Monday, December 31, 2007

What happened to my last vacation days?

The bee is stuck in David's bonnet. He really wants to make Sarah a new bedroom in part of the big front room that also houses my office and a living room. So, I'm in the massive re-arrange at the moment. Our hope is to finish before Joanna comes from the Dominican Republic in February so she can have a room to herself. We have a lot of company, which is great, but it means that Sarah is often displaced.

Her new room will be narrow, but because the ceiling is high, she will have a loft for sleeping. I think it is going to be neat, after I get over the aching muscles from moving everything.

So, that is why there are no Christmas photos up yet. But, they are coming . . . .

Monday, December 24, 2007


This result begins as follows:

she really does not like having her hair washed

drying is okay, as long as she is in charge. I think she looks like a print model in this hair drying shot.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Alden is NINE!

Can you imagine celebrating your birthday, at age 9, for the FIRST time in your life?! I'm sure you can imagine it was fun.

Zion had a bit of a hard time giving up HER birthday celebration of two days ago. She really wanted her birthday to continue.

Alden was happy to open presents from family, then share a few hours in the afternoon with two friends, one from his class at school and another friend who is home schooled. They jumped on the trampoline, played in his room and then Alden blew out candles (for the first time) on his Chocolate Torte Royale, which is a Mehltretter family tradition for birthdays.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it: recipe

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Annual ACS poker tourney

Yesterday was the annual ACS Christmas poker game. David won. He gave his winnings to Dido, runner up (far left of photo). Dido has not played much, but basically scared everyone else out of the game by raising EVERY hand. David came home for twenty minutes, then left for poker game number 2, which he also won. I emptied his wallet while he was sleeping and spent those winnings today at the grocery store, which I thought worked out well.

Zion is FOUR!

and, boy, is she happy about it!

To do, or not to do

In keeping with my recent meditation on un-complicating my life in order to live it, I’ve been listening to some of Doug’s sermons on line.

I am a big proponent of the “to do” list. Up until a recent paper purge, I had to do lists dating back to sixth grade. Scores of hand drawn check boxes next to a myriad of essential tasks. I considered making an art project out of them, but I didn’t want to add it to the current list. I’ve actually missed them since throwing them out, which I find symptomatic of an un-yet-realized something, perhaps something serious.

Doug says: “We need to step away from the supposition that ultimacy is found in our “to do” list – of getting stuff done so now we can move on to real life.” He encourages his listeners to live in the now and “tap into God, pursuing the eternal, awakening ourselves to the always-ness of eternal time.”

I experience now-ness when I shoot, especially in documentary situations. Time slips, my fractured awareness unifies and hones in on what is present. It is energizing. Doug talks about times like these and how though they may be an aberration to us, but truly they are what God calls us to.

“The fulfilling parts of life, like deep community, and energy exploding spirituality, the deeply fulfilling experience of divine love and the deep fulfillment of love among spiritual friends gets missed because our lives are just too complicated.”

I think I will listen to this again. Maybe my goal this year will be to disengage from my to do list. I’m having with drawls just considering it.

Doug’s series “Awakened to the Dance” may be found here
Quotes taken from sermon: Awakened to the Dance: Uncomplicating Our Lives (part 3)

Friday, December 21, 2007

accomplish it?

Daily I ask myself, "why can't I seem to accomplish more?" to impact the world, to get rid of stuff, to forward projects, to write a book, to do things with my kids . . .

My dad is going through some coaching right now and addressing some issues, not surprisingly, similar to my own. He sent me this (3rd graph REALLY resonated):


I find myself
In a difficult place
The pressures of life
Not keeping place

With all I know
Of the nature of man
My own life seems
Out of hand

How do I order
The things that I know
To reframe the world
To get up and go

Some is with skills
Faster and better
Learn how to do it
Get good at the letter

Some is by seeing
And changing the rules
What governs my life
At times I can choose

Some is with being
The who that I am
Transforming my role
In this scheme that’s so grand

These three talk of me
And my role
And my place
Where do I fit
What do I embrace

But the who that I am
Is related to you
The system I’m in
Bumps your system too

I suspect that these loops
Go on for ever
Well beyond
My mental endeavors

But change we will
As time goes on
To find a place
Serene and calm

To find that place
Where each one fits
A perfect match
For all our gifts…

©12/20/07, Glenn Mehltretter
You can read more of my dad's poems on his personal blog. Or, check out his work in human capacity at peoplefit. They are in the process of updating the look of the site, so try back if you don't get in.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

touch my heart

I finally took a few days and gathered all the information I'd found on the birth families of my friend's children when I was in Ethiopia. I mailed out dvds of interviews and cds of photos. Well, they arrived and I'm getting some wonderful emails. I find that parents, myself included, are so happy to hear about their adopted children's lives prior to coming to the States. I look forward to the time when all adoption agencies in Ethiopia understand this desire and pay someone in Ethiopia to compile background information for families.

It costs about $500 a month, plus transportation, to hire a local person to research and create videos. For me, it took a few days to find leads on the children and make initial contacts. Then, a full day to travel and meet families that lived in outlying areas. Another day to edit the footage and send it out. So, a full time person with contact information supplied when I child was found could probably research a minimum of ten children a month, and edit a video for each of them. Say there is $50 in transportation costs, averaged for each person. Total: $100 spent before the trails run cold and it is harder to find families. I do not know one adoptive parent unwilling to pay an additional $100 for this treasure.

This note was emailed to me this morning from a girl who was adopted when my son came home from China. I took photos of her to her aunt (see above) while I was in Ethiopia. This precious note made my Christmas:

Dear Miss Heidi,

Thank you so much I love you. I felt happy to see my auntie in the pictures.
Thank you for taking the time to go see her. I love these pictures, I
appreciate them so much.

Have a Merry Christmas,


An article about ACS

EAW, manufacturer of high end sound gear, wrote this article highlighting David's company's work on the Obama/Oprah rally. Nice publicity for us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shooting the president

Thanks to my friend Lee Ann Kornegay, last night I got paid to shoot the president. Not too shabby since a ticket into the room required a $5000 donation.

