Ethiopian Cultural Dinner Night
(Jeff & Melissa Rapp; Adam, Amber & Jacob Stutzman)
Fence heading into Sefer Genet Gabriel Church
Our Beautiful Baby Blue Bathroom @ the Riviera Hotel
Painted on a wall at Hannah's Hope!
Our Baby Girls bed!
Wish we could share more!
Boys that helped us find the Church Seble was found.
Ok I am finally getting this out-I posted it on facebook last week from Addis because we didn't have access to our blog from Africa- with trying to get over jetlag, Thanksgiving coming, arriving home to kids with the stomach flu and working my 12 hour shift yesterday-I am just now sitting down to post this as I wait for the "Tur-Duc-hen" which my sister surprised us and made for our Thanksgiving dinner this year to finish cooking..... :-) (If you haven't heard of it-which I hadn't-it is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a hen!!-oh with stuffing also)....WOW!
Ok-so here is a long but good update: Hi everyone-wanted to let you know that we went to court today, saw the judge and her last words after all her questions were: "Seble is yours!" Those were the best words ever!!!! It is amazing! We can now officially say we are the parents of SIX! Geesh that sounds crazy :-)Her...e are a couple pictures for you (remember to still not post them on blogs/facebook-we can't until we get her home in about a month)
Also, wanted to let you all know about a change that we have decided on since we got here and saw her and spent time with her-as you know, we have always called her Abigail with the total intention of giving her that name, however the orphanage and EVERY single update/picture etc. that we have gotten over the months has always had the name that the police gave her and that is "Seble"....
So, after getting here, spending time with her and seeing all the special mothers care for her at the orphanage Hannah's Hope, we can't name her Abigail, she is SEBLE and it is TOTALLY her-she just isn't an abigail! So, sorry to confuse you all, but we are gonna give her the name Seble Alaine. You say it like (Seb-lah). She is totally precious and we feel that God gave her that name-so we want to stick with it as it is just her and who she is and will keep her Ethiopian heritage.
Jake has been great on the trip-he has been a joy to be with, pleasant and helpful and LOVES the orphanage kids and Seble-he is begging to stay here until we come back to pick her up!
:-) He has hardly complained at all-we all know this will prob. change when he gets home with his siblings, but he has been a true gentleman!
We are head over heels in love and although we had to say goodbye today, we know she is in EXCELLENT hands and hope to come back to go to our embassy apt. in about a month. Pray that the paperwork goes fast and smoothly and that no investigation (which the US Embassy can request on any adoption if they want)doesn't happen.Pray too that she stays healthy.
People have asked how the trip is going-so I am gonna tell you some of the highlights-warning this is long :-)
We have seen much of the city and tomorrow we are going to go to the church that she was found at-which will be neat. We have visited the two government orphanages that she was at (one for 2 weeks, one for 2 days) before she got to Hannah's Hope...(more on this later). We have went to a Ethiopia curltural dinner and dancing show and to an Italian resturant (weird in Africa), we have been spending with the other adoptive families here-mostly one the Rapps, and now since last night another one the Burlieghs arrived. They are amazing people-and we got to see at the beginning of the week 4 families who were here to pick up their kids and get to know them some-I am in love with adoptive families-and have loved each one-they were so neat to talk to and spend time with!!! :-)
The poverty here is unbelievable-there are simply not words to describe it. People are EVERYWHERE! They lay in street, sleep all over streets, make cardboard and metal "houses", urinate in street, garbage everywhere...there is no hope basically is what keeps going through my mind-unless they come to know the one who gave them life-that would be the only way someone could sustain themselves here is to hope in Him....otherwise, there is nothing. We were privalleged to go with a taxi driver named Solomon (i included a pict of his family with us)that several of the other adoptive families used and after taking us around to see some stuff of Addis, he asked us to come see where he lives, meet his family and do a traditional coffee ceremony for us....we went and what we saw changed our hearts, our lives-there is no way else to say it.
