Singin' sweet songs of melodies pure and true....
Join us in our journey to adopt the newest members of our family from Ethiopia!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Months Home - Truths from the Homefront

Hard to believe the last time I blogged, it was from Ethiopia on our first trip. Our second trip didn't allow for much blogging considering we picked up our new sons HOURS from landing in Ethiopia. Quite busy since then!

I am actually thankful that this will be my last blog post for this blog since writing a post causes anxiety and my words could be misunderstood and I will never know. But since there have been over 7,500 readers in the past few years, I am taking the chance that one of those readers may be looking for an end to this story. They may be looking for hope that this adoption really did finish and that two little beautiful boys really did find their forever family. They may be desperately hoping that our story is one that is true and legit. They may be like me, and they read other blogs that spoke of fraud. After reading enough of those stories, I was always searching for hopeful stories that would add to my naive thought that all adoption was good and our motive to grow our family through adoption was possible while still being decent, honest people. I am writing this last post for that reader and there are a couple of things I want to share. I am here to put it out there that no one will ever convince me that our sons did not need a family. We read, heard and were actually there to see their past and grow very sad when I think of what could have been their future without adoption. Their story is theirs to tell, but it is important to tell you now their story may have started with some tragic events, but it is not going to end that way. This adoption process really did finish and our forever family of 6 has started. We are all in this for the long run. We chose life for these boys and are learning so much along the way.

1. Me without God = FEAR. God is so much bigger than any battle I have faced. I am putting this truth first because I need a constant reminder of Who needs to be first in my life. My go-to in life has always been to fall back in fear in the unknown. This reared it's ugly head when I was falling to pieces on the couch of a hotel in Ethiopia in fear of things I saw in our boys that I knew we were going to battle for a very long time. It came up again as I was dry heaving in a bathroom in the middle of an airport in Doha, Qatar (at least this was the most beautiful bathroom I have ever seen!) knowing that we were taking two children away from anything they ever had known and to a place where I was required to know how to handle what was ahead. How in the world could I, someone who resorts to fear, do it?? Well, I can't alone. Me with God = the only way.

2. Other adoptive families will be your lifeline. They provide exactly the kind of support and love you need. I sent facebook messages and texts admitting things and asking questions that won't ever be repeated. No matter how outrageous I thought the questions were, these families made me feel accepted and normal. Some of these adoptive families I have never met and may never meet, but I feel a bond with them that will last a lifetime.

3. You can't hurry some things. You would think I would have learned from the crazy long adoption process (we arrived home EXACTLY to the day 4 years after we started the adoption process for Colombia)! When we got home, I was desperately asking how long until we were back to normal, how long until this and that gets better, how long get the picture. I see a situation that is not the way I want it and I want it fixed right now. I have learned the hard way that God's timing is the best. He will get you through what seems impossible. I was in a hurry to leave Ethiopia. That beautiful country treated us royally but I was ready to start new. Our flight left the country at 2am. We carried the boys in their pajamas sleeping along with 2 carts full of luggage. Our hotel driver dropped us off at the wrong departing terminal. After going through security and all that is involved in that, we were told we needed to leave the airport and walk 10-15 minutes to the correct terminal. After the pouring rain...with our luggage and (by now getting heavy) children. Out we went, in the dark night hardly illuminated, with all of the stares (I would stare at us too, I can't imagine what we looked like!) and soaking wet, over huge pot holes, we made it to the other end. I pray that I will not struggle with God's timing anymore and let Him decide how to get us to the right place.

4. Reality may fall short of your expectations. You can only imagine the expectations I placed on these boys. I waited and hoped for them for so many years! Their sweet pictures we got while waiting, the video I made with beautiful background music. All of it waiting for an awesome climax of a happy family of 6 holding hands in love forever skipping their way through fun times. Ouch! Just like my love for them is taking time and slowly growing, their love for their new family is growing slowly as well. It is taking them some time to learn how to act in a family, how to treat each other, how to trust and how to behave socially. I never expected so much of what we have gone through the past five months.

