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

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Why I Run
Chad Dykstra - 2012-10-03

It's All About the Injera
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Chad Dykstra - 2012-02-15

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Monkeys, Hippos, and Together With the Boys!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-06
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After leaving the visit with the family in Halaba, we stopped in Awassa for the evening.  On Sunday, we went to a park where we were able to feed monkeys and take a boat ride to an area where hippos were lounging in the water.

Originally, we were all strong and were NOT going to feed the monkeys.  The Bethany travel packet says not to feed the monkeys.  It took all of about 30 seconds for all of us to cave.  Before long, they were sitting on our shoulders and eating from our hands.  Sorry, Belinda!  Not to worry, nodobdy got hurt.  I didn't feel too bad, because we have a picture of our social worker with a monkey sitting on her shoulder.  :)

The hippo boat ride was a neat experience.  We all wore life jackets and it's understandable why.  The boat was taking water on about as quickly as they could bail it out.   As Alan Jackson says, however, "You can't beat the way an old wood boat rides".  We went about 3 miles by boat to the hippo lounging area, took some pictures, then headed on back.

We have been able to take a few pictures of all of this, but it's limited because the batteries on both of our cameras are now dead.  I have a spare battery for my main camera, but unfortunately I packed it in our luggage, which still has not arrived.  As you can imagine, we are extremely tired of wearing the same clothes.  We are now on day 5. We're just hoping that they arrive before we leave.  We really don't want to bring all of our donations back home with us!  They tell us tomorrow might be the day we get our luggage.  They told us that yesterday, too.  Thank you, Delta! The other families and several of the Ethiopians here have been gracious enough to lend us all some clothes and for other things, we've done a little shopping.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to approach Delta on this issue, please let me know!  We better be getting something good out of this ordeal.

Another downer about no luggage is no camera chargers.  Both of my cameras are now dead.  I have a spare battery for my main camera, but it's in the luggage with the charger.  Fortunately today we found another family who is traveling that had a Nikon camera that used the same battery.  I took his spare battery, and gave him my dead one.  He's going to charge me up and get me back in business.  What a blessing!

This afternoon was the goodbye ceremony at the orphanage.  All of the children who are adopted were dressed in traditional Ethiopian clothing.  They had cake, pop, and other students sang them a song.  We played for a while, and then time to go!  We have been back at our guest house with Z & A for about 30 minutes.  Things have been going great!  I am trying to learn some Amharic words and so far that has been going well.  I'm glad that I have at least some aptitude for foreign languages.  The boys are very happy and fascinated by every aspect of their new surroundings.  Their friend "M" is here also, who we found out on our family visit is actually not just a friend, but is a second cousin to A & Z!  The best part - he is going to live in Holland!  A & Z will have family just a few minutes away.

We're excited for what the next few days are going to hold.  It's surreal to step off the bus and walk down the driveway to the guest house holding A & Z's hands.  No more orphanage.  No more visits.  No more leaving without them!  As one of our friends here said..."Hey, guys, we're no longer people that are going to adopt!  It's finished"!  We aren't exactly finished...tomorrow is our US Embassy appointment.  After that, then we are finished.  Two day wait for a Visa for the boys to come home, and we're back on a plane on Thursday!

PS - due to the fact that I haven't been able to blog in a while and for length purposes, I split this most recent blog into two entries.  Be sure to read the next one down - "A Visit to Remember".


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A Visit to Remember

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-06
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We had the once in a lifetime opportunity this weekend to sit down with A & Z's sister at the orphanage in Halaba where she first dropped them off.  She is married with two small children of her own.  We were able to meet her husband, her children, and A & Z's two youngest older siblings.  This was an unexpected blessing - we were not expecting any others to be there.  We took lots of pictures of each of their family members that were there.  We plan on hanging those pictures up in A & Z's room and also sending copies back to the family.  They most certainly would not otherwise have any pictures of themselves.  We will not discuss any of this with the boys or show them the pictures for some time until we feel that they are adjusted to their new life.  We're expecting that to probably at least be a month or two.

