Monday Monday

“Monday Monday, so good to me,

Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be

Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn’t guarantee

That Monday evening you would still be here with me.

Monday Monday, can’t trust that day,

Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be

Oh Monday Monday, how you could leave and not take me.

Every other day, every other day,

Every other day of the week is fine, yeah

But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes

You can find me cryin’ all of the time

Monday Monday, so good to me,

Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be

Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn’t guarantee

That Monday evening you would still be here with me.

Every other day, every other day,

Every other day of the week is fine, yeah

But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes

You can find me cryin’ all of the time

Monday Monday, …”

-The Mamas And The Papas

Sleep eluded me even with the drug induced attempt at slumber. By 5 am I was wide awake, by 5:30 I had given up on sleep and was sitting on the balcony of my motel watching the early morning “night life” of the city. I watched the sunrise over the African horizon, the African pigeons cooing and clucking on my ledge of my balcony. I watched the fish shop across the street open and begin to prepare the morning sales. I’m still unsure as to where he got his fish from, there isn’t any major fisheries around Addis for all I know. I watched the street vendors slowly creep out from under their tarps along the road and I watched as the employed ran to catch the busses and taxis on their way to work so very, very early in the morning. I watched as a group of teens ran down the street playing soccer, kicking the ball to and fro, as one looked up and pointed at me, they all laughed, waived, and continued on their way. I saw the small girl carrying water into her house, who happened to notice me watching her, who then returned once her chore was completed to climb into a small tree in front of her home and perch there to watch me watching Addis.

The smell of “goat” still heavy in the air, yet the rain from the night before seemed to have added a “wet smell” as well. As more and more awoke and lit their morning fires you could actually smell the smoke in the air, and the musk of the night was strong. As the sun rose it began to burn off some of the musk and new aromas began to drift into the air. The smells were foreign and invigorating. The air was Africa, exotic yet familiar, it was new yet home. I stood on the balcony for a final moment, filled my lungs with the smells of Africa, then returned back into my room to shower and prepare for the day.

I made it downstairs, and seeing as I had NO CLUE where I was, how to get anywhere, and it was only 7 am, I decided to use the hotels restaurant. My missionary friend would be coming later in the morning to show me where everything was but I had told him I would call some time after 8 am for him to come get me.

I ordered pancakes, I was disappointed in the menu as it was only western food, but I knew I needed to eat and I wasn’t going to try to find any place to eat around the hotel, when I didn’t have a clue where I was. Remember it was raining and dark when I arrived, so I had no clue as to what was around here. The entire meal, pancakes with orange marmalade, toast, fruit juice, and coffee was only 12.50 birr, or about $1.50 US. Well I had discovered a secret to Ethiopia, “juice” means you take the fruit, this morning for example was papaya, and put the entire fruit in a blender, hit puree, and once it “liquefies” pour it in a glass. I picked up my juice, held it sideways and wondered just how I was supposed to “drink” it if it won’t move. My waitress then pointed me to my half of a lime on my plate and told me to squeeze it the drink and mix it up. I have actually gotten to the point that now I miss my juices here in the US. Now the pancakes on the other hand, well they were fluffy bisquick versions of injera. I have some photos of these pancakes, and I promise I will get them posted out here at some point in time, but trust me, they had just as many holes as injera does, I have NO idea how they made them, as they were extremely light and fluffy as well. My best bet is they used seltzer water for the mix.

After breakfast I called the missionary to come and get me to show me where things were around my area of town. He said it would take him about an hour to get there so I went over to try to use the internet at the hotel. You have to go out of the building, across the parking lot, up the stairs and into a small office. This is where the office manager stands up, takes her computer, dials in on a dial up connection, and then stands in front of you while you use her computer to use the internet. As if this wasn’t uncomfortable enough, the computer couldn’t obtain a dial up connection. After 30 minutes of trying I simply gave up. Actually I gave up after 10, but she kept telling me to wait, that she would get connected, and I felt bad just leaving.

I went up to the room to get my stuff together. They were going to move me to the other side of the motel, so I would no longer be on the highway side of the building. When I went up to my room they greeted me and told me to move, but they still had me on the same side of the building. Eventually they got a room ready on the other side and I moved my stuff down, just as my missionary friend arrived. I had taken a bunch of school supplies for him to use with the kids he works with, and he was so very appreciative of this small gift.

We headed to the bank to change my American over to Birr (I ate this morning on the Birr he had given me the night before) The bank was SOOOOOO much fun. They accepted my bills, well except for one from 2003. They said the serial number was marked. I had taken more than I planned on spending anyways, so it wasn’t a big deal, I just swapped it out with another bill. On one hand I was glad to be getting rid of the American currency, on the other, it makes a huge wad of Ethiopian currency when you convert.

