Please accept my apologies for not posting sooner. I know some of you have been waiting for a post or pictures. Well, life has been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks. I never could have imagined how much everything would change.
Ethiopia Trip-I don't know where to begin.
I have experienced life in developing countries prior to this trip, but I am never prepared for how life is so different in other parts of the world. I didn't begin to appreciate, for specific reasons, the culture until close to the end of my trip. There are so many aspects of my life that I take for granted...drinking water, paved sidewalks, health care, etc. An Ethiopian gave me a lesson in appreciating what I have in my life. He said, "We may be a poor nation, but we appreciate what we do have." I can't say I do that. So many times, I focus on what I don't have.
I had stated that I didn't appreciate the Ethiopian culture until later in the trip for a couple of reasons that held my focus elsewhere. I had the opportunity to meet Belen's family the first Sunday we were in Ethiopia. Mom and I flew in Saturday night, and I became very ill shortly after arriving. I had not read the directions properly on my motion sickness meds (duh!). Because of that, I was unable to make the 4 hr. trip. I still regret that for my daughter's sake. The sickness lasted for about 3 days. Even when I held Belen for the first time, I was trying not to get sick.
This leads me to our not-so-picture-perfect meeting. Monday, August 31, all of the families waited in the courtyard by the orphanage anxiously waiting to meet their child for the first time. I was filled with so many emotions (including trying not to get sick). I wasn't sure of my initial until I heard the travel director say to one of the the caregivers to bring out Belen. I immediately began to cry quietly. When my little girl was brought to me, I was surprised by all of the white blisters that consumed her body. It didn't stop me from embracing her and kissing her spotted little cheeks. I didn't know she had the chicken pox. Belen seemed a little taken back by this stranger holding her and kissing her. After a few minutes, she began to cry...scream. This lasted an hour before she fell asleep. There was nothing I could do to comfort her. I was a foreigner, a stranger, and she wanted no part of me...These were my first thoughts of how my daughter felt about me. It was difficult, but I felt some comfort when she fell asleep in my arms.
Tuesday, I got to take Belen back to the guest house. She cried and screamed all day and night. Mom and I knew she was scared, but we also knew it was much more than fear that overwhelmed her. She was sick. We knew she was running a high fever and screamed every time she sipped her bottle. She didn't eat for at least 17 hours; Mom and I assumed it had been much longer. Early Wednesday morning, my baby girl had become lifeless. Fear is not an adequate word that would describe how I felt. That morning I had one of the directors take us to get immediate medical attention for Belen. The clinic was something that I would picture in a movie. The power was off, sanitary was not a word that came to my mind, and the room was full of many. Shame on me for not having respectful thoughts. Even with so many sick people, Belen was taken back for care immediately (for reasons I am still unclear about). The physician was quick was his assessment. He said Belen was a very sick little girl; She was severely malnourished which magnified her chicken pox, she had pneumonia, a throat infection, thrush, and an ear infection. The doctor was truly God-sent. He had Belen on several different medications. By Friday, she was beginning to feel better. Thank God for that little clinic.
Belen is doing incredibly well. She is a vibrant, spirited child who loves to smile and lets me know I am too slow in getting her bottles ready. She is sweet and loving but not passive. My dad says she has my temperament...hhhmmmm! Okay, we may have some conflicts during her teenage years. I can't wait.
After a complete whirlwind these past couple of weeks, I finally heard the stillness this evening. Belen was sitting on my lap, playing and chattering, and I began to weep and couldn't stop. I was holding MY child...the one I longed for, at times mourned over not having. I realized I was holding in my arms God's promise. He didn't give me a child; He gave me my child.
Sorry it has gone long, especially since I didn't attach pictures. I have been typing one handed this entire post, because baby girl is asleep in my arms. What a wonderful feeling though.