Friday, July 31, 2009

To Love is to risk Loss

Well, the house is so much quieter today. Except for frequent bursts of tears from Emily. "I MISS the boys SO MUCH!", "I know, honey, I do too..." Saying goodbye was horrible. A long drawn-out protracted affair, punctuated by shrieks and wails as the bus finally pulled away.
Emily was by far the loudest. I was grateful someone else was expressing my inner heart's agony without me having to get slobbery and headachy. The boys did pretty good until it was time to load up. They kept wiping away Emily's tears- "NO Emily, DON"T cry!, NO Emily." I cannot do justice to the accent as they say her name with tenderness, but it was heartwrenching to see them all trying to comfort one another with no real assurance that everything will be o.k.
Took the kids to a movie. Cleaned the kitchen. Stared at the leftover injera and shurro and sighed. Threw it to the chickens. Missed the companionship in the kitchen as I prepared dinner. Found one of the boys' hairbrushes and sighed again.
WHY!? Emily wants to know. Why did they have to go back so soon! I try to explain that a month is a long time to ask a family to host a child and that no matter how long we had them, it was going to be horrible to say goodbye. Then WHY did you sign us up for this?! She wants to know. I tell her that I was glad to get to know them and that it was good practice for when our permanent children come home from Ethiopia. She glares at me "Good practice to say good-bye?!" Nope, baby. When we get them, it will be forever. It was great practice for sharing a seat with Allen in the car, and practice for our language and my cooking. But really, I so understand how she feels. To love is to open oneself to pain. I don't regret a minute of it.
I would do it again in an instant. It completely changed how my kids think of Ethiopian children. Even how my husband thinks of Ethiopian children. What an enormous blessing.
Even if my heart still aches a bit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ethiopia and Virginia collide

I figured that since the foster boys were fitting in well at our house that it probably would be o.k. to take them on a short trip to visit my friend in Virginia for my birthday. Well, it was immensely more than o.k.
We all had such a wonderful time. This is a hard-working family (5 loads of dishes a DAY when company is around!), willing to include others in their lives and laughter. We slept in a tent in the front yard (a BRAND new experience for the boys) and all four kids: Allen, Emily, Tsegaw and Eyayu spent all day chasing after the Hillery children from one adventure to another and helping as they could with farm chores.
The whole family is good with languages and we all took turns practicing our Amharic. Allen pointed out:"I'm TIRED of speaking another language all the time!" (It really wasn't all the time, but I guess to a kid who studies Mandarin and French in school, asking him to study Amharic during summer break kinda is rough...) The boys' English improved daily. Ginger was a good sport at how unused to American food they still are and whipped up at least three Ethiopian dishes that were greeted with enthusiasm and empty plates. The rest of the time, they ate the injera we brought from the Ethiopian grocery and the shurro they made for themselves. (And a few bananas, oranges and freshly made french fries to fill in the gap!)
The high points of the trip for me were:
-Gazing up at the stars during a 4AM potty run to the house. Almost forgot I had to go. Magnificent. And I get LOVELY stars where I live, just not so many, and not framed so beautifully by the mountains.
-Tasting homemade custard Ice cream I had made with just cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla.
-Eating vegetable curry and blackberry pound cake birthday cake.
-Watching the Ethiopian boys blow bubbles endlessly on the front porch.
-The entire group of us howling in laughter as Ginger accidentally dumped a cup of sugar in Tsegaw's coffee, after I had just said they really like their coffee sweet in Ethiopia. Thus far, the boys had NOT had any coffee and were just agreeing to try some. The jar of sugar she was pouring from just went Trickle, trickle, GOOSH and suddenly we had coffee syrup. We started over with fresh cups of coffee and used the first one for sweetener for the new ones. But I have honestly never seen the boys laugh so hard. There was absolutely no language needed for the absurdity of the moment. And the coffee ended up being greatly enjoyed by all.
-Lying in the tent, listening to my kids complain, "Mom, the boys won't quit talking!" I was able to inform them that their first times in a tent they actually talked for HOURS. The boys barely lasted 10 minutes each night before completely passing out. (After first verifying that their flashlight batteries were still fresh and could reach every corner of the tent.....)
-I loved introducing my kids to tent camping and I loved introducing these boys to tent camping.
-Lying in the tent, listening to the thunder roar and the rain pour down. Praising God for dry tents and warm sleeping bags.
-Sitting in the full hayloft, smelling the sweet hay and watching the barn swallow feeding her young.
-Gawking at the amazing froth on the top of the milking bucket as Ginger milked Cocoa.
-Listening to Cocoa graze the yard around our tent early in the morning.
-Watching the boys fly down the hill on bicycles.
-Sitting in the corner of the kitchen and watching Ginger work her magic.
-Being Ginger's sous-chef on a day when she worked herself half to death weeding the garden and harvesting potatoes.
-Just being loved for who I am by people who really know who I am.

