Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Week 3 - What a Week!

We are in our third week home with Zane, and it has been a great one!  We finished week two with a get-together at my mom's house!  Three couples with AWAA came over for dinner.  Zane got to hang out with his transition home buddy, Musse, who came home only weeks before he did.  We finally got to meet Zadie, the Chambers little girl, and we got to know a new couple who will be bringing home their baby next summer from Ethiopia!

It was also fun to see Nick, my brother who has been in Iraq for a year.  He is back in Texas now, so he drove in to meet Zane.  "Untel Ick", as Zane calls him, is great with kids!  Zane enjoyed walking with him and playing with sidewalk chalk.

Sunday was Saints v. Texans day, so obviously, Mark and I had to watch it with Poppi and Uncle Nick who love the Texans.  We came ready to cheer for the Saints, and we were SO relieved when the Saints pulled through.  After a disappointing Aggie game on Saturday, we needed the win.

Tuesday, Zane and I had a brunch date with our friend, Amanda, at Einstein bagels.  After downing a pumpkin crunch bagel and latte, we walked around Town Center, and headed back home for nap time.  That afternoon we went by Honey and G-G's house for a little while to play before they head out to Austin for a long weekend.

Today, Zane and I met Autumn and Zadie and Kara and Berhanesh for lunch at Pappasitos.  One great thing about being back in Texas is wonderful Mexican food like Pappasitos.  I just about ate my body weight in chips and salsa!  I tried to get Zane to eat quesadillas, but he's still not ready for that apparently.  

Zane is getting much better at eating, however!  I've enjoyed making my own baby food from sweet potatoes, peas, mashed potatoes, peaches, etc.  It's SO easy and much cheaper than buying it.  It also allows me to combine things I know Zane will like, and control the amount of salt and sugar he gets in his diet.  So far, he has tried anything I put in french vanilla yogurt, and he loves peas and mashed potatoes.  His favorite snack is cheese ducks (the organic version of goldfish).  I think he's really doing great!  I can't imagine being in his shoes and have my entire world turned upside down.  He's courageous to put anything green or orange in his mouth, and he does this daily.  With all the change he has been through, he has really shown a lot of trust to eat the food we give him.

Tonight, Zane and I will experience our first night by ourselves in the U.S.  Mark's job requires him to travel some, and I'm used to the day or two trips he has every other week or so.  Hopefully, Zane will not be overly concerned about Daddy not being here tonight.  We spent many nights in Africa, just the two of us, so I think he'll be okay.  But you never know how a difference in routine might scare him or make him feel anxiety.   Last night Zane was crying in his sleep again, much like he did the first week I had him in Ethiopia.  It's hard to tell if he's in pain or if he's having a nightmare.  I just pray for him and hold him when this happens, and usually he falls back asleep after a while.  Who knows what he might be feeling, especially in his dreams when one can almost forget where he or she is!  This happened to me almost every morning I woke up in Africa.  I'd forget I was in Ethiopia, and think I was in my bed in New Orleans.  I can't imagine where he thinks he is when he wakes up in the middle of the night!  Pray for him to have peace and dream sweet dreams.

Friday, Zane will go to get an evaluation at Texas Children's Hospital's Adoption Clinic.  This is a routine post-adoption check up where doctors look into all of the possible conditions he could have from his time in Ethiopia.  We expect Zane to have a clean bill of health aside from minor issues like the chronic cough he has; however, we would appreciate your prayers as we take him to be poked and prodded.  We hope he will feel comforted and assured that he is safe and taken care of while he is there.

This weekend we are really excited to see Aunt Laura and Uncle Ben and Uncle Jay, who is flying in from New York, over at Grandmom and G-Daddy's house.  Zane will get to meet his aunt and uncles for the first time!  I know he'll enjoy everyone playing with him and loving on him!

