorrow I didn't actually think that meant tomorrow.  Anyway, we got a call from our agency on Wednesday morning that we passed court.  I was so happy and excited and called Dustin right away.  Of course I then posted it on our traveling group's facebook page because they feel like a natural extension of our friends and family right now.  In fact, two of the women on there even called me because they were so excited for us since we have been waiting about 3 weeks now.  It was so funny because one of them was telling me how she asked our agency "are you sure?" and they laughed at her and said yes.  We were so excited we could finally show her face and so I posted some on facebook and had many congratulations.  Then about 45 minutes later I get another call from our agency.  They made a mistake...we did not pass court.  I was completely devastated.  I called Dustin and I also called one of the girls who called me and told her that apparently I should have asked "are you sure?"  I began to take off all the pictures on fb because she is still not legally ours.  I couldn't even talk to anyone because I just kept crying.  Tuesday was a hard day but Wednesday was even harder!

I since then have found some peace in the whole thing.  Although I will say that I am not up to talking about the adoption right now because I can't hold back the tears and I really don't want to cry in public.  So please don't ask how the adoption is going, find something else to talk to me about or avoid me for now.  That may not sound like peace but it just makes me sad to think about and I think you can still have peace and be sad.  So we have a new court date of May 4th.  If the correct paperwork is there and the judge looks at it we will pass, if not then we continue to wait.  Please don't ask me next week if we have heard anything because trust me if we pass you will know it.  Thank you so much for understanding and respecting our wishes we sincerely appreciate it and we appreciate all of your prayers so much.  Keep praying for us.  Our little girl will be getting a care package from us hopefully very soon so continue to pray for her as she waits for us to come back and get her.  Mommy and Daddy are coming just as soon as we can :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

great raffle

Want to help out a missionary family? This family is moving to Soddo, Ethiopia for two years to be the directors at a children's home there. The really cool part is that our daughter is from that region as well. Check out this link and see how you can be entered to win some really awesome prizes. The grand prizes are an ipod touch or a nook color. How great would that be? Please go and check out this blog and enter to win. Thanks!  click below

Help a family in need who is helping others in need

a hard day

No we still have not passed court yet.  Last week we got an email saying that the judge was going to look at our case next Tuesday.  That's pretty much all it said, it did not say whether or not the paperwork we were missing was there.  Well Tuesday has now come and gone and the judge has yet to look at our file again.  I have been mostly okay since we've left and have kept my hopes up and my realism on, but today it all came crashing down.  It was one of those days when I can't even explain where the tears were coming from just that they were coming on and off all day.  By the way when I say tears I actually mean fall out ugly cry!  I have been praying and praying and praying and could not hear what God was saying to me.  Through this journey God really has gotten me through tough moments and I usually have signs all around me telling me what to do, which is usually to let go and be patient.  This was not one of those days.  I kept waiting to hear it and I never did.  I went to bible study hoping that maybe I would come away knowing exactly how I should feel and...nothing.  All day I walked around in a funk just waiting for the answer.  I had not heard anything all morning and by noon I assumed that since I hadn't heard than there was probably nothing new to report.  I broke down and emailed the travel coordinator and got an email saying the judge didn't look at it, hopefully tomorrow.  Now "tomorrow" in Ethiopia or adoption terms actually just means "not today" it doesn't actually mean tomorrow.  So we wait.  I am praying for a miracle.  I know God can move mountains and I am praying for Him to move one for us.  I know He can!

On a good note we got some new pictures today.  When we were in Ethiopia we didn't have any pictures to leave our girl so I was very excited when a family going this last week said they would take some for us.  There were not too many families going at the end of April but God did a miracle for this family and gave them a court date before their son's birthday, AMAZING!  I sent some pictures to their local Walgreens and she was nice enough to put them in a little album for our little girl.  She said that she was so excited she hugged and kissed the pictures and said "mommy", "daddy".  That just made my heart melt.  Of course it also brought on a flood of tears.  Thank you God for giving me this gift on a day when I really needed it.  I keep reminding myself of ALL the blessings He has provided through this entire journey and try not to focus on the wait.  Today was just a really hard day.

