Pajamas, Pajamas, Pajamas!

41 jammies, 59 to go!! We are well on our way to meeting our 100 PJ goal for Ethiopia! We are so incredibly thankful for those of you who have sent pajamas and/or money for pajamas and formula! We are also collecting socks, underwear, and small bras. Here are some snapshots of our donations so far! If you'd like to contribute to our donation drive for Mekonen's older friends at the Layla House in Ethiopia, drop me a message for our address.
  • 41 pajamas
  • 22 pairs of socks
  • 78 undies
  • 2 small bras


Ethio To-Do List!

Phew! After being in PA and grad. school in Ohio for the last 3 1/2 weeks I am finally home and staying put until we leave for Ethiopia!!! I have a major to-do list that I need to get crankin' on. I'm glad for the busyness though for these last several weeks. It'll feel so good to get everything done and be all ready to go! Here's that sweet face that keeps us chuggin' along.... dressed in pink, equipped with hearts, an elephant, and cherries! hehe. Don't worry baby. We have lots of blue, green, and orange for you!Before Ethiopia To-Do List!
  • Clean House (This is an immediate must. It looks like a bomb went off over here!)
  • Make Mekonen's Appointment with the International Adoption Doctor at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis
  • Clean out and organize bedroom closets
  • Go through clothes and get rid of stuff I don't wear
  • Clean out/organize kitchen cupboards, making room for Mekonen's bottles, bowls, etc.
  • Start making and freezing baby food
  • Finish Mekonen's scrapbook and Lifebook
  • 30-Hour Curriculum Project for grad. school, due before Ethiopia!
So much to do! And, I'm OFF!!! We're coming soon baby! 3 weeks and 1 day! I can't believe it!


Update on Mekonen!

We got an update on Mekonen about a week ago on how he is growing and he is doing great! Here are his stats! :) hehe
Dear Mekonen,
Daddy and I are so excited to meet you face to face and bring you home forever. We are getting so many things ready for you! We are talking a lot about how we will teach you about Jesus and how we are praying that you grow into a strong leader of all your brothers and sisters to come. We are shopping for you, getting clothes and bottles and books and toys! Daddy has been working so hard on your crib and dresser. They are going to look amazing! We've been telling your dog Macy all about you. She can't wait to play! :) We booked our plane flights to come get you and we leave in exactly one month today, on your Grandma's birthday! Your cousins, Manny, Aderyn, Natalie & Jane, and new baby Daniels on the way, are so excited to finally meet you. They have been calling you "Baby Konen" and already love you to pieces! I take a photo album of your pictures with me everywhere I go. At first talk of you, I whip out your pictures to show off my beautiful boy. I have a long to-do list of all the things I want to get done before you come so that everything is all ready! I can't wait to spend my days with you! I have been dreaming about you every night. How incredible to have your little face on my mind all day and night! I dream and think about you so much at night that it keeps me awake. I watch the few videos we have of you several times a week and just stare in awe at the incredible gift you are to our lives. I study your facial expressions and your eyes. I love the little thing you do with your eyebrows. I can't describe it, but it's very quick and subtle, but I can spot it right away. We miss you so much and are coming to get you soon!



WE'RE BOOKED!!!!!!!! I can't believe this is actually happening!!!!!! On Monday afternoon we received an email from our agency saying we need to be at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 26th!! Wahoo!! We just finalized our travel plans and booked our tickets just an hour ago! We are incredibly thankful for our dear friends Art & Carol who have taken care of our plane tickets. What an amazing gift! What a HUGE blessing! Wow!!!!!

We are leaving the Indianapolis Airport at 8am on August 19th and will arrive in Ethiopia on August 20th at 8:45pm. We will meet our baby boy face to face, smother him with love and kisses, and visit his beautiful country for 10 days! We will be returning to Indianapolis on Sunday, August 29th at 2:51pm. woo-hoo!!!

August 26th couldn't have been a sweeter day for Mekonen! His cousin Manny's adoption day is also August 26th! Wow! That couldn't have been planned any better! That will be such a special little bond for the so far, only two boy cousins on the Castro side. So incredibly sweet. Manny cannot wait for Mekonen to come home and can't wait to teach him to play baseball!