Zane is learning something new everyday.  He's very interested in the alphabet with correlating animal cards I got him.  He's trying SO hard to make the sounds of the letters, and it's so sweet to see him try.  Some letters are super difficult for him to say.  Apparently, some sounds he's not used to hearing, and he doesn't know how to position his throat and mouth to make the sound come out!!  We keep repeating and he keeps trying every day.  He's such a determined boy.  There are three animals he will not try to say the names of because he immediately resorts to mimicking the sound the animal makes:  the lion, rooster, and snake.  In fact, when Zane sees any of these animals in pictures when we're out, he'll point and make the sounds they make.  I was at Whole Foods the other day, and Zane started yelling, "DA-DA-DOOOOOO!" over and over.  I didn't know what he was doing until I looked up, and just over the chicken section, the outline of a rooster hung.  I was amazed that he saw the sign in the first place, then laughed that he thought about the cock-a-doodle-doo sound the rooster makes while shopping for groceries!  

This and other sounds he makes often make me miss Addis.  Every morning (and all through the night, actually) we were greeted by the sound of the rooster next door.  The donkeys would come by, and Zane would say, "HEE-HAW".  And the men selling mops would yell, "AWOYAY!"  The neighborhood dogs barked (and sometimes wailed) all night, and Zane always puckered his lips and said, "HOO!  HOO!" like the dogs did.  The only sounds we hear in our room these days is the sound of cars on the beltway and an occasional siren.  Our outdoor wildlife here is the squirrel, and it's really hard to mimic their sounds!  Therefore, breakfast isn't complete without Mommy and Zane pretending we're in Addis and yelling the sounds of the animals and people in the streets!

I love to see him absorb the world around him.  He's becoming a master at saying "HI!" and "Thank you!" and you can tell it makes him proud to get those words right.  It's such a blessing to be the mom of such a sweet boy.  I absolutely love him, and I'm so thankful to God for him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Almost another week has gone by!  I can't believe how quickly time goes by sometimes.  Zane is doing great with his sleep patterns now.  We went to the pediatrician for the first time this week, and he got some medicine for a cough he's had.  In addition to helping with the cough, it's helped him sleep through the night, so he's getting more used to US time.  Zane is trying all kinds of new foods, and he's being really brave!  He definitely does not like all of them, but at least he's trying!

Zane met my Aunt Denise today at Honey's and G-G's (Grandaddy's new name) house.  We had lunch, and he enjoyed playing with old toys that Nick and I played with!  It's amazing because those toys are now selling at Target for $20.  All the vintage stuff is back!  Zane got to play with an ORIGINAL telephone pull toy whose eyes move up and down and a worm scooter whose stickers have all come off.  He loved it.  Only G-G could push him on the scooter because he does it best, apparently!

Grandmom came for a visit this week!  She came bearing gifts, like all good grandmom's do!  Zane enjoyed playing with her and taking a walk in his beloved stroller.  Zane showed Grandmom how to launch his Lightening McQueen car and make it go fast, and they played with a new fall bear she brought.

Mark is enjoying his job with Hess, and his schedule has been great.  He's been able to beat the traffic home and play with Zane before bedtime.  We've enjoyed dinners at home, bath time (which is a total celebration complete with a chant and dance), and walking around the beautiful Terry Hershey park.

This weekend Uncle Nick comes in town to meet Zane, and we're having other AWAA families to Mimi's house for dinner.  Zane's friend, Musse', lives in Katy, so I'm looking forward to meeting up with the Rowells again, this time in the United States!  I wonder if they will recognize each other in this new environment?  I'm sure pictures will follow...Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our New Life

The other day, I was talking to a friend about what we're doing these days.  The only thing that comes to mind is "adjusting".  I really didn't know what to say beyond that because I have no idea what the adjustments are.  I can't put into words what I'm doing every day, I just know my body is tired, so there must be an adjustment going on, right?

I am an analytical person by nature, so when someone asks me a question, I feel compelled to answer that question as honestly and thoroughly as possible, even if the answer comes days later.  I've been alive long enough, however, to know that people don't really care enough to wait days for an answer.  My OCD kicks in when I'm asked a question I don't know how to answer, and I think about it until I can.  Therefore, I pondered the question, "What adjustments are y'all making?" until I could put a few of the adjustments into words.

