AKA Gotcha Day!
The view from our terrace
Last night, although we went to bed late, we managed only a few hours of sleep. I found myself stumbling around in the dark trying to find the radio that was playing persian music to turn it off, only to finally realize that it was from the loudspeakers at the Mosques outside! This morning the singing continued starting very early, so we awakened incredibly tired, but very excited. After a quick breakfast with delicious Ethiopian coffee we were picked up by Danne and Wende whom we met at the airport last night and driven through Addis Ababa to Hannah's Hope.
The city is filled with smoke from the cooking fires and the streets are teeming with people, donkeys, goats, chickens, cars, and carts. Getting just four miles to Hannah's Hope felt like taking Mr. Toad's Wild Ride because not only are the roads full of potholes, sometimes dirt, sometimes gravel, and sometimes paved, but also our driver seemed determined to run down at least a few people on our way. Frogger came to mind! We thought at first that maybe so many people were out because it was Sunday, but Danne said that actually the streets were this empty because it was Sunday.
The poverty here is shocking. It's hearbreaking to see what famine, and drought, and wars, and disease have done to this country (and elsewhere in Africa). It's completely overwhelming. We were stunned to see so many people living in shanties and mud huts, under corrugated metal propped up with plastic baskets, and in doorways and alleys. And there are so many children running up to cars and pedestrians begging for money and food. I'm at a loss for words. I don't know how to describe how we felt taking this momentous drive on the way to meet our daughter and being faced with such misery and suffering along the way. We felt and continue to feel so burdened by the tremendous need here.
Finally we arrived at the gates of HHE, where a troup of boys met us singing and shouting and shaking homemade tambourines made up of heavy wire and Coke bottle tops. Inside the courtyard we saw the other three families with their precious new kids and rejoiced with them. Almaz then led us inside and brought us beautiful little Elianna Ray! What a moment! We thought we might burst with joy! My first impression of her was that she was a lot bigger than I expected, very pretty, very smart, and smiley. Evangeline took one look at her and said, "Ay Ray!" Our new friend, Mike, graciously offered to video the moment so I'm looking forward to seeing it later. Right now it's kind of a blur. I just remember saying through many tears, "Hello, baby, I'm your Mama!" Inexplicable joy!
Us with Elianna Ray and Almaz, the director of Hannah's Hope Ethiopia
We stayed at Hannah's Hope for an hour or so playing with the other children and getting acquainted with the special mothers and staff who've taken such great care of Elianna and the others and clearly love the kids deeply, and then we headed off to church at the International Evangelical Church. Both Evangeline & Elianna cried so Michael and I ended up sitting out front where we met a wonderful missionary family here from the states who work with HIV/AIDS patients. What a blessing for us to get to speak with this amazing couple who took an 85% pay cut to follow the Lord's direction and minister here. Fantastic!
At church we discovered that people stopping to kiss Evangeline and touch her blonde curls is normal. It was a little alarming last night to have at least a dozen strangers come up and kiss her and stroke her head, but today we got used to it. A little white baby with curly blonde hair is a pretty unusual sight around here, so she's quite the attraction.
After church we all sardine squished into the van again and went to an art gallery restaurant. The girls crashed out and Michael and I were absolutely swooning with fatigue, but we really enjoyed hanging out with everyone and swapping stories of home. Now we're back at the hotel and after a fun snuggle time with Evangeline and Elianna Ray, everyone is napping again. I think I'm going to join them in a minute because I'm having to type with one eye shut in order to focus.
Lunch with our group
Margie, Ricker, and Jackie, you won't believe what a little schnookums your baby sister is! I can hardly wait to get her home to you. Oofie, love love!
Elianna is so, so, so beautiful, and sweet, and cute, and cuddly, and precious. Thank You, dear Lord, for this indescribable day. Thank You for all Your blessings. Thank You for our wonderful family and friends. Thank You for blessing us with five wonderful children. Thank you, especially today, Lord, for leading us half way around the world so that we could bring home this incredible little angel, our darling Elianna Ray. We are so grateful.
(By the way, Margot, Ricker & Jackie, leave your messages for us in the comments because we're having difficulty connecting to the guestbook. We can post on our blog, but not see it because Ethiopia doesn't allow freedom of speech, so blogs are not allowed in country. God bless the US of A! XOXO.)
I'll update you more after I catch a few zzzzz's...