Check out this blog post by Abigail Weigel, one of our ESBS students after she finished Galatians. She has come face to face with the truth of the gospel and it is changing her life!

Not Guilty.


Caleb is enjoying life, eating with his friends and trying to draw attention with many different faces.  This is one of our favorites!



Check out my latest blog post on the ESBSblog.com website.
After teaching Thessalonians, these are some thoughts about heaven and our lack of anticipation for it, in general.
It is challenging to me, and I hope you're challenged too.

Why do we not get excited about Eternity with JESUS?


For Caleb’s birthday, I (Byron) made a little poster for him, and although it is difficult to paste it on the blog, I’ll give you a taste of what the poster had on it. We wanted to remember what year one for Caleb is like from our experience of him. What he likes and dislikes. What his personality is becoming like. Etc... So, below is a list of things that we see in Caleb Elsay Hartzler by the time of his first birthday, on July 7, 2010.

  • loves being outside
  • loves playing with buttons on our shirts
  • exclaims “mmmm...” loudly before and after each bite of his food. he LOVES to eat!!!
  • loves his bath time and being in water. he starts squealing when we take his clothes off because he anticipates what’s coming!
  • considered the “1st Star” by his orphanage director, Tezera
  • really cuddly, lets anyone hold him, but is especially attached to Daddy!
  • not really into crawling much. usually army crawls a few feet and then gives up.
  • likes going on walks and observing his surroundings
  • always grabs for dad’s iPod, computer, phone, and glasses as toys - but to no avail!
  • particularly when we meet elderly folks on the streets of Addis Ababa, they want to kiss his hands and cheeks.
  • has a very mellow and content personality, except when teething, getting ready for bath, or when he’s about to eat
  • loves the banana and papaya that mom mushes up for his snack.
  • loves being with people, but too much chaos makes him cranky
  • likes climbing on mom and dad in bed after he wakes up - usually too early!
  • he babbles a lot. says “Daddy”, but we don’t think he knows what it means yet
  • loves to walk while holding our hands, but is not on his own yet
  • nicknames: the Drool Monster, Bud, Sweetie, Sweet Boy, Raji (at the orphanage)
  • favorite food: cerelac baby cereal & bananas
  • favorite toy: plastic colored blocks (thanks Dawn Masucci)
  • favorite activity: playing in the bath
  • favorite game: peek-a-boo


So, Joy met us at the Guesthouse today at 10am, and we thought we were going to go with her to meet Tezera (his nanny & caretaker) and Elsay. But then, all of them were with her. Surprise, surprise! So we met sweet Elsay for the first time. So grateful for Tezera’s eager care for him and love for him. He loves Tezera so much. ​

The big surprise was not that we would meet him, but that we would keep him. So, I imagine the first days are harder than others as he does not know us. It still feels like that. We’ve had him all of 4 hours, trying to figure out as newbie parents what he wants. Does he want to play, eat, or sleep - those are pretty well the options. So, we’ve fumbled through it trying to prevent his cries. Eileen has him right now out on the porch in the Ergo carrier sleeping, and he seems to be doing well - after finally realizing he needed some food and then a sleep. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the day and night.

That was from Byron’s perspective, and now here is from Eileen: Oh my goodness today was a whirlwind! We got in late Sunday night...who even knows what time it was on our bodies, but it was after about 30 hours of travel! We arrived at our guest house where we were greeted with traditional Ethiopian hospitality...which consisted of fresh roasted (right in front of us) coffee and some popcorn. For those for you that know me this was a little daunting because I don’t like coffee ad have somehow made it to 31 years old and 7 SBS’s without ever having drank a cup of coffee! But I was surprised to find out it wasn’t that bad, and then I had another cup this morning! I finally feel like a grown-up:)

So I woke up early Monday morning, excited, anxious, hopeful...and tried to journal and get ready for the day but I was so antsy i couldn’t focus on much of anything. It was our understanding that Joy- our contact from the adoption agency- was going to meet us at our guest house, go over some things with us and then take us to meet Caleb (by the way we think we decided on calling him Caleb) and his care-giver Tezera. So we walked outside to meet the van, and Joy tells us he is in the van! IT all happened so fast, they bought him out, put him in our arms, took a bunch of pictures, told us a few things about his schedule and they were off again! It felt like 5 minutes, in reality it was probably like a half an hour, they had to hurry away because they had some blood work they had to drop off at the hospital for some abandoned babies they had just taken into their orphanage.

