The Dykstra Media Site

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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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Here we go again...almost!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-11-16
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We received good news yesterday!  We have "official" word that Bethany has received the birth certificates for the boys, and that they are trying for a US Embassy date in Ethiopa of December 7!  This means that if all works as planned, we will be back in the air by December 1 on our way to get our boys!  We are obviously very excited about this.  Although we don't have "official" notification to travel, we're busy making travel arrangements.  December 1 is only 2 weeks away, and plane tickets will go nowhere but up, up, up the longer we wait!  They have already gone up from when we looked before...but that is the way it goes.

We look forward to our next trip, where we'll hopefully get to travel to meet A & Z's older sister.  We'll also get to spend several days living with the boys in Ethiopia, getting to know each other.  We aren't looking forward to the flight home, but we are looking forward to having the boys home!  It looks like we are going to be able to travel back with 2 other families who are adopting friends of A & Z.  One of them will be parting with us in Minneapolis on their way back to Wisconsin, the other will travel with us all the way to Grand Rapids - they live in Holland!

When we return home, you may think that we have fallen off the face of the Earth, disappeared, disowned family and friends, changed churches, decided to move back to Ethiopia, or that we just plain don't like you anymore!  We promise none of these will be the case.  We will be on "lockdown" mode for several weeks and you may not see us around much.  While we do look forward to introducing the boys to all of our friends, family, and church...we first need to introduce the boys!  It will be important for us to spend several weeks together as a family while A, B, A, and Z get acquainted as siblings, and as we form the relationship of Daddy and Mommy with them.  We realize this is an inconvenience to everyone (including us - we really want to show off our handsome boys!) but it is a necessary step for the health of our family.

All the pictures from our first trip have been uploaded to the website - you can view them on the Picture Galleries page.  We are not allowed to post pictures of the boys but we do have them available to those who request them.  If you'd like to see those pictures, just let us know via the contact page and we'll send you the private link and password to access them!

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We passed!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-10-28
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We are now legally the parents of 4 children under the age of 6! Yeah!

Our court experience was very anti-climactic. After years in the process and all the paperwork, one might expect it to be a long, arduous process. Quite the opposite actually. We arrived at the court building about 9:30am and stood around for about an hour and a half waiting for our turn. When our turn came, we were called into the judge's office. We sat down and were asked 4-5 questions by the judge. The next thing we heard was "Congratulations, they are both yours". The whole court process took less than 2 minutes!

After court, we were able to visit the boys for an hour and a half. It was great to see them again and get to know them a little better. Z is so intelligent it's unbelievable. He knows many body parts and numbers/letters already in English. He will repeat almost anything you say. I had him saying multiple 4-5 word sentences. Not to mention he can already fluently communicate in both his native language and Amharic. Not bad for a 5 year old! A is very quiet but is an absolute sweetheart. He reminds me a lot of Ben. I have a feeling he is going to be a real heartbreaker! He is very athletic, especially for a 3 year old. He can kick a soccer ball with amazing accuracy and can throw a ball with perfect form. We loved every minute we were able to spend with them and got a lot of pictures and video to share.

We left last night (arrived at the Addis airport at around 12:30pm EST on Wednesday - 7:30 local time) and are currently sitting in Frankfurt airport with a nice 6 hour layover. From here we fly to Newark where we'll have another 4 hour layover...eventually getting into Chicago on Thursday evening about 10pm EST. That will wrap up over 30 hours of travel...only half of it in the air. We are staying in Chicago tonight because I'm sure we won't feel like driving home after the brutal travel schedule. We're using miles and saved a couple thousand bucks on the trip, so it is definitely worth the hassle. When we come home with the boys, we will definitely be taking the shortest possible flight though!

We loved every minute in Ethiopia and can't wait until our next trip. For now, though, we are counting down the hours until we can see our precious Abi and Ben!
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World Vision

Chad Dykstra - 2010-10-26
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We had the priviledge of spending today with World Vision in the Boset Area Development Program (ADP). What an amazing day! We were picked up at 8am this morning by Tamiru, the World Vision Ethiopia liason to World Vision U.S. We were then taken east about 2 hours to the Boset ADP headquarters where we met with the child sponsorship coordinator and the ADP project manager. They gave us a presentation on the Boset area and then escorted us to three different projects within the ADP.

