How Long We Have Been A Family!

Count Down To Nate's 4th Birthday!

Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers

Monday, December 31, 2007

Joy To The World!

I wanted to share with y'all this very special gift my mom gave us for Christmas.

It is a beautiful music box that sings Joy To The World. All around it are children of the world (the front little boy is from Africa) playing different instruments.

This is such a thoughtful gift, and so meaningful to us!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Snow, Snow and MORE SNOW!

This is what I woke up to this morning! It is so beautiful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day after Christmas Shopping fun!

Today Paul & I braved the crowds today and did a little after Christmas Shopping.

We went to the ever famous WalMart, Micheals, Starbucks (a necessity for trips into Medford), even braved the mall for some exchanges, and ended at Harry & Davids, and Fred Meyer.

This is my favorite day to shop, and I continue the after Christmas shopping clear into January...the later you look at Christmas stuff, the larger the discount!

YEA, clearance!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


After several days of rumors of snow in the forcast, it happened! We had a real and true White Christmas! I can honestly say I cannot remember it every happening before! The pictures didn't turn out that great, but here is a picture when it was starting to stick.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Carols, Candlelight & Communion

This morning we did had a FABULOUS Christmas service. Enjoy the pictures!
This the amazing Megan Schaefer singing a beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night".

Every special Christmas and Easter service, Paul reads a Children's Story to the kids. The kids and parents love it! This years story was "The Legend of the Christmas Tree."

The absolute highlight of the service was Baylee and Rylie Vallo singing "Away in the Manger". ADORABLE!!!

Carols, Candlelight & Communion is a great opportunity to remember the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In Loving Memory of My Great-Grandma...

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the death of my Great-Grandmother, Helen Holly Goodell. She was an amazing who I am proud to be named after.

I have included the Obituary so you can read about her!

Helen Holly Goodell
Age 95, a Puyallup area resident for the past 64
years, died December 20, 2006 at the home of her
daughter in Olympia, WA. She was born on October 3,
1911 in Bucoda, to Raymond and Susie (Cales) Marvin.
Helen met the love of her life, Val Goodell in 1926.
They were married in Bucoda on June 14, 1929. Helen
and Val lived in Frost Prairie until 1935 before
moving to North Dakota, Montana and returning to
Washington in 1941. They moved to Puyallup in 1942 and
settled into their family home of 61 years in 1945.
Helen was very active in her church, community and
business. She was an excellent cook and restaurateur,
owning restaurants in Puyallup for over 15 years. She
managed the lunch program for the Puyallup Playcare
Center for many years. A member for 50 years and past
president of Puyallup Business and Professional
Women's Club and was named "Woman of Achievement# by
the organization. Helen was an active member of the
First Baptist Church of Puyallup for over 50 years and
a former deaconess. She was also a member of the
Pioneers of Washington State, Olympia Chapter, the
Tacoma Magic Club, Ring 70, and president of a local
investment club. Helen loved to travel and made over
20 trips to Hawaii. She was a "genealogy bug",
researching the family names of Ruth, Marvin, Cales
and Goodell. She belonged to the Bunker Family
Association, a genealogical society for Bunker
descendants and traveled for many years to annual
conventions throughout the US and Canada. Helen was
preceded in death by her loving husband of 71 years,
Val; sons, Norv and Jerry; and great granddaughter,
Marissa. She is survived by sons, Donald (Patricia) of
Puyallup and Harold (Annie) of Fox Island; daughter,
Dorothy (Dennis) Staley of Olympia; daughter-in-law,
Friedl of Puyallup; 7 grandchildren and 11 great
grandchildren; sisters, Florence Harding of Chehalis
and Elizabeth Porn of Centralia; and numerous extended
family members. A Memorial service will be held
Thursday, December 28 at 11 AM at Puyallup First
Baptist Church. Inurnment will follow at a later date
at Mt. View Cemetery in Centralia, WA. In lieu of
flowers a donation may be made to Helen's late great
granddaughter's scholarship fund, "Marissa Ann Goodell
Shinning Star Scholarship Fund", in care of Kitsap
Bank, PO Box 2170, Belfair, WA 98528. Arrangements by
Mills and Mills Funeral Home in Olympia.

Pub Date: 12/24/2006
Tacoma News Tribune

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good bye Harry & David! It's been fun!

Tonight ended my seasonal job at Harry & David. It is a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed the work and the extra $$, but I will not miss working all day and all night.

I was asked the stay on through the end of the year, possibly lasting until the end of January. I have to understand my own limitations...and the fact that my husband misses his wife, and vice versa. :-)

Besides, my mom comes tomorrow!!!!!!!!! The last thing I want to do is work when she is here.

It's all good...I still get my 30% discount until October of 2008! WOOHOO!
Happy evening to all!

A Picture IS Worth 1000 Words!!!

I absolutely LOVE this picture!!! I bought the bow tie and glasses for $.50 at Big Lots, made my husband wear them for these pictures on his 30th Birthday in August. He was just lucky I didn't make him wear it to his party!

He is such a good sport! How could you not love such a cute face?! Ha Ha Ha!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

T-Minus 6 days until....

...MY MOM IS HERE!!!!!!!

I am SOOOO excited, I can hardly stand it!! My mom flies in on Wednesday, December 19th (the plane lands around midnight) and she is here until Christmas Eve!

I know alot of people say they have the best mom in the world, but I KNOW I DO!!! My momma could beat up your momma anyday! (I wish you could hear the attitude behind my voice and the finger snap!) :-) I'm just kidding...she is way too nice to beat anyone up. :-)

Anyway, just thought I would share my excitement!
Love ya all!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

December 7th Weekly Update for AWAA

This week we received a very detailed letter from the Executive Director of Programs, Susan Maines. It is long and quite involved, but I will post it for those who are more interested in how the program works. It also talks about upcoming changes, including the resignation of our Family Coordinator and the transition of our new African Program Director. Enjoy!

Dear Ethiopia Families,

I was planning on sending this email but have been waiting on the resolution of some of the details so that it could give you a full update on our Ethiopia program. This is a multi-faceted program, which we feel thankful and blessed has grown quickly but not always smoothly since it opened in September 2006. Let me just stop and say thank you to you all for your commitment to America World and your willingness to sign up to adopt from a new program. As you have probably seen there have been some pluses (our early families got referrals quickly and completed their adoptions) and many growing pains. We have needed to grow the program on many levels all at once and also reach a critical point where the program could support itself and the needed growth.

