Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 9: A Trip to the Coffee Factory

In the few days following taking possession of Mihret, each time we had to drive somewhere I got the feeling she was afraid we were taking her somewhere to leave her. She would break out in sweat and be very reserved. It created much compassion in my heart for her as I contemplated all she had been through, alone, over the past months.

The Robera Coffee Factory did not have a sense of time or customer service. We were there for several hours waiting on our orders to be filled. However, the tour was, indeed, very interesting!
The next time I'm tempted to complain I'm going to think about what it would be like to sit and pick through coffee beans all day, like these ladies.
This is the bean roaster for their company (only one).
Now I am so much more educated on my favorite beverage!
This is the one bean grinder. Most beans are exported before roasting or grinding. This company primarily exports to the Middle East and Europe.
They had stencils with their company information they would lay on each burlap bag and two ladies hand stamped every one with ink!
...all filled with that aromatic delight! Mmmmmm...

Day 8 in Ethiopia

A crib was in our room and we decided that would be the best/safest place for her to sleep when we came home until we learned how to speak the same language!
We went to the local pharmacy and purchased amoxicillin for her high fever, which we supposed could have been a bacterial infection. It must have been the case because it worked.
...fascinated with running water.  It was evident this was a new thing to her. She would stand for 20 minutes just washing her hands and feeling the warm, running, clean water....a luxury to many in Africa.

Day 7: Children's HopeChest/ Mihret's Home

Peter, the Director of CHC Ethiopia took us to this location which has a school with 56 children sponsored. However, they are wanting to use the land for agriculture to feed area orphans. In order to do this, they need a deep well because the water in the nearby river is polluted with toxins from a textile factory. Peter said that if the children get their feet in the water it burns their skin. That water is not suitable to sustain any development on the land.  They also want to raise chickens so the children have protein via the eggs that are produced.

The site of the potential well.

The toxic river.
The "kitchen" where they cook every morning for 56 children. They need a new kitchen, too!
The Director of the school with the gate guard. The school building is in the background.

Sam & Stirling enjoying a shake after lunch at the Hilton.

Approaching the gate of the transition home where Mihret was living after the orphanage.

One of the nannies expressing apprciation for the "minkies" made by Mrs. McLaren and Mrs. Reed.
"So, what does she eat?" Crackers...water....
Since she was sick (and exhausted) for the first few days, she fell right asleep in my arms.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 6: Meeting Mihret Asnakech

Morning paperwork at the guesthouse.

The moment for which we've been waiting...

Here she is...just as we imagined (except a little bigger! She gained 8 lbs. in the four months she was in the transition home.)...

What an indescribeable moment!

She was shy and reserved for the first hour we were there. This balloon brought a smile to her face. We stayed at the transition home for three hours before returning our children to them for the final night.

That evening we went to an Ethiopian cultural dinner with live music and native dancing. It was like nothing we had ever experienced! If you go to Ethiopia, you've got to do this!

Here we are in the lobby of the guest house all trying to get onto our blogs to post about our day. Unfortunately, Google was having some problems and most of us couldn't post, which was frustrating. Look at this group of American techies!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Home Now...

We arrived home Sunday evening with friends and family awaiting us at the airport. Mihret is thriving. She's eating, eating, eating and sleeping well, too. She is enjoying the children SO much. It wasn't until we got home that I heard her laugh. She loves playing with the girls and Shepherd.

Over the next few days I will go back and post trip pictures. Right now I'm just trying to recover from jet lag!

All's well. We're grateful and so convinced we have done the right thing. It's an amazing thought to ponder where Mihret has come from and how she got here. There are so many more, many more. Shall we turn our heads and pretend they don't exist? What shall we do? How shall we live?

Day 5: The Road back to Addis

Every time we stopped for pictures people would gather around us. These girls were so lovely. They had beautiful braids and meek dispositions.

I will never forget this common scene of young girls with babies on their backs. Many had little clothing. This child appeared to be sick with eyes full of signs of infection. It broke my heart...and still does. We gave her food, but longed to give her more.

Donkeys everywhere!

These yellow jugs are used to carry water from the nearest well to their homes. Often the water is polluted. A deep water well can provide clean drinking water to a village of 500 people for $10-15K, depending on the organization who digs it. Imagine walking miles for water that contains deadly parasites. Several families are pursuing efforts to provide one of these wells for an African community. If you are interested in contributing to the solution for this problem or becoming more educated, please let us know and we'll inform you of how you can help.

We got back to Addis in time to attend the International Evangelical Church, where our America World guide and the Children's Hope Chest director both attend. It was a good service filled with authentic worship. I was overwhelmed when they led "From the Inside Out" by Hillsong United...a song that had helped to prepare my heart for this trip. They also read from Psalm 146, which includes, "He upholds the widow and the fatherless". A coincidence?

