The Garrisons


Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!


http://bigdogdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/happy_new_year_by_clwoods.jpg

Can you believe 2009 is coming to a close? I always find myself feeling a both excited and sad every year at New Year's. I know it is supposed to be a time of celebrating and looking forward - and it is - but it's also a time for reflecting. A time for reflecting on the past year, both the joys and the sorrows and the things you'd like to change.....the relationships you wish were different, the areas of your life you need to be more purposeful and intentional, and the ways you can make a difference.

I hope this finds you doing well, reflecting on your blessings, and looking forward to the new year. I know it does me - feeling grateful for my many, many gifts this year - and yet a bit sad that it all goes so quickly. (as I get older, it only seems to go faster - or maybe with each kid it seems to go more quickly!) I am vowing to do better in some areas of my life and try to surrender other areas to God. I guess that's what New Year's is good for....an evaluation of how we can grow and better ourselves. (although I don't make "resolutions", I still find it a good time to reflect!)

So, from our house to yours - Happy New Year! We hope 2010 will be a year which brings good things your way!

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
Isaiah 63:7



Saturday, December 26, 2009

A New Tradition

Christmas has come and gone at the Garrison home and we hope your celebration was blessed. We had a great time with family and enjoyed having many of them in our home for food and fun. Elijah, of course, had little interest in his gifts and loved the wrapping paper most of all. We tried to find moments to focus on the reason for this special holiday, but it proves to be a challenge every year in the hustle and bustle.

We did begin a new tradition this year that I hope we will continue. This idea is thanks to a Facebook friend who shared it after I asked for ways to make the Christmas holiday more Christ centered. Before Christmas Eve, I asked everyone to prayerfully consider what their gift to Jesus would be this year. What would Jesus want for Christmas? It could be to spend more time with Him in prayer or reading scripture, to forgive someone who has hurt you, to work on some aspect of your life that needs refined, serve more, etc. We each wrote these down, wrapped them in gift boxes they'd been given ahead of time, and brought them to a family meeting after church on Christmas Eve. Each of us then unwrapped our gift and shared what we were going to give Jesus. (It is His birthday, after all!)

It was interesting to hear what our children had chosen as their gifts to Him. It brought me such joy and pride to hear them vowing to love Him more through giving of their resources (time, money), and spending more time with Him in prayer. Each of ours was a little different, but I think we found a theme of wanting to give more of ourselves and spend more time with Him. And that, I think, is what Jesus wants for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Want to make a difference for just $25???

So....what can you do with $25? Let's see....you could fill half your tank with gas, take half your family out to eat (depending on it's size, of course!), take about 4 people to the movies, or SAVE A CHILD'S LIFE!

That's right - for just $25 a month, you can make a life saving difference in the life of orphans. Children's Hopechest has just launched their new partner's website. Go HERE. They have a goal of enlisting 1,000 new partners this month so they can reach 5,000 more orphans in 2010. (see what a difference your few dollars can make??)

Children's Hopechest has set the goal of raising $500,000 to reach another 5,000 orphaned children in 2010. They’re raising these funds so that…

  • Fewer young girls are forced to trade sex for food.
  • More orphans will have food to eat, and the protection and love of Christian mentors
  • No girl will end up in the commercial sex trade.
Your donation will feed orphans in Africa and rescue them from extreme poverty. Your gifts will support life changing programs for girls in Russia that help prevent sex trafficking and forced prostitution. So, give up those lattes or fountain sodas....for less than $1 a day, you can change a child's life!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Because He's Cute.....


Elijah, 11 months
(we don't know what the tongue thing is about....but he does it all the time!)

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gifts that Give

If you are like most families this Christmas season, you will be buying lots of gifts for those you love. I've done a little research, and I thought I would share what I've found about giving gifts that can give not only to those you are giving to, but help lift someone else up out of poverty as well. There are many great organizations out there that do this, but here are just a few I've found.

First off, there are wonderful organizations that allow you to buy a practical gift for those in need in someone else's honor or memory. For example, you can purchase a goat, chicks, blankets, livestock, food, etc. for those who so desperately need them. It's hard for us to imagine in our American abundance, but these gifts can literally change people's lives. Samaritan's Purse and World Vision are two organizations that have great gift catalogs for this kind of gift.

If you are in need a gift where your recipient has a little something to open, there are a plethora of organizations or companies that sell a product and the proceeds go to support charitable causes as well. Here are just a few, but if you look online, you'll find even more.

