Today, we were able to pick up Yalfal & Kinetibeb at the Foster Care Center early in the morning and when they saw us walk in, they immediately ran to us! They are getting more and more comfortable with us...another answered prayer!
After we played with their friends for a little bit and took more pictures, we left with the kids to head to the Embassy to secure their passports and visas. The drive to the Embassy was great with them (even though it was a very bumpy ride since it is very rainy here and the roads are muddy with potholes). They kept waving out the window and saying in the sweetest little voices, "CIAO! CIAO!" (meaning "good-bye"...and showing the Italian influence here since Ethiopia was once occupied by Italy).
Once we got to the Embassy, they became really reserved and shy, but probably more because they were tired since they both fell asleep. All the other families were called and taking only a few minutes, but after we were called and sworn in, answered a few questions, they told us their were problems with our paperwork and denied the kids passports and visas.
Belay told us that he knew the guy handling our case very well and said he was frustrated that he was giving us a hard time with our paperwork. Brad was very frustrated with the "run-around" the guy was giving us but said he had to refrain from really telling the guy what he thought of him because part of the paperwork we had submitted were Brad's employment letters and the guy had already asked Brad if "Pastor" was his primary job.
We will have to get more paperwork from the states and then resubmit on Friday since tomorrow is their New Year and everything will be closed down. (Ethiopians are on a coptic calendar and they are 7 years behind us, so tomorrow will mark the year 2001!) Pray we get this taken care of promptly so we do not have to stay any longer than we have planned for. After the Embassy, we drove to meet the rest of the Gladney staff and the other families at a restaurant called Top View. It had a gorgeous view of the city and great distinctive food. We were able to bring the kids with us since it was far enough away from the city. Under the new rules of the government, families traveling to Ethiopia to adopt are no longer allowed to bring their children out in public for various reasons. So they are not allowed to stay with us, so it is a treat everytime we are allowed to bring them with us! Yalfal and Kinetibeb were amazingly well-behaved and had their very first taste of chicken fingers and french fries (which they loved!!) and ketchup (which they both did not care for at all!!) After our lunch, everyone sat around to talk and Brad and Brittany took the kids around the front of the restaurant to play and run in the grassy areas! They had so much fun! After several hours there, we had to take them back to their foster home and they fell asleep on the way home. It was such a joy to be able to cradle them like babies and watch them as they comfortably slept in our arms! Such a blessing that we are so glad we got to experience so soon after being with them!Upon arriving at the foster home, Kinetibeb was very unsettled to go back. He clinched on to Brad's neck and wrapped his legs around his waist. It is so difficult to drop them back off and then waving good-bye to leave them. Tears always follow from us.As we walked into the foster care, all the children's laundry had been washed and hung to dry. Shoes were all lined up for the next day's wear and three new guests were at the home.....chickens!! They had been brought to the foster care center to slaughter for a feast tomorrow for New Year's!! I don't think the children knew they were chasing and playing with tomorrow's lunch!! When we entered the home, they had prepared a coffee ceremony for us and it gave us more time with the kids! We left with tears in our eyes, and headed to the baby house for another coffee ceremony with the other Gladney families and staff. It is a very intricate and long ceremony where the ladies roast the raw green coffee beans, crush them by hand and a staff, then pour the grinds into a beautiful Ethiopian coffee pot with boiling water over fire and burn Frankincense while the coffee brews. Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia and Frankincense can only be found in Ethiopia so they have much to be proud of!!
We concluded our time there by visiting all the babies and taking pictures of all the Ethiopian baby beauties! It was truly a wonderful day!! Tomorrow, we will visit three of the orphanages that Gladney places children from and we will be able to take Yalfal and Kinetibeb along with us! We are very excited for the opportunity to spend more time with them!!! Thank you all for your prayers and sweet comments! They are truly encouraging to us while we are far from home and experiencing so many emotions! The Lord is faithful!!!