Travel Update

Isn't this the sweetest little picture ever? That smiles melts my heart! I cannot wait to scoop up my baby boy! What a cutie pie!

So, many have been asking what is up with our travel schedule? Up until Friday, we too, were asking the same question! We were told we would get our travel date over a week ago. Friday, we received this news from our agency. Apparently, MOWA (the Ministry of Woman's Affairs who wrote our adoption approval letter to pass court) closed for two weeks of training without notice. We found out that this has affected us getting our travel date.
Following court approval, it is necessary for MOWA to issue a “To Whom it May Concern” letter that certifies the adoption approval date by the Ethiopian court for each adoption. This letter is necessary for the visa interview appointment at the US Embassy.

We were notified that MOWA will not be working for the next two weeks. We do not yet know if clerical staff will be able to issue the “To Whom it May Concern” letters in the next two weeks, or if the MOWA offices will be completely closed.

Families waiting to be assigned travel dates/embassy interview dates will need to continue to be patient.

We were told that this issue shouldn't change our actual travel date, just delay when we will be notified of our travel date. But, we are unsure of this. We got another message today from our agency saying that our lawyer thinks the "To Whom It May Concern" letters were written before the 2 week closure, and we hopefully find that out this week. We continue to remind ourselves of God's goodness despite our idea of goodness. What a great process this has been so far for us!


How To...Value People

This is a continuation in our series of posts "How To..." How do we get our children to value certain perspectives, ideas, characteristics, habits, etc. So, how do we get our children to value people?

Both Rachael and I believe that ALL people have intrinsic value because of what the Bible says. You have innate worth because you were created "in the image of God." What does this mean? Obviously, we are not God! We are in his image. It's like our parents...we reflect certain characteristics that they possess. Some of these characteristics are physical (in the case of biological parents) and some are social. For example, Rachael gets her cute nose from her Dad, but her feisty attitude from her Mom. She reflects her parents in some way. Likewise, we reflect God in certain ways. God is relational, so are we. God loves to create, so do we. God emotes, as do we. But we are also NOT like God. He is perfect, we are not. He is, we are created.

We desire that our children understand that all people are equal in the eyes of God. Even though the world makes foolish, surface, and incorrect judgments, we want to avoid such a mistake. Proverbs 13:7 says, "One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." I am guilty of favoring people that looked rich by their car, house, iPhone, etc. I am guilty of overlooking the laborer from Mexico. The rich man could be rich, and the laborer actually poor, but maybe not. I need to see each person as Jesus sees them - without bias or favoritism. Jesus sees the man for the man, not for the stuff that the man has. Jesus sees the heart and soul. I don't want our children just to value "culture(s)" in general, because that approach can remain impersonal. We want them to interact with individuals from all walks of life equally, passionately, deeply, and sincerely.

How do we teach our children to value people?


Shopping Day for Mekonen!

Still waiting for our travel dates. I am trying desperately to remain sane. I just cannot wait to get my hands on our little boy. I can't wait to snuggle him, love him, carry him, and love him some more! Shopping has been my waiting therapy, so today I went out with my sister, my two nieces Natalie & Jane, and my friend Georgia to peruse the sale and clearance racks. We got some great deals! But I'm kind of bummed because my ability to continue my shopping therapy is dwindling (haha). What am I going to do all these weeks until we travel? Here are some pics from our baby Konen shopping trip. Natalie is soooo sweet when she says, "Baby Konen." hehe.

I bought the peanut shell baby carrier a few weeks ago and tried it out on Jane again. She loved it and almost feel asleep. I also put Natalie in it for a bit at home just for fun!
Natalie was so excited to shop for Konen, as she calls him. She wanted to carry some of his clothes herself and was very excited to put them up on the counter when we paid. She kept saying so sweetly, "Natalie do it all myself and Natalie pay." hehe.
Ignore the incorrect way of wearing the peanut shell in the picture below. Jane was squirming around and grabbing racks and it came unfolded. The above picture in the beginning is what it is supposed to be like!

