Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gotcha Day

Today was Dave’s first full day in Ethiopia for the week.  I was able to Skype with him a little bit, but the internet connection was poor today and we were continuously disconnected.  In addition, power outages are common in Ethiopia, making things even more difficult.  He was, however, able to send me messages through Facebook and sent two pictures via e-mail.

I asked him to tell me anything he could about the day – he knows I like lots of details - and here’s what he had to say:

It started this way. I set my Blackberry clock last night to what I thought was the correct time zone. I set my alarm for 8 a.m., knowing we would be leaving the guest house at 10 a.m.  I slept very well throughout the night.  I woke up around 6 a.m., but was able to go back to sleep.  I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off and started to get everything together. I packed up Trey's stuff in his backpack, bringing some of the "cooler" stuff just in case I had a problem.  I saw David pull in around 9 a.m., so I took a quick shower and headed downstairs at 9:15. Turns out my 9:15 was actually 10:15. No worries though as the new families from the airport had just arrived and were putting their things in their rooms.

David and Yonas drove us to the Transition Home.  I prayed almost the entire way.  When we arrived at the Transition Home, I took some video for another family as they were meeting their 3-year-old boy for the first time.  Another family met their baby next.  Then Chalew came out.  He was full of smiles and hugs.  I think Yonas got a little video.

We hugged for what seemed like 5 minutes, but it was probably more like 30-60 seconds. When he came out, he was carrying a zip-lock bag full of pictures albums and some of the toys we had sent. He also had his keyboard with him :)  I then gave him his backpack. He was very jazzed. I put his Cardinal’s hat and sunglasses on him and let him go through the backpack. He settled pretty quickly on the balloons. We played with balloons for 15 or so minutes.  Next, we went through the photo albums. When I said a name of one of our family, he pointed to the picture.

We then played on the playground for a few minutes.  He is very timid, but determined.  I told him I wanted to go get my camera, so we headed back to the porch.  As I was grabbing my camera, he decided it was time to go.  Everything went in his backpack.  Since it wasn't really time to go, we played for a few more minutes, the backpack on him the whole time.

When it was time to go, he grabbed my hand and off to the van we went.  I helped him in.  We sat in the seat right behind David and Yonas.  He was pretty stoic for the entire ride.  When we arrived at the guest house we climbed out of the van.  He reached out for me and I help him down.  He still had that backpack with him, although I asked him to take it off for the ride, and he did.  We came into the guest house and up stairs to our room.  We sat for a minute and then I changed his clothes.  No problems, he let me put them on and he didn't complain a bit.  I put his Nike sandals on him.  I could tell he liked them.

We headed down to the lobby, as we had planned to go to the Zebra Grill for lunch. It started raining, so one of the fathers took our orders and a couple of them headed down to the restaurant. We went out and sat in the courtyard for a few minutes, but it was evident Chalew wanted to go outside of the courtyard.  I took him upstairs to get a toy to see if I could distract him, but I couldn't.

After a few feeble attempts to take him to the deck to play with the various toys you sent, I decided to give in and go for a walk since the rain had stopped. We walked down to the Zebra Grill and chatted for a few minutes. Trey was ready to go, so we went on a long walk, up and down the dirt streets.  Most of the people were very nice and one young man stopped and told me what a beautiful son I had. He grabbed his face and kissed him on the cheek. 

I tried to get him back into the courtyard a number of times, but each time he resisted, so we kept walking a bit more. It was clear he wanted to go home and he was trying to walk there. He kept pointing down the streets he wanted me to walk down. He carried his car the entire time. We put it down every once and awhile and he would try and drive it on the rocky streets, without too much success.

I finally decided I had to man-up and be the dad.  Even though I know he didn’t understand, I told him that we were going back and that he didn't need to cry. As we headed into the guest house, I started to carry him, at his request. He cried as we entered the gates :(  I knew I needed to control the situation, so I walked through the lobby.  As I was walking through, I told the three couples sitting there that I was apologizing in advance, as I expected tonight was going to be a long night. As I was walking toward the stairs, with very sympathetic looks on their faces, they told me not to worry about it, that it was to be expected.

For the next 1.5 hours he cried…I mean screamed. I tried to console him, play with him, entertain him.  No luck.  I prayed a lot during this time that God would give him peace and me wisdom. I had resolved myself to let him cry it out. He wanted to leave the room and go back downstairs, but I couldn't let him. We actually finally ended up closing our room door and just sitting.  He cried and I tried to both ignore him and love him.  Periodically, I would go over to the bed where he was sitting and give him a hug. Most of the time he would push me away and continue crying.

Finally, I got the remote controlled car back out and gave it to him. I turned it on and gave him the remote. He looked at it awhile, cried some more, and tried to leave the room again.  Eventually, he let me help him with it. It had to be a crazy sound coming from my room with a kid still kind of crying and a remote control car bouncing off the walls.

About 5 minutes into it, he really started to warm up. He actually sat down on the floor and pointed to his shoes, indicating he wanted me to take them off. I took them off and then he pointed to his socks as he must have wanted those off too. I took them off and we continued to play happily but calmly for the rest of the night. We watched a movie and colored - he colors quite well! He did this for quite awhile. Then, I put his PJs on him and brushed his teeth.  He colored a little more, and when he was done, I walked over to him. He put his arms up for me to hold him.  I held him, turned the bed back, and puffed up the pillow.  I patted the pillow as an indication for him to lay down.  He did, but indicated he wanted me to lay down too. I laid down with him and we watched The Incredibles.  After about five minutes of backrubs, he fell asleep. I'm sure he was exhausted. He even snored a little :)

I forgot…as we were chilling out and watching movies, I fed him a delicious meal of crackers (cheese and peanut butter - he preferred cheese), fruit snacks, and water. I never did get to eat my lunch. I had accidentally left it sitting on the coffee table of the common area for 7 hours, so my Easter dinner 2011 was a healthy dose of beef jerky.

More tomorrow. Hugs and kisses to everyone.

Love, Dave