"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 hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

## Tuesday, June 3, 2008

As some of you may or may not know there is a severe drought in Ethiopia right now, with one of the hardest hit areas being the area of Shashemene, where we were able to visit while we were there. I will attach a recent news article about the drought so you can read more about it if you are interested. It is a very surreal feeling to know you have just been somewhere and seen the way of life and then to know that these same people are now having to watch their children die from a lack of something so simple as clean water...

One of the mom's from our agency was able to get into contact with the lady who is the head of the humanitarian aid for Village of Hope- http://www.villageofhope-ethiopia.org/in Shashemene. She was checking on "what" could be done to help and how the drought is affecting the orphanage and the children that are there. Here is a copy of the letter. Our little agency has already raised quite a bit of money to go towards this generator. Please pray that the rains will come and that the generator will be able to help thousands...

Dear Corrie,

You are so wonderful to think to help. Right now, the effect we are
realizing from the drought is that the government is turning the
electricity off every day except for one hour. The country's
electricity is water-powered all over & this is one way they are
conserving. Our huge concern is that now many of the people are
being forced to go back to the filthy river for their water. Our
church put in a beautiful, profusely producing well about two
and a half years ago, about 200 meters deep, with ample water. Now,
though, there is no electricity to allow the pump to be on very
long. And all that water is available! And not being used.

We are looking into buying a generator for the compound. If we had
a generator, we would be able to still have electricity for our High
Risk kids and medical clinic in our compound, plus give clean water
to all of the villagers who have finally gotten rid of the parasites
and other problems they lived with for generations! It was so
wonderful to see how improved their health and general cleanliness
was when the well was installed, and now I shudder to realize the
disease that is returning slowly but surely, with not much clean
water available again. A generator will cost about $5,000 and Lon & I are hoping to get one soon. It would be an absolute blessing to 16,000 people if we could do this! Any amount will help us and be so appreciated. I realize this is a lot of money, but without clean water, the work we are accomplishing will be set back years! If you or any of your friends could help in any way, no matter how small, it would be wonderful. Please have any checks made to Village of Hope, with "generator" in the "for" line. I will send a tax receipt. If you would like to donate for the generator just send the check directly : Deanna Kennard 2880 E. 1200 S. Heber City, Utah 84032 If you donated on the website it will not all go to the generator. So sending the check is best. Bless you!! DeAnna Hello all, We wanted you all to know that we arrived home around 8 pm on Friday night. We don't know how Rich did it as every seat on every flight was full, but we were so grateful for a seat we didn't care if we sat in the aisle. We were greeted at the airport by Tom, Addie, Noah, Molly, Mom (a suprise that she flew in early from her reading conference), Lynde, Makenna, Max , and the KOIN 6 news crew. We had a long couple of days of flight, but the boys did great. It was so great to step off that plane into everyone's arms!! Dad figured that we had been up for 52 hours by the time we arrived. We got home about 11:30 pm without all of our luggage. Too bad we had packed everything, even the toothbrushes!! My bed has never felt more wonderful and I couldn't believe how big and beautiful and clean and wonderful my house was. Addie a had done a great job cleaning and had fresh flowers on the table and some friends had stopped by with balloons and a big WELOME HOME banner (no I didn't spell it wrong). It was so good to be home. The boys recognized their room and we were all tucked into bed by midnight. Saturday morning we hit it running with a soccer game and then a trip to Portland on Sunday for Mother's Day and Phil and Hudson's baptism. We were so happy to be all together for Mother's Day. And this weekend is the Scio Lamb Fair, so we will be busy with the 4H booth, parade float decorating, parade, Sheepskin Review play that Addie is in , and Noah's choir performance. It will be the boys first chance at meeting everyone. The boys are doing great. They have both been sick, but the doctor thinks that it is mostly just coping, not flu. They have been sleeping alot and I'm sure hoping that they will just wake up from this dream. They keep asking if they are going back everytime we get in the car. They really had a nice place to live at the orphanage, with people who took good care of them. It isnt family and so many of the things that they will now have, but their orphanage doesn't hold any negative memories for them, just friends and food that they are now missing. Language and food are the 2 biggest adjustments right now... trying to find food that they will eat (not including coke and cake- which are the only 2 foods that Bis wants to eat right now) has been difficult at best. The kids are all doing good at adjusting to their new brothers!! The big kids were so happy to see them again and Molly has done super!! She did request that we swap them for 2 sisters during 1 meltdown, but other than that she is enjoying her role as the big sis. I don't get out of her sight much, but she has done really well. All in all we are doing good and getting settled in on our timezone. 