5. What God has planned is WAY better than your expectations. This same love that I want to grow fast is going to be strong and firm. I have plans of immediate and God has plans of forever. Picture us unlocking the door of our hotel in Ethiopia on our second trip holding the hands of our children, them looking around the room, still in their clothing from their orphanage, and one of our boys dropping everything and starting to dance. Looking up at us with his eyes and dancing. Picture all of us smiling and our hearts taking in the fact that these beautiful creatures could put enough trust in us to get in the van with us, walk through the hotel lobby and now into our room. Having no clue where all of this leads and how we will treat them, and still dancing. Oh how He loves us. Follow and trust in Him.

6. The way you parented your bio kids may not work for your newly adopted children. We were pretty proud of the first two beautiful treasures and felt like we knew the parenting drill. Past experience generally shows that if you do "A" and get "B" as a positive result, you should repeat "A." Well, not always the case. This basic formula has been complicated by past tramua and personality differences. My stubborness is now finally giving way. I pray for guidance on how to best parent all of my children as I want to be the best Mom I can be, accepting their differences.

7. You may be really, really horrible at friendships. I love my family and friends just as much as ever, but I sure have treated them horribly. Unreturned facebook, phone and text messages. Thank you cards never sent. The gratitude that they so deserve not repaid. Definitely still feeling guilty about this, but am thankful to say I am so less judgemental of others. We never know what circumstances someone is going through and all of us deserve and need grace.

8. Your bio children will be stretched. This has been heartbreaking for me. If there is any hard adjusting that needs to be done, any heartbreak that needs to be felt, let it be on me, not my children. We wanted to grow our family for GOOD reasons, not to impart suffering and hurt. Once again, God is showing up in these hard places. He loves us so much that all of our 4 children will become stronger individuals through all of this. I have faith that these short term adjustments will ultimately prove beautiful. Again, what God has planned will be way better than what we expect.

9. You will love your spouse even more than you imagined after this. I have looked at him more times than I can remember with huge worried eyes and he smiles and comforts. He brings down my frantic heart rate. He shows me there is humor in things I get aggravated at. Where I fail, he soars. He is patient beyond words. He forgives and forgets without a second thought. We are forever a team. Thank you Lord for providing once again.

Since I don't allow comments on my blog, I get to have the last say. YAY! It has been a long, often exhausting road, but I would bet that the hearts that have experienced the most exhaustion are not ours but our new sons. They need us to rise above all of these hardships and love them. They need us to be superhuman and we CAN do that if we let God join us. I truly believe God loves adoption. He doesn't like or cause broken families or orphans but he walks with us to be part of the solution. You may be reading this as part of a family waiting to adopt, either domestic or international, you may be reading this as a family that has already adopted and looking to feel comforted with familiar thoughts, you may be a family not interested in adoption but want to help orphans or you may be just plain skeptical, but the awesome thing is no matter where you are, you can be part of the solution. I am challenging you to open your hearts to consider supporting prevention programs that keep families together, to supporting and loving those families around you that are in the fostering or adoption process, to supporting families that are made up of children from adoption and maybe, just maybe, jumping on this crazy, roller coaster of adoption yourself.

Thank you for loving and listening and many blessings to you.


Monday, July 21, 2014

What a Trip

Wow, so it is almost time to leave already, we have been here 9 days. I have been bad about blogging because at the end of the night, after our kids are in bed, I just sink into the couch. It has been a wonderful trip, an emotional one for sure. There are the obvious emotions regarding adoption and finally seeing and holding the children we accepted into our hearts long ago, but there are the other emotions that are much tougher than I thought. We have travelled before to countries before where English is not the primary language and to where the culture is vastly different than our own. However, one huge difference this trip: our son and daughter that we brought with us. I have been on guard every single second for their safety and wellbeing. Normally, I would enjoy taking in the sights more and smiling at the people, but I have had an emotional and physical grip on our kids the whole time. The Ethiopian people have been nothing but generous and welcoming to us (OK so there was one attempted pick-pocket on my husband but he ended up scaring the guy way more than we were), so I know that my worry and overprotectiveness have been unnecessary, but I can't help it. There are so many sights and sounds that they are processing this trip and they have been been amazing with hardly a whine or complaint.

