"Sometimes I would like to ask God, why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it... but I'm afraid He might ask me the same question." Anonymous

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ethiopia is an amazing country. I marvel at the history...

The Eighth Wonder of the World
Standing on top of a hill, one can see the House of St. George standing in a pit neatly chiseled out of the surrounding rock. The cross-shaped roof reveals that this is indeed an unusual building.
The House of St. George and ten other nearby churches, all cut from solid rock, have won praise as the "eighth wonder of the world."

Text and Photographs by Wang Chih-hung
Translated by Lin Sen-shou
Reprinted with permission from Rhythms Magazine
Ethiopians are proud that as early as the fourth century, when Europe was still populated by barbarians, the entire country adopted Christianity as the state religion. When the Moslems swept through the African continent, Ethiopia, the first country in Africa to be baptized, was also the last Christian fortress to hold out against Islam. Nowadays, almost half of the population of 60 million Ethiopians still belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The legend of Lalibela
Ethiopia appears in the Bible as many as thirty-three times and also many times in the old Koran. Perhaps it was because they heard Abyssinia, the ancient name for Ethiopia, mentioned so many times in ancient legends and historical stories that so many people from ancient Greece, Israel and Rome came to Ethiopia.
In the town of Lalibela, halfway up Roha Mountain in Welo province about 800 kilometers [500 miles] north of Addis Ababa, are the famous eleven churches hewn from solid rock. Built in the twelfth century, they are still standing in excellent condition. Visitors consider them the eighth wonder of the world, and UNESCO has even listed them as a world heritage site.
Lalibela was actually the name of a legendary Ethiopian ruler. The name in the Agaw language means, "The bee recognizes his power to rule." Legend has it that when Lalibela was born, his mother discovered a swarm of bees around him. Believing the bees had the power to tell the future, his mother shouted, "The bees know the boy will be king in the future!"
After Lalibela returned from a journey to Jerusalem, he won out against his brother and sister, who had tried to poison him, and ascended to the throne. Legend also says that while he was in Jerusalem, an angel took him to heaven, where God gave him a vision of churches such as no one had ever seen before and ordered him to build them.
It is said that the churches in Lalibela were built with amazing speed, and even until this day everyone still believes that angels came at night and helped to complete them.
A Portuguese priest, Fr. Francisco Alvares, came to Ethiopia in 1520. He recorded that someone told him that in the twelfth century, white people and red people came from Palestine to help carve out these impressive buildings.
After a visit to the House of Golgotha, Fr. Alvares wrote, "Its walls are the products of perfection, and there is no need to mention the flower-patterned window frame on the windows and the doors. I believe the work couldn't be more appealing to our eyes even if jewelers decorated them with silver or artisans polished them with wax."
After he had described the churches, Fr. Alvares concluded, "The more I describe the details of these outstanding churches, the more I begin to worry that people may not believe me and will see my descriptions as false. Therefore, I swear before God that what I have written above is nothing but the truth."

Amazing structure, perfect design
Among these eleven churches, four were hewn from solid rock and are independent buildings, while the other seven buildings were created from natural clefts and caves in a red cliff. Bet Giorgis--the House of St. George--is seen as the perfect design for a stone church. Although it was built last, it is the most famous of all.
Before entering the building itself, looking from the entrance on top of the mount, the first impression of the church is its giant cross-shaped roof. A few steps further, the twelve-meter-high, cross-shaped church can be seen standing tall and upright in the square hole below.
An eight-step staircase leads us to the main entrance, facing west. The building has no pillars and looks like it was formed by two rectangles cutting across each other. It was directly hewn from the base of the rock, with no other foundation. There are three elegantly carved bases: the one at the bottom is as high as an adult's shoulder; the other two are a bit shorter.
Many round holes of various sizes--tombs of priests--can be found in the walls surrounding the church. The magnificent appearance and the tall rock pillars of another church--Bet Medhane Alem, or the House of the Savior of the World--are equally stunning.

Simplicity and energy
As I mentioned earlier, seven churches were carved from the cliff. They have either one side or two sides, or they have four sides with the roofs still attached to the cliff. For example, the entrance to the House of St. Gabriel and St. Raphael is located in the center of a cliff, and is decorated with carved reliefs. Outside the door, the path to the outside world crosses a stone bridge. There is another exit at the back of the church. The rest of the building is hidden inside the cliff.
These eleven churches have been playing their original role since the twelfth century. Although they are as hard as rock, time has left its marks on the churches. Wind and water erosion is slowly crumbling the churches. Currently, they are being carefully repaired with help from UNESCO.
In a way, the whole town of Lalibela is a living sculptural masterpiece, used as an offering to honor the Almighty. No one can escape from the shock or the awe they feel when they see these buildings.
The expertise shown in these buildings may have passed into oblivion or vanished forever into distant, mysterious human history. But the buildings are monuments to the spirit and vitality of those ancient Christians--a form of simplicity and energy that shall last forever in this place.

