Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Farm Animal Juju and Other Tales from Today

Yesterday, despite the absence of a blog post, was a great, filled day. The picture above is from a drive we took. That same drive we saw baboons. Very close up. But as we went to get the camera, they moved along. Probably good. I'm not sure how friendly baboons are.

For those of you that aren't Facebook friends with me I feel like I need to tell you one thing from yesterday. We hit a donkey with our van. Well. The driver did. We were on our way out to the place where we took the above picture and we came to a small town. It was market day so everyone was walking their farm animals to the market to be sold. There were people and animals around every curve. We came around a curve and our driver started to honk. And slow. But the donkey out in front of us did not care. We came to a screeching halt--right into the donkey.

It took about an hour for the scene to be settled. There were police who our guide told us had to measure things (What things? We do not know.) and they arbitrated the dispute. The townspeople gathered 3-4 deep around our van while we waited and another group gathered around our driver and guide and watched the arbitration like a TV courtroom drama. Big entertainment, I tell ya.

In the end, the donkey breathed its last, our driver paid a fine, and we left after an hour. Our guide mentioned a conspiracy theory the police had that this person had brought their blind donkey to be put out of its misery by a car. Apparently this is a common phenomenon. A donkey has an ailment. A family needs money. The donkey get "helped" and so does the family. I can't confirm this donkey was actually blind. His testimony was lacking in substance. But the whole thing did lead to a good story.

On to today. We woke up and tried to figure out what we were going to do for the day. Some of the other families were headed back to the transition home so we asked IC if he wanted to go see his friends and he said yes. We got his sneakers on and headed that direction. It was a weird morning. I can't exactly describe it but basically it felt like we didn't fit their anymore. We had our son. He had us. And though it had only been two days, it just felt different. I did get to play a little with some toddlers, which was adorable. And IC got to say goodbye to his friends (we said goodbye to some of them too since we'd grown affectionate toward them in our time there) but really, when lunch came, we were ready to roll. We agreed that was probably the last stop we'd make there. It was time for our family. The TH was no longer our place.

When our driver arrived to pick us up, he handed us the golden ticket!! We now have IC's passport, visa, and sealed file to hand to immigration upon arrival in the US. We're ready to go when it's time on Sunday. I think we are still finding it hard to believe that ALL the paperwork is done. I mean, except for lots of social worker post placement visits and yearly update reports. Oh yeah. Those.

We did lunch back at Makush, a restaurant and art gallery. Restaurants are a funny dance because the waiters can speak to IC better than we can. But, of course, we want to approve his choices. So we have to let them talk. Then talk to the waiter, then talk to IC and hope he gets it. He liked whatever we ordered today so I'm calling that a win. We also worked on using a fork today. Since most of the time he eats with injera (the spongy bread) he's really not used to utensils. So we tried to mime using a fork for his meat and just holding his bread instead of using it to scoop. It was a funny scene. It's going to take a little getting used to, I think, but it went well over all.

We stopped at a market after lunch to pick up spices. There were three adoptive families and zero guides so the comedic value was higher than usual. We headed over to the spices, each of us trying to say the Amharic word and looking at our kiddos to point to the matching spice. Berbere? Got it. Shiro powder? I think so. But mitmita? Not so much. We asked and they pointed to chilies. Whole chilies. We asked again. They pointed again. We gave up. I googled just now. It does have chilies in it but there are more ingredients. Sadly, IC will have to live without mitmita. We tried, buddy. We really did.

By the time we got back in the van, IC was showing signs of exhaustion. At the TH, they take a nap each day. It doesn't seem to be wearing on the other kids but we can tell immediately if IC has gone too long without it. He crashed on my lap on the bus and awoke when we got back to our guest house. He was so tired, though, that he let E pick him up and carry him the two flights up to our room. He laid straight back down and crashed for two hours. We woke him at five. Who knows how long he would have kept sleeping. Of course, he's missing nap time. But it's also a LOT of change on his little person. And change is hard. And draining. And napping helps. So nap we did.

After a long nap he headed down to play with the other kiddos. We don't let him play on the phone or computer (except for a little educational stuff in the morning) but when he's with the other kids we let them do what they are doing. We look over and he is playing a video game on someone's phone and has headphones into an mp3 player listening to some Ethiopian pop music. A minute later he was playing with Legos and it occurred to me if you didn't know better, he looked like any other American 7 year old in that moment. See:

All the adoptive families still around (our suitemates left today) decided to do dinner together. E and I wanted wine. It was a pretty small restaurant and when we ordered the import wine they told us they were out. So we agreed to try the domestic wine.

Never, never try the domestic wine. Never. Picture you have a neighbor who knows nothing about wine but decides after watching a youtube video they are going to bottle some. So they find some bottles, do a rudimentary fermentation procedure, and invite you over. Can you imagine what that might taste like? Like badly fermented grape juice that you immediately want to forget? Yes. Yes. And Yes. But it was an adventure. Never say we're not up for an adventure.

We left the restaurant and as we were standing on the porch, I noticed a shadow. What? Yes. It was an escaped bull. With horns. Running through the street. As our friend Michael, who was with us, said, "your family has bad farm animal juju." Yes. We do. We hopped in the van and then were stuck in traffic. Guess why? That's right. The bull (or oxen, as our driver said...anybody know the difference?) was holding up all the traffic. A city block's worth of people was chasing the oxen up and down the street, trying to wrangle it. At one point it was running straight toward our bus window. But he passed us and we were finally free to move toward our guest house. Adventure. It's all over us.

Bus selfie!

We got back just in time for shower (IC's favorite...he still giggles the whole way through), Bible story, and prayer. It was a full, good day and tomorrow is even busier. We are headed on another trip to the countryside.

I want to stop my narration for a minute to thank you all for praying for us each day. Our days are filled with lots of fun stories and great moments with our son. However, as each day passes we see how much we are asking of IC--to give up everything he's known to be a part of our family. We see glimpses of how hard this is and will be. He's a wonderful little boy but everything in his life is changing. Thank you for you prayers. Please continue to pray for strength and patience for our little guy and his parents. 

Can't wait to tell you about our trip tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it. As long as there are no farm animals.


  1. Praying for you every day. I can't even imagine experiencing such an all-encompassing change at such a young age as IC is. But I also know that God has his had upon him, and that God understands better than anyone else ever could. Don't you just love that about God? That God totally "gets it" no matter what we are going through even when nobody else does? I pray (and expect) that God will fill you with his own heart and understanding for your young son.

    Also, I wanted to mention that our school lunches are probably at least 80% "finger foods." I don't know about COMO, but here the kids usually only get a spoon for a utensil, and oftentimes don't even use it. They usually only get a fort if we are having spaghetti or something like that. You might check with the school, but I thought it may be little bit of relief with all the changes and challenges to know that when IC goes to school, he may not need to all that proficient with cutlery! Or, you could always pack his lunch for that matter. Just something that popped into my mind.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing your adventures. Sorry about the donkey. (I would have been traumatized!)

    1. Thanks for your sweet words, Kristi, and especially for your prayers.

      And thank you so much for your insight into school lunch! Hopefully the finger foods will work out well for him. The fork is foreign but we're working on it. Of course, he's got a steep cultural learning curve right now so any "shortcuts" (like school finger foods) are definitely awesome:).