Monday, December 29, 2008

More Pictures...and Caleb's first visit to the doctor (not planned!)

We are home safe, sound, and very exhausted, praise the Lord! Caleb did very well on the 16 hour plane ride from Dubai to Atlanta, sleeping about half the time. He was a trooper. Zack was so sick though and went to the back of the plane to lay down. Thankfully he is feeling better now, but that was an absolutely miserable experience for him! We do not want to fly again anytime soon!

When we got to the airport we had a great homecoming with our families and the Bowmans, including a newsperson from a local news channel. She did a quick interview with us and it was on the local news! Here is a link to the story:
There is only one misquote....we didn't spend 80 hours in the air, thank the Lord! That would be really tough!

Caleb did very well meeting our parents and by the end of the visit would even let them hold him, which made them all so happy. He slept very well last night but this morning was very fussy, wouldn't take a bottle, threw up, and felt hot to the touch. So, we made our first doctor visit. The poor guy was diagnosed with pneuomnia, thankfully, we caught it early! He has slept most of the day, so hopefully he will feel better soon.

Here are a few more pics.....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thoughts From Rebecca on the week.....And a Few Pictures :)

First of all, we have been reunited in the Dubai airport!! Praise the Lord! But, Zack's ear is hurting dreadfully, and we think he may have even ruptured his ear drum…Caleb is so tired….I am dirty, with formula, baby food, pee and probably poop on me somewhere…….it will be a long trip back to the USA…we haven't even boarded the plane yet….please pray! I would just love to be able to snap my fingers and be home!


Anyway, as you have probably noticed, we have been missing in action the last few days as the internet connection in Ethiopia was so very slow that you could barely check an email! So, posting to the blog was just not possible! I am so sorry, as I desperately wanted to be able to document each day of our journey…and what a journey it was! So, this is what I started typing last night…….and finished here in the airport in Dubai…..

All the other families have just left for the airport- I can't believe it is already time to leave. We will be leaving soon….tomorrow morning. I felt led to come and type my feelings as the families left, as it seems that they have all finally came to the surface.


This has truly been the trip of a lifetime in so many ways. Of course, the main way our lives have been changed by this trip is that we now have a son! More on this later! Other ways….we have seen how people live thousands of miles away and learned to appreciate other cultures, as well as our own. The Ethiopian culture is different from ours in so many ways, but the kindness and hospitable nature of the Ethiopian people can reach through cultural boundaries and touch your heart! We saw this especially through the nannies that took care of our children, through our wonderful -I seriously can not say enough about - guide, Robel, who took such good care of us and without whom our trip would have been so much more difficult….we love you Robel!! I could go on and on, our housekeeper, the room service staff, the doorman….they were all wonderful and will be missed. In a time when politeness and consideration is often lost in the business and hustle and bustle of life, the Ethiopian people were a breath of fresh air, and we could all learn from their way of life. We had a wonderful time getting to know them and their country and we hope to visit again…….


A more difficult lesson came in the extreme poverty which can be encountered at any moment, with a glance in any direction in the city. I honestly don't think I have been able to process seeing people laying in the streets and sidewalks, children knocking on the car windows anytime the car came to a stop, begging for whatever they can get, houses (if you can call them that) made of mud and old rusty pieces of tin as far as the eye can see, roads hardly fit for driving… is truly something that can not be fathomed, as

I find myself saying, how can I help Lord, how can I help? It is so overwhelming! I think he is telling me, don't forget this, don't forget how some people live. Take this back with you, and make a difference. Yet despite this poverty, hope and faith remains in this beautiful country. The country is beautiful and the Lord's handiwork is evident in it. The mountains are outstanding!


The families we met this week have made such an imprint on our hearts as well! They are each so precious and we loved spending this week with them. They ministered to us each in a unique way and we could not have imagined spending this special time with any more wonderful families. As I mentioned above, seeing them leave this evening helped to bring the week and everything we experienced to the forefront. I truly had to hold back my tears as they drove away from the hotel because I know I would just lose it! We miss them already.


