Shelley -first update

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 Dear family and friends,

Yesterday evening, my mom and I arrived inAddis Ababa and since that time, we have experienced and seen so very much.  There is so much to tell and I will be starting to journal each day to create a document to help me remember my feelings and experiences for the rest of my life.

We were met at the airport by Bisrat the translator for the Guest Home.  He told us a lot about his life in a short time and said that he had been raised in a monastery as a younger boy because his parents were both blind and were monks.  When Bisrat became a believer in Christ, he was thrown in jail for 3 days without food and water.  He was thrown out of jail and was made to ride on the rack of a vehicle so he wouldn't contaminate the others in the vehicle. He then went to stay at the Leprosy Colony where they live right by the dump and eat the food that others throw out.  Bisrat then became involved with ministering to the street kids inAddis Ababaand has recently been employed by the owner of this guest home.  He is so very much in love with Jesus and so thankful for what he has and yet in our eyes, he has so very little (material things). He is very willing and wanting to be of help to us and has made us feel welcomed in a foreign land.

When we told him why we were inEthiopia, he said "You have obeyed God's plan for your life to adopt Zinash. You could have gone toCaliforniabut you chose to obey Him and come to the poorest country in the world to give a girl a family".  WOW!!  What a way to start our journey inEthiopia.  God sure is an awesome God to give us Bisrat and his wonderful spirit and deep love for Him.

On Tuesday night, my mom and I prepared for our trip to meet my daughter for the first time.  What to take, are the cameras ready, will she be shy, how will she feel about meeting us, .....?

At 8:30 this morning, Solomon, the driver for my adoption agency came to pick us up and about 40 minutes later, my mom and I sat in a room waiting to meet Julia. Before I knew it, there she was, holding on to the hand of the nurse and she was coming down the little hall.  I held myself together because I didn't want to scare her with my tears but the sheer delight I felt was incredible.  There she was before me, in seconds, I would be able to hold her and start my relationship as mother and daughter.

She is just as cute in real life as in her pictures.  Her smile is priceless and her eyes are beautiful.  She was very quiet but the nurse Hanna told me that Julia has been ready for me to come and she is ready to go with us in the next day or so.

I took with me today a game and a book that has icons you press to play little tidbits.  Julia loved both and it was a great way to make a connection with her.  I was able to hold her and to hold her hands and then to hug her when I was leaving.

I would love to say that I have pictures and/or a video to post on my website but unfortunately (and my mom and I just about died laughing tonight at the video), we have my mom's face for the first time to see Julia since she didn't know what end of the camera to point at Julia.

We did do the video over (what a great first impression of her gramma and her mom being totally dense when it comes to technology) but we will have to edit it before we post it on the website.  It is coming so please stay tuned.

Tomorrow morning, my mom and I are going with another driver about 4 hours south to meet Julia's birth mother at her home.  This will be a very hard day for sure and I just ask God to give me the grace and wisdom to know what to say and to show her birth mother that I thank her for Julia, that I will love her daughter with all my heart and to show love and compassion for the circumstances that she is in.

We will spend one night in Wolyata and then head back on Friday morning when we will go and pick up Julia to come and spend the rest of her life with me, my family and friends.  I know that she will take some time to adjust and to warm up and bond with me but hopefully each day we will see that she is opening up and becoming more comfortable.

Bisrat is going to arrange to buy some cloths and shoes for street kids he knows who do not have an agency caring for them.  My mom and I will go and buy the cloths that Bisrat picks out (he told us there is a second hand store that the cloths will be good and very reasonable) for 20 children and then we will take, with Bisrat, 10 children out for lunch at a time.

If you have any interest in doing a one-time sponsorship of a child in this way or if you would like us to buy some rice/beans/supplies to take to those living in the Leprocay Colony, please let me know how much you would like to donate and I can get the money from you when I get home.  I will take a picture of the children to give you if you would like to see who you have helped.

The poverty here is unbelievable and yet we are told that the Ethiopian people are happy.

When we were pointing out to Bisrat the flowers we knew from Florida and the flowering bushes and trees, he said that he has never noticed them before because most people in Ethiopia are thinking about what will come next and how they will get the food they need to eat.  He was not saying that by us noticing the flowers that we were wrong or not caring and that is what is so honestly amazing.  Bisrat told us as a matter of fact that many people inEthiopiamay dress okay but they go home and sleep on the floor. He as a boy would only eat one meal a day!!  How incredibly blessed we are to have three meals a day and snacks and to have the beauty of our country.

The next two days are going to be tremendously emotional, difficult and yet an important part of my adoption journey.

I will write more on Friday and let you know how Julia is doing but for now, she is a delight, an absolutely sweetheart and her smile and eyes have already (they did in pictures too) melted my heart.  I love this little girl and feel so very blessed to be her forever mommy.