Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Welcome Home {pictures}

Today marks 3 weeks since arriving home from Ethiopia and I am finally getting around to posting a few pictures from the much anticipated home-coming.

These were while we were trying to pack to leave. Um, do you think they were just a little excited?!

Their first time on an airplane... something they had only dreamed of.

Even the airport was an exciting adventure!

There were so many friends and family there to greet us at the airport... a welcome sight after 32 hours of travel!

It brought tears of joy to my eyes to see all of those who had been faithfully praying all these months there waiting to celebrate with us.

Our first glimpse of the waiting crowd...

No words. Just real and raw emotion.

Do you think she's happy to see her daddy? :)

What a reunion...
Incredible to see God's plan come to fruition at this moment.

First picture as a family of 8!!!

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy! 
Psalm 126:3

(A very special thanks to Steve Skibbie of Grand Design Photography for the airport pictures.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

He gives and takes away... A tribute to my Grandma

Yes, we're home. And it's been the hardest 2 weeks ever. 

1 week after being home from Ethiopia, we lost my sweet Grandma. Yesterday we had her memorial service, exactly 2 weeks from the day our family was reunited at the airport. I don't understand the ways of the Lord, but I will say that I am thankful that Grandma knew Jesus and was surrounded by her loving family when she went to be with Him. This is a picture I took only a few days before she was gone. 

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21b

I promise to post about the kids soon and I have so many pictures of course. But because this blog is about more than just adoption, it's about making Christ known in every aspect of our life- I simply could not move on without sharing about my precious Grandma. 

I had the wonderful privilege of sharing a tribute to Grandma at the service yesterday. I know it's wordy, (when am I not??!!) but I would love for you to read it and think about your own life and the legacy you will leave behind someday...  

One of my favorite scriptures is Colossians 3:12-15. It says: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

As I remember Grandma today, I can’t help but think of this passage. It just fits who she was to me. Though Grandma wasn’t a bible scholar or preacher by any means, she was one of God’s beloved children- one who knew that she was dearly loved by Him and had a simple, child-like faith in Jesus. That is what she taught me. This verse talks about being clothed in these different virtues. Anyone who knew Grandma for more than a few minutes, experienced her compassion and kindness in some way. Grandma laughed with you and cried with you. And whether it was making food for 5 or 50 people, sewing baby blankets and clothes, traveling around the world, hosting parties for every holiday, or just sitting with a listening ear- she was definitely a people person in her own quiet way. She was also a woman who was humble and gentle. She never wanted anyone to fuss over her or make a big deal. Well, except when it came to rubbing her feet. Oh yes- that was a big deal! She used to pay us kids a dime or even quarters to rub those calloused feet- until we got old enough to be grossed out and so we’d pass the job down to a younger cousin!

Grandma’s gentleness grew as the years went by. I saw her melt as she held her first great-grandchild and witnessed her joy and excitement at each and every one to come after. A few years ago she started attending women’s bible study with me. I loved having Grandma there as we opened God’s word together and during the week I would call her to see how she was doing on her lesson. She would kind of dance around the subject and ask how everyone in our family was doing or talk about some random thing. Finally after a while, she confessed that it was very difficult to do the study and hard for her to pay attention, but she kept coming because it made her so happy to see me and the kids every week. That was Grandma for you… she could never get enough family time.

Just by taking a look around, I think I can safely say that Grandma had many more friends than enemies. She was quiet, but loved making friends with people. She was not perfect, but she knew how to forgive when someone had wronged her and she encouraged me to do the same in my life. And when you saw how still in love my Grandparents were after 53 years of marriage, that wisdom went much deeper than simply words. Grandma and Grandpa lived out the saying that there is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 
Every memory I have of Grandma reminds me of how much she loved her family. The sweetest times of my childhood were spent playing at Grandma’s house or being on a trip with her and Grandpa. Even in the darkest of times, I always knew that Grandma and Grandpa were there and they loved me. My children and husband experienced that same kind of love from her as well. What a gift.

The end of the Colossians passage says: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 

Towards the end of Grandma’s earthly life, her physical body began to fail. She had heart attacks, a stroke, and deadly cancer. There were several times in the past 4 years that we did not think she would survive. But not only did God give her another few miracle years, He gave her incredible peace in the midst of it all. And He gave her a husband who cared for her and loved her unconditionally. After one of her trips to the hospital Grandma told me that there must be a reason that God had spared her life- some reason that she was still alive. I told her there was- so she’d better live it well! And she did. She got a few more years of “bonus time” we liked to call it.

Grandma was so excited for Randy and I to bring our 2 newest children home. Either her or Grandpa would call about once a week to check in and see if there was any news about the adoption and she would get anxious if the blog hadn’t been updated in over a week! She was just ready to love on those kids and wanted to know why in the world it was taking so long! It was her idea for mom to come with me to Ethiopia a few weeks ago and I’m so thankful for that. And I will never forget her face that day a week and a half ago when I brought the kids to the hospital to see her. She completely lit up! She was like her old self- joking with the kids and wanting to know all about the trip. I snapped a picture, not knowing if it would be the last time I would see her smile this side of heaven.

It was.

So many times this week, I have closed my eyes and seen Grandma’s smiling face or heard her voice. I want to pick up the phone and call her and tell her about how it’s going with the kids or get excited and anticipate with her about Nati and Mihret’s first Easter at home and dying eggs with her. I don’t want to have to tell my 3 year old yet again why Great Grandma Mallet isn’t home when we go to her house- because that’s where she’s supposed to be right?

