Wednesday, March 8, 2017

catching up to move on.

 Whew. It's been far too long since I last much as I have missed sharing my heart & happenings in our lives, it's been a much needed unintended break. You see, when I started this blog nearly 7 years ago, it was a place to share about our family of 4, embarking on something that would mold, grow & change our family in ways I never could've imagined. Adoption was an easy decision when we decided to grow our family. It wasn't something we had to pray about for months or even years, as we just knew God had imprinted this desire in us so many years prior. I had decided to call this blog, "Leap of Love" & a leap it was/has been. A wonderful one at times, beautiful in so many ways, yet heartwrenching as well. But, God has been so, so good. He has extended so much grace, forgiveness & showered us with so, so much love. He's a good, good God. Whether the path has been straight & narrow or valley upon valley, I can firmly say that I now know God in a way that I never knew was possible for me. So, rewind a few years back, when life as we knew it fell apart....a child that we had prayed for, dreamt of, loved, cherished & fought for, left our home & family. I've typed & re-typed that now about 7 times. 4 years with him in our hearts, home & family & just like that, in our complete, utter desperation, we signed papers to place him for adoption. It still makes me weep. Obviously, this decision didn't come easy nor did we take it lightly. It was a tumultuous few years...doctors, therapists, therapy, medications, intensive treatment etc... I'm not sure what has been more difficult...enduring those 4 years with him in our home, or these past 2 1/2 years. I still count all of my chicks & we are always missing one. As the days go by, we pray & hope for continued healing, grace, love & forgiveness, for him & us. And, I can say confidently, I know it will come. Because, Gods good like that.  Psalms 36:5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Another Amazing Adventure To My Favorite Place!

Your probably wondering how my trip to Ethiopia was, so here it goes...... I could go on and on about this trip, but I'll shorten it so you don't have to read a whole book.

Day 1
We left Tuesday afternoon to go to Chicago. When we got to Chicago we met up with Alicia, Brenna, and Sierra. From Chicago we left for Frankfurt, Germany at 4:30 in the afternoon.
We were all so excited to get there! We got to Frankfurt in the morning, and we sat in the airport for 3 hours. We left Frankfurt for Addis Ababa! The last flight felt like it was never going to end. We arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for refueling for 2 hours. When the wait was done, we took off for a 2 hour flight to Addis. Brenna and I talked the whole way saying how excited we were to smell the Ethiopian air.
We got to Addis at 9:30 pm. We started walking off the plane and you could instantly smell the fresh Ethiopian air. We walked down to the visa line, and the Dietrichs got in line to get their visa's. My mom and I went and exchanged money into Ethiopian birr. It was a long wait for the visa's. We already had 2 year visa's so we didn't have to get one this time.
Once they got their visa's we went and got our luggage and headed for the exit. We got through the airport and we walked down a long ramp to our friend Yilkal's van, where he and Tsige awaited our arrival. I hopped in the front by Yilkal and the girls hopped in the back. We were so excited to finally be there. We headed to the guesthouse and when we got there we ate gomen and kik wat with injera. Then we all headed to bed.

Day 2
We woke up, got ready and headed downstairs where Tsige's amazing breakfast awaited us! She had made her amazing donuts! When we got done eating we hung out in the living room until Yilkal picked us up. Then, we went to Entoto Beth and Muya to shop.
After we left we went to Sishu to eat. Then when we finished we went to Embwa to get some ice cream. After we left Embwa we went to Sabahar to buy textiles. Then after we finished at Sabahar we went back to the guesthouse and walked behind it to go buy teff and oil for Alicia's sponsor children's families.
Everyone was tired so we rested and then we took a bajaj (3 wheeled motorcycle with a cab) to Kaldi's Coffee to get pastries and coffee.
Then we went back to the guesthouse and Brenna and I helped Tsige make pizza, tortilla chips and salsa. Then we all hung out and then headed to bed.

Day 3
We woke up and headed downstairs for breakfast. That morning we had pancakes and scrambled eggs. After breakfast we headed to Jemo to do inventory check. It was almost surreal that we were back.
When we got there my mom and Alicia went to the office, and Brenna, Sierra, and I stayed outside and played with the kids that were there. They completed their inventory check and then we headed to Abune Basilios. It is a government school that teaches kids from the nearby area. It has about 4000 students.
Some of the classrooms were long one story buildings, and then there was a huge four story building that held most of the classrooms. Their average class size is 60 students. Their classrooms are very small. The younger students are kept in a separate compound, but there is a gate connecting them. There is a bathroom facility that was funded by Jemo and Children's Hope Chest. It does not have flushing toilets. After we toured the Kindergarten compound, we were walked into yet another gated area. It housed a barn and a bakery. The barn has about 8-10 cows, which are used for their dairy to provide for the youngest children at the school.
Then we went to Jemo to go on Alicia's home visits. When we returned to the guesthouse we had dinner and then hung out. Then we all called it a day.

