Saturday, December 1, 2012



Well, the holiday season is in full swing, and while the month of November was a quick one, it has brought dramatic change to the Reichert household. Let me begin with our adoption update. Our number for the month of November is 104. We had our quarterly call this month
with our case manager, who assured us that movement was taking place, and while there is a lot of news regarding Ethiopia suspending adoptions through certain agencies, we had nothing to worry about. 
To be honest, I had big concerns to discuss with our case manager myself, and it had little to do with the country of Ethiopia. Due to some unfortunate family circumstances, Jay and I currently have a new little roommate. For his privacy and for my family’s privacy, I am choosing not to disclose sensitive information or photos over the blog, but he is a beautiful 2 year old boy, who is smart, fun, energetic, and did i mention TWO! We have all had a lot of adjusting to do, and not much time to do it in. Jay and I have jumped into parenting with both feet and are attempting our best with raising this little guy, while at the same time attempting to keep our sanity through the situation as well. We have never parented, or even babysat together, so this whole “parenting a two year old” thing is uncharted ground for us and for our marriage. I am happy to report that we are all adjusting well. The roommates (the three of us) are enjoying a lot of new nightly routines: we all eat dinner together, we read the same book every night, and we have the same nightly ritual of running around the house for about 2 hours, alternating between horsey rides, basketball, lifting up to the ceiling so he can touch it, and peek-a-boo. Truth be told, while the situation is stressful, we are enjoying the time we have with him and the education that was mandated by our adoption agency for transitioning a child into our home, has helped immensely. So many people, who are aware of this situation, have mentioned that God has a way of preparing us for such matters and we defiantly see His beautiful hands in this situation. We could really use some prayers for guidance, for changes in heart, and for a revolution in our family to occur.



Luckily, our case manager has stated that this process, no matter how long, or the end result, will not affect our adoption. We may have to have a new updated home study completed, and a few visits from a social worker, but we would need another home study prior to our Ethiopian son coming home anyways.  So, we live currently day by day, but we are learning and growing with this experience. We love on him while he is with us and we pray over him and his parents every night. And this little guy has never been to church, so along with starting daycare, he is going to start Sunday school as well. I am excited that we get to start teaching him about Jesus around the holiday season and Jesus's birthday.



So, in preparation, I made the little guy an advent calendar! I always had one growing up and began to learn about the CHRIST in Christmas through each scripture verse and little treat I received through the month of December. So, I scanned the beloved Pintrest site and found
one I thought was pretty good, and one which could be used year after year with whomever the Lord blesses us with. Here is the finished product:





Not only did I include a daily scripture versus with a little toy or candy treat, but I also included weekly family activities and outings, as well as good deeds to be done for others. I am hoping that each little present opened teaches all of us a little bit more about Jesus, love, and hope (something we are clinging too a lot lately). 


So, the last couple of Ethiopian education spotlights have been a bit long. I can't help it though, researching this country and people is so interesting to me! It's like graduate school, I was really good at the neuro stuff because that was what I loved to research! The other stuff...well I needed it, but I didn't spend as much time as with the neuro section. Researching Ethiopia is just the same. I spend actually a lot of time looking up my educational pieces, not only for Jay and I and whoever else decides to keep reading after our updates, but also for our son someday. We want to be able to give him as much information about his life  and country before he met us as possible. And when he asks me, "Mom, how big is Ethiopia", this is what I am going to say to him....

Well son, Ethiopia is just almost twice the size of Texas! In fact, it is the 27th largest country when it comes to area, with a total of 1,104,300 square kilometers. The country is completely land locked with Kenya to the South, Somalia to the East, Djibouti and Eritrea to the Northeast, and Sudan to the West.

Short, simple, and complete.



Reference:
http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Africa/Ethiopia.html#ixzz2C3LkWDn0

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Attention bloggers!

This is a shout out to all you bloggers out there! There is a wonderful blog designer by the name of Leigh who has done some amazing design work on some fellow adoption blogs and more that I follow. For the next three months, she is donating 15% of her profits to help with the adoption of a group of siblings from the Ukraine by a couple, Les and Prudence. What an amazing gift! But here is the great part, she is also giving a way a free blog design to one special blogger as well. For more details on how to enter click here! I'm definitely entering! I am not so good at the technical aspects to make this page look pretty!

And for anyone interested in taking part in helping with Les and Prudence's journey by purchasing a new blog design or if you just want a great new look, check out Leigh's design blog Crazy Cocoon!