First, Zane and I are trying to get used to U.S. time zones.  For the first week, Zane thought that midnight was  8 a.m. (breakfast time in Addis) and 5 a.m. was noon (lunch time in Addis).  It wasn't until two nights ago, that Zane slept (pretty much) through the night.  It felt great to have a full night's sleep!

Secondly, Zane is getting used to foreign foods.  We've gone from barley cereal, wheat cereal, and an occasional bowl of pasta stars to peas, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cheese crackers, and his favorite, french vanilla yogurt.  I'm learning to hide vegetables and fruits in things like potatoes and yogurt.  I guess I can say I'm officially a mom now.

Thirdly, I have been adjusting to life in an apartment in Houston rather than our house in New Orleans.  Our apartment is beautiful and the area is awesome for us to explore.  We have a pool, onsite cyber cafe with great macchiatos, and near-by nature trails for walking and riding bikes.  We love the area; however, so much of me is still in New Orleans.  Zane's room that I completed weeks before we left still sits untouched in our house in New Orleans.  Our dogs, Callie and Gracie, are staying with Grandmom (Mark's mom) in Richmond.

In addition to this, my job as 7th grade language arts teacher has been replaced by the job of homemaker and mom.  It was strange to let August go by without decorating my classroom, writing names on popsicle sticks, and organizing my agenda for the new school year.  I even had my usual "beginning of school" dreams while I was in Addis.  I dreamed that my principal did not fill my position and she needed me to come back from Africa to teach until she found a replacement, and I dreamed about lesson planning with Becky, my partner teacher and dressing up to read a story to the kids.

Lastly, I feel like my family for the past 8 years is in New Orleans living life without us.  We can't pick up the phone at 5 p.m. on a Friday night and ask the Palmers to meet us at Superior Grill at 6.  We don't drive by the Carvers' yellow house on the way to Lebanon's when we're craving hummus and gyro wraps.  We can't rag on Georgia to the Simons on Sunday morning in Sunday school, and we can't spontaneously go out to eat with the Flores after church.  We're not driving to church three days a week for meetings and praise team practice with Robert and the band.  No more late Sunday nights drinking coffee with the Pucketts or pretending to diet with Rachel while I sneak a Starbucks scone.  It's weird.  My normal is in New Orleans, so I guess we're adjusting to the new normal.

My grandparents, whom I admire very much, have never let changing seasons of life keep them from experiencing the fullness and joy life has to offer.  My entire life, they have traveled all across the United States to see friends, family members, co-workers, and anyone they've ever met really.  When you meet them, you immediately become their friend.  People are priority to them, and you know that when you are in their presence.  There is no boundary that is too big to keep Honey and Grandaddy from loving someone and making a special effort to come see them.  In fact, they just returned to Houston from a 6-7 stop trip over the weekend where they spent time with Grandaddy's ailing sister, had lunch with former missionaries they knew, stayed the night with my other set of grandparents, played forty-two with old friends, among many other joys.  In their 80's now, they never let life pass them by, and they never live with regret.

I want to be like Honey and Grandaddy.  God is giving me an opportunity with our new move to stay connected to loved ones in Louisiana.  As my life continues, I pray that God will give me the thoughtfulness and selflessness of my grandparents to maintain friendships with people wherever we may live.  What a legacy they have left for me, and I pray to leave that legacy for Zane.  While we're on earth, the most important relationship we have aside from Jesus Christ is the ones we have with the people he has put in our path.  I hope that people see the love of Christ through me, as it is seen through my grandparents in their efforts to keep close ties to the people they've encountered.

Friday, September 16, 2011


It has been one week since we flew out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  About this time 7 days ago, we were boarding a 777 Ethiopian airplane to head to Washington D.C.  It is almost impossible for me to believe that an entire week has gone by.

