Monday, April 20, 2009

Okay, okay, we've been home a few days now, and I keep getting asked when I'm going to update the blog! Well, we are JET-LAGGED and realizing we don't know any Amharic (ha! should've figured that out months ago!!!) so we have our hands full! But Grace is doing sooooo good. As if to say, "so this is how it is to have a family!!!" She absolutely loves her sister and brothers, and follows them all over the house. And they graciously allow it, and even enjoy it! She still has moments of being a scared little lady, and understandably so, but she comes a little farther out of her shell each time. Now if we could just get the hours of the day straightened out...

I want to try to put to words our experience in Ethiopia. I just don't even know if I can begin to do it justice. It is truly the most amazing place I have ever experienced. Still working on processing it all... please stay tuned. As my head clears, maybe the thoughts will get organized too!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We are now just DAYS away from leaving to get Gracie! We got this picture from some AWAA friends that just got back this weekend. I have started laying out the things that we will need to take for her. Eventually, I'll need to actually start PACKING!!! Also trying to get things ready for the kids here, so life stays as normal as possible while we are gone. We will officially meet Grace for the very first time in... 8 days!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We're leaving next Friday!!!

Well, we finally got the visas all taken care of, and we will be leaving out of JFK Int'l Airport next Friday!!! (Good Friday!!!) We have a VERY busy week ahead of us.

Our Congressman's office helped us get the visas ironed out this week and sent off to Addis Ababa in plenty of time for our appointment at the Consulate.

We'll post more when we can!

Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, we are DOWN TO THE LAST MINUTE again! If National Visa Center doesn't expedite our paperwork by this Wednesday, we won't be traveling until the end of April. As of this morning, our stuff was apparently still sitting in a mail room somewhere. So tomorrow I am going to call and hopefully find someone who will help us! Please pray for the hands that our papers will pass through.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tentative Travel Dates

No concrete travel dates yet. They are still in the process of filing all of our paperwork in Ethiopia, and on this end, we are trying to expedite our paperwork through USCIS as well. Our update has been approved here in Fresno, now we've got to try to get this stuff to D.C. as soon as possible, and then on to the Consulate in Addis (that's the trick--regular mail can take weeks to get there). So please PRAY that our papers are expedited all the way there. If that happens, we may be able to leave on April 11. If not, we will most likely depart on April 25.

To Be Continued.........

Thursday, March 19, 2009


We passed court!!!!!!!!!!!! Our agency just called and Grace is officially ours! I'll post more soon!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Well, court on March 17 in Ethiopia has come and gone, and we did not pass this time. Turns out the court would like a little more background information, and our agency now is working on getting that together. We are kind of in limbo for now... to be continued...

Monday, March 9, 2009

One more week!

We are just days away now from our Court Date in Ethiopia. We would love your prayers for this day. Please pray for all of the paperwork to be there and in order. Pray for the people petitioning on Grace's behalf. Pray that the judge would be healthy that day. Pray that Grace can come home in April!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Donations needed!

As we are getting close to actually needing to start putting suitcases together, I wanted you all to know that there is a great need in the Transition Home as well as the Orphanages for some basic medical/health supplies. If you can donate a couple of any of these items, it would be so appreciated. Inflation is very high there and these supplies can be hard to come by!

They are requesting:
  • multi-vitamins
  • medicines,
  • iv supplies,
  • anti-dandruff shampoo
  • hydrocortizone cream
  • Miconazole cream
  • Candacort cream
  • alcohol swabs
  • gloves, both surgical and disposable

Monday, March 2, 2009

Yard Sale

Our yard sale last Saturday was a huge success. Dan looked out over our driveway at one point and counted about 30 heads! Thanks to all of you that donated "stuff," we are so grateful for your support!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February update

Oh, how I wish I could show you a picture of our precious little Grace! We received an update, and she is doing great! Her height and weight are good, she eats good, and her personality sounds delightful! So we are fine-tuning her room and our supplies based on what we are learning about her in these updates. Also, we are starting to put together a donation/care package suitcase for our trip. If you would like to donate any items for the orphanages, please contact us and we'll be glad to pass on a wish list to you!

Possibly just 37 more days until we go to get her!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Still waiting...

Yesterday we got new pictures of Grace! A family, the Whitakers, just returned with their precious new child, and while they were there they delivered an outfit to Grace from us, and took 5 new pictures for us. I am so happy to report that she looks happy and healthy in all of the pictures. I can't wait until the day that I can put them online for friends and family to see!