President Clinton spoke for over 40 minutes at a dinner honoring former Secretary of Education Dick Riley. I truly enjoyed his talk, which I mistakenly thought would be full of political platitudes and low in meaningful content. But, he spoke in depth about key issues I ponder often: global warming, illegal immigration and, of course, the educational system in the USA.

more thoughts to come . . .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sarah's gift

Sarah decided to give the gift of her beautiful hair - or at least a large portion of it - to charity this year. Grandma helped while David winced.

I'm thinking about encouraging Zion to donate her hair so we can end the 4 hour Sunday scream-fest where we wash, part and braid it.

First Christmas

I guess I never thought I'd have an 8 year old kid who had never celebrated Christmas. It has some really fun moments, actually.
Watching him set up the nativity, having never seen one before was one of them. First, the animals and people were in battle formation, then, after some prompting, they were crowding in staring at Jesus, much like people do to white Americans asking directions in Ethiopia. In the end, they stood in a straight line across the front of the table, flanking Jesus, his manger leaned up against Mary so he can see our front door.

David's hobby

David has spent most of his nights this past week at church. I knew it was coming when he came home from the Adult Christmas Musical last year and said, "it was really well done, if only they had the lighting they deserved . . . "

So, I wasn't surprised when he volunteered as the lighting designer this year and filled a truck full of gear to take to the church. After some animated discussions on the virtue of haze in the sanctuary, and a number of frustrating hours trying to get a mylar curtain to drop and then fly again without getting tangled, the end result of everyone's labor was fantastic. Each song had it's own unique feel and I felt the evening was an inspiring success.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


So, David has not been home much. He's been doing Christmas shows and political rallies. The biggest was sound, lights and staging for the Obama/Oprah thing this past weekend. I went by in my pj's the night before the event because David accidently left with the truck keys and was too tired to go back. The set up looked impressive. I didn't venture into the traffic the following day, but did get to see it on line. Oprah's speech inspired me, regardless of my political leanings (or lack thereof). I didn't catch much of Obama's talk because I had to go get kids.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Unwrapping Homeschool

I finally made the committment to homeschool my son, starting in January. A big box of history and reading material arrived today and Zion jumped right in. Lying in the packing paper was by far her most relaxed moment of the day.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

World AIDS day

Please visit my friend Lisa's blog for a wonderful thought for World AIDS day. I too have been to this orphanage she mentions and loved reading her thoughts on it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

office depot chat help?

heidi: I'm getting a message that my item is 3 day delivery and it won't arrive if I order today until next Friday. I must have it to take to Ethiopia on Tuesday. Can I pay more to expidite?
Agent30 has entered the session.
Agent30: Hi Heidi.
Agent30: Thank you for contacting the Office Depot online assistance team, my name is Jacob and I have been assigned to your query.
heidi: hi
Agent30: Could you please provide me the 9-digit order number to assist you further?
heidi: 000669235
heidi: i can pick it up today in Columbia, SC 29169 if it is local.
heidi: i also need two of them
Agent30: Could you please provide me your zip code?
heidi: i just did, my local one. But, I can either pick it up here today, or it must be shipped to zip 83835 by Tuesday.
Agent30: One moment please...

Agent30: 83815
Agent30: Thank you Heidi, this item is affable in the above zip code.
Agent30: Here is the complete address 131 W. NIEDER AVE
Store# 541
COEUR D ALENE, ID 83815 and the phone #(208) 676-0846.
heidi: okay, that does not help. I am in 29169. I can pick it up near this zip code today. OR, I need it shipped to 83835 by Tuesday. I can not pick it up in 83831, as I am not there.
Agent30: One moment please...

Agent30: How about this address 2242 W PULLMAN ROAD
Store# 612
MOSCOW, ID 83843?
heidi: I'm in SOUTH CAROLINA. You keep giving me addresses in ID and I am not there. I can pick up the ram in SOUTH CAROLINA today, OR I can have it shipped, by Tuesday, to Idaho. I can NOT pick it up in Idaho as I am here in South Carolina and it is a 3 DAY drive from South Carolina to Idaho. The reason I can get it shipped to Idaho is because a person traveling to Ethiopia is there, but that person CAN NOT go pick it up. I can pick it up today, but only in the Columbia, South Carolina area, which is zip code 29169.
Agent30: One moment please...

Agent30: I am sorry Heidi, I just gave the information which I got. This item is available only at those location which I provided. If you want to make a delivery for this item with pleasure you can do it.
heidi: I don't understand what you are saying. You can overnight ship it to 83185?
Agent30: I am sorry Heidi, we do not overnight the orders. If you order today you will be getting it on Monday.
Agent30: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
heidi: When I tried to order it, it said it would take 3 days and be delivered by Friday which is too late.
Agent30: One moment please...

Agent30: I apologize Heidi, the mistake is on my side and I dint see the complete information about this order. This item cannot be picked up and it is a special order, so it will take 7 to 14 business days.
heidi: So, are you saying it is not available at either store in Idaho that you mentioned? And, it is not available in South Carolina anywhere and it is not possible to overnight it to me at all for any price?
heidi: And, are you also saying that the message I got when I tried to order it saying it will take 3 business days is incorrect?
Agent30: I apologize, this item cannot be pick up from any of the store and it is not available in stores. It will take 7 to 14 business days to deliver.
heidi: So, it is not possible to pay extra and have it overnighted to me?
Agent30: One moment please...

Agent30: I am sorry Heidi, it is not possible to do overnight delivery even though you pay any extra charges.
heidi: Okay.
Agent30: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
heidi: no
Agent30: Thank you for choosing Office Depot.

This Service is available 8 am- 8 pm EST. Monday through Friday. Please don't hesitate to use this service again.

Have a nice day.
Agent30 has exited the session.
Chat session terminated.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Storytime: how to calm your child

This is our nightly calming bedtime routine. It works very well on Zion, who settles down peacefully during the story every night as demonstrated here.

Here is the link to it on youtube:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Updated with Photos

I finally put photos with the Ethiopia entries, just scroll down to see. Your thoughts are always welcome - that way I know I'm not talking into a void and we can have a conversation. Actually, a void plus Laura, who is always saying something nice:).

Yummy. Raw meat in Ethiopia is a real treat. The white looking meat you see here is really the fat inside the hump from the back of a bull. I wholeheartedly agreed with praying over this meal, which was breakfast in a town called Boditi, on the mountain overlooking Soddo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

David in Croatia

Yeah, pretty much looks the same as David in SC. But, I think he is having fun, so that is good. We are going to decorate for Christmas tomorrow. It is early, but with chicken pox keeping us at home, it should brighten the day.

