Saturday, March 21, 2009

Changes, changes everywhere

Wow, what a lot is going on. I feel like I've been dropped into one of the teacups in Disney's Magic Teacup ride. Nothing to complain about....
Another trip to Ethiopia happened the first week of February. It was amazing. My Dad got to go with me this time and that added a dimension of fun and relationship to an otherwise miraculous trip. Our team was so special, everyone really came looking for God to speak to their hearts and were SO much fun to be around.  I personally felt so much more at ease this trip and was able to focus more on interacting with the people we met. It touched me powerfully to be able to just dive in and hug the kids and shake hands with the adults. Seeing the same believers felt like meeting friends I've known my whole life. 
We got to meet the children we sponsor through World Vision as well as some others who were sponsored by  church members. One boy I sponsor was SO shy! He is an orphan who is being raised by his uncle and grandmother. He has three older brothers. It was heartbreaking to think that this family has lost three adults to the AIDS crisis. As we walked up, they were threshing grain on an absolutely beautiful farm and the grandmother had prepared a coffee ceremony to honor my visit. In Ethiopia, when you have visitors, fresh grass is cut and thrown on the floor of the home. Coffee beans are roasted over the fire, ground and brewed directly before serving (with lots of sugar). It is absolutely the most awesome coffee you will ever drink. Traditionally, corn or grain is also roasted to offer with the coffee and a minimum of three drinks are shared while the neighbors visit. We had to leave after one cup due to the number of children we were trying to see that day, but my delight at the grandmother's hospitality was conveyed and it had to be enough. I wish I could say how much I love these people. Their warmth is indescribable to Westerners. They were obviously busy with the chores of harvest and daily life and had never met us before, but they were ready to give a hug and sit down for a visit with someone who didn't speak their language well at all. All of their lives revolve around relationships and they would never dream of getting to business without first finding out how you and all of your family are doing. 
In the lives of the Christians, this was reflected by families actually praying together instead of just gathering around a TV to be entertained. Miracles there are not at all uncommon. One pastor who seeks to reach all religions in Ethiopia for Christ has seen God use physical healing as a means to open hearts to the gospel. 
While we were there, a member of our team fell and seriously hurt an ankle she had had surgery on previously. The pastor prayed for her on the spot, while we were running for ice and immediately she was able to walk on it. The next day it was a bit swollen and tender, but she was fully recovered within a day or two. It was amazing how their first instinct was to pray, while we were focused on the first aid we could provide.
On a sidenote, over the past few months, Brian and I have decided to apply to adopt two Ethiopian children. It really started being urgent for me after my first trip, and God has opened quite a few doors that made it clear that it is the path we are to follow as a family. We are hoping to adopt a boy and a girl, maybe siblings, around the same age as Allen and Emily. The paperwork is just about done, and we'll just have to wait for it to go through the various government agencies. We are hopeful that the adoption agency will have a match for us sometime this month. 
I am tremendously excited by the whole process. Everyone says the paperwork is exhausting, but each time I work on it I get so thrilled at what the end result will be that I have to be careful not to get insomnia thinking about it all night.  The kids are excited, too, but they complain that it is taking so long. I think, Hey! we had to wait 9 MONTHS for each of YOU ragamuffins!! So somehow the process seems about right for me.
To completely shift gears, We got our spring shipment of baby chicks and I am again in love with baby birds. The baby geese that came with them didn't survive the journey, so we will try another shipment next week before we give up for the year. The baby turkeys also keeled over from causes unknown, so I am praying that Martha will try again before spring is over. If not, well, I still give her high marks for keeping them alive for almost a full month in terrible snowy weather.
Pilgrim (the goose) has decided that "You are my Lady!- and i am your Man!" and has been fondly courting my tennis shoes before trying to climb onto my leg. (Did I mention he only has one wing, weighs at least 60 pounds and is not the most graceful bird we have!) We REALLY need an adult female goose, but he's going to have to wait until next year. I've looked everywhere. I just pray the geese babies arrive alive and we manage to raise them successfully. I know I'll only be able to fend off his advances for so long......
We have daffodils in our front yard and I've decided that in future all my landscaping money will be spent on spring bulbs. There is NOTHING more welcome that the lovely sight of bright flowers at the end of winter. It is truly the sign of balmy days spent outdoors, enjoying all of my loony animals.