Our court date is just one month from today!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our 6 1/2 year old daughter, Haley, loves to draw. Give her a blank piece of paper and some kind of writing/coloring instrument, and she is so happy! She drew this picture last Spring after we explained to her that her sister would not have blonde straight hair like she does. She has drawn many pictures since then, and the greatest thing for us is that she just naturally draws her new little sister into all the pictures, as if she were already here with us. Grace has no idea all the love that is waiting for her here! Haley can't wait to have a younger sister to balance the scales, Andrew is excited to have a new play-mate, and Joshua is very ready to be the Big Brother again (he loves to help out and entertain!).

Today I wandered the isles of Target looking at different things we'd need to take on our trip, but I am trying to hold off buying too much, because 2 months is such a long time yet!

We're preparing to have a BIG yard sale at the end of the month, hopefully to help pay for air fare, and certainly to get through some closets, toy chests, and bedroom corners, and make room in our home for another member!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tentative Travel Date!!!

We received an email yesterday from our agency with our tentative travel information. IF we pass court the first time, on March 17, then we will be on our way to Addis on April 4, 2009! They sent us a big packet of information about travel, and so now we have to decide which direction we're going to take to get there! We can fly on United Arab Emirates from Los Angeles, or we'll have to go to Washington DC and take Ethiopian Air from there. The flights are sooooo looooong! So we need to do lots of checking around this weekend to figure out which will work best for us.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I just found this on another family's blog. Thought you might be interested...
  • One in six children die before their fifth birthday
  • 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
  • 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
  • The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
  • 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
  • 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
  • Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
  • In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
  • Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
  • Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
  • Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
  • In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Well, Grace got her little gift/care package from us last week! We got to see some pictures of her looking at pictures of us!!! We sent her a soft little teddy bear, and she's holding it in all the pictures. Next week she'll get an outfit that we sent with another family. Every time I see pictures of her, I'm thinking she looks so much bigger than the measurements I've been given, so maybe if I can see the outfit on her, I'll be able to make a better guess at how big she actually is! We have absolutely fallen in love with her precious face. We've been told more than once that she is not shy and is very loving.

I just don't know if March/April will EVER arrive!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just yesterday two families returned home from Ethiopia with their children. One of them took a little care package/gift to Grace for us, and we're anxiously waiting to maybe see a new picture of her and learn anything we can from them about our little girl. More to follow!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Court Date

Last Friday we received an email that our court date in ET has been set for March 17! We weren't expecting the email, nor were we expecting our date to be that early in March. So, PTL, we are moving forward.

So what does all of this mean? It means, PRAY. Approximately 30% of families do not pass court the first time, and for all sorts of reasons that I can't even say! So for the next 2 months, we will continue to pray for Grace. To be safe, to be healthy, to be loved, to be ready for us when we come! And pray for us here, as we do everything we can to prepare for her. And pray for MY NERVES! The date seems so very far away.

The kids love talking about her. Andrew has big plans for her, Haley is ready to teach her all about all the girlie stuff, and Joshua will be an awesome big brother, again, and help care for her the way he did the other two.

So we're trying to think of everything we'll need to take, and eliminate the "unnecessaries" so we don't have a lot of additional bags. Families in our program take gifts to the kids who are waiting. There is a family there RIGHT NOW that took a gift for Grace from us. We sent a touch and feel book, a picture album with lots of pictures of her new family, a sheet of stickers, and a teddy bear. In a couple of weeks another family will be traveling, and they're going to be delivering an outfit to her. Cute pink floral shirt and stretchy pants and socks. I hope they fit her!

The Final Sprint...

I've been thinking a lot lately about my fast-growing kids, and what they would understand about themselves, and what the world would see in them. Our dream for them is that, first and above all else, they recognize and accept that they are God's precious little children, and they belong to Him, and are loved dearly by their Creator. That desire lives far above anything else. Next, they are Bartel's. Each of them. All FOUR of them. And they are completely and thoroughly loved by their family. Each of them is an individual, and they are all vital pieces of the quilt Dan and I started with our marriage more than 13 years ago. (How exciting that this layer of the quilt is nearly complete!) Finally, I hope that we can teach them to strive to be the boys and girls, then men and women, that God created them to be. That they will strive to do their best, and be content with whatever future God has ordained for them. They come from rich histories (all of them) that make up who they are, but the days they are given and what they choose to do with that defines what they will become.

And so begins my first attempt at blogging. We'll try to keep you up to date on what happens with our daughter, Grace, as we begin the final sprint to bring her home. We appreciate your prayers, and we'll give you pictures here as soon as we are safely able to do so! Love you all!