Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

The Family

The Family

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Embassy Pass

Thankfully, our embassy visit was uneventful - we passed and Sam's visa is forthcoming.
Tomorrow is the coffee ceremony.  Still on for Friday night departure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Embassy Day

On our second day with Sam, he was clearly more comfortable and willing to explore his new freedom (legs that work real well).  What were baby steps a few days ago have become sprints toward open doors and everything that is dangerous.  We played "close the door and miss your fingers" for hours yesterday.  He apparently likes the rain (it has been raining for days) but hates his bath at night.

We see more glimpses of his personality each day.  He is strong, determined yet calm - probably why he survived.  He desperately wants me to talk to him in Amheric - I am a touch rusty.  I make up words though that sound native and it satisfies him.  He eats like a toddler but likes his formula.

We go to embassy today during his nap time (he must go).  We trust and pray this will be uneventful.

The other families who we met 4 weeks ago arrived for placement yesterday.  We enjoyed seeing everyone again and taking pictures for them.  I will have to go to the Hilton or Sheraton to post pictures but will try soon.

It is colder and more wet here this time (we are freezing) - 50's.

All is well.  Thank you everyone who prays and keeps us in your thoughts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Day one with Sam met with give and take by both sides.We gave as much love as possible knowing he was out of sorts in a new environment, western food (he is not thrilled about this yet), new clothes and some medicine.

He gave preference to his mother and delivered his first "EBE" (ethiopian buttocks explosion).  Oh my heavens!  From a quite conversation and playing with toys, came foundation shaker.  There were initial tears in his mothers eyes prior to the pealing of make up off the face, followed by immediate horror.  It was impressive even on Steelman standards.  He managed to clear the entire first floor of the Bjoe House of any potential helpers in 10 seconds.  Unfortunately, I did not bring face shields in my medical kit.  Though is was clearly an impressive statement and territorial marker, the record will still be held by my dear niece, COB, from the incident in Allen 1998 - which required steam cleaning.  Clean up was immediately undertaken by his mother once her blood pressure recovered.  We were approximately 5 mm from total clothes and sheet incineration.  We spent some time outside after this in order to prepare for aftershocks.

He pretty much didn't like anything on day one to include his very brief bath.  We are blending Ethiopian food / formula with Western food and formula to try and transition to his new diet.

Ethiopia is wet with bouts of sunshine.  It seems colder here this visit but it was 102 in Texas prior to us leaving.

Our kids sound OK via text in Texas - we are very proud of them.

Day #2 brings some money exchange and shopping for mom, more bonding and preparations for Embassy visit on Tuesday.


Arrival and Placement

We had a nice but long flight.   We are pleased with Lufthansa.  I am more than convinced that I just "don't fit" in the seats for hours at a time.  We were fortunate to get our visa quickly and to see all our bags in one place.  Travis (in country staff) and our driver were waiting and we settled into Bjoe, warmly greeted by the Bjoe girls.

Sunday arrived earlier than usual (2 am for Joan and 4 am for Andrew) - you have to love that jet lag.  Clearly the highlight of the day came at 1045 when the little man, Sam, arrived to be with us forever.

If you take 2 jet lagged adults and one Ethiopian 12 month old, place them in a guest house with new food, the result looks a lot like being parents for the first time with our oldest, who cried a lot.  You can just tell that Sam is "out of sorts".  However, we sense that he is a calm little guy (we have had one of these as well!).  In addition he likes to be close like our youngest daughter. 

We have survived a diaper change without being showered, a change of clothes (yea they fit) and finishing a nap (praise the Lord)!

It seems like we never left the first time.  All is well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bound for Africa

Leaving today to arrive in Addis Saturday Night.  We are excited but always nervous to travel.  The week has been filled with last minute preparations and logistics getting the kids situated.

Gladney called yesterday for last minute instructions.  The embassy date has been changed from Thursday to Tuesday. 

We are looking forward to delivering some packages and taking pictures for families waiting for court dates.

Always appreciate prayers as we travel and are away from our children.

Next post from Bjoe in Addis Ababa!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Preparations for Visit #2

As we conclude the last steps of the adoption journey, our new son has began to take his first steps in new shoes.  It seesm like months ago since visit #1 ended less than 2 weeks ago.  Now Joan and I are 6 days away from traveling for the second time.  Our kids will stay home this time. 

We were recently asked how it was to leave Ethiopia the first time.  Detached is the word.  You are asked to bond but only enough to say yes to the judge and pass court.  We left knowing more, feeling closer to our son, but remaining somewhat detached in order to pass time until we get back.