  • Bajalia Trading Company sells a variety of items including jewelry, baskets, pillows, throws, stationary, journals, and more. All items are hand crafted by local women (choose a region - China, Afghanistan, India, Turkey or Uganda) and the proceeds go to help them rise above poverty. The organization aids in training and other forms of community development to empower low-income people as they work to improve their lives.
  • Cards from Africa has a variety of hand made cards made in Rwanda by families affected by AIDS and genocide. Selling their product helps them to rebuild their lives.
  • Saints Coffee - Buy a pound of coffee and feed an orphan for a month! Easy enough...we all know coffee drinkers! This is a fair trade coffee that uses its proceeds to partner with organizations such as Children's Hopechest, a Christian organization that is meeting children's needs and sharing Jesus with them at the same time.
  • For the little ones on your shopping list, go take a look at Tiny Rockstar. They have some darling little shirts and buying just one t-shirt feeds a child for an entire month....for as little as $12, you get a t-shirt and help an orphan.
  • Punjammies Premium Sleepwear carry lots of comfy PJs....all made by women who have been rescued or escaped from a life of forced prostitution. This organization gives them a rare opportunity to make a new life for themselves.
  • Hand and Cloth sells beautiful blankets made by women in Calcutta India who have been rescued from red-light districts. Through creative enterprise and the transforming love of Jesus Christ, this organization seeks to empower women to begin new lives. The blankets are made from recylced sari material (the traditional Indian dress for women). Participants in the ministry receive employment, training, and regular Bible studies.
  • Good Paper is a free trade organization that sells greeting cards, handbags, journals and stationary. Good Paper alleviates poverty, helps orphans and socially oppressed peoples in Africa, India and the Philippines.
  • Trade As One (Change a life with everything you buy) is an organization whose mission it is to use sustainable business to break cycles of poverty and dependency in the developing world. They have an wide variety of products from coffee, jewelry, scarves, apparel, bags, chocolate, and the list goes on. Everything here is sold fair trade and benefits someone trying to work their way out of poverty.
  • Freeset sells t-shirts made by women who have been rescued from the red-light districts in India.
As I said, there is more where that came from, but this may give you a start if you are inspired to give gifts that serve a dual purpose. Also - if you are local - be sure to stop by a sale that a local Christian orphan advocacy group is holding. Known to Me is a community of believers who are coming together to change the lives of a community in Swazliland, Africa. You can read more about it on their website, but they are having a sale this Saturday, December 5 from 8-2 at Windsor Road Christian Church. They will be selling hand rolled bead jewelry from Beads for Life (Uganda), handmade purses from Timbali Crafts (Swaziland), and Just Love coffee that supports Known To Me’s efforts at the Ludlati carepoint. I also noticed that Just Love supports the orphanage in Ethiopia that Elijah came from (Kids Care). Be sure to check it out!

Be sure to share with the rest of us what ways you are giving gifts with purpose this season!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Contemplating the Contrast

As we enter this holiday season, I find myself reflecting on my blessings. I find it very easy to be thankful because my life is full, my blessings are abundant, and my circumstances are good. We are healthy, we are well taken care of (even if it's sometimes a squeeze to the next pay check), and our life is good. Who, in our circumstances, could not be grateful for the life they've been given?

But what if our circumstances were different? Does my gratitude and joy only come because my life is easy? What if I found myself in the shoes of someone less fortunate - what would my attitude be then? How easy it is to trust and rejoice when things in our life are good. And here's the bigger question: What am I doing to share my gratitude and joy with those who are less fortunate?

Lately I have been missing Ethiopia a lot. I've been thinking about the simpler, slower way of life. About the way they seem to engage with each other and have lots of time for each other. As we enter the Christmas hoopla, I am just struggling with it a bit this year. I love the decorating (yes, I already have my tree up!), the baking, and the time spent with my husband, kids, and family. But, is it where we find our joy? Is a beautiful tree and lots of material gifts really where our joy is found? Of course not. I just find myself caught in the contrast of what life is here this time of year (which actually serves to make many of us grumpier) and the life that I saw in Ethiopia. Which of these ways of life help us to keep our focus where it should be? I tend to think our African friends have gotten this right.

For those of you wondering, I have not become a scrooge - I do not hate Christmas and am looking forward to celebrating this year. Maybe after being in Africa and bringing home our precious boy who was literally found in it's streets, I just feel a little different about the excess. And find myself contemplating all the good that could be done for those who really need it this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where, oh where, have I been?

