Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 5 - Part III - The Celebration

Day 5 - Part III - The Celebration

We arrive back at the Guest House with only an hour to spare before we will be picked up again for a night of celebration put on by Abdissa. I quickly prepare some oatmeal for the kids while Charlie tries to get some things organized for us. Hubby is not looking forward to this evening at all or at least the portion that takes us back to the transition orphanage. Our kiddos become tense whenever we go there. He asks me if we can skip the evening events. I so badly wanted to say yes knowing how tired we all are but I reminded him that the orphanage should only be a small part of the evening.

Time has been a battle for us since we have arrived. We wanted to fly in a day early to Addis Ababa so we could have some time to do some things before we got our sweet peas on Monday. Unfortunately, there are only a couple of days a week that Ethiopian Air flies in and out of Washington DC. This meant us flying in several days early or leaving several days later than this Thursday. Financially, this was not an option for us. So here we are…a tight schedule mixed with just a smidge of exhaustion.

We arrive at the transition orphanage where Isaac and Jocelyn have lived for the past 3 weeks. As we enter the orphanage, I hear children singing. It is such a wonderful sound and the children are so beautiful. I instantly notice a change in our sweet peas. Isaac becomes lethargic and seems to be almost numb to the activity around him. I wonder…where does he go? Does he have a place inside him that he feels safe and protected from things? Jocelyn is more rigid and fussy. One of the ladies at the orphanage offers us cookies for the children. I think she believes they are hungry but we just fed them before we left. Like all children they eat the cookies but I can tell that Jocelyn’s tenseness has not changed. At one point Jocelyn sees something that disturbs her greatly but I don’t know what it is. I was watching another family and all of a sudden Jocelyn throws her arms around me, grabs me tightly and won’t let me go. Hubby saw this too. I won’t lie, it was very unnerving. “God, please get us out of here soon. I don’t want our precious little ones to be afraid anymore.”

Thankfully, after somewhat of a long wait the celebration finally begins. It starts with Abdissa reading from God’s Word about the 4 C’s. Honestly, I can only remember 3 with the help of my Hubby…compassion, comfort, and Christ’s love. It was good to hear him speak on ways we can all meet the needs of those around us. We can all give compassion, comfort, and Christ’s Love…no check book needed.

We next break bread Ethiopian style. The staff brings out a very large round bread that is about the size of a family size Papa Murphy’s Pizza that is 4 inches thick. Each family is encouraged to come up with all families members present and to make three cuts into the bread with everyone hanging onto the knife. The breads texture and weight reminds me of homemade cornbread. The taste of the bread is mild and quite good. The bread is served with nuts, butter cookies, bottled water and pop. As with most events in Ethiopia, we are served coffee in very small somewhat ornate cups. Trust me, one dainty cup of coffee is plenty! The coffee is very strong. It isn’t like going to Starbucks.

The celebration continues with Abdissa giving each one of us a gift of traditional dress. Each one of us receives a handmade shirt that we are encouraged to put on. They are white with stitching around the neckline and sleeve in black, gold or blue. All of our children are given traditional outfits for us to take home with them. The best part of the gifts is that those families who had family members at home, who didn’t travel, also received gifts. With the help of a lady from the orphanage, we slip Isaac and Jocelyn’s traditional outfits over the top of the ones they were already wearing. They were both uninterested and continue to be pretty nonresponsive. My heart is torn. The celebration is wonderful but I can see in my children’s eyes that they don’t want to be there.

It is already after 7 at night and we haven’t left for dinner at the Hebir Hotel. My heart is no longer torn. I am tired, my babies are tired, and I am ready to skip the hotel and head to our Guest House. Finally, we are leaving for the Hebir Hotel. It is a little strange to be out so late at night. This is the first time other than the day we arrived. We were strongly advised to not be out after dark. For us, this was not a problem. The schedule was crazy during the day so it was nice that they didn’t have anything scheduled for our evening except for tonight.

Hanock, our driver parks the van across the street from the hotel in what would be considered a parking lot. We are greeted by a man dressed in very nice bellman clothes who helped us out of the van. As we enter the hotel, we pass through their bar area which is amazing. The ceilings are painted in an Ethiopian somewhat iconography style. The lights are set in large inset circles that have the Amharic alphabet and numbers placed around the edge of the inset. The chairs are too difficult to explain the way they are made but they are made from what looks like solid wood. The padding is done in the colors of Ethiopia (red, green and gold).

We enter the main dining area hallway that is framed with large columns on each side. Most of the seating area is set to the right of us and is raised a few steps above the dining hallway. There are no formal tables with table cloths and silverware set at them. Rather the chairs remind me of comfortable patio furniture. There are a few small end tables near our seats with a couple of serving trays. Serving trays here are weaved baskets that have a wide pedestal style base that narrows towards the top. A large basket weaved tray rests on top of the pedestal. And yes, I do mean a large tray. They are at least the size of a Papa Murphy’s family size pizza.

The serving tray is the reason why you don’t see tables or silverware. Our waitress brings out a large round metal tray that is completely covered by one piece of anjera bread. She sets the anjera bread down on the serving tray and then proceeds to place our food on the large piece of bread according to where we were sitting. Another waitress brings another tray stacked with rolled up anjera bread. She begins to stack several of these roles in the middle of the serving tray. You use the anjera bread as your utensil instead of having silverware. Hubby and I ordered the grilled beef which was excellent. If you are wondering how the anjera bread tasted, read Day 3 – Part II and you will wonder no more.

Jocelyn fell sound asleep not too long after we had entered the hotel. I was so thankful since this is turning into such a late night for them. Isaac followed suit soon after but was back up when the music started playing during dinner. The music was great but loud. The fact that Jocelyn didn’t even flinch when the music started proves how utterly exhausted she is. Isaac on the other hand can’t sleep when music is being played. He loves music and was totally mesmerized by the band and dancers. The music was very upbeat in its sound and from what we understand, very traditional. The performers danced in traditional Ethiopian fashion. The dance is very physical but not in a violent or sexual way. The whole body is used and the dancers never stop moving or slow down. The dance is captivating. It is difficult to do anything else but watch the intricate movement of the performers.

The night has been lovely. We are so glad we went. The Hebir Hotel was amazing. The food was good, music excellent, dancers wonderful and the Ethiopian history the hotel reveals was very enlightening. I gather Jocelyn up in my arms and head to the van. Our now bright eyed bushy tail son snuggles into his Daddy’s chest as we head to our Guest House.

Did you know 3 flights of stairs after being gone all day, still jet lagged, carrying a 25 pound child after 10:30 at night can be somewhat challenging? Entering our room had never felt so good. I completely undressed Jocelyn and change her diaper without her ever opening her eyes. Isaac eyes are drooping as we tend to him before laying him in bed for a good night of rest. It is hard to believe that in less than 24 hours we will be heading home.

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