3pm is tough... that is the middle of the night for us... but getting easier each day. We are so thankful to all of our friends and family who worked so hard during the time I was away... everyone really just pulled together!! I'll try and post some pictures now that my USB cable has come home. Thanks so much for reading and praying, Denise  monday and tuesday April 22, 2008 We have not had electricity all day again, so have not been able to email since sunday night. So much has happened it is hard to catch up, but we\ll do our best. Monday A busy day today, we all had showers today and it felt great. A breakfast of fried potatoes and onions and oregano. The kids love it. Hot during the day today. We walked to the market and bought PB and J and chips and juice. Did some other shopping and hurried back because the beggars kept mobbing us. Rahel took us to a place to buy baskets and jewelry. The chanting goes on several times a day now and everyone is preparing for Easter Sunday this week. Did you know that is the year 2000 in Ethiopia... this is their millenium. The kids have had fun figuring out what age they are. We passed the Sheraton and asked the kids if they would like to switch motels and all 3 said a firm NO it wouldn't be like being in Africa. Tonight we ate pizza again and tried the lasagna. Bis and Yordi are doing great. Tuesday We awoke to no electricity again. We left and went to the Hilton to the lawyers appt for our embassy appt tomorrow. We got to meet all the other families here with our Hope group, Amber and Ben with Hermela, Rebecca and Dave with Ava, and Michele with Yohannes. What fun!! The kids had icecream while we did papers and it was quite a treat. Our lawyer will go to the embassy and try to appeal for them to contact the USA in regards to our I171 missing document. So far nothing. Keep praying!!! All of the families went out for pizza and then shopping in the markets. We got electricity about 8 pm. We had fun reading and playing games by candlelight. More tomorrow... be praying as it is embassy day... love to all, The Africa Bunch PS Hi Molly, we sure do miss you and love you lots. We\ll see you soon. Love, mommy and daddy  Day 1 Sunday We are here April 20, 2008 hello everyone, we tried to email yesterday, but no phone lines. There is so much to tell, so we will try to update little by little. The document did not arrive, any news Joan_ What a plane ride, utter exhaustion. \other than the length of the ride everything was great. The kids did terrific. Lots of kids on the planes. We were 1 hr late coming in and it took us 2 hours to go through immigration, cutstoms, and a baggage scenario you cant imagine. \met our driver, a great guy. We have a nice hippy Bob \marley van. \it's even all decorated on the inside. We arrive at the Cozy Place. We have an outdoor toilet, flush type, and shower. It is good we are an addaptable group. We had no driver on Sat so settled in here. We had no electricity or hot water on Sat. but had candles for our rooms. Areas of the city take turns without electricity 1 day per week. It is clean here, in a Africa sort of way. We have a resident monkey here. We walked for a good pizza dinner last night with a bottle of coke. The people are beautiful and friendly. There are just NO words to describe this place. Many adventures as we crossed the Nile river and Liberian desert. Today, we go to the orphanage and Bis and Yordi will come back with us. Some of us enjoyed a coffee ceremony last night. Most of us slept well during the night, but we are off on our times. \difficult to check emails, so please leave any message for us in the guest book. \mark it private if you don't want it displayed and feel free to leave a message for \mom dad or \hayden as well. Internet and electricity are down often, we will check in when possible dont be alarmed if you don't hear from us for several days. \lynde, \hayden is great and having a ball. \joan, if the document comes leave me a message on the guest book and we will head to the Sheraton to download it. Molly, we love and miss you bunches and bunches. Be good for grandma. We will bring you a picture of the monkey roody. Love to all, The African bunch  day 2 palm sunday gotcha April 20, 2008 Last night the chanting started about 4 am. lots of noise. we arose to a hearty breakfast of potatoes, rolls with nutella, and a crepe like thing with mangos and bananas and of course strong wonderful coffee. We packed up for the orphanage and had a bumpy ride with loud regge music in the bob marley van. As we drove through the locked gates of the orphanage all the kids were lined up to greet us and mobbed us as we got out. Oh my such beautiful children. We have many stories about our day *updates for everyone when we have high speed internet at home* Bis and Yordi knew who we were and bonded quickly to us all. We got a tour and were served a special meal of coffee, real popcorn, bottles of coke and orange crush and spagetti made with sheep meat. It was good and we all ate heartily. The children loved every donation item with great appreciation. They are all so polite and well mannered. Ben and Amber from MI joined us to get their 2 year old daughter, Hermela. They have a 1 and 3 year old at home. Tonight, Bis and Yordi played ball, took delightful showers and we enjoyed a meal outside of french fries, injera, spagetti, egg rolls and rice. The boys can say all of our names now. Tomorrow we meet the birth parents and Bis and yordi go with us, that is the Ethiopian way. The boys are quiet, polite, and well mannered, yet have lots of little boy in them. God is good and we know the paper will come soon. The kids and Papa are playing Yatzee by the moon with a man from the Netherlands. He is glad to speak English to someone. Today Grammy was asked to be in a fashion show by a street man, and asked to a dance by 3 VERY young men. No more going to town with out our men. We cannot get a cell phone or cards to call home and internet is time consuming and complicated. Keys are all different. Kim G- Mamo is a 5T and your little girl is 3T shirt with 24 month/2T pant. Hi Molly, we sure do miss you. Bis and Yordi cant wait to meet you and play with you. Our love to all, The Africa Bunch  today is the day... April 17, 2008 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9we'll post from Ethiopia... keep us in your prayers.  