Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Trip to Ethiopia

January 7, 2011

We left Nashville around 1:00 pm and headed to Washington, D.C. ! We fly out from Washington and head to Ethiopia tomorrow afternoon. We are filled with excitement, anticipation, and JOY! We can hardly wait to get there!

Marc has decided to try to keep in touch with everyone via the I-Pad. It is our only form of communication and hope it will work in Ethiopia! Here's the first e-mail:

We left home today on our first visit to Ethiopia and to meet our little guy Agegnew! We are sitting in a hotel room in Washington D.C. It is 5 pm and Mindy is already sacked out. She was up late last night getting the house in shape for Nanny to come.
Travel has been good so far (no luggage issues) and we are getting very excited about meeting Agegnew! We leave tomorrow at noon and have an 11+ hour flight directly to Addis Ababa. Dad lent us some noise cancelling headsets and we have our Ambien prescription ready to go. We will hit the ground at 8 am Sunday morning and have a full day ahead of us.
No real news at this point. Just thought I would drop everyone a note because I am not sure when we will have access again. Marc
January 8, 2011

We left Washington around 1:00. We had a bit of a delay getting on the plane. Not exactly sure what the problem was, but it's no big deal. We are flying to Addis and nothing else matters. We dress comfy for our flight, have our sleep medicine, and are ready to go!

January 9, 2011

We made it! We are in Addis! After a crazy long flight we are finally here! A little sleep deprived, but here! The flight went well. Two memorable things about our flight and perhaps words of wisdom-#1 -Try not to sit in front of little old Ethiopian ladies who are recovering from knee surgury. As soon as our flight took off and they said we could lean our seats back, I tried to do just that. As I'm leaning back, I hear "No, no, no" from behind me. I turn around and there was a young Ethiopian woman sitting next to a VERY elderly Ethiopian woman. The young woman says, "My mother just had knee surgery and nothing can touch her knees". I'm thinking, "Great, here I am on an 11+ hour flight, and I can't even lean my seat back? I get up and ask the airline stewardess if there is ANY other seats available. We walk the entire plane and there is not 1 seat to be had. I get back to my seay and trade with Marc, who says if he takes the window seat(my seat) then I can lean back and lay on him. I decide this is a better option then not being able to lean back. #2-Funny story for you all regarding Ambien(the sleep medicine). So, here goes. When we were in Washington, it took us forever to get to our gate so we grabbed some sub sandwiches to eat on the plane because we didn't have time to sit down and eat. After we got on the plane we imediately ate, took our Ambien, and were ready to konk out. We were just beginning to go to sleep(about 45 minutes into the flight) when they begin to serve lunh/dinner. Marc sort of woke up. I told him we'd just eaten and to just say no when they offered us food so we could just go to sleep. Well, the Ambien did a number on him. He sat up and said, "No, I'm hungry". I told him again, "We just had a 9 inch sub sandwich, chips, and a dessert 45 minutes ago-you are not hungry". He continued to insist he was hungry. I gave up and went on to sleep. He proceeded to EAT, then couldn't fall back to sleep for the 11+ hour flight to Ethiopia. He watched about 4 movies, and was AWAKE. Word to the wise-If you take Ambien, it really does make you loopy. Don't wake up for FOOD!

Here's some pics as we arrived in Addis

Mindy at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

After getting off the plane and discovering our luggage did not make it (see Marc's email below) our driver from the hotel picked us up and we were off! Traffic is crazy in Ethiopia, espically when you have to stop for herds of cows!

After a VERY eventful day so far (late flight, dealing with little old ladies who had knee surgery, no luggage, cows in the road, and a driver who speaks little English) we arrive at our hotel. We are all smiles as we check in. Just happy to be off the plane and IN Ethiopia.

Here's our hotel-Riviera Hotel

After settling into our room, Marc wrote the e-mail for the day

Here's Marc's email for the day:

We made it! Got here a few hours ago and waited by baggage claim until the little dude stuck his head out where the baggage come through and said that is it! Hoping it will be here tomorrow. We are here and that is what counts. Just a word to the wise. Make sure you have some clothes in your carry on bags. We do, but our donations and toys we brought special to play with our little guy are still in the US.

fWIW none of our carry ons were weighed. But there was a big stink up at the counter that baked everyone up. We waited 1.5 hours in line at Dulles ET airlines. Flight was at there at to the gate at 12. I would have thought that was why our bags missed but the flight ended up taking off an hour late. So I am not really sure why they did not make it.