Where have I been....well, right here; just not blogging very successfully. I am sure by now there is no one out there even checking this thing!! The longer I waited to post the harder it was to think about where I would even start or what of interest I might have to say anymore!

We are doing well....Elijah is 10 months old now and is ALL over the place! He is crawling, climbing and pulling up and needs constant supervision. He is a joy, though, and continues to be an incredibly happy baby. He has been healthy, too....no ear infections for a month! When we went to the Dr. the other day they did say he had some fluid in his ears, but it wasn't infected yet. We are hoping the fluid will clear on it's own or it's off to the ENT for us! Still no teeth for the little guy yet, so his diet consists of baby food and puffs. Mmmmm......good thing he doesn't know any better! :)

The rest of us are doing well, too. The three big kids and I are enjoying home school and the freedom that brings. After teaching the last 5 years, I am amazed that you can get more done in a shorter day when it's only your kids and you aren't always waiting for everyone else to be done!

I have been busy with the Chosen ministry at church. We launched this new orphan care and adoption ministry in August with a 'Least of These' Sunday and a shoe drive. Then a couple of weeks ago, we had a dinner event with Tom Davis as our speaker....it was awesome! We had about 200 people show up, which were excited about - especially for our first event of this kind! Since then we've had many people show interest in adoption or orphan care - which was EXACTLY the point...three families have talked to me about getting more adoption information and we have another group of people interested in doing international orphan care!! Lots going on and lots to figure out in this new ministry, but it's good, exciting stuff!!

So.....where have I been? Well, home schooling 3 kids, taking care of a baby, working on ministry and running to basketball, tennis, guitar, piano, chamber choir rehearsal, and church events. Now that I'm back in the groove of writing, I'll try to do better!!
Blessings!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Robel


Since our trip, I have thought of often of a man named Robel. Robel works for America World and was our travel guide during our trip to Ethiopia....but he was really so much more. Robel was really an inspiration to me; an example of what it is to live out your faith.
Some of the details of his story are fuzzy to me, but I will share what I do know the best I can.....As a ten year old boy, Robel moved 300 miles away from his mom and sister to Addis Ababa (capital city) to work and help provide for them. He was a street kid and did what he could to get by - washed cars, shined shoes, etc. He came to become a Christian through an organization that had soccer games for the kids to participate in. It was a Christian organization and in time they asked him to come to Bible studies in addition to the games. He described to me being overcome as he read the Bible, feeling as though God was talking straight to him. He continued to attend church and grow in his faith. Through some experiences and connections with people that can only be attributed to God's hand on his life, Robel was able to go to college in Cuba. He returned to Addis Ababa, where he lives now, to "pay it forward". He worked for the UN for a while, but being disgusted by the waste of money that could go to help others, he quit. He now works for our adoption agency and recently worked with National Geographic to shoot a television show called "Departures" where he traveled with their crew to document Ethiopia.

Robel is an amazing man....young and yet so sure of what it is to live out his faith. He has about 23 street kids that he works with. He checks in on them, makes sure they go to school (which costs him money), teaches them to sell or serve (ex. shining shoes) for money instead of expecting a hand out. He knows what it is to walk in their shoes and invests in their lives. He is amazing with the kids - both on the streets and in the orphanages. Robel is in the process of starting an organization to help these kids called Children's Future Ethiopia. If you are not a friend of Facebook, look it up. There are opportunities to help and sponsor kids coming soon! Get connected with him and support him to help him make a difference. I have seen these precious kids with my own eyes.....they need you.


We had such a good time getting to know Robel. It was only a week of our life, but we were forever challenged to live more sacrificially and act on our faith. If only the world had more Robels.....it would surely be a better place.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Now?

I've been pondering a lot lately what God has next for me and for my family. Let me try and explain....

When we began our adoption journey, I was so on fire for the cause of orphans and was overwhelmed with purpose to make a difference for their cause. Our family stepped out in faith to adopt a child because we believed it was a way that God could use our family....we knew we could not make a difference to 143 million orphans, but we knew we could to one. We felt convicted that if all Christians worked together to care for these sweet children, we could together make a difference. We were excited to feel this sense of purpose and passion and thought this must be "it". This is what God had for our family.

