Monday, August 24, 2009

When Did This Happen?

Today, my little boy went to high school.

Okay, so he's not so little anymore. He's a young man now, I know. But in my heart, he'll always be my little boy. Today, he got up and got dressed (no more uniforms- WOO HOO!) and walked out the door into a whole new era of his life. I sat in the kitchen and cried.

I'm not crying because I don't want him to grow up. I'm proud of the man he is becoming. I wouldn't hold him back for anything; God has too much in store for him to have anyone trying to hold him down! I was crying because I'm honored to be the mom of this incredible young man.

This morning, you started a new chapter in life. I know it must have been a little intimidating to walk into that new school (even if it's too uncool to admit it!). I know it must have been frustrating to be at the "bottom of the totem pole" again in school. But to look at you, you never would have guessed it. You were excited. You were handsome. And I knew you were ready.

I've known for a while now that you were ready for high school. I've watched you mature in leaps and bounds in the past few months. I've watched as you grew hair you didn't have before, listened as your voice deepened, and sat in awe as you started to make decisions based on the needs of others. When I say that I'm honored to be your mom, I mean it with all my heart. You bless me every day, just by being you.

You've always had something special about you. You can change the feel of a room just by walking in. You have a gift of putting people at ease with your smile and your conversation. You are hilarious without trying, sincere without effort (it's just natural with you), and you are genuine in all you do. I love that you have your own unique style about you. I love that you are not afraid to be different.

I prayed today what I have prayed for you the past several years "For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within you, to Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations".

I pray that as you encounter new people and new ideas today and throughout this year, that you will be grounded in the TRUTH of Jesus Christ. I pray that His light will shine through you. I pray that you are strong when others are weak, that you are rooted and established when others are falling in the sand. I pray that you are courageous when others may be afraid. I pray that you are secure in knowing that I love you today and always.. just as you are. You are all that I could have ever dreamed of. You are my son.

Have a great year, Bryan! Make every day count.

I love you,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ethiopia: Day 1 continued


After our trip to Woliso, we were finally back at the Transition House to meet Ellie. This was the moment we had been waiting for all this time. I was a nut!! I was nervous and excited all at once, not sure of how she would respond to us. It was all surreal, to be honest.

We entered the Transition House, where Ellie had been living since early June. We were greeted by several children, excited to see us come in. I kept looking for that sweet little face I've memorized in pictures for the past 8 months. But I couldn't find her.

We walked through different rooms, and then we entered this tiny little dining room with little tiny tables. The staff were serving lunch, and a few kids were already seated and ready to eat. Ellie was sitting there, smaller than I ever had imagined and more beautiful that I could have ever dreamed.

Sue spoke to her to tell her that her Mommy and Daddy were here. She was shy, but she looked up to see us briefly. Then, her attention was back on her lunch (After seeing her eat for the past 2 weeks, I understand that!). We knelt down to talk to her, but she was so shy. It was obvious that she wasn't going to eat with us staring at her either, so we took a tour of the rest of the house to let her finish her lunch.

I'm glad that Jeff was videoing the house because honestly I can't remember any of it. I just wanted to hold my little girl! I couldn't wait to get back downstairs! We went from room to room, meeting other babies that will soon be going home. We also met some workers, but mostly, we were killing time to get to our Ellie.

Once we were back downstairs, we walked back into the dining room, only to find that Ellie wasn't there! One of the nannies pointed outside, and we found her out the door on her potty chair. We waited again while she finished, then washed her hands with the staff. Once she had washed, she came right to me, and I picked her up. She threw those tiny little arms around my neck, and it was all over. I didn't sob; I didn't want to scare her. But so much emotion was welling up in me! It's hard to explain here, and to be honest, I don't want to explain it to everyone. It's too personal. I'll share it all with Ellie one day, but I will tell you that I was just overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing me to be a part of this journey to bring her home!