I am so thankful for the other families we travelled with and all of their encouraging words as well.  I know that we have many people praying for us and it really does warm my heart.  Thank you to all of them.

Tomorrow is another day.  Even if we don't pass life will go on and we will continue to praise our King.

Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

a reminder for myself :)

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Really missing our girl today.  Dustin and I talked about how she feels like such a natural part of our family that it feels like she's missing from our house.  Dominic was talking to his friend the other day saying something about his sister who is 4 1/2 years old and the way he said it was just like she's always been a part of our family, no different than him or Christian.  We can't wait to get her home :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

kind of a repost of our experience

The following post is the page that is going in our daughter's adoption book to tell her about our first meeting with her.  Some of it is sort of a repeat of what I have already posted in previous blogs but I thought it might be interesting for people to read this.  This is from me to her.

For over a year Daddy and Mommy prayed and waited to finally meet our little girl. On Thursday March 31st we left our house in Burlington, IA to drive 4 ½ hours to Chicago where we would get on a plane to take us to Washington D.C. From there we boarded a 777 Ethiopian Airlines jet for the next 14 hours till we arrived in your homeland of Ethiopia. We arrived at the airport, got our visas and went through customs, then off to the Yebsabi guest house where we stayed. We quickly checked in, put our bags away and headed for the transition home at 9:30am Saturday April 2nd. We were finally on our way to meet you.

It was a bumpy ride in a diesel van with our driver David. We tried to take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the ride there that seemed to take an eternity. Mommy's stomach turned a little with nervousness and anticipation because I didn't know what to expect. Would you know who we were? Would you like us? Would you be scared of us? When we arrived at the AWAA transition home gate the nervousness turned into excitement. There were other families with us that we were meeting their children for the first time as well. We were all to take turns and they would bring out each child to each family individually and give them a few minutes before it was the next family's turn. One of the AWAA directors, Eyob (Job), told us that you were sick that day and you were actually in the clinic. He told us that we could go back to the clinic to meet you and bring you out. Our friends Brad and Tara Mowen from Galesburg, Illinois followed us with cameras to capture our first encounter with you.

You were asleep on a little cot in a back room with a couple of other children. The nanny woke you up to meet us and you were still very groggy. You obviously didn't feel well and were seemed a little stunned by what was going on. They had you dressed in a hot pink chenille sweater and heavy hot pink sweat pants. We greeted you and hugged you and told you that we were mommy and daddy. You graced us with hugs and kisses and even a few smiles. Brad and Tara had spent time with you all week and said that you were not your usual perky self. Job said that you had a tummy ache and you felt like you might have had a little fever as well. Once we got you up we left the room, put our shoes back on and headed outside to the front of the transition home where everyone else was. We brought out the bag we had brought to you, a pink canvas tote with your name Aliya Wefe embroidered on it. We had lots of fun things in it for you to play with. The first day we brought you a plastic cell phone, a working digital Fisher Price camera, sunglasses, books, a pink headband and some punch balloons. It took a little while for you to warm up to us and I think you were still tired and not feeling well. One of the nannies took you back down to the other transition home and changed your clothes into something we had sent you in a care package. The outfit was entirely too small because I didn't find out what size you wore until after I had already sent all your packages. After you returned you seemed like you were feeling better and you were giggling and running around saying “mommy” and “daddy”. It was music to our ears. There are not two better words than to hear those words coming from your lips. We all knew that we were family.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last days in Ethiopia