Well, fast forward about a year and a half. We are home with our precious boy, and we couldn't be happier. Elijah is an amazing gift and he is our own. But, you see, that's just it. We have grown our family to include Eli because by the grace of God, He chose us to parent this beautiful child. We are so grateful. So, you can see how we feel like we really have done nothing for the cause of orphans at all, but only received this blessing that God had for us.

I still carry the same passion to make a difference in the lives of these fatherless children. So, that leaves me asking, "What next?" What do I do now.....now that I have received this gift, and discovered my heart for the least of these...what do I do now?

I partially know the answer. In the previous post I talked about a new orphan care and adoption ministry I am a part of launching in our church. It is something God planted in my heart not long after we decided to adopt and I was beginning to discover how big the orphan crisis really was. I have no idea where God is going to take this ministry or what He has in mind....but I am excited to be along for the ride! It is my hope and prayer that God will use it to help these kids. I hope that people's hearts will be stirred to do something to help children in need....I don't care if they are next door or around the world....wherever God leads you. I hope this ministry will be a resource and encouragement for families hoping to adopt - but I also hope that it will be bigger than that. That families who do not feel called to adopt will find meaningful ways to connect with these kids and make a difference. All of that to say, I do feel purposeful in being a part of this ministry and I know it is part of the role God has for me in this cause.

But still, I find myself searching. I can hear some of you now....yes, I have four kids; yes, I am home schooling; and yes, I am involved in this church ministry. But the burden God has laid on my heart for the orphan is real and my heart is stirred to do more. What does that mean? I don't know. Will we adopt again? Quite possibly. Does it mean working in and growing in this ministry? I think so.

I guess now that we are home, it just feels like we've returned to "life as normal" and I'm not sure I'm OK with that. Yes, my life is good. But I don't want to grow comfortable with "good" and "normal". I want to live my life in a way that is purposeful and not about me. Admittedly, I am not very good at that yet, and it's easier said than done. But, I hope, through the searching and the desire to be purposeful for Him, I will continue to discover what exactly it is He has for me to do. Until then, we will enjoy these blessings we've been given and keep our eyes open for the next!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chosen

I am so excited to tell you about an orphan care and adoption ministry I am a part of launching at our church. Chosen is a ministry whose purpose and passion it is to walk alongside God's people as we seek to fulfill God's mandate to care for the orphan together. We hope to start our ministry simply by making people aware of the incredible need for us to step up and be a part of the solution of the orphan crisis. In keeping with this idea, we are so excited to be hosting a dinner event on November 6 with speaker Tom Davis. We are thrilled that Tom has agreed to come speak and know that he will be both a blessing and an inspiration to all who attend this special evening.

For those of you who don't know who Tom is, there is a brief bio included on the invite below. If you live near us, please plan on attending this event. We are very fortunate Tom agreed to come, and we have a fabulous musical guest and a great dinner planned as well. Help us pass the word on as well! See you there!!

(Click on the invite to enlarge and see all the details!!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear Elijah.....

Dear Elijah,

My heart is full of things I want you to know....about my love for you and your Father's sweet grace that brought you to us. You were planted in my heart by God, before I even knew who you were, what you looked like, or how it would all work out. I loved you before I knew you and I will always be grateful that we were blessed with the gift of you.

You were not born of my natural body as your older siblings were, but you were brought into our family with no less desire, joy, or purpose than they were. Adoption was not our second choice, and neither were you. It was only that we discovered the blessing of adoption later in life. Little one, we are so glad we did because it led us to you. We simply cannot imagine our lives without you.

As you get older, you may have some questions. I want you to know that it's OK....your dad and I are strong enough to handle them and we expect them. You will wonder about your birth family and why they let you go, and about your birth country and it's people. You may even feel lonely and sad for them. It's OK. We will love you through the questions and do our best to help you process the grief that accompanies adoption. We will hurt for your hurts and are already praying that our God will heal those empty places in your heart where your questions linger. You may not look like us, but you are no less part of our family because of it. You belong here.

I continue to be amazed at this incredible gift we have received. I pray we will be the parents you need us to be and you will always know of our love for you. There is nothing you could ever do to change that....nothing. We will never give up on you, leave you or turn our backs on you. You are ours forever...and our hearts are full because of it.