Ethiopia Day 4: Kingdom Vision International Orphanage, Sodo (Part 3)

The staff prepared a meal of local fare to honor us.

Mihret's mother had walked three hours on foot to meet with us. Her tribe speaks Wolayta, not Amharic, the national language. Solomon, the director of the orphanage, translated for us. We asked why she had brought her daughter to the orphanage. "She was very sick (pneumonia) and I do not have enough food for her", was her reply. Instead of being very emotional and crying, as we had imagined, she was rather stoic. We wondered if this was the way of her people. Perhaps we'll never understand.

See her hands...hard labor...a hard life.

We checked into our hotel with two other families. We slept little and were awakened at 4:30am by the loud speaker blaring Islamic prayers.

This is our driver, David, showing us how to eat injera. It was amazing! They stuff their mouths so full it's a wonder they don't choke on their food. It was truly an art form!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Hello all - Sorry about the video of Shepherd. I'm not sure why it didn't work...will try again...

Dad and Stirling are home! They got in to D.C. yesterday evening. Mr. Warmka picked them up and they stayed the night at the Warmka's house. They came back to MD at about noon. The rest of the Warmkas (Mrs. Warmka and their four girls) left around 2p, after we looked at the pictures from the trip. Now, Dad and Stirling are very tired, glad to be home, but missing Mihret at the same time. Mom, Mihret, Mrs. Perrin, and Sam will start flying home tomorrow and will get back here in the U.S. Sunday evening.

Since blogger hasn't been working in Ethiopia, I'm sure Mom will update when she returns...once she's had a good night sleep. :)

God bless you all for your prayers...thank you also to those who have spent the week and a half with us kiddos here at home, and also thanks to those who brought us meals. We have been SO blessed.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " ~Matthew 25:34-40

To the One who cannot be unfaithful...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update from Ethiopia

Mom and Dad can't access blogger there in Ethiopia, but she emailed me an update:

We’ve just come form the US Embassy where we spent the morning getting Mihret’s Visa and Passport application processed. There were ten families in our group. By the time we waited and finished it was about 1230, so we went to the ‘Lucy CafĂ©’ (yes, the one who propagates evolutionary theory) for lunch with the group. We’re back at the guesthouse and Mihret’s taking a nap.

I was a little concerned at how she would go to sleep, but last night and this afternoon we laid her down and she didn’t make a peep. In the middle of the night we heard her whimper a little. We looked at her bed and she was sitting up, staring at us. She needed to go to the bathroom. Then I put her back in bed and she went right to sleep.

Many of the children have coughs and colds. Fortunately we have a few medical people with us. For those of us who have children who have had pneumonia and are still struggling with a cough, we’ve decided to use a round of antibiotics, just in case. The testing here isn’t the most reliable. SO, we’re walking down the street to the pharmacy to get some…no prescription required!

Mihret is very quiet and reserved. Steve said, ‘Her radar dish is going constantly’. She’s very observant. I wonder what she’s thinking. We’ve only seen one tear (that’s when Stirling accidentally startled her). Having seen her home in Wolayta and the culture from where she came, I can only imagine how foreign all of this is to her. Our hope is that she’ll quickly realize she can trust us and we’ll see her more relaxed and comfortable. Getting her healthy will help, too. It seems all of these kids are accustomed to a high carb diet. So far all she’s really eaten is bread and a banana. She does like water and can drink well from a cup.

Stirling is better. We think he had a case of altitude sickness (playing soccer for 2 hours in 8,000 ft. altitude). He’s been so good with Mihret. It’s so beautiful to see his love extending to her. He’s played with all of the children so well. Having him here has been an affirmation of our relationship and a real joy.

Steve & Stirling are leaving tonight, so we’ll be on our own with Tracie & Sam for a few days. Tomorrow we visit a few orphanages in town and Friday we hope to meet with the founder of DrawnFromWater. Sunday, we hope to be home! Yea!

For those of you interested in digging a well with us, we went to a property yesterday that is VERY promising. Wait until you see the pictures! One fresh water well could make such a difference in the lives of these children, families and community.

Since the blog isn’t connecting here in Ethiopia, I’ll post the remaining photos when I arrive home. There’s still so much of the story to see in pictures! All of the families who are using Blogspot are frustrated with not being able to connect.

One last thing: THANK YOU to Mrs. Reed and Mrs. McLaren for the minkies (see previous post for a picture). Not only did the transition home appreciate them (I have a picture to prove it!:), but Mihret loves hers! She plays with the ribbon tabs and is constantly wrapping her little $3 Target baby doll in it (THAT was a good investment). It’s so sweet to see that nurturing side of her.

This has been an amazing, eye-opening trip. I expected to be changed upon our return to the States and I believe we all are. It’s been worth all we’ve invested to be here.

New picture!