A few days before she passed, Grandma told Grandpa “Jesus has me in His arms.” It was very hard for Grandpa and all of us, but she had such a peace. And now that Grandma is truly HOME, we are thankful for that. I loved my Grandma dearly and will miss her so much, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful time I got to have with her and Grandpa these past 32 years.

Grandma and Grandpa surrounded by their family (minus the 2 newest great-grandchildren) 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saying Goodbye

No time to post, but I wanted to add a few pictures of the going away party at Hope for the Hopeless. I have so many pictures and soon I will come back and write about this day as it was the definitely the most important one of this week.

I posted on Facebook last night and until I have a minute to write something, I  thought I'd just copy it here:

This is our LAST night in Ethiopia... WOW. There is so much to share, but each night we are so tired that we just fall into bed. Yesterday was the going away party at Hope for the Hopeless. Trying to get a few pics up from that. It was a blast- games, songs, cake, campfire, smores, and lots of hugs, kisses and tears. The drive back was quiet as we all were processing the events of the evening. It was the most surreal feeling- how many times have Randy and I driven away from that compound and cried at leaving our kids behind... and this time the crying was different. It was for the life and "family" that Nati and Mihret were leaving behind. And as sad as it was, it was amazing to see God work in their little hearts. It was like that was the turning point for them & they are ready for their new life to begin. Last night and tonight they both wanted to sleep with me in the bed- so so sweet. And as I lay there with my 2 sleeping children beside me- I just thanked the Lord for my now 6 blessings and their daddy that we get to come home to very soon. Yes, it is only the beginning and it will be hard. But right now- I am feeling like the most blessed woman in the world!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This is the life!

Friday was a really fun day for us here in Ethiopia. We wanted to do something that the kids had never done before and originally I thought we would go to Lalibella. Well, when I realized that it was going to take 9 hours to get there- we quickly threw that idea out the window! Someday when Dani suggested we go to a local resort in Debre Zeit and hang out there for the day. Being that it was only a 45 minute drive- we liked this idea much better. :) 

Having fun with the electronics during the drive. They love the i-pod and have already picked their favorite artists and songs they like to listen to. Toby Mac, David Crowder, and Lecrae are the favorites at the moment. :)

This was at Kuriftu Resort. The grounds were beautiful and it included a buffet lunch that was really good. My mom and I loaded up on the salad and vegetables- two things that we have really been missing this week. If my whole family were here, I could get used to this!

After lunch we got to go kayaking on the lake. Mom opted to stay behind in the shade while we took the kids. (By the way- this is Dani #2. He is a friend of the other Dani and he was our driver for the day.)

This was the first time the kids had ever been on a lake and in any kind of boat. It was really fun and worth the sore arms and sunburn later!

This little adventure helped Mihret and I to bond together. We had to work together to make the boat go where we wanted it to and we had fun getting eachother wet and being silly.

 We raced each other to the dock...

Nati is the adventurous one. He is so cute and I can tell he likes exploring and trying new things. We saw some kids swimming in the lake with water buffalo and I asked him if he had ever been swimming before and he said he had only dreamed about it. Between that and going on an airplane- I told him that his dreams are about to come true! :)

 Here he is hanging out by the pool at the resort... so cool.

The grounds at this place were so beautiful. Lots of flowers and plants everywhere. It was hot this day, so we had to take breaks in the shade throughout the day.

We stopped at the post office shops on the way home and got a little shopping done. We were so tired and hot and just felt like picking something up to take back to our room and eat The problem is that there is really no such thing as fast food around here. So we ordered some pizza and picked it up a half hour later. This is as close as you get to delivery...

Our little picnic on the balcony.

 Or maybe these guys could have delivered the pizza for us. It only would have taken an hour or two! :)

Next up: the going away party in Sululta!

Letters from Daddy

 Randy wanted to be here with us so badly. This was the first time we have ever been away from each other for this long and this far away. We never travel without each other. But he was so sweet and loving and supportive both before I left and while we have been here. He wrote letters to Nati and Mihret before I left, I gave them to them yesterday and he gave me permission to share with you here. I cried reading these. So simple, yet so heartfelt- this love that a daddy has for his children.

Dear Nati,
Since the day we played catch with a little ball on the soccer field, I have longed to make you my son. I have wanted to teach you how to worship God, how to love a wife, and how to work hard. I want to hug you and tell you how proud I am of the young man you are becoming. I want to encourage you to continue to follow Christ and trust Him to mold you into the man He created you to be. I love you Nati and I wish I could be there with you now. Soon we will be together. Be sure to look after Mom and Mihret for me. 
Love, Dad

My sweet Mihret,
From the first day we met I have dreamed that I could make you my daughter. I have wanted to love you, to protect you, and to tell you how beautiful God has made you. I am sorry that I could not be there now to hold your hand and laugh with you. Soon we will be together and I am so excited for the day, March 6th, when you will finally come home to be my daughter forever.
 Love, Daddy

Only a few more days until we are all together again. Although I know there are many who will be anxious to see these two precious faces, I can guarantee there is no one as anxious as their daddy. :)
I love you, Randy and cannot wait to see you soon!!!

The day our lives changed forever....

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