We went inside where the other children were playing. You see, Ellie has never known doing anything without other kids around. She was much more comfortable with her friends around. We had a gift for her, so we gave that to her and read a book together, just trying to give her a chance to get used to us a little.

I have to say that one of my favorite moments of all was seeing Jeff holding Ellie for the first time. I know how much I love my dad, and I have prayed that she will be a daddy's girl through and through! I think she will be, based on what I saw that first day! It didn't take long til Ellie was smiling for all of our pics together and showing her friends her new toys! I love that she shares everything. She has no concept of owning anything, so it was not a big deal to her to let others play with the things we had brought to her. I hope that remains in her as it is so different from what alot of kids are like today.

We weren't there long, really. Just long enough to meet, take some pics with the nannies and other kids, then leave to go back to the Guest House. We did get to thank Tesfanesh, her nanny at the Transition House, for caring so well for Ellie! This woman deserves a medal for her work. I'm so grateful to God for women like her in Ellie's life thus far! It was a whirlwind visit really. Ellie fell asleep in Bryan's arms on the way to our Guest House. How amazing it was to see him with her! What a terrific big brother he is to her!! I'm so proud of him.. this is a real adjustment for him too!!
a little shy at first

Bryan's first time holding Ellie

safe in Daddy's arms

first of many books with Mommy

there's a smile...

Daddys' little girl


Tesfanesh...Ellie's nanny!

some of the Transition House staff

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ethiopia: Day 1

I'm going to try blogging day by day about our trip to Ethiopia. It's the easiest way to make sure that I don't miss anything.

Day one (Sunday, August 9th) was a busy and exciting day! We started early. We were awakened at 4am by the Muslim chants over the loud speakers outside our Guest House. We got up at 5am, and were on the road at 6:30am. We were picked up by Alazar, who drives for our agency in country. What a great man!

We headed over to the Transition House to pick up Sue, our agency director. I can't tell you how strange it was to know that Ellie was inside that house and not to see her. However, we knew that if we met her, we wouldn't want to leave her, and we really wanted to make this trip. We were headed out to Woliso, where Ellie was born and where she lived in the orphanage.

The drive to Woliso was about 2 hours southwest of Addis, and it was beautiful. It's rainy season in Ethiopia right now, so it rained some as we drove. The countryside was beautiful, so green and lush! Cows and donkey were everywhere- in the fields, yards and storefronts, and in the middle of the road. In Ethiopia, you don't use the brake much on a car; you just honk the horn!! HA!

As we drove into Woliso, I was overwhelmed by all the children we saw. They came runnning out to the street- dirty, hungry, some naked- but all smiling and waving. We stopped to buy some bananas and gave some out to the children along the way. They just gobbled them up! They were so hungry! Their hair has a golden tint to it, and it's not from heredity or from dirt; it's from malnourishment.

At the Ammanuel Orphanage, where Ellie stayed, we met Yob, the director, and Shetto, the nanny. Yob was very excited to meet us and know that we had adopted Ellie. Shetto, the nanny, told us how sad and shy Ellie was when she first met her. She was tearful and obviously moved when she heard that you were happy and healthy now. We got the chance to thank her for taking such good care of Ellie, and that is something I will be forever grateful for.
Shetto, nanny that cared for Ellie

Yob, Ammanuel Orphanage director

The tour of the orphanage was nothing short of heart-breaking. It didn't take long, as it is small and compact. We saw the bed that Ellie slept in, and I was overcome with seeing how dirty and tiny it was in that dingy and damp room. I held a baby that was filthy and smelly, and I was broken at the thought that I have been given so much when these children have so little.

The kitchen was the hardest part of all to see. They showed it to us, and all I could think of was "where is the food?" There was none. Nothing. What were they going to eat that day? Was it somewhere else? Would they have anything at all, other than what Sue had brought along with her that day? How many days did Ellie live here without enough to eat? How many nights did she go to bed with her little belly hurting from hunger?
Jeff entering the kitchen

another kitchen view- the thing in front of the orange tank holds coals that they cook over

The children at this orphanage are beautiful. There's no other way to say it! I wish I could post pictures of them with their beautiful smiles and knowing eyes. They would melt your heart. It's against policy to post pics of orphans on the internet, so I can't. But I pray that peoples' hearts are opening to the call of God to open their homes to these children!

