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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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Expectations and Reality

Chad Dykstra - 2012-02-15
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update.  I even have one or two blog posts written in a mostly finished state that never got posted.  Maybe I’ll get them posted eventually, or maybe I just needed to write them for therapeutic reasons.  Thus is life – you get into the daily grind of life and things like blogging get put on the back burner.
Disclaimer:  This is not a happy-go-lucky blog post.  If you’re having a great day and are looking for something upbeat, I’d suggest you stop reading now, or maybe just skip to the very end.
Over the life of this blog, I’ve talked a lot about expectations and reality.  Most definitely, there were things we experienced that we were not expecting.  I’ve written about some of these over the past year.  We did expect upon returning home from Ethiopia that our world would turn upside down. It did, and that was OK. We expected life to be really hard.  It was – and we were ready for it.  We expected there to be a lot of transitions.  There were.  Some of them were easy to work through, some not so much – but we were expecting them.  We expected after a few months for things to start to get a little easier.  In many ways, it did.  We expected by a year to be settling back into somewhat of a “normal” life.  This is where things get a little fuzzy.
A year is a magical length of time.  One year from the day you were born, it’s your birthday!  Just like that, you’re a year older.  Maybe more mature.  That one day older makes all the difference.  Just like a birthday, a year after the “gotcha day” is a special day.  Any adoptive parent can attest to that.  We hoped that a year later would prove to be that magical milestone in our journey.  Things would keep improving.  Our life would begin to take on some form of normalcy.  But you know what?    Those were expectations and not reality.
Life after a year has continued to be really hard.  Many of the things we battled plague us still.  Many of the things we hoped would go away haven’t.  Starting at one year, many things seem to have even gotten worse.  It can be really hard to have expectations that things will get better and be taking steps backwards.
On a daily basis, we still deal with multiple tantrums.  We still deal with extreme fairness and selfishness issues.  Our biological children are still learning bad behaviors.  We still deal with physical and aggressive behavior toward siblings.  We shudder to see the school’s number come up on caller ID.  We get notes from teachers.  We’ve seen letters from the bus driver.  Just in the last few weeks, we’ve begun dealing with repeated stealing behaviors.  Some are minor, but some are not.  Bad choices follow more bad choices.  Fight or flight takes over so quickly, and things just spin out of control in an instant.  Emotions are like a light switch.  Big straws and little straws keep piling up and the camel’s back can only take so much.
Every day we look forward to 11:55am when the school bus comes.  The house is quiet for a few hours, but 3:57pm is coming, and along with it that big yellow bus.  Life is chaos until bedtime, and by the time the kids are finally in bed we’re so exhausted that we usually just collapse into bed ourselves, even if it’s only 9:00. Get up in the morning and do it again.
Through our family blog, I’ve tried to be honest and real about our feelings and experiences.  I know there are other families who go through these things too, and there are families that will be going through them.  I really wish I could put a nice big bow end of this.  Give it a little “turn-around” or pick-me-up moment at the end saying how we’ve solved all our problems – and maybe world hunger too. I’ll do my best – but unfortunately, there really hasn’t been a magical fix or an easy button.  It’s a battle a day at a time.  We are doing the best we can with the tools that we have, and we are expanding our toolset through reading and counseling.  We have a very supportive family that we’re so thankful for.  We love the opportunities we have for “date nights” once in a while.  We usually just sit across the table from each other in silence, but that’s all we really need.  Sweet, sweet silence.  We both exercise regularly to help our sanity.  I am running 6-7 days a week.  Lora goes out with her mom’s group a once or twice a month, and I get out with the guys a couple times a month as well.  Every opportunity to get out of the house or get away for a few minutes and unwind is really a blessing.
Thanks for sticking with us through this journey.  If you’ve made it this far into this blog, you must really be with us for the long haul.  We appreciate you more than you know.  Now I’m off to hit the treadmill for a much needed sanity break.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update.  I even have one or two blog posts written in a mostly finished state that never got posted.  Maybe I’ll get them posted eventually, or maybe I just needed to write them for therapeutic reasons.  Thus is life – you get into the daily grind of life and things like blogging get put on the back burner.
 