We walked into this huge made up area of mud, cardboard, and stucko type walls, with some metal sheet metal where made into make shift houses-aobut 11 families lived in this ONE area-each "house" had two small rooms-about 12x7 and when I say rooms-even though having not seen it, it is impossible to describe-but stucko, metal, mud walls, with holes and a wire taped to the ceiling with ONE light for the two rooms. Concrete floors, no sink, no bathroom, no toilet, no shower, no heat(and yes, it gets cold here at night)! We stepped into the first out of the two rooms that made up his "house" and there was an old small couch, a wood chair and a tiny tv and small fridge, in the room behind it was where his wife and him slept on one side and he had makeshift metal bunkbeds on the other side where his two boys 13 and 8 slept.It was one of the sadest things I have ever seen and I really felt guilty-why was I born in America and why was he here, why do I complain and he doesn't AT ALL and just has this was what was going through my mind.each family has to pay a huge sum of rent each month-outrageous-which the landlord continues to raise-so basically they are paying to live in a garbage dump-and even though Solomon is "working class" this is how he has to live because its all they can afford.
His family was so beautiful! He is so giving. He went and walked down the street and got us each a bottle of water each (which was probably worth several days wages) and his wife performed the traditional coffee ceremony(roasting whole coffee beans, crushing them up with a bowl and rod and boiling them)this alone probably cost everything he had for the month-that is how special it is to them and they only do in on special occassions.
So basically he gave us EVERYTHING he had, everything he could offer. They had nothing-nothing and yet they gave all they had.
When he steped into show us where they slept, he put his hands in the air and said, "thanks be to God for all this." This is when I lost it-my eyes welled up and I couldn't believe how spoiled and selfish we as American's including myself are. He was genuinelly SO proud of his home and SO thankful to the God that had "blessed him so".
He told another member of our group that he was so proud that his sons were in school and even though he has to pay $25 a month(which is like SO much money there) he said, they go hungry if they have to, so that the boys can go to school-if they can't eat including the boys, education comes first.
That family gave one of the boys a soccer ball and he was over the moon excited-he slept with in in his arms by his head all night. The boys were in clothes worn through with holes and his wife had just gotten really sick and had to go to the hospital-so, get this, there is no insurance here, and if you can't pay before being treated, you don't get treated at all! But he said, "she is my life, she is everything to me". He loved her so much and her and the boys were so kind, well mannered and amazing people with great hearts.
The other couple that was here went and bought them a pizza...they were so thrilled as they had NEVER had pizza before (can you even imagine this as an American citizen)? But, they don't keep things for themselves, this culture is more sharing than we tend to be, so what did he do, he shared it with the other 11 families that live hooked to his walls by another of the same mud-like compound that is hooked together by stucko!
His wife is in school-but get this, you have to attend 4 years of college to become a hotel receptionist! That is what she is doing and has one year left. He drives a taxi, but doesn't own the car and has to pay to use it! To buy a TINY car in Addis is around $30,000-40,000 US dollars! Because the government takes several thousand on taxes-they basically don't want people to own cars so no one can afford to buy them.
People here make about $1-$2 PER DAY working from everything to loading rock from sun up to sun down to driving a taxi to our orphanage workers....it is incredible!
As we left their "house" kids and people were milling around in the dirt all over the crowded compound-and they were smiling and the little kids broke our hearts....it was all so overwhelming and I just couldn't shake the fact that they have absolutly NOTHING and are so happy and thankful-smiling, and yet, look what we have-everthing to be comfortable-and we still are not happy, always wanting more as Americans-it is so hard and sad and I know that if each person went to his house for that coffee ceremony and saw what we saw, the world would be SO differetn!
Why can't we get less and give more-I will never forget this experience my heart is different and although it is a long email, I had to share it. Solomon said that he would love to get his kids a pair of tennis shoes-this is his wish! Tennis shoes-like the 2-5 pair that many of us have sitting in our closets and never wear-HIS WISH -how can this be?! We were so blown away. Another family that used him has decided along with us to try and help this family-he is so kind, loving and has such a precious family and although- yes we can't "save" Ethiopia-we can save this family!
We have met some amazing people this week-Ethiopians to other adoptive families and what an amazing trip it has been....we have been challenged, strengthened, and brought to our knees with what we have seen and done-and we are better because of it!!
