Friday, July 23, 2010

Ready. Set. Go!

After a night of thunderstorms and very little shut eye, we are are up and at 'em and ready to go! My Dad drove us to the airport and we unloaded our four totes on the curb. Such a funny sight to see. I know the security guard had to have been thinking "Yeah right lady, you think all of that is gonna make it on board?" I was praying all the way to the ticket counter for a kind agent. They tried hard to charge us for both checking two bags but our kindness and prayers worked!


We are ready for a day of waiting, reading and resting. Newark here we come and then on to Frankfort, Germany (never been to Germany before) then a plane change and off to Addis Ababa! Can't wait to set my feet down on African soil. 

Blessings to our whole community who have helped this dream to come true. Love to you all!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our adoption- the village effect

"Wow" is my favorite word lately! It seems that there are blessings and many things to be paying attention to everywhere I turn. I mean really people it is not mere coincidence that the guy working at the Apple Store that is assigned to answer my questions after a long wait has a close friend from Ethiopia and could help me prepare my packing list within minutes of meeting him. I am convinced this week that angels are all around me just whispering that everything is gonna be OK. The connections I have made to a land and a people I have not yet met within this week alone have been astonishing and I am again reminded that we are both exactly where we need to be and that the timing for the trip in the middle of this crazy life is exactly how it is supposed to be. Of that I am sure.

What amazes me most is the ripple effect our adoption preparation has had as of late. We are one of the first  families to make the two trips to Ethiopia. We missed the one trip cutoff by one day. That is no accident! our daughter needs to be home but there is a reason we are traveling twice. After two years, tons of paperwork and lots of hardship and questions let me just tell ya there is a reason. My first thought is this...
It is easy to say that when we now know that two trips are a must. Yes that is true. We now have no choice. But you see that is what I love about this journey to our daughter. We do indeed have choices even if when the system dictates our next move. We will travel twice.  I will be terribly sad to leave sweet lil Strobel behind but I have to tell you how I choose to see this:

1) We have to stretch and sacrifice to make two trips happen. For us this includes shutting down a business, leaving three bio kids, Buying four tickets in a very expensive airline market- YIKES! Leaving the comforts of home, etc. This is big for me and not something I do well. I am packing the smallest amount I have ever packed before with the hope of getting more supplies to Ethiopia than items I might need.

2) We are given the chance to experience our daughter's birthplace on a deeper and richer level. Yes we will be with her at Hannah's Hope as much as they allow but we will have lots of other time to take in the sights, sounds and culture of Addis. This will include time with other adoptive families who will be with us on the trip and the time to get to know them.

3) We have the opportunity to get many supplies to our daughter's country. The need is great for numerous supplies and two trips is allowing us the chance to take full advantage of carting all the totes we can choke full of formula, medicines and shoes- nearly 60 pair going with us this trip- Yahoo and thank you to those who donated!

So what I see most is the effect adopting Baby Strobel is having all around us. Another list I know but I have to get this down. There is the letter that just came from a wonderful friend and mother who works with my husband reminding us of the faith she sees in us. There is the beautiful shower invitation that I opened this evening as my neighborhood of friends prepares to help us bring home our little girl. There is  my friend from way back to 7th grade, an adoptive Momma herself, who sends us a check for anything we might need related to our adoption. There are the family members who will be taking care of our boys for much of the time we are gone and helping us to feel secure in knowing they will be fine. There is the family who will have our guys for two night s who we attend church with and who we have known forever. There are the countless neighbors who have embraced our shoe drive and brought so many shoes for us to bring to the needy children in Ethiopia, there is the friend who will drop off food tomorrow for us to bring with our boys when we drop them with family for the week. There is my oldest friend who lives far away but wanted to help by sending soccer balls she purchased and also coaxed the store owner to match in donations, there is my Dad who I call for the various projects I cannot seem to complete myself- painting a pink room and hanging window treatments, there are the numerous offers of pray and also the offers to help this week. The list goes on and on and we stand amazed. Adoption does take a village and we are so blessed to have a village that rises to the call and just won't quit. We can feel the love and we now see more than ever that bringing home the daughter of our hearts is so much grater than what we wanted. Thank God for so many blessings helping to see us through. It is almost time to say, "It's Ethiopia or bust!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Would you like to bring a day of fun and fellowship to 160 Ethiopian Boys?

We are headed to Ethiopia on a mission to meet our daughter for the first time. In addition to our time spent at her orphanage we are looking forward to reaching out to the teenage boys who are growing up inside the walls of the Kolfe Boys Home. We sponsor a child through
Children's Hope Chest. We will be visiting him and we were told that for only 300 US dollars we can change the world for the boys for a day by sponsoring a large pizza party and inviting the whole group of boys to attend. Please help us bring hope and laughter to these boys by showing them they have not been forgotten. Those who have spent time with the young men say that they are delightful, motivated and spirited souls who seek to live their lives for others as they grow up to be husbands, fathers and leaders in their own country.

