This post isn't very fun. And I'm tired so it's not well written. But it's truth.
So let's be candid. I LOVE Ethiopia. I love being here. I love the gift that is this trip. I'm getting time to myself, the ability to sleep in (anything after 3am is 'sleeping in' to me!), and the freedom of being responsible for only myself. But now, I'd also like to review some other facts. Not to complain, but just to give you a fuller picture of what it's like here right now.
I'm sick. In a foreign country. Alone. Luckily today is MUCH better. Because of my allergies, I've changed my diet to 6 Luna bars a day and 3 bottles of water. I wasn't violently ill today. Thank you God, for the inventors of Lemon Zest Luna bars. You are blessed among food inventors.
I pack tissues in my purse because toilets (and bathrooms for that matter) are not always available.
Yesterday I didn't go to the bathroom from 7am-5pm.....because there WAS no bathroom.
My room smells like a sewer because in ET, you don't flush your toilet paper. It goes in a little basket. But it's summer now. My room is HOT. And my bathroom already smelled like something died in it. Now it's worse, because of used toilet paper. And I can't open the window because there are no screens. And I don't need a malaria-filled mosquitos visiting me either.
There IS warm water here but I've yet to experience it. Cold showers it is. I'm so thankful to HAVE a shower though, that I almost don't notice this.
All night you hear three things. Chanting (from prayers), till roughly 3am, club music (yes, that's right) and dogs barking. Luckily I love music. The chanting doesn't bother me. The dogs do, but I'm a person who could sleep standing up half the time, so I can ignore the barking for the most part. I do wonder what makes them all howl all night.....?
All day I am in close contact with people who are sick or have other hygiene challenges. Lice. Other unknown bugs. Tuberculosis. Malaria. I'm hugging, kissing, holding these people. (Not all if this is at the TH.) Sharing their food. I wish I could say I was selfless and didn't think twice before eating something questionable or hugging a child crawling in lice. I wish I could say I picked that little child up and snuggled her to my chest, resting my head on hers without another thought. But I didn't. She reached for me, pleading with big, lonely eyes, and I picked her up without hesitation but when she went to snuggle me, I thought, "No, God please, not lice......" and then I thought, ashamed, "Marissa, shut up and GET OVER IT! This kid needs a hug and you can get a lice treatment at home. All she'll ever get is her head shaved." And so I held her as close as I could. We snuggled and I rocked her. Precious, precious child.
Yesterday was rough because I spent a couple of hours in the baby room playing with some 1-2 year olds. When I finally went to leave, two of the babies toddled after me, crying. I knelt down and hugged them, but they knew I was still leaving and clung to me, sobbing. I kissed their little tear-stained faces and hugged them close. When I tried to put them down, they screamed. The nannies had to come pry them off and yet another part of my heart was broken off and left in that little baby room. Today, when those babies saw me, one ran to the window and slammed on it till I looked at her. She grinned at me and blew me a kiss. The other baby stared at me and then hid her face. She didn't look at me the rest of the day.
I think one of my favorite parts about each day here is when all the kids are called for lunch (parents aren't typically allowed, although I was invited today but turned it down because I don't feel like getting sick from my allergies) and I'm left alone on the TH porch. There is an old, rickety couch and the last two days I just lie down on it and stare up at the sky and the leaves waving in the breeze. I don't think. I don't do anything. I just lie there and enjoy the quiet. The peace. The guards are humming and shaving their faces with straight razors. The nannies are resting.....one or two under a free with an old radio and music playing. The babies are sleeping. The older kids are quiet, because talking during meals isn't allowed. It's so warm. So peaceful.
Today when Natalie came back, she wanted to play. Meaning, she wanted to act out scenarios. So today, I was pulled over, given a ticket, and thrown in jail. Then later, I was the policeman, and she stole my bag and I chased her down. Then she wanted to arrest me again.
Later, when we were playing UNO and a dot game, she asked me when we were leaving. I reminded her that I was leaving Friday, and then all four of us would come back and then have to leave again and then Z and I would come back and get her. She went stone-faced. "Mom leave Friday?" she signed. "Yes....." I told her, and she flipped away from me and started taking off. I grabbed her and turned her around.....to see tears pouring down her cheeks. I held out my arms and she ran into them. We sat on the couch and I pulled her into my lap like a little baby. And we cried. It was so painful. Her little hurt voice was almost more than I could stand. I held her like that for an hour and then she wrapped her arms around me, kissed me, and snuggled down next to me. I held her for another hour. No talking. No playing. No sleeping. Just sitting together.
When the other kids came back, we painted all the girls' nails. They especially loved my sparkly silver one. Nat put four coats of three different colors on me, turning me into a goopy mess. There's fingernail polish on my nails, my hands, my shirt. The nannies joined in the fun and pretty soon everyone was sporting silver or midnight blue polish. I had brought a bunch of crafting twisty fuzzy sticks (honestly, there is a simple that name I just can't think of and it's driving me nuts.....then again it's midnight so maybe by tomorrow I will have remembered it) and I passed them all out and everyone made fun designs. Glasses, rings, earrings. OMG, PIPE CLEANERS!!! Hahah that's what they are called. :) Anyway, we made some awesome creations with them.
I did all my photos and videos for other families today. It was so fun....I love seeing the kids as their watch THEIR videos and kiss my phone repeatedly, trying to make contact through the little screen. Huge smiles, excited giggles. All day they followed me around pointing to my phone and saying, "My family???", wanting to watch their videos again and again.
I found out today that Natalie hates limes. The nannies made her eat one (each child must have fruit) and the faces she made were epic. I got part of it on video but can't show it yet. It will be worth the wait though!!!!
Nat is SO smart. She picks up whatever I teach her really quickly. Signs, games, words. She's also a good helper.
She was really affectionate today, snuggling me and holding my hand. She loves Eskimo kisses. And photos. She may have to go I to modeling because all she wants 24/7 is her picture taken. She made multiple videos for Abe and the kids too. Including a dancing one for Levi.
I love her so much........she is an incredible child. It's a little scary to see how much our personalities are alike.....she is so stubborn, she knows what she wants, and she's a ham. So proud to call her my daughter, and I'm dying to bring her home!!!!!!!!