Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Eyes

Can you imagine what it would be like to come to another country so different from your own? New clothes, new smells, new sights, new language, new people....

Now, we have all heard of looking at things through the eyes of our children and witnessing the newness of everything as they discover it through their baby and toddler years, but imagine the newness of everything discovered at the age of 4 and 11 yrs old. Things we see daily and don't even notice, are a source of joy and intrigue.

When we got to the airport in Ethiopia, my children encountered an escalator; this experience was such a joy for them, and they were completely mesmerized by it. They wanted to go up and down and up and down over and over. It was delightfully entertaining. It was like a roller coaster to them, a ride that they wanted to repeat. How funny that most of us view escalators merely as a means to get from one place to another, and yet my newest children were thrilled at the opportunity to ride it.

As we were getting ready to board the plane, the smile on Fasika's face was so big, and she was bursting with excitement. Clapping her hands and bouncing in her chair, she repeated, "America" with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning (times about 100). It was precious.

"Markos, Markos....America" she would say to try to convey her excitement to him. He too was excited about the journey, but I think a majority of his excitement was just rubbing off from his sister.

Once on the plane, they were so excited to take off. The entire 15 hour flight, I couldn't get Fasika to sleep because she was too excited. I was excited also, but I understood the reality that our layover in Dulles was going to be almost 8 hours, so I wanted to sleep.

Once we landed, it was difficult to contain the excitement in Fasika as she was practically running to get off the plane. It was hard to convey the reality that we now had to wait a very long time (8 hrs) before getting on 2 more planes before we would see Dad and her new brothers and sisters.

"America" she kept saying. "This, America." as if she didn't quite believe it.

While in Dulles, we got some Mexican food which was a hit! We walked around for awhile, and then we rode on a glass elevator. Now THAT was an adorable experience that I wish I could have captured on video.

Can you imagine going on an elevator for the first time at 11 years old? Not having anyone tell you how it would work or what it would do? So, we went on that many, many times, and the novelty of it never seemed to wear off. People were looking at us like we were crazy, but I was entertained. I laughed with the kids as I just tried to soak up the pure joy and innocence of it all. It was precious.

Then, when we went to the airport restrooms, the toilet flushed all on it's own. THAT was unexpected and startled the kids, but then they were intrigued by it. And, then, the water came on when the put their hands under the sink....all by its self! Plus,the soap was odd? And, when the powerful hand dryer came on, I thought they were going to jump out of their skin. It took a great deal of convincing to show them that it wouldn't hurt them.

Everywhere they went, they were just looking all around trying to take it all in. After we got off the plane in Charlotte (our second plane), my sister surprised us by greeting us at the gate. As soon as I told Fasika that Jeanette was my sister, Fasika's bright smile lit up and she gave my sister a big hug!

Fasika kept telling my sister, "One more plane" because she new that there was just one more plane until we got home! By this point, Markos was extremely tired and a little out of it. Poor baby had been traveling for so long.

The last plane we got on was very small. Fasika and Markos sat together on one side of the plane with the aisle separating me from them (as it was only 4 seats wide). They got a good view out the window on this flight and the excitement was mounting again as they new we were close to home.

When we landed in Wilmington, I knew that Dustin had told some friends and family that we were coming and that there would be a welcome party there for them (but Fasika and Markos had no idea). So, as we came out the gate and out of the secured area, there was a whole group of friends and family members there with signs, balloons, flowers, and gifts. Everyone started clapping as we walked up and it was such an amazing moment as Fasika and Markos realized it was all for them.

Dad, Bryce, Blake, Mariya, and Audriana came running up to meet us and everyone exchanged hugs and kisses. It was glorious. We introduced the kids to their grandparents and their Aunt Kasey for more hugs and kisses, and then all the friends.

"Gwa-den-ya, you" Fasika asked as she pointed to everyone and then to herself. Gwa-den-ya means friend in Amharic. She was asking if all the people there were her new was precious and my eyes teared up. "Yes" I told her "These are your new friends." I have never seen a child happier than she was.

I think Markos was a little overwhelmed by it all (plus tired from the trip). But, he really seemed to be interested in the balloons and the light wand someone gave him.

After some time with friends and family at the airport, we headed out to our car to bring our kids home!

The children had such excitement for everything around them. It is revitalizing to witness such joy in each and every thing some of which we often take for granted. Thank you Lord for bringing Your rays of sunshine into our life and opening our eyes.

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