Finally…..MEETING OUR SON!!! Obviously words can not describe this meeting or the days that followed. It was unlike anything we have ever experienced, both wonderful and trying. Wonderful in that God has blessed us with such a beautiful, fun, smart, funny (he will crack you up!!) loving and amazing little boy, all through the miracle of adoption. Trying in that we have never been parents, and suddenly we are parents of a one year old little boy who is deeply grieving his home, his nannies and friends, all in the midst of  being in a county that is not familiar to us in so many ways.  There were times when all three of us were crying. Thankfully,  Lord sustained us, gave us grace and mercy, and therefore we were able to give Caleb the same. It has been amazing to see how he has changed in just the last few days – he is a true blessing!! We are getting to know him more and more and he is doing the same with us…it is so much fun!!!! We are so thankful, and can't to get him home and into a normal routine. I have attached just a few pictures of the first day we met Caleb….of course, as soon as I am able, I will post lots more…….


We should be home in Kentucky in about 20 hours….wow…that seems like a long time!! See you in the USA!!


Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

What a Crazy Day!

From Zack:
ike ans
I beliebe this is my thrid official post to the blog in three years.  Rebecca takes quality control seriously!  Well, Rebecca and I are separated.  It's a very long story, but the short of it is, she is with Caleb in the comfy part of the airport and I am stuck with the bags outside.  In order to take advantage of the generous donation of Airline miles by Mike and Sherry Smith, we had to book two separate flights.  One from the US to Dubai and another from Dubai to Ethiopia.  This forces us to claim our checked baggage, exit the airport and then check in again.  This was no problem on the way to Ethiopia, before we had Caleb, because we are US citizens and we do not need a visa to visit Dubai.  So we together we claimed our baggage exited the airport and checked them again for the second leg of the trip.  However on the return trip we could not all exit together, because Caleb is not yet a US citizen (he will be after his re-adoption in the US).  Dubai requires a visa for Ethiopians except for transit passengers.  Because we have two separate flights we are not transit passengers in Dubai.  They told us one of us would have to claim our baggage, exit the aiport and then check them again for second leg, while the other stayed with Caleb in the comfy airport.  No big deal right?  I would get the bags and reunite with Rebecca and Caleb in only a few minutes...right?  Well, not exactly.  We have a layover of about 8 hours in Dubai, and the check-in gate doesn't open until 5 hour before the flight.  That's right, 5 hours apart and I have all the bags except for the baby bag.  No knowing we'd be apart for that long, I didn't think to leave Rebecca some money for food or duty free shopping or whatever, and she didn't eat much all day.  I hope she likes enfamil.  Just kidding sweetie.  I begged, and pleaded with customer service, the security officers and I tried to call Delta.  Their office didn't answer.  I located their office here in the Dubai airport and there was a sign on the door saying their office hours were from 1:00 to 17:00 daily.  I had just missed them.  So we're stuck and we can't communicate for another 3 and a half hours and Rebecca has Caleb but no money for anything.  I'm going to keep trying to check in early, and I'm not eating anything until we're back together.  Rebecca, I hope you have found a way to check your email.  Send me a message.  I love you and I love Caleb. 
More to come soon!
Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our First Full Day in Ethiopia

Today was our first full day in Addis. We both slept well last night, though we did wake up around 4am when the Muslim prayers began being played over the city speakers. These continued for a couple hours, so I don't think we ever really were able to go back to sleep. Around 8:30 am or so we went to the restaurant here in our hotel for breakfast. We ate with the Stager family from Washington. Zack had an omelet and I just had toast and jelly with tea.


At 10 am we all met in the lobby to go to church. Robel, our fantastic guide took us to his church, the International Evangelical Church (IEC). It was about 30 minutes from our hotel. The church building was a very nice facility. There were probably around 450 people there for service. The service was very much like what we would think of as a contemporary service, with a praise and worship team, drama, and a main message. The biggest difference in this service and what you would find in an America service (and much better in my opinion) was the amazing diversity! At one point, the praise team was made up of people from 7 different countries! Now that is how church should be! It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. We truly enjoyed the service and we were so thankful Robel took all of us.


Church lasted almost two hours, so after church it was time for lunch. We ate at the Lime Tree Restaurant. Zack and I shared a pizza- it was different than pizza in the US, but very, very good! Zack also tried a macchiato- I took a sip- it was very strong, even too strong for Zack's liking! But not bad….