A good example of no complaining is how our daughter acted the day we appeared in court the day after we met our boys. She started throwing up in the car ON THE WAY to court. She probably threw up 3 times at least. This is the day after our son threw up in the University Museum. We pulled up to the courthouse and gave her a napkin, she wiped her mouth and we walked in. Within 30 minutes, we were appearing in front of a judge and declared our love and willingness to adopt our boys. They both answered the questions they were asked with smiles and were perfect, just like appearing in front of an Ethiopian judge is something we do everyday! What an emotional time for a lot of reasons. Here is a picture of right after:

After court, we were in the car for about 2 hours and the sickness continued until we got back to the hotel with meds. Again, not sure if she was sick or it was just the car motions and roads. Yesterday, we finally figured out that Star Wars on the portable DVD player in the car is the way to keep their minds off the motion sickness. Their little heads will literally be bouncing up and down with their eyes fixed on Darth Vader. The night of court, we celebrated with a dinner at a restaurant with traditional food, music and dancing. Again, I am realizing just how rich in culture Ethiopia is. The next day, we took a plane to the birth city of our boys and took a tour of their original orphanage. The next evening, our host graciously entertained us and 2 other couples in his home and we ate traditional food and learned more about Ethiopia and each other.

The definite highlight of our trip has been the 5 visits with our boys. Each one has been a little over 2 hours. My heart has skipped a beat each time we walked through the gate and watched the children approach us, my eyes searching for either of the 2 boys that are now our own. Each time we have been greeted with a sweet smile and hug from each, them already recognizing and comfortable with the four of us. The first few moments are usually spent with lots of gestures and greetings and then we have gotten to the point each visit where we can sit and watch them play with their friends. They have a merry-go-around and today we watched our daughter push 6 children in it and then each of those children get out and push their friends and her. Most of the time, she fit her very tall body in a very small chair with our new younger son in her lap and held him tight. They were the best of friends today, the first of many days. We watched our sons play soccer and were amazed at how all the kids just kicked the ball around laughing and sometimes falling down hard, only to get up and keep playing. There are other children of varying ages so it has been amazing to watch how they all take care of each other. I have fallen in love with some of the other children too and know how lucky their waiting parents are that they will soon be together too. We have talked to the nannies about our children and got some essential information about their habits and personalities (how blessed we are by what we already know!). We will use this information to make them more comfortable and make the adjustment easier.

Today is my husband's birthday and he had a wonderful surprise today at the boy's home where our host arranged a party for him, complete with ALL of the children and staff signing and clapping happy birthday to him and some excellent cake and a coffee ceremony. The furniture was even re-arranged so that everyone could participate. So amazing! It was so thoughtful and we will never forget how they wanted him to feel special and loved while he was away from home. Leaving today was difficult and saying goodbye for now is sad, but we will be back soon and have them in our arms forever. I know they are safe and happy until then. More prayer will be needed for my heart to be still in the Lord while we wait to return.


Here's a link to a video we made:

Monday, July 14, 2014

First Meeting

Today was amazing! I am feeling so very tired after this amazing long day but am so happy! We started off by taking a bumpy car ride to the National Museum. I enjoyed this ride because we got to see a lot of Addis Ababa and the local neighborhoods and people. Downside was that it was so bumpy and the fumes were strong. Our kids said they felt bad from the ride. Well....about 5 minutes into the National Museum tour, our son threw up, no notice. Our driver is the kindest guy you could ever meet and immediately helped. We took him outside and some ladies were so worried about him too and making sure he was ok. We quickly finished that tour sans Mike and him and then went to the National Museum where our driver stayed and let him sleep on him while we looked around. It was very cool and nice to learn more history about where our boys are from. Ethiopia is so rich in history.

We were due to meet the boys at 2pm and we get back to our hotel at 1:30pm after another ride and our poor son again felt bad from the van. We decided to administer one of the 10 or so prescriptions we brought with us in case he was ill from the food or water. After a short rest, we were back in the van!

I didn't think I was going to cry but when we pulled on the street and another couple in the car said "here we are and here's the gate," I lost it for a few minutes. To be in the courtyard where they play and just steps from them really hit me hard. We were ushered into the house and the four of us sat on a couch staring at the doorway. the door pop these two beautiful, wide-eyed boys and their nannies and I don't know how long that moment lasted (felt like two minutes, but probably was like two seconds) but the four of us stared at each other and then we opened our arms and they came (or were maybe pushed, I don't know!) and stood by us and we gave them fives and smiles and hugs and were just talking a hundred miles a minute. Within just a few minutes, they were smiling and laughing and in our laps. Seriously, the rest of the few hours we were there were that amazing, our boys were so comfortable and reaching out for us and playing with us.