While at the orphanage, Yob told us that Ellie's birthmom was nearby and had another baby that she wanted to place for adoption. Before we knew what to think, we were in the car again, on our way to meet the woman who gave life to our beautiful daughter! My emotions were raw, to say the least! I was nervous to meet her, wondering what I should say or how to act. But when I saw her, I was very much at peace.

Her name is Tigist, and she is quiet and beautiful. Ellie has her eyes. She stood not much taller than me, very thin and petite like Ellie will likely be. She was holding Ellie's baby sister, who is about 8 months old. She gave very little eye contact and spoke very softly, but as we stood together longer, she looked directly at me a few times. She is from the Garage (pronounced ga-raw-gi) tribe, known for its strong work ethic. I have no doubt that she works long, hard hours. Before you start to judge her for not taking care of her children, know that she works for about a dollar a day. She can't provide for her children in that kind of poverty. So, she gave Ellie (and is giving her other daughter) a gift that is beyond my scope of mind. She gave them life not only in birth, but through the miracle of adoption. We were able to get a few pictures of us together, that I will cherish forever. She teared up as we thanked her for the gift of Ellie. We promised to love her forever, as if I had given birth to her myself. I pray she is at peace knowing that Ellie is taken care of and loved dearly. I pray she rests well in knowing that her sacrifice was an answer to my prayer.
Ellie's birth mother, Tigist, holding her baby sister

Once we left Tigist, we made a couple of other short visits to other children who are being adopted. Then it was back to Addis, Ellie's baby sister in hand, to meet Ellie face to face for the first time! Stay tuned... that story is next!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Many Faces of Ellie Kedest Prosser...










anticipation for her mommy, daddy and brother!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Proud Momma UPDATE

Today, our son Bryan played in his debut rock concert. "Wow" is really all I know to say. I knew he was good, but he truly blew me away today! It was so fun to watch him play so effortlessly and have so much fun doing it! I'll post some pics as soon as I can, but I had to tell you about it while it was fresh on my mind. Go here to hear the band play!! They ROCK!

This weekend was a wonderful time in our home. Saturday morning started with a "Welcome Home Ellie" shower put on by my dear friends Tina, Sue Ellen, Cassie and Jane. Wow.. I had a blast opening up all of those sweet little girl things! I then bagged them back up and brought them home for Jeff to open all over again! My mom, mother-in-law and niece Kristin were all able to be there as well, so it was extra special for me! Ellie is certainly one very LOVED little girl!

Last night was a special treat. Here at the house, we had a spontaneous little poker game with Jeff, Dad, Joann (jeff's mom), our friend William, and myself (later). What a hoot! We had so much fun together. Deniece and William's mom, Veronica, and their two boys were also here, so we had a house full just like we like it! What a blessing to have friends and family here together. The Bell family (william, deniece, malyk, and malcolm) have become dear friends to us, and we just aren't sure how to feel about not spending next weekend with them too :) Seriously, you guys are a real blessing in our lives, and we count it an honor to call you friends and brothers/sisters in Christ! We look forward to many more dinners, poker games, hair styling parties, and of course.. cheesecakes!!

Here are pics from the shower... WHAT A BLAST!!

Being goofy with the "It's a Girl" balloons!

FBC gals who threw the shower (minus Cassie!)
Thanks so much, ya'll!!

cookies that match Ellie's room... how "sweet" (get it?)

Jeff now knows the difference between a skirt and a skort! do you??

My beautiful friend Michelle.. LOVE HER!


My sweet niece Kristin, mom (Nana), me, and Joann (Grammy)
Ellie is gonna love these ladies!!