This summer we believed that we reached that point and therefore, began to take the necessary steps to see this growth happen. The most critical and timely piece was the opening of our own transitional home in Addis Ababa. America World Corporate staff with the assistance of our in country liaison laid the ground work in August and with the assistance of one of AW’s parents we were able to get the home up and running in November 2007. While there is still work that needs to be accomplished with the transition home we are happy to report the children who are currently in the home are happy and being well cared for as they wait for their parents to arrive. Some of you have asked about capacity in the home? We expect to be able to serve between 10-20 children dependent upon the ages and needs at any one time. There are three rooms, two of which are set up for infants or younger toddlers and one for older children. The number of children in the home will never be a given number but will depend upon the needs of the children currently in the home, the space, etc.

Now I anticipate that you’re wondering how the process will work with our new transition home. When a family accepts a referral from AW then that child will “transition” into the America World home and will remain there until the parents arrive and the placement is made. We anticipate this time frame to be somewhere between 2-3 months. We expect that there will be an ebb and flow to the transition home and that it will serve the needs of the program as they are right now. Certainly, this will be one area we will monitor closely over the next six months or so to be sure that we have adequate space to continue to serve the needs of the program.

Another area we have been working on developing for the program is the travel piece of the adoption process. For those of you who this is your first experience with America World let me say that we have years of experience arranging travel groups for our China adoptions and in fact this is one aspect of the process that we consistently get rave reviews on. Laurel and I have been working with our travel department on this aspect of the Ethiopia program and they are taking over responsibility for travel with the New Year. While all the specific details of this are still being developed how this will work in general is twofold: one, we will be sending travel groups to Ethiopia and two, when you get to the travel portion of the process, you will work with the AW travel coordinator rather than your family coordinator for the arrangements of travel.

Well, I think we have reached the part of the program you probably have the most questions about. As I believe many of you now know Laurel Ludwick is getting married in mid December. She will be out of the office December 13-21st. During that time Christi Hicks, Latin America Program Director and I will be covering the Ethiopia Program. You can contact Christi with dossier/paperwork questions and she will review and process any dossiers we receive. On that note we will authenticate dossiers received in the office through December 14th. They will get authenticated the following week and sent to Ethiopia on December 21st. Any dossiers received the week of December 17th will be held until the New Year for authentication as our offices will be closed the week of Christmas. Please don’t send us your dossier unless you can guarantee arrival before December 21st. I will be available for questions on referrals, court dates, and to convey any pertinent information for specific families. As mentioned above, the America World offices will be closed December 24-January 1, 2008. Staff will be returning on January 2nd.

Now that covers the program through 2007. Normally, Laurel would share this additional information with you herself but because I am writing and this is a key piece of what is happening with the Ethiopia program I asked her permission to share her information with you. For personal and professional reasons (Laurel is pursuing a master’s degree in social work) Laurel has resigned from her position as Assistant Director of the Ethiopia Program. We have recognized for awhile that the program needed a full-time director but because of other priorities, especially in-country, we had held off on that. I am pleased to announce that Duni Zenaye will assume the position as Africa Program Director on January 2, 2008. Part of the duties of this director position will be the family coordination piece that Laurel did as well as developing and growing the program in Ethiopia and possibly in the future other Africa countries.

As most of you know and have met Duni through our intake process, I would request that you not contact her on matters dealing with your Ethiopia adoption until after January 2nd. In order to facilitate a smooth transition for the intake department and our potential and actual applicants it’s important that she focus on training her replacement. I’m happy to take and address any of your questions or concerns. I’m confident with the new Program Director that any concerns families have expressed to America World about communication issues will be addressed. I will say one thing about communication now though. Whenever you have a large program with many applicants (and right now there are about 130+ families enrolled in the Ethiopia program) it is easiest to address general topics of concern to many in a general and mass format. AW has developed our weekly and monthly updates for this purpose. We try to use that vehicle to address any general program information that we have in any week that would be of interest to all families in the program. We will continue to use that format and will do our best to see that information is pertinent. Another area that AW has given to families as a vehicle for information and support is the Ethiopia chat group. I feel that one way we can support you, our families with this vehicle is to moderate it so we are going to have AW staff person moderating the group.

Another area that I would like to address is referrals and the court process. As many of you know during the past year we have worked exclusively with one orphanage, Kid’s Care, and have received all our referrals from there. While we cherish this relationship, we are working to expand the orphanages from which we receive referrals. We have made a commitment to the Addis city government to support their sponsorship program (required to conduct adoptions in Ethiopia) and hope to develop those relationships more. We also are open to and desire to develop relationships with other orphanages as well. For those of you who don’t know, when we consider working with an orphanage part of the negotiations would involve a monetary commitment to development projects in or for that orphanage. We take any potential commitments seriously, and therefore might choose to move slowly in any negotiations.
Families have asked us whether or not the delays in court will affect the referrals we receive. While court delays do not directly affect referrals, referrals are affected by the space we have available in the transition home at any one time and therefore court delays do indirectly affect referrals in that children might not move out of the transition home as quickly as we might anticipate and space might not be available for other children.

One final piece to the program that I would like to update you on is to let you know about another change in staffing. Rachel Ward, who has been our TN Director of Social Services for the past few years, is moving with her husband in late January to Addis. Rachel will be adding her support and expertise to the transition home and the program pieces of the in-country work.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything outlined in this letter. It has been a joy and a pleasure for me this past year to directly oversee the Ethiopia program. In this time of preparation for the birth of the Christ child, we pray that our Lord is preparing each of your families for the advent of the newest member(s) to your family. We pray continuously for you and the program and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Susan B. Maines, LSW, LCSW
Executive Director of Programs
America World Adoption Association


Friday, December 7, 2007

Questions you should never ask to adoptive families...

This blog post was shared with my AWAA yahoo group. As I read it, I laughed, yet kept nodding my head, as many of these (rude/nosy/insensitive, etc) questions have been asked of us. This is not meant to offend, just to educate.

Taken from

Talking Adoption: A Primer for Non-Adoptive Families
As a local adoptive mother of three, I’d love to take this time to get on an adoption soapbox for just a minute or two. And you, the people of Lexington, need to listen. I know this is true because I see you in the mall. I talk to you in line at the grocery store. And I sometimes try to run and hide from you on the soccer sidelines. You need help, my fellow neighbors. Help learning how to talk to adoptive families about adoption. And I am here to be your guide.