Disclaimer:  This is not a happy-go-lucky blog post.  If you’re having a great day and are looking for something upbeat, I’d suggest you stop reading now, or maybe just skip to the very end.
 
Over the life of this blog, I’ve talked a lot about expectations and reality.  Most definitely, there were things we experienced that we were not expecting.  I’ve written about some of these over the past year.  We did expect upon returning home from Ethiopia that our world would turn upside down. It did, and that was OK. We expected life to be really hard.  It was – and we were ready for it.  We expected there to be a lot of transitions.  There were.  Some of them were easy to work through, some not so much – but we were expecting them.  We expected after a few months for things to start to get a little easier.  In many ways, it did.  We expected by a year to be settling back into somewhat of a “normal” life.  This is where things get a little fuzzy.
 
A year is a magical length of time.  One year from the day you were born, it’s your birthday!  Just like that, you’re a year older.  Maybe more mature.  That one day older makes all the difference.  Just like a birthday, a year after the “gotcha day” is a special day.  Any adoptive parent can attest to that.  We hoped that a year later would prove to be that magical milestone in our journey.  Things would keep improving.  Our life would begin to take on some form of normalcy.  But you know what?    Those were expectations and not reality.
 
Life after a year has continued to be really hard.  Many of the things we battled plague us still.  Many of the things we hoped would go away haven’t.  Starting at one year, many things seem to have even gotten worse.  It can be really hard to have expectations that things will get better and be taking steps backwards.
 
On a daily basis, we still deal with multiple tantrums.  We still deal with extreme fairness and selfishness issues.  Our biological children are still learning bad behaviors.  We still deal with physical and aggressive behavior toward siblings.  We shudder to see the school’s number come up on caller ID.  We get notes from teachers.  We’ve seen letters from the bus driver.  Just in the last few weeks, we’ve begun dealing with repeated stealing behaviors.  Some are minor, but some are not.  Bad choices follow more bad choices. Emotions are like a light switch.  Big straws and little straws keep piling up and the camel’s back can only take so much.  We wish we could just enact swift disciplinary action for bad behavior, but it's a gray area. Fight or flight takes over so quickly, and things just spin out of control in an instant. 
 
Every day we look forward to 11:55am when the school bus comes.  The house is quiet for a few hours, but 3:57pm is coming, and along with it that big yellow bus.  Life is chaos until bedtime, and by the time the kids are finally in bed we’re so exhausted that we usually just collapse into bed ourselves, even if it’s only 9:00. Get up in the morning and do it again.
 
Through our family blog, I’ve tried to be honest and real about our feelings and experiences.  I know there are other families who go through these things too, and there are families that will be going through them.  I really wish I could put a nice big bow end of this.  Give it a little “turn-around” or pick-me-up moment at the end saying how we’ve solved all our problems – and maybe world hunger too. I’ll do my best – but unfortunately, there really hasn’t been a magical fix or an easy button.  It’s a battle a day at a time.  We are doing the best we can with the tools that we have, and we are expanding our toolset through reading and counseling.  We have a very supportive family that we’re so thankful for.  We love the opportunities we have for “date nights” once in a while.  We usually just sit across the table from each other in silence, but that’s all we really need.  Sweet, sweet silence.  We both exercise regularly to help our sanity.  I am running 6-7 days a week.  Lora goes out with her mom’s group a once or twice a month, and I get out with the guys a couple times a month as well.  Every opportunity to get out of the house or get away for a few minutes and unwind is really a blessing.
 
Thanks for sticking with us through this journey.  If you’ve made it this far into this blog, you must really be with us for the long haul.  We appreciate you more than you know.  Now I’m off to hit the treadmill for a much needed sanity break.

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I Remember

Chad Dykstra - 2011-10-25
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It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since we first met Zinabu and Abatu. That day will forever be burned in my mind, and I remember it like yesterday.  I remember getting on the bus, knowing we were heading to the orphanage and knowing that in just a few short minutes, our lives would forever change.  I remember the surreal feeling of that big bus turning down that small dirt alley and slowly pulling up to the gate of the orphanage.  I remember Rob saying “Hey, dude, I think I see your kid”. I remember looking out the window seeing Abatu scurrying around cleaning up toys with the nannies and some other children to make the orphanage look its’ best prior to our arrival. I remember so vividly the thoughts and feelings that were going through my head at that very moment. It’s just not possible to entirely verbalize them, but I’ll do my best.  Seeing him and knowing that he really does exist – that he’s not just a picture and a story written on a referral report. Knowing that in just a few minutes, we would walk through that gate.  We would meet our children – the children which we had anticipated joining our family for so long. Knowing from that point on, our life and our family would never be the same.  I remember being filled with nervous excitement, clutching Lora’s hand tight and doing my best to fight back tears.