Monday, November 5, 2012

Orphan Day


Hard to believe, but we are officially into November, this year continues to fly at amazing speed! I wish I could say the same for our wait list number! We only moved one spot since last month. We are officially at #108 down from #109. While we are bit disappointed with the slow trickle of numbers, we are happy and thankful for any movement at all.  On another note, I am actually pretty excited about this month, November is National Adoption Month! It actually began as National Adoption Week initiated in 1976 by Massachusetts's Governor Mike Dukakis. The movement was primary started to bring about awareness of adoption and in particular kids in the this countries foster care system. President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation and in 1990, due to popularity and widespread movement, the week expanded to a month.  During November, communities nationwide celebrate adoption as a positive way to build families and provide homes to children in need. Activities are aimed at not only adoption education and need awareness,  but also to dispel myths about adoption, provide guidance for prospective individuals, and to just celebrate adoption!  Communities, organizations, businesses, families, and individuals attend recognition dinners, public awareness and recruitment campaigns, and special events highlighting the needs of children in need of a loving home. November also includes National Adoption Day, traditionally a Saturday where across the nation, thousands of adoptions are finalized simultaneously in courthouses everywhere.
Additionally, and perhaps more specific to our situation, November 4th is National Orphan Day.
This day commemorates Christian’s stand for the million of Orphans around the world. The history of this national movement began as a seed planted in Zambia Africa. White attending a church service in Zambia, an American visitor was struck by the local pastor’s passionate call for the orphans in his local community. This community, like so many in the African continent, had been ravaged by AIDS and poverty, and while the members of his small congregation had desperate needs themselves, the pastors God given passion  for orphan care reached the hearts of everyone present. At the end of the service each member, one after another, stepped forward with money, food, even the  shoes on their own feet to be given as an offering for these local orphans.  
The American visitor was a man by the name of Gary Schneider, and he was so impacted by the hearts of those who have nothing, yet gave  everything, he began to help Zambian leaders to coordinate what came to be known as ‘Orphan Sunday” across churches throughout Zambia. In 2003 the efforts spread to the U.S. and is currently licensed to the Christian Alliance for Orphans as a registered trademark of Every Orphan’s Hope.
Each ‘Orphan Sunday’ event is hosted locally by churches, small groups, concert halls, and small gatherings, and each event (whether through sharing a meal, sermon, or group activities) seeks to bring awareness and wake believers to God’s call to care for orphans. For more information on Orphan Sunday click HERE!
Our church, The Vineyard, thankfully continues to  participate in Orphan Sunday. In fact, I believe we both attended last years event and later attended the Orphan Summit which prompted us to start our adoption journey shortly afterwards! This year, orphan care is even closer to our hearts as we count down our monthly wait list number and patiently wait to bring our kiddo home. We cleared our busy schedules and made a point to attend all church services dedicated to orphan care and outreach. In fact, we made it a family event and Sheila, Brian (aunt and uncle), Jan, Kurt (Jays parents), and John (brother) all attended as well. The service started with startling statistics, like the fact that there are nearly  153 million orphans world wide and that if only 1 family (or individual) out of every 3 churches in the U.S. was led to foster to adopt, there would be ZERO orphans in the United States. You see we have more churches in our country than the number of kids that needs homes, and the sermon spoke to the fact that as Christians, our calling should be like Gods, to care for orphans and to give them homes. I loved the scripture they used, Psalm 68:5-6 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families". On one side of the room was a wall of actual orphan faces. They did not have names, but their organization was located on the back of their picture, and during worship, we were to pick up one from the wall and simply pray for that child for the next week, month, year whatever! My favorite part of last night though, was the simple way they revealed exactly how many kids are orphaned during a short time. Tables such as the ones above were displayed and every couple of minutes someone would bring an armful of shoes to place on top of it. Each shoe, represented a child who just became an orphan somewhere in the world during our short sermon. There were hundreds of shoes on the stage, and the impact was powerful. Afterwards, everyone ate a small orphan meal of rice and beans, and the family went out together to think of our own little guy.

Now Jay and I both understand that adoption was OUR calling, and we know not everyone is called to literally bring an orphan home from the depths of impoverished countries or from foster care. However I believe we are ALL called to care for  orphans in this world (James 1:27).  If you are interested in learning how you can begin to live out this calling yourself, please click HERE!
I know we are getting a little long here, but if you are still reading....I think you will enjoy this months Ethiopian Education. This month I researched some amazingly unique churches found in a small town called Lalibela. The town was originally known as Roha, but was renamed after the 12-th century King Lalibela who commissioned the churches built there. King Lalibela was a member of the Zagwe dynasty, but when his rivals began to increase in power, he sought the support of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church by building the churches in this small town. 