Though we took humanitarian aid visit #1, I am preparing medical supplies for the Gladney pediatrician to better serve the kids at the foster care center.  I hope to get back to the governement orphange with some meds for another round of evaluations.  We have made plans to visit the fistula hospital during our second visit.

A few clothing pointers for the ladies (from Joan).  She recommends 3 pair of pants, 5-7 tshirts, long skirt for court, light shoes like crocs, a light jacket and scarfs.  Most of the ladies were scarfs for warmth or to cover there face due to fumes in Addis.  An extra set of clothes in the carry on served us very well when we were stuck in Washington DC overnight.  Joan leaves any expensive jewelry in the USA.  We in general travel with the understanding anything we take is expendable.

We recieved our final update from Gladney yesterday.  It included Sam's current diet, sleep schedule, formula, measurements and medical history.

The schedule for visit #2 is shorter with less scheduled time.  Essentially, one could travel a total of 5 or 6 days is possible.  The only three scheduled events are coffee ceremony on Wednesday morning, Embassy on Thursday and possible meeting of birth family on Friday.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Belated Posting of Finally Home

Yes, we did survive the trip from Africa, and we are now home. I am just a little late in posting that we're home. In my defense, I had to go back to work and write a paper that still isn't quite finished for school. Anyway, we got back like at midnight Tuesday and we all crashed. My dad and I went back to work the next day and school starts Monday.

Coming back to the United States is a really hard transition. You go from absolute poverty and people begging you for food, to wealth and people that feel they are entitled to certain things. I work at our country club's snack bar where I get kids snow cones and hand out hot dogs. Not three days ago little boys and girls were grabbing my hands and looking at me with pleading eyes for food and money. The kids I see now, bang on the window when they can clearly see me and demand things from me without even so much as a please. This girl at the pool yesterday literally stood in front of the window inspecting her two snow cones seeing if they had enough juice to her liking. Of course when she ordered, she said, "Two snow cones without the ball on top and extra juice, I mean extra extra juice. Did you get that? You're not looking at me. Are you sure you got that?" I kinda wanted to shake her really hard. I didn't, but I wanted to.
It's such a hard transition. After I saw the government orphanages I remember asking my dad what I was supposed to do with what I have seen. I can't adopt a child right now so what do I do? He told me to ask Dr. Thomas, a new friend and Psychologist. So we walked over there and Dr. Thomas told me that I wasn't just here for Samuel, I was here because God wanted me to learn a few things. He was right. God taught me a few things while I was there. With those teachings I was charged with a task. I am to bear testimony to what I saw. Not everyone can go to Africa and see what I have seen. It is my job to talk, show, and write about the poverty in Africa and the blessed people of Ethiopia. Yes, they are most definitely blessed people. They may not have our money or big houses but they have kindness and a love for family that many families in America lack.

I'm exhausted. I think I am still under the influence of jet lag to a certain extent, and I have to get my locker for school tomorrow as well as work for 8 hours. WHOOP. I shall post more later, but don't expect too much. School starts Monday and I have homework to finish. Yes, they assign you tons of homework over the summer break. Don't even get me started. Goodnight.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Flight Home

Disappointed in Ethiopian Airway, but we can't say enough good things about Susan Park's Travel Agency! We had some travel difficulty and so we are spending the night in Washington DC. We will continue to travel tomorrow! We had a great trip and had so much fun spending time with all the other families in Ethiopia! There's not that much else to say so until later!
- Rebekah

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last Day

Lots of rain this week, as it is the rainy season.

Dreamland is a beautiful, scenic view of a crater lake about 1 hour south of Addis toward Awassa.  It is a nice early dinner with all the families in country for court.  The drive gives you a view of the countryside.

A few comments for traveling families.  Visit #1 is a little long with lots of time (your choice) to see Addis and around.  There are a number of places to eat, sites to see and places to shop to fill this time.  The drivers are the best.  They can help you along with the in country staff or guest house hosts to help you plan your time.

Special NOTE for Visit #2.  Gladney will not book guest house reservations for the 2nd visit until you have your itinerary for your second trip.  All of us here this visit have had to email USA back and forth or call to get this plans confirmed then request our housing through Gladney.  We all hope this process changes.  It would be a very good idea if you know your tentative embassy dates to have some plans with an agent in process.  You can obviously see the quest houses while you are here!

