We are home inCanadaand what an incredible feeling to be on your own soil and enjoy the complete luxuries and blessings of this fine land!
Our trip home was very long but for the most part, Julia did incredibly well. She even thought the turbulence was a blast! I guess compared to some of the roads we travelled on, the five minutes of turbulence was a walk in the park.
Julia has had a photo album since February with pictures of her family and this has really helped her in getting to know the names and faces of those closest to her. She normally is shy when she meets new people so my mom and I expected that she would be somewhat standoffish when she met my family and my boyfriend at the airport for the first time.
We walked through the sliding doors to see my nieces holding welcome posters, others holding balloons and flowers and everyone with huge smiles on their faces. What a wonderful welcome for Julia and my mom and me! Lisa, my sister was at the end of the walkway and before I knew it, Julia was running down with open arms to go and meet her Auntie Lisa. From there, she wanted to hug and be held by everyone. She was all smiles and giggles - what a great way to start a new family relationship.
My family had a wonderful welcome dinner where Julia was playing with everyone and even went in the pool.
Julia has a lot to adjust to and it will take months I am sure before she is really feeling settled. Her language barrier has to be a certain frustration for her as she cannot understand much of what we are saying and she cannot make her needs known (beyond the basics). She is a bright little girl so I expect that the language will not be too difficult but rather just take some time. A neighbor of mine has adopted internationally twice and her oldest was 3 when they adopted and she said within 6 months, her daughter was speaking English with no problems at all. Knowing the personality of Julia, we are all excited to be a part of the conversations when she can speak English!!
Thank you so much again for all your support, excitement and prayers. I am going to be laying fairly low for several weeks to help in Julia's adjustment but once I think she is doing well enough, I will start to introduce her to those who have been so excited to meet her. Thank you for your patience.
Just a few cute stories to share about my little girl.... I pinned a Canadian flag pin on her sweater when we flew home and she kept looking at that and saying "Canada flag", she giggled with shear joy when we would say "we are going to Canada", she has started to dance with me when the music is playing while looking at me as if to say "am I doing this okay?", she loves the swing at the park and loves to throw/catch and kick the soccer ball, she is such a mommy to her dolls and when I gave her the Little Mommy doll my friend gave me two years ago, she called me into her room saying "please mommy", she was bent at the waist and had her baby on her back and wanted me to sling the doll to her back (this is how the ladies in Ethiopia carry their babies), after she sings a song my mom and I have taught her, she says "good a singing" with her accent, she mimics me a lot (man what a lot of responsibility that is :)) and she will try to trick me saying "mommy, I finished" and then she will show me that she isn't done drinking or eating and mimic me in a much deeper voice saying "you're not finished" and then of course giggle. Somehow she heard my name as Shellina so now to be funny she calls me Shellina sometimes. There are so many cute things she has done in such a short time. We have only been together physically for just over two weeks but in many ways; it feels like we've been together for a long time.
The rest of our time inEthiopiawas eventful just like most other days we were there. We were able to distribute 16 shoe shine boxes and take the boys out for lunch again. They were all so grateful for this support and love. We were also able to tell four other boys that through your generosity, we are able to send 4 more boys to boarding school this fall. All of the boys were so incredibly respectful, grateful and loving towards us and it was surely one of the greatest highlights of our time inEthiopia.
We were able to visit the community of Korah where people with leprosy, HIV, disabilities and many orphans live. On the edge of Korah, there is dump and I was told by another adoptive parent who has been on many missions around the world that it was the saddest thing he has ever seen. The children there are digging in the piles of garbage to find food and other necessities and because the glass is also dumped there, many of their hands and feet have significant scares because they have been slashed by the glass. Also, the large trucks bringing in garbage and moving garbage are right beside the children and there are many injuries because the children get under the tires. This man told me that the children are covered in dirt and ashes.
One of the ministers, Sammy, who works for the church in Korah, lived in the dump as a young boy until he was sponsored and was taken out of that life. He spirit is incredibly positive and beautiful and he works with the people in Korah and the dump to bring hope and a better future. He is another example and indication of what sponsorship can do for these children who have nothing. I was able to meet with and talk with some beautiful people who have, through sponsorship, been able to rise above their situations. What has hit home for me is that these individuals have all the potential in the world and what held them back before was education. It isn't to say that children and people wanting higher education will have the life we have here but they could live so much better and help to create lasting change for their country.
In Korah alone, there are 800 orphans!!!! There are 5.4 million orphans inEthiopiamostly due to AIDS and poverty. The rainy season has come toEthiopiaso harder times are now upon these people. Many more children will be sent to the streets because their parents cannot beg when it is raining and therefore do not have enough to care for their children. The downpours will make it very difficult to beg, to stay dry and to stay warm. This also means that food becomes more difficult to find and to acquire. My mind finds it so difficult to imagine a season that is worse than what we already saw!! How can things get worse for these people???
When we were driving up the very muddy roads in Korah, several children dressed in rags met our van and one of the little boys was so cold his teeth were chattering.
The summer school program is being run out of the church at Korah and we visited for a short time. The boy Telahun I am sponsoring was there and came out to greet us!!! Wow, what a blessing to actually know the child I am sponsoring and to have met and come to know the spirits of the other 5 boys who are now being sponsored through your generous support. The other boys should be in the summer program very soon and I will follow up by e-mail in the next few days to ask what their status is. For those of you who have sponsored a child, I will be sending you a picture of your child very soon.
I was so incredibly humbled by the people I met inEthiopia. Their appreciation for what we did while we were there, their perseverance, their sense of hope and their love for the children is unbelievable.
My work and relationship withEthiopiahas just begun. I am hoping to return toEthiopiamany times over my lifetime. One of the purposes will be to invite people from Canada to have them see first hand the needs of the country and to have them meet with people who have been positively affected by the donations of people from our country.
I used to question the value in sending people for 2 week missions to countries far away but now I totally get it. Now I see the value in having people from our country go and experience, see, hear and witness the realities of the struggles in lands that we are supporting. Some of the value for me is that I have an even greater appreciation for the many blessings I enjoy in this country (e.g. our roads, our government programs that protect people and care for them, food, running water, my home, the lack of people congestion, my rights and voice as a female, etc.).
My litter girl will be waking up soon and calling "mommy" so I better run. It has been such a gift to have so many people truly interested and caring about both my adoption and the people ofEthiopia. Thank you again!!