Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 4 - The US Embassy

Day 4 – The US Embassy

Today we go to the US Embassy. Abdissa has already turned in our paperwork and it was now time to answer some questions so we can get their visas to bring them home. It is weird. I feel like I should be worried after talking to two families staying at our Guest House who had problems at the Embassy. One family has to stay an extra 3-4 weeks to get some paperwork resolved. The other is unsure of how long it will take to fix the paperwork – maybe a week or two. But amazingly, I have complete peace. I have prayed for God’s peace and He has granted me His peace.

This morning while getting ready for the Embassy appointment, we began to teach Isaac that he can get down from the bed and play. We realized that he just sits in the middle of the bed without trying to get down and play. We think it might be from spending most of his time in his crib vs. running around like most toddlers. But like most things, we really don’t know.

Our drive to the Embassy brought a new level of awareness to me. On Monday I couldn’t stop looking at the people, green countryside, and their crazy scaffolding. But today, I am noticing things that I was sure didn’t exist yesterday. In fact, I tapped Charlie on the arm and asked him “Were the streets this dirty yesterday?” I really didn’t remember seeing the streets/curbs covered in dirt 6-12 inches thick. I don’t remember seeing so much garbage everywhere. I am sure it wasn’t here yesterday. Did they have a Mardi Gras last night and forgot to clean up? No…no unfortunately there was no large party someone forgot to clean up…this is how they live. As we drive over a bridge I notice the garbage spilling over the banks of the thick muddy brown river. There is a new smell in the air today. It is the smell of burning garbage.

Before reaching the Embassy, we pick up another family staying at the Ethio Comfort Guest House. As we turn onto the unpaved road, I notice a pile of goat skins that have been dumped on the side of the road. In America, people throw their McDonalds cups on the side of the road. Here, they throw out the skin of the goat they just slaughtered. I am so thankful for the location of our Guest House. Ethio Comfort Guest House looks beautiful but its location makes me uncomfortable. I notice a discarded goats head lying just outside the fence of the house next door. While we wait for the family, our driver, Hanock opens the door to the van to allow for air flow. There is no room for our van to fit inside the gated area so we are parked just outside the gate entrance. I noticed that Hanock never leaves the opening of our van door. I see him carefully guard part of the opening as a group of men pass in the center of the street. Hanock’s eyes never leave the men. I truly believe Hanock is a gift from God. I always feel like our safety and best interest is of the utmost importance to him.

We drive up a road that has cement barricades on the right hand side of us. We turn down a side street and there stands Abdissa. We are here. It isn’t at all what I expected. There is no US Flag and nothing that states you are at the US Embassy. As we pass through the barricade I notice several rows of benches filled with Ethiopian people. I assume they are waiting for an appointment to get into the Embassy. We run through two separate screening processes to enter the Embassy. I am surprised to see no US military service people in these two areas. We walk down a plain hallway with dingy walls. Abdissa stops us to show us where the only bathrooms we will have access to while we are here. I hope we will not be here for 6 hours like one of the other families at our Guest House.

We walk outside and into another building. Abdissa ushers us into a waiting room where there are a dozen or so other families already waiting. There are plenty of chairs to sit in but the room is not big enough for all the chairs to have someone sitting in them with leg room. We sit down and begin the wait. The room is painted but dingy. In the one corner there is a small enclosed play area for children with a couple of dirty toys in it. A young Ethiopian girl is trying to console two 1 year old babies. The bare walls and floor cause there cries to reach deafening levels. Their echoing cries begin to stress Jocelyn. The room is hot and Isaac begins to soak the front of Charlie’s dress shirt with sweat.

A Mom of one of the other families with us is not feeling well. She goes outside to get some fresh air and to find the bathroom. She comes back and informs us the bathroom smells like vomit and urine and there is no toilet paper. How could this be a United States Embassy? I am appalled and embarrassed by the conditions. Hubby is angered by them.

The noise of the now screaming babies is keeping us from hearing them call the families upstairs. Abdissa peeks his head around the corner and motions for us to come with him. We head upstairs to where we will eventually be called. We are grateful to be away from the screaming babies but the 2nd floor has to be at least 85 degrees. We sit down in one of the very few seats available. There is a “guard” sitting on a stool next to the stairs. I am not sure if he could do much if something happens. Where is our military presence? Do American employees feel safe here? Oh wait…I see the first sign that we are in a US Embassy. Hanging above one of the glass secured booths there is a framed (plastic frame) picture of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Charlie’s shirt is now drenched from Isaac’s sweat. Two of the other families with us have been called. Please God let us be called soon so we can leave. We hear our name. We go up to a “window” where a very kind lady is waiting for us. We are separated by glass and it is very difficult to hear anything she is saying. After answering several questions and signing more documents, she congratulates us on our adoption and informs us of when the visas will be ready for our children. We are done. We quickly shuffle our way out of the building into the closest thing to fresh air Ethiopia has to offer.

Our drive back to the Guest House is filled with two opposing pictures. The first is the ever talking and giggling Jocelyn. The second is a young boy whose face is partially covered in scabs begging for food through the window of our van as we wait for traffic to start moving once again. I look away because it is too much to bear knowing this could be our children if it wasn’t for them being taken to an orphanage. Unfortunately the scenery on the other side of the van is much the same. Poverty is everywhere here. It is so vast that I found myself paralyzed with helplessness. I see a man sitting in a wheel chair with his one leg bent completely backwards propped up on the arm rest. Another man is walking from one vehicle to another on his hands because his legs are all bound and knotted up. I wonder how many of these medical ailments would be a simple fix in America. It is all so sobering. I tried to remind myself of the school next to our Guest House and the children who are being educated there. But these thoughts are drowned out by the children sitting on stacked bricks waiting for someone to stop so they can shine their shoes and earn a living.

We arrive back at the Guest House emotionally exhausted. My lack of ability to cope with the overwhelming poverty drives me to immediately change my clothes and get washed up. I followed suit with the babies. Afterwards, I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet and quietly wept. How can a place be so beautiful and yet so ugly? God reminded me that America also has its ugly side too. We also have children who live on the street unable to go home due to circumstances I can’t understand or imagine. It is just sometimes easier to look the other way at home. Lord, give me your eyes so I can see what you see and your heart so I can love compassionately the way you love me.

1 comment:

  1. Kelli, you write so well that you took me right back to September 15 and our embassy appointment. You almost bring the smells of the streets come back. Thanks for your writing and we'll read the rest of your blog soon (too much for one sitting). - Randy


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