We opened their backpacks. B laughed so hard at a Clifford book and both boys enjoyed looking at every page of their new photo albums. When they saw us in the book, they would point at us in the picture and then at our chests. They would point at their brother and themselves too saying their names. Their voices are so sweet and I love to hear them talk in their language. Our daughter was so amazing with all of the children and so gentle with her new brothers, it is so obvious she loves them so much. Our son put on such a brave face even though he didn't feel great and did his best to interact with them. The boys clearly already know who their new sister and brother are and B patted our son while he was laying down on the couch and then handed him his new stuffed dog from his backpack (something no other kids were allowed to touch!).

We got to tour where they live and meet all of their sweet friends and caretakers. We gave a couple care packages from other waiting families and got to see the first meeting for the other couple with us too which was beautiful. We got to be part of a coffee ceremony for a couple taking their son home today which was also very special. His caretakers were so emotional when he was leaving, it is so obvious they fall in love with these children. Very special place and very special boys!

So, thanking God for today and looking forward to so much more! Here are a couple of quick pics before logging off! Thank you again friends for following along with prayers! MELISSA

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In Ethiopia!

It has been a whirlwind of wonderful news, packing and a lot of anticipation the past few weeks since my last post. We received our letter of consent, were assigned a court date and have arrived in Ethiopia.

We want to use this blog to keep family and friends updated while we wait and travel and for our boys to have history written down for the future. that we are here (wow!!) I am going to try to post pictures and quick (not super thought provoking and deep!) posts of our trips. It is rainy season, so we have had some free time today to relax (thank goodness for bringing the kids each a large ziploc of legos!).

This morning we arrived in Addis Ababa after spending the night in DC and then flying 13 hours straight. Look at these smiling faces in the airport VISA line after sleeping barely a few hours! What troopers!

We spent the day unpacking in the hotel room, walking around near our hotel and getting to know a sweet couple that is adopting through our agency as well. Here are some pictures from our balcony and near our hotel.

Tonight our agency took us to a local coffee shop with wonderful (very small but a perfect amount and so delightful..Starbucks could learn from this) coffee and hot chocolate for kids. We went to a small Italian dinner place after with the new couple we met. Kids were completely asleep by 8:30 tonight. We can only hope they are on the new time zone now!

TOMORROW is a huge day as we finally get to lay eyes on and hug our boys! They were told about us specifically last week (we sent a photo album a few months back but don't know if they had an understanding until now). I have no expectations (or at least when they pop in my head I quickly get them out!) of our first meeting and am praying that I can take off any selfishness I have and be completely selfless when playing with them this week. These hours this week are all about them and letting them know they are already loved by us and will be safe and moving to their forever home together. I am sure many emotions will be running through my head and I want to push those back until later and give our boys what they need in those moments. Good news is that I am sure they will want to play with their new sister and brother too and I will get to sit back and watch that take place. I will be taking a ton of pictures tomorrow of course and will be able to post them hopefully later in the week. We are waiting until we are allowed to post them in public.

We appreciate your prayers and love and in the meantime....these backpacks are waiting to be loved by two beautiful boys


Monday, June 23, 2014


For the past couple of days I have been running to the mailbox eagerly opening it hoping to find our PAIR letter. Today was the day! I threw the other mail aside knowing what was in the piece with the return address of US Department of Homeland Security. This is a huge step. The US is giving their approval to immigrate the boys. This approval came after a lengthy proces and we could not be happier to know the US is on board with our adoption. To give you just a small idea of what was involved in getting this letter, our documents for this were filed on January 21, 2014. Over five months ago. I won't go into the RFEs, interviews, e-mails....I am just comforted to know to know that a very thorough investigation was done and we are not adopting children that already have a family. We could not have gotten this letter without our agency that guided us through these past few months and made sure the process kept moving even when some of us (me!) felt completely overwhelmed with it. And especially not without a very special person half way accross the world that knows these boys and wants what is best for their future.