For starters, let me get one thing out of the way right now. There’s a difference between asking questions about my family because you (or someone you love) are starting an adoption or are seriously considering it or simply because you are just nosy and curious. It takes me about three seconds to figure out, just by sniffing, which category you fall in. If you are in the former, by all means—ask away. But if you fall in the latter, I must shake my head and wonder why your parents failed to teach you any manners. Why you feel justified in asking me personal questions about my family when I wouldn’t dream of doing the same about yours. And why you are rude enough to do this in front of my children.

Here’s a list of questions you have asked me while you met me in some public place here in town:
Are they adopted?
What are they?
Where’d you get ‘em?
Where are they from?
Are they related?
Do they know they’re adopted?
Are the real?
How much were they?
Do you know anything about their real mom?
Why did she give them away?
And…some of my favorite unsolicited comments from you over the past few years:
Too bad you couldn’t have any of your own!
That’s so sad that their mother didn’t love them.
They must look like their Daddy!
I could never love someone who wasn’t my blood.

And…comments made directly to my children:
You are very lucky to be living here with these good people!

Although it’s humorous to read back through these now and roll my eyes with a sigh, when I am waiting in line in a store with my three little ones, who are busy bouncing, singing, jumping, and testing out the candy bars, it’s anything but.

If you are curious about adoption because you think you may be interested in it, then by all means, ask advice from those families you see at the mall. But if you’re simply trying to make “small talk,” then take a minute to breathe deeply and ponder whether your question is any of your business.

I’m happy to talk about adoption in general with anyone at any time. But I would never give out personal information about my child’s own adoption story to another person, least of all a stranger. If the question feels like it’s none of your business, then it probably isn’t.
If, after reading this and sitting in the naughty chair for two minutes, you still cannot control your nosy instincts and must proceed with the Twenty Questions while we are waiting in line to pay for our milk, then try to be a bit more choosy with your words.

Instead of: Real parents, Try Saying: First parents/Biological parents/birthparents
Instead of: He’s an adopted kid. Try Saying: He joined their family through adoption.
Instead of: Are they real sisters? Try Saying: Are they biologically related?
Instead of: Did they cost a lot? Try Saying: Is adoption expensive?

With the number of adoptive families in the US continuing to grow rapidly, the day will come when I can run an errand with my children and no one will seem to notice or care. I can see that golden sunrise in the near future.

But in the mean time, try to control yourselves when we meet on the streets. Use your good manners, watch what you say, and please. Stop. Touching. My. Children.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

AWAA Weekly update for the week of November 30th

Due to a slow down in the MOWA’s processing of the necessary letters for court, the five court cases set for November have been rescheduled for Dec. 7th. Please continue to pray that all goes smoothly and for the staffing needs of MOWA. Rachel Ward and her husband Barrett are in Ethiopia for 10 days. They will be working with Girmachew and the transition home staff as we continue to work on getting the home up and running 100%. In this season of thanksgiving we are especially grateful for all of the generous gifts that have come in for the transition home. On behalf of the many children who will pass through those doors in the future, we say thank you and God bless.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving and Stuff

Sorry I have been behind on posting "real" stuff the last couple weeks. With our whirlwind Thanksgiving week and my 2nd job, most of the time I hardly have the chance to think straight.

If you would like to see some pictures we took at Thanksgiving, you can check out Paul's blog.

We left Medford, OR on Tuesday night at about 9:45 PM and arrived at Mom's house at 4:45 AM. (Note: Driving all night helps you realize you are not young anymore...) We were able to spend several hours visiting my dad on Wednesday (see picture on Paul's blog). I had not seen my dad since last Christmas, so it was very exciting to see him!

Thanksgiving day we drove up to my sister & brother-in-law's house in Everett. We had a wonderful time with family and AMAZING food! My brother-in-law, Alvin, does a great job with presentation, and everything tastes so good!

Although the trip was fast, I am so glad we went.

This year for Christmas, we are staying here in Rogue River. With my 2nd job, it will not be possible leave like we are used to. It makes me is hard living so far away from my family. It is much easier for the "1" to go see the "many". The problem is, the "1" can't afford to adopt a child and go see the "many" as much as the "many" expect them to. Does that make sense?

The dates are still a little up in the air, but my mom is planning a trip down here just before Christmas. I am really looking forward to that.

I am LOVING my Harry & David job!! Some people were confused, as they thought I was just working at the retail stores. Actually, the Harry & David headquarters, (Bear Creek Corporation) is in Medford, OR, just about 30 minutes from my house.

Last Friday & Saturday, I trained in a special class called "Blaster". Basically what I do is take business order spreadsheets filled in by businesses (small to VERY large), I format the spreadsheet and "Blast" it into the order system. You would be amazed at the generous gifts businesses give to their employees this time of year! And to think that some of these business have 1000+ employees!

We don't have any new information on our adoption at this point. As you can see from the ticker at the top, we have been waiting over 2 months for a referral. What is interesting is that there are families who have referrals from back on October 3rd and October 19th that are still not through the courts. The October 3rd group goes to court again on December 7th. It seems that there are some back-ups with the court and with the Ministry of Women Affairs. Please remember these 10 families are they patiently wait to bring their children home.

Love to you all!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving News From Our Agency ~ Definitely Something to be Thankful About!

Dear Family,

I hope this email finds you well; I’m writing to update you about our agency’s different adoption programs and give information about new programs and areas of interest to our agency. This Thanksgiving season we have a lot to be thankful for – please read through this email to learn more about the work our agency has been doing.

Hague Accreditation Review

Our agency recently completed our Hague Accreditation Site Review. This is an important step for all international adoption agencies to receive accreditation by the United States Department of State. The reviewers that came to our agency were professionals involved with inter-country adoption; they commented we were one of the best organizations they had peer reviewed in the past 12 years. The peer reviewers told our board that America World’s staff operates with, “professionalism, knowledge, commitment and integrity.” Knowing our staff, I’m not surprised that other professionals would be so impressed. Adding Hague accreditation to our COA accreditation will place us among the best agencies in the country.

China Program

We’re still seeing a delay for families logged in with the CCAA. Thank you for your patience and please know we are doing all we can behind the scenes to speed up the process. We’re praying for families that are frustrated with their situation and we are hopeful that through our An Orphan’s Ticket Home campaign, more children will be identified and made available for adoption. You’ll be receiving an email from me about this campaign soon…so hang in there. Some good news in the China program is the continued increase in special needs and older children being adopted.