Thursday morning we went up to Entoto Mountain along with three other families.  We had to take two vans because we would be too heavy to make it up the mountain in one, lol :)  The drive up to the mountain was beautiful.  We saw so many people, donkeys and the views were breathtaking.  On the way up the mountain we saw many women carrying huge loads of sticks on their backs.  We learned that most of these women are widows who have no other means to make money anymore so walk up the mountain two or three times a day to fetch kindling, take it down the mountain and sell it for about 20-30 birr per load.  The exchance rate while we were in Ethiopia is 1:16 so 16 birr equals $1 US, wow!  We are so fortunate and we forget it so often.  Once we got to the top we toured the ground of the original palace from the 1800's and the Christian Orthodox Church.  We saw the very first church built in Addis Ababa, a tiny round building that symbolizes God's omnipresence.  The large church we saw is built with three layers to represent the trinity.  We were also told that the ladies carry umbrellas to church to signify covering the arc of the convenant.  Our guide told us about the holy water people travel across the country for to heal them of their illnesses, even of AIDS.  It doesn't work instantly but over time it will cure anything.  As we left the mountain we saw a man carrying a young boy in his arms on his way to the holy water as well as a couple of elderly women who had walked up the mountain and were now resting before they headed on to the water.  Our guide also gave us an incredible recount of the history of the first emperor and his palace as well as a tour of the Entoto museum.  The whole experience was so enlightening and interesting, eventhough I don't like history :)

After the mountain we stopped at a market along the way and bought some more souvenirs and traditional Ethiopian clothes to bring home with us.  We then carried on to lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon at the transition home with our little girl.  I had brought a friend's Glamour magazine with me to take a picture of while I was in Ethiopia because you can submit it to them and sometimes they will publish it in the "where has your Glamour been?"  Well our litle girl found it in my backpack and was completely enthralled with it.  She went through the magazine page by page without missing a single one.  She was not a fan of the perfume ads, she turned her nose up at it when I opened for her to smell it.  I am certainly not promoting her reading those sort of magazines because it really is highly inappropriate but she was very entertained by the pictures of it.  Perhaps when we go back I will try and bring her a magazine a little more appropriate for a little girl :)  That night we decided to have dinner at the Zebra Grill just down the street from our guest house.  Dustin had awesome wings and we can't wait to go back :)
Our last day in Ethiopia we spent the entire time at the transition home.  The only time we left was for lunch and then we went straight back.  It was such a blessing to spend those last few hours with her before we made the long trek back home to Iowa.  I was thankful that she didn't cry that day when we left because I know that it would have been so much harder for me to leave her.  We take comfort in the fact that we know she is well taken care of and that she has many friends there and all the caretakers care so much for her.  The plane ride back wasn't too bad, we left at 10:00pm so I slept for the majority of the ride to Washington D.C.  It was unfortunate that one of the women traveling back with us was sick the entire flight and when we got off the plane she was sitting in a wheelchair at the end of the terminal waiting for her husband to pull the car around.  Luckily they live only 20 minutes away from the airport so at least she didn't have a connecting flight to make.  We were supposed to have a 6 hour layover in Dulles airport but I convinced Dustin to check and see if there was an earlier flight, there was one leaving in under an hour.  We booked it, got our luggage checked in, and headed for the next gate.  The rest of the trip home was very nice until we got to just outside Galesburg and blew a flat tire.  We drove slowly the rest of the way home on a very ugly yellow spare.  We had to wait on our luggage to get home because it didn't make our earlier flight, but FedEx delivered it on Tuesday.  We finally got all of our souvenirs to show the boys and I was happy to have my toiletries back as well. 

For now we wait to pass court.  We are praying for God's perfect timing, He has not let us down yet.  God has worked a LOT of miracles this week with families from our agency and I know that our prayers do not go unheard.  We thank Him for the journey He has brought us on and for the continued blessings.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

days 4 and 5

Tuesday morning the majority of our traveling group had court.  We were all supposed to meet with Duni from our agency but she was in the country somewhere advocating for a family so we did not get prepped before court.  At 8:30am we all met down in the lobby of the guest house to pray for the families headed off for the courthouse.  It was a wonderful prayer filled with God's holy spirit.  That morning a couple more families from our traveling group showed up and we all went to the transition home while the other families were at court.  It's such an amazing experience to get to take pictures for other families that are meeting their children for the first time.  It's a gift for both you and them.