thursday May 01, 2008 hello everyone, Such great news from home!!! Mom called this am or Thurs pm for all of you and the channel6 news has taken our story and run with it. We know that our \i171 is on its way with a congressional seal!!! They anticipate it to arrive in ET on Monday. Some think it is a holiday and the embassy is closed, but if not then Tuesday. Tefera thought that the embasssy would process us through on the same day... now we just need some flights to open up. We'll keep you posted!! We are just so thrilled to be coming home. It is so fun at the guest houes... each morning everyone gathers round to find out the latest news... it is like kids at summer camp no one cares whose news it is, it is news from home. All the guys were great and juggled rooms so that dad and I wouldn't lose our room and have to move to a different hotel. Amazing people we have grown to love. Right now we have 2 young doctors from South Africa staying in the room next to us. They are touring Africa on their motorcycles. They are working on getting visas into Sudan. They wonder if we have any connections!! We went to the Merkato yesterday- the biggest open market in Africa!! There are no words. I took pictures but even that doesn't do it justice... Addie you would have been in heaven!! We had soup and the best cappachino in the world at the London pastry shop last night. Dad is itching to go get another this am!! Did some laundry, but looks like rain again!! Madeline, I did see Abraham and he is so cute and shy. I took pics with the boys. he is tiny and spends most of his time with the little kids. I have updates on all the kids, I know you all cant wait... Gotta run, we need water, bread and bananas oh and cappachino!! The boys are good and their personalities come out a bit more each day!! Kids, we love you and cant wait to see you soon!! Addie thanks for the long email, it was so good to read!! Noah congrats on winning the game and Molly, i hope you are feeling better. I am glad it is the weekend and you can all be toghether. Love and thanks to you all for the messages. I t gets us through the day!! Love, Densie  monday, tues April 29, 2008 hello all, \i tried to update the journal from the hilton yesterday but I ran out of minutes and so it didn't save the entry. Sunday we sent everyone home. That was very hard... dad and I sat up unitl we saw the plane fly overhead. We slept fairly good since we stayed up late. Monday we got up and had no plans so thought it was a good day to get a little laundry done and let the boys take a nap. Bis gave us a run for our money... he just didn't want to be told what to do by me... he had a hard time with everyone leaving plus going back to the orphanage where he did what he wanted and got his old caregiver to give him 2 cokes. iM NOT that nice so he really wasn't impressed... Tuesday we walked around quite a bit and then took a driver from our guest house to the Hilton. We ate ice cream and french fries, checked the internet using high speed and checked on tickets. The first open confirmed seats they have are the 15th of May. The last word we have from Oregon is 2 weeks to 1 month, so our lawyer here is suggesting that we return home... we are on standby for a few flights and are hoping to hear something on the document so we can make definite plans... After a few hours recouping at the hilton we headed to the post office area for all the remaining souvineers- we were there for about 3 hours I think. I was shopping with dad... always and adventure. We returned for a dinner of injera and french fries. Now that everyone has gone our night guard comes over to our room and gives Bis his soccer lesson!! Tonight it was goalie... Jo, you are gonna be impressed!!! Wed- we were up early and no water... the pump is out... no problem they say!!! Tom called and apparantly the news channel 6 was at our house doing a piece on the missing document!!! Lets hope that gives us some help. Dad and I did laundry and the boys were facinated by winnie the poo on tv!! no big plans for today... tomorrow the driver at the guest house said he would take us to the Merkato... biggest in Africa. hE will go with us so we will not be taken advantage of... don't worry mom!! Addie, thank you so much for all your help at home!! I really appreciate knowing that you are helping out and that makes it easier on tom molly and noah... even if it doesn't feel like it!! I love you I got some cool necklaces and bag yesterday. You'll love them. Thanks for your email!! Noah, how is soccer going... I got a few more soccer balls yesterday!! Tell me how your games are going. I love you and appreciate your help at home. Molly, mommy loves you and I cant wait to come home and give you a big squeeze!! Joan and mom thank you so much for all you are doing there... no way we could be here without you guys!! Tom love you and cant wait unitl our family is all back together!!! my mail isn't working right now, so please leave us messages on this site at the guestbook! They all mean so much!! Love to you all, denise, dad and bis and yordi  Saturday and Easter Sunday April 26, 2008 Saturday We left early at 6>30 am and travelled to Shashemene. What an unbelievable trip... a lot of truck traffic for awhile, but our driver was excellent. We saw things that are hard to explain in words and made you feel like you were back in the Bible times. Thatch round huts with grass roofs, donkeys, cows and goats- seemed that in the rural areas a good part of the day was spent going for water and back. Many men plowing dry fields with just an oxen and wooden piece. Many little children herding huge herds of animals by themselves. Lots of children standing on the road selling chickens. We arrived at Village of Hope and it was beautiful... very country, they had a garden, a cow, an orchard and a chicken coop. The kids all had responsibilities to help run the orphanage. Their office was closed,but there was a volunteer there from the US. They were very grateful for the supplies and were suprised that we would have driven all that way just to bring them things. For future, medicines seem to be much needed. Holly, they remembered your Abeti. Said he was such a sweet boy, but since the office was closed no real info for you... sorry... we are going to try to buy some chocolate this morning for \kim to take if she goes- the US volunteer was desperate!!!!! Kids did great- it took about 4 hours to get there. Bis gets car sick... ick!! We arrived home to a huge birthday party at the Cozy Place for the 5 year old nephew. They were so excited that we made it back in time. Loads of food and goodies and hats and candy and music. Lynde, Hayden loved the day and said many times how he wished you could see all that he is seeing so you could understand... All day long we saw men herding cows toweards Addis Ababa. They were bringing them to sell for the Easter celebration. They