TRADITIONAL COFFEE CEREMONY & EMBASSY APPOINTMENT
We started our day with baby baths and bottles for the first time in years. The girls got up once in the night for a feeding and went right back to sleep. What a blessing that they already come trained on a schedule. Taffy picked us up and took us to exchange some money into Birr. Ellie and I sat in the car just observing the people and sights. We noticed a lot of men walking hand in hand, arms around each other, as well as women and all of the children getting out of school and walking are hand in hand. It is rare to see them walking alone. We watched countless people walking and greeting each other constantly. The men shake hands, tap each other opposite shoulder to shoulder and kiss both cheeks twice. The women just hold hands and kiss each others cheeks numerous times. I'm not exaggerating when I say it is constantly going on. So when Taffy got back in the car, we asked about this. He explained that this is normal behavior and it is tradition. People here are so affectionate and sociable. I honestly have never seen anything like it. The way they talk to each other is also so polite and respectful. As we were walking down the street a man stopped next to us and saluted, put his hand to his forehead, smiled a huge smile, raised his eyebrows and said "I LOVE YOU". He was referring to us having these three children. He was expressing his gratitude to us for caring for his people. Again, we were congratulated all day long and greeted with big smiles.
We first went to the traditional coffee ceremony at the Gladney baby house. This custom is all about fellowship. There is a young lady who has a special carpet/mat on the floor and a little oven. She puts fresh coffee beans right off the tree into a pan kind of like a wok and proceeds to roast them over a flame, constantly stirring so they don't burn. After about 30 minutes they were black and roasted. Then she mashed them in a stone mortar and put it in hot water. She then served all of us in small cups and a big basket of popcorn. The entire time she is doing this, the guest just sit around and talk. This is an intentional ceremony that just makes everyone get together to talk and visit.
While we did this, Ellie spent the entire time upstairs with the babies taking pictures, hugging, kissing, and holding every one of them. She was visiting with all of the ladies and getting to know them. Many of them speak some english. She is so knowledgeable about these babies because of this blogging world we have joined. She knows their names and whose family they are joining. She is remarkable. She has such passion for all of them. She talks with Ryan & Abby about all of this stuff like she is a Gladney employee. Even Ryan said he doesn't remember all the family names, just the babies. Ellie was giving him the run down on everybody. She is such a trip. While standing at the elevator this morning, an American family was standing there with their new five children. They got twins w/ three siblings all over 8ish. So, we are standing there and the women looks over at us and says, "Aren't you Ellie from the blog?" Ellie was shocked, as we were, and the lady said she knew all about us and she loved her blog. She is getting famous.
So, while at the babies house, we also got to meet her "mama caregiver" who was on duty today. She ran to greet us and grabbed the girls to kiss, hug them and cry like she was their mama. She told me she considered them her own daughters and she cared for them from day one. She was so genuine and the girls jumped for joy when they saw her. It was obvious they were all in love with each other. What a joy and privilege to meet her. We took lots of pictures with her and all of the ladies. Ellie gave each of them a bracelet that tells the gospel story by the color of beads and charms on them. They were all very appreciative and gave us hugs and kisses.
Then it was off to lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant. We had to eat fast and we went off to the Embassy appointment. We stood in front of a window, answered some questions and were told the final papers will be ready Friday. So, after about 5 minutes we were done. Then we went to Rico's Italian Cafe for coffee, cookies and cake. While getting out of the car we had to make bottles for the twinettes while I changed diapers. We are using the dropins which are absolutely wonderful. Jerry had all the stuff on the roof of the car, he removed the previous dropin that was still half full with formula in it and set it down on the curb temporarily. As he and Ryan were standing there fixing bottles, this man came right up to them, picked up the dropin from the curb and drank it really fast. He looked at them and said in his heavy Amharic accent "That was really good lemonade"! He walked away smiling with formula dripping down the side of his chin. They looked at each other in complete shock and then bust out laughing. They said he appeared to be drunk or something. We all got such a laugh out of this and said, at least it was healthy and nutricious! Then Travis was standing there with his children Silas and Avery and a man came up to them selling jump ropes and stuff. He wanted to help the guy out so he bought two jump ropes and some candy. He arrived just this week also so he hasn't gotten the money exchange thing down yet. When he asked the price the man said 25 and Travis gave him the birr. The man was soooooooo happy and kept thanking him for buying it. After we got inside he talked with Ryan and realized he paid too much money, he paid 250 birr. Ever since then he said he owns the most expensive jump ropes ever made. He said he is learning how to speak some Amharic words about being rude, thief and not giving change back for the next time he goes back there. That guy must have thought, oh this American, I'll never see him again. Ha, this place is one of Ryan's favorites so this guy is in for a surprise. We got such a laugh again. We got such great entertainment today!!!!
Our next stop was the Kebetsesay orphanage where we spent about 2 hours talking with some of the most adorable children. Again, they ran up to us with hands out to shake and ask "What is your name". We asked them right back and intentionally hugged and touched each of them. There were at least 74 children there of all ages. Several of them were so proud as they told us they were going to new homes in Texas, Oklahoma, and NY. These kids were part of the Bright Futures Summer Camp program. Then there were the children that don't yet have forever families. I heard stories like the little girl approx. 8 yrs, with beautiful eyes and huge dimples that was found on the side of the road just crying and all alone. Another young lady I spent most of the time with is all alone because her family has died of AIDS. She has such a sweet dispositon and while she smiled a lot there was such a look in her eyes that said "Can you please help me?" She is approx. 13 and as sweet as can be. She was like a real mother hen to the little ones. She spoke very good english and told me how she loves children. Then we got to present Deborah with her package sent by the Kincaid family. She is absolutely adorable!!! (Yes we have pictures for you and we will send them as soon as we get back) She was so excited as a large group of children gathered around her to watch. It amazed me that they were all so happy for her and cheered for her. There was one child that was grabbing at her goody bag to see what was in it and a boy about 11 years old immediately came to her defense. He was speaking firmly to this boy and you could tell he was telling him to leave her alone. He was being so sweet but very firm. This child just put his head down and obeyed. They really look out for each other. They hug, hold hands, carry the little ones and laugh while playing on the play ground. Again, Ellie was surrounded and taking pictures of them showing the camera to them so they could see themselves. She was swarmed and I think she got every one of them. I can't tell you how my heart is aching to bring more of these children home with me. We are begging the LORD again to please let us have more.They all need a mommy and daddy, a safe and loving home and they will survive and thrive. Again I am going to plead on their behalf...... please come rescue them. They are older but they are not like the stereotype we hear about in the USA. These kids are so different and they need YOU!!!!! When we were leaving Josiah had his first crying tantrum because he did not want to leave. He was having so much fun on the big slide as the older kids were helping him and playing with him. Of course, we were in tears as we drove out of the driveway watching all their precious faces waving goodbye to us. How my heart is aching for them..........
This was the end to our day, we went back to the hotel, ordered room service and went to bed!