On Wednesday, we had our farewell ceremony at the Holt Care Center. When we arrived, the staff whisked Josiah upstairs and changed him into his traditional Ethiopian outfit. He was so adorable in it, even though it was a little too big.
They served us the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony: coffee and popcorn.
We loved on the kids, at popcorn, cake, cookies, drank coke and coffee. It was a fun party. The staff took turns saying goodbye to our kids. A few of them said a few words to the whole group.
After lunch, we took our kids back to the center for their naps while we went shopping. I had been looking forward to shopping for the whole week. We went to a small shop and to the Leprosy Hospital. It was so fun to pick out Ethiopian treasures for our home and for our friends. I bought Josiah a larger traditional outfit for when he gets a little bigger, scarves for me and my moms, table runners, wooden crosses for friends, a couple Gebet games (the Ethiopian version of mankala), an Amharic bible, and some toy animals for Caleb and Josiah. I also bought a wonderful Ethiopian coffee pot, probably my favorite thing, but it got crushed in our suitcase on the way home (even though I had wrapped it in bubble wrap). I wish we had spent more time shopping. I had a wonderful time.
On Thursday, we spent most of the day in our hotel room packing to leave that night. Casey took a little shopping trip by himself (with a taxi driver who didn’t speak English) to get a couple pipes for my brothers. I stood by the window for two hours praying he found his way back. He did.
At about six that evening, we loaded up all of our stuff (imagine our luggage times seven) into two vans to head to the airport. We were so excited to be on our way home, but it was also sad to be leaving the place we had fallen in love with. The Holt nannies were standing on the balcony of the Care Center next door to our hotel. They waved goodbye to us as we pulled away.
It took us over 32 hours from the time we left our hotel until we got home. Thirty-two long, hard hours. Our flight home was very, very crowded, and the seats were small and cramped. Despite countless tries, we did not get a bulkhead seat with the baby bassinet. We ended up in the middle row. If you told me right now that I had to get on that plane and do it again I would probably start crying. I would do it, for Josiah, or Caleb, or any other child we may have someday, but I would still cry.
Casey and I took turns holding Josiah the whole way home, feeding him every three hours, changing his diaper about once an hour (he was having some issues) (have you ever changed a diaper in an airplane bathroom?), and changing his clothes almost that often. Every time we needed something for him that we couldn’t hold in our hands, we had to get our suitcase out from the overhead bin. He was a perfect, sweet little baby, but it was still the hardest flight of my life. We flew from Addis to Rome, where we stopped for gas. We sat on the tarmac for an hour while they gassed up our plane and the flight crew changed, but we weren’t allowed to get off the plane. It was hot, and crowded, and I was holding a baby, and I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. This is when I started crying, not just a few little tears, but real crying. I didn’t think I could make it. Casey took over for a little while and I got maybe an hour of sleep, the only hour of sleep I had the whole trip home.
To show you how bad the flight was, I watched the Hannah Montana Movie not once, not twice, but three times on the way from Addis to D.C. It was the only movie available that was even half-way interesting, and, as silly as it is, it felt like home.
When we finally landed in DC, we had more fun times trying to make our way through immigration. The process was actually a lot quicker and easier than we expected, but I did end up changing Josiah’s diaper and clothes (again) on the floor while we waited in line.
Two more commuter flights, one slight delay, and we were home. This is what we saw:
Such a beautiful moment. I will forever be indebted to Zach for taking pictures for us. To see more pictures from our trip and arrival home, click here.