Eastern Europe Programs

The recent adoptions from countries in our Eastern Europe Program have also given us reason to celebrate. As most of you know, our partner agency in Russia received re-accreditation and since that time America World has been able to submit many dossiers, has received referrals and setup court dates for waiting families. In Ukraine, a steady stream of families has been traveling and completing adoptions. We’ve also seen increased interest in our Kazakhstan Program.

Ethiopia Program

I’m excited about recent developments in our Ethiopia Program. One of our long-time social service staff, Rachel Ward, will be moving from Nashville to Addis Ababa this coming January to help serve alongside our current in-country staff. Rachel has an MSW and will offer valuable service to the children and our staff by working for AW from Ethiopia. I’m also pleased to announce that we’ve recently started setting up a transition home in which the children can reside after their court date and before their parents travel to meet them. This transition home will allow our agency to work even closer with our in-country partners and provide care and love while children wait for their families. The Ethiopia Program has received a lot of interest in the past few months and it’s an honor to be able to say, “Congratulations!” to the many families that have recently received referrals!

El Salvador Program

America World Adoption’s staff in El Salvador has had fruitful meetings with the Salvadoran government and is encouraged by the proposed reforms their government will implement to change the structure and system for how referrals will be handled.

Vietnam Adoption

I’ve recently returned from Vietnam where America World Adoption hopes to begin a program in the coming months. I met with our in-country staff member as well as officials from the government to plan and organize our work with orphanages in Vietnam.

India Program

I am proud to announce that we are now working in India. We will begin working with families interested in adopting special needs children. India is party to The Hague Convention on Adoption and our agency has established relationships with different Christian orphanages that are eager to partner with us. America World Adoption received a license from the Indian government in July to begin inter-country adoption; since then, we’ve met with Indian in-country partners both in our office and in India. We have also had staff return from a three day-long conference on Indian inter-country adoption in Delhi that was promising for the work we hope to accomplish. Please email us at for more information.

Rwandan Adoption

America World Adoption has also just helped a family complete an adoption from Rwanda and will be helping more families in the future. We are only accepting a limited number of families to this program at this time. The ideal applicants to this program will be couples with less than two children in their home and where both parents are between the ages of 35 and 50. Families interested in this as a possible option should contact for more information.

White House Recognizes National Adoption Day

I was asked to speak at the White House Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives’ Roundtable last week. My remarks focused on inter-country adoption and stressed the importance of the U.S. government partnering with faith-based agencies like ours to help speed up the adoption process. At the same event an America World adoptee, Sophia Ramirez, spoke about her experience being adopted from Ukraine three years ago. Her testimony was powerful and articulate; it was very impressive to see a fourteen year-old (who three years ago knew no English) stand in the White House and steal the show.

After the Roundtable, the White House held a reception for adoption advocates and the President and First Lady both spoke of the importance of adoption in American culture and the government’s commitment to supporting adoptive families. That same day, the President signed the Hague Adoption Convention with the expected effective date of April 1, 2008.

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends. Our office will be closed on Thursday and Friday so the staff can spend time with their loved ones. We truly feel blessed by God for the work He’s doing through our agency and we know we have much to be thankful for. Our agency is looking forward to the work set before us the rest of this year and throughout 2008. Our hope is that you will join us in prayer for the many families waiting to adopt and for the children waiting to be placed in families.

Brian Luwis
6723 Whittier Avenue, Suite 202
McLean, VA 22101
Toll Free: 888-ONE-CHILD ext. 113
Fax: (703) 356-8973

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Friday, November 16, 2007

AWAA Transition Home is Ethiopia!

I haven't done much updating on the adoption front...mainly because there hasn't been much to update. We are still waiting for a referral and those who have received referrals are still waiting for court dates.

In the meantime, this email was sent to all the Ethiopia families this week:
Dear AW Ethiopia Families,

We are excited and pleased to be able to announce that the new America World transition home in Ethiopia is up and running. Last week the first 13 children, who were recently referred to families were moved from Kids Care to the America World home. The home has been equipped with all the major needs and staff have been hired, trained and are providing loving care. There are still many things needed to help make the home a nurturing and stimulating environment for your prospective children as they wait the arrival of their parents. Therefore, we are writing to let you know of some of these needs and how you could help meet them, if you desire to do so.

America World employee Rachel (Duckworth) Ward and her husband will be making a 10-day trip to Ethiopia before their official move there at the end of January 2008. So if you would like to donate items for use at the transition home, please have them mailed to or dropped off at the America World--Tennessee office by close of business on Wednesday, November 21st. Items may also be dropped off at the Corporate office in McLean. Rachel will be leaving for Addis on Monday morning, the 26th.

Here is a list of suggested items:

Classic children's books
Coloring books and crayons
Children's Bibles and/or Bible stories
Hand Sterilizer (large bottles)
CD players, children's worship CD's, lullabies, etc.
DVD player and Children's Videos (ie: Veggie Tales, The Wiggles, Praise Baby)
Rubber coated children's spoons
ABC and 123 learning materials for toddlers.
Tape recorder
Little cosmetic mirror
Baby blankets, regular ones and one with hoods sewn in
Towels/soaps and bath items
Jump rope
Inflatable balls,
Lace cards, beads to string on laces
Baby Tylenol, antibiotics, probiotics

If you would prefer to make a monetary donation, you may write a check to America World and send it to the corporate office in McLean. In the memo line, please write "transition home support," so that our finance department knows how to allocate your donation. Rachel will be able to use these funds to purchase items while she is in Addis.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Rachel at Please mail donations to the America World--TN office at:
Attn: Rachel Ward
America World--Tennessee
256 Seaboard Lane, Suite G101
Franklin, TN 37067

Laurel E. Ludwick

The is pretty exciting news! I will continue to update as news comes so stay tuned.

I am an official graduate of the Harry & David Academy!

Last night I officially graduated from the Harry & David training academy!

As a graduation present, I got a jar of Harry & David Peach Preserves and a "Congratulation" balloon.

Starting Monday, I work my official real shift as a seasonal temporary employee in the Mail Entry department! As tired as I am from 5 straight days of 6 - 11 PM training, plus my day job, I am still SOOO excited about this new job. My husband thinks I am crazy to add another thing to the schedule, especially this time of year. What keeps me going is knowing that the extra money will really help us with extra adoption expenses and paying off my husband's foot surgery...ugh!!

So my schedule for Thanksgiving is Monday, Tuesday from 4:30 - 9:30 PM; then I am scheduled for extra training Friday & Saturday from 6 -10 PM. You see, I passed the Excel test when I was hired (yes, I am a computer geek and LOOOVVVEE to work with Excel spreadsheets), so they have me in a "Blaster Class", that pays more, and it a specialty with the Mail Order department.

