Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 3- Exploring Addis

Sunday was the day that was probably the loneliest for me. Audrey and Byron headed off in the early morning to Lalibela, Jim was still with his friends and the other families had not arrived yet. I had become friends with the Guest House workers and so did get to talk with them a little. I also met a man who is Ethiopian but is a pastor in NJ and his niece, I believe, who still lives in Ethiopia. This is also the day that if people in the US had known what I was doing I probably would have been yelled at, a lot!
I woke up at a fairly reasonable hour and went down and had breakfast. Haile, the guest house worker not the adoption agency worker, made me amazing eggs for breakfast. It became my stable food everyday! After breakfast I hung around downstairs for awhile trying to decide what to do with my day. I wanted to shop but was a little nervous about going out on my own. I had been warned to not do that and was not sure I truly wanted to ignore those warnings. Especially after Byron's camera had been stolen from the car we were in the day before. I decided I was probably going to go take and nap and then ask the guest house staff if someone could take me shopping.
As I was preparing to head back upstairs I met a nice man and his daughter. His daughter had come to Ethiopia, her fathers homeland, from Germany to work in some orphanages for several months. He was down visiting her and seeing family and they were staying at the guest house as well. I loved sitting and talking to them for a while. Then the pastor came down to have breakfast. He mentioned that they were going to church and asked if I wanted to go. I said yes without hesitation. The chance to experience church in Ethiopia excited me. So I ran upstairs got my self organized and changed and headed back down to go to church. I left with the pastor and his niece. About the time we got in the cab to head to church I had a fleeting moment of doubt. I had just done what I promised people I would not do, I was out and about in Ethiopia essentially alone. I realized no one in the guest house had seen me leave and so no one had any idea where I was. I had just left, headed in to some part of Ethiopia with people I had barely met the night before. And to be honest had no idea how to get back to where I was staying if the need arose. Moment of panic....calm and trusted that all would be okay. And obviously as I sit here today to write this it was all okay.
We got to church, it was in this big almost warehouse like building. Not the churches in my pictures or that I had seen the day before. We walked around back as service was already started, so I thought. We sat down in the back and listened to the music. I understood not one word but it was beautiful. Then about 15 minutes later, it ended and people began to file out and those of us in the back began to file forward. Up I moved with my companions to sit closer to the front. I had witnessed the end of one service and the next one was beginning. There was a camera set up in the middle life feeding video into the room beside this main room for the other people to see. I looked around and had a very humbling moment. I was the only white person in the room. And I am guessing in just that one room there were over a thousand people. Now I am not one that is usually intimidated by being different from the crowd, but for a moment I felt a bit uncomfortable. I stuck out! And quickly I realized this was just the beginning of me "sticking out" here I was a white American woman in Ethiopia asking these people to accept me and the fact that I was adopting one of their children. I was asking by my presence to be accepted into this "family".
To this day I stick out..Isaiah is a beautiful dark chocolate brown and it is the dead of winter..I am white :) But he and I are family, there is no doubt that he is my son, born of another mother in a land far from my home. I have been blessed to have a child that challenges me to push the boundaries of societies acceptance here in the US and maybe even there in Ethiopia. I think people were a bit shocked to see me sitting in that church. Listening to a 2 hour service conducted in English and Amharic, praising with my sons people. Embracing his culture, his history, and his future. After about 2 hours or so services ended and we headed back to the guest house. Now I really was tired and I took a nap. I talked to Haile and he said he would bring Isaiah to me in the morning. He was not sure exactly what time but probably 10ish. I was a little over 12 hours away from meeting my son. Nervous set in.
Thankfully Tigist, the other guest house front desk clerk and Johnie kept track of me. They made me eat dinner, from Zola's again. They also told me it was okay for me to walk to coffee shop on the corner, was the Ethiopian version of Starbucks. The guest house guard took me out a bit but shopping is limited on Sunday in Ethiopia. Sunday was a personal growth day for me, I experienced truly being a minority, trusting my instincts to trust people and the knowledge that Ethiopia was in my heart.
Sleeping Sunday night was not really going to happen. Monday was Gotcha Day. No one from my travel group was going to be there to witness it. Isaiah and I were becoming a family under the watchful eyes of the Ethiopian people, with the assistance of my new friends to document it happening. It is interesting to look back now and see how the whole Gotcha Day became much more focused on his comfort, his transition and not on me becoming a mom. A shift I am so grateful for, but more of that tomorrow...


Jennifer M said...

I love hearing all of this again. There is a dfference in the spoken word versus the subtle nuances in the written word, and this post gives even more perspective.

Can't wait for tomorrow's post!

Leesavee said...

I remember that you came down to greet Nate and me in the wee hours of the morning of the 22nd, and you took me upstairs to see your sleeping son! What a beautiful memory I have of that! Love to you and Isaiah!