Thursday, August 25, 2011

Because I'm not the only Ethiopian mama out there passionate about the famine. Please take a look!

Hi friends,

This is Shonda from God Will Add.  Erin has kindly let me take over her blog to tell you about an awesome Baby Shower like none other.  A couple of my friends have teamed up and we're trying to raise funds for an organization called FOVC.  They help provide aid and hope to the immediate areas where our kiddos are from, an area that has been hit hard by this horrible famine.

Shameless plug:  Will you hop on over to my shower?  I promise I won't make you smell mystery diapers and  no I won't let you wrap toilet paper around my abdomen.

For $13 FOVC can feed one starving child for one month.  So far, this shower has raised $710.  If you're amazing at math like myself, you know that 54 kids who didn't have food today, will have food tomorrow and for the next month because of the generosity of a select few.  Wow!  Can we make it 100 kids?  Will you please help me spread the word? 


Of all the great charities out there, why have I chose to rally behind FOVC?  A few simple reasons:

1) There are a lot of other great charities that are working to fight this famine, and I (despite my cynicism of big organizations) have supported them.  But FOVC is the only NGO working directly in the areas my boys are from, and where their first families still live.  Even if I liked nothing else about FOVC, this one simple fact would make me want to support them.  Thankfully, there are lots of other things I like about them:

2) They are a very small grassroots organization and very conservative with their money.  All their workers are volunteers, and they do all their traveling on their own dime, which means all the money we give goes directly to feeding the kids and helping their community fight poverty with long-term goals in mind.

3) I have a close friend who has done aid work with them in Ethiopia (and is on her way back in a few weeks), knows many personal details about how they operate and spend their money.  She's a Dave Ramsey fiscal conservative like myself, and she fully endorses them.  They have an independent bookkeeper who verifies that over 96% of the funds go directly to Ethiopia.

4) Directly from the president of FOVC:  "We have an amazing team of volunteers! Our board members and officers (if I do say so myself) are doing outstanding work! We spend a lot of time and effort educating ourselves on best practices of economic development (it's what my husband does!) and strive to implement every program using best practices. This means we empower, not enable. Every effort we undertake is aimed at offering long-term sustainability, success...and HOPE

Have I convinced you they're great?

Click here and support them:

And then (this part is optional), click here and tell MB how excited you are about his arrival into our family.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ben Coming home from Ethiopia- Post 5- Awassa and preparing for baby

May 29th, 2011

After leaving Shinshicho village we drove a few more hours to a town called Awassa (which is spelled all sorts of ways) and were able to stay at an extremely nice hotel there, at least comparison to the rest of the country. The bathroom was fantastic. Mom and I enjoyed a little pasta dinner in their restaurant, and then went up to our room where I spent some time writing and just relaxing and taking in the event of the day.

We also had the experience of enjoying Oprah’s farewell episode via Al Jazeera-English channel on the TV. We slept great that night and it was much needed.

The next day we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast for a whopping 13 birr- which comes out to be about $1.00 USD and climbed back in the van for a 3 hour trip back to Addis.

We arrived back at the guest house at about 12p. That afternoon we were able to get to know more of the families that were arriving for embassy that did not have to go on the Durame trip as they had already been there. On Friday night we and the Robinsons enjoyed a traditional Ethiopian restaurant called Yode Abysinnia that Ted and I had also gone to back in December. We had a fantastic time getting to know them better. They are from Clever, Missouri which is very close to Springfield and only a few hours away from us. It was a wonderful time spending a few hours learning about their journey to becoming parents and their experience over the last year.

We got back to the guest house around 8p and it occurred to us that perhaps we should prepare for this baby?! Perhaps we should set out the stuff, repack the bag for the next morning, and figure out how to put on the Ergo (which is my new carrier for large little people). Although we went to bed in a timely fashion, I was awake at 3am and unable to get back to rest no matter what I did. I was just so anxious for all that was about to happen!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ben Coming home from Ethiopia- Post 4- Durame trip

The trip to Durame

So the plan was to be up at 4:45am and be packed and ready for breakfast at 5:30am and be in the van at 6am.