When we arrived in D.C., we were thrilled to step onto U.S. soil for two reasons:  1)  that meant we were finally home and 2) our son automatically became a U.S. citizen!  We obtained a visa for him that allowed him to achieve citizenship upon arrival.  Horray!  To celebrate, we went to Dunkin Donuts and got a patriotic red, white, and blue rasberry-filled donut in the shape of a star in our nations capital!  Doesn't get much better than that.  Unfortunately, Zane hated the donut and spit it out.  Oh well.  I guess some American customs are better to leave behind, and donuts are definitely one of them.

After a 3 hour layover and lots of walking around the airport to stretch our legs, we boarded a small jet to New Orleans.  We were surprised and delighted to receive first class seating thanks to a generous ticketer who appreciated our choice to adopt.  We enjoyed the extra leg room and space for Zane to move!

We were greeted in New Orleans by one of the best looking greeting crews I've ever seen.  As we passed through the gate to the waiting area, the three of us fist pumped (Zane style) and cheered, "Yay, yay, yay!"  Of course, Zane had no idea that the crowd huddled in front of us was cheering back for him!  I think he was surprised to get such a loud "YAY!" in response.  After hugging both sets of grandparents who (thankfully) traveled from Houston to see us arrive, Jon, Anna and Eli Palmer greeted Zane with a new toy car.  The Simon's kids held posters with greetings for Zane, and many of our church family and community showered us with hugs and kisses.  It was the most wonderful homecoming I've ever experienced, and it was made even sweeter by the friends and family who came to meet our new son.  Almost immediately, Zane wanted to get down and play with the other children there.  He ran around with the boys, while the girls touched his face and gave him kisses.  Every once in a while he glanced up and ran to Mark or me to let us know he still knew who he belonged to.  It was during this time that I realized how far Zane had come in the last two weeks we spent together as a family in Ethiopia.  He knew who Mommy and Daddy were, and he knew that as long as we were around, he was safe.  It felt good to watch him light up and run to us, yet still be comfortable enough to play with the other children.  We were truly amazed.  We were able to talk and catch up with our friends and family for quite a while before getting our luggage and heading home...

Home...well that's another story.  It turns out the issues we thought we were going home to were not nearly as bad as we invisioned them.  Our neighbor aired out our car, and the smell from the water was gone.  What we originally thought was rising water in the car, was actually just a leak in the sunroof.  This is much easier to fix, and it's a lot less damaging to the vehicle.  The ceiling that had fallen in due to an air conditioning leak was re-dry-walled and looked clean.  The only remnant of the ceiling disaster was the smell of drywall and paint.  We were so thankful that the situations with our house were not as big of a deal as we thought they were.  

Despite the corrections to the house, Mark, Zane, and I spent one night in the house we thought would be our home upon returning to the United States.  During the time that I was in Ethiopia, Mark took a new job with Hess Corporation.  Originally, we thought we might be able to spend a week or two as a family in New Orleans, say our goodbyes, and gradually move to Houston.  However, the one or two weeks we planned to spend as a family in New Orleans was spent in Addis Ababa waiting on embassy.  Therefore, the next morning, our families arrived early at our house to pack and clean our house and get it ready to sell.  By 1:00 p.m., our house looked professionally cleaned and staged, and we were on the road caravaning to Houston.

It's funny how things never go as planned, but they always turn out better than expected.  What I thought was a delay in embassy clearance really was treasured time Mark and I had with Zane with no distractions in his birth-country.  It was beautiful memories in places we never would have gone to otherwise, like the gorge or even the bakery up the street.  What we think is disaster in our lives, like the leak in the ceiling or the flooding of our new car, were not really issues at all in the end.  We got new drywall out of the deal and the assurance that our air conditioning is now in good selling condition.  Our plan to say our goodbyes in New Orleans, while it would be nice for us to hang on to the way things were, really may have been more difficult for Zane, as he would have had to adjust twice to a new home, surroundings, and people.  Now, we are all adjusting together to a new city, new apartment, and life as a family.  We're all on an equal playing field so to speak.  We're relying on each other and discovering new places together.