walked for miles and miles. A huge cow sells for 150 US dollars and a goat 20. There were goats behind our rooms for the last few days... they were tied up and loud... today it is all quiet... Sunday, Happy easter... We woke up to silence from all the animals... we worked on packing and combining rooms since Dad and I will stay here with the boys. We are leaving at noon to go to the orphanage to celebrate Easter. After we celebrate there we have been invited to Genenews house for easter. No bunnies and chocolate here... very religious day... Everyone will leave here at about 7>30 pm to go to the airport... Lynde mom says please go and buy 2 phone cards and bring them to the airport. She\ll pay you... that way she wont have to go to Costco that day. Molly, big kisses from mommy. Daddy is so excited to see you. My heart is breaking that it will be a few more days until I am home with you... love, from the Africa bunch- see you all soon  Thurs and Friday April 25, 2008 Thursday update as there was no phone lines... After breakfast our van picked us up and we headed to the Lions Zoo. Kids loved it- big lions you could reach out and touch. Many school children there. Had a lunch of orange crush and little cakes. Went to the New Flower to see the other families before they left. Streets were lined with sheep and goats for sale. People are buying and carrying them on their backs home for Easter. We came back to spagetti dinner and played games. It was a nice warm evening. The owner of the Cozy Place brought in a Foosball table and so the boys spent the evening playing with all the workers. Addie beat them all. Friday a much cooler windy day, but we all have sunburns. We went to the Hilton to reconfirm all the tickets for those going home and to change tickets for Dad, me and the boys. Praise the Lord, we had bought missionary tickets and they left them openended and did not charge a change fee. Went and had ice cream by the pool and the kids loved it. Bis and Yordi have not developed the like of ice cream yet. Played a round of miniature golf in the garden like area. Kids and our driver had a great time. Then off to the Ethiopian Museum where we saw the Lucy copy and many more items that originated or were discovered in ET. Back to the cozy place and we are playing with the soccer balls our driver was able to find alongside the road in a stand. We are seeing BIG Brahama cows and bulls all over today. Our driver says they are Easter dinner. Everyone has been fasting for Lent- 60 days... so a lot of meat will be consumed on Easter. We have been invited to Genenew's house for Easter dinner on Sunday. We will be fine...this is a very nice gesture. Tonight we are going for pizza ... again... we are leaving at 6>30 am for Shashamene tomorrow morning. It should be quite a trip and a very long day. Dad and I will stay at the Cozy Place since we have a nice area for the kids to play and lots of stores within walking distance. We may burn out on pizza and spagetti, but we have lots of protein bars. We hope to post again before the rest of the family leaves... if not, I'll still be here... Yes, Joan and Lynde, mom and Tom will drive her car home from the airport. Molly, we love and miss you lots. We saw lions yesterday, but still no cheetahs. Love, from the Africa bunch...  embassy day- Wednsday April 23, 2008 Woke up and had a good breakfast. Walked to the store for formula for the orphanage and coffee. left at 1 for the weavers market. Quite interesting - everything from chickens to wedding dresses. Bought some traditional scarves. Next stop was the embassy- note to future families- leave all electronic devices of any form at your residence or in the car... quite an experience going through security... everyone had their appts and we are sad to say that they did not receive our document and our Yakima office wouldn't respond to their email and so I denise will stay behind with the boys with dad. There is a chance that they will get something tomorrow, but then there is a holiday on Friday and the embassy will close until Monday. Our lawyer reassures us that this is just a minor delay and to not worry- 5-6 days maybe, but I think seeing a white woman sobbing really freaked him out!!! Please keep praying for the document to just get here. Kind of a hard day for all of us, but tomorrow we are going to the lion zoo and Shahola Children's library and to see if the New Flower will have room for us- Kim I\ll get to see you!!! Kids are doing great and having lots of fun!! Had pizza again for dinner... We'll try to write again tomorrow night, but not sure if tomorrow is a day with or with out power. Molly, we sure do miss you and cant wait to get home to see you!!! Lynde, Hayden is great and they all played foosball tonight...not homesick yet!! And still alive... we may feed him to a lion tomorrow!! Love to you all, the africa bunch  we re coming home May 08, 2008 hello all...PRAISE GOD and thanks to my brother we are coming home. Richard was able to get a hold of someone is Washington DC and we have confirmed seats on tonights plane!!!! We are at the Hilton now and have tickets in hand. THANK YOU RICH... don't know how you did it but WE LOVE YOU!!! Don't tell, but Dad has been in tears all morning. Me too, but I'm the crazy white woman who everyone is used to see crying!! The boys are so excited, I may have to give them benedryl during the day. We are headed to the museum, then back to pack and give the boys a nap.Here is our schedule... we leave ET tonight at 10 15 our time on flight 500. We fly through DC and Chicago and land in Portland at 8 pm. We have no clue whose times zone that is... Joan maybe you can check and then touch base with Lynde. We'll call from Washington DC if we still have batttery power in our cell phones. oh yeah our flight from Chicago to PDX is on United 371.Keep praying... we wont breathe easy until we are boarded... see you all so soon.love, Denise, Dad and boys  wednsday TIA -this is Africa May 07, 2008 We were woken up this am by a powerful thunder, lightening and rain storm about 4 am... went to breakfast during a break in the weather. We said sad goodbye to our good friends the doctors from SA. We packed them a bag of protein bars and left over tootsie roll pops. They were very appreciative and said that the would be grateful for them while in the sudan. We got a phone call from our attorney