After lunch we stopped at a small grocery store to stock up on bottled water as you CAN NOT even get a sip of the water here in your mouth! We also bought some juice- it is very good here!


One thing that really stands out to me about Ethiopia is the sheer amount of people that are always out and about and in the middle of the streets. The driving is probably like most foreign countries in terms of the chaos. What adds to it here is that people are always out in the streets! I thought we were going to hit them many times!


And our course, the poverty is immense, there are shacks made from tin and mud everywhere, and it is very common to see people just laying by the side of the roads. The saddest thing is to see the children everywhere- many will come up to your van when you are stopped and beg for whatever you will give them. It is very hard to tell them no. I can understand now how it would not be uncommon for someone to abandon a baby here- it is not like the USA. I am so thankful that we can help on child (Caleb) but it does break my heart as we can't help them all…..


So, tomorrow is the big day!! We are all so excited and many times throughout the day we have found ourselves talking about our children! We have all waited so long for this day, and it is going to be here in less than 24 hours! It still seems like it can't be real. Please continue to pray for us- we feel great, and so far show no signs of getting sick! Zack is a little more tired today and beginning to feel the altitude, but other than that, we are great! We know tomorrow will be an emotional day, so please pray for us and Caleb on that front too….Of course, we will try to post pictures asap, but the connection is very slow here…That's all for now!



Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Have Arrived in we sleep

We arrived in Ethiopia around 8:30 am today. Our flight was a little late coming in, but we made it! It was also very interesting….more about that later….


We ended up not being able to rent a room in Dubai Airport, because it took us quite a while to get through customs, claim our baggage, etc. Then, it took us even longer to figure out exactly where our gate for our Ethiopian Air flight would be. The terminals in Dubai are not connected, so you have to go outside the airport to get to some of the other terminals. Once we found the gate, we realized we couldn't check in until around 1:00 am, so we had some time to kill. We went upstairs and sat in the food court, tried to sleep, etc. Finally it was time for us to check in for our flight to Ethiopia… that was an experience. First of all, it was a huge guess as to which side of the giant room (where the gates for Ethiopian air were) you needed to be on, because they wouldn't put the ET air emblem up on the screen. When they finally did put it on the screen, it was like a mass exodus of people with little airport carts…they were everywhere!! They will run over you, trust me!! They didn't care if they bumped you….there was luggage going everywhere….crazy! So, we get in line, then all of a sudden, the screen goes blank and everyone and all those little airport carts make a mass exodus for the other side of the room, because they changed the location!  I should also mention that there are no lane or aisle markers…you make your own! These factors, combined with the fact that we were the only white people in this whole part of the airport made our checking in experience very interesting. We ended up being close to the front of the line whey they finally decided exactly where they were going to let us check in. Many people tried to cut in front of us, and we ended up letting this one guy- he was persistent. This upset a lady across from us in line, and this lady and this guy ended up getting into a major argument! It was interesting. She was upset with him for cutting line, to say the least.


Once we finally made it past this part of the process, we were able to go into the main concourse of the airport. It was really beautiful! Very elaborately decorated and very modern. One thing that was really funny was that instead of sitting in the chairs while waiting for your plane to board, almost everyone, even grown men in business suits, were laying in the floor sleeping.


I said that our flight to Ethiopia was interesting…..and a little unnerving. Though we have tried to be as unbiased as possible, every now and then we have felt a little uncomfortable on this trip as we have been immersed into a culture that is very unfamiliar to us. While we were sitting in the boarding area, we noticed a group of about 7 older men of Middle Eastern descent, all fully dressed in traditional Muslim apparel. They stuck out about as much as we did among the other African people J. Even though you have to pass through passport control and security before you can enter this part of the airport, we noticed an airport official detained them again as we were boarding the plan. He asked to look through their passports and other documents. They were then allowed to board the plane. They all sat in the front of the plane, and we sat right behind them. About twenty minutes after we were up in the air, a couple of the men got up to use the restroom at the same time. Then when they came back, a couple of the others got up, and they repeated this pattern until they all had been to the bathroom. Zack was asleep while this was going on, but I admit, I was getting a little nervous. Then, a couple of them went to the front of the plane to where the flight attendants hang out. I couldn't see them, but I could see the flight attendants, and they had a confused look on their face. Now my heart started to beat a little faster….what is going on? They came back to their seats after a little bit, and I started to calm down. That is until one of the men, directly across from us, stood up in the front of the airplane and began speaking a prayer very loudly. Now I was sweating and Zack was too……This lasted for about a couple of minutes (very intense minutes) then this man sat back down. One the of flight attendants came over to us and told us the men were  being very "provocative" and that she had tried to ask them to be considerate of others, but they refused. We told her it was no problem, please let them do whatever they needed! Then they all got up and went to the front of the plane. We now have figured that the crew had allowed them to go to first class to continue their prayers, as I don't think there was a single person up there. Of course we didn't figure this out until a while later, so at the time, this made us very nervous again. We also realized that this man's prayers came right before sunrise, or agpar in the Muslim faith.