We had lots of fun with our little girl and I apparently didn't take any pictures where you can't see her face or some other child's so I don't have too many pictures to share in this post.  Hopefully we will pass court soon and then I will post any picture I want of her on here :)

The next day three of us families went to court, one of which was supposed to have court on Friday but got moved up to Wednesday.  Thank goodness they got in on Tuesday morning.  We headed to the court house about 9:00 and waited for quite some time in a little square room up several flights of stairs.  There was a mix of people waiting in that room.  Some had on business suits and skirts, some had on jeans and one woman didn't even have shoes on.  I looked at this woman longing to give her a pair of shoes but by the looks of her feet she looked like she had probably never worn shoes in her life so they would do her no good now.  As we waited in that room the more I looked at her the more I wondered if that was the woman who took our daughter in and cared for her for the last four years.  I knew our daughter was from a remote southern region so I thought that it could be a possibility, I was right.  The other families that were with us knew who their birth families were and that woman was sitting in line with them.  They had to go into the room before the judge first and give their consent again.  Then it was our turn.  It was a small room with two desks sitting on adjacent walls piled with files and folders.  We answered in unison "yes" to several questions she asked us and then she gave her judgement on each families' case.  Only one family out of the three that were there passed.  We were missing a police document from our daughter's region and the other family was missing a death certificate.  We headed back to the guest house where we would actually get to meet the woman who rescued our daughter and took her in.  Before I tell that story I want to share a couple pics.  The first is of the families who went to court that day and the second is of the guys standing in the waiting room in their "unofficial" American uniforms of a bright colored polo shirt and khakis, lol.  Dustin was the odd ball though because he did not have his shirt tucked in with his belt.

So we had not expected to meet our daughter's caretaker since she isn't technically family, eventhough she's the only mother our little girl has ever known.  It was such an amazing surprise for us.  We were able to ask her questions (through two translators) and video the entire conversation for our daughter to watch someday.  Since we had not planned on meeting anyone we did not bring any pictures for her to take so we ended up printing out a picture at the front desk.  Dustin also showed her pictures and videos on his phone.  She was so tickled to see the pictures of our little girl on there and kept kissing the phone and touching her face and her chest.  It was an extremely moving moment for all of us.  We also took a couple of pictures with her, gave her hugs and let her know that we are so thankful for her caring for our daughter and that we would take good care of her.  It was such an emotional experience and I'm not sure that I have still taken it in fully.  With my own adoption it brought up some different emotions that I was not necessarily ready for.  I tend not to be an overly emotional person so I don't deal with them very well.  It's amazing the difference between my adoption and hers.  She will have some sense of where she came from and some things to help remind her of it whereas I didn't really have any of that.  I am very thankful that we have gotten to experience her country a little (eventhough we didn't go to her region) and that we got to meet her caretaker.  That was probably the biggest highlight of the trip next to spending time with our daughter.

After lunch we went to visit a couple of the orphanages so we did not get to go to the transition home at all that day.  The workers at the home must not have known we had court because they brought our little girl there like they normally would for us.  We were told by some of the other families there that she watched as the vans pulled in one by one looking for us and when we didn't emerge she sat on the step and cried.  It was so touching to hear that she cried for us but at the same time it was so heartbreaking.  The previous day she clung onto our necks as we left and cried "mommy", "daddy".  Two days in a row I cried for our little girl.  One of the guys from our group that is close to her scooped her up and comforted her while another family played with her until it was time for the kids to go back into school.  I was so glad to hear that the other families did that for us and for her :)

We had two big bags to take to the orphanages for donations and we hope to bring back more next time.  The first orphanage we visited gave me mixed emotions.  The nannies had the kids sing several songs for us, play some games for us and then they served us a traditional coffee ceremony.  It seemed so "performed" like "oh here come the white people, we better have the kids do something for them".  I was not the only one who felt that way but Dustin said, "what else are they going to do?"  I suppose that's true, it just felt so fake.  Anyway, we did have a great time handing out cars (makeenas) to the kids and the workers for their children at home.  Dustin played ball with a couple boys and I held some babies.  We also bought a few t-shirts to help the orphanage and bought a couple of handmade puzzles from one of the ladies that works there.