According to history, King Lalibela's vision for the churches was to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land (and to create a sacred city to rival powerful Axum, with its Ark of the Covenant also located in Ethiopia and previously written about in blogs of past). According to some reports, King Lalibela had been to the Holy Land himself and was inspired by what he saw. But the king made no attempt to copy the churches of the Holy Land; in fact, Lalibela's sacred architecture is some of the most unique in the world and  is considered one of the eight wonders of the world. You see, the churches were not constructed per se, they were excavated! Each church (11 in total) was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of volcanic rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest of all the churches is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with such precision and intricate details with only hammers and chisels is astounding.





Here are a few pictures of the outside and inside of these famous churches.  The detail is unsurpassed.


 Apparently, one of the churches, Bet Maryam, contains a stone pillar on which King Lalibela wrote the secrets to the  buildings' construction. It is covered with old cloths and only the priests may look on it. But according to popular legend,  angels were involved in the process! The angels came every night while the workers slept and picked up where they had left off. Each morning, when the workers awoke, more of the magnificent church was built up in great detail than the day before.
King Lalibela's project for gaining the church's favor had two unexpected results: the creation of a holy place of unparalleled beauty and the kings' conversion to a religious life. After laboring for 20 years, he abdicated his throne to become a hermit, living in a cave and eating only roots and vegetables. To this day, Ethiopian Christians regard King Lalibela as one of their greatest saints.
I found out about these churches by coming across a history channel special...and I found an excerpt you can watch yourself below. It is definitely worth the watch. However, it should be stated, that there is of course some controversy regarding how the churches were built and the short video discusses that....Enjoy!




My Resources and references:

New Testament Bible

Nostotro (2010). The History of Christianity in Ethiopia. Retrieved at: http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t1w12ethiopia.htm

http://national-adoption-month.adoption.com/

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ethiopia/lalibela

http://www.ethiotube.net/video/17185/History-channel--who-built-lalibela-angels-or-aliensET




Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dear Dad,

***Let me begin this post by stating that when I first started this blog, my intention was for it to be used by family and friends to track our progress through our long journey of international adoption. But to be honest, it has turned into more than that for me. It has provided me with an outlet to speak my mind about God, poverty, adoption, planning for new parenthood, new cultural experiences,and today, my grief. This post is intended for my dad. However, I feel compelled to share my feelings on the blog because one day, I want my son to read through these blog posts (hopefully in book format) and understand more about not only the journey in  bringing him home, but also our thoughts, feelings, concerns, fears, and grief’s through the process as well.***



Happy Birthday Gar Bear!

Well dad, today is your birthday, I can’t believe you would have been 61! Oddly enough, I still remember your 38th birthday party at the cabin down in southern Ohio (I know weird birthday to remember, but I do recall reading your cake upside down and thinking you looked pretty good for being 83! I was only six or so at the time). A lot has gone on since we last spoke. Jay and I, as I’m sure you are aware, bought a house and are currently in the process of starting to fill it with kiddos. We did not go with our initial plan to have a biological
child first and adopt second. God called us, as He often does, to do things His way instead of our own. But we are beyond excited! Ya know, to be honest, we have been thinking a lot lately about you and Jay’s sister Becca. As our excitement grows for our new baby, we cant help but think about the amazing people in our heavenly family that he will meet long before he ever meets us, and the ones that are (hopefully) preparing him for the mess he just may find his new parents to be (at least at first anyway). Don’t get me wrong we are doing our research, but every time we have a friend’s child over, they show us how ill prepared our house is for a mobile baby. We still don’t know what an “ergo” is or a “diaper genie” but we still have time and our biggest goal is just getting him home all the way from Africa!  We may not know what the heck we are doing at first, but we plan to love our kiddo with the same love that both of you have shown us over the years. 