Next step? We need a letter of consent from Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) in Ethiopia. Once this is issued we can be submitted for a court date that we will attend AND we get to meet and hug our boys! We are praying hard that we get this letter soon. It could be issued this week or not for a few months. The Ethiopian courts close for a few months starting in mid-August, so for us to be able to meet our boys before the end of October, we need this letter in the upcoming weeks. A lot of policy and document requirement changes were made around the time of our referral, thus affecting how quickly these letters are issued. Please pray with us that this comes soon so we can travel!

Since I want this blog to not only update our supportive friends and family, but I want it to document our feelings throughout this process, I will end with a story of how God continues to work in our lives and sharpen us for what is ahead. I was in need of a MAJOR attitude adjustment a few nights ago. I have been bogged down with fear about these last steps ahead and struggling with having my expectations broken during this whole process. I am not just referring to our timeline since our referral on January 8, but to the past 4 years in our adoption journey. I am like a broken record about these 4 years, but I have trouble keeping hope alive sometimes in light of the disappointments. husband happened to be the perfect person to set me straight. He reminded me what we are hoping for. Not only hoping and staying strong for these beautiful boys but for our current children. Showing them what hope is all about and giving them an example to live by. He reminded me of the good (awesome) things that have happened the past few months (and we have one more to add to our list tonight!). God's light shined through him as he lovingly reminded me that no matter what timeline we want to be on, take time to celebrate the small accomplishments and wonderful things along the way, even when we are praying for something we have not yet finished, take time to love and enjoy what and who is around us and most important we should never lose hope. It always shines within us...Keep hoping boys, your family is one step closer!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Worry

Can't believe it has been 3 1/2 months since we first laid eyes on our boys! Time cannot go by fast enough right now! Sure, we have a lot to get ready and both governments must go through their processes, but I can't help but whine and complain about this wait. We are hopeful that we will travel sometime for our first trip in the next 2-3 months. Our second trip will most likely be only a month later, so we hope to have our full family united by the end of the summer!

During a continued time of delay, changes and improvements in the adoption process in Ethiopia, a lot of progress has still been made on our case and we are particularly thankful that we passed our first court date in Ethiopia back in March (we did not attend this one, but will the next). That was a day our family won't soon forget. The weekend before, as we prayed hard and looked forward to the upcoming good news on our case, our 5 month old puppy, whom we had named Addis, ingested part of a sago palm plant that, unknown to us at the time, is extremely poisonous to dogs and she stayed overnight at the ER vet. On Monday morning, about 10am, we got the super awesome e-mail stating that the court date went well in Ethiopia and at 1015am, we got a call from our vet saying we had to put our puppy to sleep, that her liver was failing and she was dying. Anyone would find this a sad accident, but let me add a quick history on this special pup. The kids and I had been working on Michael for almost a year for a puppy, clearly lining out all the wonderful reasons why a puppy would benefit our family. He finally relented last September agreeing that training and adjusting a puppy before our adoption was final would be ideal. We decided to name her after the Ethiopian capital, since she was a symbol of our journey and would be growing up right next to the child(ren) we were adopting. She was beautiful and amazing. She was so full of love and was a constant companion to Melissa during some adoption ups and downs in December and after our referral. She was the first pet our kids lost and it hurt our hearts badly to see each other and our kids go through so much sadness and happiness in one day. She was with us only a short time, but for an important reason and she taught us a lot. We are (most likely!!) going to wait to introduce a new furry member to our family until after our boys come home and let them be a part of it. In the meantime, we will give our 11 year old faithful dog lots of extra love (and will keep showing Michael pictures of rescue dogs just in case!!).

Back to progress....there has surely been a lot of progress on me as a person, wife, parent.....A few different friends have mentioned the book of James to me lately, so I decided to read this book of the Bible I wasn't super familiar with (didn't even know it was only 5 chapters). Of course, I have seen on many blogs and shirts the familiar adoption verse from James 1:27, but I was eager to read the rest. Boy, is this the perfect book for me! Perfect in Word and timing! Because I need to refer to these truths ALL THE TIME, here are a couple of things I will hold onto:

JOY during times of testing: James 1:2-4 My brothers, reckon it all joy whenever you become involved in all kinds of testings, for you are well aware that the testing of your faith produces unswerving constancy. And let constancy go on to work out its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, deficient in nothing. I have been tested so many times during this adoption journey. Tested while waiting for a referral, tested while making the decision to adopt from a different country, tested while riding the roller coaster of ups and downs in the process. The list goes on of how many disappointments that (still) seek to take my faith away, yet I need to have joy through all of these, as each and every test is not meant to make me fall, but to make me soar. Instead of being weaker when this adoption journey is done, we will all be stronger. Thank you Lord for these tests so I can be a better mom to all of my children. Especially to these 2 boys who have gone through many sorrows.

