Friday, July 29, 2011

Boat Trip!!

Ok, the afternoon outing was a trip to Lake Awassa to see Hippo’s. Carrie was so excited and couldn’t wait to snap some photos of the large river horses. We only had to drive about ten minutes south of Sheshamene to the lake town of Hawassa. When we arrived to the lake our leader talked to the tour boat company and booked a boat trip for us to see the Hippo’s up close.


The boats were very small and water seeped between the wooden boards that is was made from.
There was a small motor that pushed us through the water at about ten mph. It took us about thirty minutes to arrive at the place the Hippo’s where hanging out at. The boat driver was inching us closer to the animals than I felt comfortable being. See I could remember something from watching “Jack Hannah’s Into The Wild” Hippo’s kill more people in Africa than any other animal. They are very territorial, have a bad temper and can move very fast, even in water.



I was relieved when the driver started the engine and turned us back toward the dock. We arrived back at shore just as the sun disappeared behind the mountain tops.


The next morning we woke early and joined three of the ESL teachers on their road trip back to Addis.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Country side homes

Here are a few more pictures that we took while out in the country side.




Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trip to Sheshemane!

The last day we had to spend with our daughter was Wednesday the 13th. We made plans to head down to Sheshemane to visit the school that our church youth group raised money to have built. We decided it only made sense to visit the village while we were already in the country. It is a four hour drive and it is not safe to drive in the country at night (cows, goats, donkeys & people). So, this means that we had to leave our daughter at about one o’clock. That was really hard to do; we just wanted to take her with us.


We met our driver at the hotel and we were off for Southern Ethiopia. The schools are closed for the same months that schools are closed here in the US. The teachers of the schools were taking ESL classes, which are taught by teachers from the US.We met up with the ESL teachers at the hotel in Sheshemane and talked with man in charge of the school building ministry. He informed us that he would pick us up at 7:00am to head out to the village our school was being built in.

We got up early and dressed warm for the mountain air. The trip took two hours by landrover, one hour on paved road and one hour on gravel/dirt road to get to the town of Kokosa. From this point we had to walk about one and a half hours out into the hillsides until we arrived at the village the school was being built in. Wow, it looked awesome! The frame work, roof, windows and doors are all complete. They only need to mud the walls, finish the floor and build the desks. Many of the children that lived nearby had to come and see who was visiting their new school.


Table Tennis in Kokosa.


The next day we joined the ESL teachers and observed them in their classrooms. They were teaching in classrooms that had no electricity, no plumbing and cows were used to keep the grass cut low.After noon all the teachers and students went to meet in the large gathering room. Three teachers were flying home the next day so there was a ceremony and gifts of traditional clothes for them. Well they also did the samething for Carrie and I. We were very surprised since we were just visiting and not teaching.

There was a fun trip planned for that evening and wait till you hear what we did.

Tony

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visits, Exploring and Leaving our girl.

In the next couple of days the time seemed to fly by. We spent time running around town with our cab driver Sissay.


We met a lot of really nice and helpful people in the city. We bought fresh produce from the venders that set up shop on the side of the road. The bananas were smaller than what we find in the US by they were every bit as good. The price was perfect as well, 8 birr per kilo.






We visited the lime tree restaurant, which serves American dishes. There was one evening that we had dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with the other adopting families that were in ET to meet their children.


We went to our court appointment to hear that she is officially our daughter but we were still waiting on a letter from MOWA before our paperwork passes court and moves on to US embassy. After court we went to eat at an Italian restaurant followed up by shopping for some traditional clothing for our children.


When we learned of the dates we would be traveling to ET. Carrie contacted the ministry that our youth group and church has been working with to build schools in southern remote villages. The ministry had eight American English teachers working with the local school teachers by teaching ESL classes. They sent the travel company driver north to pick Carrie and me up from the Riviera on our last scheduled day. The last day to visit our daughter was so hard! We love every cute thing about her and just wanted to take her with us. I spoke with Almaz (director) and explained that we were headed to southern ET, but only after she had asked for our trip details and when we were flying out. She was excited for us to take the trip. She told us to be careful because we now have three children that are depending on us.


We had an amazing time in the southern region and I can’t wait to share all of the amazing details… soon.

Tony

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meeting miss "D"



Come to find out our agencies transition home (called Hannah’s Hope) is only about three miles and two round-a-bouts from our hotel. Carrie and I were the only two people in the van as we pulled up in front of the gates that I have seen hundreds of times before in other family’s blogs and videos.
















As we walk through the gates and then enter the infant building, we find her.

She is sleeping on the couch next to her special mother.


Carrie reaches down and gently scoops her up into her arms.

She has this cute little ways of sucking on her middle two fingers of her left hand, so plop in her mouth they go as she tries to figure out who has her in their arms.

My mother sent a pillow pet along with us to give to our daughter when we meet her. She loved it, cuddled with it and squealed with joy.






I got to feed her a bottle and then Carrie rocked her to sleep.















Before we knew it, the driver told us it was time to head back to the hotel. As we climbed into the van we learned that there are two other families there to meet their children for the first time as well. They were both great families and he had a wonderful time getting to know all four of them.

The hotel accommodations were pretty nice too.

This has got to be one of the best days Ever!

