Okay! I dropped off the scene for the last two months, and I apologize for that. Dave fell off a ladder Thanksgiving weekend and could have killed himself, but for the grace of God. The last two months were a flurry of doctors' visits and surgeries, but amazingly, Dave was still good to go on our trip. We got it all put together, and we are officially in Ethiopia!
We left on Friday to meet our team at the airport, carrying more luggage than any one family could ever manage. Each member of our family took two large suitcases, the kids each carried on a duffel bag, I had a purse (really a huge bag stuffed with snacks, neck pillows, passports, and about 50 lbs. of other gear), a book bag (which I never leave home without and which typically weighs at least 25 pounds), a camera bag, and a small rolling suitcase, which we also carried on. We were on a different flight from the rest of our team, so we saw them off and then grabbed a bite of lunch. Our flight was then delayed for over an hour - very stressful when you are supposed to connect to a flight in Detroit and then meet your team in Amsterdam for the final connecting flight to Ethiopia. We made it to Detroit in time for our connection, and Carlos then got really stressed out about the overseas flight. We talked about taking things one step at a time, settled into our seats, and took off. At about 10:30 p.m. we settled in for sleep, and woke up in Amsterdam at 1:30 a.m. our time to discover it was really 8:30 a.m. where we were. Short night. We met our group, made our connection, and arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 9:00 p.m., where we found our beloved Tia Terri, who had flown in to join us from Chicago via Franfort, Germany. So, we left our house at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, and arrived at the Providence Guest House, our place of residence for the week, at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Door to door, that's 39 hours.
I have to say, our kids were amazing. Friday night gave them 3 hours of sleep, they had very little food (the airplane food was particularly horrible all the way through), and they went to bed at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Even so, we had no meltdowns, no tantrums (no big ones anyway), and lots of compliments on what great travellers they are. Thank You, Lord! Carlos vacillated between being distressed at going and thinking that this was a terrific adventure. Kiki was excited beyond words the whole time. By the time we went to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning, she'd already made friends with everyone on the team. As we went to bed, Carlos was almost in tears, wishing he was home. I confess I was ill at ease myself. Lack of sleep and nutritious food were contributing factors, I'm sure. I sent a quick text home to the two best sisters a girl could ever have, got immediate responses, scripture, and prayers, and finally fell asleep I don't know when. 3:00 a.m.?
Kidist slept like a rock. Oddly, Carlos apparently decided to start sleep walking in Addis. At least twice in the night, I woke up to find him walking around our room. One time, he walked up to the side of the bed and asked, "What time is it?" Both times he climbed back in bed and went back to sleep.
The big joke about our room is that we got the "jacuzzi suite". Having a family of four, we got the biggest room, which includes a double bed, a set of bunkbeds, and its own bathroom. In that bathroom is the largest jacuzzi tub I have ever seen. Not exactly what you expect to have on a mission trip. What is hilarious, though, is the miniature hot water heater hanging on the wall above the tub. That hot water heater provides exactly enough shower water for two people to get clean if each of you shuts off the water as soon as you wet your hair, turns it back on to rinse, shuts it off again to lather your body, and rinses off very quickly. We decided that you could either have bubbles from the jets in a full tub of ice cold water or you could have a nice, hot soak for your feet! I really don't get why the thing is there, but anyway, the Valadez family is enjoying a jacuzzi suite during our service to orphans and widows. Shameful.
This morning we woke to an incredibly beautiful day. Warm Ethiopian sunshine spilled from a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. We worshipped at Beza International Church. They offer an 11:00 service in English. These people know how to worship! Carlos' comment as we left the church was, "These people know how to do music!" We returned to the guest house for lunch: eggplant and potatoes over rice (yummy), tuna pizza (yes, you read that right), and lamb pizza (also good).
Peter Abera, founder of Compassion Family International, the organization we will spend the most time with this week, told his story and the history and mission of CFI. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have incredible hearts for the Lord and for the poorest of children in Addis Ababa and their families. Peter's story moved me to tears, even though I'd heard it once before. Hearing how God orchestrated a million details to bring Peter and Elizabeth, to this place, doing this work, with the people that have come on this team, is astounding. Truly, we serve a sovereign, almighty God.
We are relaxing now as the sun is setting. We'll have dinner, a team meeting, and then head off to bed. Tomorrow, we meet the kids of CFI, and begin the heartbreaking work of loving those who are in the midst of the deepest tragedies. Please pray for us! Please pray that we get good sleep tonight. Please pray that we bless kids and families/guardians tomorrow. Please pray that God is glorified in all we do.