I love you,
Mom

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Update on Us

We have been home for 3 1/2 weeks now.....tomorrow (the 17th) it will be exactly a month since we laid eyes on Elijah for the first time.
Time is a confusing thing, isn't it? How can it seem like just yesterday that we were in Ethiopia and meeting Elijah, and yet seem like he's always been here...? It's hard to believe. Of course I remember the waiting, wanting to receive a referral, and then anxiously awaiting to pass court. I remember the travel plans, the lists of things to do, and the preparations we made. But, I also feel that I have known Elijah forever. I have said it before, but I am amazed at a God who places a child in your family from across oceans and yet they fit just perfectly. I know that everyone who adopts does not feel the instant connection and bond, but we have been fortunate to. We love this kid more every day.

Our "big" kids have transitioned well. They are all eager to help and love their brother. Their assistance has been invaluable...we are so proud of the way they have welcomed their brother into their family and embraced him. (It was just 5 of us for 10 years, remember!) They seem to really "get" why we started this adoption journey. They know he WAS an orphan, but also really embrace the concept that he is no longer. It has been an amazing thing to watch. I pray that God will use this experience in their lives to open their hearts up to whatever He has for them.

Elijah has had an amazing transition as well. He has just begun to become wary of people he doesn't know so well. He looks for Nathan and I if we are in the room and while he doesn't (usually) cry if someone else picks him up, he is definitely checking them out and wants to be able to see us. This is a great sign to show that he is bonding to us and recognizing us as his care givers. So, while he doesn't smile as readily for strangers, it's actually a good thing. Elijah's blood tests came back confirming that he is a healthy little guy and we are so thankful for that. He is delightful to be around - easy, happy, laid back and yet full of personality. We think he's charming! :)

How about mom and dad? Well, except for the early morning feedings, we've adjusted well. Many people have asked us how it is to have a baby again, and while it takes us longer to get out of the house, it really hasn't seemed much different. You just do what you have to do - it's your child! Nathan and I love being parents and enjoy having a little one around again - especially one this cute. There are, of course, times when a couple of them need me at the same time and I can feel pulled in more than one direction, but our oldest three have been awesome about being patient in those situations.

So, we are settling in and finding our new normal. We feel blessed x4 and wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The first time ever I saw your face.....












"Every good and perfect gift is from above...." James 1:17

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ethiopia



Ethiopia really was the trip of a lifetime. I tried to prepare myself for what to expect and what I would see, but I found myself surprised and amazed nonetheless. Ethiopia is known, unfortunately, for poverty and famine. While that is, again unfortunately, part of it's story; it would be a great disservice to stop there. What I discovered Ethiopia to be is a country of beauty, pride, rich history and warm, loving people. Yes, to stop telling the story at poverty would be inaccurate.

It was not uncommon to see women walking hand in hand or men walking with their arms around one another. Their relationships are important and they are not distracted with the busyness of life and hectic schedules. They have time for one another. It's a much slower pace of life. The Ethiopian people love children and babies and stop often to admire their smiles or shower affection. I found myself wondering how many "every day" blessings I miss because I am too busy or rushed to get to the next thing. There is much beauty in these people - physically, yes, they are beautiful; but also in their warmth towards one another.

The landscape of Ethiopia is beautiful as well. I do wish we'd had more time to get outside of the city to see more of this, but even to look up into the mountains from the city you could see glimpses of Ethiopia's landscape.

The children, though.....oh, that is where my heart is. I tear up even beginning to remember them. How beautiful they are. Truly. My heart rejoices with the little ones who went home with their forever families, but aches for those left behind it. I mean it - I feel a physical ache remembering these little ones. The orphans, both on the street and in the orphanage, just longing for you to look them in the eyes and connect with them. Just wanting to be noticed and feel important....even if only for a moment. Leaving them behind is probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I vowed that I would bring their story and tell it to others.....do you have room? I mean, really...? I really am asking you.....do you have room for one of these precious children to have a home and a family to call their own? Yes, I know it is expensive.....yes, I know it is an investment......yes, I know it will change your life and your own kids may have to make sacrifices.....you may have to do without something else or even borrow money to do it......But these children are real. They are just like yours and mine. It is tempting to let the distance act as a buffer and allow us not to digest the fact that there are children in this world who are hungry.....yes, physically hungry; but also hungry for love, attention, connection and family. There are really not many of reading this that can honestly say we don't have that to give.


"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act"
Proverbs 24:12

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy at Home


Elijah is adjusting well to being at home. He is a happy baby and we think he's darling. He even slept through the night last night (9-6) - we are pretty impressed with that! He smiles easily and is so engaging...it is so fun to have him around. What a blessing!

