In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Little Bit of Then and a Little Bit of Now

Where to even begin . . . . . . . ?????????? What a trip. I wish you all could just read my mind, because I have no idea how to organize my thoughts and put them on paper. I'll just take it from the top, I guess.

We arrived late Saturday night and we took Sunday to just be tourists. We shopped, we saw sights, we ate at Mod Abbysinia, which is like an Ethiopian Country Dinner Playhouse. Our guide, Fekadu, from our last trip to Awassa, and his driver took us there and we had such a great night. The day was perfect and it gave us a chance to brace ourselves for what was to come.

That night, I didn't sleep for even one second, knowing that the next day, life was going to change, but I wasn't totally sure how. We headed to the care center and immediately set out to lay our eyes on Meeraf. I stepped into her room and she saw me and smiled. Already, I was making judgements about the rest of our lives together. I was thinking, "she smiled and she remembers me . . . everything is going to be great. Phew!" From this point on, I was either in survival mode, just trying to make it through the next minute, or I was making judgements on how the rest of our lives were going to go. Both were fairly exhausting ways to operate. Anyway, the initial reunion was so great and so encouraging. About a half hour in, I got news that the birth mom was going to come at 11:00. (In Ethiopian time, that means that maybe she'll come sometime that day.) So, we waited and waited and finally ended up going back to the hotel until they called us back. Late, in the afternoon, we got the call that she had arrived, so we hopped back in the Addis View van and made another crazy trip through the streets of Addis. However, about half way through the trek back, we pulled over and in stepped the birth mom. It was so obvious that it was her, because she looked just like Meeraf. AWKWARD!!!! I didn't know what to say, so I offered her a piece of gum. That seems so silly now. I was just caught so off gaurd. It's just tough to think of small talk, especially when you don't speak the same language. Gum is universal, though, isn't it?

At the care center, we had a chance to talk to each other. I was kind of hoping that she would be real teary and heart broken over being forced to give up her daughter due to unimaginable circumstances or something like that. That wasn't the case, though. She was very young and seemed rather unmoved by her decision to bring Meeraf to an orphanage. Before this meeting, I held a little bit of guilt about removing Meeraf from her country and from everything familiar to her, but that guilt fled in a hurry. The general sense that I felt after our meeting was that Meeraf was not in a good situation. After our meeting we took a few pictures and then Meeraf broke down into a puddle of tears. Heartbreaking! Man, the amount of trauma that this child went through, even in the one week I was there, is so heartbreaking, let alone all of the trauma she experienced before this week.

From that point, I bought Meeraf back to the hotel. This is where the rubber met road. I'll write more about our trip later. Right now, I'll give you a snapshot into life right now on this side of the hemisphere.

Meeraf is very hot and cold, and she definitely prefers Dave FAR about me . . . however, all things considered, I think she is doing really well. Obviously, it is painfully hard for me that she won't let me even touch her, or look at her at times. However, there are enough moments where she lets me in, that I am staying afloat for now. Like, at the park today, I thought my heart would burst. She smiled so much, giggled, played and would repeat me saying "UNNNNDERDOOOOOOOG," as I was pushing her on the swing. Holy Cow - it was beyond precious. She is beyond precious - and I think I'll go take in a little bit of her preciousness right now, if she'll let me:)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's true . . . I leave tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon I will be leaving Colorado Springs e
astbound to Ethiopia to bring home Maci Meeraf Aldridge. The email came in the middle of the night that our Embassy date is set for March 27th. After opening the email, there was a giant rush of adrenaline preventing my sleepy self from settling back into a soft, warm sleep. So, a few restless hours later, I have decided to try my hand at one last post before I head out.

The other night I was watching "Tangled" with my kids and there was a scene in the movie that made me feel a lot like Rapunzel. (It certainly wasn't her thick long hair making me feel like her!) Her whole life, she had seen in the distance hundreds upon thousands of lights rise into the sky on her birthday. The whole movie was about her reaching this destination and this point where she would see the lights up close. So, there she was in the boat, anticipating the launch of these thousands of lanterns. While you would expect that she would be giddy with excitement, she timidly shared that she was "terrified." She went on to say, "I've been looking out a window for 18 years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?" Well, folks - that is about how I feel . . . terrified, but I think (maybe not initially) it will all be breathtakingly beautiful.