I’m not going to lie dad, there are still really tough days for me since your passing. I swear every time I hear the song “Over You” but Miranda Lambert, I burst into the loudest rendition my lungs can bellow, sob like a baby, and all while trying to maintain a moving vehicle ( I hear it mostly when driving).  I just really wish you were around to see what your little girl has turned into. I graduated with my masters last year, we are homeowners and fix things that break (by calling in someone to do the fixing that is), and I’m going to be a mommy in  about 18months (hopefully). But it's not just the big events in life that I miss you most, in fact its mostly just the small everyday ones. For instance, I really wish i could send you a picture message of a handmade wooden jewelry organizer I recently made, and then proceed to call you afterwards to walk you through how to actually open a picture message. After much frustration, and perhaps some choice words, I know you would be proud and show everyone you ran into the next week or two whether they wanted to see it or not.  But the future is what I've really been thinking about most today.  I wish our son could have met you here so I could see how he would light up like every baby you ever met lit up. I wish I could have watched you teach him how to fish and hunt and how to make stuff out of wood. Side note:  I think you would be pleasantly surprised with your son-in-law. We have made a point to do all the things you wanted to teach him. He recently shot a gun for the first time (he is an excellent marksman), and I even took him fishing (and actually made him touch the fish himself). He is going to be a wonderful father. He is so loving, caring, and selfless, a lot like how you were to me. Don’t worry dad, you were absolutely right when you told me on my wedding day that Jay would take excellent care of me…he does daily. But Dad, I wish, more than anything, that you could just be a part of our son’s life. I remember when I was 16 and you told me that when I had children you were going to duck tape them to the wall so they wouldn’t get into your stuff like I always did. I didn’t mention that to the social worker, didn’t think she would find it as entertaining as me and mom did.
But, with all that said, I think Jay and I are going to be alright. We know that both you and Becca are close to us all the time (please tell me that’s one of you guys who messes with lights when Jay is out of town) and we know you both are having a lot to do with our adoption
journey. I will smile the day when I see our kiddo look up and smile at seemingly nothing and know that its probably just you making some goofy face at him like the ones you always made.
Do me a couple of favors would ya pops, 1.) Please stop messing with lights..i get kinda scared sometimes when im home alone. 2.) Tell all the grandparents, Aunt Sheryl, Mike, OZ, and Carol I said hello. 3.) Please continue to bless and watch over our adoption. 4.) Tell Becca I am very excited to meet her one day. I feel like (and have been told) we would have (and eventually will) get along great. Her family is amazing and they continue to be touched daily by the impressive woman she was. 5.) Continue to watch over mom, and work on getting her to move to Columbus near us, would ya…maybe try the light trick on her or
something.

I love you dad, and miss you everyday since June 14th, 2011.  I look forward to the day we meet again, and expect your face to be one of the first I see when I get called home. 