UPDATE, email from David:
(notice in the photos everyone is wearing coats INSIDE. I would not do well there, as I wear wool socks when it goes below 70 here)
It is Wednesday night and we fly back tomorrow. The last couple days have been very crazy and I have not been on line much. My computer was at the building where we were working last night so I could not even use it. We did rack wiring yesterday and the day before and re-worked the whole sound system with the new speakers that we brought. Branko is really nice and wants to be a good host and wants us to see things so he has us scheduled for lunch at this place up north with people that wedge knows and one night with Branko’s parents, etc. Wedge lived here for a month once and has visited several times as well. It is kind of like we are fighting for the time to get the work done that we need to get done.

Well we finally finished the wiring tonight, after the concert. We were pretty much done but went and set up the concert with two wires bypassed and on rack not neatened up yet. The concert went really well. This is their model for local concerts in these little towns and it works really well. The find a children’s hospital or children’s home or something and ask them if they can do a benefit concert for them. They then find a local musician or two to open up the concert. Tonight they raised about $600 for a children’s daycare center that we visited earlier today. About 300 people were there and the children from the center sang a song first, followed by a local musician backed up by the band. The band is Branko on guitar and lead vocal, his son on keys, another son on drums, an electric guitar, and two backing vocals. They are all really good. They just jumped in with this guy doing country music without any rehearsal. The son who plays keys (he has a total of 4 sons and 1 daughter-Sarah) is really good. He played along with these kids singing on songs that he had never heard. He let them start and would just throw in a chord after he heard it but by the second verse he was just playing along. He is a music major in college and plays a lot—pretty much all Jazz/Fusion kind of stuff.

The sound guy they have is really nice. He does not have much experience and they don’t give him as much respect as he deserves but he is really sharp. He is not very good at the art of mixing yet (which is what bugs them) but he has the signal flow and technical ends down. I think he can learn the art of mixing with some time.

The place we went today was right beside the Slovenia border. Yesterday we were somewhere where they said “that hill right there is Hungary”. Unfortunately we did not get to cross the border either time. Some of the things up there reminded me more of Romania—but not as poor. It was more like the Black Church area of Romania.

I have done a really poor job of taking pictures. I think I have about 3. I will get a copy of Leon’s pics. He has been taking more.

Well it is 12:30 and I better pack up and get to bed. We have a couple things we “have to see” in the morning. I also would like to get some paper money. I have not even spent a dime since I got here. The first day Leon paid for lunch at a restaurant and Branko was visibly offended. I have not exchanged a cent or spent anything. They just cart us around and feed us. I said I wanted to get some souvenir money and two different people came back with baggies of change. I am not going to ask or they will just give me bills. I will try to get some after they drop me off at the airport.

It is not like I have had a chance either. We have always been with someone or just been at the shop where we worked. I have not even had a chance to buy anything. Tonight they gave us a gift bag of chocolate, a shirt, a mug, some other snacks, etc. I feel bad that they are spending so much on us.

Diary from the Amsterdam Airport

Copied from my notebook:

Usually I sit facing the windows, but today I face the Christmas decorations and I can’t stop looking at them – all the overused phrases are right, “marveling at their beauty” “drinking them in” “my small piece of heaven.” The contrast to the ineptly strung, millennium flag colored lights draped across the Addis airport, and my “oh how pretty!” exclamation when we drove up shows how far I’ve traveled since immersing myself in Soddo.

Last night, I chose to interview my interpreter in the tiny room that is Kidist and Ayayu’s home. I didn’t want the Westernized background of book and fireplace in the guesthouse, nor the green of the fluorescents. Rather a plain white wall and the light of an uncovered 60-watt bulb, my camera perched on a worn Bible. I realized as he answered my questions that my ear has adapted to his speech – both accent and style, and that much of what he says will be unusable in “sound bite” form.

Now I drink a small cappuccino that cost $5 exactly, and watch young Dutch men in cargo pants build a 20-foot evergreen beside the cascading lights that still grab my eyes after every four words.

It’s not yet Thanksgiving at home.

I’m touching Ruth’s other world – her Netherlands, and thinking how distant Christmas seemed in Ethiopia. They celebrate on January 7th, and people enjoy injera with doro wat together. It is the day after the celebration in most Latin countries. Christmas presents include traditional Ethiopian clothing and playing cards for children. Some give gold.

My Ethiopian friend, who works at the embassy talked about her Christmas traditions. She bought a tree from a person leaving their tour (embassy workers from abroad work two year tours) with some ornaments. Her girls do the decorating, and add hand made cards and string beads each year. This year she thinks they are old enough to go out and purchase the roughly made nickel crosses to use as decorations. She will explain to them the history of the designs. All the crosses that have wings are from the Lalibela region, while those with geometric, symmetrical angles hail from Gondor or Axum.

I wanted to buy a book on the crosses at the Addis airport. My choices were the one I could afford, boasting yellow photos, cut and paste type and devil-may-care, off the top of the page layout. Or, an incredible book far above my price and size/weight for travel range.

I wish I had visited a bookstore in Addis.

At the Orthodox Church in Soddo that blasts prayers in the middle of the night – in Geez, a language no one speaks, I bought a gold colored cross for 30 birr ($3.34). My nursing student translator called it a “germ spreader” since the priest holds it out to people so they can kiss it. Also for 30 birr, I bought a thing that jangles. I don’t know the English word for it, but it intrigued me because the handle was made from a giant bullet shell. All the metal is the color of the shell, verifying my belief in the link between war and religion.

I wish I had bought more of them because it is hard to find good gifts for men, and I think these would be appreciated; at least by my strange friends.

The guys building the tree are using a genie lift now, and I realize I got full fat milk in my drink and will likely have a stomachache if I finish it. But, it cost FIVE DOLLARS!

Maybe Ruth will buy some clanger-janglers for me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Croatia and cleaning

Got home late last night and I just dropped my husband at the airport for his trip to Croatia. I'm waiting to hear if the airlines will take their overweight baggage, which is a sound system. I'm a bit concerned as the flight leaves soon and he still has not called.