I remember walking through that gate and being led into a small room with all the other families - all of us waiting with anticipation for them to bring out our children.  Zinabu and Abatu were first, so the rest of the kids coming in was just a blur. I remember the scared look on their faces as they came walking into the door - the nanny saying ‘Zinabu and Abatu’, pushing them toward us as we raised our hand.  Pulling them on our laps and giving them each a squishy ball with lights in it.  We’ve since asked the boys about that moment, and they remember it well too.  It was a scary experience for them.  The scariest part for them was our ‘light eyes’.  The boys had likely never seen blue eyes before.

 

I remember the fun of playing with our boys for the first time – Zinabu’s crazy energy and playing with anything electronic he could swipe from someone’s hand.  I remember Abatu’s remarkable prowess in kicking and throwing a ball and his quiet, nervous smile.  I also remember the sheer exhaustion that came from days with little to no sleep and being weary from travel.  As awesome as it was to be there I remember just wanting to go back to our guest house and crash.

Today, we celebrate one year from the day our lives changed forever.  The last year has been filled with many ups and many downs.  We have had a lot of days filled with joy and laughter, and we have also had a lot of days filled with yelling, fighting, and tears.   Although he considered himself an atheist, Bruce Lee once said “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”.  Our life isn’t necessarily easy right now, but that’s OK. We pray for wisdom to meet the unique needs of our children, and the patience to endure challenges that come our way.  Having that patience is a challenge in and of itself, and we still have a long ways to go…but we’re trying!  Although it’s challenging, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We’ve been so blessed through the additions to our family and through all the friends that took this journey with us – you know who you are.

On top of all the memories from a year ago, we also celebrate Abatu’s fifth birthday today.  What a day!  We look forward to celebrating many more October 25ths. I will leave you with this precious clip from one year ago of Zinabu asking a blessing over a snack.  Enjoy!


 


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A Summer of Firsts

Chad Dykstra - 2011-09-13
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It's been a while since we've had an update.  That's not due to a lack of things to write about...it's due to a summer with too much to do and too little time to document it all.  Truth be told, this update has been partially written for a long time, but I haven’t made the time to finish it up.

 
We've had a lot of firsts since our last update.  We had our first family camping adventure at P.J. Hoffmaster State park, where we camped with over 50 other other Ethiopian adoptive families.  It was a fun time of bike riding, camp cooking, and spending lots of time with friends - both new and old.  The kids would disappear on their bikes for extended periods of time and we'd have to hunt for them.  With four kids all on two wheelers, there was no way we were able to maintain their location at all times.  If our kids spent too much time at your campsite, I apologize.  :)  We went to the same Ethiopian camp-out last year as a family of four.  We hadn't even received our referral at that point - it came just a few weeks later.  My oh my - how things can change in the course of a year!
 
We also had our first family trip to the mountains.  We stayed in Sevierville, Tennessee and visited the Smoky Mountain National Park with Grandpa and Grandma V.  This was also our first vacation which didn’t involve other Ethiopian adoptive families.  The kids were a little young to appreciate touring the park (read: lots of whining and complaining), but they were really troopers on the way home - Tennessee back home in only 2 stops!
 
 
We lost our first teeth - and second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and so on.  Abi is minus two teeth, Zinabu is minus six (two were gone already when he got home), and Abatu is minus one going on two.  The tooth fairy is going to go broke in our house over the next couple years.
 
We had our first swimming lessons for Zinabu and Abatu, and discovered how much they enjoy the water...although not so much the being cold that goes along with it.  All four kids did a great job at their swimming lessons.
 