Love Always,
Ileah

Monday, October 8, 2012

Grand Opening




I know everyone is probably getting sick of hearing about politics and such, but we were glad to hear word  last night that our "other " country's government (Ethiopia of course) and courts have officially re-opened for the year! It is wonderful news for adoptive parents that have been waiting for word about travel dates and court appointments and its great for us lower on the totem pole families as it means (hopefully) that we will begin to see some bigger changes in our movement and monthly number.
As I have stated before, we are truly in for the long haul. Every month we receive projected wait times to even hear about our little guy. This month it said we are projected to wait (at the current pace) 22 months before we hear word or see his face through email. Most likely 6 months or more on top of that before he is home. I get asked a lot why such the wait if there are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone. It is shocking and disheartening at times to think that children have to wait so long to be placed in loving homes that are ready and willing to meet all their needs. However, we have to remember that Ethiopia is not a Hague accredited country, which is a designation for international adoptions ensuring that they take place in the best interests of the child at all costs (for more information on the Hague convention and accreditation click HERE). Our adoption agency is Hague accredited and as such, ensures that every child that comes into an orphanage, we are partnered with, is truly an orphan. They perform interviews and have court appointments for relinquishment of parental or family rights if and when necessary. They basically make sure that the country is not making money off the “sale” of children and that the best interest of the child is seen above all things.
Unfortunately, a lot of countries are so corrupt they don’t see the starving children at their gates at all. We recently got an update on the country of Guatemala and their adoptive practices and truly it is sickening. I’d like to share that here because I think this country (Guatemala) needs a lot of prayer and because educating others on the orphan crisis all over the world is how change ensues. Here is the exact update we received:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Humanitarian Crisis Takes A Dire Turn When Guatemalan Courts Rule Against Indigenous Children And The Repeated Wishes Of Their Biological Mothers.  U.S. Powerless To Stop The Violent Separation Of Child And The Only Family He Has Ever Known.
GUATEMALA (August 12, 2012) – It is the tipping point. Recent actions in Guatemala where government institutions have threatened and coerced birth mothers to change previous testimony and has forced the return of children to families of origin who are either uninterested or unable to care for them has pushed the 5 year humanitarian crisis to a tipping point.  Close to 200 remaining U.S. adoptive families have worked tirelessly over the past 5 years to complete these legal adoptions.  The children they accepted referral of and have bonded with have been kept in limbo due to political game playing.
These actions put the country’s most vulnerable children at additional risk of physical and psychological harm for no logical reason.  Anti-adoption political sentiments continue to block legal adoptions that would provide loving homes to hundreds of abandoned children.
Last week Guatemalan Minors Court Judges and Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN) personnel decided upon the fate of several children who have been in the process of being adopted by U.S. families since 2007. The courts of minors denied access to American families and their legal representation who are legal parties to the proceedings.  All of the children have been subject to repeated moves, institutionalized, and in some cases physically abuse.  While the children have endured serious human rights violations in Guatemala, the U.S. government has stood back and watched as the legal rights of U.S. Citizens [in process to adopt them] have been denied or violated.
The Sarkees family has been pursuing the legal adoption of “Child A” for 5 years.  They have been the only family this child has known since his adoption began at birth 5 years ago.  The child’s biological mother has testified 12 times in court and in extra-judicial interrogations steadfastly confirming her wish to place the child for adoption.  Nevertheless, she was coerced to change her position last month by a representative of a Guatemalan institution.  On Aug 30, after 5 years of active disinterest in the child, she agreed to take back custody of “Child A”, per a court resolution.  Guatemalan Court psychologists and child welfare representatives disagreed with the unconditional and unsupervised return of this child to the previously unwilling mother.  All were devastated by the court’s action.  The child was inconsolable. (Photo available per press contact CAPTION: 5 year old boy ripped from the only family he has ever known as his adoptive mother cries “We will never give up. We love you forever.”)
Another family has been in the process of adopting their now 13 year old daughter for over 5 years.  The girl, “Child B” was removed from the home of her abusive biological parents in 2006 via court order and resides in an orphanage.  “Child B” knows and loves her adopting family.  They visit and support her and have tirelessly fought to bring her home.  Suddenly last week she was ushered into a social work interview, which lasted five hours, and sitting in the room were her abusive biological parents.  She was shocked when asked if she wanted to live with them. She said “No” and that she has a loving family waiting for her.  The PGN social worker tried to make “Child B” go back with the biological parents despite a  court order stating that the child was removed from her biological family due to grave abuses.  The child has NEVER been visited by biological family in the 6 years she has been living at the orphanage.  “Child B” has legal documentation that she was abused and is abandoned, which legally severs biological family rights.  For the time being “Child B” was able to refuse the PGNs request that she go back to her abusive biological family at the interview.  She and her adoptive family are living in fear that at any time the PGN could force her to live with her abusers.
In the four plus years of political game playing, hundreds of children just like the two above remain in institutions and living outside parental care.  Each has a long history of heartbreak, but at the core all the U.S. families have given every effort and resource to preserve the bond and to never give up on their adoptive child. The adoptive families are proud of the country of their children’s origin and want the people of Guatemala to know and understand their commitment to these children.
U.S. families entered into a bilateral legal international adoption process in good faith, according to U.S. and Guatemalan law. In Guatemala, the Ortega Law (New Adoption Law) went into effect January 1, 2008.  The Guatemalan Congress passed the Ortega Law with Article 56, a “grandfather clause” which states that adoptions in process at the time the law changed are to complete under the law in effect when they began.
The Department of State has mandates to protect American citizens’ rights abroad and promote the rule of law in other countries.  DOS is supposed to protect Americans under the laws within the foreign country.  In the four plus years that adoptions have been in limbo in Guatemala, case after case involving American families have experienced gross violations of the local law against their legal grandfathered adoptions.  Families have worked tirelessly to request that the DOS and the U.S. Congress follow the mandate, and protect their rights abroad and protect the innocent children who will become U.S. citizens themselves upon completion of the adoption.
Both the Guatemalan and U.S. governments have expressed a commitment to ensuring that the pre-Hague transition adoption cases continue to process.  However, since the law changed in Guatemala on January 1st, 2008 there are still an estimated 200 children whose adoptions remain in limbo, most of these children live in institutions and all of these children have loving families waiting to bring them home.
Please see www.Guatemala900.org for further details and updates

I know that was a little long for a blog post, but please pray for these children and their families. This world is not as small, simple, and safe as we like to believe. God has not made all things right yet, but someday He will and those children will never again be scared or hungry at the hands of corrupt judges and politicians. 
One more thing, November 4th is  known as Orphan Sunday and it is coming! It serves as a call for Christians to reflect on God’s heart for the orphans (and trust me, He has placed on lot of emphasis in our scripture about how he feels about orphans!). I know I have asked my church to reflect on this day and in turn that they ask the congregation to do the same, and Jay and I  are asking that you do as well. For more information on how to help advocate for orphans through your church and/or for free resources click Here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yard Sellin fools

Let me begin with an update on our adoption status...not a huge amount of movement this month, but we are officially number 109 for September, two places up from last month. The courts in Ethiopia remain closed, and its predicted that they will not re-open until mid October, so we are not anticipating any real movement for next month either, but will be pleasantly surprised if we are wrong!