When we got back to the hotel we did everything we could to stay awake and try to switch ourselves over to ET time. We gave in about 8 O'clock and went to sleep.

The next day we went back to HH to visit our daughter and then we went out on the town with the Sanders family. Rather than type everything out about that day I think I will just copy a link for you to read it from their blog.
Enjoy!!

Growing our CRAZY family



Tony

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Arriving in Ethiopia

The flight from DC to Addis was a direct 13 hour flight. We left at noon on the 8th and got in to Addis at 8:30 am the next morning on the 9th. Carrie had the window seat and I sat in the middle seat next her and a sweet little lady from Kenya. The lady from Kenya did not understand how to operate the touch screen video player on the back of the seat in front of her, she also did not realize that her elbow on the armrest was turning the lights on and off as well as changing the volume and setting of the video screen in front of my seat for the entire flight. I read my book and watched about 5 different movies to pass the time. I just couldn’t sleep!

When the airplane was landing I was so excited to look out the window over Carrie’s shoulder at the mountains and the buildings of the city below. The airport was not very big. First thing we had to do was stand in line to apply for our visas, and then we went through customs. After those smalls hoops we were able to retrieve our bags followed by standing in line to run them through the security scanners. There were three different machines with three different lines. We chose the center line and just as we got to the machine they shut it down and walked away. No explanation! Well everyone in line behind us started moving to the scanning machine closest to the right. It didn’t matter that there was already a line formed everyone just started shoving their bags into the machine. So, of course we followed suit. The bags went in and came out the other side and I don’t even know if anyone looked at them.

As we walked through the door to the waiting area I found the person who was to transport us to our hotel (he was holding a sign with our name on it). He escorted us out of the airport into a clear 70 degree beautiful morning were we loaded into the van marked with our hotels name on it. The smell of the diesel motors was stronger than I have ever smelled before. All of the cars and semi trucks on the road seemed very old and left a black haze of exhaust behind them. I also learned quickly that there is no law against having livestock inside the city limits or laws on keeping them in particular areas. We were driving on a freeway and there were cows, goats, mules and horses walking or laying in/on the middle of the road. The driver would beep his horn and just drive around them like it was no big deal. If he wanted to pass a car he would beep the horn and the car in front would just move to the right and let him pass. Oh, and the people including young children running across the roadway. They would climb over the fence run to the center divider, climb over it and continue across the other lanes of traffic. I was so glad when we pulled off the road and into the small parking area in front of our hotel. We checked in and I asked if our agency had left a schedule for us to go visit our baby girl. They didn’t have anything for us. I was disappointed and thought what a long day it will be if we don’t get to see the sweet little face that we had traveled so far to meet. We placed our bags in our room and walked back to the front desk. I asked them to call the number for the driver that brings families back and forth from the hotel to Hannah’s Hope. I spoke to the driver on the phone and he said he would come get us in just a few minutes. I was soooooo thrilled. I ran up to the room and told Carrie that the driver was coming to get us in a few minutes.
We grabbed a few items that we brought to give to our little princess and headed down to the lobby. A large white van pulled up in front of the hotel and the driver with a huge smile on his face greeted us in perfect English. He asked “Are you ready?”. We both answered “Yes!” He helped us into the van and then pulled away from the hotel. As I sat on the edge of my seat I wondered how long the ride would be and how much further we would have to travel. The anticipation was killing me! (To be continued)

NC Beach

Here are a few photos from the Family beach vacation before we flew to Ethiopia.






Happy 4th of July Chocolate Cake!!!

It was so great to visit with family and the kids loved playing in the sand and the ocean. We went shell hunting first thing on every morning. I think we have about 3 buckets of shells sitting in our garage now.
Tony

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

4th of July Vacation and Flight to ET!

Almost a year ago we made plans for a 4th of July beach vacation in North Carolina. We planned this trip with my wives parents and brothers family. My brother in-law is stationed in Hawaii as a pilot in the Coast Guard and we haven’t been together in about 3.5 yrs.



I was a little hesitant to commit to the vacation because we were in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. As the year slipped slowly by the adoption process stretched out longer and longer. By early May I felt that if we were to get a referral call soon, we would have to travel to ET during the planned vacation. Sure enough we got the call for a beautiful baby girl and we needed to be in ET by the 12th of July. After careful planning we were able to find a way to go on vacation and then fly for ET from Myrtle Beach airport.

Our children stayed with the family to finish the beach vacation. My wife and I flew out on the 7th from MB into Atlanta. Then from Atlanta to Washington DC where we spent the night at a hotel before flying out on Ethiopian Air at 12:00 noon the following day.

We were lucky to make it to DC. First we were about 15 minutes into out 1 hour long drive to the Myrtle Beach airport when Carrie asked me if I picked up her pink backpack. The one with our passports, paperwork and cash we needed for our trip. We turned back and grabbed the bag. I tried not to worry about the time we needed to get to the airport before the flight. Have you ever seen 4th of July holiday traffic in Myrtle Beach? The 1 hour long trip turned into 2 hours and 10 minutes. We had about 30 minutes to get checked in and get on our flight. I am glad the airport was small and thankful we were able to get to DC on time.

The next day we got up early and arrived at Dulles airport about 3.5 hours before our flight.
Even though the hotel was only 2 miles from the airport Carrie was not going to take any chances on being late again.

(To be continued)
Tony