I don't know what the future holds for us here.  A new house?  New friends?  New church?  But one thing I have learned from this experience.  Home is where family is.  Whether in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, New Orleans, Louisiana, or Houston, TX, we've been home all along because we're together.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 62 & 63 - Going Home

I can't really explain what I feel right now.  Our journey to Zane is nearing an end, but our lives as a family of three in Texas is just beginning.  It's surreal to think we will drive to the airport in only two hours and we will not see Ethiopia again for years to come.  Addis Ababa has been my home for over two months now, and it has been my son's home for more than 6 months.  I've wondered today if he has any idea what we are doing today...that we are flying to the other side of the world...that we are leaving his country...that we really don't live in the Yebsabi Guest House permanently.  My feelings are bittersweet now as I right this.  I go from feeling sadness and loss about leaving this place to elation about going home.  Addis Ababa has been the furnace in which God has refined me with His Holy fire.  It has been difficult, lonesome at times, and painful, but God has met me here, and I don't want to leave it...Him.  I fear I will forget how God came to my rescue when I was so helplessly depressed at my lowest points here, or how he sent me fellowship at just the right moments.  I fear my mind won't recall God's words to me each week at the International Evangelical Church and the way the pastor always spoke the exact words God needed me to hear.  Will I remember the sounds of the Doxology and the African, American, British, and German accents that filled the air?  What about the chorus "How Great Thou Art" sung at everyone's full capacity on our last Sunday there and the way the Ethiopians behind us trilled there tongues in traditional celebration when we sang, "Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, My God, how GREAT Thou art!"  How will I remember the feeling I had when  Mark and I saw Zane walk for the first time, and the way we praised God for allowing us to see that?  Will my mind allow me to adequately describe Zane's birthmother's face when she gave Addisu her last wishes and watched us drive out the gates of Abenezer Orphanage?  As the sounds of the girls that live next door flood through my window, I am reminded that they will be grown the next time we come here.   I wonder if "R" will still love us, Zane, animals, and pretty much everything in the world as much as she does today, or will her reality become bleak for her?  What will become of the kids at Abenezer, Kid's Care, or Kingdom Vision, just a block from the Yebsabi? Who else might come and watch them play from the terrace almost every day praying for them to have families?  I wonder if the staff here at the Yebsabi will still be here when we return?  Will I ever see there smiles and hear their kind voices again?  My heart.  I'm overwhelmed with saddness, gratitude, joy, and expectation.

I know I will struggle to remember the details of every moment here in Addis, but I will never forget what God has done here.  He has shown us His presence in ways we've never experienced.  He has reminded us of his faithfulness and goodness.  He's given us a heart for Ethiopia and its people.  And He's provided His power and His peace in abundance.  The symbol of Ethiopia is the Lion of Judah, and we have experienced Jesus here as both the Lion and the Lamb.  He has been our strength and He has been our salvation.  We praise Him.

As Ethiopia celebrates their New Year this Monday, we will be celebrating our first day in Houston, TX with our new son, Addisu.  Addisu means, "The New One", and it is a Christian name given to him by his biological grandfather.  It is not by chance that Addisu was given a Christian name.  God was His father all along, and He still is.  In Ethiopia, September is the New Year because it is the season when the rains cease and crops flourish.  It is the time when all things become new, fresh, and second chances are given.  I believe that it is no coincidence that we will take home our "New One" during the Ethiopian "New Year", for our God makes ALL THINGS new.  And we look with great hope and anticipation at the deliverance he is bringing to our son and his birth country.

We look forward to seeing many of you in a matter of hours.  Your prayers have been our strength and encouragement for 9 weeks, and we love you.  We are so blessed to return to the family God has given us through Christ and to our country that we love so much.

See you stateside!

Mark, Cimbrey, and Zane

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 61 - Embassy Eve!

