First of all, Happy Father's Day to my dad, my stepdad John, and Connie my dad-in-law! Oh yeah, and my hubby, who's now a father of two.
While we hung out waiting for Bethany's directions, Birtukan took us on a short tour of their home. Before they launched Morning Cofee Guest House, she, Nesibu and their four kids lived in the entire house. When they opened up three bedrooms, two baths, a living area and a kitchen to guests, her family squeezed into a little space across patio. Birtukan believes that opening her home to visitors is another important part of her mission to help orphans of Ethiopia.
We sat in her small living room, which was one-third the size of the GH living room. I admired photos of her and Nesibu on their wedding date and adorable pictures of her children. Meanwhile she and one of her helpers prepared a traditional coffee ceremony for Spence and me. We washed our hands in a wash basin that her helper brought around. No towels, just drip dry. Then Birtukan explained how the three traditional cups of coffee are offered. The first is the strongest, mixed with generous amounts of coarse-grain sugar. It was the BEST coffee I have ever had. It kicked Starbucks' hiney. The second cup is made with the same grounds, making it and the third cup slightly less strong but no less good. Along with the coffee, she served injera and shiro. Ahmed, my friend in the states was right, the injera is different, better. And the shiro was wonderful. Again, no napkins. You just wiped your fingers on the injera.
Once we were adequately buzzed, we walked with Birtukan across the street to Yezelalem Minch where we met the staff and learned more about the sponsorship, community feed and women's self-help programs. They had just printed new brochures and we brought a bunch back for anyone who's interested in supporting YM. I'll post more on YM later. It's a wonderful ministry founded by Birtukan herself, and the story is too amazing not to devote an entire post to it.
While at YM, the royalty of Bethany walked in (at least that's how I came to view them). Mekonen, the new director, with his quiet confident way, Tendaye, who oversees all the Africa programs, with his James Earl Jones smile and charisma, and eventually Milkiyas, who did most of our adoption legwork, with his briefcase and suit coat revealing that he rarely sits still. We talked about our hopes of going to Awassa tomorrow, which they totally supported, and of possibly seeing Dawit today. Even though it was nearly 5 p.m., Birtukan agreed to escort us to Shalom's transition house for a quick visit. We had no idea it would take 45 minutes through crazy Addis rush-hour traffic to get there, and we were all the more grateful.
When we arrived, they directed us to replace our shoes with slippers and passed around antibacterial gel. The place was spotless, the nurses decked out in matching uniforms. And by the window in a generously donated exersaucer was the cutest little boy with the famous curly mohawk gazing up at us with his enormous eyes. Spence said, "Is that him?" With only one picture to go by 3 months earlier, he wasn't sure. But I knew. It was strange to hold him, but it quickly felt natural. We played with him for about 30 minutes, toured the facility, then reluctantly left him, promising we'd be back Monday. It was totally surreal.
We went back to the guesthouse where Birtukan fixed spaghetti and marinara with an Ethiopian twist. Nesibu and Birtukan ate with us so we got to know them better. Then, I think, we crashed. Big day tomorrow!