So that is what is new with me!
I am so excited that next week is Thanksgiving!!!!! I get to go to Washington to see my family!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In loving memory of my Grandmother...

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my Grandma's entry into Heaven.

I only wish that everyone would have had the priviledge of meeting such and amazing, Godly woman. There is not a day that goes by when I don't think of her.

I wanted to share this little bit of what I did at her Memorial Service...

I would like to honor the memory of my grandmother by sharing with you something special from my childhood. Wednesday morning I was looking for a mug to pour my coffee in. I pulled this little one with an alligator handle out of the cupboard. To most, this may just seem like an old mug, but to me holding this cup floods my heart with wonderful thoughts of grandma. You see, every time we went to visit grandma & grandpa I got to use my own special cup. When it was meal time or tea time, grandma would bring out my mug, and fill it with different drinks. My favorite was hot cocoa with LOTS of marshmallows. But what I remember most is not the physical drinks she poured in here, but the spiritual things.

Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”

This cup overflows with grandma’s love. Her joy was contagious to those around her. She had unfathomable patience. Grandma was kind and good. She was so faithful to the Lord and to her family. Her gentleness and self control was evident in everything she said and did. She embodied what scripture refers to as living by the spirit.

Grandma’s life was devoted to serving the Lord and she did so in many ways. My prayer for you, family and friends, is that you would look at your own “cups” that grandma filled overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That her example and witness would compel you to live your life as a testimony of what the Lord has done for you. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my grandma, is enjoying the presence of the Lord today; dancing on the streets of gold, worshipping and praising the Lord. With no more pain and no more sorrow. Though I mourn for our lost, I rejoice knowing that my grandma is home with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:1-9 “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

God Bless you all and have a good day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Body Analysis & Jury Duty

I felt like I would be a good day to post a blog. :-)

This week was CRAZINESS at the West household. Melisma was here until Thursday. We had a great time with her and were very sad to see her go.

Monday I hosted BUNCO for the gosh-darndess best BUNCO group in the world! Even with my tiny little house, we had fun squeezing around. I made my favorite Chili & Cornbread with Peach Cobbler for dessert! Yummy.

I was summoned for Jury Duty for Tuesday - Thursday. I appeared on Tuesday and was basically sent right home. I was bummed! I watch those court TV shows and was REALLY hoping I would get to find someone guilty...he he he he. I checked back on Wednesday, and still wasn't call, but Thursday I was. I was so excited!! I went in and they randomnly selected 18 out of about 30 to be interviewed for the Jury, I was not in the 18. So again I went home.

Today, Friday, I went for my 2 week check up at Rogue EMC Body Analysis. I started the first week of October on a Whole Body Cleanse. This consisted of taking certain supplements and eating only things that walked on the earth of grew on the earth. This eliminated anything with preservative/additives. I did pretty well at it. I stopped drinking coffee and soda completely. When I went back on October 26th and weighed in 14 lbs. lighter! I was amazed but excited.

I then started the official Body Analysis diet. The first 2 weeks are a cleansing plan as well. I am only allowed certain fruits, vegetables and certain lean meats. After those 2 weeks, I lost another 6 lbs! I cannot even begin to express how exciting this is to me! It makes me feel so good, not just because I am losing weight, but because the food I am eating has a postive effect on my body.

So that is all I can think to say today. It isn't adoption related, but I don't want to let life pass by while we are waiting for our referral. Life starts new everyday, not just when something spectacular happens.

God Bless,

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! You look like a monkey! And you smell like one too! He he he he he!

Today, November 3rd is my bestest friends' 27th birthday!!! She is the most amazing friend I could have ever asked for! We first met in Oak Harbor in February of 2001. By the time we left Oak Harbor in 2004, I couldn't imagine my life without such an amazing person!
She is currently traveling back from Mississippi after completing over 1 year a temporary job in Jackson. She is going to be at my house TODAY!!! I am making turkey dinner with green been casserole (her favorite) and, of course, Carmel Apple pie!

Ok, I just realized I need to get the house ready. I better go now.



Paul's Blog!

Hey everyone!

I wanted to announce that the addictiveness of blogging had rubbed off on my husband! If you knew how my husband felt about e-mail and the computer, you would understand how strange this is!!!! :-)

Paul had started a blog specifically for the church. The address is It is a work in progress, but be sure to check it out!


It's been awhile...


It has been quite awhile since I have posted anything, so I thought I would give you a quick update.

On the Adoption front: We are still waiting for a referral. The families who received referrals on October 3rd received courtdates on November 7th! It is so exciting, as they will be bringing their children home before Christmas! Talk about the most amazing Christmas present ever!!!! We have no quarantees of when our referral will be, but I do know there are several before us waiting. I am not sure how many of these are waiting for 1 boy. I guess that does make a difference in the wait as our Family Coordinator said there are more boys available than girls.

On the Home front: These last couple of weeks have been extremely busy. We finished up our October Missions Convention this Wednesday with Teen Challenge. Talk about amazing testimonies of what the Lord has done!

We had a surprise visit from my Great Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Dennis a couple weekends ago! They are traveling south for the winter, and ended up camping just 7 miles from our house! We had dinner with them and then visited at our house for quite awhile. It was such a wonderful time! I felt so honored and special that they would visit us. They are the first on my dad's side of the family to visit us since we moved here back in March of 2004. It helped to make me feel connected and important to the family...I have not experienced that since I was a kid.

On the personal front: This last week I was officially hired as a seasonal employee at Harry & Davids! I will be working my current job during the days, and working swing shift at H & Ds. All moneys made will go to pay for our adoption. I am so excited about working there, and have dreamed of it since the first year I moved here. It will make these next couple of month even busier, but helping cover the costs of the adoption is MORE than worth it!!

I will hopefully be a little bit better at posting more often. Thanks for checking in!

Friday, October 19, 2007

More Referrals Were Given Out this Week!!!

Here is the Weekly Update for our agency! It is very exciting!

America World is happy to announce that we received referrals for six children this week; three of the children were males, and three of the children were females. The ages of the children ranged from approximately 2 months to 14 months old. There are five families currently reviewing the referrals for these children. We look forward to receiving acceptances from families within the next week!

I am looking forward to hear from those who received a referral! I will post more later!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Summer is over, the leaves are changing, and my feet are cold...but not because of the cooler weather.

OK, so confession time for Holly (Run fast! Save yourself from the torture of reading this post!).