We then went to another orphanage that is just around the corner from our guest house.  There was a room full of toddlers there that Dustin and I gravitated towards.  They were so funny and so excited to get suckers and cars.  One little boy reached his hands up to Dustin to be picked up so Dustin picked him up and the boy set his head on Dustin's shoulder and gave a sigh of peace.  He was desperate for someone to show him love.  It was an enlightenment for Dustin as he thought of how we are that little child that should be so desperate for our Father to hold us.  We did not have very many cars left to pass out but we did have fruit snacks for the older kids.  It was such a pleasure to see them all running around and just being kids.  One of the ladies passed out funny little smiley face stress balls.  They lasted about five minutes till a couple of the kids figured out that you could break them and play with the powder inside of them.  Pretty soon there were little piles of clay all around the yard and all over their hands.  When all the kids were out for recess and people were trying to pass out things it became chaos.  Our driver was trying to get us out so we could get going and stay on schedule so he finally just said, "all the white people in the vans!"  It was hilarious! 

It was such a good experience to go see the orphanages and I would just like to tell you a couple things about them.  The two that we went to in the capital are really very nice.  The workers there are kind loving people that really care about the children.  I know that the orphanages in the countryside are much different and have fewer resources.  I just want to say that they need your support and they do the best they can with what they are given.  Lack of love is not an issue though.

Monday, April 18, 2011

day 3

We spent the morning at the transition home and had a very happy surprise.  When we first met our daughter we gave her a bag with her name embroidered on it and some things inside.  One of the things we brought her was a camera that my best friend had bought for her.  People had told us to bring her a camera because she just loved them and kept pretending the binoculars we sent her were a camera.  When my best friend was home we were shopping and found this pink Fisher Price camera, I was making a big deal about spending $35 on this camera that would probably be lost so she bought it.  It was so nice of her to do that for us.  Anyway, our little girl played with it all that first day, put it in her bag and took it with her when she left for the transition home.  Now I refer to the transition home as a black hole.  Once something enters it, you don't expect to see it again.  So the next day when she returned to us with her bag but no camera in it I assumed it had been lost to the black hole.  Well on the third day she returned with nothing but one of the older boys gave us her camera back.  We checked it out and they had taken over 200 pictures on it.  It was so awesome!  We had pictures taken by many different children and even some of the nannies.  These were pictures that we would never had gotten if the camera hadn't gone to the older transition home with the kids.  In fact, some of these pictures were some of our favorite from the whole trip because it showed a child's perspective and a sort of behind the scenes view.  Every day after that some of the boys would ask me for "picture" or "photo" and make a camera gesture.  I would let them use it while we were there and then one of them would make sure we got it back before we left.  By the end of the week we had over 500 pictures from this camera.  The oldest boy at the transition home even opened the bottom of the camera, pointed to the USB plug and wanted to know if we could download the pictures so they could see them on the transition home's computer.  I thought it was sort of funny how he knew all of that.  We didn't get a chance to do that (I don't think the staff really wanted us touching their computer) but a family that is headed over there right now did offer to take them.  I hope that the kids get to see all the cool pics they took of themselves.  Some of the pictures were really good and some of them were not, but they had a lot of fun with it.  I wish I could show you more pictures but most of them have kids in them and I can't show you any of their faces because of privacy issues.  Anyway, this was such a gift :) 