 
We took our first family bike ride down the road.  Our house has been training-wheel free for quite some time, and now there’s a lot of one handed riding and popping wheelies and going on everywhere.  That first ride down the road was pretty stressful, and we haven’t worked up the courage to do it again.  We also had our first family road race, at the Rural Rush.  Lora and I ran the 5k, then did the one mile fun run with the kids.  They’ve asked to do it again, so we need to get running!
 
A few weeks ago we did a church camp-out at Cran Hill Ranch, which involved our first frog race.  I think Lora and I had more fun catching frogs than the kids did.  Of course once it came time for races, the kids saw that other people had turtles, and frogs were no longer good enough.  I guess next year, we need to catch turtles instead - then we can have our first turtle race.  Oddly enough, I caught a turtle last night down by the pond - the kids did enjoy playing with it for a few minutes before bed.
 
We wrapped the summer up with our first surgery - Zinabu had his tonsils and adenoids taken out a few weeks back.  They were extremely large and restricted his airways while sleeping.  We had a sleep study done, and they identified them as a problem, so we had them removed.   This was a challenge for all of us.   The first few days Z was so sad and betrayed.  If he didn’t get his medicine every four hours, he had some serious pain to deal with, and he hated the medicine, so we were always fighting either him being in pain, or forcing him to take it.  He was quiet and downcast all the time.  After a few days, his demeanor improved, but we were still left with the pain and his own unique brand of mischief returned.  This made for a very tough combination.  The recovery is mostly behind us now, and we’re hopeful that a consistent better night’s sleep will help Zinabu to level out some of the super-highs and super-lows he goes through on a daily basis.
 
Now that summer is over and fall is nearly upon us, we’ve moved on to a new set of firsts. We have our first sports experience.  With four kids, we have an entire team worth of players, and yes - all four kids are on the same team. As you can probably imagine, they asked us to coach the team.  Go figure.  Now our Saturdays and Mondays are spent on the soccer field.  Depending on the day and the hour, this has mixed reviews.  Today I heard someone complaining about not liking it and not wanting to go back, but in an hour they’ll probably say that it’s fun.
 
We also have had Zinabu and Abatu’s first school bus rides.  This was a big problem for us last year, because Abi got to ride the school bus daily and they weren’t able to.  We heard about it every day.  We will very soon have our first time when all four kids are in school.  Ben will be in preschool three days a week in the afternoons, so we will have a few brief hours where Lora will be able to spend some time with her horse on a consistent basis - also a first.
 
 
The boys really enjoy school, which is great.  They come home happy and seem to be having a very positive experience.  We’re very happy about this!  School, however, doesn’t come without its’ difficulties.  Abi is now getting on the bus in the morning and is in school all day.  Z & A are extremely upset by this, and are in a very bad mood all morning because of it.  They feel cheated because Abi is doing something they aren’t, and they let us know it - over and over.  Worse than that, when Z is angry, he will break into a full tantrum at the drop of a hat, will bother people to no end, and even will hurt people just because he’s mad.  This is our morning existence these days - trying to run tight crowd control and just counting down the minutes until 11:55.  Lora and I were even trying to figure out how we can send him to do something in the morning so he doesn’t get so angry, but for now we’re just going to ride it out a little longer and hope it gets better. 
 
Tonight, we will take the kids to the Allegan County Fair for their first amusement park rides.  We went to the fair last weekend to see the barns and hang out with Papa and Nana.  This was fun, but again, the kids felt very cheated because they didn't get to ride the rides and "other people were having fun".  I'm sure they'll still be mad about all the rides they're too small for, but hopefully the can have fun on the rides they're able to go on.  Never a dull moment!
 
Tonight, we’ll take the kids to the Allegan County Fair for their first amusement park rides.  We went to the fair last weekend to see the barns and hang out with Papa and Nana.  This was fun, but again, the kids felt very cheated because they didn’t get to ride rides and “other people were having fun”.  I’m sure they’ll still be mad about all the rides they’re too small for...but hopefully they can have some fun on the ones they’re able to.  Never a dull moment!
 