It's hard for me to believe that tomorrow we will be going to our embassy appointment!  In celebration of our future American's visa, Daddy and Zane got a haircut today and Zane wore his American fire truck pajamas!  I saved them 9 weeks for tonight, and I can't believe it's here.  Mark and I are excited for the appointment tomorrow, and the visa we will receive Friday morning before leaving for America!  However, nothing compares to Zane's excitement.  He has the best facial expressions!  We've seen him really come to life over the past three weeks.  His face is priceless and so difficult to capture in pictures.  He loves to laugh and be silly.  When we laugh with him, he squeals and buries his face in our chests.  He's so affectionate and loving toward us.  One of his favorite things to do lately is pucker up and give us kisses.  He even blows kisses from across the room.  He's such a sweet boy.  Here's a few from Embassy Eve that sort of capture his precious personality.

"Who me?"

"Daddy's hilarious!"

Sweet boy

"So...I'm like...going to be an official citizen?"

 "See...what happened was..."

"Daddy, you comin'?"

"Do they let you run on furniture in America?  Okay, I'll go."

"YAY!  I'm going home soon!!!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 60 - When it Rains...

I know I'm not the first to say, "When it rains, it pours!"  Around Addis, this phrase is used quite literally during the rainy season.  People run for cover when the slightest sprinkle begins knowing that torrential downpours are on the horizon.  Figuratively, it seems as though this phrase is more of the rule than the exception in life.  Rain, or trials come BOGO style, except instead of Buy One Get One, it should be Buy One Get 1,000.

Mark and I knew when we applied for adoption that we were going to be getting a lot more than a beautiful blessing from God.  We were "buying" into potential battles, spiritual, financial, and relational.  I have to admit, things have been relatively easy for us so far.  Aside from the difficulty with paperwork, saving money, and the frequent "Is he white or hobesha (Ethiopian)?" stare, we've had no real issues.   Until now...

Mark and I have been in a transitional period over the past two months.  We live in New Orleans, but Mark has accepted a job in Houston.  To keep things "easy" for the adoption, we've kept New Orleans our permanent address, and Mark has worked during the week in Houston while I've been in Ethiopia.  When we return home (to New Orleans), we will be moving our address to Houston to be closer to Mark's work.

Shortly after Mark arrived in Addis two weeks ago, our friend (who was cleaning our house as a surprise to me from Mark) emailed and said there was an air conditioning leak in the roof and the ceiling had caved in leaving the carpet wet.  Being completely powerless to change the situation a world away, we asked our friend to become our "general contractor" in repairing our house, especially since we are going to put in on the market soon.  This was not good news, but manageable news I guess, and there was little we could do to change it.

A couple of days ago, as tropical storm Lee hovered near New Orleans, our neighbors emailed to show us the rising water in the neighborhood and ask if they could move our car out of the street.  Thankful, we told them where they could find a key, and we hoped for the best.  Yesterday, we got an email that the car floorboards were wet, and that there was an awful smell in the car.  This is our newest car, and the car we planned to drive to Houston in with our son in his new carseat.  Needless to say, those plans have changed.

Tomorrow I'm bracing myself for a tree to fall on the roof, a burglar to steal my TV, or maybe the truck will suddenly go into reverse and back into the neighbor's beautifully manicured garden!  I'm ready.  Bring it on, life!

"When it rains it pours" means more to me than the sloshy puddles I will wade through to get my next macchiatto down the street in Addis.  These raindrops are starting to take the form of dollar signs, and they feel more like a hailstorm than a rainstorm.

In all of this, I am confident that God is on our side and working all things together for good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Even if it is that we do get a little wet along the way.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 57 - Winding Down!

It's amazing how good news can bring such relief to an otherwise wound-up, anxious heart!  With that relief comes extreem exhaustion.  The andrenaline slows when there is an end in sight, and the body stops fighting as hard.  I guess this is why coaches always tell runners to finish strong, run hard all the way past the finish line, don't let up and quicken the pace at the end.  Pressing on to the finish is harder than it sounds.  Every day here seems like a week because we know we are going home soon.  In response to our drowsy, bored condition, Mark and I have been planning an outing every day.  Thursday night, after hearing about our embassy clearance, Mark and I decided to celebrate with hamburgers!  We'd been hearing rumors about a great restaurant here in Addis with hamburgers as good or better than home.  We were skeptical, but we had to see what all the fuss was about.  It turns out, it was the finest dining we had experienced here, and the burgers were in fact phenomenal.  Fresh bread made on sight, gouda cheese, and garden vegetables make anything fantastic!  The atmosphere was like a cool, city coffee shop with comfy chairs, books, big windows, and jazz music.  It felt for a moment like we were in New Orleans!  To top it off, we ordered a peanut butter, banana, and chocolate crepe for dessert (just like Le Crepe Nanou in NOLA) and hot chocolate.  The hot chocolate was lightly flavored with orange zest and decorated with whip cream and cocoa powder.  Really, I didn't know Addis could be so good to us.  It was just what we needed on the day we found out we get to return to NOLA soon!