Will post other info as experienced.....

Can't wait to meet our little guy tomorrow


A Wonderful Surprise

We were just getting ready to call a taxi to go see the city when our hotel phone rang. It was someone from Hannah's Hope (the orphanage) telling us someone would be picking us up in about 20 minutes. We were thrilled! We had not gotten an itenarary for the week yet and had NO IDEA we'd get to meet our little guy that day. We were so excited! We scambled to find something we could take him(our toys and donations didn't make it remember). We managed to find a small brush and a flashlight in my purse. With that, we were off to meet our new son, A.J.

On the way to the orphanage, here's some pics of what we saw:

A new school being built

Signs of our adoption agency

We get to Hannah's Hope in about 15 minutes. It is really close to the hotel. We have a short meeting with Almaz(the director). She goes over some general info. She is great!

After our meeting with Almaz, we meet little A.J. and instantly fall in love. He comes right to us and starts to play.

A.J. showing me his truck phone

Mommy and A.J are all smiles!

A.J. LOVES brushing our hair and just being held.

He REALLY likes Mommy's hair!

First picture of us all together

After having a great time at Hannah's Hope we headed back to the hotel. We were emotionally and physically drained after a day of travel and meeting our little one. Marc settled in to write the 2nd email of the day:
Just got a surprise. Phone rang and it was the AGCI driver and we got to go meet Agegnew. How awesome. He is the cutest little dude. Saw lots of other peoples kids as well. Can't send pictures yet because all my adapters and chargers are in the luggage that has not arrived. We played with Agegnew for about 2 hrs. As well as many of the other kids. Here is the best and worst thing- he cried when we were pulling out this afternoon. Bad because you hated to see him cry, but good in that we think he gets it and was sad to see us leave. About had to drag Mindy out of there. Actually I'm not sure who was crying more our guy or Mindy. All is well now as we are back at the hotel and have an agenda for the next couple of days. Will get plenty of time at hannah's hope over the next few days. Not exactly sure how I am going to get Mindy back on the plane Friday. Marc

January 10, 2011

Here's Marc's email for the day. He sums up our day pretty well, so I'll not add too much more.

Shopping day

After a good nights sleep...slept in till 9:00 am. That is after Mindy and I woke up at about 2:00am and split an ambien. We went shopping with Waas and Tsigie (see-gay). They took us to an area called Mexico. We picked up some traditional clothing and various other things. After walking through a few shops you start seeing all the same things. A little variety but pretty much the same stuff. So we coerced Wass and Tsi-gie to eat "off the reservation" or not at the hotel. We had lunch in a nice cafe style restaurant that overlooked a major intersection in the city. I had a burger and fries. Waas had beef tibs and rice. TsiGie had a burger and fries. Mindy had lasagna and we had spring rolls for an appetizer. We each had a coke and the total came to 320 birr. I dug in deep and sprang for the whole thing (in US terms $20). After lunch we headed to HH where we met up with Agegnew. He was happy to see us. While we were out shopping we had some pictures developed that we let AJ (Agegnew Joseph) put into his photo album. So now he has pictures of all of us together to look at while we are away. We made a call to the airport and our luggage made it. I went and picked it up so now we have clothes and chargers and whatnot. We were also able to get out a few toys that we had brought for him. Up until now we were limited to a small brush, flashlight and photo album. Tomorrow should be good as we have lots of little things for him to do and many gifts for the other kids. Things are good right now. AJ once again cried as we left HH and while sad we are taking it as a good sign. Almaz said that she had never seen him cry like this before when people left. We really think he gets it. He is already calling Mindy momma (not to be shared on the AGCI listserv) and we are working on Daddy.