Day 4
We got up and our day started with a walk. We stopped along the way to buy sugar cane. We were on our walk to buy chickens so Tsige could prepare doro wat for Sunday dinner. We stopped looking for chickens because they kept making the price higher. So we left, and Tsige had Amarech (one of the housekeepers) go buy the chickens. That day our task was to do fluoride treatments at Jemo. We pulled up at Jemo and all the kids were waiting for us. When we got in the gate we saw Fikre was there and I was so excited. Fikre is one of the CHC administrators. Then we got ready to start fluoride treatments and my job was to check every kid in and number them. Brenna took the pictures of the kids.
Alicia and my mom did the fluoride treatments. And Sierra gave each child a toothbrush and toothpaste. We worked fast and completed the fluoride treatments in about 3 hours. We purchased bananas and buns for the kids after we finished.
Biz said a blessing for the meal. At about 12:30 we were saying goodbye to the kids. After we finished we went to Effoi for pizza. The pizza was delicious. We headed back to the guesthouse and Brenna and I played cards. Then after a couple of hours it was time to slaughter the chickens. Sierra and I were so excited to be able to kill the chickens ourselves. 

We were so thrilled with our experience! After that we all just chilled and ate, and then went to bed. 

Day 5
We woke up, ate, and then got ready for church. We had the opportunity to attend church with Biz and Fares' family. We were so excited about this! We arrived at the church a little late and then Tsige told us "Church not always start on time, it sometimes go all day. You not like to stay that long." We arrived and we could instantly feel the music beating!
We walked in and we sat in the front row and a few people got up and told us to sit there. It was a very hot building. The building was like a tent. Everyone in the congregation was singing, jumping, and clapping. More than 500 people were there. After the service started one man started handing water out to us. After church our Ethiopian friends and us piled into the 12 passenger van, and there were 20 of us. We went back to the guesthouse and ate the doro wat we had prepared with Tsige. We spent a couple of hours just hanging out with them. Later, we enjoyed freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee. 

It was Valentine's Day, so we headed to the grocery store, they didn't have any roses because they had sold out. We decided to go to Cupcake to buy cupcakes and we saw that they had a floral shop next door. We ended up buying roses and cupcakes! 

My mom and I got roses for Tsige and Alicia got roses for her girls. Our power was out when we got back so we ate dinner with candles and flashlights. After dinner, Brenna and I played cards. Then we called it a night! 

Day 6
We woke up and went downstairs and ate, and then we packed our bags for Awassa. We were going down there to see Alicia's sponsor child Biniam. The first 50 km of the drive was on a new expressway. 

On the way we saw a lot of beautiful scenery. We saw about 4 herds of camels. We saw a lot of tukuls (huts) along the way. There was not much green along the way, because of the drought. 

It was so dry. We saw a lot of dirt devils. We arrived in Awassa in under 4 hours! When we got there we checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Lewi Resort that is located right on Lake Awassa. The first thing we did was have lunch on the patio. Once we sat down the monkeys started coming. 

There was a man chasing the monkeys and once they'd stop, he would feed them. After lunch we headed out for the lake. It was a very calm day to be on the lake. The edges of the lake were always surrounded by kids swimming, washing clothes, and some were fishing. Everyone waved at us when we passed by! We had wanted to see hippos, but we only got to see a baby crocodile. After the ride, Brenna, Sierra and I went swimming. 

After we got done, we had a lakeside dinner. There were cats running around everywhere. After dinner we all headed to bed. 

Day 7
When we woke up on Tuesday we couldn't wait for the day ahead! We went to eat breakfast. We ate breakfast inside. We went to the patio before we checked out to take a few last minute pictures. 

We checked out of the hotel and waited inside Yilkal's van for the care point staff to guide us to the Care Point. Yilkal, our driver, explained that he had heard there was some tribal fighting on the road between Awassa and Soddo.  We waited for Thomas to come and decide if we would go. 