 
Tonight, we’ll take the kids to the Allegan County Fair for their first amusement park rides.  We went to the fair last weekend to see the barns and hang out with Papa and Nana.  This was fun, but again, the kids felt very cheated because they didn’t get to ride rides and “other people were having fun”.  I’m sure they’ll still be mad about all the rides they’re too small for...but hopefully they can have some fun on the ones they’re able to.  Never a dull moment!
Tonight, we’ll take the kids to the Allegan County Fair for their first amusement park rides.  We went to the fair last weekend to see the barns and hang out with Papa and Nana.  This was fun, but again, the kids felt very cheated because they didn’t get to ride rides and “other people were having fun”.  I’m sure they’ll still be mad about all the rides they’re too small for...but hopefully they can have some fun on the ones they’re able to.  Never a dull moment!A Summer of Firsts
 
It's been a while since we've had an update.  That's not due to a lack of things to write about...it's due to a summer with too much to do and too little time to document it all.  Truth be told, this update has been partially written for a long time, but I haven’t made the time to finish it up.
 
We've had a lot of firsts since our last update.  We had our first family camping adventure at P.J. Hoffmaster State park, where we camped with over 50 other other Ethiopian adoptive families.  It was a fun time of bike riding, camp cooking, and spending lots of time with friends - both new and old.  The kids would disappear on their bikes for extended periods of time and we'd have to hunt for them.  With four kids all on two wheelers, there was no way we were able to maintain their location at all times.  If our kids spent too much time at your campsite, I apologize.  :)  We went to the same Ethiopian camp-out last year as a family of four.  We hadn't even received our referral at that point - it came just a few weeks later.  My oh my - how things can change in the course of a year!
 
We also had our first family trip to the mountains.  We stayed in Sevierville, Tennessee and visited the Smoky Mountain National Park with Grandpa and Grandma V.  This was also our first vacation which didn’t involve other Ethiopian adoptive families.  The kids were a little young to appreciate touring the park (read: lots of whining and complaining), but they were really troopers on the way home - Tennessee back home in only 2 stops!
 
We lost our first teeth - and second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and so on.  Abi is minus two teeth, Zinabu is minus six (two were gone already when he got home), and Abatu is minus one going on two.  The tooth fairy is going to go broke in our house over the next couple years.
 
We had our first swimming lessons for Zinabu and Abatu, and discovered how much they enjoy the water...although not so much the being cold that goes along with it.  All four kids did a great job at their swimming lessons.
 
We took our first family bike ride down the road.  Our house has been training-wheel free for quite some time, and now there’s a lot of one handed riding and popping wheelies and going on everywhere.  That first ride down the road was pretty stressful, and we haven’t worked up the courage to do it again.  We also had our first family road race, at the Rural Rush.  Lora and I ran the 5k, then did the one mile fun run with the kids.  They’ve asked to do it again, so we need to get running!
 
A few weeks ago we did a church camp-out at Cran Hill Ranch, which involved our first frog race.  I think Lora and I had more fun catching frogs than the kids did.  Of course once it came time for races, the kids saw that other people had turtles, and frogs were no longer good enough.  I guess next year, we need to catch turtles instead - then we can have our first turtle race.  Oddly enough, I caught a turtle last night down by the pond - the kids did enjoy playing with it for a few minutes before bed.
 
We wrapped the summer up with our first surgery - Zinabu had his tonsils and adenoids taken out a few weeks back.  They were extremely large and restricted his airways while sleeping.  We had a sleep study done, and they identified them as a problem, so we had them removed.   This was a challenge for all of us.   The first few days Z was so sad and betrayed.  If he didn’t get his medicine every four hours, he had some serious pain to deal with, and he hated the medicine, so we were always fighting either him being in pain, or forcing him to take it.  He was quiet and downcast all the time.  After a few days, his demeanor improved, but we were still left with the pain and his own unique brand of mischief returned.  This made for a very tough combination.  The recovery is mostly behind us now, and we’re hopeful that a consistent better night’s sleep will help Zinabu to level out some of the super-highs and super-lows he goes through on a daily basis.
 
Now that summer is over and fall is nearly upon us, we’ve moved on to a new set of firsts. We have our first sports experience.  With four kids, we have an entire team worth of players, and yes - all four kids are on the same team. As you can probably imagine, they asked us to coach the team.  Go figure.  Now our Saturdays and Mondays are spent on the soccer field.  Depending on the day and the hour, this has mixed reviews.  Today I heard someone complaining about not liking it and not wanting to go back, but in an hour they’ll probably say that it’s fun.
 
