Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Other trip blogs to follow ...

There are about 12 sponsorship coordinators travelling to Ethiopia to develop child sponsor programs. Each of us will be blogging as often as possible about the trip, the orphanages we are working with and the children we are meeting.

Six of the coordinators also happen to be adoptive parents within the last year, of a child or children from Ethiopia. I've known all of these families for nearly two years and have celebrated with them, cried with them, encouraged them and prayed for them (as they did for us) during their individual adoption journeys. This will be the first time many of us have gotten to meet face to face!!

To get some different perspectives during this trip, be sure to check out the following blogs ... Peter Kidd, Caleb David, Candy Tennant, Heather Sparr , Tom Laughner and our trip leader and president of Children's Hopechest, Tom Davis. Click on their name to link to their blog. Enjoy!

After enjoying Thanksgiving with family, I will be flying from Minneapolis to Washington DC on Sunday, and will be staying with the Kidd family. Monday morning, at 9:30 am EST, we leave for Ethiopia!!! Please keep the entire team in your prayers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ethiopia Schedule

I am posting to the blog via email as a test for Ethiopia.  While we are out of the country, we are unable to view blogger, but we can upload to it via email.

A few weeks ago, during one of our conference calls with Hopechest, we were given the following tentative schedule (subject to change of course).  Five of the locations are in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and three of the sites are outside the city.
 
There are 8 different orphanages and care points that have been identified and researched by the Hopechest staff in Ethiopia.  Some of these locations are not a traditional orphanage where children live 24/7.  Some of the sites are called "care-points or drop-in centers" which refers to a location (maybe a church, maybe a building owned by a someone sympathetic to an orphan's situation, maybe a school) where orphaned children, some of whom are living on the streets, show up for the chance of being fed and being safe.

Sunday - I fly out of Mpls to Washington DC (staying with Pete & Andrea Kidd.  Pete is also going on the Hopechest trip and they adopted a little girl from Ethiopia last year.)
 
Monday - 9:30 am - Ethiopia Air flight direct to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - about a 15 hour flight I think.
 
Tuesday - 8:30 am Ethiopia time (8 hour time difference) arrive and travel to the Ethiopia Guest Home.  (This is the same place we stayed last time.)  Visit "Promising" Drop-In center which serves 81 children.
 
Wednseday - travel 6-7 hours to the town of Kombolcha (North of Addis) to visit Grace Drop-In center which serves about 180 children, but there are over 400 children identified in need.
 
Thursday - spend morning again at Grace Drop-In center and then travel back to Addis in the afternoon.
 
Friday - Visit CFI school which serves about 25 kids.  Visit "Hope for the Hopeless" drop-in center which serves 15 orphaned children.
 
Saturday - Travel to Woliso ( about 1 hour South of Addis) to visit Emanuel Orphanage which serves 122 orphans.  Then travel to Debre Zeit (about 1 hour East of Addis) to visit Elolam Orphanage which serves 120 children locally, and another 110 children from Addis.

Sunday - Visit Kind Heart drop-in center which serves 56 children in Addis.  We will be attending a church service as well.
 
Monday - Visit Gospel for All Nations drop-in center which serves 40 children in Addis.

Tuesday - Several of us will be visiting the America World Adoption Transition Home where we adopted our children, and reuniting with friends, Duni, Furtuna and Robel.  We will also have time to do a little shopping and touring before catching a 10:15 pm flight to the USA.
 
Wednesday - 4:00 pm - I land in Minneapolis!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ONE YEAR "GOTCHA DAY" ANNIVERSARY

In the adoption world, "Gotcha Day" is a very special day ... one that is anticipated and prayed about for months, and perhaps even years, in advance. I'm not quite sure how this special day was christened as "gotcha day" - but it refers to the day your adopted children are officially in your care 24/7.

For us, we met our sons for the very first time on November 30. And then they left the orphanage/transition home for the last time on December 1, and have been in our family ever since. We will be celebrating "Gotcha Day" with our good friends, the Hutchinson's (who adopted 2 little girls from Ethiopia at the same time we adopted our 2 little boys) tomorrow evening.

As coincidence would have it ... I will be in Ethiopia exactly one year from "Gotcha Day", working with Children's Hopechest to develop child sponsorship programs with 8 different orphanages. Seeking to make a difference for hundreds of orphaned children affected by disease and poverty in Ethiopia.

It has been a year of tumultous change and remarkable transformation ... as two little boys came into our lives as strangers, and just 12 months later, they are firmly and solidly enveloped into the love and fabric of our family. A few years ago, in my wildest dreams, I never imagined we would be considering adoption ... let alone adoption from Ethiopia. But here we are one year later and I can't imagine any other path more rewarding ... and more stressful ... and more joyful.

