Friday, February 4, 2011

Departing Ethiopia in Not-So-Much Style

First, a few random photos of our time in Ethiopia.

Just one of the many delicious meals we had while at the guest house.
Where we ate lunch most days-it was rough :-)
Little Ana in Ethiopia. This was one of my favorite outfits.
Sweet Gabriel, sucking those two fingers, even then.

The not-so-smooth departure
Friday was departure day. Ana was not feeling well upon waking, so we talked with the orphanage/guest home coordinator about what to do. She suggested we take her back to the orphanage doctor. We decided the men would stay behind and pack and the girls would take Ana back to the orphanage to the doctor. To say my nerves were crazy would be an understatement. We weaved our way through the streets of Addis once again, to the orphanage. We met with the doctor, who we had met once before in our general overview meeting of the children. As she was examining Ana, she was telling us what was going on and then started recommending medications and how to administer. She speaks English very well, but I was totally overwhelmed by this point, didn't have a pen and paper, and I seriously think I was shutting down. I knew I was totally reliant upon the Lord at this point to see us through. As we left the orphanage, I said to my friend, "What did she say"? My friend, too, had difficulty understanding all that she said. The doctor had given us a prescription, so I showed it to our driver and he took us to a pharmacy in the middle of Addis. I don't even know how to describe all I was feeling. After moments inside the pharmacy, which was the size of large bathroom, I could have kissed the people behind the counter. One young man spoke English very well, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to administer Ana's meds when we left the store. Thank you, God.

We headed back to the guesthouse to finish packing and preparing for our flight home. The flight home was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I've ever faced. Ana was throwing up all over the airport. She was already dehydrated. So, I'm thinking, "What am I going to do if she gets worse while we're flying over the pacific ocean?" At this point, I think I was working in my own strength. Even now though, looking back, I don't know I could have done things differently. I was totally overwhelmed. Thank you, Lord, for never changing, even as my feelings and actions fluctuate.

After convincing security to let Ana's medication through (which was a huge liquid bottle), we boarded the plane heading for Dubai. Our plane didn't take off for over an hour. This meant our layover in Dubai was cut down to minutes. As we sat on the plane waiting to take off, I started to feel ill. I remember thinking that certainly I couldn't be getting sick. BUT-certainly, I was. By the time we landed in Dubai, I seriously did not care if we landed safely or not-I was that sick. They graciously held the plane for us and about 50 other people, many who had small children. However, we had to force-march/sprint through the airport. I never wanted to lay down so badly in all my life. We had some difficulty with our passports, but again, there was a very gracious man who was so so sweet and assured me everything was going to be okay. Jim had taken Gabriel to change him because Gabriel had a major blow-out while in the carrier. Jim was getting ill, and he said he had to change him. I was so nervous that the plane would take off without Jim and Gabriel.

Our flight home was challenging. But, by God's grace, Ana started feeling better. Thank you, Lord. I literally was in the bathroom more than I was not due to illness. Jim and our friends took care of the babies the entire 14 hour flight home. I just couldn't do anything. At one point, they took me to the back of the plane and gave me medicine. Once it kicked it, I started feeling better. We were about 2 hours from home. There was a soldier coming home from Afghanistan who sat by Jim. He helped us so much. At one point toward the end of the flight, when everyone was totally exhausted, he even held Ana for us. Again, thank you, Lord. I remember him pointing to Boston as we flew over and said, that's where I'm heading. He couldn't wait to see his little girl. (Thank you to all who serve our country.)

We did laugh at least once on the way home, even if it was at my expense. We were about an hour from New York, and I got up to go to the bathroom one last time. I got to the door of the bathroom, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to get into the bathroom. I stood there puzzled. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but I was in that same bathroom no less than 20 times already throughout the entire flight home. I looked back the aisle at Jim and the soldier for assistance, like something was wrong with the door. I couldn't believe it. They were both laughing at me. They motioned how to get into the bathroom. Jim told me later that the soldier had nudged him and told him to look at his wife trying to get into the bathroom. He recognized it as fatigue-at least that's what he told my husband. I mean, what kind, upstanding soldier would say to another man, "Hey, look at your wife-the woman you chose to have four children with-she can't even figure out how to get into a bathroom."

Snowstorms had hit New York and the surrounding area and closed down airports for at least a day after we landed. We were blessed to be able to arrive home and land when we did. I will never forget the sheer joy of stepping foot onto the airport floor at JFK. I could have rolled around, did cartwheels, anything. It was the best feeling. We went through customs quite easily and walked through the doors to see our friend who so graciously volunteered to pick us up. My husband says that was one of the best sights of his life-seeing our friend's face in the crowd. Once situated, we loaded in the van and made our way home to introduce our four children to one another-one of the sweetest memories for us.

I praise you, Lord, as I look back at our flight home and see how your grace saw us through the entire thing. While it wasn't easy, it was possible only because of you. Thank you.