I just realized it's been so long since I updated on Mekonen's continued adjustment, attachment, etc. He has been doing really well. In the first few months home, it was really hard to tell just how much he was "attaching" with us. He was bonding, yes, but bonding is different than attaching. I have been home full-time with Mekonen since the day we brought him home. We didn't overwhelm him with lots of groups and lots of constant passing around, and kept all things having to do with his care to Jon and myself. At home, he seemed very attuned to me, but then again, I was the only one home all day, so I wasn't really sure. Jon's parents live close by so we see them all the time. He loves them and is comfortable with them so it was hard to tell if he preferred us over other people.
The first big difference we saw wasn't until Thanksgiving. We went to my parents for a week and for the first time he was consistently around people he wasn't used to, and was in a completely new place, sleeping, etc (which he hadn't done until then). He wasn't doing the freak out "stranger anxiety" stuff, but he definitely kept his eye on us when everyone was around. He sought us out for comfort, wanted us when he was crying, and always had to make sure he knew where we were. After that trip, I knew we were on a very good road with him seeing us as his Mommy and Daddy.
Mekonen shows some bit of "stranger anxiety" by way of leaning into me and "acting shy" when someone he doesn't know says hi to him or talks to him. But when he's doing this, they could take him right out of my arms and he doesn't care at all. He will just sit there with them. He also never cries when we leave him (which in one sense, I am so glad for b/c it would break my heart, but in another sense, it kind of makes me wonder). With his Grandma Oren I'm sure it's just that he's comfortable with her and sees her all the time, so it's not in that scenario it concerns me. But when we were in Zambia, we left Mekonen with the missionary's wife when we went fishing and he didn't care at all! So again, I ask the question, "Is this adoption related or kid related?" Maybe it's just his personality. Or maybe he already trusts us and knows us and knows we will return for him. Or maybe he isn't fully established in our family yet. I don't know.
I hate false advertising! And I hate it even more on a tight budget! So here is my annoyance: SIPPY CUPS!!!!
Around 9-10 months I started giving Mekonen the Avent sippy cup. Prior to this age, he was unable to really figure out how to drink from a sippy. He really only sipped on it now and then and didn't care much for it. He eventually got the hang of the Avent one, but I think the flat spout was difficult. So, I was on a quest to find something else.
Then I received these Playtex sippy cups. All over the packaging it said "leak-free" click top system. Don't buy them. They leak! I really liked the design of these because they are small and have handles. I think it would be difficult for Mekonen to hold onto a tall sippy cup without the handles at this point. But everytime they land on the floor and I pick them up a few minutes later, there is a milk puddle on our carpet. Very annoying, especially when our dog Macy likes to try and eat the carpet wherever milk is spilled (so weird, I know). Milk is constantly bubbling out of the air hole on the top. I have tried different ways of screwing the top on and off, tight/loose and nothing seems to work! UGH!
When transitioning Mekonen to milk at 13 1/2 months, I started to introduce the sippy cup for two of his bottles during the day. So he has one bottle of milk in the morning, sippy cups of milk during the day, and a bottle of milk at bedtime. I have heard the Nuby sippy cups are great because they are soft spouted and therefore an easy transition out of a bottle and they don't leak. So I headed to Wal-Mart and checked out the Nuby sippy cups which stated all over the package how they "don't leak!!" Big lie. It was a mess! Milk everywhere when he drinks it and when it lands on the floor. UGH!
So, after some money spent and being very annoyed at all the milk spots I clean up all day long, does anyone have any good sippy cup recommendations? Ones that REALLY don't leak, don't have a straw, and are good for little hands?
Here's what our house looks like after a hard day of playing!
I am pretty sure I have my mom to thank for my toy organization OCDness. When we were really young and would go for a nap or to bed, my mom would organize all the toys. And when I say "organize" I mean it! She knew exactly how many legos of each color there were. So, if there 23 yellow legos and she only had 22, she would look until she found that number 23. This would drive my dad nuts! There was no such thing as a "random box of toys" in our house. Every box or crate had carefully selected toys in it. For example, all the baby doll clothes in one, all my brother's toy cars in one, play food in another. Nothing was mixed. I fear I have adopted the same craziness and I too will go to great lengths to find the missing pieces and make sure like toys are sitting by like toys! Thanks mom!
And the culprit of the above pictured madness?
Here he is...
We just returned yesterday from our two week trip to Zambia, Africa. We were surveying a ministry/organization doing self-sustaining businesses. I have split up the trip into three parts, so don't forget to scroll down past this one and read parts 2 & 3 as well! :)
The name of the project grounds in Zambia is called the Kafakumba Project. The director's current house, and their attached apartment where we stayed, is right on the grounds. Surrounding it are some of the various businesses such as a sawmill, aloe plants, honeybees, and bananas. All of these businesses are self-sustaining and the Enrights (the missionary family running the place) have provided jobs and a steady income for over 1,000 Zambians. In the center of the grounds, there is a large community type center and dormitories that are used for a pastor's training school for 2 months out of the year. They also allow other organizations and groups to use the facility for free for various things throughout the year. What a great ministry! All of what they are doing is expanding to other farm land in the area that they have bought, not just the main grounds. There is a lot of potential here for the Zambians and a lot of potential to do this very thing, or something similar, in other African countries, which is their desire as well. Here are some pictures of some of the businesses at work!