By the time we were done at the bank it was time to hit lunch, I wanted to skip eating and get to my kids, but I knew I needed to get the money for the week, and I knew that I wouldn’t eat again until I left my kids, and I knew I would need the energy this food would provide so we went right near by and ate at the Zola Café again. I’m not sure what I ate, it was rice and meat in a spicy sauce. I don’t think it was Ethiopian food, but I have no idea. Well their coffee pot was broken so we headed back toward the orphanage but we swung by the Lime Tree restaurant really quick for a quick macchiato. I noticed this was a VERY plush place and many, many foreigners were there eating. I heard them say this was called the Friendship Building, and I decided to note this place as a safe “retreat” for if I hit meltdown point during the week. We prayed, and I was on my way to meet my kids.

I arrived at the gates of the orphanage, was greeted by the guard, who went to get the director and I pulled the supplies I had for the home out of the taxi just in time to meet a very excited, teary eyed director. She later told me she was so very excited to meet me, that the DVD of our family that we had sent the kids, and the small tokens of love we had sent the kids had meant so much to all of them. She told us they were amazed at our very limited, and often incorrect Amharic, but that we had taken the time to learn what we had learned was amazing. But this conversation happened later in the day, not at the gate.

People swarmed me, took my bags, and left me standing in the gate empty handed and holding my breath saying one last quick prayer. I looked up to see a mass of giggling little kids, pointing and chattering and before I knew what was happening a young man was running up to me calling “DAD!!!!!!!!!!!” I dropped to my knees and embraced my son as he buried himself into my arms. All he said was “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad….” I managed to stop my tears by the time I broke the embrace and looked at my son in the eyes for the first time. He is a strong, and very intelligent young man, and I was looking into the eyes of greatness. I was already in love with this kids, so to describe the emotions I was now feeling, well there just aren’t words for it.

Well more than anything he is a kid, and he wasn’t super impressed with kneeling in the dirt in the gate of the orphanage, so he looked at me, grabbed my hand and said “Dad, Come.”

He took me by the hand and walked me into the building into the directors office. When we go to the gate he pointed at my feet and told me “Shoes off” we put our sandals next to each other and he led me to the couch in the office. He told me to sit, and then sat next to me. He clutched my hand and touched my tattoos and petted my arm hair. Occasionally he reached up to touch my hair, and ran it through his fingers to feel the texture.

As we were sitting here, and I was talking to the director, my daughter walked into the room. SHE IS SO FREAKING CUTE!!!!!!!! She just walked up to me, gave me a small hug, let me hold her on my lap for a second and then sat next to her brother. Now the first thing she did on my lap was to touch my hair, so I guess they were a bit fascinated by the long haired dude who was now dad.

I sat here with my kids at my side, as the poked and pulled on me. As they looked at the scar on my hand from where I cut my finger in half on a table saw (it was my wife’s fault) As they traced the outlines of my tattoos and they counted the moles on my arm. They took turns holding their hands up to mine to see the size difference and they both took turn taking off and playing with and putting back on, my wedding ring.

Through all of this the director is telling me about my children. The fact that they were street kids before they were taken into the adoption program. The fact that they only have one living grandmother, who will come and visit with me later this week, The fact that my son cried when Spain lost in the world cup. That both of my kids are very good, very studious, and very quite. My daughter is extremely quite, and throughout the week she would opt to communicate through charades many times rather than talk, but she has such an infectious and bubbly laugh. It took all I had to keep myself pulled together, many times I felt the tears well up, and I wanted so very much to stay sober minded with the kids, and level headed, and to be strong for them, but it took all I had.

Before I had left the States, my best friend, who happens to be a Navy recruiter (don’t worry I give him heck for it all the time) had loaded me up with a ton of squeezey footballs (American) and basketballs. And I do mean LOADED. Enough for every kid there to have one of each and then some. He also hooked me up with a single strap Navy backpack for me to haul my stuff around in. Well I gave my son the basketballs and my daughter the footballs and followed them around to watch them give them out. The kids LOVED them, but regardless of what ball they had they were being used as footballs (soccer) The sky was alive with flying missiles of squezey toys. This is when I also discovered something else about the kids. It wasn’t enough for all of the kids to have something, all of the adults there had to have one too. My son and daughter both gave theirs away to the nannies that provide their care. But don’t worry, after 15 minutes the balls were simply EVERYWHERE, and they kids were all having a ball with their balls. No one cared about “mine” or possession. They just grabbed a ball if they wanted to play with it and started kicking it around.