Now for the update on our largest fundraiser, our 30+ family donated yard sale. It was HUGE! We were shocked with the amount of donations that flooded into the the gray house on Frazell in the past few weeks. Our garage truly became a hoarders dream.  I'm sure our neighbors were close to holding an intervention for our seemingly new collection obsession. We took the advise of many yard sale mentors and advertised every where, had unique eye appealing signs, offered Africa shaped cookies, and wore our "Hearts in Ethiopia" matching t-shirts, all in hopes of attracting a large crowd.
The morning began bright and early Saturday at 7:00 am. Jay and I woke up and started pulling items and tables out, and basically got bombarded from that moment on (we were supposed to officially start at 9am, those die hard yard sellers don't mess around, and DONT get in their way of a deal!). It was a llloonnnggg day to say the least, and right when my feet started to bark and I was ready to go lay down, I realized it was only 10:30 am and I still had another 6 hours ahead of me, not to mention the following day! Our amazing family and friends really supported the effort, whether it was moving items around, pricing, packing cars for customers, completing sales, or telling everyone that walked up the driveway about Ethiopia and our adoption process, they were an invaluable asset to our sales success.  We truly have some amazing people in our lives and we are truly grateful to ALL who helped, whether through thoughtful and selfless donations, time with preparation, prayers, or actual (free) labor, we want to express a gigantic THANK YOU to everyone involved. With your help we were able to raise over
$900, with all proceeds helping to bring our little man home, and we still aren't done with the donation quite yet! We did have some left over "larger" items that we are currently selling on craigs and getting more than our garage sale asking price!  Here are a few moments we captured in between our sale efforts.

Uncle John taking a moment to try on some of the fashionable items for sale. I don't believe he bought any of these items, but the girls in the background really enjoyed the show non the less.






Jay and I sporting our fashionable Ethiopia attire.


                                                                                               
Here is Nicole (a dear friend and co-worker) and both soon to be grandma's taking a much needed break.
Overall, it was great experience. I do want to share a pretty cool "God" moment that occurred at the very end of our garage sale. Before the start, I took time to not only pray for good weather and plenty of traffic, but I also took time in the midst of a packed garage to pray for all the amazing families who once had the items, and for the new families they would be going to ( I know it sounds kinda corny but I felt compelled to "bless" the donations as their revenue was truly blessing us). I prayed that the items would go to those who needed them. At the very end of the sale, as the nervous breakdown started to kick in from looking at the remaining multitude of items and wondering where on earth we were going to put them and who the heck would come pick it all up,  a couple of young girls rode up on bikes.  Their entire family had just moved from the Philippines and they didn't have much. They also spoke little English, but they shared their story and what they needed was just what we had needed at the start of our sale, a little help. We donated most of the left over items to this family and they were almost brought to tears with thank fullness. I really do hope that the items go as a blessing to that family and I am glad that God heard all of our prayers that day and answered them all! Thank you again to everyone who made this such a success. Jay and I are one step closer, well actually two according to the numbers and over 16,200 if your counting the Birrs (see below in my Ethiopian educational piece to understand this joke), to becoming a family and this event was a wonderful and beautiful reminder to the love that is backing us in our adventure.  


Now onto my Ethiopian Educational piece, which I thought should be
conveniently about the dollar, moolah, the dinero, or as Ethiopia refers to
it, the Birr. The official currency used in Ethiopia is known as the
Birr. It is the second most widely used currency in Africa after the
Nigerian naira.  Besides having almost all the legends in Amharic,
there are two features which help to immediately identify an Ethiopian birr. Early dated coins,
those dated before EE1969, (which as you recall, Ethiopia has their
own calendar and is seven years behind us..they just celebrated 2005
on Sept 11, hence thee EE1969) feature a crowned rampant lion holding
a cross. See below:

Later dated
coins, those dated EE1969 or after, picture the head of a roaring lion, with a flowing mane, as seen here: 
The currency conversion is one U.S. dollar to 18 Ethiopian Birr. However, foreign currency is rarely used in Ethiopia, so Jay and I will have to convert our money once we get there. Like the American dollar to coin, the Birr is divided into 100 cents. There
are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr notes, much like our paper dollar amounts.                  

According to the website I was looking at, the Birr is very stable and there is no significant difference between the official rate and black market rate..thank goodness right?!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Enkutatash!



                                               Happy New Year! AKA Happy Enkutatash!

No, I am not loosing my mind (which is debatable lately), September 11th is the Ethiopian New years (according to the Gregorian calendar, which is the western calendar we go by, Sept 1 if you are going by the Ethiopian calendar. FYI I plan on doing a post on Ethiopian's calendar soon). Ethiopian New years falls at the end of the rainy season and is called Enkutatash. Enkutatash is not only a religious holiday (September 1rst is celebrated to mark the commemoration of Saint John the Baptist) but also a day of celebration and for singing and dancing. The Ethiopian rainy season typically lasts three months, from June thru August, and Ethiopia almost completely shuts down during this time. It is said that at the start of September, "the sun comes out and creates a beautiful clear, fresh atmosphere, where the highland fields turn to gold and the Meskal daisies begin to flower" (as you can see by this beauty's handpicked lovelies). 