Please click below if you wish to help. We will be ministering to the boys and delivering donated goods and several soccer balls! Thank you so much for your contribution. We will be posting photos of our visit and we will send photos directly if you leave us your information. Peace and blessings to you!

Helping the Least of These...

A special word from  Tom Davis- 
“Every single person can do one thing to help kids caught in trafficking. Making a commitment to pray is a huge thing because nobody prays for these girls. The key is to get educated then get involved. This is one of the darkest forms of evil in our world, but it’s where our light shines the brightest!”

Not all of us are called or seek to adopt a child in distress but all of us can support those children who need us throughout the world. Consider sponsoring a child and writing to him or her as a family. How about donating to an organization that helps orphaned children to remain safe from the growing trafficking industry. As Tom Davis so eloquently says above, prayer is is something we can ALL do. Pray for the least and the lost. Educate yourself on one of the fastest growing industries in our world, the selling of human beings. It is happening where you least expect it, even here in the USA and we can all help to end such suffering. Here are just a couple of sites/books that have truly encouraged us to act:


Saturday, July 17, 2010

A whirlwind of activity...

There is more to report than I could have ever predicted within the last two weeks. We are enjoying the summer around here but our days have been filled with Music Man rehearsals for my soon to be fifth grader, yu-gi-oh card duals among the cal-de-sac kids, trips to the pool, soccer camp, donation collections, further vaccinations and an office build for my husband that requires more time and energy than we could have ever imagined. From there the list goes on... All the while we have been preparing our hearts to leave all the comforts of our family and home to travel half way around the globe to meet the daughter of our hearts. It feels like we are ready but I do wonder how much more God will give us before our travel day arrives. It is such a mixed bag of emotions but somedays I pinch myself just to make certain I am awake and all of this is really happening.

Last weekend my Grandmother passed away. She had a short health struggle and she was blessed to be surrounded by her husband of 64 years and her children when she passed. It is a very long tale but suffice it to say it was a tough week for me for many reasons related to poor decisions that adults made while I was growing up. Their decisions related to marriage and divorce made numerous family relationships challenging to say the least. So this week my three sisters had to travel home from out East to attend the funeral services. Seeing them of course was a highlight but adding more to our chaotic days was not what I had intended for this week. Funny how my plan is not always God's plan and God's timing. The service was beautiful and paid tribute to a special lady who gave so much of herself for others. She was a pillar in the community and seemed to have a quiet faith I wished I had known better. She is at peace now and will not have any further struggles with dementia and cancer. I could not have done the last few days without my sisters. I thank God for them every day and I am so glad they were able to make it home.

So this morning we are in full trip prep mode with a list to rock your socks off. In addition to clicking through the list we are spending all the time we can with our three boys, preparing them for our 8 days away. This morning I used my laptop to call them on the home computer via Skype and they were in awe. I agree boys. This technology stuff is absolutely amazing and will make staying in touch while we are in Ethiopia very easy. That is if we can stop Owen from making faces and crazy sounds into the camera. So here is a glimpse into the fun of summer. We ask for your prayers as our journey continues. We are coming to you baby girl and in just over one week we will hold you in our arms. Wow did I just say one week?

Gotta love two Dads napping at the lake

That is until a water balloon fight broke out!

Here's O-Dog loving some Noodles mac n cheese
after a morning at camp

Here's her room before...

Having bubble gum pink in our house is taking a bit of getting used to 
but her room is starting to take shape.

We had to head to scoopers with friends after the final baseball all star game.

Love the face C-man!
Our friends had a group of us out to their cottage last week and 
it was a delightful day!

This week Hayden starred in his first musical, The Music Man.
He did four shows and nearly every night the house was full.
What a delight to watch him shine!

Here's a favorite photo taken while Hayden gave me a
backstage tour after the show. Then he said, "Mom can I stay out
until 11:00 for the cast party? PLEEEEEASE!"
You are growing up way too fast.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Well it has been said that timing is everything... What do you think? I think it is so true and often a bit alarming or shocking if we take the time to put all the pieces together and look at the grand scheme of life.
I am focused these days on the following verse:

"But these things I plan won't happen right away.

Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.

If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. 
It will not be late by a single day." 
Habakkuk 2:3 

It is here that I can find a peace and a clam and mostly a reprieve from my belief that I have any control over this life and all the many hoops and delays in this adoption process. When I really focus on the verse above I can smile in knowing that each day we wait to get to Ethiopia, each day we wait to hold our daughter is a day that has been designed to be exactly the way it is supposed to be. I have learned more lessons through the wait than I could have imagined possible.

There is an ache to know who our daughter is. We have had so little information and basically no updates via pictures or comments from our orphanage. This is normal but it makes a Mother feel very abnormal at times.
You see I am a photo junkie. I love information and as my sisters can all attest to, I am a details fanatic. I always want to know more!!!!
Now that's not all bad right?
Let me tell you
 it is certainly tough when it comes to international adoption.