At lunch with Tsigie and Waas

Daddy and A.J. playing

Daddy and A.J. pose for a picture

January 11, 2010
Wow what a busy day...
We started at 10:00 by visiting HH. We played with Agegnew and got to eat lunch with him. They had a big bowl of spagetti and he ate three bowls full. We were also able to bring his little train set and boy did he like it at. We brought several other toys and he did not want to give
any of them up to his friends. He is a bit smaller than most his age. He wanted to make sure everyone knew it was his stuff and to stand back. We played ring around the rosy and "headshoulders knees and toes". We left around 1:00 to get back to the hotel.We had a driver set up for one o'clock. Teddy who we had stood up thefollowing two, days(he was compensated) was there waiting for us. We headed up the mountain to see the kings palace and museum. King M was the last king of Ethiopia. On the way up the road we passed hoards of people just walking down the road. As we climbed higher into the eucalyptus forrest(smelled great). We saw several women carring branches bundled on their backs. The bundles were about the size of two 55 gallon drums stood on top of each other but laid sideways. Imagine a bundle of branches on your back that large at about 9000 feet. We saw no less than 100 women carrying these bundles and they go up and down the 4 mile treck as many times a day as they could. They sell it for firewood. We arrived at the top to see the church and kings palace and church that was just on the other side. There was a nice museum that had several ofthe kings wardrobes for different occasions. Next we went around the ridge to see another church which had an old monk cave hand carved deep into the rock. We heard some school children and I asked if we could go see the school. We went around the corner from the church and the children(roughly 100) were all chanting and jumping up and down. As we pulled the car in they all stopped. I toldthem I would make a small donation to the school if they showed me their chant and if we could see their school. So they did their chant and then I lead them in an exercise of " head shoulder knees and toes" which they all loved. I gave the teacher effectively 10 and he turned his back and walked away saying school is closed. I am guessing he wanted more money. We moved on. We headed back down the mountain through the maze of people and headed to the national museum. Saw a bunch of stuff old stuff at the museum...imagine that. We did see the bones of Lucy and they had a pretty good display of human evolution. A skull from each time period of human evolution from millions of years ago to present. I asked if the Arc of the covenant was here and our guide said it was upstairs. Unfortunately we did not find it when we got there. The museum guide was adamant about getting our contact info. I kind of feel like he may show up at our front door someday. Anyway he did a good job presenting the museum. After the museum we went to visit St. Georges church. The majority of the christians in Ethiopia are orthodox and practice the same style of service that they have been doing since the 1st Century. After they show you the goatskin that the ceremony was written on and the original priests notes on them it makes you wonder if us Protestants got off track somewhere. We met the bishop at St. George's and he performed a sample of the church service for us while touring around within the church. It had some beautiful artwork that had been redone by local artist since the Italians had destroyed portions of the church and it's artwork in the early 1900's. They had som beautiful Mosaics about thesize of a movie screen on all 4 sides of the inner square within the church.
We additionally visited the church museum where the priest added to our hisorical lesson from the churches point of view. He asked us what Agegnew's Christian name was(Joseph-he LOVED that) and said that he would say prayers for him for the next three days leading up epiphany. Mindy, Teddy and I spent about an hour and a half with the bishop in total. It was a wonderful
experience and he cleared up the question of the Arc of the Covenant. He let us know that he was certain it was in Axum and that we should visit there during our next time in country. I asked if he was certain and if I could see it when I went and he assured me it was there and
that the one priest that is able to visit it would verify it for me.
Here's some pics from the first half of our day:

Daddy and A.J. playing with all the new toys!


Here's all the 2-6 year olds eating lunch! They are too cute!

Spaghetti Kisses!

For Daddy, too!


  1. What a wonderful adventure, story and little boy you've got here! Congrats! I'll be sure to share this with Bani; she will LOVE it! Keep us posted on that Arc, too, but be sure to "Shut your eyes Marion, don't look at it..." sorry couldn't stop the Indiana Jones in me :)

  2. oh, he's too cute..congrats!! What a wonderful journey you are on!! Can't wait for him to get home, kristi

  3. So happy to have found your blog today!
    We, too, are hoping to adopt from Hannah's Hope- and your post was so much fun (and comforting) to read!

    Kevin and Layla Palmer