Our first stop was a potable (drinking) water project. This was very special for us because of our involvement with Team World Vision raising money for projects just like this one. We were able to see a 390 foot well that was dug and a water tower that was constructed to hold 26,000 gallons of water. From there water is transferred to multiple distribution centers around the village. We were able to see children and talk to a woman who was are beneficiaries of the project. Before the well was installed in 2008, they had to walk 45 minutes to obtain water. Now the entire village is able to walk only 5-10 minutes to obtain clean, safe water. By 2013 they are hoping to expand this project and bring water to even more families in the area.

Our second stop was a secondary (high) school a few kilometers away from the village where the well was installed. We were able to sit down with the principal of the school and hear all about the school and the benefits it brings to the community. There are 2,000 students attending the school. Before it was built in 2001, students needed to travel 45 kilometers to the closest high shool. The families had to rent a place for the students to live while they were away at school. This obviously caused very few students to be able to attain a secondary education. It especially affected girls because of the risk of young girls living away from home. Each year female enrollment at the school is up higher than the year before. Class sizes are very large - in many cases around 75 students per class. The school refuses to turn away students, but they have outgrown the amount of classrooms and teachers that are there. There are also hopes to expand this project in the next couple of years to provide even more classrooms.

After lunch, our final stop was an irrigation project that is currently under construction and set to be completed within the next year. We traveled around 70 kilometers to this project, and much of that was on dirt roads. We got an incredible view of the Ethiopian countryside on the way there and back. We saw countless herds of sheep, goats, cows, and even camels being herded down the roads. there were also farmers harvesting and threshing crops. Many people were carrying water, firewood, and crops back to their villages. The lucky ones had donkeys. Many children were on their way to and from school as well, which was neat to see. Lots of them were waving at us as we drove past in 2 big Land Cruisers.

When we got to the river where the irrigation canal began, there were many people at the river bathing and filling their water jugs to take back to their homes - mostly children. I'd love to say that water is sparkling clean and safe to drink, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I have pictures of it that I can share later. It was very brown and dirty. This is the reality of life for many in Ethiopia. We hiked down to the start of the project where water will flow in from the river. It will be carried through a canal that is being built approximately 5 kilometers in from the river. Once it reaches the end, that water is going to be used to irrigate fields for a local village. This will allow for an additional harvest for them and greatly increase their income and improve their way of life.

Special thanks need to be given to World Vision for providing us this unique opportunity. We are so blessed to have had the opportunity and look forward to sharing pictures, videos, and more stories and information with whoever is interested. They are doing amazing work and changing thousands upon thousands of lives in Ethiopia. Within the Boset ADP we visited, we saw only a portion of the projects that World Vision has done. We drove past at least a dozen different project signs. Almost every school or water distribution center we drove past had a World Vision sign out front. I can't imagine what life would be like in these communities if not for the involvement of World Vision. Special thanks also to Tamiru for his willingness to take us on this amazing journey. We have learned so much and we can't wait to share it with friends and family. We also are so grateful to have become more familiar with A and Z's country, culture, and people.

Now tomorrow...our court date and then home!!! We have court at 9am tomorrow and if we pass, A and Z will officially and legally be our children. We hope to be able to visit them one more time tomorrow as well, but we'll see if time will allow that. Schedules are challenging with 16 families all needing to be places. Travel in Addis is not always easy or quick.

Please pray for our court appearance. Pray that everything would go well and that we would pass. More importantly, pray for A and Z's oldest sister, who will also have a court date tomorrow where she will legally release the boys to be adopted to us. I can't imagine what will go through her head knowing she will quite possibly never see her two beautiful brothers again. I am the kind of guy that will choke back tears at any cost to avoid looking like a sissy, but I have to confess that I can't choke them back tonight. Just thinking about it makes my heart break for her in a way I can't explain.