Legend has it that when Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, returned to Ethiopia after her famous visit with King Soloman, her chiefs welcomed her home by giving her “gifts of jewels” or Enkutatash in literal translation. Meskerem (September) is thought of as the month of transition, from the old into the new; much like our January is to us. It is a time to express hopes and dreams for the New Year ahead, as well as for the future, and truly is a reason for celebration as well as reflection.

With this in mind, and in anticipation of learning and celebrating new holidays with our son, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on our “new year” ahead. This year will begin to mark one of the last  that Jay and I are just “us”.  We will soon be entering into the most exciting, crazy, and truly terrifying time of our lives…parenthood. As we approach that time with anticipation and longing, we also are making a clear point to enjoy the quiet that comes from just two people living in a big ol’ house, alone. We love making dinner together, cuddling on the couch, sometimes taking each other on in two man euchre or rummy. We love having Saturday “staying IN” nights; opening a glass of wine, popping in a movie, and relaxing. We love volunteering with our middle school kiddos, taking them golfing, to lunch, shopping, and watching them start to live out their faith. We love cuddling with our fat fur ball Martin. Ladies and gentleman, that is 21 pounds of pure, squeezable love right there!

He loves being the center of our attention, and most of the time, our bed as well.
But, he is about to have to make some big changes when our little guy comes home, we all are. Jay travels a lot currently with his job, and while he loves the freedom of not having an office and desk he is tied to daily, he will have to make adjustments when he takes on fatherhood. As for me,  I love to sleep and nap, and wake up when I am ready. I know these moments will soon be fleeting and trust me, I am attempting to soak in every last Saturday morning sleep in. We love being able to jump in the car and travel anywhere we want without thinking twice about it. And if our friends call us up last minute for a volleyball or football game, we jump right into competitive mode and head out the door. We love our lives together, but we are in LOVE with this little boy we have never even met or laid eyes on. While we love our freedom, we would throw it away tomorrow to bring home little Ethiopian Reichert.  It is truly amazing how love works, how God works. He laid something heavy on our hearts, and when we said yes, he turned that heavy “Do this for me” feeling into a love and longing like we have never felt. I see that feeling in our family too. They are pulling together to get this tike home and it is mind blowing to me, what can happen when just one (or two) people say “yes” to God. Love ripples through everyone and everything around.

We are excited for the “new year”. We have a lot of fun “just the two of us” to be had, road trips and cheap dates to go on, and quiet, peaceful moments to relish in this year.
Jay and I love being “us”, but when the time is right, we are more than willing to trade that in for him. Here's to the New Year and to future!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Creativity in waiting




Well Augusts numbers are in, and we moved 5 places from last month, up to wait list #111. Typically, the numbers jump a bit more than that, however the next three months are Ethiopia's wet season, and the government literally closes down all operations during this time. However, our agency informed us that they have continued to issue court dates for families for their little ones, which is pretty surprising. Again, they are informing us that the next couple of months will be slow on the number movement, and the date for resuming government functions is not known, and will not be known (most likely) until the day they resume. However, as you can see, 5 steps closer is still closer!
We have been praying a lot for our little one and his country lately. As many probably know, the prime minister of Ethiopia passed away this month, and while it was said he was sick for some time and that his position was being filled by the interim, whenever a government "high-up" dies or looses position, many African countries go into chaos and instability (according to a statement released by David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia) effecting all aspects of life for everyone involved including the orphans awaiting adoption. Luckily, David and many others I have been following do not believe this is going to be the case, and we certainly haven't seen that in the weeks following the prime minister's death.
So, whats new with the waiting Reichert's. Well, as you know we have our garage sale at the end of the month, and we have been so blessed with SO many donations! Our garage is packed with awesome stuff...its hard not to go digging into it all and finding a permanent home for some items in OUR home! A side note, I'm pretty sure our neighbors think we are hoarders. Anyways, very excited for the big event. Families and friends are going to help and we are all just pulling together for our new family member, and that is really cool to think about! Now, some people have asked me to post some items so they can look before hand (clearly experienced yard sale shoppers), so I made a tab at the top of the blog entitled "Fundraising" and as we go through items, I will post some of the most popular (according to me, which not sure how much that counts for...). If you are interested, contact Jay or I, or leave a message on the blog and we will get back to you. Also, wanted to share that we have raised nearly $300 on coffee sales! We thank you guys so much! I hope you are all enjoying your brews as much as we are! They will be coming out with Christmas flavors soon, which word on the adoption circuit says are their best flavors! So, don't forget your Aunt Girdy at Christmas who loves coffee, and consider continuing to support our Ethiopian nuggets arrival home! Who knows, by next Christmas, we may hear word on our little man and be preparing to bring him home.
One more thing, we have received A LOT of used/unwanted picture frames and mirrors for the garage sale, and I have been getting pretty crafty (if i do say so myself). I have decided to spruce them up a bit and sell them as lovely chalkboard frames (some even magnetic as well). I have included pictures in the fundraising section. If you are interested in purchasing one, or have any requests, please let me know. I made one for our nursery already and I LOVE how it turned out! Shabby Chic!