and they moved up our appt time today. We took a quick walk for some last minute stuff and more bananas and bread. Gananew picked us up about 1 and we headed to the embassy. We breezed right through to the front of the line and answered a few quick questions and the boys were declared able to enter the \us. Usually it takes 48 hours to process visas, but we were told to return in 2 hours for ours. Praise God!! We headed to the hilton to try and get flights out... no flights today. To say we were a bit crushed was an understatement... There are no openings until May 13. We are still on standby for each day. Tomorrow all the regular seats are book and so to upgrade our tickets it would cost 700 per person. Neither one of us could speak. We are just so exhausted and close to home. I told dad it feels like a nightmare that I just cant wake up from. No matter how hard I try. Dad though has a plan. We will get up and head to the hilton. We will spend the day and constantly check in for any opeinings. If we can get 2 then we will just spend the money and upgrade 2 tickets. If not, then we try again on Friday. We will certainly keep you posted... please pray for our sanity and strenght. We just want to come home... We came back to the guest house... all of our friends and family have gone. Bis had a major breakdown of just grief at leaving Gananew. The boys love him and Graces Atenah. They talk about both of them every day. Yordi and I left to get pizza take out, but luckily Dad was able to get a very reluctant Bis to stop crying and join us. We got our roasted potatoe, spinich pizza- my choice tonight, and headed back to the Cozy place where the boys got injera shiro to eat. We went for a walk for more bananas and then came back and the boys colored for quite awhile. Another huge storm came rolling in and we raced back to the room. It thundered and lighteninged for over 1 hour. The boys took a shower and are in bed... Dad has learned how to Suduko, so he is hooked... Please keep praying and we will update tomorrow. We love you all and miss you terribly... Denise, Dad, and boys  Tuesday and a bit sunny May 06, 2008 hi guys, Today is tuesday and the SA doctors and dad are entertaining the boys while I check in with the world. We heard from Tefera and he said that due to the holiday they are backed up and not processing visas today. We have an appt for tomorrow at 330. I told him that we were really hoping to fly home tomorrow night, so he said he would see what he could do about getting them to bump it up or process the visa the same day. Please keep praying... of course this means that we still sit in limbo and cant really go and book flights quite yet. I will email the minute I know something. Pray for the South African doctors as well. They have been at the embassy for Sudan this morning and are having issues with their visas as well. We said good bye to Herrion this morning. We all had breakfast and then pictures and hugs goodbye. God really sent us all these guys to keep one anothers spirits up during these long days. We are seeing a bit more sun today so hope that we will dry out a bit... those of you who know me, know how much I dread being wet and cold!!! Yesterday, we hired the driver to take us to a museum, but it was closed . Instead we went up the Entoto mountains and oh my it was unbelievable. Dad even said he was worried about the brakes coming down. You wound up a tiny little road way up high. The view was breathtaking. Every where you saw little children with babies on their backs, and women bent over carrying huge bundles of wood on their backs. We toured the first palace and the church up on the mountain. Dad and I were huffing and puffing, then realized it was the altitude. We finished up buying our souvineers and today hope to tape my suitcase together so we can get it all home... yikes... That is it for now... we went and got bread, water, mangos, papayas and avocadoes for lunch... we want to stay close to the phones on the off hand chance something changes. Boys are doing good... little fits are getting less and less and they are starting to figure out that we are here and not going any where and that we mean business... Joan and frank thanks for helping out so much with the kids, and yes Molly loves strawberries!!!! Addie, Noah, molly and Tom- big hugs and kisses, thanks so much for helping out and being so good!! We'll see you so soon!!! I start to cry everytime I think of you... everyone asks about you guys and sends their love. mom hope Atlanta is good and we still plan on beating you home!!! Everyone else, thank you so much for all the prayers, notes, calls and support.... we sure couldn't make it without you all! Love, Denise  monday May 04, 2008 Today is monday morning and unfortunately the US embassy is closed for a holiday. Tomorrow morning Tefera will go to the embassy and get us an appt for tomorrow afternoon. If all goes well, then we will receive our visa on Wed and we will fly home that evening. Please be praying... we are so close. I am making this quick as we have lost electricity and water already a couple of times this am and I have lost this email 2 times. Today it is still raining... we are damp and cold. We are going to brave the mud and rain and go finish up our souvineer shopping and maybe find a museum. The boys have some energy to burn. Funny note, kids, Mom and hayden you'll appreciate this... went to dinner last night. Ordered a pizza, waitress comes back... no pizza today. Ok veggie soup... no veggie soup... ok ministrone soup... no soup... ok we are good. A few minutes later... french fries.. no french fries... WHAT.... so the boys ate injera and dad and I split a spagetti and a cappachino. Another evening sitting outside with all the guys eating goodies from home!!! Gonna go while this email is still on... mom hope you are enjoying Atlanta... well call you from DC. Dad says hi. Tom, Addie, NOah and Molly, love you lots and we'll be home for survivor hopefully!!! Big kisses!! Hayden, Rudie had all of his shots, so if you had been bitten you would have been good!!! No worries. Love, Denise and dad and kids  sunday May 04, 2008 Hello there, we had 24 hours with no electricity so I am trying to catch up with emails. Dad and the boys are asleep taking naps... he always seems to voluntteer to lay down with them!! It is pouring rain here today and everyone