I was prepared to come home and be exhausted and possibly overwhelmed, but none of that has happened. Eli fits perfectly into our family and while it does take a little longer to get things done now, it all seems very natural. We have yet to establish a real consistent napping routine, but it has only been 3 days since we got home!! We are happy with his night sleep and will develop a routine for napping soon enough. We have had a few visitors and are happy to see them and share our latest addition.

I am amazed at God's ability to take a child from another part of the world and mesh them into our family. We just feel like he is ours. Period. Only an incredible God like the one we serve could perform the miracle that is adoption. I will be forever grateful that He brought us on this journey and saw fit to bring Eli into our home.....the blessing is all ours.

Monday, August 24, 2009

We are HOME!

Hi Friends....we are finally home! I was unable to update the last part of the week and then we started our journey home on Friday.....it was quite a trip! Elijah traveled so well and I was very proud of him. Travel is exhausting and he was hauled all over the place, but he was quite a trooper.

We discovered on Thursday evening that Eli had a fever. This was upsetting as you can imagine, not only just because he was sick, but also because we had several long flights ahead of us. Luckily I had taken infant Tylenol and Motrin that we gave him. He was still usually happy and content, though....only fussy when he was tired or ready for more Tylenol.
We began our trip home on Friday (evening there) and were glad to have two other families we had traveled with be on our flights home. Our first bump in the road occured at the ET airport where the guy checking passports did not want to let Elijah through......he looked at his passport picture and his visa picture and insisted it wasn't the same baby.....my heart was POUNDING!! He told us to "come back tomorrow" and bring more documentation. I just silently prayed and tried to explain that babies change and grow hair, etc. and it was the same child. He finally let us through, but kind of in a "I'm doing you a favor" kind of way.....whatever....just get me home!
Our flight to Dubai was uneventful and Eli traveled well and then we boarded in Dubai for our LONG flight to NYC. Nathan and I did not get seats together, but he was only two rows behind me and I did get a seat with a bassinet for Elijah to sleep in....that was a huge help. He was in there maybe not quite half of the time - I was so thankful to have it. This flight was SO LONG - it was scheduled to be 14 hours. Elijah did so well.....I got several comments from flight attendants and passengers about what a happy (and cute) baby he was. Even so, the flight was hard and I was exhausted by the end....it's really impossible to get good sleep on an airplane. As we were preparing to land in NYC, our plane was rerouted back to Boston to land because weather (?) prevented us from landing in New York - Let me tell you, people, after a 14 hour flight this is NOT what you want to hear! We sat on the tarmac at Boston for another 2+ hours and then made our way back to New York. At this point, we had less than 1 hour to make it through customs, claim our bags and run to our next flight......we hurried, people let us in front of them, and ran when we could, but could not make our flight. I wanted to sit down and bawl right there.....I was exhausted and MISSING MY KIDS!! I was so sad not to be getting home.
We were very thankful that our friends, the Stacklers, who had traveled with us to ET with our adoption group, were at the airport to take care of us. Amy got us water, gave me formula and William helped us find our bags and look up possible other flights and just supported us. They had had an exhausting flight with a 2 year old and yet took the time to take care of us.......I know God put them there to help us through that time and it was invaluable....thank you Stacklers!!
We went on to stand in a couple of different lines....dragging our huge carry on, four suitcases and a feverish baby through the airport. We were a sight. We were told that the only flights available were the next day - there was nothing that day at all!! The airline put us up in a hotel....not a great one, but a room with a shower and beds. We had to switch rooms when we got there because the air wasn't working in the first room (it was HOT!). We showered, ate and slept the rest of our time there....it felt so good to sleep!!
On Sunday, we went to the airport to check in. The airline representative then explained to us that we had not been given actual seats, we were on stand-by! The thought of not getting home again was unbelievable, but luckily, we were able to get seats......talk about RELIEF. In retrospect, I was glad that I hadn't known all night we were on stand-by (we were told we had seats) - I wouldn't have slept as well, I am sure.
Our flight got into Indy at about 3 on Sunday and it was SO GOOD to see my kids and family there waiting for me in the airport!! What a relief it was to all be together and to not have to get on another plane!

Our three big kids are excited to have a new brother and have been almost disappointed that he has slept so much since he got home - they are ready to play with him! I am loving being in my own home again and love that all of us are together and can get to know each other. Elijah is feeling much better and his fever seems to be down. His cough and cold are clearing up, too....still congested, but NOTHING like it was in ET. We are thankful for that.

