"Through the bumpy streets, we make our way to church. It is a holiday today; the weather has cleared but the rain has created rivers and lakes of mud and I rethink my white skirt.
Oliver slept well - up every hour but right back to sleep. The mosquito n the room caused me to pack Ollie into his tent and douse ourselves in repellent. The power is still off, then on, then off again. We pass areas of Addis I have not seen before: the outskirts. Buildings of stone being raised with the promise of shining glass in the projected picture.
We stop in front of a flag hewn church entrance, with large puddles and a grand open entrance." -journal
One little mosquito, periodically buzzing within our hearing, can drive you mad if you are new to the country and still afraid of what mosquitoes contain. For all my trying, I could not seem to find it. Of course, it didn't help that the power was out. It is amazing how much sleep a person can lose over one little mosquito.
It is no wonder I was so tired when we arrived at church. As I sit in the car waiting for Josh and Sasalwi to find the number to call the pastor as we had been instructed, I rest against the window; staring out at the people making their way across a large puddle.
Eventually they find his number, call to let him know we are here, and we wait for him to come. The church is the Ethiopian Reformed Church and is connected with our denomination though we are not sure what to expect. A well dressed man in a nice suit coat and jeans walks up to the window and introduces himself as Leul. We have spoken over e-mail. As he climbs in the back seat, he acknowledges that we are younger than he expected and I must admit we think the same about him. The church is down a very small road lined with various shops and around a corner. We park in the only space available and see the church building: a white tent with a mural: the mural is a colorful picture of people of all religious sorts in a scale being weighed against a Bible. As we enter the tent, we are a little surprised to hear electric guitar and keyboard music. A man is singing and a few people are sitting alone.
In cultures such as these, one never knows customs and such so I enter with my head covered. Soon I realize that this is not needed here so I put my wrap around my shoulders. Leul insists we sit in the front row: alright now while Ollie is sleeping but I know I will be moving as soon as he awakes. Sure enough...as soon as the service begins, Oliver blinks his eyes and begins to fuss. I take him towards the back where the other mothers are. I enjoy watching them as I rock Ollie in the back. There is a little girl who is attempting to escape her mother's grasp; a boy looks my way and sticks out his bottom lip then breaks into a huge smile. The same boy is turned around by a man and given a watch to entertain himself with. Young girls grin my way and giggle as I wave Ollie's hand. Beautiful children and so similar to the happenings in our church services.
Ollie is hot...and restless. One of the pastors tells me he is too cold...he needs to be covered. I cover him more and he begins to scream and so I know it is time to leave the tent. Inside the car, I undress his layered body and give him a new diaper. When I look up, 6-8 little kids are peering in the window at me. They speak no English but do know the word "thank you thank you!" when I hand them each a pen. Immediately they begin to scribble on their hands. Oops...maybe that was a mistake.
The service ends and, surprisingly, people hurry away without much talking. It is just like the children's' rhyme: "here is the church, here is the steeple. Open the door and see all the people. Close the door and hear them pray...open the door and they all run away!"
Sasalwi and Josh come out and we are soon back on the road. Because the service was in Amharic, neither Josh nor I had any idea what it was about. We were a little worried by the sermon text and by the recognition of words such as "American" that it had some prosperity movement stuff in it. And when S. told us that it was a wonderful message, we were even more curious to hear what it was. He went on to tell us that the pastor spoke of Jesus...his sufficiency...and our relation to each other as brothers. Our family status with God despite our wealth or status in the world. He told us it was the best message he had ever heard and never had he heard anything else like it. It was all about Jesus, the Christ, and His sacrifice to make us like Him and to bring us to the Father. It mattered little weather we could understand now. It was worth it.
More driving to different places. We pass a group of boys and men playing football in a field with some sort of makeshift ball.