So there we are, Byron, Caleb and I in our little hotel room, laughing, smiling, feeling nervous and shaky...and then he starts to cry. We didn’t know what to do, is he just sad that Tezera left, is he scared because he doesn’t know us, is he hungry, is he sleepy, maybe he needs his diaper changed...so we went through all of that for the first couple hours maybe and then finally got him settled in the Ergo baby- carrier and he slept for like 2 hours in my arms, it was so precious! So he’s awake and playing with Daddy right now, I want to say we’re getting the hang of it but it might be a little soon for saying that, let make it through the first night first!

I love you guys and am so excited to share this journey with all of you!

We’ve really been blessed this year. Almost a year from the day we started to pursue this adoption process, we are going to get to meet our son, Elsay! Very rarely does the process take this short of a time. There was a time when in the midst of the process, we were not getting the approval we needed from USCIS, which could have made this process even shorter, but then maybe Elsay’s paper work would not have been ready. God sovereignly worked in all of the situations to bring our family together. Elsay is the one that God has had on his mind for us, and he is bringing him into our family for a unique purpose in his life and in ours. It is neat to think of how God has chose him for us, and chose us for him. So much working behind the scenes to cause our paths to cross. Thanks Lord for your sovereign nature and character, that brings good gifts to our lives. You turn harsh situations out for good, working in spite of the fallenness of humanity, to bring about your good and perfect plans.
I wanted to take a step back, and bring you all into the timeline and process that we’ve been through. It really is extraordinary. And it has been God’s timeline, even though we wished at times that he would have made things happen on a different time frame.
Childhood                        -----                Both of us had desires to adopt since childhood
Spring 2006                        -----                During our engagement, we talked about these desires for adoption
Spring 2009                        -----                We were praying about when to have kids
End of May, 2009                -----                We decided that we were to start, and with adoption
Fall, 2009                                -----                Completed our home study with our social worker
November 2009                -----                Submitted complete paper work to US Customs & Immigration for Approval
November-March                -----                Request more paper work, give it, denied, appealed, more paper work.
April 5, 2010                        -----                USCIS Approved us and we completed our Dossier
April 6, 2010                        -----                We were given a referral - we saw Elsay for the first time!
April 7, 2010                        -----                We accepted the referral. Elsay will be ours soon!
May 13, 2010                        -----                Received a court date - miraculously quick!
May 22, 2010                        -----                We purchased tickets to Ethiopia
June 5-6, 2010                        -----                We fly over to Ethiopia
June 7, 2010                        -----                We will meet Elsay for the first time, in Addis Ababa!
June 8, 2010                        -----                Elsay’s Ethiopian court date.
Summer 2010                        -----                Living in Addis Ababa, with Elsay in our custody, at YWAM Children’s home
6-12 weeks after June 8        -----                American Embassy Appointment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Late Summer 2010                -----                Come home with Elsay
Fall 2010                                -----                Re-adoption process in USA - gives Elsay American Birth Certificate
Please pray for all these future events, as everything is subject to change in our earthly governments, but the Lord is over all, and is capable of moving sovereignly for his purposes.                        


So, today Jessica at Children’s House International left a message on our phones over lunch, telling us that we’d received our court date, when we’ll get to meet our little man Elsay for the first time! June 8th! It makes sense to go over for the court date as it will save us time and money in his citizenship process, a lot of paper work hassle and $500 on this end.

We are super stoked about this! Naturally. Way sooner than expected. Jessica let us know earlier in the week that we’d expect to get a court date in a couple weeks, and then this, way ahead of schedule, and way sooner than we’d expected. We’re elated, but also in task mode of making it happen, flying in 3 and a half weeks over there. We plan on staying over in Ethiopia for a couple months until we can bring him home...maybe serving with YWAM Ethiopia, if the need and option is available. We either have to stay over there or come back and fly over there again, and because it falls over our summer it makes more sense to stay over there, plus we get an option to see Elsay a little more, maybe spend his birthday with him (July 7), get to know Ethiopian culture a little bit more, and experience the nation and its peoples for ourselves.

Thanks be to all of our friends who have prayed alongside us. The Lord has been so gracious and generous with us! Praise Him!!!