We also have had Zinabu and Abatu’s first school bus rides.  This was a big problem for us last year, because Abi got to ride the school bus daily and they weren’t able to.  We heard about it every day.  We will very soon have our first time when all four kids are in school.  Ben will be in preschool three days a week in the afternoons, so we will have a few brief hours where Lora will be able to spend some time with her horse on a consistent basis - also a first.
 
The boys really enjoy school, which is great.  They come home happy and seem to be having a very positive experience.  We’re very happy about this!  School, however, doesn’t come without its’ difficulties.  Abi is now getting on the bus in the morning and is in school all day.  Z & A are extremely upset by this, and are in a very bad mood all morning because of it.  They feel cheated because Abi is doing something they aren’t, and they let us know it - over and over.  Worse than that, when Z is angry, he will break into a full tantrum at the drop of a hat, will bother people to no end, and even will hurt people just because he’s mad.  This is our morning existence these days - trying to run tight crowd control and just counting down the minutes until 11:55.  Lora and I were even trying to figure out how we can send him to do something in the morning so he doesn’t get so angry, but for now we’re just going to ride it out a little longer and hope it gets better. 
 
Tonight, we’ll take the kids to the Allegan County Fair for their first amusement park rides.  We went to the fair last weekend to see the barns and hang out with Papa and Nana.  This was fun, but again, the kids felt very cheated because they didn’t get to ride rides and “other people were having fun”.  I’m sure they’ll still be mad about all the rides they’re too small for...but hopefully they can have some fun on the ones they’re able to.  Never a dull moment!

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All I Want for Father's Day

Chad Dykstra - 2011-06-16
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Unless you are living under a rock, you probably know that it’s Father’s Day this weekend.  If you’re living under a rock, consider this your warning.
Around our house, we aren’t big on gifts.  It’s rare for Lora and I to present each other with a big expensive gift for Mother’s day or Father’s day – or even birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas for that matter.  It’s happens once in a while…but it’s few and far between.  We’re both OK with this…at least I think we are.  I hope we are!  Usually gifts just get thrown in a drawer after a while anyways.  Unfortunately, our moms and dads also usually suffer the consequences of our lame gift-giving this time of the year.  Sorry about that, guys.

First…let me say that I have been very blessed.  I have an amazing dad and a fabulous dad-in-law.  They’re two of the best guys I know.  Love you guys!  We have very close families, which is such a blessing!  I can’t imagine anything that would break our family apart.  But it happens to families every day.

Yezelalem Minch is a ministry in Ethiopia that exists to keep families together.  They provide sponsorships for vulnerable children – often those whose parents are sick or have died.  By sponsoring a child through YM, you help that child stay in the home with parents or other family by helping to meet their basic needs.  In addition to child sponsorships, they also provide community development projects including educational programs, health care, vocational training, and much more.  By meeting these needs, they are preventing the primary reason that children are given up for adoption.  And you keep families together.  We are proud to sponsor Rediet through Yezelalem Minch.  You can read our blog 75 bucks for more information on our sponsorship of Rediet.

YM is an amazing ministry – but they need our help.  Rent costs in Addis Ababa are skyrocketing, and there is so much need for their programs that they are running out of room.  The Future Hope Campaign has been launched to raise the funds necessary to purchase and develop property for the program’s operations as well as a new vocational center.

A Walk for Hope has been scheduled for this weekend in Grand Rapids to raise money and awareness for this project.  We as a family will be walking 3 miles on Saturday.  Yes – this includes all four kids!  This is where you come in.

I don’t generally care too much for Father’s Day gifts…but this year I'd really like one.  And I need your help to get it.  All I want for Father’s Day this year is for families to be able to stay together.  We care enough for this ministry that we are going to step out in faith and personally match all donations up to $500.  To this point, we aren’t anywhere close to that.  One more thing - If you choose to sponsor a child through Yezelalem Minch for $30 a month, we will donate $100 to the Future Hope Campaign.

Please consider supporting this amazing ministry.  We’re very blessed to be a part of it, and you can also be blessed!   If you would like to donate or sponsor a child, please follow this link to the Contact page and just shoot us a quick note letting us know.