We could have missed out on all of this ... a few different choices, a satisfaction with the status quo, a preoccupation with the busy-ness of our lives with two pre-teen daughters (school ,work, basketball, soccer and other activities too numerous to list). It would have been so easy and so normal to stay on the current path. I so vividly remember another adoptive parent saying to us "what are you guys thinking?!?! You had it made with 2 kids almost independent ... and you're adopting two little boys?!?! What are you thinking?!?!?" And I remember how those words jolted me for a moment as I realized what we were giving up. But at the same time ... I knew what we would be gaining.

I knew the road would be difficult for awhile (I didn't realize then HOW difficult things would be for awhile, when your entire life is thrown into upheaval). But here we are ONE YEAR LATER and what started out as a blessing for two little orphaned boys on the other side of the world ... has turned out to be a blessing for us. And to think ... we could have missed this !!!!!




Meeting our sons for the very first time. A pendulum of itense emotion ... from fear to joy to relief and everything in between. My first words were ... "Oh my gosh, they are so tiny!"





Spending a little time with Tariku (now named Wesley), we noticed his absence of expression and minimal eye contact. What a difference today as Wesley is an exhuberantly affectionate little boy!



Dagmawi (now named Jayden after his daddy, Jay) was immediately mesmerized by his Daddy. Immediate attachment and very possessive. Of course this caused many issues at home as he would physically push the girls away from Jay and insert himself between them. Today, he adores his daddy and his sisters equally.






Leaving the transition home for the last time ...



WE COULD HAVE MISSED THIS ...






Monday, November 16, 2009

TO ETHIOPIA IN TWO WEEKS!!

Two weeks from today, our team from Children's Hopechest will be somewhere over the Atlantic ocean by now, on our way to Ethiopia. I have two large suitcases packed with all of the donated items for the trip (underwear, pencils, toothbrushes, etc.) - items that will make such a difference to the children living in the orphanages there.

It's not too late to make a financial donation, so we are able to meet emergency needs while we are in-country. If you have considered giving (any amount goes a long way in Ethiopia), please take a moment to email me at
kjwistrom@yahoo.com or go directly to the Hopechest website at www.hopechest.org, click on "Give" and specify "ETHIOPIA NOVEMBER TRIP" in the notes. 100% of the money given for this trip will go to Ethiopia with us, to be used to relieve some of the most urgent needs of these orphaned children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More ... Lost in Translation



Jayden (8) has all but mastered the English language in less than one year! He has made such amazing progress but we still get these fun little glitches every now and then, and we treasure them.
A few evenings ago, after he had cleaned his plate at dinner time, Jayden pushed his plate back and said "Can I be squeezed?" After an exchange of puzzled looks by the rest of us, it suddenly dawned on us what our polite boy was asking ... "Can I be excused?"

I leave for Ethiopia with Children's Hopechest in less than 3 weeks (Nov 29 - Dec 9)! The entire team that is travelling has collected an amazing amount of donations for the children in the orphanages we will be visiting, and I now have two, 50# suitcases full of donations! Please consider a financial donation so we can meet emergency needs while we are in-country. Even $15 will make a huge impact and will feed a child for a month - so little can go so far!!! Go to www.hopechest.org, click on "Give" and specify "Ethiopia November Trip" in the notes. Then, please prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these precious children for $34/month, once we have the sponsorship programs up and running in the next few months.
I want to share a note from my friend and adoptive mom, Tracy Cornett's blog ...Would you consider sponsoring an orphan? We signed up awhile back by making a $34 per month commitment. Soon thereafter we received a picture and info on a 15 year old boy that was living in Ethiopia. I have done this kind of thing before but I have never had a connection to the child or really felt like my money was truly going directly to this child. I wrote our boy a real simple letter and didn't hear back from him for awhile.
I still didn't feel a real connection but knew that when I signed up with Children's Hopechest that is was a great organization and my money would go directly to help my child. Well, today I got my first letter. I was so excited! I went and got his picture and took it into the kids to read it to them. As I read the letter I just couldn't read anymore I was crying so hard. Here is part of the letter:
"I don't have any family. Now you are as my father, mother, brother and sister. I thank God that he makes me part of your family. I am happy to be here. I am thankful you are sponsoring me, please pray for my country and school. I am eager to see your pictures. I am looking forward to getting my next letter. May God be with you! I love you Clay, Tracy, Bowen and Anslee."
Heartbreaking! What a precious letter. Can you imagine, no family! I just love the kids of Ethiopia so much and their situations will just break your heart. I am mailing off pictures to him tomorrow. $34 a month. One meal out as a family here in America can house, feed, clothe, and school a child for A MONTH. Unreal!
During our trip to Ethiopia in November/December, we will be personally meeting these children as we work to put these sponsorship programs together. I've had about 20+ people contact me about sponsorship and I will be in touch with each of you after the trip. During the trip - please check my blog regularly for updates and pictures from Ethiopia.