Here is the definition of precious . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday - Tuesday in MD

Monday: Mrs. Warmka and I went grocery shopping, ran by the library, and went to the coffee shop :). The girls stayed home with Mr. Warmka. Steven left with Mrs. Bart (from church) to go to his debate club...he returned around 10:20p. When Mrs. W. and I returned, I had chemistry and government classes. The girls played outside most of the afternoon. Mrs. Heather Harris from church brought (actually, her hubby brought...) a creamy, delicious chicken spaghetti with a baguette, and salad. Very enjoyable. Mr. Warmka left around 5ish to go back to D.C. The young ones went to bed around 10p...we were having a very intense game of Apples to Apples. ;-) Mrs. Warmka and I then stayed up till about midnight preparing the house and making the cake for GraceAnn's birthday.

Tuesday: Gracie's 8th birthday! We did school during the morning, Steven had biology at KCA (local Christian school) around lunch time, I wrote a hermeneutics paper during nappie time...GraceAnn requested chili for dinner, so I made that around 4p. Isabel, Aislinn, Grace, and Faith played outside all afternoon again. Then, when Shepherd and Mallory got up from their naps, they watched the Heffalump movie. They were enthralled. :) The girls then came in and watched the rest of the movie with them. Our neighbor, Andrew, came over for Gracie's birthday dinner by her request...we ate the chili, then had cake with fudge/vanilla swirl ice cream. YUM. Then Grace opened her presents. She got some fun stuff =].

Isabel, GraceAnn, Aislinn, and Faith with the birthday cake.

Gracie's cake...*unable to rotate* :)

The kiddos with the birthday girl...

Dinner, cake, and presents...

A present to all the kids from Mom...The North Star.

Outfit from Target....from me :)

Most of her other presents...earrings, a watch, horses, a bag, coloring books, a beanie...

Trying to post a funny video of Shepherd...but Google's kinda weirded out right now...

With love...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friday - Sunday in MD

Friday we spent at the Dittmar home. The kids played during the morning, then ... that evening, Connor (13) had a speech presentation at our church for the homeschool co-op. Mrs. Dittmar, Charis, Shepherd and I stayed at home while everyone else went to be an audience for Connor. We had ice cream with yummy toppings and watched the new Pilgrim's Progress movie from Vision Forum till about 11pm. All the girls (GraceAnn; Faith; Sophie, Suza, and Charis Dittmar) all piled in the girls' room. Steven slept in the basement on the sofa and I slept in the bed in Sophie's room. Shepherd slept in Charis' old crib. We made it through the night with no problems.

Saturday morning we woke up at about 7ish. Mr. Dittmar made great waffles, then Mrs. Dittmar took us Brandt bunch :) home while the rest of the Dittmars went to Micah’s (11) basketball game. Once we all were home, we cleaned the house. The Warmka family arrived around noon. Isabel (10), Aislinn (8), Mallory (2), and Grace played outside and took a walk down to the river with Mr. Warmka while Faith, Shepherd, and Selah (6mts) took nappies. That evening, Mrs. Eastburg, a friend from church, brought us a wonderful pot roast with garlic bread and salad along with cookies for dessert. We all went to bed relatively early…

Sunday morning….was quite an adventure to say the least. :) We had cereal, eggs, and mini donuts for breakfast. We were all on time to leave until…the dreaded iceberg had a dead battery. So we had to jump it twice before we could actually get it to start. We made it to church only about five minutes late. But then, of course, the one morning when we have to fit eleven people into a row, the sanctuary was packed to the seams. Deacons had to bring in extra chairs and put them against the wall to fit all of us in…we only slightly disturbed the peace. :) In the end, we finally got some seats…the only bummer was that they were on the left side of the church…we always sit on the right. ;) Anyway, I digress…

The afternoon went well. GraceAnn and Faith spent the afternoon at the Disarufino’s (family from church) home. Isabel, Aislinn, and I made cookies and played Apples to Apples. When Mr. Warmka left for AWANA with Steven, Isabel, and Aislinn to meet the girls there, Mrs. Warmka made pumpkin bread. We chatted some and then a friend from Edwards AFB, CA called me….we talked for a while. :) After everyone returned home from AWANA, we ate (you guessed it!) pot roast, mashed potatoes, rolls, and broccoli from the Smiths at church. Mm! After dinner, we played (yes…again) Apples to Apples till about 10p. And…here we are!

Connor...Justin Beiber wannabe??

Shepherd and Micah - Peace out!

The Brandts and Dittmars (...most of them) in the car.

Faith and Suza.... :)

Mr. Warmka reading to Shepherd and Mallory....

Bathtime for Shepherd and Mallory... =]

The clock's telling me it's 11:30...Mrs. Warmka is reading excerpts from "Dug Down Deep," Joshua Harris' new book, about the importance of theology for life (available January 19 at your local bookstore! ;) ). I'm...well....updating y'all.

God bless and thank you for all your help, phone calls, and prayers. We appreciate it!

With joy,