For more information on YM and the Future Hope Campaign, you can visit http://www.yezelalemminch.org and http://futurehopecampaign.org


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Family Blog, Reunion Episode

Chad Dykstra - 2011-05-26
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Thanks for tuning in, and welcome to the Dykstra Family Blog reunion post.   We’ve been home just about 6 months now, and thing sure look different than they used to!  I thought this might be a good opportunity to look back on past blogs and reflect on them to show a little progress.

In Questions and Answers (click to view in a new window), we covered many of the frequently asked questions that we had within the first month or two of being home.

Are the boys adjusted yet?

The new answer:  We’re still working on a few things (and we always will be) but the boys have made a lot of progress in 6 months.  We’re still learning how to share, and learning how to deal with life and possessions not always being fair 100% of the time (Less Is More).  Zinabu specifically is very inquisitive (read: naughty) and is quite a challenge for us.  For anyone who happened to be at East Saugatuck Church on Sunday morning at 9am, yes – it was my child who pulled the fire alarm in the middle of the service.  Doh!

We have settled into normal life routines for bedtimes and mealtimes and overall, we are doing very well.  Both boys are now done with preschool for the summer and will be in kindergarten/young fives 5 days a week next year.  They look forward to riding the bus!

Do they speak English yet?

The new answer:  Yes – very much so.  The boys can communicate now very well and the language barrier is almost entirely gone.  The boys are almost exclusively talking to each other in English.  We still talk in Kambaata/Amharic whenever possible with the few words we know to keep the boys sharp, asking them what things are to make sure they’re going back to that place.  “e su en Etopia minden no?”  It seems like they are still able to pull quite a few things out – most of what we believe to be Kambaata.  It seems like Amharic is mostly disappearing.  If I point to a fish, they can no longer come up with the Amharic word “asa”.  We’ll see if we can get them to hang on to some of it.

We have a ton of “story time” moments over the past few weeks.  Now that English has come as far as it has, the boys are free to tell stories.  We’ve heard lots of stories about Ethiopia – some of which are believable and some which don’t seem so true.  Both boys have been able to recall the plane flights home and explain to us what they were going through.  We’ve learned Abatu’s ears hurt on the flights, and Zinabu and I were able to hash out the “seatbelt incident” (Home Sweet Home) and we found out that he was scared of the “opening windows” – the overhead bins being opened and closed.  

We talk frequently about their family in Ethiopia and their experiences.  They like to talk about it now, and Zinabu is mostly over his anti-Ethiopia sentiments, which is a really good thing.  We’re very glad that we have an open relationship about their past and let them know it’s OK to talk about it and to miss it.

What do they think of the snow(sun/rain/etc)?

The new answer:  They’re over the snow!  They liked it while it lasted, but they have told us they do prefer the nice warmer weather we’ve been afforded lately.  It really doesn’t depend on the weather - they just want to be outside.  We’ve had several issues – even tantrums – over them not having their own umbrellas.  Lora finally loaded them up in the car and drove them to town to buy them umbrellas to silence the madness.

So how are you doing?

The new answer:  We’re doing pretty good.  Our life admittedly is crazy.  It’s a different level of crazy than most families face – but crazy nonetheless.  We’re very fortunate to have family supporting us and helping us out on a regular basis.  It makes the madness we face at times bearable.  We still try to not leave too many “1 parent days” wherever possible – specifically at bedtime.  It does happen on occasion though, and it is way easier than it used to be.  That is a big blessing.  Abatu has also in the past month finally decided that he loves mommy.  That was great news – he was mostly indifferent towards her before.

All four kids now can ride two-wheel bikes and they do so all over the place.  It’s nice to be able to turn them out and let them play.  They got their first boat ride on the pond last weekend, which they loved.  All have fishing poles, but we haven’t dared open that “can of worms” yet.  Fishing with four little ones will be a challenge, even for 2 adults!  As nice as it is to turn them out and “let them run”,  it still requires a certain level of interaction and supervision to keep them from seriously injuring each other, but thus is life as the parents of four similarly aged siblings.  Speaking of “let them run” – we’ve signed all four kids up for the Rural Rush 1 mile fun run on June 3.  We expect them to finish very high in the 0-6 age bracket. smiley

Thanks for stopping by – you stay classy.


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