I just cleaned out my coffee pot. I had left grounds in it three weeks ago, so you can imagine! ugh. But, I brought back plenty of green coffee beans, so I will be roasting them up and enjoying really good coffee very soon. Then, on to straightening up the rest of the house and answering client emails.

My other plan is to add photos to the blog entries. Internet was too slow to email them from Ethiopia.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Last Night

It is night in Addis. I am alone in the guest house, which is a change after spending this week with two other families, one from South Carolina. We figured out we had been together before - one mother, who just had a baby this week - was a fitness instructor in the Firm videos, and I had rented lights to them for one of the shows she did. Small world. She was on a billboard in Five Points for a long time, which may be why I kept thinking she looked familiar to me.

So, tomorrow I fly out. I really miss my family, so it is good to be going home, but I don't relish the many hours in the air.

Much of what I did this trip I could not blog about because it was personal to the families involved. But, I think from it have gained a deeper understanding of the amazing culture here, which has been very good for me.

Today I visited a government orphanage, and interviewed a young girl who cared for her little sister and managed against great odds to feed her and get medical help for her until she was adopted. This girl has been given the materials to start a small business and I know she will succeed. Her story was quite motivating to me. I also ate mocha ice cream at Kaldi's coffee shop with a friend and her two beautiful girls.

When I get home, after much sleep, I hope to put photos to the words I've written here. Thank you all for taking this journey with me and for your prayers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Tears Today

Today I spoke with two HIV positive women who chose
to give up their girls for adoption before they die.
I asked them what they were feeling. I asked one of
them what she would like to tell her daughter on her
wedding day. She told me about her own wedding day,
at age 14, and how her parents told her she must go
and sleep with her husband. She wanted to run away
and not do it because she was so scared. She said she
didn’t want her daughter to go through that.

The daughters have already changed roles with their
mothers, and they talked about how they were worried
about who would take care of their mothers when they
go to the States. Yet, I could see they were excited
about the possibility of a new family and a good
education. One of the mothers had prepared her child
well for the transition. Hers was the interview where
I could no longer see my viewfinder after the first
few questions.

After all I have seen here, no one could ever convince
me that a poor or sick mother in a mud house cares any
less for her child than I care for mine. I really
miss my kids. I want to hold them and I long to look
at them while they sleep. My kids were born of other
women in another countries, yet I get to look at them,
I touch them, and they bring their joys and sorrows to
me. I am beyond blessed.

Dr. Ruth Droppers

I usually shower in the morning, but Ruth showers at night. After spending an hour with her at the hospital, I can see why. Personally, I struggle with just stepping into the hospital here because it feels like I’m diving face first into a rising wave of
germs. Yet, Soddo Christian Hospital is very clean compared to other local hospitals. The outside is beautiful, there are covered walks connecting the wards and flowers bloom everywhere. It seems that the clean air and the flowers promote rest and healing for the tired, sick and dirty patients. Twice a day the floors are scrubbed, yet, the people coming in are often filthy from travel on the dirt roads, hours or days of travel by foot or carried litter or donkey cart, continually drenched in the dusty wake of passing trucks. To me it seems everything has a film of dust and sickness that makes me want to bolt.

Additionally, it is difficult for me to handle the onslaught of emotions that pound me when I see the people suffering. Sitting in the ER at home, more often the length of the wait grabs my emotions harder than people’s pains.

But here, though I am focused, I can't keep up with Ruth – she mentions doing an ultrasound and it is finished by the time I change the setting on my camera and reach the room. Her work is like triage after a disaster, every day. The waits are quick, but the cases are extreme. On call at night, a toddler in his father’s arms arrived with a knife wound to the eye. It was his good eye, the other blind from birth. When asked at 8pm when the accident occurred, we heard it happened that morning. At first, I feel angry – why was he not brought in earlier? Then, it occurs to me they likely have been on their way here since the accident occurred.

Another man refuses to give Ruth a direct answer to the simple question, “do you ever eat fruit?” She gives up after three tries and tells me he probably has chewed a lot of chat, and is experiencing the depression that follows the high. Today she’s
frustrated with people who won’t answer her questions. But, she does not show it. Each patient feels special in her presence. She has a way of repeating what they say to her that makes them know she is listening, even if she has a different idea of what to do. “So, the other doctor would not give you an x-ray for your stomach pain? I see. And, you feel you need an x-ray? Perhaps we could do a ultrasound instead, would that be okay with you?” She smiles at the patient, and nods, encouraging them to buy into her plan. She is incredibly gifted with non-verbal communication, which I think serves her well in this culture.

The woman we met in the clinic, whose breast was destroyed by TB shows up the next morning. I found her outside the hospital, wandering lost and ignored, and sent her to Ruth. She is one of four wives, and her husband no longer cares for her. She also has five sons and no daughters, and the sons do not care for her either. No one will pay for her to have help at
the hospital. Ruth thinks they must want her to die. It is decided that she can be cared for from the benevolent fund.

Since meeting her, the supreme sadness of her life sits on my shoulder. I see her when I look to my left. Her eyes, her face, her hand pulling back her shawl to show me the horrible wound. Me, the photographer, the one with absolutely zero ability to
help her aside from a hug and my warmest smile, I was given the pleading look, beseeching me to do what her family refused to do. To help.

I ask Ruth if she ever cries. She tells me two stories, one of a breach birth to a woman so brutally circumcised that the child could not be born. The woman’s mother was with her. Likely, it was she who cut her daughter and removed every part of her that said she was a woman. Ruth said the woman’s mother gazed blankly ahead, “I am not going to think about my responsibility in this tragedy.” Ruth said she cried over this because the baby did not die because of some environmental cause, but because of something done to his mother by another woman. The second time she cried because a mother starved her baby. She had too many children to feed. So, she kept food from the youngest, and when he was almost gone, brought him to the hospital. All the nurses cared deeply for the baby, and tried desperately to save him. Then, Ruth saw the moment the mother realized she could have brought him earlier and he would have lived. She saw the realization cross the mother’s face that she alone made a devastatingly wrong decision.

Later in the day, a little girl I kissed in the children’s ward succumbs to malnutrition and dies. I had seen her dad standing next to her bed each day when I went to take “my” boy for a walk. The vitamin enriched Unicef milk, purchased on the black market, did not arrive in time to save her.

