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Reincarnation of the Dykstra Family Blog
Chad Dykstra - 2014-06-03

Comrades is Coming!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-04-29

Melkam Gena!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-01-07

Why I Run
Chad Dykstra - 2012-10-03

It's All About the Injera
Chad Dykstra - 2012-03-09

Expectations and Reality
Chad Dykstra - 2012-02-15

I Remember
Chad Dykstra - 2011-10-25

A Summer of Firsts
Chad Dykstra - 2011-09-13

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Home Sweet Home!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-12
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Hooray, we're home!  And we can finally post pictures!  smiley  There were moments where the trip home was very difficult, but all things considering, it went remarkably well. The boys were real troopers and went through 25+ hours of travel on only a few hours of sleep.  They did especially well in the airports.  Going through customs and immigration was a breeze.  They stood right by our side and kept up remarkably considering the fact that we were rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off to make sure we didn't miss our connecting flight.  Right off the bat, our flight (was supposed to leave) Addis at 11:59pm - several hours after the boys' bedtime.  Over the next 30 hours they'd get no more than 4-5 hours of sleep total.

As well as the trip went, it wasn't without its' struggles.  Before we left our guest house, Zinabu was running a fever approaching 103 degrees.  Both boys have been sick for a few days including a pretty nasty cough, fever, and diarrhea.  For Z, this came to its' peak about an hour before we had to leave for the airport.  We gave them some medicine and it seemed to make them feel a little better after the first flight.  The largest struggle that we faced, though, was right away on our very first flight.  At first click, the seatbelts weren't an issue at all.  After 15 or 20 minutes, Zinabu realized what the seatbelt actually was and didn't like it very much.  Didn't like it very much is...well...a little bit of an understatement.  When we would try to put his seatbelt on, he would scream at the top of his lungs, kicking and flailing around.  This could only be described as a total meltdown.  This happened 3 or 4 times on the first flight.  After 3 times, I wasn't sure I could take any more.  Zinabu wasn't the only one crying at this point - I was too.  We tried to enlist the help of an Ethiopian man who spoke Amharic to explain what it was and why he needed it.  I don't think he completely understood what we were asking, because he just disconnected his seatbelt after talking to him and walked away. We re-connected it, and another meltdown ensued.  This was about the point where I wasn't sure I would be able to make it home.  After 3-4 times, it was like a switch went on and all of a sudden he didn't mind the seatbelt.  We got him to put it on himself, and the entire trip there was only one other instance where he resisted putting it on at all.  What an amazing answer to prayer. 

The flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis was very long.  It was an entirely daylight flight, and the boys really didn't sleep at all.  At one point we had to separate them - I changed seats with Z and moved between them. I think any siblings being confined to two seats for 9 hours would start to get on each others' nerves.  Let's face it - a flight this long for adults can be tough.  Overall, though, this leg of the trip went really well.  The only tears or fussing we ever saw were with about 20 minutes to go in the flight.  Zinabu started to feel sick again I think (it's hard to know for sure when you don't understand what they are saying!).  Eventually he did fall asleep just as the plane was descending into Minneapolis.  He was awake within a few minutes as we started to go through Customs and Immigration.

Our flight from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids was the one Delta flight of the entire trip that was on-time and actually even arrived a few minutes early.  Up until this point, I was definitely starting to believe that Delta was the armpit of all airlines.  I still might be convinced of this - we've had a less than stellar experience with them throughout this entire trip.  Both boys were able to sit by a window on the plane and get their first views taking off.  This was especially fun for them.  Abatu did catch a little sleep on the last flight. 

We were glad to be back in Grand Rapids on time and were warmly greeted at the airport by friends and family.  Thank you to everyone who was there to greet us - it was very special to see everyone there and to be able to introduce the boys.  We're so appreciative of all the love friends and family have shown - especially over the past month.  We appreciate it more than anyone can know!

Life will definitely be challenging over the next few months.  Right now we're working through the language barrier and the boys still being sick.  They've done great with the 8 hour time change and haven't had any trouble sleeping at night.  They are adjusting to a new house, a new climate, a new family, a new time zone, being restricted to car seats - pretty much new everything.  Abatu seems to be bullet-proof through the whole process and is always smiling.  He did cry once after a fight with Zinabu when he was hit pretty hard with a metal toy truck.  Zinabu is having a little harder time with it all.  I think part of it is his personality, and it may also be that he is sicker, or that he is older and is grieving the loss of his previous life a little more than his younger brother.  There's no doubt the boys have gained a lot being brought into our home - but they've also lost a lot.  Everything they've ever known, in fact.  I'm sure that it's a very difficult transition for them.  As we work through it, we have to set and reinforce limits that have been set in our house for a long time - especially with Zinabu.  We've already had to discipline him for constantly playing with light switches, A/V equipment, and the gas dials on the stove (ack!).  It's difficult to "baby-proof" your home from an inquisitive 5-6 year old.  It can only be done through education and discipline - both of which are difficult, especially due to the language barrier, and will take time.  I'm confident that with time, though, we'll get there! 

