Day 3: Part 2- Gotcha

Day three was about so much more than seeing the sights and experiencing the culture. It was the culmination of nearly a year of waiting. From the time we left the meeting everyone was a bit hurried to get to Hannah's Hope. Our knees knocked on the ride, and thankfully it was only about 2 miles from our hotel. As we made the turn on to the bumpy dirt road leading to the gate, reality sat like a lump in our throats. A thousand thoughts and questions began to race through my head, but all thoughts fled when that gate was opened wide.

After a few moments inside the gate, we were motioned by Almaz. She led us to where she thought Landon was, but it turns out he was somewhere else. We were led all over the complex until finally we found out he was in his room. It was then a race to change our shoes at the door (small yellow crocs for me, green for Amy) and race up the marble stairs. Our awesome friend, Kathleen agreed to shoot our video for us. Up the stairs we made a dash for the door. Inside the pink and flower printed room was our beautiful boy waiting expectantly for us in his bouncy seat. He was the most amazing thing we had ever seen, and for a few seconds we just smiled and touched his hands. We couldn't wait long though before we picked him up and held him close in our arms. His first reaction was a huge smile and a few giggles. It was as if he was saying, "I knew you'd come."

Here is our Gotcha Day Video:

We stayed around Hannah's Hope for a time while some of the older children got used to their new families. Landon chose to take a nap on me the first time I held him, and continued that nap all the way back to our hotel. It was so humbling to be holding our son for the first time knowing our missing piece was now found.

Our first night together in the hotel was like this: Landon slept great, and we barely slept a wink. We mostly just watched him in the crib at the base of our bed. We kept whispering to each other all night long about how beautiful he was and making comments on any little movement he made in his sleep. Sleep deprivation was a theme through our whole trip.... more on that later.

Enjoy some pictures from the day:

Day 3: Part 1- Tour of Addis Ababa

Day three began with our tour. We had contacted a man named Solomon (recommended by Johnny and Amy). We met him early in the morning, and we were filled with excitement about seeing the city. After waiting for nearly a year, we were now only hours from meeting Landon for the first time, but that still felt much too long to wait. The tour was the perfect way to pass the time. We ended up making memories that will last a lifetime. The plan was to take in as much as we can to share with Landon as he grows.

The tour started at our hotel, and our first stop was at the African Union. This is the location where all African countries meet. We got to take a few pictures, but it was by permission only (we discovered some locations are always forbidden off limits). The next stop was the largest church in Addis (over 500 years old too), and we got a guided tour in the midst of their Sunday service. When I say it was packed, I mean there were literally thousands of people. They all were wearing their traditional white clothe wrap and were crowded around the entire church building. Many people were kissing the building and leaning against walls and trees to participate in the worship and responsive readings. The building was beautiful with ornate architecture around the entire structure and the stain-glass windows all featured a scene from the ministry of Jesus. Our mini tour took us up a back staircase where we had a view overlooking the entire congregation. From there we headed over to the Ethiopian Museum. Before it opened, we hung out at an attached outdoor cafe. We hired a guide for museum, and he filled us with thousands of facts about the rich history of Ethiopia. The tour was three entire floors and a basement. The best part was learning about the kings that once ruled Ethiopia.

Take some time to view some pictures. Continue below for the rest of the tour.

After the museum, we went to a market and purchased a traditional Ethiopian outfit for Landon's first birthday. Then from the market we made a straight shot to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, but then we quickly realized we were too excited to eat. When we finished the meal it didn't look like we had eaten anything. Solomon couldn't help us much either because he was fasting from meat. We ended up giving the leftover food to one of Solomon's neighbors. The funny part was watching the left over food be wrapped up by the waitress' hands and thrown into a plastic bag. From there, Solomon welcomed us to his home for a traditional coffee ceremony (this was the highlight of the day for me - Ian). Solomon's home was very quaint (2 rooms- each about 4'x 8'). The front room was their living room, and the back room was the bedroom shared by all four family members. It was humbling when Solomon kept saying, "How blessed," he was. The coffee ceremony lasted about 45 minutes, and started with popcorn being popped and the coffee beans being roasted from their raw green state. Solomon allowed all of us to take a turn grinding the beans after they turned from green to black over the simmering coal fired oven. The coffee was poured out into very small china cups, but it surpassed any coffee any of us had ever tasted. Amy said she would fly back just for a cup (only if she could fly Emirates again).
We were almost late to get back to the hotel to meet the director of Hannah's Hope. We pulled up just as Almaz was being dropped off. Next was a bunch of paper work and information that was very important, but all we seemed to care about was going to get our children. We just wanted to get to Hannah's Hope. I am not sure we were listening. I felt like one of my students when I am teaching.

Here is the contact information for Solomon. Please call and use his services. He often works exclusively around The Riviera Hotel.
Solomon Michael. Mobile: 251-0911-37-45-35 or 251-0912-06-25-77.

The next part is even better...... Landon here we come!

Day 2: Dubai to Ethiopia

We got to Ethiopia in four hours. At the airport we met another couple, Aaron and Michelle, who were also adopting through All God's Children. We hit it off right away. They were equally excited to get their son. This is a short clip of the ride from the airport to our hotel, The Riviera.

The hotel turned out to be much more extravagant than what we were expecting.
Here are some shots of our room:

That evening we meet two other couples, Johnny and Amy, and Bret and Kathleen. We had quite the group building! We were amazed that they had already picked up their children. I guess a simple call to the Almaz, and they hopped a ride to the orphange. Amy's response at around 9pm, "I want to go over and just look in the windows!" We also learned about getting a tour with a taxi driver, and that would lead to some awesome times the next day.

Obviously we were jealous and much too excited to sleep.
It was a bit of a shock that we were less than 24 hrs away from the culmination of what God had called us to almost a year ago.

*Anyone who is planning to go, please ask for Solomon! We will be posting his picture and phone number. More to come on that soon...

Day 1: Leaving for Ethiopia

We got Landon's room ready before the trip. A jungle theme just seemed to fit his welcome to a wild and crazy family.

This was our last photo before leaving the house, and having Amy's mom and sister drive us to JFK. A large portion of the big suitcases was to donate to Hannah's Hope. They are always in need of extra baby supplies.

Our flight left JFK at 11pm, and flew through the night. We flew Emirates, which was actually the cheapest, and filled with more luxury then we needed. Amy slept a large portion of the trip, while I played around with my personal TV (little did I know that I would want that sleep back!). We then landed in Dubai (this is the immaculate airport on the left). The airline put us up in a hotel for the night, and shuttled us back to the airport in the morning for our comparatively short, four hour flight to Ethiopia.
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