When they got there, they had decided it was best to not go any further.....Bummer! We got back on the road towards Addis. While we were driving we ran into about 6 military checkpoints. After about 2.5 hours Yilkal said we could stop for lunch. We stopped in Ziway to eat at the Haile Resort.
When we got back we went to Bethel Pottery.
Then we went back to the guesthouse and hung out the rest of the day!

Day 8-9
We woke up and it was our final day in Addis. We went to the Connected in Hope Preschool.

They also have a beautiful guesthouse that we went and saw too. Then we went to Lucy's Restaurant. It is located right next to the National Museum. After lunch Brenna, Alicia and I went and took a quick tour through it. Our last stop was Carry 117, we had never been there, but Yilkal's friend is the founder of it. The Carry 117 compound is in the neighborhood of Korah. Korah used to be the dump ground. Now they are no longer taking garbage there. Carry 117 also has a guesthouse. Then went and saw it. 
Then we headed back to Providence to pack. Our flight left at 2 am. When we got to the airport we went to the gate and we surprisingly saw Mo Farah. I knew he was in Ethiopia training, but I didn't think we'd actually see him. Surprisingly, he was on our flight too! We were kinda stalking him!
We got to London and we were all hungry so we sat down at a little cafe.  Our flight from London to Chicago was really empty so we all got our own aisles. Brenna and I spent the whole time talking and asking the flight attendants for snacks! We were the only kids on the flight. When we got to Chicago we only wanted to eat McDonalds, because we were craving french fries and ice cream. After we left Chicago, the Dietrichs went to Bismarck, and we went to Minneapolis. 

I had a lot of fun on this trip! And a lot of great experiences too! Hopefully we can do it again sometime! Until next time!

Ciao, Grant

Sunday, March 6, 2016

-our hearts home. Ethiopia//2016. Last day. Connected in Hope. Salems. Carry 117.-

Our last day was a full day. From one side of the city to the other, we visited many wonderful ministries! Our 1st stop was at Connected In Hope's always such a joy to see the children, visit the excellent staff & this time, it was good to show our friends around & introduce them to a ministry we love so much. Connected in Hope, whether you are visiting the preschool, the guesthouse, leather studio or just stop by for a quick immediately have this feeling of how well it's operated, loved & nourished. And, its not  just a feeling. It's a fact. I'd encourage you to stop in next time you're in'll be so glad you did!!

Next, we stopped for a bite to eat at Lucy's!! Always a favorite of ours:) The atmosphere is fun, food is tasty & I love sitting under a thatched roof in the sun!!
Next up, we thought we'd try to find a shop called Salem's near Bole. I had saved a picture of the map on my phone, otherwise we would've been out of luck...take a left at a church, the next right, go down alley to discover this hidden little gem. And, it was a gem. A pretty compound in a nice area of Addis. It had lovely blankets, woven baskets, wall hangings, scarves, name it, a little bit of everything!! I would've loved to bring home a large woven basket!! They were beautiful!!! Much dreaming happening in my I'd love to combine a few of my favorite things from each of these shops to a street/website near you!! So, pray with me about this dream, k?!! Thanks!!
We had a couple of hours before we were able to visit Carry 117, so we headed over to Kaldis for some coffee & sunshine...we knew we were heading back to the cold, so we wanted to enjoy it as long as we could!! We visited for a bit & waited for Henok to arrive...Henok is the founder of Carry 117..we were so glad Yilkal introduced us to him & his ministry!!
Carry 117 provides dignity by empowering at-risk individuals in Korah with a sustainable job that allows them to provide for their family.

It was a privilege to visit with him, learn more about Carry 117 & visit the women in their working space!!

We then went to the guesthouse that Henok runs, where he also sells product that these women make...canvas & burlap backpacks, toiletry bags, cross body bags, wallets...all handmade by these women!! Grant bought a backpack that he has proudly been wearing!! I love purchasing products with stories!! After we shopped, we headed back to the guesthouse to visit, spend the rest of our day with Tsige & staff, a delicious coffee ceremony was prepared, & then dinner. Our flight would leave at 2 am, so we visited our night away until it was time to leave. Yilkal picked us up shortly after 11 & we headed for the airport. Too short of time to be in this place, but long enough to be away from the rest of our family. Always so much to ponder & process. Leaving Ethiopia is never easy, but we will return!! 

                                                        our friend Aya:)
xo Kristen