Well, obviously, we made it safely to Ethiopia, and looking back our apprehension seems maybe a little silly and maybe prejudiced, but I can tell you, we were truly frightened for a few moments…... It was a good experience for us, as it caused us to think about what the minority cultures in our country must experience quite often. Before we got off the plane, one of the gentlemen actually struck up conversation with Zack- he was very friendly and interested in our American views.


Once at the airport in Addis, we made it through customs just fine, and after waiting about an hour or so, our driver came and we arrived here at the Addis View Hotel. It is very nice, and our room is great! It has a seating area, a wet bar, and a very nice bathroom and bedroom. It is now around 7pm here- we slept almost all day! We probably won't do much tonight, just eat dinner, watch a DVD, and sleep some more! We feel good…. I (Rebecca) am a little dizzy (most likely a combination of the flight and the altitude here in Addis). Overall, we are doing great! The Ethiopian people are so very hospitable and kind.


Tomorrow we will meet the other families and go to church, and maybe shopping. As Zack just said, "We want to go get Caleb!" but that will have to wait until Monday….

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Friday, December 19, 2008

We are in Dubai!

We made it to Dubai! Our flight was very uneventful, though very long! The food was very yummy :)
We did have a little scare in Atlanta, however. We were getting ready to board our flight to Dubai, and Zack couldn't find his passport! The last time he knew he had it was in the airport in Lexington! We searched frantically, but could not find it! Thankfully, we made color copies of our passports. He took this to the staff person, and they located his passport....somehow it had fallen out between exiting the airplane and walking to our gate. The only problem was it was about a half mile away (Atlanta is a huge airport)! The airport staff said he would really have to hurry to make the flight! I started praying!
I waited behind with our luggage. They made the final boarding call, and I didn't know what to do....Zack still wasn't back! I went ahead and checked in, and waiting nervously behind the gate....finally, Zack appeared! I was so thankful! I didn't want to make the trip without him!
We have quite a long layover here in Dubai...we don't leave until 4:30 am and it is almost 8pm here. Thankfully they have rooms here in the airport that you can rent by the hour. So, we are going to take a little nap, a shower, etc. The airport is very modern and Americanized, though we are definitely the minority here. It has already been a very cool experience!
Next stop....Ethiopia!

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Testing, Testing....

Okay, so if this cmes through on the blog, I have figured out how to post via email.....which is what we must do while in Ethiopia!!!
The other families in our travel group are: Burk, Stager, Witter and Sloninger. Their blogs can be found with the other families in the links to the right....beside each families name it should say "traveling buddies"!!
We are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and should arrive in Dubai Friday evening....which will really be Friday morning/afternoon here in the US. Hopefully I can post when we arrive in Dubai!!
Please pray for safe travels and for smooth transitions between airports....see you in Ethiopia!!

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We are Really Going!!!

We are actually going to Ethiopia. I think it is starting to sink in. Ahh!!
To be honest, we weren't sure if we were going or not until this morning around 9:45 am when my brave and wonderful husband made a two and a half hour trek through the snow and ice to Louisville to give the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services Office a visit. Yes, we still had not received our updated approval and were not sure if we were going to get it in time! Major stress!