and everything is just damp and cold!! ICK The boys are afraid to get rain on their heads and they freak out trying to get me to wrap something around my head. We have seen people all over walking with plastic bags tied around their heads. We had a low key day yesterday. We went for a long walk and then back to the guest house. Pretty cloudy so dad sat outside without his hat and now his head is the color of a tomatoe!! We moved up to the garden rooms- we are neighboors with the 2 south african doctors on motorcycles and Herrion. We have spent tons of time late afternoon and night laughing and talking... mom everyone has enjoyed the goodies from home you left. We decided they must have moved us up there to keep some piece and quiet down by the cafe. We all just hang out eating mangoes and fresh avocadoes. We also go across the street where a man sells us fresh bread that his wife makes. He is always so nice and the big hunk of bread cost us about 50 cents. Today we went walking in the showers to the Yoli building where we have been eating dinner. Addie you friend Mekedes works there at the number 1 fitness club in Addis Ababa. She gave us a tour and got the 3 boys hair cut appts for later today. She said to give you a big kiss and say hi. The boys are very excited to get a hair cut!! We had a lunch of bread jam, and fresh avocadoes!! The boys love them! We haven't heard on weather the embassy is open tomorrow or not, but we will find out. No news on what day we will get to fly home, depends if the embassy is open tomorrow or not. Got to go- the thunder and lightening is picking up and I'm afraid we\ll lose power. Love to you all, thank you for all the prayers and messages. They are the hightlights!! Joan, thanks for taking care of Molly. Addie thanks for taking care of noah, molly and daddy!! Hope you are all doing good. We are doing good, so don't worry. I've even gained a few pounds back!! love, Denise  The Name Game April 08, 2008 Welcome to the name game...We have decided to KEEP the boys given names... Bisrat (pronounced Bisrot) and Yordanos (pronounced Yourdawnos). They were given these names by their birthparents, selected for a certain meaning. These names are precious to them and to us and will be the only part of their little lives that will stay the same- this will be the only part of Ethiopia (other than their twin) that they have on a daily basis. We realize that they are not common names or may be a bit difficult to pronounce or remember- you have all worked so hard to remember who was Eli and who was Sam. We will give them Elijah and Samuel as middle names. At some point down the road they can decided to go by Eli and Sam if they choose. For now we will call them Bis and Yordi (which is what we have called them from day 1). We love their names and what they represent.  Well, it is official. We are going to Ethiopia! We have booked our travel. We leave Portland, OR on Thursday April 17 at 8:30 pm. We fly to Seattle then Washington DC then to Rome and finally arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday April 19 at 8:35 am (of course this is Ethiopia time- PST would be Friday @ 10:35 pm). We will be staying at the Cozy Place (there is a link with pics on the Favorite Links page.)*We receive the boys on Sunday April 20 and will plan to spend the day at the orphanage in order for them to get used to us a little bit before we take them with us.*Wednesday April 23, we spend the day at the Embassy. We will be interviewed and then have to take an oath to love and care for these boys (no problem there!!!)*Friday April 25, we will be back at the Embassy to pick up the boys passports and their Visas into the USA.*We leave Sunday April 27 at 10:15 pm. We will finally land in Portland Or on Monday April 28 at 5:41 pm.Between our appts we are hoping to visit the orphanage a couple of times (although we'll have to see how the boys do going back) and to visit the other orphanage that our agency sponsors. We plan to take all the kids swimming at the Hilton pool, we will try to visit the largest outdoor market, take a day trip, and absorb as much Ethiopian culture as possible. Please keep us in your prayers.  Habakkuk 2:3 February 29, 2008 Here is a verse that I have come across a lot recently- I don't think it is coincidence... We now have it posted next to the boys pictures on our fridge."But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day." Habakkuk 2:3  countdown to Court February 21, 2008 We know that our dossier made it to Ethiopia and was picked up on January 28, 2008. 7-10 days to translate and then apply for a court date. Any day now...  updated timeline January 14, 2008 January 14, 2008- updated timeline*Our dossier is in Washington DC where it goes to the US Department of State and then the Embassy of Ethiopia. Our dossier should be all authenticated and on its way to Ethiopia by the end of the week.1 week to translate4-6 weeks until court date (this is where the boys legally become ours)6 weeks from Court until travelLooking like travel in April is a little more realistic with the slow downs...  Timeline December 11, 2007 " Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." Prov 25:25 Although we are on God's time, this is the current timeline stats:Dossier to Ethiopia by Christmas1 week to translate3-5 weeks for inspection by MOWA and assignment of court dateCourt Date3 weeks for Embassy apptTravelThis all means that if the timeline continues to be stable we will be looking at traveling in March.Travel to Ethiopia is over 24 hours and requires an incountry stay of 5 days.Originally when we started looking into Ethiopia we were estimating 9-12 months . "Oh Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, thing planned long ago." Is 25:1 God is so amazing- His goodness surprises me everytime. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I continually am... We got a phone call early this morning- I hadn't even made it out to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee. Grace, from our agency called- I saw it on caller ID, but my brain was still too uncaffeinated to process WHY she was calling. She said she was calling about our court date, which thrilled me since we weren't expecting to hear anything until our director returned from Ethiopia later this week. She said not only did we have a court date, but that we had actually PASSED court this morning. No one knew about it due to some communication problem somewhere... Drum Roll Please: we are now officially, legally the parents to Bisrat and Yordanos Thompson. We leave for Africa on Thursday April 17. As you can imagine after the shock wore off and I ran through the house trying to figure out which end was up I spent most of the morning confirming airline flights, hotel reservations, and panicking at all that there is still to do... car seats to purchase, bookcase still needed, and Oh my goodness I am an emotional wreck because I still haven't bought any underwear for the boys... We are so thankful that God continues to show us that HE is in control of this adoption and has been from the beginning of time... There is no other way to explain this whole process than it is TOTALLY a God thing... I am nearly speechless and overwhelmed by this... we "know" that He knows all the hairs on our heads, but he really really does, and he cares so much for 2 little boys in Africa that he made all of this happen... Amazing God details in all of this: * We KNEW that there was no way to travel in April- given where dates were coming out of Ethiopia at and with the new timelines. We told everyone we were planning on traveling in May, but praying for a miracle (because that is what it would take) in order to travel in April. * In order to travel in April/May it needed to be certain weeks due to already scheduled commitments here- not only do we get to travel one of our "open" weeks, we are home with time to spare... * Addie said early on she thought April 20 would be a good birthdate for the boys - our "Gotcha day" will be April 20 * The date we passed court is March 10, 2008. On March 10, 2005 we stepped off the plane in Portland, OR and Molly became a United State's Citizen. * We are traveling with 3 other families from our same agency. One of those families is an Pacific NW family- the other family is a family that adopted a little girl from China using the same agency as we did. We have known of each other for years- they traveled just 1 month before us. Before we began the Ethiopian process we got in touch and we both ended up using HOPE and are going to be traveling together- both of us to pick up our 3 year old boys!!! Coincidences...??? I DONT THINK SO!!! Enjoy the pictures below... we now can post pictures of OUR SONS!!  Dossier January 31, 2008 In adoption there is a lot of reference to the "DOSSIER". Since this is such a huge source of emotional stress I thought I would explain what is involved. We have decided that dossier is French for "boatload of paperwork". Each country requires a dossier from an adoptive family- what is required is up to each country. Our Chinese dossier was VERY long, specific and exact. If middle initials were used for 1 document then all documents must contain middle initials. I believe we had 25 documents for our Chinese dossier. The Ethiopian dossier was much simpler, yet in its simplicity caused much more stress for me (the main document gatherer) as I had a hard time "letting go" of the perfectionism demanded by the previous Chinese dossier I had done. Now that the paperchase is over and our dossier is safely delivered to the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (those that oversee adoptions) I can take a deep breath and acutally record what was needed for this adoption process.All document have to be original copies. If an original is not possible then a 2nd paper has to be attached and notarized that is is a copy of an original. All documents are notarized - we did this at Scio City Hall, where they didn't charge a single fee, and very nicely signed and stamped every document we had. After all documents are notarized they are then taken to the Secretary of State Office (in Salem) where they are then certified. They charge you$10/document to put a fancy gold seal on your document and say that the person who notarized your document is licensed to do so. Then all documents are mailed to the Assistant Stork in Washington DC. She varifyies that all documents that are needed are there and then she takes them to the Department of State. They charge you a fee to have all documents made into 1 document "the dossier" and to put a fancy stamp on it saying that the USA recognizes all the state certificates. Then the Assistant Stork takes your dossier to the Ethiopian Embassy, where they look through it and make sure that all the documents needed are indeed there and then they charge you a fee to have a fancy stamp put on the dossier stating that they accept it and that they recognize the Authentications of the USA , and the state , and the local notary. Whew!!! When this is all done it is then sent to Ethiopia where I am sure they charge more fees and put more fancy stamps on it...So... what is in an Ethiopian Dossier you ask???? Well...Cover page- list everything in your dossierHomestudy- This is huge. You have 4 visits from a social worker to discuss all aspects of your life. We each had to write an autobiography that ended up being about 40 pages long!! Our SW was great!!Homestudy Agency licenseSocial Worker's licence Birth Certificates or copy of PassportMarriage CertificatesLocal Police Clearance letterFBI Child Abuse Clearance letterEmployment Verification LetterMedical reports and letters from DoctorPersonal letter as to why you want to adopt from Ethiopia3 reference letters from friendsPost Placement AgreementLicense of Adoption AgencyLetter from BankTax recordsPower of Attorney to allow this child to be adopted in your nameMost countries require that you have received you I-171 ( this is the letter issued to you after you have filed you I-600A- orphan petition, which gives you permission from the USA to adopt internationally) before you submit your dossier. Ethiopia only requires that you have it when you travel. What this means is that it saves about 3 months wait off your timeline. We are currently waiting for our I-171 while our dossier is in Ethiopia. This is a huge time saver.Currently, our dossier is in Ethiopia being translated. We hope to hear in the next couple of weeks when our court date is. We are also waiting on our I- 171 from the US government, giving us permission to adopt. We did ask for an expedited I-171 due to the fact that we will have a court date soon. Please pray that we will hear soon on both of these items.