After lunch that day we also went shopping in the post office district.  I wish I had pictures of that but we didn't have very much time there and there were quite a few things that were on our list to get.  Not to mention when you have to barter for everything, shopping takes much longer.  On the yahoo group someone had once suggested that they got a present for their child for each one of their birthdays until they were 18.  I thought this was such a wonderful idea so that was my intent.  I had also been told to buy some toothbrushes because they are so cool.  Well we bought scarves, a couple outfits, bracelets, some things for the boys and a couple of coffee pots.  I wanted to buy one coffee pot for us and one for our daughter as a wedding present.  Granted it is a long ways away, but thought that would be something really cool to give her.  The shops are all pretty tiny, they are about 3ft x 3ft.  Some are a little smaller and some a little bigger.  There were a couple we went into that were more like 12ft x15ft so were more like a real store.  I bought just a few toothbrushes from a kid off the street with a tray of them and wish that I had bought the whole tray.  We were so rushed and I was trying to do the math and well I just didn't buy as many as I should have.  The toothbrushes are made from sugar cane.  They are basically a widdled piece of wood that you either soak in water or chew on until the end starts to fray and then you brush your teeth vertically with it.  Dustin used one and said his teeth felt clean after he used it, he liked carrying it around in his pocket.  The only bad thing that happened on the shopping trip was that one of the families got left behind.  We had a very large group and there were 3 vans all full with people, this couple had not been with the group when we all got back together and in the vans.  We left for the guest house and no one even knew they were missing until they showed up a little while after we had gotten back.  They apparently had looked for the vans, couldn't find us, tried to get a taxi but when they tried to tell the taxi driver "Yebsabi guest house" they were met with blank faces.  By God's grace a couple boys heard them say "Yebsabi" and just happened to have been there before and had met a couple of the people staying there.  These two 14 year old boys rode with the couple back to the guest house to tell the driver how to get there and all they asked for were some shoes.  It was so unfortunate that no one had brought any shoes that would fit these young boys so when the couple goes back for embassy they are going to bring back some shoes for them and pray that they can find them again.  The moral of this story is to STAY WITH YOUR GROUP!  lol :)

After the shopping excursion we were treated to a spa treatment.  Dustin and I picked a one hour massage each and they let us do it as a couple's massage.  This was a very nice spa and was obviously in a very rich part of town.  As we waited I watched the people walk by the front window and if I wouldn't have known any better would have sworn we were on Michigan Ave in Chicago.  The atmosphere of the people and the cars driving by reminded me of a posh little spot in America.  It was sort of ironic that we were in Ethiopia and we were treated to a high end spa.  Anyway, after waiting for quite some time we finally had our turn.  It was fantastic!  We had deep tissue massages that certainly helped to work out all the kinks of traveling and stress.  Dustin swore it was the best massage he ever had.  The cost was about 500 birr or $30 US so Dustin tipped our girls a $20 US bill each.  Everyone thought he was crazy but we figure even at $70 US for two people for an hour massage that is still a steal.  Hopefully we will be going back soon.


On our second day in Ethiopia we went to the International Evangelical church with the other families at the guest house.  Dustin and I asked about going to a traditional Christian Orthodox church but were told that it started at 6am, it's all in Amharic, it lasts about 3 or 4 hours and that you stand the entire time.  So we opted to go with everyone else and go to the other church.  It was a very nice contemporary church and service.  The pastor is a white man from North Carolina and we actually ended up seeing him on the flight home.  We sang basically the same songs as we do at our home church and the entire service was in English.  There was a mix of Ethiopian people and some white faces mixed in.

 After church we went to eat a nice restaurant that had an art gallery outside of it, I think there were a couple of people who even bought some art to take home.  Then we went back to the transition home to spend some more time with our daughter.  We brought her some different things to play with each day, although by the fourth day or so we started to run out.  We did find out that she likes skip and be chased around the yard.  We had lots of fun running around, playing with our camera, looking at books and coloring.  You could tell she was used to having an afternoon nap because as the afternoon went on she was getting very sleepy and just wanted to be held.

That night was also the traditional Ethiopian meal.  We had a very large group and were pretty loud at the restaurant, but we had lots of fun.  The food was wonderful and the entertainment was awesome!  A couple of people from our group even went up and tried to do a little dancing.  Ethiopian dance is all about the shoulders and neck.  It was VERY entertaining watching some of our friends try their hand at it.  There was this little girl in the audience, she looked 5 or so, that was fantastic at the dancing.  You could tell she had grown up watching it.  We watched her almost as much as the dancers on stage.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our time in Ethiopia, day 1