Yesterday, Mark and I went for a morning walk to Kahldi's and got macchiatos.  Afterward, a local starred at Mark in the street wide-eyed and smiling and said, "Brad Pitt!  I like you!" in a thick Amharic accent.  Mark smiled and said, "Thank you."  HA!!!!  I guess the guy did't get word that Pitt's with a burnette now, and not a blond.  It was the best compliment Mark could've wished for though, and we walked the entire way home laughing about it.  Mark and I later visited our new friends' house.  There are some Texans here working for a consulting company and ministering to the people of Addis.  They are a beautiful family of 6 (all children under 5!), and they are so incredibly hospitable.  The best part was enjoying Texas style tacos on fresh, homemade tortillas and coke out of the bottle.  We loved connecting to our Texas roots and enjoying the fellowship of friends!

As I mentioned, the exhaustion has been creeping in on us as our bodies and minds have begun to relax more.  Last night, I was so tired and grumpy, and I couldn't see waking up in the middle of the night with Zane again. My head hit the pillow and I was out.  At 7:30 this morning, I realized that I slept through the entire night.  I felt so refreshed, like God had given me a gift.  He always knows what we can handle, and He doesn't give us any more than that.  After breakfast, we did our devotional, and the topic was "I know God loves me because He gives me sleep!"  HA!  I know I've said this before, but I think it's amazing how God has been speaking to me through the book that was intended to minister to Zane.  Yet again, God showed me that He loves me through such a simple concept:  sleep.

Today, we decided to head to the Sheraton to see why in the world the rooms cost around $650 a night.  Yea, that's dollars, not birr.  We've heard it's a sight, and all of the Ethiopians are so proud to show it to you when we pass by it's vicinity.  But again skeptical, we had to see it for ourselves.  Our taxi drove up to a beautifully landscaped gate surrounded by flags from all over the world.  The building was a palace complete with balconies on each room, terraces overlooking Addis, rose bushes, orange trees, and other beautiful plant life.  In the lobby, we were taken with the view out the back windows overlooking a gorgeous fountain extending the entire length of the garden.  Spiral staircases of marble and iron, enormous chandeliers, and the smell of fresh flowers captivated us.  There were gift shops, a bakery, jewlery stores, a spa, ballrooms, 5 beautiful restaurants, an outdoor pool (resort really), a kid's playground, and halls of luxury.  We spent about an hour and a half touring the amazing grandeur.  To finish our posh outing, we ordered a strawberry tart and chocolate chip muffin from the bakery, sat on the plush couches of one of the many corridors, and soaked in the luxury of it all.   

(Please note the game day attire for the Aggies' first game.  Didn't think we'd forget did you?)

This outing was an interesting paradox as we stepped into the street, past the iron and gold gates, and into the reality of poverty and hope once again.  A man begged us to ride in his taxi, children in rags pointed at us as if we were celebrities, and tin roofs corroded by rust filled our view once again.  This city is a place of contrast: the wealthiest of wealthy citizens living alongside the poorest in the world.  I don't know how to process this.  I don't understand it or have any idea what to do about it.  Sometimes I feel guilty.  Should I have eaten that strawberry tart when this child staring at me has probably never even imagined one?  What is Zane's birthmother doing right now as he stares over the marble barrier into a fountain of clear, cool water, not for drinking...just for decoration.  I wonder if she's eaten today.