As you have read in my previous 2 posts, there have been 6 referrals given out last week! I am SO incredibly excited about it, but there is another emotion that has been surfacing...

I am experiencing "cold feet". You know, the kind that people joke about when people are getting married. :-) I am so excited about what God is doing and know He has a plan, but I am scared to death!

These kind of feelings come from a very specific situation that I feel would be good for me to share, not just so you understand, but for my own continued healing.

In August of 2005, Paul & I applied with AWAA for a Russian Adoption. We knew that the Lord had called us to to do this, so we stepped out in faith. We completed our Dossier for Russia in December of 2005 and received a referral in just a little over a month! We were so excited! The doors had opened so quickly! It had to be God!

We traveled in late January of 2006 to meet our son in the Saratov region of Russia. He looks just like us. He even has Paul's unique ears! We came home with the intention of returning for our second trip as quickly as possible! No joke, we had all the paperwork done and back to AWAA by the end of the first week we were home.

We were excited, our church was so supportive, and many friend and family helped us financially to continue with the adoption.

Without any warning, something happened within the Saratov courts. Still to this day, we don't know what...

We started encountering obstacles with the judge in Saratov. We received an official letter (all in Russian) in May. When it was translated, it basically documented a list of reasons why our Dossier was not acceptable to the court. At a conference call with AWAA and the other families waiting for court dates, Dr. D explained that this letter applied to all AWAA families, and we weren't being targeted. He also talked about how the documents he was requesting were next to impossible to obtain. Dr. D and his in country staff were going to pursue negotiation with the judge to work it out. We were confident in Dr. D and trusted that the Lord would work it out, if it was His will.

We fought for a court date for over a year. We jumped through hoops, completed paperwork, after paperwork, after paperwork, only to be told to do something more. We finally were told in late March, early April of 2007, that the judge is not budging at all. In fact, he had denied our I-171H! The Orphan Petition through Immigration! Because we don't have the power to change governmental forms, we realized there was nothing else we could do. The judge was willing to work with European countries that had similar governmental set up, but he was no longer allowing adoptions to US families.

Paul & I were (as still are) brokenhearted. We let go of little Ilya and surrendered him to God's hands. We put all of his pictures and memorabilia of him in a box, and began the mourning/grieving process.

I go through this whole story, because when you have experienced such a devastating thing, it is easy to just assume that every similar experience will be the same. Almost everyday I have to reprogram my heart & emotions. I have to remind myself that despite the heart ache, God had a plan and purpose. He doesn't waste a hurt.

Despite the difficulties, we knew this was not the end for us. We knew that the Lord had called us to adopt orphans, and we were going to be obedient. What better way to heal than to start again...

This is what brought us into the Ethiopia program with AWAA. We got our Dossier packet in the mail beginning of May 2007 and here we are in October, waiting for a referral!

I find myself finally getting excited. I have tightly guarded my heart (for obvious reasons) until this point. Knowing that we could have a referral in as little as 3 months (wait time is 3 - 7 months), how could I not be excited?!

OK, now that I have bored you to tears, I am done. Thank you for reading! :-)



Correction - a total of 6 children were referred to families!

Here is the Weekly update from AWAA:

Ethiopia America World is happy to announce that we received referrals for six children this week; four of the children were males, and two of the children were females. The ages of the children ranged from approximately 1 ½ months to 11 months old. There are five families currently reviewing the referrals for these children. We look forward to receiving their responses within the next week!

As mentioned in the Ethiopia September monthly update, America World signed a lease for a transition home in Addis Ababa last week! Once this home is up and running, the children who are being adopting by America World families, will be transitioned to this home from the orphanage between the time of referral and travel. In addition to this, our in-country staff liaison has recently hired two additional staff to help with adoption processing. Our agency believes that both of these accomplishments will lead to a smoother, more efficient adoption process for Ethiopia families, so we are happy to share this news!

It is so exciting to hear all the good news! We are hoping this is only the beginning!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Two AWAA Families Received Referrals!!!

I am so excited to announce that 2 families in our agency received referrals! The Davids received a referral of a baby girl, and the Carpenters received a referral of a boy and girl under 1 year.

Yea God!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dossier was picked up!

I got a Fedex email today notifying me that our in country representative picked up our Dossier today! YEA!!! Thank you, Girmachew!

You may ask, "Why did it take so long?" Here is what I know: The Fedex in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, does not deliver the package. Instead, they leave it at the Fedex office for pick up and notify our representative. Because the office is far away, it took about 1 1/2 weeks for it to be picked up.

You may ask, "What now? How long until you know anything?" Here is what I know: The wait time we are given is anywhere from 3 - 7 months after our Dossier is completed. Currently there are several families who have been waiting anywhere from 4 - 7 months. The wait times are based on several factors ~ age of the requested child, sex of requested child, or amount of children requested. For instance, there are more boys available for adoption that girls. If you request a girl, it is more likely that the wait will be longer. If you request a sibling group under a certain age, you will probably wait longer. There are, however, older sibling groups available.

We are requesting a boy, 0 - 12 months (0 - 18 months by the time we bring him home), as young as possible. This week, I emailed our coordinator, Laurel, asking some "what happens now" type questions. In her return email, she said, "The good news for you is that you're requesting a boy, and since they are more available and less families request them, you'll probably wait less time."

Needless to say, I read, and re-read, and re-read, and re-read this email! I don't know what the less wait time means, but it was enough to make me start to put together the nursery! :-)

Ok, I am taken enough time away from my work to type this post.
Hope y'all have an amazing and blessed day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dossier is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!

Wow! Our dossier is in Ethiopia! PTL! That was fast!

Sep 25, 2007
12:00 AM
Int'l shipment release

12:00 AM
Held at FedEx location for recipient pickup
Package available for pickup at: HIGHER NO 21

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dossier in Frankfurt!

Here is the current progress of our dossier! It is exciting to see how far it has gotten already!

Sep 23, 2007
4:12 AM
In transit

4:12 AM
Arrived at FedEx location


Sep 22, 2007
5:55 AM
Departed FedEx location

3:42 AM
Arrived at FedEx location

12:21 AM
Departed FedEx location


Sep 21, 2007
9:32 PM
Left origin

4:21 PM
Picked up

10:43 AM
Package data transmitted to FedEx

Friday, September 21, 2007

Our Dossier is off!

We just got the official confirmation that our Dossier is leaving Virginia today for Ethiopia! YEA!! I will keep checking the tracking number and posting the progress! Happy Friday!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We bought a crib set!