Here are several of the buildings on the Kafakumba grounds. These are the dormitories that house people for the pastor's training school 2 months of the year.
Here is one of the classroom buildings for teaching.
This is the sawmill. They dry the lumber in a large shed like building with a fire before they begin working with it. Here is the part where they cut, sand, and build.
Another closer look.
Some of the main things they produce are these folding chairs, doors, tables, and benches. Then they sell them.
Here are some of the workers in the aloe field. They market and sell the aloe for various things. The neatest thing is for the treatment of HIV, especially since many Africans do not have access to HIV medication. (I can't remember the technical medical terms for my explanation here): People with HIV drink a small portion of the pure aloe a day and research has shown that their levels are equal to or better than the levels received from HIV anti-retro viral medication. Isn't that so cool?!?!
A view of one of the aloe farms.
Here are some of the bananas on one of the farms.
A close-up of some of the bananas.
After the bananas are picked, they are brought here to this storehouse. They are piled up in large crates inside these air conditioned rooms in order for them to ripen.
The bananas ripening in the storehouse.
Once the bananas are ripe they are put outside to be sold to local Zambian women. They come here, buy the bananas, and go sell them for profit.
The honeybee business is located on a farm that the missionaries bought that is not on the main grounds. Here are two Zambians making the beehives.
Here are the bee swarm boxes. They are put high up in trees and collect the honeybees. Then they are transfered to the beehives where the honey is collected. They have a processing plant that prepares all the honey to sell.
A new business that is in the works of being started is raising cattle. Here are some of the first group of cattle to get started. We were able to get real close and touch them. Mekonen did not like their big faces near his! Haha.
The most fascinating business to me are the fish ponds. The fish hatchery is located on the same farm property as the bananas and where they make the honeybee hives. Below is a picture of several ponds for the fish hatchery. It is a very involved process, much more than I thought! They are breeding tilapia fish and are involved in conducting research in the hatchery about how to create the strongest and toughest breed of tilapia for fish farming. They are altering environmental things and all sorts to get the best product. They are even harvesting the eggs and changing the sex of the fish. Amazing. I was truly fascinated. So, the Zambians get a fish pond built on their property and obtain the fish from the fish hatchery. They are taught how to work and manage their ponds. Then once a good crop of fish has grown, they drain the ponds, sell the fish, and then start over. This happens twice a year and they make enough money for an entire year's income. Wow!
Jon and Mekonen standing out over one of the ponds. This is where they feed the fish.
Here are some more parts of our Zambia trip. We had a great time seeing some of the country and neighboring towns and meeting a lot of people.
- One day, me, Jon, and Mekonen took a 3 mile walk outside the grounds one day, and wow! We were really in the "country." There were miles and miles of dirt road hidden beneath bushes and bushes of green. It's not farmland like we have here in Indiana. Zambia farmland is like rainforest/tropical looking. It's very peaceful and very quiet. Not a lot of people around. Much different than Addis in Ethiopia. We went by a few pockets of homes and people and a few market stands, but not many.
- Here is Mekonen asleep in the pack n' play equipped with a mosquito net because of malaria.It was hilarious because every morning when he woke up, he would stand up and his little head would be popping up under the net. We would watch him from our bed as he frantically tried getting it off. We had to get to him quick and get it off before he started to cry. hehe.
- Here is Mekonen enjoying the grass at a little restaurant we went to. It's way back in the "country" and was so beautiful. The grass hut to the right is the restaurant (we ate outside), and the other huts were rooms you could rent for parties and such. Mekonen LOVED just sitting in the grass. He stayed in the same spot almost the entire time we were eating, just flapping his arms and touching the grass. It was adorable. I have NEVER seen him sit so long before!
- This is Mekonen and Pastor Kilembo who heads up a lot of what goes on at Kafakumba. He and his family live in a house on the Kafakumba grounds and we ate dinner with them one night. It was a lot of fun getting to know them and their story. Mekonen loved him. Everytime he started to talk, Mekonen would just stare at him.
- One of the major farms the head guy's family just bought is about 2,000 acres. They are building their house on it, and their two sons are building as well. Their farmland currently houses several of the fish ponds and bananas. Their farm is just past a very poor village of people, sobering sites, lots of people, lots of poverty. However, many of these people are being employed by John Enright and their futures will now be much brighter: better food, education for their children, the ability to buy/build a house, etc. Their land is beautiful. Here are a couple pictures of one of the son's houses (he is building a new one).
Mekonen getting ready to go out for the day in the nice, warm sun. Hat and all! What a cutie!