I am still processing much of what I saw in Ethiopia....I am still trying to think of how to share it and express to you the urgency to step up and care for these children without coming across as bossy or judgemental.....it is not my heart to be either, but it is my heart to somehow express to you HOW MANY children like Elijah need loving homes. I believe it is God's plan to use us to care for these children. I wish each of you could see it all with your own eyes. I know I am forever changed because of what I saw....at least I hope I am. More on that to come.....
For now, I have to go feed my baby! :))

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yay for Successful Consulate Appointment!

Today was another eventful day....we had our consulate appointment at the American Embassy in order to be sure all the paperwork was in order and to obtain  Elijah's visa.  The visit was a success and we can  pick up his visa on Friday.   (our agency will actually pick it up for us)    We are thankful for this, because this is occasionally where families will run into trouble with their paperwork and have to stay longer in Ethiopia.   We have enjoyed our time here, but will be ready to get home and back to a routine and our 3 big kids!

Elijah continues to do well and be a good baby - we feel so blessed.   He has babbled even more today and luckily liked the sling I brought to carry him in.  He was a great sleeper last night - almost 8 hours!!   That was awesome.   The only trouble was that I didn't sleep as well because I laid there all night listening for him.  Now that I know his schedule better, hopefully I will sleep better tonight.
 Please pray for us and the other families we are traveling with as we bond with our kids and travel home with them.   There are many adjustments to be made.    Some kids will struggle more than others, but all of them have lost a great deal to come home with us.    Eli seems to have adjusted well so far, and we pray that that continues.

Sorry for the sideways picture yesterday.....I have to post through email and wasn't sure how to turn it.    Thanks for following along!

Fwd: SERIOUS.CUTENESS.



I am attempting to add a picture to my blog (will someone please email me and tell me if you can see them??).    We can't see our own blog from here....you can only email to it and I haven't tried pictures before!

We have Elijah in our room now....he is ours forever!!   People...this kid is seriously cute.    He's also such a good baby.   He's very content (so far!) and laughs and giggles a lot.   He also "talks".    It has been so much fun to have him with us!   I am hoping that his good disposition will continue and that the flight home will go as well as possible with a 7 month old!  (we'd love for you to pray specifically for that).

We feel fortunate that we have continued to feel good and haven't gotten sick.   We are enjoying our time here and soaking in all the culture we can.   Ethiopians are beautiful people are warm and friendly.  There is much poverty, but there is also much good in this rich culture.   I am thankful for our time here to learn more about where our son came from.

That's all for now.....more later if I can get an internet connection!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today

We've had a good day today.  We are both thankful that we are feeling well and getting adjusted to the time change....every now and then it will hit us, but we slept pretty well last night and had a little nap today  (well, I did!)

We started the day by going to a local church here.   It was not a traditional Ethiopian church as I had thought it might be, but an evangelical international church.   The service was done in English and it felt much like our church does at home....there was a band leading worship and the pastor is originally from South Carolina.   The neatest part about going,  though, was that you could look around the church and see people from all nationalities and colors all worshiping together.   There were a mix of Africans as well as Asians, Americans, Europeans, and so on.   It was like a look into heaven.

After lunch our driver, David, (who is awesome) took us to see the area in which our Elijah was found.    There are not words to describe this area of Addis Ababa.   The people are desperately poor and the conditions are beyond what I can explain.   I am sure, after seeing it, that Eli was abandoned due to desperation.   I mean it when I say that it appeared as if these people had NO resources....Children everywhere, wandering, and many just sleeping in the streets.  (Yes, some of them literally in the streets).   The kids were precious; running alongside our vehicle, not to beg, but for you to smile at them or take their picture.   Just hungry for attention and connection.    It was crowded and filthy and yet the people are so warm.....walking alongside one another holding hands or with their arms around each other.   I kept looking around at these people...these children....and thinking that this could have been Eli's future.  Easily.   We will never know his full story, but I can tell you that I have a new appreciation for what could have been for him had God not rescued him.   It is humbling to be a part of that plan.

Tomorrow morning we fill out more paperwork, go to lunch and then to go the Transition Home to meet Elijah!   We will spend the afternoon with him, but do not take him with us until Tuesday.   I honestly can't believe this day is here.

Please continue to pray for us - for our health and Eli's, for our paperwork and for our meeting of him tomorrow.   Tomorrow is a no power day, but if they turn the generator on in the evening again, I will try to post!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We Made It!