I have had the blessing to travel to many countries (including other African).  Ethiopia (Addis) is a unique blend of mild European influence, middle eastern influence and lots of Africa.  The people are wonderful.  They value family, friendship and kindness - kind of like an African Texas.  I have felt unsafe in parts of the world but not Ethiopia. 

Unfortunately, the poverty of Africa exist in Ethiopia which generally pulls at your heart strings.  Visit #1 is tough on emotions.  The silver lining of the new system is visit #2 will be "familiar".  As we have been in the Bjoe with another family on visit #2, it has its own struggles and joys.

We look forward to seeing Texas again but not the flight!

Tummy Trouble

My sister and I woke up and let's just say our stomach's were rumbling! Thankfully my dad had medicine with him and so he was able to give it to us but our stomach's still ache. We stayed in all day except for my mom and brother who went shopping. Everyone was supposed to go to Dreamland (a restaurant with a great view) but Abby and I were too sick to go so my momma stayed with us. We leave tomorrow. This has been a great trip.
- Rebekah Bentley

Friday, August 6, 2010

Holy Cow

Ok well be prepared, this is going to be a long post. Yesterday we went to the zoo! The coolest thing ever. PETA would've had a cow but hey its' Africa! They have tons of lions at the zoo. We found out that they have lions with black manes. They're only indigenous to Ethiopia. It was really neat to see them. The zoo also had baboons and it even had an antelope just roaming about. No big deal. After the zoo, we went to the national museum. You must go to the national museum! Lucy is there and basically all of the revolutionary archaeological discoveries are found there as well. They had several things from the 4th and 5th century and even a few things from the 1st and 2nd century. It's just full of rich history. We also went to the leprosy hospital. Extremely interesting. In the Bible, it talks about Jesus healing the lepers and this trip it became totally real. We don't really experience that disease in the United States, but to see it up close in another country that dressed in the traditional garb that you can totally imagine the Israelites dressing in, was really surreal. What also amazed me was the fact that all of the women were embroidering things. This is really surprising because leprosy really affects the nerves in your hands. So the fact that they were hand sowing beautiful things was just jaw dropping. In the hospital, they have a gift shop where they sell gorgeous dresses, table clothes, hand carved crosses, and some other great stuff. I really encourage you to go in there, because the proceeds go back to the people in the hospital. The one things though that I could not believe was that these women had their small children living with them. Leprosy can't be spread through direct contact if you just brush against someones arm that has it. It's spread through a continuation of interacting with it. So basically they were dooming their kids to be lepers as well. Totally shocking quite honestly. We ate lunch at the Hilton with the Thomases! Their compassion child that they support came with her mom and nurse to eat lunch with them and they invited us to come. This seven year old was from the bush (the country) and she was the most darling girl you have ever seen! She had never been to the city before and had never seen an elevator, and she was totally amazed at the view from the balcony. It was really humbling to meet her and interact with her. The most precious girl ever. They told us that usually girls from the bush won't look you in the eye and are not outgoing at all. She was very smiley and outgoing because of compassion. Compassion is a great ministry and you should definitely check it out. Later that night, we ate traditional Ethiopian food. Spicy and the bread they eat with, called angara (don't know how to spell it), is sour unless you eat it with a sauce or something. At the restaurant they played traditional music and they even had some dancers. I have never seen people dance like that in my whole life. Holy cow! They had skills. They pulled me up with them to dance :D I dont' dance, period. It wasn't pretty lol but I had a lot of fun. That was pretty much our day yesterday. Ok so today, we went and saw Samuel this morning! He sobbed and screamed when he saw us at first again. He prefers the women there instead of us so that was really heartbreaking to watch. I know that he just has stranger anxiety with us but still, ugh! He got better towards us though towards the end. They take great care of all the kids.We ate lunch and then we went and saw three government orphanages. They are in really rough shape. Gladney does a lot and because of that they are TONS better than what they used to be but it's still really sad. The second orphanage we went to really upset me. They had like 30 ribs in one room with all these babies and had two caregivers for the whole room. My dad checked them out and several had pneumonia. They also had bronchitis and colds. This one baby had a rash that was just... words can't describe it. My father said that he's never seen anything quite like it before. Here private area was just raw basically. It was just so sad. Basically every kid in there was sick. I got attached to the cutest little boy in the world and I held him for the whole hour that we were there and when I had to leave, I put him down and he wouldn't let go of my jacket and I literally had to pry his fingers off. He started sobbing and he kept calling me momma and as I left he looked at me with the saddest eyes. I just broke down when I got outside. The conditions that these children/ babies live in is just awful and that little boy will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. I wanted so bad to just take him home with me. I would have, but of course, I am not an adult. But even though these children have no parents and live in just crap, they still smile and I have to remember that there are no orphans with God. So after three hours of heartache, we went back to our guest house, took showers, and ate. Africa has changed my life.
- Rebekah Bentley

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Day

Visit 1 is full of highs and lows.  The week is formatted to provide structure for cultural events, 3 visits to see your child (children) and LOTS of free and explore time.  The weather is cool to cold and wet (either raining or high humidity).  The overall opinion is bring "comfort foods" and things to keep you occupied if your day of exploring is done.