Some things you can buy if you know who can get them, but morphine is next to impossible to get. Chemo, radiation, strong painkillers, common blood thinners for anesthesia are just a few of the things not found here. Some doctors have a small stash of pain killers. Ruth is not one to hoard, so today she gives a patient who is dying some relief. We talk about a friend who had his leg amputated above the knee. One of the other doctors kept the leg in his freezer to use as a teaching tool. “Honey, where is the ice cream?” “Check under the ankle!” Amputation seems to be the common cure for cancers, tumors, hyena attacks, snakebites and more.

A few days ago a container arrived from Switzerland. It was sent over after my last visit a year and a half ago and has been in customs until last week. It was filled with crutches, which will be put to good use. I saw a man on the street using a tall stick and swinging himself around it to move, so I asked my translator to send him to the hospital for a crutch. It is nice to think about how a crutch might change his life. I can handle thinking about a crutch today, but I can never do what Ruth does.

If you wish to help Ruth and her work, you can send her a donation (a check from an American bank is fine, there is just no tax deduction here:
Stichting Witte Velden te Hilversum
Postbanknumber 1485137
IBAN: NL 41 PSTB 0001 4851 37
mention her name: for Ruth Droppers

Email of the foundation is:
Email of contact person in Netherlands:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Back in Addis

I tried the internet café down the street. Located in a short shipping container, it had two old computers and a baud width of 31.2 kbps. Enough to really test my patience, which, though it has increased dramatically since leaving the States, was not enough to handle the two-minute waits between button pushes. I finally got my own computer screen to turn on, so I am going to see how long it takes before my mouse freezes up. Hopefully a long time.

I had the weirdest reverse culture shock driving into Addis. After only 10 days down South, I was blown away by the money here, and even more by the availability of food. The fruit stands filled with normal size, plump tomatoes, potatoes and even beans.

At a coffee shop chain started by a young woman and patterned after Starbucks, called Kaldi’s, I saw numerous Chinese people, kids sporting ipods, and well dressed business typing away people on laptops. I also had one of the best cappuccinos of my life. The foam was covered exactly in half with a thick coat of powdered cocoa. I was glad to hear that the coffee shop chain was not owned by the Saudi sheik that seems to own everything else here, the Sheraton, the malls, Home Depot and pretty much anything else that is new and big. He is also building a glass-fronted hotel in Soddo, and I imagine may be helping to build the big mosque there as well. It is he that is mentioned in the articles about Starbucks not paying the coffee pickers a living wage. He owns the farms.

I’ve been thinking a lot about living wages. David and I have this discussion often. On one hand, if you are making $1 a day and before you were making nothing, then your life is improved. But, how can one live on a dollar a day, and how did the person now making $1 live before that income? When doing research on the parents of adopted children of my friends, I found that a number of the birth moms made between 30 and 50 birr a month ($2.50 to $4.50 a month) making injera for a living. Injera is the local bread, made entirely of fermented teff flour and water, usually cooked on a clay plate over a hot fire made in a small hole in the ground. It is similar in look to a large pancake, but grey, with more air pockets. Teff looks like long grass and has tiny black seeds, which may be ground into flour. It grows in the higher regions.

So, here are women with at least two children making $3 a month. I asked five different people what it cost to feed a family of four. The answers I got ranged from 10 birr ($1.10) to 25 birr ($3.00) a day, if the family does not eat meat or much fruit. I spent that range on each meal I purchased just for myself. For a meal of injera and goat meat pieces, it cost 20 birr in the hospital cafeteria. The cheapest thing on the menu was 8 birr. The really cheap food is false banana, and if you see them growing, you are almost guaranteed to find a round house next to them. Inset, or false banana, is made from the stalks of trees that look like banana trees, but bear no fruit. Tastes pretty much like stalk, with basically no nutritional value.

Most poor people drink ½ a cup of water per day, which Dr. Ruth says accounts for many of their health problems. I learned that here, when you are dehydrated, you no longer feel thirst. It happened to me a few times, crept up on me, when out walking for a few hours, I felt weaker and weaker until I got home and forced myself to drink. Only after about two glasses did I again feel thirst.

My daughter’s birth mom lives in a government rent controlled mud hut. It is one room, with a door and a wooden cover for the single window. The room is as wide as the length of her bed, but not big enough to fit my king size bed. It is 25 birr a month to rent. She has a 25 watt light bulb on a wire. No running water, no bathroom, mud floor and walls.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Today I decided to video tape some surgery. It was one that is familiar to our family, a rod into a femur. The surgeons used different equipment than what is available in the States, and putting in the rod looked quite challenging and appeared to take both strength and finesse on the part of the surgeons. Fascinated by the process, I barely noticed that the patient had her face fully uncovered - no mask - until she looked over at me and smiled.

compare this to my surgery:

Blessed Nation?

In Psalms 37:25, it is recorded that David, the King of Israel said, I was young, and now I'm old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread.

I've always considered this scripture a promise rather than a statement of someones observation. The other night Stephanie told me about a father who brought four of his kids to the orphanage. All were very hard of hearing or completely deaf. The oldest were in their late teens, so adoption really was not plausible. The family was obviously close to one another and to the Lord. But, the father was worried about his kids, who were ostrasized and abused in their village. He wanted more for them. They had managed as a family to send two of the children to a deaf school, and these two kids had taught the others sign language.

I thought about it long after she told me the story and this scripture came to mind. The next day, we went to visit Dr. Mary. I mentioned the scripture to her and she said fiercely, that verse should not be in the Bible. That, or it is just David's observation. It is simply not true.

Then she described the story of a poor, Christian mother. There are thousands here like her. She lives in a dirt hut where the roof leaks. The floor becomes mud in the rainy season, and she has no furniture. So, she spends the nights holding her children up, out of the water. In the morning, she is soaked to the core, muddy and very cold. But, she has no change of clothing, so to wash herself, she must go the fridgid river waters and wash her clothing while she wears it. Then, she must go, wet, and search for work to order to buy flour. Then she must find wood and light it in the rain to bake bread her food for her family. She is not dry or warm for months.

I have grown up hearing that the United States is blessed because in our early roots, we are a Christian nation. Ethiopia's roots are the same, only older. From Jewish to Christian, this is a country founded on faith in God. So, why is she not blessed the way we are blessed? I question now, is blessing equal to financial success? Are we somehow better than the people here so God chooses to give to us?

