Monday, February 25, 2008

Off to Ethiopia

This photo is from 1 year and 5 days ago, taken within the first few minutes of meeting F.G. and K.D. at the care center.  As you can see, I have not made it five feet from the car yet.  I remember wondering what the first meeting would be like.  I knew it would not matter in the long run, but boy, did I ever want it to go well.  And it did.  I can still distinctly recall getting swarmed at the car.  F.G. immediately clung to CrazyMom and K.D. to me.  I felt more like a trophy than a dad, however.  K.D. kept yelling, "Papa!"  Not to me, but to others to let them know that this was his papa.  He clung to me with one arm and used his other to push away any kids who got too close.  This was his Papa and there was not to be any sharing.  Not yet, anyway.

 

Tonight it has been a year and a day since F.G. and K.D. landed in America.  It is hard to believe all that has taken place in the last year.  CrazyMom and I collected the kids and sat down by the fire for a few minutes to talk about the year.  We talked about F.G. and K.D.'s first day in America and I was surprised at how well they remembered the details – the dumping of toy cars, the simultaneous wanting of a Buzz Lightyear toy, and which sibling showed them what in the house.  It was fun to then turn the conversation and think about what it will be like for Anna just a few weeks from now.

 

We leave for Ethiopia on Saturday to go and bring Anna home.  This time things are a lot different.  For one, there are fewer unknowns.  We know what the flight is like, we know what it is like to be in Ethiopia, and we know what it is like to bring an Ethiopian child into our home and make her our daughter.  This makes the whole event seem smaller, more familiar, and almost more casual.

 

Another big difference is that there is a lot less hoopla this time.  Last time we were going through the process with two other families from our church and things seemed high-profile.  There were events, speaking engagements, and fund raising for the group.  This time is quieter.  Not as much of the advancing-the-cause-of-orphans-the-world-over stuff.  I guess the second time around seems less like a BIG EVENT and more simply like a lifestyle. 

 

So off we go.  Pray for us.  Pray for safety.  It would be a real bummer if in our efforts to reduce the number of orphans in the world there ends up being more of them.  Pray for our kids as they will have to go the longest they have ever been without us.  And pray for Anna.  It is hard to imagine all that will be going through her sweet little head as these white people from a land across the sea come and take her away from all she has ever known.  For F.G. and K.D. it all seemed wonderful.  But they were older and understood more.  They knew things Anna may not know.  So keep her - and all of us - in your prayers.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

K.D.'s Birthday

K.D. had a birthday last week. We usually let the kids pick out what they want for their birthday meal and K.D. said he wanted to go to an Ethiopian restaurant. He was really excited about it and insisted on wearing his traditional Ethiopian clothes. Here are a few shots from the day.








Monday, February 18, 2008

Home School and The Canon ST-E2

I recently acquired a Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2. This is a handy little device that lets you set your camera flash wherever you want and then it will wirelessly fire the flash when you take a picture. The other day I had the opportunity to attend The Big Crazy Family Home School rather than the school where I work due to a snow day. As the kids were learning reading, writing, and arithmetic, I was learning about my new flash gizmo. Here are a few shots from the day.

In this first photo of Miss Bookworm the flash is sitting off to the right on a desk aimed at the ceiling. In all of these photos, I had some tinfoil on the back of the flash so that while most of the light will bounce off of the ceiling, some of the light will hit the tinfoil and be thrown forward. Notice the lighting across Miss Bookworms face. Much, much better than the head on flash you get with the flash mounted on the camera.


In the next four photos with kids working at the school table, the flash is sitting on a nearby bookcase pointed at the ceiling. I was free just to roam around and shoot independent of the flash.






Above, Buddy is working on the computer and I set the flash on the counter in front of him, still largely pointing up. In the following shot I was holding the flash in my left hand pointed directly at the cat.



Since I have put the ST-E2 on my camera, I have not taken it off. In fact, I can't think of a time that I would mount my flash back on the camera.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Watoto Children’s Choir

A couple of weeks ago when we had our friends' kids staying with us (see 12 Kids Underfoot) we took the whole gang to see the Watoto Children’s Choir sing.

Once we got all 12 kids nestled into a pew that some good friends saved for us, the program began. One of the first things mentioned was that all of the kids were double orphans from Uganda. Since I had five adopted kids from Ethiopia with me, I realized that I needed to start keeping an eye on them since I did not know what their reactions might be. It turned out that there was nothing to worry about.

It is hard not to be moved when you see a stage full of children whom the world has forgotten singing about how they have not been forgotten, for God knows their name. Here is the finale of “Not Forgotten.”



It was a powerful evening in many respects and has had a lasting impact on our family. We purchased a CD that night which the kids just love. F.G. loves to listen to one of the tracks over and over. The other day she said to CrazyMom, “It is my favorite song. It makes me cry.” Here are the words:


African Lullaby
by Dawn Stride

Who will sing my lullaby
Who will hold me when I cry
When I awake and no one’s there
Who will sing my lullaby

One straw mat
Two sisters, one brother
Our father is gone
Now we cry for our mother
Who will protect
And watch through the night
Who will be there
To blow out the light

Will you sing my lullaby
Will you hold me when I cry
When I awake, will you be there
Will you sing my lullaby


F.G. has already decided what she wants to do with her life. She wants to grow up and be the person in charge of an orphanage, just like the woman from the movie Madeline. She also wants to have two kids and adopt two kids. After our night with the children’s choir, she decided she wanted to adopt from Uganda.

Buddy was also moved deeply by seeing all of these children who do not have a mother or a father. He continues to pray nightly for the children at the Watoto Villiage in Uganda. And he is not the only one . . .

Friday, February 8, 2008

Partners in Health

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Paul Farmer speak. Dr. Farmer was a founder of Partners in Health. It was significant for me to see his life and how he has accomplished so much in helping improve the health of poor people around the world.

He shared many powerful thoughts during his talk, but I am going to pass along just two maps he brought to my attention from WorldMapper.org. In this first map, each country is drawn so that it's size shows the proportion of people from the ages of 15-49 who are HIV positive. If you look hard, you might be able to see Africa on the map.


In this next map of the world, each country is drawn showing the proportion of physicians working in the country. If you look hard, you might be able to see Africa on the map.