The worst part was knowing that parting comes much sooner than desired. I absolutely don't know what I'll do as I miss these sweet boys' faces with their ready smiles and tender hearts. Keep praying, I suppose. God brought them this way for a reason and I am trusting in Him to make his purpose known. Until then, I'll just keep loving, praying and working on my Amharic.

Ciao! (Amharic for good-bye)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shrieks and Giggles Galore

Well, it's been a week since the Ethiopian boys arrived and they have finally relaxed and started being themselves. It doesn't seem to bother them that they don't always know what is going on, although they do have an awful lot of English. I have noticed how much English they have when they start trying to teach me words in Amharic. I've been learning a LOT of nouns in Amharic! They are otherwise very quiet and respectful around me, although are quick to return those brilliant smiles whenever I grin at them. Allen and Emily have truly blown me away. They are willing to be the interpreters, acting out whatever they think the boys need to know. But they haven't been shy towards the lack of English coming back at them and truly chatter at them as though it is a regular day playing with best friends. As a result, I frequently cheer silently to hear the sound of four sets of feet running pell-mell upstairs, voices raised in laughter, English and Amharic. Tickling, pirate swords, pretend monsters- you name it.... kids are indeed kids the world over and I am blessed to be getting to know these two(and discovering sides to my own two that I otherwise wouldn't see).
The boys cooked a lovely Ethiopian sauce for dinner tonight. We were at the Ethiopian grocery and Eyayu picked a bag of powder off the shelf and named it "Sharro!" I told him we could get it, as he was obviously delighted to find it, but I confessed to the store owner that I had no idea what to do with it. "Oh, he can cook it for you! He knows how to make it! All you need is tomatoes and onions and a little oil." Well, honey. Let me tell you. Those boys can both COOK. I chopped up an onion and they had to reject my efforts because my pieces were too big. So I just handed over the knife and cutting board, and boy did they ever show me how it was done. That onion was the consistency of rice when they were finished. And the tomato looked like puree. It actually made me a little sad that at age 10, they both have had to be self-sufficient enough that they can fix a meal beautifully without the slightest bit of help.
We gorged ourselves on injera and Sharro along with baked chicken and fresh potato salad for dinner. It was lovely to see the look on Eyayu's face as I gobbled up my food and praised his cooking. Allen plans to make spaghetti with meat sauce tomorrow. I really need to use up the huge onion pieces from today.....
Tomorrow should be fun. More bike riding, swimming, exploring Charlotte. It's neat to experience where you live through the eyes of a child old enough to really participate in what your family likes to do.

If you ever get the chance to host an orphan, Jump at it. Your heart stretches until you feel like it might burst.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spa Day with Emily

I just fulfilled a pinkie promise to my daughter-- we indulged ourselves with a "Spa Day". Her teachers at school kept receiving spa gift certificates as thank you's and for birthday gifts, so she wanted to know what one was like. We picked up a cucumber at the store, I dug out an old sample of a face mask and we climbed in the bath, with bubbles up to our chin. Sliced the cucumber thin and placed on our eyes and relaxed. Pumiced our feet when we were tired of cucumbers on our eyes and had washed our faces sparkling clean. Once out, we applied face lotion, gently trimmed toenails and freshened up Emily's nail polish. The best part: didn't cost what a regular spa does. Oh, and the sense of closeness I felt with my spunky little girl. We have had two precious visitors in our house for almost a week now and she has been nothing but wonderful with them. I looked up at her after doing her toes and reminded her how I said that I knew life with more kids would be different, but that I would always still love her the same. Somehow, after a leisurely soak together, I felt like she could really tell I meant it. What a precious gift from my girl, to request that I pause from my endless merry-go-round to just enjoy her.