Often when I walk here, I think it must be so much like walking in the context of Biblical times. The culture is emotional, and respect for proper heirarchy considered very important. I can imagine two women fighting over a child, and one woman agreeing the child should be split. I can see why goats and sheep need to be separated, because they look alike. I can picture shaking the dust of a town from your feet, or washing someone's feet out of love for them.

"Cry out to Me and I will answer" says God in another scripture.

My young translator told me a story from his youth. "I was on my own from the time I was six years old because my parents did not have enough food. I had some torn clothes, and I was embarrassed because they did not cover me. One day I was so cold becuase of the rain, I said, God, please help me find some clothes. I had the feeling to walk straight down this road. A man came out of his house and said to me, "you look cold. Please, go down to the building on this street, they are giving clothes." God provided for me clothes that day."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wolaita, Ethiopia: 10/25/07

Ruth and I are sitting in her kitchen enjoying the music Shelley sent to us. There is so much to share about today that I don’t think it is possible to get it all said. We stayed up late, late last night talking about everything, then got up early to drive 1.5 hours with Dr. Mary to a Wolaittan village called Gadalla, where she practices medicine every other Thursday. It is like a county seat, but for a smaller area.

On the drive in, we saw a donkey cart carrying a pallet with a sick woman on it. Children chased us yelling “Mary, Mary.” When we arrived, we found the sick lined up outside the clinic. The first ones on homemade stretchers and the others sitting or standing in line. We handed out cards to those in line, which guaranteed they would be seen. Those who were late must return in two weeks. People traveled for hours and even days to get to the clinic.

The government buildings are constructed primarily of mud mixed with dried grass and are quite dark inside. I had to use my flash, which gives the photos a look that is not really accurate.

We set up in an empty room that is the clinic. Someone brought in a bench, two chairs and a small table, which later in the day became the pharmacy. We left all but one window closed to protect the medicines and food we brought, and make a place to get away from the people for a break once during the day.

Patients were seen outside by Dr. Ruth, who made notes on scraps of paper until the paper ran out, then used her hand. They really need packs of post-its or small pads of paper to write prescriptions on. Helping her was Sebastian, a German medical student and two boy translators, who are in a school Mary runs where they learn English. Also helping was a man that I suspect Dr. Mary hired because he is older and has trouble finding work. He carried the scale, and acted as sort of a guard; sometimes chasing people back with a switch he made from a corn stalk.

I took photos while holding the baby, but I will get to that later.

Cases that needed a second opinion were sent over to Dr. Mary and her young translator in the clinic. Dr. Mary speaks Wolaittan, and it appeared the boy would clarify, or translate into Amharic when needed. Dr. Mary saw these patients, organized medicines and handed out food to those in her food program.

Next to this place was another small building that serves as a school. The children bring small stools or sit on the dirt. There is a chalkboard with the English alphabet on it. Wolaitan language uses the same letters we do, but the vowels are pronounced like they are in Spanish. When we arrived, sixty or so children were crammed into the room, doing lessons by chanting. I think the noise made it difficult for Mary, so it was good when they finished. Dr. Ruth also had challenges hearing the people outside because there were so many people gathering and talking around her. She often had to ask people to be quiet. Each time, some people would take it upon themselves to police the others. Men would smack the women, talking or not, who would in turn slap the kids. Five minutes later it would be noisy again. Relentless flies buzzing, kids playing on the donkey carts, cattle munching the banana leaves behind the clinic and donkeys yelling at each created a distinctly soundscape unlike any I’ve heard in South Carolina.

I’m trying to think of words to describe the problems we saw, but the words like “heart-wrenching” have been so overused, they don’t touch what we all felt. Here are some snippets of the conversations.

Ruth, “how often does he get to eat meat?”
“once, maybe twice a year.”
“any papayas or mangos, or vegetables?”
“no, just corn or bread or fake banana”
“well, with his condition, he needs some vitamins or he will go blind. Is it possible for him to buy some fruits and eat them on a regular basis?”

Ruth, “how long has she looked like this?”
This was about a woman who looked like she was nine months pregnant with twins.
“Ten months. She had a baby, but no blood came, then she swelled up like this.”
“The baby was born and looked normal?”
“did the baby live?”
“I will get a can, will you see if you can get her to urinate in it?”
Six people carry her stretcher behind the clinic and come back with the can.

There is no privacy. People gather all around the person being examined and watch everything. Maybe this is good as they may learn some methods of healing and prevention. One woman pulled her shirt aside to show me her breast. Most of it was gone and the remainder looked as if it had been horribly burned and blistered. At first glance Mary said cancer, then they made more observations and diagnosed her with localized TB in the breast.

Diagnoses in the field must be made without lab work, by observation and conferring with each other and medical books. Sometimes the people need to go to the hospital. If the case is dire, and Ruth refers them, they can be seen using the benevolent fund.

Ruth, “she needs surgery for this hernia, do you have bus money to get her to Soddo Christian Hospital?”
“okay, well, she can wear a scarf tied tightly around it, then, when the pain gets very bad, which may take some time, you must try and find a way for her to come have surgery.”

To a girl, who for over one year had one eye horribly swollen and protruding from her face, “I will give you this card, and you go to the hospital with it, and they will see you.”

One boy we took home with us. He is ten, and had trouble breathing. He was bone thin and the skin sucked in and out of his lower ribs when he wheezed.
Ruth, “how long has he been breathing like this?”
“two years now”
“and what color is his spit?”
“it comes out with pus and is yellow.”
One look at his father’s ragged clothing and lack of shoes and I can see why they put off the trek to the doctor. I wonder what it cost them to not work for a day? I saw not one of the patients or family members eat or drink all day. They decided it was TB, confirmed on an x-ray even I could read when we got home to the hospital. Sweet boy was scared. I think he had never seen a “city” before. He liked my camera, though. We bought him a soda and gave him shoes and a shirt and will check on him again tomorrow. He is on oxygen and has an IV. I can’t imagine what he is feeling.

Dr. Ruth and Dr. Mary are amazing people. Dr. Ruth is in her element in this situation. Each person she meets must feel they are the most valuable person on earth when she talks with them in her sweet voice. Though outwardly calm, I can see her mental gears running hyper speed while she diagnoses, then tries to figure out what her patients have the means to do that will help. I saw her do this in the Dominican Republic, dispensing orders like these for diabetes, “if you can, you must try to drink three glasses of pure water each day,” and, “if I give you shoes, will you keep them on always and protect your toes?”