Have courage people

and be faithful in this journey. I am not telling any of you something you do not already know or suspect especially if you are on an adoption path yourself.

All I am saying here is that the itch, the ache, the deep down desire to know who she is and what she looks like and how she moves her head and how she breathes when she is peacefully sleeping is tough.
But then...
 two little angels were sent to look upon my daughter and to comfort and speak to her.
These angels are other adoptive mommas who have the same heart for the orphan. They are friends who have just returned from their journey to Ethiopia and Hannah's Hope to bring their babes home. You see these two angels did more for my heart this week then they can even imagine.
They were selfless with their own time in seeking out the babies of many of us waiting to travel soon. These two angels took video footage and also a few still shots of several babies to help bring a few of us back here at home a bit of comfort. 
The timing could not have been more perfect and again I have to say that God shows his 
comfort when you actively seek it.
My video and photos made my heart sing. I saw her sweet lips and her closed eyes in her crib.
I saw her being bundled and loved. She is 
being well cared for and looked nourished and comfortable.
It was a feeling like no other at this point in the adoption process.
I just hope I can do the same for the next AGCI families who are waiting to learn just a little bit
more about their little one(s) they have been lead to adopt. Give me that mission so that I might help others to feel that same joy and relief that my two adoptive momma friends brought home to me this weekend.
Seeing her was soul food and brought me closer to the reality that we are going to have a daughter and soon our sons a sister.
It won't be all on our timing so until then...

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Ache

There is an ache inside of my to get to Ethiopia to meet our daughter for the first time. This ache also translates into wanting to be here all summer just hanging out and watching my kids enjoy the long summer days. It seems I waffle between excitement, fear and pure joy several times a day. Someone please tell me that it is completely normal for a Mother of three who must leave all her comforts to travel around the world to meet our new addition. I'm just saying that this call to adopt is such a mixed bag of emotions. 

One of the things I am driven to do is to gather all that we can to fulfill just a few small needs that exist in Ethiopia. Of course the few bins we can fill will be a drop in the bucket but it feels so right nonetheless to get all that we can over there. Please help us to continue gathering items. We have one bin filled and hope to fill several more. Soy formula is in high demand so if you have any extra or would like to purchase soy formula my porch is always open and we will be taking donations up until the 20th of July. 

I fell asleep last night thinking of the many families who are in the middle of their travels home with their new little ones this very day. There will be airport reunions and wonderful pictures this weekend. There will be tired families who spent their week immersed in Ethiopian culture, Hannah's Hope, learning the new habits of their children and of course enduring many emotions as they completed the adoption process and make their way home. We will see the beautiful moments of the families made whole. It is that joy and love that brings me to my knees most days as I continue to learn more about the needs of the world. I simply cannot shelf the issue of so many children who are lost to poverty, disease, hunger and trafficking. Children are the innocent victims of horrible circumstances that they have no voice in fighting against. 
No matter your lot in this life we are all capable of the following
Proverbs 31:8
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. "
Feeding the hungry, sponsoring a child, foster care or adoption or simple prayer are all so needed. There are children aching to be fed, heard, loved and needed. 

Off to hang with my kiddos and start the big holiday weekend. I leave you with this quote:
Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world and when is he going to do something about it... but I am afraid he might ask me the same question.

Into Our Arms Forever!

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welcome home ava! from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Meeting Ava during our first trip to Ethiopia

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Meeting Ava Ethiopia Trip July 2010 from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Korah- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

During our recent visit to Ethiopia I felt very called to the village of Korah in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. There have been numerous rumblings lately about the tremendous need to help the children of Korah who are growing up in and around the local trash dump. The village was established 75 years ago as a place to send people with leprosy who were said to be cursed. Now there is a 3rd generation of people living in Korah with nearly 100,000 suffering from such things as leprosy, HIV, misc disease and of course malnutrition. There are many children of Korah who have been forced to live and work at the trash dump in hopes of finding food and possible items to sell in Korah's center of town. With the start of the Great Hope Church in Korah and the building of a shelter, along with the ministry of local Sammy Liben and Sumer Yates, there is now a feeding program and a sponsorship program in place to rescue the forgotten children of Korah and send them to boarding school where they can escape the horror of the conditions of living and working in a large trash dump. For more information please visit: or where you can learn more about how you or your organization can help the people and the children of Korah. Please send me a message or email Erin Allen at to request sponsorship information. I will soon be posting the photos of my day recently spent in Korah. I must tell you it was life changing and beyond anything I have ever done to stretch, change and rearrange myself. God helped me to help the people who I met. Much of what I could offer was nothing more than the snap of my camera or a warm touch or an inviting smile. The needs in Korah are beyond our wildest imagination yet God is over Korah and there is already amazing work being done. I invite you to view the following videos to learn more about the beauty and the needs of Korah's people.


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Hannah's Hope Orphanage- Ethiopia

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