Our last Saturday in Zambia we went to another very large farm the missionaries recently bought, about 4,000 acres. It is currently 4,000 acres of nothing but their cabin and a few mud huts of workers who work for them. It is incredibly quiet, serene, and peaceful. There is an amazing lake and the fishing is great! Most Zambians can only fish by way of very simple equipment, such as a big pole made from a tree branch. We went out on a boat with fishing rods, lures, etc., and look what we caught! Some really big tilapia!!! I LOVED the fishing. It was so much fun! This one of mine was the biggest of the day for awhile. Then later, after lunch we went back to fish again and Jon caught the biggest one.
This picture of Jon was not of his biggest fish. We didn't get that one. Bummer.
Me and John Enright (the missionary who runs all this stuff), and all the fish we caught. Yummy dinner!
- We met a family who runs the business of a game reserve. It's kind of like a wild animal zoo/park and it is very out in the country. There are cabins to stay in, a little restaurant, etc. they live there on the grounds and manage it. They introduced us to about 10 of the most poisonous snakes in Zambia and have some of them caged for display as well.
- This family also had a pet mongoose that bit mekonen's big toe. he did not appreciate it. It didn't break the skin or anything. it was just a baby. but mekonen kind of gave this little whimper and was about to cry and we look over and the mongoose had a hold of his toe!!! After that, he stayed clear away from it, although the mongoose kept trying to grab his toys. It was hilarious. A pet mongoose! Who would've thought! :) (Here's a picture of a mongoose because we didn't get one when we were there. Haha).
- After walking around the grounds for the first time, we found out that the question going around among the Zambians was, "How can a white couple have a black baby?" (thinking Mekonen was our biological son). The director's son later told them, "He's a reverse albino." They seemed very confused and were not sure whether to believe him or not. So apparently around there, I was the white girl who gave birth to a black baby with a white husband. Haha. adoption wasn't even the thought of a possibility. haha. (Adoption is not common here in Zambia).
- We visited a few different projects going on in Zambia as well such as a school, a sponsorship program for underprivileged kids to get an education, and an HIV program. We also were able to go with a social worker on his visitation rounds to the different sponsored families. It was a really neat experience. Most of them were incredibly poor, living in mud huts with little to nothing, but they were doing everything possible to give the children in their care what they needed (many of the families were caring for children that were not their biological children).
For most of my life, I have felt God calling me to live and minister to people in a developing country. Before we met, Jon also had the same calling. Then God brought us to each other and we began our life together. We are longing for God to place us overseas in the exact spot He wants us, knowing that it must be God's desire for it all to work.
We were presented with the opportunity to see what is happening in Zambia and to see whether it might be a potential place for us to return to long-term.
We were presented with the opportunity to see what is happening in Zambia and to see whether it might be a potential place for us to return to long-term.
We are confident in what God has shown us during our time in Zambia. It was a growing time for us and we spent most evenings talking, praying, and reading the Bible late into the night, trying to discern what God was speaking to us.
- Our time in Zambia was absolutely incredible. We always knew the kind of work we wanted to do but didn’t know exactly what it could look like until now.
- We had a wonderful time in Zambia with the Enrights- seeing and hearing of their vision for not only Zambia, but for other countries in Africa. God placed Africa on our hearts in a special way several years ago, and that began to play out specifically with the adoption of our son from Ethiopia. After spending almost two weeks in Zambia, we are longing to see a Kafakumba Project started in Ethiopia. Our hearts are in Ethiopia and we know that the Lord wants us to serve there long-term. John Enright was very excited about our calling for this kind of work in another African country and has helped us to brainstorm and create a vision for what we could do in Ethiopia.
- We are incredibly excited and cannot wait to get going. After much discussion with John Enright about how to go about this, he suggested that we get some kind of job in Ethiopia for 2-3 years so that we can get in the country, make connections with the people and their culture, learning in a non-pressurized situation, and begin to learn the language.
- During our trip, we thought maybe we would go to Zambia for a year or two and learn more of what they do, but he said it would be more profitable for us to get straight to Ethiopia as soon as we can.
- During our beginning time in Ethiopia, we would be in contact with the Enrights as we are scoping out Ethiopia to see what kind of businesses would be productive there in and around Addis. We also hope to continue to visit Kafakumba in Zambia to learn what continues to work and avoid what has failed. Once we have established ourselves in Ethiopia, John Enright mentioned possibly coming to Ethiopia with his son to help us actually get started on the self-sustaining businesses. It would start small, one business, and then expand from there.
- This is a very long plan with many, many steps along the way. It won't happen quickly, and luckily, we are young and time is on our side. We are so excited for what we saw in Zambia and what could possibly one day happen in Ethiopia.
SO....what now? We are researching jobs in Ethiopia. As soon as the Lord provides us with a job, we are hoping to move to Ethiopia and begin this incredible life journey of serving Jesus in this way. We covet your prayers for God to give us the right job in Ethiopia and to continue to speak to our hearts.