There is a first time for everything! This week has been a week of first's for our family! For me- I am a first time mom to children from another culture, first time to appear in Ethiopian court, first time to try Kaldi's ice cream and first time to be a mom to six. Enough about me here are some firsts for our children:
Starting last Friday our precious Lindsay took her first plane ride- Half way around the world the very first time!
Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay got to use their passports (and shots) for the first time as we traveled here to Ethiopia.
All six of our children met each other for the very first time!
We all six (prior to court) got to have 3 slumber parties in a row. All six of us in the same room for three nights prior to David and I having our own room.
Then Monday came.............
We became a family of eight in a matter of minutes and many first experiences unfolded........
We traveled to the orphanage as soon as court was over to pick up Tizita and Geremew. Little did I know how quickly these first experiences would begin. As we all piled into our minibus (very old Toyota van) Tizita and Geremew found their places very quickly beside their new sisters and brother. The van started down the dirt road in front of the orphanage and I hear a panic cry from behind me. As I turned I saw fear all over Tizita's face. She was scared to death and then I realized that this is just her second time ever being in a car. She rode in a car to the orphanage but other than that she has never been in a car, much less a minibus. I quickly moved her to my lap to settle her down. Never had I thought that a ride in a minibus for a six year old could be scary, yet this was a first experience for her. She quickly settled down and loved the ride to lunch as she held tightly to me.
We arrived at a restaurant for lunch and Tizita and Germew both experienced many new things. The first was that we were seated at a table. They didn't have a table when they lived with their family on the island and the orphanage didn't have a table and so this was their first experience sitting in a chair and eating at a table. They were both so cute and excited as they sat down and let Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob push their chairs in. I unfolded their napkins and placed them in their laps. Tizita giggled with delight and Geremew just took it all in as he sat quietly looking at everything around (how they both experience life we have come to find out). When it was time to order we ordered tibs (Traditional Ethiopian food) for both of them and they both smiled at the thought of such good food.
While waiting for our food to arrive Tizita needed to go to the restroom and so Megan graciously said that she would take her. Megan forgot that this would be a first experience as well or I think she would have reconsidered. I handed Megan some tissue (toilet paper is not common here) and sent her off with Tizita reminding Megan that she had never used tissue paper and to help her. Megan came back laughing and as far as I know the teaching experience went well.
We allowed our kids to all get soda to celebrate this amazing day and this was another first. As Tizita and Geremew drank their Pepsi they both made funny faces from the fiz. Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay had fun watching them. Tizita loved pouring the soda from the glass bottle to her glass as she watched it fiz. Such fun memories for our family.
After lunch we went down stairs to have some ice cream. We sat down to order the ice cream and the eight of us overwhelmed our server with our English and so she asked that we go to the counter to order. As we stood up Tizita started to cry as she said, "Mummy, I wanted chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!" (That's my girl!) She didn't understand that we were just going up to the counter to order, she thought we were leaving without receiving the promised chocolate ice cream. It was a joy to watch both Tizita and Geremew as they enjoyed every lick of their ice cream. Tizita ate the end of her cone off and so we had chocolate everywhere but it was a memory that will never be forgotten by the eight of us!
We then headed to the Ethiopian Guest Home where we are staying these six weeks in Addis. Megan and I took Tizita upstairs to give her a shower. Her very first shower. As I started the water she quickly took her clothes off and giggled the entire time. She jumped right in and started saying, "Thank you Mummy, thank you Mummy!" She must have said thank you a thousand times to me in that ten minute shower. She laughed the entire time as I cried like a baby. I was so thankful that Megan was there to help me because I was emotionally a mess thinking that our daughter was filled with such joy over taking a shower.
David gave Geremew his very first shower and I think that he enjoyed it as much as Tizita. After his shower we opened Geremews suitcase to show him his clothes. He took out the three pairs of shoes first. As he took them out he said something that our family will never forget. He picked up one pair (his favorite) and said, "Geremew". He picked up the second pair and said, "Jacob". When he picked up the flip-flops he said, " Tizita". Jacob quickly said, "No, Geremew those are all for you." Geremew's eyes got huge and he smiled the biggest smile ever as he quickly put on a pair of socks and Kaylee helped him put on his very first pair of tennis shoes. Of course more tears flowing from my eyes to see such joy.
The list of first time experiences goes on and on but even those first few hours with my new children were marked with memories that I will hold on to forever. Praising God that with each new experience they are learning of my love, our families love and more importantly the love of our Father. Trusting Him with all of the first experiences ahead for us, both the good and the bad............this journey is more than I dreamed it would be!