Before moving to an orphanage in the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Elsa lived with her family in the remote village of Dunchai. The dwellings are made of mud walls and thatched roofs, there is no electricity, no plumbing, no phones, no modern amenities. It is a very primitive tribe.
On Friday night we sat down as a family and watched a ten minute segment from an Ethiopian documentary titled African Spirit. Those ten minutes focused on the majang people - Elsa's people. Elsa was so excited to have a glimpse back at the land she came from; to see the familiar traditions and culture of her first home. And it was even more fascinating for us to see what Elsa's life was like and gain a greater understanding of her past.
As soon as it ended Elsa glanced at the clock: 5:03 pm. "Time to go!" she exclaimed and popped up from the couch. It was opening night of The Nutcracker and she needed to be there by 5:30.
That night, while Elsa was up on stage, I marveled at the road she has traveled from Dunchai to the stage of The Nutcracker. Not only is it a great distance geographically, but emotionally and intellectually as well. In one year Elsa has become fluent in English and can read and speak basic Spanish, too. She has become accustomed to the modern world: phones, computers, airplanes, and cars (to name a few). She has gladly taken on the role of daughter and sister and has made oodles of new friends. She has experienced holidays and celebrations from Christmas to the Halloween. And finally, she has danced in The Nutcracker Ballet.
Elsa truly is amazing and I have no doubt that she will grow and do something great with her life. Never before have I witnessed such bravery, such willingness to accept what life brings with grace and dignity. She is an extraordinary child and I feel blessed to be her mother, to teach her, to love her - and even more so, to learn from her.
Elsa backstage as a mouse in The Nutcracker Ballet.
Along with fellow rat and mouse, Lilly and Avery.