There were many moments that truly broke our hearts. In general I'm not a very "emotional" kind of guy, and this is one of the first times in my life that my heart was truly broken by something that breaks the heart of God. Watching their oldest sister looking at the picture books we prepared for her and having to run away after looking at each page because the grief was too much to bear, composing herself to come look at another page, and then do it all over again for the next page.  Lora and I just held each other at a distance crying and wondering if we had made the right decision in giving them the books. We know how tightly they hold the books that we did.  They are something that the family will always treasure.

We found out that the oldest sister makes pottery for sale at the market, and that their mother did as well.  We were able to ride to the market after our meeting and the sister went and brought some of her pottery that we were able to purchase.  We were very excited to have something like that to take home.

It is very clear that A & Z were, are, and always will be truly loved by their family.  His sister bestowed upon us the responsibility that she received from her father to care for them and raise them. She was happy to hear that A & Z would receive a quality education and would be raised in a Christian home.  She requested that we send letters and pictures often, and that some time we return with the boys so they can visit.  We're going to start putting money away right away so we can make this happen in 5-7 years, when the boys are old enough to appreciate it.  Flying 6 to Africa is no cheap vacation!

I could write for hours on all we experienced, thought, said, and heard.  For the privacy of the family and A & Z, however, this update is extremely abridged.  We were truly blessed by the experience.  When our flights were delayed/missed and we originally were not set to arrive until Saturday night, we would have had to miss this trip.  We would have paid any cost necessary to arrive in time for it.  It will be invaluable in the future as we try to understand and answer questions that A & Z inevitably will ask, and it was definitely an experience we will never forget.

Ethiopia and their siblings will always be a part of A & Z, and we fully intend to keep it that way. We consider their siblings here not only part of A & Z's family, but our family and we will pray for them often, write letters, and send pictures on a regular basis.  Please join us in praying for them.  They are an amazing Christian family that could sure use our prayers.


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We (eventually) made it

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-03
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It has been in interesting couple of days.  Our first flight from Grand Rapids was delayed 2 hours, which caused us to miss our connecting flight into Amsterdam.  We had 2 other couples that we were traveling with, and we were all on the phone with our travel agents trying to get something else lined up.  The original re-booking that Delta did for us wouldn't have got us into Ethiopia until Saturday night!  That just wouldn't do, because we would have missed our trip to the South to visit A&Z's sister.  We would not miss that opportunity at almost any cost.  After several phone calls and working with a few different Delta employees, we were able to get re-booked through Frankfurt, Germany and then took Ethiopian Airlines to get us here (after a 13.5 hour layover in Frankfurt).  We thought about getting out of the airport and taking an afternoon out, but it was 18 degrees and none of us had jackets. Who needs jackets when you're going to Ethiopia?  Apparently we did!

After a Wednesday night red-eye, a 13.5 hour layover on Thursday, and another red-eye on Thursday night, we finally made it!  The last "minor" inconvenience is that our luggage didn't make the flight to Frankfurt and is probably sitting in Amsterdam right now.  We're being told we'll get it Saturday after 11pm or Sunday sometime.  We stopped and bought a few clothes and basics to get us through until then.

We visited A & Z at the orphanage yesterday for over 4 hours.  It was great, and we're really feeling more like we're getting to know them.  We were beat though, and ready to be done by the time we had to leave.  After almost no sleep since Tuesday and an 8 hour time difference, we were ready for a shower and a bed!  I still have trouble sleeping here.  Up at 4am this morning.  Hopefully tonight will be better.

This morning we leave for Southern Ethiopia where we get to meet A & Z's sister and ask her any questions we may have.  She'll also have the opportunity to ask us questions.  We're really looking forward to this opportunity to get more insight into A & Z's family and what life was like before the orphanage.  It's about a 4.5 to 5 hour drive to get to the area the boys lived.  We'll be there overnight and travel home on Sunday.

The next time we see the boys will be on Monday, and they will be coming with us!  We're looking forward to it, but we're going to enjoy our last few days of solitude first.  We'll report back after we return from our trip on Sunday night.


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