With jet lag, seeing your baby, adjusting to a new culture, meeting other families and COURT - this trip is an emotional rollercoaster!  The first family that has traveled twice is with us this week for placement - they concur this is the case.

Our time with our older kids has been very nice.  They have done great with minimal arguments.  The very essence of Africa and one week in Addis is probably work a semester of education or more.  The judge asked our kids a question during the court proceedings "Do you know about the adoption and have you met your knew brother?"  They smiled and said yes together.  We were proud of them and glad they could be a part of Sam's history of memory of events.  Words fail to describe showing your children an older blind man relinquishing his 9 year son (obviously extreemly poor and from the bush).  Or another father bringing his son with suitcase in hand.  I love our children and are proud of the strength they showed yesterday.

We hope to explore some more today.  The zoo is on the schedule and hopefully a visit to the leprosy hospital.  Tonight is a cultural meal and dance!!

We continue to thank you for your prayers.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's Official!

We had court today! They took us to some building (not the courthouse) and we waited in some sort of a conference room where we chilled and the attorney told us the kind of questions the judge usually asks. Very simple questions. Why did you choose Ethiopia? Have you visited your child? Do you know that this adoption is permanent and can't be changed? Those types of things. Really the whole thing is a huge formality. MOWA is honestly the biggest challenge. So after we waited in this conference room our driver took us to the court room. You go up three flights of stairs and wait in this really tiny room. They have about 10-15 chairs along the walls but they were all full when we were there. Be prepared. The people adopting aren't the only ones in there. They also have parents reliquishing their rights. So it was really sad. There were people with their kids and they had suitcases with them and when we were there there was this man who was blind and he was giving up his son. So mentally prepare yourself. We waited/ stood for 2 hours until we went into this adjacent room where the judge was. But seriousely, you go in and then you go out. It took 2 minutes. After the questions, she said, "He's yours." We were super pumped! After court we ate lunch with other families and then went on a tour of the church. It's been a fantastic day and it's just been amazing to see what God has done. After two years of waiting, it's official! He's ours (Question: if he is ours why can't we take him home??) Very frusterating let me tell you. Our embassy date is Sept. 2. My parents will travel to get him. None of us kids will be accompaning them. Praise the LORD!
- Rebekah Bentley

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ethiopia :)

We saw Sam again today! Thankfully he did not sob and scream when he saw us. In fact, he gave my mom a big kiss on the mouth and he fell asleep in my dad's arms. He is such a cutey. After we saw him, we went to see a church in the highest point of Ethiopia. It was freezing but really cool. We ate lunch at some Italian restaurant and it was surprisingly good. Mom really wanted to shop today, so we went to the market and shopped for jewelry and clothes. It's been a great day!
- Rebekah Bentley

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sammy Wammy

Hello! This is Rebekah (The eldest daughter, and I wanted to write the blog so here I go!) The journey started in Dallas. We got through security and had no problems which is a shocker because my family is always tagged as terrorists and we always get searched. We got settled and we met an Ethiopian family! Sweetest family ever and we hit it off immediately. From Dallas we went to DC and had a 4 hour lay over. 18 hours later, we arrived in Addis about 7:30 last night. The plane ride was absolutely horrendous, let's just be honest. We went through immigration and customs, got our 8 bags of luggage, and had to x-ray our bags. Who x-rays luggage coming into the country?? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but that's Africa for ya. After we got to our guest house, I crashed immediately and slept throught the night quite peacefully. My family on the other hand woke up around 4 am with the sound of dogs fighting. In the morning, we ate a great breakfast and then went to the orphanage!! We were super excited to finally see Sam. Unfortunately, we only got to see him an hour. So it was a bittersweet visit. We get to see him two more times, each time being only an hour. We go to court Wednesday! On a side note, I have found that there is such a sense of family here. Everybody takes care of everyone. They truly value what is important and that is something that I wish our country had. We are doing great, but please keep us and Sam in you prayers.
- Rebekah Bentley :)