More Pics of our Boy!

Wow... the waiting continues. We were told that on Friday we would get our travel date. Then we got an email saying they were sorry but we wouldn't get them until Monday. Now it is Tuesday (technically Wednesday since it's now midnight), and we still haven't heard anything...nada, nothin', zilch! We know it is sometime in August... just dying to know when!

Here are some new pictures we received of Mekonen today! And yes, he's dressed in pink (hehe). Poor baby boy. Don't worry buddy, we're going shopping tomorrow and we will get you some much better little boy colors. I am obsessed lately with kelly green and orange things! :)Poor little baby has a runny nose. Look at those expressive eyebrows! :)

I love how the nanny is kissing his fingers. We have been so blessed to see how affectionate his nannies are in the pictures and video we have received. Our little man is being well cared for and given hugs and snuggles. But I am jealous it's not me!!


Double "Happy" Today!

Happy 4th of July and Happy Anniversary! Jon & I were married 4 years ago today! How crazy is that! In one sense it seems so long ago, and in another sense, it feels like it was yesterday. It was the best day of my life, not only because I married Jon and we started our life together, but because it was the only day in my life where I can say that almost every person that I loved dearly and who meant the world to me were there that day, in one place, celebrating together. It was incredible. When my dad and I appeared at the top of the aisle, ready to walk down, I not only saw the face of Jon, but I saw the hundreds of faces of those precious people in my life. I remember thinking at that moment, “this is what heaven will be like.”

Here is a picture of our send-off the night of July 4th in 2005. It was incredible and the whole scenario played out exactly how I pictured it in my mind. We came out the back of the country club to everyone in a huge tunnel holding foot long sparklers. We ran through the sparkler tunnel and right ahead in front of us, we had a fireworks display going off at the same time. It was exactly how I pictured it would be and I wish the pictures captured how amazing it was. They don't do justice! But here's one for fun and a slideshow of some wedding pictures!

This year was wonderful! Jon & I learned and grew a lot and are adding our first child to our family in just about a month!

Things We Have Learned
  • God is not a God of performance.It’s not about us starting out on the high pedestal of morality and being good, and then trying really, really hard not to fall off, but rather, it was about starting out at the bottom, realizing how sinful we are and how big and gracious God is. How He chose us and because of Him we have the power to live uprightly
  • Goodness is not defined by us, but rather by God, and that God always works to do the best for us.
  • We have learned to say “Jesus” more which is way more personal than always saying “God” since most people say they believe in God, but cringe when you say the name Jesus.
  • We grew in our belief that the Bible is all about Jesus and the redemption of mankind to the praise and glory of God.
  • We learned that we want our children to realize that God wants nothing to do with performance based living, but everything to do with their hearts and loving Jesus and serving Him.
  • We learned to pray vigorously that God continues to give us wisdom about our hearts and the hearts of our children, and how to best shepherd them to Jesus.


To Bless the Kids at the Layla House

Part of getting ready to pack and travel to Ethiopia to pick up our sweet baby boy Mekonen, will also involve getting lots of fun donations to bring to the waiting children at the Layla House. Most families bring things for the babies so we decided we want to bless the older children at the Layla House who are waiting for forever families. (Although we still will collect and bring baby formula as that is a necessity).

Our agency sent us some needs that the older children have and we chose a category and are going to try and accumulate as many donations for them as we can. The waiting older children are incredible! We know several families who have already adopted older children and know many in the process. They are simply amazing. One of the things on Jon's to do list while in Ethiopia is to play soccer every night with the older kids.So, here is what we're looking to bring. If you are willing to get a few items on the list below you can send them to my house, or if you are in the Indy area I will come and get them if it's easier. Email me at RachaelOren@yahoo.com for our address.

Donation Items We Are Collecting:
  • Cosco Kirkland Brand Infant Formula (powdered)
  • Pajamas for boys and girls ages 5 to 14 (new)
  • Socks and underwear for boys and girls (all sizes, ages 5 to 14) and small bra sizes
We are incredibly psyhced to see how the Lord will provide some much needed items for the children at Layla. Thank you for considering to help us care for the others in this way.