The picture at the top is also one i created from an old mirror. Additionally, if you have a really cool frame or mirror that just needs some TLC, I would love to take it off your hands. We also have a lot of candles, which I plan to delve into at some point.




 This post’s Ethiopian Education is about the Mursi, a well-known tribe that still calls Ethiopia home. They live in the far southwest border of Ethiopia, 100km north of the Kenyan border. While small in numbers (less than 10,000 total remaining), they are one of the most recognized tribes left in Africa. The women of the tribe are perhaps the most commonly recognized members and have been featured in a variety of publications and are in themselves, a form of tourist attraction. In fact, as they become increasingly dependent on market exchange, as their economy and culture waiver depending on cattle, droughts, and famine, the women have begun supplying the tourists demand for photographs and expect to be paid for each picture taken. The reason for such curiosity over these women is that they are one of the last groups in Africa to continue wearing ‘plates’ in their lower lips.

It was often thought that the reason for lip plating was to appear less attractive to slave traders who were known to sell members of the Mursi tribe to western countries. However, the true reason is similar to our own piercings, body decoration and artistic proclamation. 

Around the age of 15 or 16, a girls mother or another member of her settlement places a cut in her lip. The cut is then held open by a wooden plug until it heals. After the initial piercing, it is the girls individual decision as to how wide to stretch the lip by inserting larger and larger plugs over a period of time, usually several months.  Some girls choose plates that are as large as 12 cm or more in diameter! This is said, not surprisingly, not be a very pleasant experience. The wood they use inside of the hole is shaved from a simple tree branch (I was not able to readily find infection rates…the NP in me was a tad curious).



Lip plates, much like piercings and tattoos are best seen as an expression of social adulthood and perhaps sexual maturity.  If you would like more information on this tribe, good news, they have a website, you can read more about them here!

*References:
http://www.mursi.org/






Sunday, August 19, 2012

Models and Medals



So these pictures are a bit late, but Jay and I did a little impromptu photo shoot with Kurt Reichert (aka the most amazing father in law) while we were up at the family cottage in July. I found this site (www.adoptionbug.com) for adoption t-shirts recently and purchased two for us to wear at our upcoming garage sale.  They read “Our heart is in…” and there is a little heart where Ethiopia is located on the paint splashed Africa image. Very cute and actually, I've been wearing it everywhere, work, the gym, around the house…I just really like the shirt ok?! Plus, these shirts have been great conversation starters for not only our adoption story and process, but also the orphan crisis around the world. Anyways, thought I would share. Speaking of the garage sale, we are still accepting donations (furniture, cloths, housewares, ect) so please feel free to email or comment if you have any.




In light of the recent Olympics, I thought this posts Ethiopian Education should highlight some athletic accomplishments of famous Ethiopian athletes.  As you know, and as cliché as it sounds, Ethiopians, and Africans in general, are known for their speed! So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that many medals from Olympics past are for running. The first African to win a gold medal was Abebe Bikila in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He ran the marathon with a record time of 2 hours 15 minuets and 16.2 seconds. That is over 26 miles…crazy fast! Even more amazing than that feet (no pun intended, and yes I meant to spell it that way) was that he ran barefooted. The next Olympics in Tokyo in 1964, he beat his old record by running the marathon in 2 hours 12 minuets and 11 seconds, making him the first athlete, and the only African (Ethiopian) in history to win the marathon twice in back to back Olympics. However, his record was beat by another amazing Ethiopian Haile Gebreselasie who ran the race in 2 hours 3 minuets and 59 seconds! 
As for 2012, the Ethiopians once again showed the world their fleet feet. The country in general won 7 medals in running events (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze). Our gold medalists were Meseret Defar in the Women's 5000 meters, Tirunesh Dibaba in the women's 10,000 meters, and Tiki Gelana in the Women's marathon. 
The more you know!

 *Obtained at http://www.deepethiopian.com/2011/02/interesting-facts-about-ethiopia-trivia.html and wikipedia.