Mary’s love for the people is more evident in the many things she thinks to do to help them. She spends so much of her own money, I don’t know how she manages. One of the many things she does is make up vitamin packs. Each day’s dose is wrapped in a triangle of newsprint. The pack contains a malaria preventative, folic acid and vitamin b. She started just with the women, and found that men also really thrived on the folic acid/b combination.

She also had large milk cans filled with homemade Bisquick that she distributes to families that are malnourished. It can be mixed with water and baked traditionally to make nutritious bread and contains protein powder, and milk solids along with other vitamin enriched flours.

Today was the first time Sebastian had seen rural medicine in an area of extreme poverty. I felt for him. He is young, and I’m sure what he saw today will stay with him for a lifetime. He was very tired when we got home – I think emotionally. He did a wonderful job, too. In Germany, he was able to attend med school for around $800 a semester because it is governmentally subsidized (and, interestingly, there are no entrance exams), and he will have a job after taking this time off to do this work. His girlfriend is in Ghana working in an orphanage while he is here. She contracted a bad strain of malaria her first week and used up all her malaria meds treating it, so he is worried about her.

After they finished seeing all the patients, the people lined up to get their medicines at the makeshift pharmacy. Dr. Mary charges them a very small fee, which I think is a good idea because it maintains the value of her service.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My friend in Ethiopia's newsletter

This is the doctor I'm going to stay with in Ethiopia. We met there in January of 06, and since then she visited me once here - we drove to Washington and NYC for a three day whirlwind tour, and we met in the Dominican Republic for a week, too. She is an amazing woman. I don't have all the photos, unfortunately.

Ruth's Report

Newsletter 2 June 2007

Early in the morning of the 19th of May, I arrived at Bole Airport, Addis Abeba. After a stay with friends, Co and Marja Tollenaar, who are also serving through Witte Velden Foundation, I traveled to Soddo on the 30th of May. Thanks to Co and Marja, my time in Addis was very productive. I managed to arrange the necessary practicalities as registration at the Dutch Embassy, an Ethiopian driving license, an internet connection and shopping.

Soddo is situated in the Great Rift Valley, a 6.5 hours drive south of Addis Abeba. Soddo is said to have 70.000 inhabitants. I live on the hospital compound at the edge of town. From the veranda there is a view to distant lake Abaya.

I have by now got used to power cuts and water shortage, Kebede (a boy who works in the compound and does the shopping), the guards who greet me and switch on the lights at night, the sound of crickets, the market place with mud, cows and goats and little children calling "ferenchiâ". That means white one. My neighbours and I are the only whites around.

With medical students from washington and neigbour.

Arrival in Ethiopia
Soddo Christian Hospital

Caused by the increasing inflation the number of poor people is on the rise. The local wheat is called tef, which is used to prepare the local staple injera. A kilo of tef now costs 5 Birr (50 eurocents). An average family needs 40 kilos of tef a month. That is 200 Birr per month for food only. The average income is 320 Birr.

Soddo Christian Hospital
I'e been working in the hospital for a couple of weeks now. The hospital has an operation section with four Ethiopian assistant-doctors, two Ethiopian surgeons and an American medical director. Then there is the clinic, first aid, children and internal section which is run by three Ethiopian doctors. I'm the fourth doctor and also work in the clinic, first aid, children and internal section. An Ethiopian doctor and me are heading this part of the hospital.

There is a room available for me to see patients. Fortunately a translator was found to assist me, because sometimes patients speak a language that none here can understand. Apart from Amharic (the national language) there are ten other languages.

Many diseases are poverty and hygiene related. There is malaria, tuberculosis, vitamine deficiencies, malnutrition, intestine and eye infections and HIV.

On of the things I am going to pay attention to is the children's section.

We have nine beds, which are however rarely occupied.

Sometimes small babies are discharged too early. This week professor Glenn Geelhoed and 15 medical students from Washington University visited, and he advised me on this issue.

Malaria in Gadalla.

One day a week I go to see patients together with Mary, a doctor specialized in tropical diseases. She has been working in Soddo for 11 years. The clinic is in Gadalla, west of Soddo. Part of the road is tarmac, but rest is in such poor condition that it takes 1.5 - 2 hours to cover 50 km. The rainy season is setting in and we had already postponed our visit for one day because of heavy rains. The road can become impassable.

At the clinic the patients are waiting. There was a little boy, last in line, with eyes showing yellow (caused by malaria), sick, barefoot in mud like many others, torn trousers and no shirt. I gave him recipe for medicin. When I came back he was standing against the wall, crying. I asked him what was the matter and he opened his hand, showing two wrinkled notes of 1 Birr. He couldn't afford the medicine, costing 6 Birr (60 eurocents)! it was so sad. We gave him food, clothes and the medicine.

Heading back the road appeared to be so slippery that the Toyota four wheel drive was skidding even in low gear. Because the area is part of the Rift Valley, it is not level. For the first time I was a little bit scared.

Prayer issues:
I thank God for:
financial means, the help and friendship of Co and Marja;
safety and protection, also on the road;
support in many ways from the church in Winterswijk, my home Baptist's community in Arnhem Zuid, family and friends.
Please pray for:
the new day clinic 2.5 hours drive north-east of Soddo. Most of this area is Islamic. Mary had been asked for this clinic before. We hope to pay our first visit on June 25th;
wisdom and understanding for the hospital staff and me.
the women's bible study group which I've been asked to carry on with;
safety and protection.

Psalm 18: 31 For who is God except the LORD? And who is a rock besides our God?-

Soddo Christian Hospital,
Po Box 305, Soddo Wolaitta, Africa
Voor giften:
Stg Witte Velden,
Postgiro 1485137
ovv Ruth Droppers
Thuisfront: Esther Droppers,
Ruth Droppers Serving in Health Care in Ethiopia Voor giften:
Isaiah 55:5 because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel

Ruth’s Report

Newsletter 3 – September 2007

Often during lunch and supper hours there were no employees.

Sometimes it happened that the emergency department nurse slept during the night in a different room. Which meant that at that time there was no emergency care for the patient.

I try to understand the background of the culture.