I know many people have been checking our blog to hear about our trip to Ethiopia.  Well I have finally felt up to it to post something.  Depending on how long this turns out to be there may be several posts or just one really really long post, guess we'll see once I start going.  By the way, I have a whole new respect for those bloggers who are diligent about updating their blog daily while in country.  I had absolutely no desire to do that and it's taken me a week home to even do it now :)

The first picture is Dustin and I getting ready to leave the house at midnight on Thursday 3/31 to drive up to Chicago for the 6am flight to Washington DC.  We decided to leave from there for the most direct flight.  We flew straight from DC to Addis Ababa, which was fantastic.  The second picture is our little Prius filled with our bags, Dustin even had to lay down the back seats to get all of our bags to fit.  The next picture is our bags on the little cart at the airport.  We had 3 big duffel bags and one large suitcase filled with donations as well as 2 carry ons with our clothes in them and 2 backpacks with supplies and toys.  One couple I was talking to as I was waiting for Dustin to come back from parking the car asked if we were moving because we had so much stuff :)

There were two other families flying out on the DC flight with our agency that we met shortly before the flight took off.  We kept looking for middle aged white couples that look like they may be adopting, lol :)  The flight to Addis was on a new 777 jet.  The accommodations were very nice and we even had our own individual touch screens in front of us that you could pick movies, music, audio books, games or see where the flight was.  I slept a great deal of the time and was happy to have a window to lean against.  Once we got to the airport we had to get our visas and go through customs.  We did not realize we had to have some little paperwork filled out so the rest of the group ended up waiting for us.  A guy with an official looking jacket came up and wheeled our luggage, sent it through the xray machine and wheeled it over to our group.  He asked for $20 US so Dustin gave it to him and then realized that the guy was asking for a tip for helping with our luggage, Dustin was not happy that he just got swindled by this guy.  After we met up with our group we headed for the Yebsabi guest house and then we would go to the transition home to meet our little girl.  Dustin gave our driver $400 US to exchange into birr and received a stack of 6400 birr back.

The accommodations at the guest house were nice.  We shared a suite with one of the other families that we were on the plane with so they had a bedroom and we had one then we shared a living room and kitchen.  Our room was on the fourth floor which means that there are two flights of stairs for every floor so we were winded by the time we got up to our room every single time.  We brought all of our things down with us for the day and prayed that we didn't forget anything so we wouldn't have to go back up to our room.  Dustin would try and bribe me if we did need to get something from our room by offering various amounts of birr.  "I will give you 100 birr if you go back up to our room and get..."  By the way, 100 birr is about the equivalent of $6 US.  Our guest house was right across the street from a school and many mornings we were woken up by the sound of the children singing,  it was awesome.  We would also be woken up by the man in the street selling brooms and mops who would yell every morning.  Here's some pics taken from the lovely little balcony off our bedroom.

After we got all settled into our rooms we headed off for the transition home where we would finally meet this little girl we prayed over.  The feeling of finally meeting her has no words.  It was excitement, nervousness, nausea, longing, there's no word that fully explains the anticipation.  Each family was set up on the porch individually so their child would be brought out to them and they would have a few moments together before the next family's child was brought out.  Our little girl was actually in the clinic that morning and I'm pretty sure that she was asleep when they brought us in to see her.  She was dressed in a pink chenille sweater and pink sweatpants that I was told she had been wearing for the past 2 or 3 days.  When she saw us I think she was still groggy and because she was not feeling well was sort of lethargic.  It took a couple of hours for her to regain her energy and then we could see the personality that we had heard so much about from other families that have met her.  The morning was wonderful!  We heard her call us mommy and daddy and finally heard that sweet little voice.  The language was not a problem for us because we would just offer her things to do and she would either take it or shake her finger at us and say "no, no".  Our time there with her that day was short but so precious.

Dustin would show her pictures of herself on his phone and she would cover her face, throw herself back and laugh.  It was so adorable.  We left for lunch and then I think we came back to the transition home in the afternoon, although to be quite honest I'm not sure if that's what we did or not.  Well looks like there will be many more posts to come as this post only covered our travel and the first day with her.  Thanks for all of the prayers along the way.