Whoever planned that plan has obviously not given my mother prescription sleep medication. I say this lovingly because she has already made fun of herself for it many times. One alarm was set but never turned on, and the other somehow wandered into the bathroom late at night and thus was not heard by the narc’d out women wearing earplugs in the bedroom.

I woke up at about 1:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep but made a mental deal with myself that I had to lay there until 4am before I was allowed to get up. This is classic Ethiopian sleep drama for me just like last time. The deal I made with myself must have worked because I think I finally relaxed back to sleep again around 4am. I woke up at random at 5:40am and realized no alarms had gone off. Mom and I sprinted and made it downstairs around 6am and our driver was gracious enough to let us eat quick and take our malaria meds.

We were on the road and making our way out of town not long after 6am. We traveled with Muluneh who is one of the Holt staff here and one of the Holt drivers. Muluneh also brought some of his family. The pictures and video we attempted to take of the countryside just doesn’t do it justice. It’s beautiful, but also breaks your heart at the same time. We saw women carrying jugs and children herding donkeys for hours just to get decent water to take back to the huts along the road. We saw farmers working crops by hand with what most would call “primitive” tools, however resourceful. We shared the road with big trucks and wagons pulled by donkeys. We have a fair amount of video, but even that doesn’t really describe being there. The further we drove, the more we moved into the mountains of the lowlands which was much more lush and green. Navigating the mountain roads was a bit tricky.

The Shinshicho clinic that was built by Holt and provides basic health care to the area.

Durame is a region and Shinshicho is a village within the region and where Ben was born. Although our Holt worker speaks English, it is still limited once in awhile so while I was being taken to where he was found I didn’t really grasp what was going on. Usually families travel to Durame to meet with the birth parents which I knew would not be the situation for our case. I was just hoping to take some pictures of something. As we drove through Shinshicho, we bounced through muddy streets after the rain that had come through and people smiled and waived to us. We pulled up outside a school which I was told was a private secondary school. 4 men in suits came out to shake my hand but I didn’t really know why. We pulled up to pick up the social worker for the town, an older lady in African dress who was probably about 5 ft tall. We walked with her and a crowd of children forming down a dirt road. The social worker knocked on a residential home of a lady that was one of the witnesses for Ben’s case. At that point it clicked and I put it together… near the school.. person who knows something. I was about to see where Ben started his journey to me.

Muluneh and some of his paparazzi helpers

Shinshicho village social worker and two of the women who testified for his case

And for comic relief for such a heavy heavy topic, here is some sweet flushing of a really nasty toilet!

I will leave out the rest of the details for the sake of privacy, but it was such a humbling experience. I remember looking at Lucas’ little face as he was being handed to me at FANA in 2008 and just being floored by God’s grace to me. Yesterday I stared at this spot in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere Ethiopia where a tiny baby boy started his journey to ME.

I must note, that God does not love me or Ben or any child more or less than he loves the children that are left to wander the streets of Ethiopia or any other country. It is just a mystery that we have to let go and let faith take over. I don’t like it, and I don’t blame you if you don’t either. However, on this day, I need to give thanks for this one little boy that God allowed to be spared of that life. It just boggles my mind how something was happening 8,000 miles away from me in May of 2010 and that the story is coming to a close this week as Ben officially joins our family not just legally but physically.

I have been blessed with many “out of the box” experiences in my life, the majority of which I never planned. Each time, I get the sense that God is trying to teach me that I should quit limiting the options of his plans. I have two children from 2 continents for goodness sake… 2 continents I didn’t even visit until the last 8 years or so of my life. It inspires and yet weirds me out what He might have planned for my family in the future. There are brief moments, moments that have lessened with the passage of time, where I still don’t jump up and down with excitement over all aspects of being an adoptive parent- like baby showers for pregnant women etc. There are some pieces of “normal” woman life that just won’t be my story… but I suppose I have learned that perhaps the “normal” motherly experience must not be my road. Perhaps what I have learned in the past 1.5 years of this journey that I should have known all along is that God is obviously still good. He keeps His promises even if they don’t look like we think they will… and here I sit less than 24 hours from taking custody of a little boy who started his path to me 367 days ago… and God is still GOOD.