Ok-a couple more things-we went to the orphanage yesterday that Seble spent the first 2 weeks of her life in. The other adoptive mom and me left crying-it was horrible, there were only 2 women caring for about 17 babies-some 2 to a small metal crib-they looked at us with these eyes that were so hopefull-but we couldn't pick them up-we walked by and talked to them and they would smile, but the older kids wouldn't smile, they just laid there in their cribs, and stared because they knew that they wouldn't be picked up. They said that they don't hold the babies, they just prop up a bottle or maybe hold them to feed them quickly, and change them but that is it! The smell was horrid and there were babies that were soaked up to their waist in urine and who knows what, had spit up on themselves and were just crying for love, some would reach their hands up to us-it killed us as parents to just look at them crying for comfot and to walk away just like the orphanage workers did-how can that be, they just want comfort and love, why is this the reality!? why can't they have someone to call their own and someone to give them that comfort to be their mom and dad....my daughter was in there and was there for 2 weeks in those horrid conditions-that breaks my heart-why did she get picked and those others stayed?
I broke when I saw this-this dark dingy room where Seble had spent her first 2 weeks-barley hanging on-and I realized when we got back to Hannah's Hope (our orphanage) that she wouldn't have survived, if she haden't been taken by God's grace there. In fact one of the workers at HH told me that she was under a heat lamp and fed by syringe because she was so sick, dehydrated and tiny. The orphanage director, Almaz at HH told me that the government orphanage called and wanted them to take her to get medical help and when she went to get her, they decided just to bring her to HH because they have access to a pediatrician and they told our orphanage director, "we don't know if she is gonna make it". WOW that is the grace of God right there-to bring her from 2 different government orphanages across town, to Hannah's Hope and she was literally saved! after seeing that awlful orphanage that the government runs, I honestly don't think she would have-and it hurts to think about this as a mom-like what if this was one of your kids....and yet millions are living in orphanages like this across the globe. It isn't right!
I look at her now and know that God has a purpose for her little life and I don't know why she was picked and not some of the other suffering babies, but she was and I am so thankful and blessed!I can see even more that He ordained this whole story from the beginning and worked miracle after miracle to bring her to us-it is almost too much to understand-but I can't imagine having anyone else-she is perfect for us! it is like she was always meant to come to our family!We thought we had to say goodbye today, but they said we can stop by really quick tomorrow for a quick goodbye! The mother's at HH are outstanding-yesterday when we were there one started crying then the other one -who both are Sebel's main caregivers....they will miss her so much and it was heartbreaking, then of course :-) Adam started crying and then me-it was like a major cry room! But it is sad that we are taking her away from them-they care for them for months and then they leave to repeat the process over. After going there though I can say that the money we paid for the "orphanage care" is SO well worth it-they get baths everyday, get fed and sleep on schedules that they keep on a sheet, get diaper cream on their butts at each changing and lotion all over their bodies! They get loved and talked to constantly and you can see how much those babies love their special mothers....they are amazing women and we are so greatful-if they weren't I don't know if I could leave. Seble's main one is named Sarah and she is so attached to her and vise versa-she has a nick name for Seble and it is "Sebleena"...it has stuck and now we find ourselves calling her that sometimes! :-)
Ok-getting late here-we fly home tomorrow night to Dulles then on to Portland-pray for safe flights! Can't wait to show you more pictures of Seble! Love ya all-amber
PS-so after telling adam over and over again that he wouldn't be able to stay home for the 2nd trip when we pick her up in a few weeks-and him saying over and over that yes, he wanted to stay home, and arguing about it because I KNEW he couldn't stand not going back to pick her up, but he was too worried that if something happened to both of us-we had 5 kids back at home...etc....so today he says, "I just have to go, I can't handle not coming back here and bringing her home!" So we have decided that we will go home and look at money and try and figure out if there is ANY way that he can come back with me on the 2nd trip-along with my mom who has recovered from her 1st surgery by the way-a lumpectory amd lymph node removal, and on a side note-they didn't quite get all of the tumor and even though it is VERY small and VERY early, she is going back in for surgery late this afternoon to take a little more out-but her lymph nodes were clear praise God....so after this 2nd surgery (pray for her tonight), she will recover, which went very quickly last time and go with me to Africa (along with maybe adam) :-) and then come back and start 6 weeks of radiation.....ok, anyway, enough this is like a book-but it is the first real time I have had to sit down and write!!!!