Ok, so yesterday I was online search for crib bedding for our baby. I spent hours looking at many different sites, until I found the perfect one! We didn't plan to buy (we are continuing to guard our hearts), but it was on Ebay, and it was perfect. Crazy enough, the auction was going to end in just a couple hours. Paul & I were both in agreement (which hardly ever happens!) so I waiting until 5 minutes before it ended and won the auction! Yea!

Here is the picture:

Isn't it adorable??? I am so anxious to start painting to get the room ready.

Hope y'all are having a wonderful Saturday!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Complaint Free World

Ok, so I confess, I watch Oprah! Not religiously, but there are a lot of good topics that she covers.

One day in March, Oprah had the pastor of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, MO. He was promoting a program called A Complaint Free World. Here is an excerpt from the website to tell you how it works:
"How Does it Work?"

Scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit and complaining is habitual for most of us. As Twain said, we must coax our old behavior down the stairs. The bracelet(s) you receive are a powerful tool(s) to remind you of how well you are creating your life with positive intention. Here are the suggested rules:
  1. Begin to wear the bracelet, on either wrist

  2. When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping or criticizing (it’s ok, everyone does) move the bracelet to the other arm and begin again.

  3. If you hear someone else who is wearing a bracelet complain, you may point out their need to switch the bracelet to the other arm; BUT if you’re going to do this, you must move your bracelet first!

  4. Stay with it. It may take many months but when you reach 21 days you will find that your entire life is happier, more loving, more positive and more abundant.

Because of the popularity, it took us 5 months to receive the bracelet...I promise, I am not complaining! :-) We passed them out last Sunday, and I am so excited! I believe this could be just the start of something wonderful, not just in my own life, but in the life of our church!

To find out how you can get involved, visit A Complaint Free World.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Ethiopian Millenium!

Tonight (9/11) at midnight, Ethiopian time (2 PM PST), Ethiopia will be celebrating this Millenium. I found it very interesting and thought I would post an article on why Ethiopia is 7 years behind the rest of the world's Millenium celebration. Enjoy!

Why Ethiopia's Millennium is seven years late?
By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Addis Ababa

People in Ethiopia are preparing to celebrate the New Year on 12 September and for them, it will be very special - the start of the year 2000 and the beginning of millennium celebrations.

But the reason why they are celebrating more than seven years after the rest of the world is rooted in Ethiopian history and in the beliefs of its own Christian Orthodox Church.
Educated Ethiopians live comfortably in two calendars.

It is still 1999 here and the month is Pagume when they speak Amharic - September 2007 when they speak English.

The only thing that ever seems to faze them is the complication caused by the leap years in the two calendars being out of sync.

But even if they are quite at home with the Western calendar, Ethiopians show no sign of wanting to abandon their own.

Thirteen months

It is part of their national identity, not to mention allowing their tourist industry to boast that they can offer visitors 13 months of sunshine.

Several major events are planned to celebrate the millennium

The short 13th month is just one of the tell-tale signs that Ethiopians took their calendar from ancient Egypt.

Another is the date of New Year, originally linked to the annual flood which brought new life to the Nile Valley.

But none of this explains why the millennium is seven years late; why Ethiopians think that it is 2000 and not 2007 years since the birth of Christ.

Conservative culture

Ahmed Zakaria, professor of history at Addis Ababa University says the reason is that the Roman Church amended their calculation in 500 AD - adjusting it by seven or eight years.

The Patriarch says Ethiopia became isolated from other countries

"So we are seven or eight years later than the Roman calculation, so that's the difference that came in."

The recalculation of the birth of Christ was just the first of a number of changes in the rest of the world which the Ethiopian church ignored.

It is partly because the country was so remote and isolated, but also, says the current patriarch, Abuna Paulos I, because Ethiopian Christians are intensely conservative.

"People are not inclined for any reformations, especially when it comes to religion.

"They are very much loyal - to change one sentence is a betrayal as far as they are concerned.

"So because of this, they have been isolated. They have been loyal to their faith and they have maintained their own traditions."

And so here in Ethiopia it is still 1999, we're all seven years younger, and on the 12 September, the first of Meskeram, we'll finally join the rest of the world.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

September 9th, 2007 -- Spiritual Pathways: Contemplative

"1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, 'Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?' 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
Psalm 42 NIV

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Look out Starbucks, you have Ethiopia!

Ethiopia is well known for it's coffee, and I can't wait to visit the coffee shop talked about in this article!

Addis Ababa Journal
Along With That Caffeine Rush, a Taste of Seattle

The latest thing in Addis Ababa is this Starbucks knockoff. It is run by Tseday Asrat, who has grown to admire the Seattle coffee chain, and says confidently, “They can’t compete with me.” The cafe is named Kaldi’s for the Ethiopian goat herder who, legend has it, discovered the heady effect of caffeine.

Published: July 22, 2005
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 18 -

It looks like a Starbucks. It smells and tastes like one too. Settle into one of the comfortable Starbucks-like armchairs and it certainly feels like the real thing.

Antonio Fiorente for The New York Times
Even the green aprons for the employees and the round logo are startlingly familiar to anyone who has spent time over a Frappuccino.

But the hottest cafe in the Ethiopian capital is not a Starbucks at all but a knockoff, the creation of a Starbucks devotee who tried to bring the real thing to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, by many accounts. But she had to settle for a look-alike after the Seattle coffee giant rebuffed her partnership request.
Kaldi's has a Starbucks-like logo and Starbucks-like d├ęcor, and its workers wear Starbucks-like green aprons. At the bar, there are Starbucks-like "short" and "tall" coffee options, although Kaldi's sticks exclusively to Ethiopia's coffee varieties, while the real Starbucks includes Ethiopia's premium beans among many other offerings.

"I've always loved Starbucks, the ambiance of it," said Tseday Asrat, the proprietor of Kaldi's, fessing up to the obvious inspiration behind her year-old business. "So we created our own version of it here."

Kaldi's is by no means the only pretender around here. The latest hotel to go up near the airport is a "Marriot," another knockoff that uses only one "t" but has the exact same typeface in its sign as the J. W. Marriott hotel chain. There is a 7-11 convenience store here, as well, which has no connection to the 7-Elevens on so many corners back in America. The copycats are evidence of the financial success that many Ethiopians are attaining in the United States and of the desire of many of them to invest some of their wealth back home.
Officials at the Starbucks Coffee Company were not thrilled when they learned of the knockoff. "Even where it may seem playful, this type of misappropriation of a company's name (and reputation) is both derivative and dilutive of their trademark rights," a company spokeswoman, Lara Wyss, said in an e-mail message, adding that the company prefers to resolve such conflicts amicably.

