Sunday, November 28, 2010

Court Trip - Post 5 - God is Good, All the Time

We were all up, bright and early, ready for court. Thankfully, we woke up early because Eric had accidentally unplugged his phone and turned it off the night before in order to recharge our video-camera so we had no alarm! I woke up so early that I actually managed to get some hot water! YAHOO! This was going to be a great day!

Hot water is very hard to come by, apparently. The first morning, Eric and I both got freezing cold showers -- very, very, very quick showers! Makes my teeth chatter to think about how cold that first shower was! I tried to tell Eric to get up quickly so he could possibly have some hot water the second morning, but nooooooo....he had to sleep longer. Frigid shower for him!

We all dressed up, as we were instructed to do. We wore shoes that didn't make a lot of noise, (or, at least, we planned to tip-toe if we didn't.) :-) We enjoyed another nice breakfast at the guest house before the Holt driver arrived to pick us up. Surprisingly, he was on time. (We were warned ahead of time that Ethiopians aren't in a rush and this is a rarity!)

When we arrived at the court house, we sat in the van, waiting for the lawyer to arrive to walk in with us. While we waited, a few of our group ran across the street to buy a bottle of water. Eric asked one of them to buy him a Coke Light if they had it. They managed to find Coke, not Coke Light, but when they brought it, they reported, "I hope this is ok. They wanted to keep the bottle." Turns out this wouldn't be the first time this happened while we were there. Glass is worth more when it's recycled than plastic, so the shopkeepers insisted on keeping the bottles when you bought a soda. They would pour it into an empty water bottle and give it to you or if you were in a restaurant, just keep it when you were finished. (uh, yea, again, no wonder we got sick.) But, when you need some caffeine, you need some caffeine - especially when you don't drink coffee!

We were all very anxious and nervous about court. The Holt families were amongst the first to arrive. We filed into a waiting room surrounded by chairs and all sat on the side furthest from the door to the judge's chambers. The room quickly filled with more people than chairs.

While we waited, we saw a couple across the room. When a man approached and there were no chairs left, the husband said something to his wife (who was dressed very conservatively, with a scarf covering her face) and she quickly got off the chair and sat on the floor to give the chair to the man. Again, I thought, "hmmm. Now, there's something you don't see in America." (thank goodness!) ;-)

The first family was called. They were from another agency. In a matter of minutes, they exited the room and the next family (from the same agency) was called. As they passed, the entering family asked the exiting family, "well?", and the exiting lady replied, "I don't know what the outcome was" as she shrugged her shoulders and looked concerned. This kind of freaked me out a little, as I have heard from nearly all Holt families that have attended court that the judge has always ended the hearing with "he/she is yours". Was there some problem with this families case? Did they NOT pass for some reason? Was there a chance that we wouldn't pass? Was there a chance that we wouldn't hear today and would have to wait to find out? As I sat and contemplated such things, the second family was finished and happily exited the judge's chambers with big smiles on their faces. "We passed", they reported. They were the only two families from that agency, so the first family asked the attorney, "did we pass?". "She said that they are yours", he replied. "oh, I didn't hear her," the woman answered with relief.

In the meantime, the first Holt family was called. In what seemed like only seconds, Brian and Mariah returned to the waiting room with smiles on their faces. We all gathered around to ask our panicked questions -- "how was it?", "what did she ask?".... They reported that she only asked about 5 or 6 questions and that she really pretty much just wanted yes or no answers, that it wasn't bad at all, that the worst part of the whole thing was that you could barely hear her. At first, I thought Brian was kidding, but he assured me that he was serious and that whoever hears the best, better sit as close as they can to the judge. Eric and I agreed that he hears better than I do so he would sit closest (and just for the record, he might HEAR better than I do, but he definitely does not LISTEN better than I do) ;-)

One by one, each Holt family returned to the waiting room with smiles and relief on their faces. Finally, Eric and I were called. We were the last Holt family of the day to be called. We went in and Eric sat closest to the judge. Brian wasn't kidding! When we first went in, I know the judge said something. I could see her lips moving, but I seriously didn't hear a single peep. It was very fast and very painless -- just a few questions, all of which were on the list that the attorney had prepped us with. We gave our short answers and, after ensuring that we realized this was irrevocable and permanent, she stated, "Markos is yours."

We left the room and all the Holt families happily got up to leave. Brian informed us that he had timed us and we were only in the judge's chambers for 72 seconds. So strange for all those months and months of paper-chasing and waiting and more paper-chasing and more waiting to culminate in 72 seconds!

As we filed outside and piled back into the van, Mariah asked if anyone sang. She was hoping for some praise songs. No one was willing to belt out some tunes alone, but the driver turned on the CD player in the van. And, we heard,
"God is good all the time
He put a song of praise in this heart of mine
God is good all the time
Through the darkest night, His light will shine
God is good, God is good all the time..."
A perfect song. (and I'm not sure, but I think, possibly, the only song that the driver had on that CD in his van.)

But God IS good, all the time!

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