I can't even begin to think of what this trip is going to look like, so get creative in your prayers. You might even feel led to pray that if she's got lice, they will be lazy lice and not inclined to jump anywhere. I have no idea??? One prayer that I would seriously covet, though, is prayers for the hearts of everyone in our family. For Maci and me to start bonding right off the bat, for Spencer's and Leah's and Dave's hearts to be open and ready to receive Maci when we return, and just for our family dynamics all around when we start our life as a family of 5. All I can think of to say as I wrap this up, get ready to pack and get ready to pick up OUR DAUGHTER is hold onto your hats everybody- this is gonna be a ride! Lord have mercy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where are My Keys?

I can't tell you how SLOWLY these days are ticking by. We are so ready for Meeraf to get home We know it is going to be hard, but we just can't wait to see her little smile and hear her little laugh again. We are waiting to hear how the birth mom interview goes on the 21st and we are hoping that Sunnie (my fest friend from high school) and I will be on a plane by the 23rd. We have been waiting a total of 10 months, from the first referral to, HOPEFULLY, picking up our child. That is some serious wait time! Meanwhile, encouragement comes when I need it most and the other day, I needed it most. Here is the story.

Friday mornings are always a little hectic and this past one was no different. My Mops group was responsible for bringing sweets and I thought the morning would be a fine time to bake some cookies and get the kids out the door on time. In mid bake, I was pondering our financial situation. I will not be teaching for a couple months when Meeraf comes home and in addition to that, our hoped travel time is right over Spring Break. I don't know who is shouting "Spring Break 2012 in Ethiopia!", but somebody must be, because the demand is high and the tickets are pricey for the next few weeks. I mean REAL pricey! I was even making a list of things we could sell in our next garage sale to cover the months I won't be teaching. Anyway, the morning went on. I finished the cookies, got everybody ready, grabbed my keys, started putting stuff in the car, set my keys down somewhere, and then realized that I couldn't find my keys, even though I had just used them. If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Where are my keys," I would never have had to raise a cent for this adoption! Naturally, my extra set of keys were also MIA, so in my rush, I had no other choice than to close my eyes, get ready for an explosion, and dump out my purse. Out came my wallet, a teacher survey, children's church bulletins, paint chip colors, 18 receipts, a couple suckers, some photographs, my extra set of keys, and an unfamiliar envelope. I turned it over and it said "The Aldridge Family" on it, along with a couple of verses, one being James 1:27. (Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world). Even in my rush to get to preschool and Mops, I had to check out this envelope. I hastily opened it and I saw a hundred dollar bill peeking out. I opened it further and took out the bills and there were ten, 100 dollar bills. I was seriously shaking! I couldn't believe it!!! There was no name on it, and no indication of where it came from. On top of that, I had no idea, when it had been snuck into my purse. I'm sure whoever put it in there has been on their knees, praying that I didn't throw it away with the rest of the trash in my purse. My mind was in overdrive, trying to figure this out. Needless to say, I left all the cookies at home.

I think that one of the neatest things for me in this story, is that I got to share it at Mops. And for the first time in quite a few months, I said the words, "God is good." They just came out of my mouth when I was sharing that story. I haven't really felt too comfortable saying those words with the whole Negusu situation and to be honest, it's been hard to believe that God is good. I'm not saying that I am comparing getting money to getting Negusu, but it was a reminder that God knows my needs and he meets them. Slowly, I am starting to let go of the need to understand what God is doing and I am trying to trust Him anyway. It's tough. It's living by faith and not understanding, for sure.

P.S.- A couple days later, I also found a gift certificate for Boriello Brothers in that same purse. I love that purse:) Of course, I really love all of you that keep us going with your spoken, your anonymous, your tangible, and your loving encouragement. You all know we'd be a wreck without you!