Friday, March 4, 2011

From Ethiopia - Post 13 - Thursday - Celebrations and Goodbyes

January 27, 2011.  My 40th birthday.  Our last day in Ethiopia.   The day we were boarding a flight to travel home to be united with the rest of our family.

When we went down for breakfast, our travel group surprised me with a birthday cake.  It was very yummy.  Markos was excited.  Cake for breakfast.  Yum.

Happy birthday to me!

We spent the morning playing at the guest house.  Isaias graciously opened the van and allowed the kids to play in the van.  The boys loved sitting in the "machina".  They took turns sitting in the driver's seat.  He would even shut the doors and drive them around in a tiny little circle in the parking lot.

Markos and the twins playing in the van

We played with rocket balloons and, of course, Markos was always carrying his little mp3 player, which he referred to as "musica", so we were never without music!  Then, at some point, (the details have escaped me now since I have no notes from this point forward on our trip), Holt called to tell us that they would be picking Eric, Markos and I up to take us to Care Center 3 for Markos' Farewell Ceremony.  The remainder of the group was still on hold with their Farewell Ceremony since they still had not all passed their Embassy appointments.

Markos being Mr. Independent and blowing up the rocket balloon by himself

Eric helping with the rocket balloons

Truthfully, by this time, Eric and I really didn't even care about going to the farewell ceremony.  First, we really hated the fact that we had to take Markos back to the care center again.  He very obviously became afraid when we had gone back to the CC previously to meet with the nurse, and when we had pulled into the other Care Center to pick up the rest of the group.  We also were just exhausted by this point.  We didn't really feel like going through the stress of loading back into the van and driving across town to get to the CC.  We were still very worried for our friends who were still anxiously awaiting news from the Embassy regarding their appointments.  We just weren't feeling it.  Staying at the guest house and just relaxing and sitting outside sounded better at the time.

As it turned out though, we were both very happy that we went.  It was much nicer than we expected it to be.  The kids were happy to be there.  They were happy to sing for us.  They were probably happy to get cake (although we didn't get to see it).  Once Markos relaxed a little, I think he enjoyed it, too.

When we first arrived, they led us into "the" room - you know, the one where we did everything at CC3.  :-)  There were two rows of chairs lined up on one side of the room, and on the other side, 3 chairs behind 2 little tables.  We were instructed to take our seats in the front of the room, while one of the nannies whisked Markos away to get him changed into his traditional Ethiopian outfit.  While he was in the other room changing, Markos' friends who were attending filed in and took their seats.  Some whom we had met previously flashed us big smiles and cute little waves.  They were all VERY well behaved.  They sat, with arms crossed in front of their chests, quietly waiting for Markos to enter the room.

Markos' friends ready for his farewell ceremony

When he emerged with his adorable little outfit on (including super cute little shoes!), they all began to clap and chant his name.  His shyness began to show itself again.  Much like his Emama and his big sister, he is not a fan of being the center of attention.

Markos, all dressed up, and ready for his party

The nanny walked him back to Eric and I and he immediately wanted up on one of our laps.  As we sat together and had some pictures taken, the children stood up and began to perform some songs for us.  They were very cute.  They all sang out, loud and lively.  They smiled.  They danced a little.  They clapped.  The nannies made noises with their tongues to add to the liveliness.  After a short while, one of the nannies grabbed Markos' hand and had him stand front and center with his friends.  He was not happy about it.  He complied but he got his pouty look and just stood, looking shy.... mad.... scared... it's hard to say.  But he definitely wasn't happy about it.  He did eventually begin to clap along and his face softened a bit.  He still wasn't singing along, but he was participating.

Singing songs at the farewell ceremony

As they finished up one of the songs, a cake was brought in and sat on the table in front of where we were sitting.  The kids sat and Markos rejoined Eric and I in the front.  The nannies took the cake and cut it, giving Eric, Markos and I each a piece along with a bottle of soda each. 

Markos' Farewell cake

As we ate, the children stood and sang another song for us.  When they were finished and sat down, we were already being told it was time to leave.  So, Markos was told to say goodbye to his friends.  He went around and hugged and kissed each child.  Then, he gave the nannies hugs goodbye.  It was a bittersweet, precious moment for Eric and I.  I only just realized tonight that Eric videotaped it, so you can see the sweetness for yourself. 