I honestly don't know what to feel about what I've seen and experienced here in Addis, but I know it won't leave my thoughts and the paradoxes I see haunt me.  What does one do to change the social and governmental makeup of an entire country?  Ministry after ministry come here to serve, money is sent to fund national programs, mission teams flood the region with aid, yet there is still the burden of so much need here...

I see the need, and I am powerless to do anything about it.  At least anything that makes real and lasting change.  I need something bigger and more powerful than me.  All the money in the world won't change an aid-dependent people into thriving entrepreneurs.  All the help in the world won't create a mighty, independent nation, and all the education in the world can save someone from generational poverty in a corrupt system.  What can I do about THIS?  I've decided I can do nothing.  Maybe that's exactly what my mindset should be.  Maybe God wants me to realize that it must be Him working through His people to exact change in anyone or anything on earth.  Is this a cop-out?  No!  It is through Christ that ALL things are possible.  I have a responsibility to pray, seek God's will for this country, intercede for them, and obey when God sends me out with clear direction.  Only he can make impacting and lasting change.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 55 - Our God is a God of Miracles

Zane was too active to sleep today at his normal nap time, but Mom and Dad were beat.  We attempted to lay him in his crib and lay down ourselves on the bed for a little while, but he was inconsolable.  He began by playing, calling "Mommy" and "Daddy", then it gradually escalated to a full out wail.  I guess that's why they say the "cry it out method" isn't always best, especially for adopted children.  So we got up, gave him a bottle (that he wouldn't drink earlier), and he was out in 5 minutes!  Ha!  That'll teach us, huh?

During that time, little did we know that we had received a very important email.  As soon as Zane fell asleep, Mark opened my email account to find "Brannan Family - Case Cleared" in the subject line of an email sent about the time we first tried to put Zane down for his nap.  "No wonder!"  I thought, "Zane's been trying to tell us something this whole time!"  Mark's eyes widened, and he said very seriously, "Cimbrey, come over here and sit down.  I have something I want to read to you."  We nervously opened the email, thinking all the while that it cannot possibly mean we are actually cleared!  Our birthmother is supposed to be interviewed on Tuesday.  The embassy is not doing any interviews this week.  We were just at the AWAA offices this morning and no one had any information.  What is going on?

Sure enough, the email stated exactly what the subject said.  We were cleared at approximately noon today to receive a visa for our son to come home to the states.  There was no explanation about the birthmother interview, no reason why we got the email today instead of next week, just a seemingly normal "clearance email".

The thing is, I know better.  This event is anything but normal.  It is impossible for us to have been cleared today when the embassy has stated in a number of emails to our agency and to us personally that there are no interviews this week, our birthmother needs to be interviewed to continue with our case, and they will not give preference to families in country.  Not only have we received these emails, but a family with another agency was telling us about the same emails she is receiving just this morning.

But the other thing I know is that my God is the King of Kings.  He is Sovereign over all governments, leaders, agencies, and people.  His plans and purposes will reign forever.  There is no doubt that God has answered the prayers of His people in our case.  From the moment we started this process, to this very minute, God has prepared our son, our hearts, and our lives to obey him in adoption.  Passing court was a miracle last month, and this embassy clearance surpasses that.

God is teaching me that there is no other Name under heaven by which men may be saved.  Zane has not been rescued by two humanitarian citizens.  It's certain that we have had no power in this situation at all.  It's been quite humbling, actually to realize how little we matter in the broad scheme of things.  Zane has not been rescued by the United States of America.  While I love my country, it has been proven to me that American government is as bureaucratic and defective as any other institution in this world.  We were made to serve a perfect King, and all other entities that raise themselves up to rule will fail us.  People are people everywhere you go, and unfortunately, we are all tragically flawed.  The only way that Zane has been rescued from from his helpless state is by the grace and power of God Himself.  It is by His name we are all healed.

It is with that realization that I want Zane to grow into a man that loves God more than He loves me, Daddy, or anyone else in the world.  God is the only One who will never disappoint.

Thank you again for your prayers.  Your faithfulness to pray for us has ministered to us so much.  We love you all.