The copycat cafe is not exactly cutting into the profits of the real Starbucks, though Kaldi's is popular enough that it will soon open its second cafe. And Ms. Asrat has no fear of competition from the chain, which has watched many rivals sadly hang up "Out of Business" signs.

"They can't compete with me," she said bluntly.

She allowed that a large company like Starbucks could theoretically try to undercut her business with lower prices. But prices here are already quite low. A Kaldi's short Macchiato with a Starbucks-like chocolate muffin costs just 6.50 birr, which is under a dollar and pricey by Ethiopian standards. A similar pick-me-up at a Starbucks in the United States would cost more than five times as much.

When it comes to knowing the ways of Ethiopia's finicky coffee consumers, Ms. Asrat clearly has a leg up on her rival. She points out that Ethiopians do not like to order their coffee from the counter, Starbucks style. She has a counter, compete with a Starbucks-like glass case for her baked goods, but her clients by and large sit down in their Starbucks-like chairs and issue orders to workers.

"Ethiopians like to be treated like a king when they come to a place like this," she explained. "They like to say, 'Waiter, a Macchiato. Waiter, come back, warm this up. Waiter, how about a muffin now?' "

They also expect parking-lot service, something that is not to be found in the business plan of a typical Starbucks. Many Ethiopians, especially young hip ones, enjoy pulling up to a cafe and ordering directly from their car windows. At a rival cafe there was far more car service than actual cafe service on a recent afternoon.

To prove her point about the importance of ample parking, Ms. Asrat motioned toward a cozy but all-but-abandoned cafe across the street from Kaldi's. "They have good coffee but look at them," she said with pity in her voice. "There's no place to park."

Her lot was full, with cars and waiters balancing trays of coffee and pastries. At the new coffee bar that she will open soon, there will be room for 200 cars, she said.

Traditionally, Ethiopians have taken their coffee at home, drinking slowly, with only close friends and family. They roasted the beans on the spot, part of an elaborate coffee ceremony that remains an important part of the culture here but that is not always practical for those on the move.

"Coffee is part of every Ethiopian's life," Ms. Asrat said. "We discuss life over coffee. We talk about our marriages. We have coffee ceremonies that go on and on."

Though she is busily injecting Ethiopian culture with a bit of America, Ms. Asrat has not lived in the United States. But her husband, a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines, has made regular trips there, frequently with her in tow.

She said she did not feel the least bit guilty about her imitation cafe. After all, legend has it that coffee itself originated in Ethiopia long ago when a goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats prancing around with glee after eating some strange red berries. Yemen, just across the Red Sea, makes its own claim as the birthplace of coffee. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: coffee did not originate in Seattle.

Ms. Asrat has the history of Kaldi printed on the wall of her cafe, proudly promoting the Ethiopian roots of her product. But even there Starbucks was the inspiration. Ms. Asrat acknowledges that she knew nothing about the legend of Kaldi until she read about him on the Starbucks Web site.

Did you know...

In Ethiopia...

  • ...One in ten children die before their first birthday
  • ...One in six children die before their fifth birthday
  • ...44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
  • ...60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
  • ...The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
  • ...1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
  • ...720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone
  • ...Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
  • ...In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
  • ...Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
  • ...Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
  • ...Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
  • ...Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
  • ...In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

Just something to think about...

Friday, September 7, 2007

The 4-1-1 on Ethiopia

I thought I would take a few minutes and post some information about the beautiful country we adopting from. The information comes from the AWAA website and other various websites.

Ethiopia is the only African country that was not colonized as various European nations scrambled to divide and rule Africa. With the brief exception of the Italian occupation from 1936-1941, Ethiopia has remained an independent nation.

With a population of nearly 75 million people, there is an assorted collection of food, languages, customs and people groups. Ethiopia also contains a diverse landscape, including parts of the Nile River and the Great Rift Valley. As an East African landlocked country, Ethiopia is bordered by Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.

Ethiopia, an ancient Christian nation, has deep-rooted Ethiopian Orthodox customs and practices. The Judaic-Christian roots of Ethiopia can be found in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Today, about half the population of Ethiopia is Christian.

Unfortunately, this country that is about twice the size of Texas has an estimated 4.3 million orphans. The children are primarily orphaned due to poverty, and live in both government-run and privately established orphanages.
Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

National name: Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik

President: Girma Woldegiorgis (2001)

Prime Minister: Meles Zenawi (1995)

Land area: 432,310 sq mi (1,119,683 sq km); total area: 435,186 sq mi (1,127,127 sq km)

Population (2006 est.): 74,777,981 (growth rate: 2.3%); birth rate: 38.0/1000; infant mortality rate: 93.6/1000; life expectancy: 49.0; density per sq mi: 173

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Addis Ababa, 2,716,200

Monetary unit: Birr

Languages: Amharic, Tigrigna, Orominga, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, English, over 70 others

Ethnicity/race: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigrean 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%

Religions: Islam 45%–50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%–40%, animist 12%, other 3%–8%

Literacy rate: 43% (2003 est.)

Yard Sale Today & Tomorrow -- All proceeds go for Ethiopia Adoption!

Today we continued our Yard Sale that we began earlier this summer. We have done some major Spring Cleaning and have had several people donate items to be sold!

Luckily, my husband thrives on the interaction with the people as they look through our stuff. If he complains, I just remind him who did ALL the paperwork!!! Ha Ha Ha! :-)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Chewy Doggy

OK, so maybe I am a little silly, but I can't help it! I wanna share a very special friend with all my blogging buddies.

This is my doggy, Chewy Turkey West. He is a Jack Russell Terrier (JR Terrier = Crazy dog!). He has been a source of laughter and joy through our failed adoption and the transition of our new adoption. It is not by accident that he has joined our family! We can't wait to watch the interaction of our dog and our little boy from Ethiopia! Good night for now!


Hello Friends and Family!

We are so excited to begin this blog to keep y'all up to date on our Ethiopia adoption. Our Dossier had been received by our agency in Virginia. The next step is for our agency to have the Dossier authenticated in Washington D.C. Once this process is done, our Dossier flies (via FedEx) to the other side of the world! We will let y'all know when we know more.

After many months of guarding our hearts, I find myself finally getting excited butterflies in my tummy!

We are trusting the Lord for His perfect timing. Proverbs 3:5-6.
God Bless,