It touches me every time how late patients come in to the hospital. To travel 140 miles with a broken arm or 2 days on a donkey with a delivery is no exception.

The disease is prolonged at that stage and the patients are very sick. We also see the damaging effect of the treatment of the local witch doctors.

It happens often that family has no money to pay a whole treatment. The hospital therefore has a benevolent fund. In the committee who checks the requests sits also a Ethopian head nurse and pastor. For me, I see that I have no insite in it, cause how can I distinguish between very poor and a little bit more poor.

The hospital- Soddo Christian Hospital

In the past period we were able to improve the care on the pediatric- and medical ward. Nurses now lay clean sheets on the beds before the doctors round. They measure bloodpressures and write down the temperature as well the used medicines on the chart. As you can see in the pictures below the family members take care for their sick relative. They are in the hospital during the day and the night.

Every day we see in the clinic around 60 patients.

Last month one the general doctors left the team because he started his surgical training. We hope that next month there will be replacement.

Every week we have our own medical meeting in which we talk about diseases.

Together with the other head physician we stressed the importance of a laboratory and rontgen department which are open 24/7 and it seems that it really is working now.

There is 1 doctor to 35.000 people in Ethiopia. In the Netherlands there is 1 doctor to 305 people. They say that Ethiopia has 2000 general doctors. 1000 general doctors work in the bigger cities. Soddo is not a big city.

At the clinic pediatric ward with Korean people and neighbours

Care for twins

In the week when the second newsletter went out, I went with Mary, an American tropical specialist, to the clinic. A mother came walking in to the clinic with her malnourished twins. Their names where Amanuel and Abanezer . They were 2 months old and weight only 2,5 kg. After the delivery the mother was to weak and the babies where given away to family members, with as result that when they returned, the mother had no breastmilk any more. In that area were no wetnurses: mothers who want to breastfeed a second child. There is no clean water. There is no babyfood and when it would be there it would be to expensive. Mary had no place for shelter. What to do? We could not let them die¦.. I decided to take them in with the agreement that they would go back to the parents when they were strong enough. Very soon I had the first necessary baby materials through neighbours, family and friends. And I got help from a short-term American student Ariel who lived a month in my house and helped. And the help of Almaz, an older Ethiopian woman who took care of them from Monday till Friday from 8 am-6pm. In the beginning they lay together in a plastic washing tub and we fed them almost continuously. It the weeks after that grew and started to laugh.

Now three weeks ago, when they weighed 5 kg, they went back to their parents. For me it was nog easy cause I grew attached to them.

We gave the parents baby food, clothes, bottles and dipers and money for the bus to come back to Soddo and get babyfood every week.

Despite this support the parents told us repeatly that they could not take care of the babies; the father has no income and there are also two other children in the family. Recently a son of them passed away.

The parents have decided to give them up for adoption. The twins are now in an orphanage and they are doing good.

The twins at arrival and in week 7
manuel en Abanezer bij aankomst, 3 weken 7 weken

Matthew 25:35

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing.

I would like to thank family and friends for the materials and emails you sent. Often they came at exactly the right moment. I try to answer as quick as possible, but sometimes it can take a while.

I thank the Lord God for:

Safety and protection.
The sent babymaterials trough friends and family.
A work- and Residence permit; the womens Biblestudy group.
Rest in busy times.
Prayer I aks for:

The coming time when I, together with and olders short-term couple, will be alone on the compound. The neighbours and the medical director are for a short period in the States and South-Africa.
The hospital, when we think of expanding the clinic and pharmacy, because the current building is getting to crowded.

If you wish to help Ruth and her work, you can send her a donation (a check from an American bank is fine, there is just no tax deduction here:
Stichting Witte Velden te Hilversum
Postbanknumber 1485137
IBAN: NL 41 PSTB 0001 4851 37
mention her name: for Ruth Droppers

Email of the foundation is:
Email of contact person in Netherlands:

Monday, October 15, 2007

preparing to go

David and I always complain about leaving.
We despise the insanity of trying to get all our work done,
clients happy,
house ready,
bags packed,
lists checked,
forgotten items overnighted,
contact info sheets drawn up . . . and these are the items under the first 100 on my list! Monday, Ethiopia. Three weeks this time. The longest I've left Alden, and I have to say I'm concerned about his reaction to it. I hope I can email often. Connection speeds, or lack thereof, make Skyping a joke.

Right now I should be sleeping, but I'm downloading the audio book, "a thousand splendid suns." I want to listen to it on the trip home if I can figure out how to make this ipod thing Rod gave me work. It will save me space. I have another book, "oracle bones" that I've been saving. It will last me to Ethiopia, then I can give it to Dr. Ruth. I also have a few devotional books, and a couple kids books and a trade mag if I can fit them in.

The carryons are the hardest - I must include everything to make the shoot happen in the likely event that luggage won't arrive. Camera, back up camera. Lenses - long, wide, medium, memory cards - I ordered more today, hope they make it in time - tape stock, video camera(s), mics, cables, chargers for all gear, extra long life batteries, flash for camera, extra AA batteries, fan to run with 220 converter so I don't fry chargers, computer with power supply, blank disks, change of clothing, reading material, medicines, toothbrush. Wear the shoes I can go into the bush with, even though they are annoying in security. Full size pillow. Well hidden crisp $20 bills. Water bottle - empty so I won't be suspected of carrying waterborne explosives. Sunglasses. locks and steel cable, large scarf to use as hood and protection against nasty airline seat or as blanket if flight is delayed. change of socks. Passport. Blow up 3/4 camping air matt. travel alarm clock. I once spent 8 hours sleeping in Curacao while my friends fidgeted in their uncomfortable seats. They made fun of me, lying on my camping mattress covered with my scarf - but I was sleeping and I didn't care - my alarm was set, I could relax. Wish it was that easy at home with kids!

My trips through security are a nightmare. I pity the people behind me. Video camera? yes, at least one. Computer, yes. shoes, yes. bag of liquids? yes. search? yes. Do my carry ons weigh 45 pounds each? yes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lovely Zion

Zion was the flower girl in a wedding today for Camille, the college student who used to baby sit her a lot. She did really well going down the aisle and for a few minutes up front. I was proud of her, and she looked very elegant in her Ethiopian clothes.

It was a lovely service and I thought it was very cute that Camille's dad scribbled this line on his hand "her mother and I"