Ciao!  Ciao, Markos!!  (He was more interested in showing them his musica.)

After Markos said his good-byes, Eric and I followed and we each gave every kid a hug and kiss goodbye as well.  Oh, how these kids tear my heart to pieces.  One boy, Negesh, whom we had played with for a few hours on our first trip, latched his arms around my neck as he planted a big kiss on my cheek.  He clung to me for the longest time and I know he did not want to let go (and frankly, neither did I).   He did the same to Eric.  I still cry every time I think about it.  He was the sweetest boy.  I pray that he has already been matched with his forever family and that he too will soon be saying goodbye and heading home to his new life (if he hasn't already).   That day though, it was all Eric and I could both do to get to the van before we were alternating between putting on our happy faces for Markos, kissing him and smiling and cheering, and then staring out the window to secretly wipe the tears away that were streaming down our faces.

Markos didn't seem sad at all.  Saying goodbye to his friends at the care center didn't seem nearly as hard on him as seeing it was on Eric and I.  It was obvious he had been through this before.  It was obvious that these kids had been prepared very well for what would happen, for where they'd be going.  They knew the process.  We were his Emama and Ababa.  He was going to America.  That had been the goal all along.

We went back to the guest house and spent the afternoon there resting and playing.  The others were at the embassy!!  We prayed for favor for them.  We prayed that their documents would be rushed and that, miracle of miracles, after the week we had all had, that we would all be leaving together that night as originally planned.  One of my favorite memories from the trip - which I did have a picture of, but unfortunately, it was very blurry - was when the van pulled into the guest house lot after their embassy appointments.  Markos and I happened to be outside on the upstairs balcony off of the family room.  The van pulled in and the familiar "God is Great" song was blaring from the radio of the Holt van.  Some of our group was outside playing.  The guest house driver and some of the staff were outside.  Everyone's attention quickly shifted to the van, and as the news was shared that everyone passed and that they had everyone's documents, cheers erupted from everyone.  The picture that I had was of Isaias, the guest house driver, standing by the van hearing the news through the open windows, then lifting both hands and raising his face to the sky to praise God.  It was a very moving moment.  Everyone rejoicing together.  Acknowledging God's faithfulness.  Celebrating His provision.

The day was flying by and there was still much to do.  They informed us that they would be returning soon to take us all to Care Center 2 for the remaining Farewell Ceremony, then to the Holt offices to get our documents, then back to the guest house.  Mike and Stephanie and Eric and I had an earlier flight than the rest of the group, so we were getting really worried about time.  We talked to the Holt staff person and instead of going to the offices, we were all given our documents and such at the Farewell Ceremony at CC2.  Prior to leaving for the ceremony, we brought all of our luggage down to the lobby of the guest house and had everything completely ready to go.

Markos was more relaxed at the other's Farewell Ceremony, probably because he was able to stay with us the entire time.  He got to eat some more cake and drink some more soda.  (which is always great before a 24 hour trip home!)  Unfortunately, he spilled soda and cake all over his traditional outfit, too.  We watched his friend's cut their farewell cake, got our documents, and said some more goodbyes.

Stephanie and Mike with Israel and Dawit cutting their cake

Markos saying goodbye to Miruk

Then, we rushed back to the guest house, loaded our luggage onto the van, said some more goodbyes and we were off again.

Markos getting one last hug from Isaias and Workineh

Loaded up and ready to head to the airport.  Yes, all that luggage was just ours and the James'!  We aren't sure how the others managed to get all their stuff to the airport!

Sometime around 9:00 that evening, after yet another VERY LONG, very busy day, we said goodbye to Ethiopia and boarded our flight bound for Washington, DC.

1 comment:

  1. I cried reading this, Lori. And as I watched the video. I know Aregash misses her friends and I know she doesn't get the fact that will probably won't see them again. I so hope that isn't true for all of us who traveled together. When we are out shopping she wants to buy things for her friend Wubitu, or she will say "Wubitu" if she doesn't like something. guess she thinks I can buy it and send it elsewhere! ha!

    Thank you for praying for us when we were caught with embassy. God was/is soo faithful and your prayers and your presence were such a blessing.

    keep in touch.