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Current time in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa

Adoption Time-line

02/02/10- Ethiopia adoption application & fee sent.

02/17/10- Accepted into America Worlds Ethiopia Program!

02/20/10- Paid initial AWAA program fee.

Start paper chase...

03/02/10- Ordered our birth certificates.

03/02/10- Spoke w/and chose GLAD as Home-Study Agency.

03/03/10- Got Angi's employeement & life ins. verification.

03/04/10- Received Tim's birth cert. in mail.

03/04/10- Went to courthouse, got Marriage Cert.

03/05/10- Received Angi's birth cert. in mail.

03/05/10- Scheduled Tim's phys. letter doctor appt.for 3/8

03/08/10- Mailed GLAD application letter & fee.

03/10/10- Ethiopia made big change- 2 trips required now.

03/11/10- Rec'd GLAD/AWAA Post Placement Agreement.

03/11/10- Rec'd Tim's Health/Life Ins. letter.

03/12/10- Jack & Annie rabie shots/Home Study Requirment

03/13/10- Rosie & Sara rabie shots.

03/21/10- Began Hague on-line required training course.

03/22/10- GLAD beginning our background checks.

03/22/10- Our HIV tests and Tim's HEP B blood draw done.

03/23/10- Tim's TB Test scheduled for 3/30/10.

03/25/10- Notary notarized all paperwork we've collected.

03/26/10- Kyla, our social work came for 1st & 2nd home visi

03/26/10- Adoption Tax Credit raised to$13,100.00! Go God!

03/27/10- Kyla finished 3rd Home Study visit.

03/27/10- Finished family photo pages.

03/30/10- Tim rescheduled TB Test until 4/6/10.

03/31/10- Picked up Tim's HEP B test results.

04/02/10- Received Archie's referance letter.

04/06/10- Tim had TB test placed.

04/06/10- Angi got bloodwork records.

04/06/10- Re-did Financial Statement/faxed to AWAA.

04/09/10- Tim's TB test results- negative :)

04/10/10- Completed Hague On-line training course.

04/10/10- Dog vaccines done.

04/20/10- Faxed Florida CPS request to FL today.

05/03/10- Had our physical visits today.

05/26/10- Angi's bloodwork drawn.

05/28/10- Angi's bloodwork result- normal.

05/28/10- Tim's bloodwork drawn & normal result.

06/01/10- Our 14th Annivesary- Renee notarized physicals!

06/07/10- Picked up our physicals & faxed to GLAD/AWAA.

06/07/10- Found out GLAD rec'd FL CPS checks 6/4/10.

06/07/10- Requested Dr. letter for Angi.

06/10/10- Picked up & faxed Dr. letter to AWAA.

06/10/10- Waiting for AWAA to approve Home Study.

06/15/10- AWAA read Home Study & requested corrections.

06/23/10- GLAD corrected and sent H.S. back to AWAA.

06/24/10- AWAA approved our Home Study!

07/01/10- Got money order for final GLAD payment.

07/01/10- Met Klya/GLAD in Vincennes, got final HomeStdy

07/02/10- Mailed I-600A application & fee.

07/09/10- Renee notarized rest of Dossier paperwork.

07/09/10- Sent 2 papers to IN State Dept.for Authentication

07/12/10- Fed-Ex package received at IN State Dept.

07/13/10- We rec'd Authenticated papers in mail!

07/14/10- Rec'd Immigration Fingerprinting appt for 8/9/10

07/23/10- Went early-Immigration/Indy. for fingerprinting.

07/26/10- Called USCIS & left msg for Immigration Officer.

07/29/10- Officer Opfer called, USCIS back-logged 3 weeks.

08/05/10- Rec'd I-171H today!Thanks Officer Opfer-speedy

08/06/10- Renee notarized new MOWA letter & I-171H.

08/06/10- Got Cashier's check to go with Dossier.

Paper chase completed!

08/06/10- Shipped Dossier to AWAA by Fed-Ex.

08/10/10- AWAA received Dossier packet.

08/13/10- AWAA approved Dossier, maybe DTE next Fri?

08/13/10- Rec'd U.S.State letter stating I-600A sent to ET!

08/19/10- AWAA Fed-Ex'd our Dossier to Ethiopia!

08/25/10- Dossier arrived in Ethiopia today!

The WAIT begins...