Today is Christmas decoration day!  Abi has been ready to get the tree up since we first walked in the door. We'll have plenty of time to enjoy the decorations this year, becuase we probably won't make it out of the house very much.  We've been thinking about getting out today to pick up a few necessities - still thinking that one over.  We won't be able to stay here forever!  :)

Thanks for following our journey!  We appreciate all of you more than you know! 

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A New Chapter About to Begin

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-09
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Our chapter in Ethiopia is quickly drawing to a close!  As we drove around yesterday, Zinabu would say "America" any time we would see nice buildings as we were traveling around Addis Ababa.  I was explaining "not yet!  Ety-op-ya."  That new chapter is almost here!  We're packed up and checking out.  This morning we will do a little shopping at the market, pick up the Visas for the boys, and then grab lunch.  We'll finish up our last afternoon in Ethiopia, then head back to the airport for the long journey home.

For friends and family who are interested, we will be having a "meet and greet" at the airport in Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon.  Our scheduled arrival time is 4:55pm on Delta flight 1662 from Minneapolis - we'd love to see as many of you as possible there.  This will be your one opportunity to meet the boys for quite some time(or at least see them, they may be sleeping).  Once we return home we're going to spend several weeks under the radar as everyone adapts to the "new normal".  Thanks for all your love and support!  We'll really miss Ethiopia, but we can't wait to get home!

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Hangin' Out

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-08
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We have been together for 2 nights now!  So far everything is going how we had hoped it would.  Zinabu and Abatu are both very happy little boys.  They have been sleeping well at night and we're able to communicate enough to get by.  I'm still working on my "essential" Amharic - getting a list of words and phrases necessary for children, such as bathroom, what is this, come here.  There are also those more specific to active 4-6 year olds...sit down, calm down, be careful!  I would like to continue to learn Amharic.  I think it would be special if when we return sometime to visit their family, they would still be able to communicate with them.  It won't be very likely that I could learn Kambaata (their native language) because there aren't any resources out there for learning it. 

Speaking of language, we had a funny language experience last night.  I had been sitting on the couch studying my Amharic sheets, and Abatu walked up to me and said something in Amharic.  One of the words he said was Zinabu and pointing at him.  Zinabu was holding some bubbles that we have only asked him to play with outside.  I said "Abatu, are you saying that Zinabu is playing with the bubbles inside?".  He shook his head yes.  Everyone proceeded to bust out laughing, in amazement that we had this beatuful conversational moment.  For a minute or two Lora actually thought that I understood him.  Of course I was just assuming, and Abatu was probably just shaking his head yes.  :)

In 2 nights, we still haven't seen tears from Abatu and only one time from Zinabu.  We get lots of smiles though, which is a great alternative!  The boys have the cutest little smile that just melts your heart.  They share toys well also.  There are still boundaries that they need to learn, like not digging through our bags to find what they want or grabbing anything that they'd like to play with.  They do a good job in the bathroom by themselves but the bathroom at the orphanage didn't have a toilet seat and they flusher was out of their reach, so we need to retrain them to put the seat up and to flush when done.  As well as things are going, we will definitely have our hands full!  Zinabu is every bit as active and inquisitive as we had expected.  Every time one of the social workers, nurses, nannies, or doctors says his name, they laugh.  His reputation definitely precedes him.  Even the security guard at the US Embassy said "Hello Zinabu" when we walked out.  We're still trying to figure that one out!

Our U.S. Embassy appointment was yesterday afternoon.  That was a little different than we had expected.  It's a little more like going to a bank teller or ticket counter.  There's a nice American man standing behind a big sheet of bullet-proof glass who goes over some paperwork with you, has you sign a few forms, and asks a few questions.  In 5-10 minutes, it was finished and we were back outside playing.  The Embassy was like being in the US.  It was a very nice building with a drinking fountain and a bathroom that would have been capable of flushing the toilet paper.  The small things you take for granted!

Today we will go to the Morning Coffee guest house where we stayed last time we traveled.  We are going to have lunch and then we will have the opportunity once again to meet with our sponsored child from Yelzelalum Minch and the sponsored children from some families in our church.  We will take a few pictures of them and distribute the gifts that sponsor families sent with us.  We have one more night in Ethiopia!  Tomorrow we get the Visa required for entry into the US, and then we fly out tomorrow night!  In 48 hours, we will be in Amsterdam on our way home.

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