 What we do while we wait February 18, 2008 So, WHAT do you do while you wait...1. set up the room and new beds- done2. SHOP- ongoing 3. Eat Ethiopian food. We went to Portland and met Mom, Dad, Uncle John, Aunt Lynde, Hayden, Kyle ,Makenna, and Max and all went to the Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian food. It was a little hole in the wall (to say the least). Some of us (you know who you are) thought we might get sick and die, or worse... What we ate: a vegetarian sampling which included Atakilt Alich (yummy)- veggies and potatoes in Alicha spice Tsebhhi Haamli (not so much a favorite)-mustard greens steamed Kik Wet - slit pea stew with warm spices Kik Alicha- yellow split pea stew in Alicha spice Misr Wet (yum)- Lentil stew in warm spices Shiro Wet (a new family favorite)- chickpea flour ground with spices Shimbra Assa- chickpea cracker stew Tsebhi Kintti Shara - mushroom stew Atakilt Kilike Alicha- many vegetable dish Misr Bamia Wet- lentil and okra stew We also 2 meat dishes and dad ordered a very spicy extra meat dish:Zilzl Tibs Siga- Very spicy beef sauteed in special hot sauce (this one haunted me for HOURS, but it was good!)Alicha Tibs- beef sauteed in Alicha spiceAlicha Kinti- Shara Derho Tibsi- muchroom and chicken sauteed in mild Alicha spice ( the kids ALL loved this one) Ethiopian food is served on a large basket platter in the center of the table. Everyone eats from the same plate. No silverware is used. Under all the food is a thin pancake type bread called Injera. This is used to scoop up the food. Injera is made from Teff grain and is very high in iron and protein. It is the staple of all Ethiopian diets. I don't think we will starve while in Ethiopia, but we will certainly need to take a large quantity of Tums with us. Dad, Tom and I will do fine, Noah seems to have liked it, and well, lets just say that Mom, Addie and Hayden will be stocking up on granola bars before we go!! 4. When all of the above have been done, then you clean out every closet and drawer in the house!! I am over half way done and it is a really good feeling to be even more organized than I was to begin. If the wait carries on much longer we may be in trouble as Addie has now begun to label things.
 We solicit your prayers December 11, 2007 " Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phil 4:6 We are so excited to share our big news with all of you and we hope that you will be able to share in our joy with us. We would like to ask that you all keep us in your daily prayers. These are a few specific prayer requests we have: * Please pray for our family as we get ready to bring the twins home and travel to Ethiopia.* Please be praying for all of the adjustments that we will have as we add toddlers to our family- they are old enough to know what they have lost- we expect grieving, anger, language issues and barriers and a whole host of other things.* Please pray that God will continue to provide for this adoption financially- we have a much shorter time frame than originally expected and 1 additional child.* Please pray that we will be able to gather all the relief supplies that we hope to be able to deliver to the orphanage. We will be creating a list of items that are needed in case anyone wants to get involved.* Please be praying for our entire family as we prepare to become even more "conspicuous" and that while people may not agree with our decision that they respect our decision.* Please be praying that God will keep the boys healthy and safe. The reality is that death from malnutrition and disease is a very present factor in everyday life in Ethiopia.* Please pray that we continue to honor God in the adoption of Bis and Yordi. This is a story of how HE has done GREAT THINGS.Thank you all so much for reading, praying and for your support... we will continue to keep you posted.
We have been busy getting ready for the boys. We sent them a care package with a few items- it is cute to see the boys proudly holding onto their teddy bears, even in pictures a few days later they still have them.
We have gotten the bunkbeds that will go into Noah's room- the BOYS room!! The orange curtain and bedspreads are ordered. It was a family project to assemble them (mostly we just watched Tom assemble and we helped lift). I told Tom most dads assemble the crib first and not bunkbeds... oh well, we don't do much the traditional way!!
December 31th We were blessed with an email this morning , I decided to check real quick before we left for church. We have updated sizes on the boys. These are from the mom who sent us all the pictures. Bis now weighs 34 lbs and is 38 1/2 inches tall Yordi now weighs 29 1/2 lbs and is 37 1/4 inches tall They have only been in the orphanage for 2 months so they have grown quite a bit!! Amazing what having 3 meals a day will do for a child!! We have 3 moms leaving today to pick up their babies in Ethiopia... one mom is taking a care package to the boys. We expect updated info and pictures when they return on Jan 11.
 Bis and Yordi December 11, 2007 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 138:13-16Here is what we know about the boys. We are hoping to have more information about them in the next month. Bis and Yordi are twins- we were told identical, but from the pictures we have we assume that got messed up in the translation. They are age 3-4 with no know birthdates. They are from rural Ethiopia where there is no calendar used. They will be assigned a birthdate in Ethiopia for their paperwork. We are guessing they are IN their 4th year of life, which would make them 3. They are tiny, which is very typical. Bisrat is 37inches tall and weighs 31 lbs. Yordi is 35 inches tall and weighs 27 lbs. For comparison sake: Molly is 41 inches tall and weighs 39 lbs. Max (whose info I snuck from his mom- hope she forgives me) is approx 37 inches tall and weighs 32 lbs. The boys currently live in an orphanage in Addis Ababa and speak Amharic. They were relinquished by their parents who were no longer able to care for them or feed them . They relinquished them together, rather than try to keep one, so that they could grow up and have each other. This is exciting news for us as this means they have known the love and bond of a family while they were young and while tough for them, ultimately means that they will not suffer from the serious issues that you see in long term institutionalization. We have been able to send them a care package via another adoptive family and are waiting for pictures and information when they return. We will update this site as we get more information.