Dependence on God's will: James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that." The future is uncertain to all of us, but I need not be paralyzed by this uncertainty. The adoption process is full of uncertainty, we are always waiting for an update (literally we are today while I write this). While waiting, we need to put our plans in the hands of God. Then...LEAVE them there. Every time I take them back, I am paralyzed again.

The timing really was perfect in reading these encouraging words from James. There are have been so many other encouraging times during this wait and I will end this post with one last one. We had our adoption garage sale on April 12. It was our only fundraiser for funds toward our journey. We started a couple of weeks prior and advertised to friends and family that we were holding the sale and asked for any donations of goods. We were in awe of the donations that poured in over the following weeks, including some from friends of friends, people we have never met! We could not walk in our garage and our house was a total disaster for such a great reason! Friends also contributed yummy baked goods for a bake sale the kids held in the yard during the garage sale (which took up 2 full driveways). We woke up at 4:30 and it took over 2 hours to get everything out. We had so many giving family and friends helping us that day and even had some surprise family members drive many hours to support us just for that day. The weather was beautiful and the sale lasted until 4pm. We even had things left over that we donated. Our monetary goal was to make enough for 1 plane ticket to Ethiopia, which we are estimating about $1,800. From the things we sold right before and during the sale we made about $3,000! A huge thank you to everyone who helped and prayed for our fundraiser. We are ready to buy those tickets! Every little thing gonna be all right!


Saturday, January 18, 2014


I spent a minute here trying to think of what I should make the title of this post, but the obvious is REFERRAL!!! We have waited almost 4 years to write and shout that news!!!! Our whole family is so thrilled to announce that we has been so very blessed with a referral of 2 precious brothers from Ethiopia aged 4 and 6 (when they come home). We are already in love and I keep looking at their pictures in amazement and excitement that we actually get to love and add these sweet boys to our family. Their eyes and smiles are so beautiful!

Just a few posts ago, on Christmas Eve, I referenced moments where we show up at one place and end up at a place even more beautiful than expected. God placed a burning desire in our hearts long ago to add to our family by adoption and we showed up but He wrote the story. We are giving so much praise to Him for writing this story more beautiful than we could have even imagined. There have been many, many (hate to admit this!) times during this journey that I tried to take it over, to beg and plead that NOW was the time, that a particular place was the place. I am so glad that I am not the author of my story.

Over the next 6 months or so we need your prayers and support. Major prayers that our boys are healthy, safe and happy while they wait for us. Please also pray for our (especially Melissa ha ha!!!) emotional well being while we wait to be united with them. I always thought the hardest part of the journey was waiting for our referral, but if the past 10 days were any indication, the hardest part may be ahead. It is a strange feeling that part of our family is many, many miles away and we can't tell them that we love them and that we will be coming as soon as possible, we can't tell them that their future is so bright and that they have the most kind hearted sister and brother waiting for them here, waiting to play with them and show them so much. We respect the steps that both governments require us to go through next and will try to calmly fill out the mountain of paperwork and smile. Since I completely trust our agency, I have decided on a somewhat radical change to remove myself from facebook and most social media until we bring the boys home. I need my mind to be filled with God's spirit and hope and not with fear. I will know any facts I need to know and will be busy planning for our family of six. I will miss the support and camaraderie with fellow adopting moms and will miss celebrating with them when they get a referral or meet their children. I know I will still be e-mailing with some, enjoying their blog updates and this is just a short, temporary break. I had convinced myself that it was smart to be informed on everything, but my little heart literally cannot handle the way it felt when I heard about the rumors and negativity last month, especially not now when I am attached to our boys. I also cannot wait to dive into some books and devotionals I have been putting aside. I am counting on forming a positive habit I needed in my life anyway.

Thank you for sharing in our joy and we will continue with updates. More details to come about travel plans (2 trips ahead). We are super excited to travel and experience the culture of Ethiopia!