Well it didn’t take long for the boys at the home to want to play football (soccer), and I won the respect of the boys when they lobbed the soccer ball towards my head and I manage to juggle the ball with my head with 4 consecutive head butts, before I head butted it back in their direction. Now mind you, that you and I know this was absolutely my guardian angel as I haven’t even touched a soccer ball in the last 8 years, but I was now “cool” and they all wanted to play soccer with me. In fact the very next time they kicked the ball to me it happened to hit my leg just right and without me doing ANYTHING it sent the ball over the wall and out into the street.

My son was very nurturing all day long. If it started to rain, he would pull me inside, or at least under a shelter. If I got a bug in my eye, he got it out. He used a lot of sign language and “looks” but I knew that he was bonding with this care taking and I wasn’t going to stop him from reaching out to create that bond.

Once the shock of actually being here wore off I pulled out the camera to take some photos. Well both of my kids wanted to use the camera, and I just couldn’t say no, so most of the photos from the entire trip are ones they took. I let them go and take what they wanted as this is their memories as well, and it is going to be important to them, even more so than me, to be able to look back and remember their memories. My son figured out the zoom feature and the review feature all on his own, and then he showed me how you can zoom on a photo in the review section, a feature that I didn’t know how to use until he showed me.

Well the kids all loved the tattoos, and one of them had seen a photo of my leg and they pull my pant leg up to see the flaming dove I have there. It was a big joke with them to pull up my pant leg and touch the tattoo and holler “OW!! HOT” Suddenly a child appeared with a box of markers and asked me to draw a tattoo on their arm just like mine. I said we needed to get permission and asked one of the workers there if it would be ok. I got the go ahead, and suddenly every child there wanted me to draw a tattoo on their arm just like mine. Do you know how hard it is to draw the Lion of Judah on a squirming little kid with a kids marker? Or a Bikers for Christ patch on a 2 inch square of flesh?? I was so happy that some of the girls just wanted flowers, and they were so very, very easy to do.

Finally all the kids had at least on tattoo, several of the kids were drawing on each other, and had, many, many tattoos, but they were finally done with me. Or so I thought. The girls had decided I would look good in corn rows and several of the kids surrounded my head and began to braid away. The girls said I was very “konjo” but my son was quite disgusted with them for doing it to me. Well thankfully there was only 1 girl who completed a true cornrow, the rest just fell out right away. All of the kids came by and at least touched my hair as this was going on. I knew they were curious as to the texture and many of the kids giggled as they allowed the hair to pass through their fingers.

We looked through the photos they had, and those I brought and my daughter took every photo out and kissed the face of every person in the photo. Now mind you she was open to hugs, and like it when I kissed her sweet head, but there was no way she was going to kiss me today. Now my son on the other hand, he initiated a lot of hugs, and caught me off guard when he kissed me on the check as he said “I love you Dad.”It was a good surprise, and one I cherished.

This day is forever burned into my mind. I wrote most of the days events that night while I was sitting in the hotel restaurant. Once again, no Ethiopian food, but I orders a “filet mino” and expected some form of steak, just not the breaded chop steak that was brought to my table. But for my soda, my fruit desert, my seafood salad, and my steak, it was only $4.

Shock doesn’t even describe the day. I went from strangers to family in a split second. My heart went from fear to absolute butter at the first touch. We don’t understand a lot of what we say to each other, but we understand enough.

My kids understand, and call me DAD. They both have told me that they love me, and I discovered every Amharic book in existence is WRONG!!!!! I have told my kids, and everyone else it pertains too, Efeckashalow (f), or “I love you” Just like the books tell you too, except they don’t tell you the sexual connotation this for carries, that it’s for spouses and romantic relationships only. So I was informed by the director today I should be saying Ewodashalow (f) You have to love learning a language from a book, you trust the books to tell the truth and you wind up sounding like a crazy nut when you are talking to your kids.

I survived the day. I made first contact. I established relationship.

This day was a good Monday.

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5 Responses to “Monday Monday”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    i cryed when reading this….
    -me-

  2. The kids sound absolutely wonderful. They will love their lives with you and bring many blessings to you and Heather.

    PS Kaitlin and Lucas are growing up SO fast!

    PPS scorde@gmail.com You’re welcome to e-mail me at any time! 🙂

  3. Absolutely beautiful!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences in Ethiopia. My husband and I traveled there in April to bring our daughter home. This is definitely taking me back. I look forward to the rest of the story!

  5. I’m so glad to read about your journey. I had lost your blog address, and I’m so glad you posted it again.

    Blessings!
    Heidi Wilson

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