Thanks for following along on our journey. You all mean a lot to us and we've been blessed by the emails we've received from many of you. We'll try to update tomorrow as soon as we can to let everyone know if we passed or not. We should be done by about 4am Eastern time.

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2 beautiful boys!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-10-25
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We were able to meet our two beautiful boys today!  It was a great...and tiring...couple hours!  We are going to be busy parents for the next few years.  :)

Both kids were exactly how we expected them.  They recognized us and were calling us "mommy" and "daddy".  "Z" is really picking up English, and already knows body parts and letters/numbers.  He's a parrot that will repeat anything you say.  "A" is very quiet, and he is laser accurate kicking a soccer ball.  He can hit me at over 20 feet every time.  Not bad for a 3 year old!  The orphanage was very clean and the nannies were great!  All the children were very well behaved and it was a very positive experience!  They didn't seem to have any issue with us leaving - just waved bye and ran off to play.  That's a blessing.  We are not sure if we will get to go back or not.

 If you could, please pray for sleep - I've been continuing to have a cold, and every day I get less and less sleep.  Last night was only 2 hours of sleep.  I woke up at midnight and could not get back to sleep.  It doesn't help that there are dogs outside roaming the streets that are getting in fights all night long!  I'm beat, and ready for a good solid nights sleep for a change.

When I have more time, I will post a more complete blog. Hopefully tomorrow.  We'll probably have a lot to talk about, because we get to visit the World Vision projects tomorrow.  They'll be here at 8am tomorrow (2am EST).  That will be awesome!

Thanks for tuning in!  Chad and Lora

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Sunday in Ethiopia

Chad Dykstra - 2010-10-24
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Once again, this is going to be more of a brief update than I would like, which is a shame!  If I had more time, this very well may be a novel.  We were able to experience so much today that there's no way we can even take it all in, much less relay it.  There's so much that is different to what we are used to.  Different isn't always bad - it's just different!  The traffic and the roads are a crazy place to be.  Ethiopians are very skilled drivers!  Some of the moves they are able to pull off without wrecking are just incredible!  In general they also maintain a positive attitude towards other drivers trying to pull of the exact same move.  I love every minute in the vehicles because you just never know what's coming next.  I'm sure that I would not be able to drive even a few miles here.  I'd rather sit and enjoy the view.

There is such a wide spectrum of people, and nearly all of them are outside!  Where we pull in the garage and close the door, their culture is a complete 180 degree shift of that perspective.  It's remarkable just how many people are out...everywhere!  There are people whose clothes are tattered and their shoes are all but fallen off.  There are also people in suits.  There are people in traditional dresses.  There are teenagers in jeans and t-shirts...and there is everything in between.  They have one thing in common...each one of them is beautiful.

We had the priviledge today of touring Addis and riding to the top of the mountain that overlooks it.  I must say I have a new appreciation for the training of Ethiopia's elite runners.  We had a little "fun race" up a hill to a power pole and back this afternoon at 10,000 foot elevation.  For someone who is 2 weeks off a marathon and in the best shape of my life, it really took it out of me.  Recovery takes forever because you're getting so much less oxygen with every breath.  We heard today from Abel (a Bethany employee - more on him later) that the elite athletes train on that very road almost every day at 5am.  I'm sure they're running more than 100 yards though!

We have been so blessed by the Bethany staff that has been here to help us.  Abel is just one example.  He is an Ethiopian history expert and is so knowledgeable of all things Ethiopia.  We were able to learn so much in such a short period of time.  He actually is writing a book on Ethiopian history, which as I understand will likely be published by the time we return for our second trip.  I look forward to getting my hands on it!

Our guest house has also been amazing.  Berkutan is an amazing hostess and has taken great care of us throughout our stay.  We even got to experience a traditional coffee ceremony today where the coffee beans were roasted, ground, and brewed.  Even the non coffee drinkers loved the experience.  There has been a great mix of traditional and american food and nobody really has been having any major problems with the food.

There's so much more I'd like to share but for tonight, I'll have to stop right there.  We look forward to 8:45 tomorrow morning, when Abel will come to pick up all the families staying here at the guest house.  We will get to go to the orphanage and meet our children.  Oh blessed day!


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