As I said, it is a holiday and S. tells us that his family is gathered at his parent's home for the
weekend. He tells us that he has told them of us and wants to bring us there to meet them. How could we say no! As we go further towards wherever we are going, the houses begin to resemble more of the Hungarian village style. A little nicer and larger. We go down several roads where new houses are being built and pull into a courtyard. His mother greets us at the door warmly and she leads us into the family room. Again, it looks like a Hungarian home. There is a picture on the wall of Sasalwi's father as a young man during his time in Halie Selassie's army. He served as a cornal during the beloved leader's reign. The way he sits in his chair across the room shows his past. He is a tall, proud man of 97 years. With stories behind his eyes like no other could tell.
The women stay in the kitchen while we sit in the living room. There is a television on and a computer stands in the corner of the room. Soon another man enters the room and begins to talk with us. He tells us of his niece who has recently lost her parents. He is keeping her now, but perhaps...maybe...we would be able to take her or would know someone in the states who could. "She is orphan...no parents." We don't really know what to say. Then he calls her in and introduces her to us. I would say she is probably 13 and a very friendly girl, but what is it that we could do? Eventually the subject is dropped when the mother comes in carrying a tray of food for us. "Please...please: eat!" Poor Josh. We both know the cultural ramifications of refusing to eat food but his stomach has been ill ever since he ate the injera at Mr. Martins. The sight of it almost is too much. He convinced S. who convinces his mother, that he really is not feeling well, but the food looks delicious. I, myself, take a plate and enjoy the cooking. It really is wonderful! Injera is a bread to grow accustomed to, but I think I could. Josh, on the other hand...I'm not so sure. Following lunch, a girl comes through the hallway with a grass mat and a coffee tray. The
mat (adorned with brightly colored silk flowers) is arranged and the coffee setting is put out onto the floor. As it is poured into five small cups, the aroma drifts through the air: it is very pleasant. After coffee and some conversation, Sasalwi gets up and starts to say his goodbyes to the family. His daughter comes out and he asks if it is okay for her to ride with us. "Of course!" We say.
She is a picture of a well behaved young girl: she barely speaks and answers questions quietly and directly. She has a beautiful smile.
Once we arrive back to our room, I set out at once to find my missing passport. Yes. I lost it. Of course, the one day I take it out of the safety of Josh's care and venture out without him, I loose it. This is why I haven't been carrying it in the first place. I am a little panicked. Not because I am afraid I will not be able to get out of the country or anything: we have copies and all the information, but it would be a pain and I don't really want to go back to the embassy to deal with getting another one. The afternoon is spent. I have taken the entire room apart...piece by piece with no sight of the passport. In one last attempt to tear things apart, I take the drawer out and what do you know? There it is! It has fallen behind the dresser. Whew! Now it is time to head to the orphanage...we haven't seen Noah all day and we are amazed to find how much we miss him. After the first day, he was "our boy."
Again, there is no one in the office, but the guard helps us again. Soon, we see him coming out of the room with his nanny. The visiting room is quiet and it is nice for a change, though we have so enjoyed talking with the other parents. Even Ollie is sleeping and so we have Noah to ourselves and he has us. Josh lets me hold him as his stomach is sensitive to smells. (Noah does not smell too great at this point in time)
He is our son and feels as such, and yet there are so many things that are foreign to us about him. His smell is one that I can't wait to change: to bathe him and dress him in our clothes. Also, the noises he is making more frequently are definitely different than the usual sounds we hear from our bio. babies. It is all new, exciting, and a wonderful puzzle to put together. (although at times all of our children feel this way to me.)
There are several boys playing in the courtyard: kicking and punching one another. Soon they tire of this game and wander over to peek in at the guard. He quickly shoos them. They find this only more entertaining so they pick up their game by bouncing towards him and making funny gestures at him. This time, he comes at them with a stick and gives them a little whack. They run away...laughing. We can't help but laugh ourselves.
It is almost time. After this many visits, you begin to know the length of the nannies comings and goings. I sing this song to him. One I had sung in my heart before he was in my arms. One I sing to all my boys. To him it seems especially appropriate as we wonder when his smile will appear for good. Goodnight, our baby boy. Sleep tight.