We had not really been that successful with our appointments at USCIS in the past, but had prayed for favor today as we had to have an approval in order to travel in two days to meet our son. Zack left very early this morning for his 9:20 appointment. The roads were not good, and we really weren't sure if he was even going to be able to make it. I stayed here to work and I was feeling so nervous for is a very nervous experience going to this office, trust me! You are really at the mercy of someone else! Anyway, Zack called me around 9:45 and said, "Guess what?" I knew he had gotten our approval when I heard his voice! He said he just walked up to the window, explained our situation, and a few minutes later the lady came back with THE PAPER! Praise the Lord! Once again, he has shown himself faithful! We are so thankful...we are really going!

The reality of being parents for the first time is also starting to sink in...we have realized...we do not know what we are doing! Everyone has assured us this is a very normal feeling, so we hope they are right! We enjoyed this past weekend as we really didn't do too much, which was nice. We reflected on how much God has blessed us and our marriage over these last four and a half years and were awed by his love and care for us. We also realized that in a week or so our lives would never be the an awesome way, but still, never the same. We look forward to experiencing all that God has for us and our son. Praise you Lord, for being such a wonderful Father. May we strive to raise our son to love you more than anything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some New Pics of Caleb

This morning I received some new pictures of Caleb from a family that just returned from Ethiopia! He melts our hearts more and more each day! We are so thankful that it won't be too much longer before we will be holding him in our arms!




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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thank You Lord, We Have Passed Court!!!

It is our great privilege to introduce you all to our son, Caleb Samuel Caldwell!! We will be spending Christmas with him in Ethiopia! We will be traveling to meet him December 21-27!! We are so thankful, and at the same time there is a sense of sadness for the families who did not receive good news. Please keep them all in your prayers...We love you Kulp, Semlow, Joner and Savage families....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Court Date is December 4th.....

We were just notified that our court date is December in tomorrow! We are relieved to know why we had not heard any news, and also nervous all over again as we wait for news tomorrow! Please continue praying! We feel hopeful and we are at peace, though soooo excited to hear if we will be bringing our son home before Christmas!!

If you want to know how to pray specifically- please pray that the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOWA) will deliver our paperwork in time and with all the necessary paperwork. Please pray that the judge and other staff in the court will be fair and just. Please pray for the 8 families who most likely will have their court hearing tomorrow: Sloninger, Stager, Burk, Witter, Joner, Tenant, Savage, and Sparr families.

God is mighty and his plans can not be thawrted. We are resting in him!

Hope to share good news with you all tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Sure What to Think....Update!

Well, we are not sure exactly what is going on, other than we did not hear a word today....So, we shall start the wait all over tomorrow. I have to tell you, it is exhausting, mentally and physically, but the Lord will sustain us while we wait.

Unfortunately, a few families did hear something and it was not good news. The Semlow and Kulp families did not pass court today. They are looking at new tentative travel dates for the first week in February. They are heartbroken....I know how they feel, but to think they must wait two more months is almost too much to handle.....Please keep these precious families and their children in your prayers. Also, the Sparr family was told that certain circumstances must come together for them to be able to travel as scheduled, so pray for them as well.

We will let you know as soon as we hear something- keep praying!

UPDATE- We have come to the conclusion that we must have been told the wrong court date....our travel dates are still the same as far as we know, and will be as long as we pass court. So, that means our court date must be Thursday or, once again..keep praying!

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Wait with Expectation.....

We had a great weekend with our family and friends (got to see both :) And we topped it off by taking a group of youth from our church to see some great Christian bands last night....What is Thanksgiving/Christmas without TobyMac?? He is still so awesome after all these years :)

So, yes, tomorrow is the big day. I will be honest, it is hard for me to concentrate on much else right now! Not sure how the sleeping will go tonight either. As we lay in bed tonight, thousands of miles away our court case will be heard. When we wake up tomorrow morning, our case will have most likely already been decided. We will know sometime tomorrow if our waiting has come to an end and we finally get to meet Caleb, or if the waiting will continue. Please pray for all the necessary paperwork to be in the proper place, as this seems to be the major roadblock when families do not pass court. We look forward to sharing joyous news with you tomorrow, as well as introducing you to our son!

As I was sitting in church yesterday morning, I was reminded that many years ago there were also people waiting for a special baby to arrive. This group of people had been waiting much longer than we had for this special child. Waiting with hope, and expectation, for the one who would be their Messiah. Father, thank you for sending your son to earth, to be our Savior and Redeemer. What hope we have because of your great sacrifice and love for us.