Well, we are here!   We made it to Ethiopia on what is for us, Saturday morning. (while you were sleeping Friday night)   Our flights were long, but uneventful, which is a good thing.  The guesthouse we are staying in is nice and the people that work here are very friendly and helpful. We are thankful to be here after such a long journey!

It is surreal to think we are in the very city where Elijah is.   It seems surreal that we will meet him in two short days and he will be ours.  I'm not sure it will seem real until we meet him and hold him for ourselves.

The city is full of people and the contrast between the poor conditions and the beautiful landscape is a hard one to digest.   We spent the afternoon looking around with another adoptive family, the Gillmans.   We went to the top of Entoto Mountain and to a couple of  museums and then walked to have dinner tonight.   Tomorrow we will go to a local church - I'm looking forward to that.  On Monday, we will meet Elijah!!

I will post as often as I can, but we only have power every other day.   As I write this, I am hurrying because we only have power because they turned the generator on at the guesthouse for a little while.   I don't want it to go off in the middle of my post!

Thanks for following along...more later!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is it!

Well, friends.....here we are! The day is almost here that we will board a plane and fly half way around the world to meet and bring home our precious Elijah. I can hardly believe it's actually here - it seems surreal. My emotions have been all over the place....I am, above all, incredibly excited! What started as a stirring in our hearts has become reality and I am in awe that our ever faithful God has brought us this far. I am overcome with gratitude and emotion as I reflect on His goodness and that He saw fit to include me in such a wonderful plan as this.

We feel blessed and privileged to have so many of you praying for us. It means everything to us. Here are some specific ways you can pray:
  • Pray for us to be able to see things through God's eyes. I can feel that He is changing my heart through this journey, and I want to become more like Him in this process.
  • Please pray for safe travel. (Safety, flight connections, no lost baggage, etc.)
  • Health - I am a wimp. (There, I said it!) I have a weak stomach and become easily exhausted by stress. Please pray that both of us would stay healthy (Eli, too!) and also sleep well.
  • Please pray for all of our paperwork to be in place and for our Consulate appointment on Wednesday.
  • Pray for our 3 big kids (Haley, Hayden and Emma) during this time we are gone. They are totally fine with us going and are in great hands.....we aren't actually worried about them, just missing them already and want them to have a great time while we are gone.
  • Attachment and bonding with Elijah. I feel like God has already woven him into my heart....I am praying that somehow he will do the same for Eli and that somehow we wouldn't feel like total strangers to him. Please pray that he will attach to us quickly.
Thank you, thank you for praying for us. We will try to post some while we are gone....check either here or on Facebook. Power and internet in ET is a little sketchy, but I'll try to get something up every now and then!

Love, Kathy

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One Week!!

Can you believe it?? The countdown is on....I can hardly believe I am typing that we will be leaving in one week to go meet Elijah and bring him home! It's surreal....some moments I feel like it is going to happen and others I can hardly wrap my brain around it. It's actually happening!!

We are busy packing, planning and preparing - for our trip, to leave our 3 big kids for a week, and of course, for Elijah to come home. We have piles and lists all over our bedroom.....I'm a girl of order, so it's making me a bit crazy. All for a good cause, though, right? :)

Many have asked "how we are doing". Nathan, of course, is cool as a cucumber...not much rattles him. I have to say, though, most of the time I'm doing pretty well myself. The anticipation of travel is probably what makes me the most nervous. We are not international travelers, so this is a bit of unfamiliar territory for us. I feel a great peace, though, about adding Eli to our family and bringing him home. (Yes, I know it will be an adjustment, and no, I am not in denial!) The idea of bringing him home and getting to know him makes me giddy with excitement.....it's just the longest leg of the flight (14 hours) that makes my stomach turn a bit!

Friday, July 31, 2009

CUTEST. BABY.EVER!





We got our monthly update for Eli today, and here is what it said:

He is 14lbs. and approx. 25 1/2 inches long. He is a happy and content baby who smiles a lot and is quiet most of the time. I think we hit the jack pot, don't you??!?
He is healthy except he has pink eye right now....poor baby. They are treating it and hopefully it will clear up quickly!

THIRTEEN DAYS until we leave to go get him - SO EXCITING!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tonight while we sleep.....

Tonight while we sleep, a judge in Ethiopia will look over our adoption case. If all goes well, and all is in place (including that letter from MOWA!), we will pass court and Elijah will legally (in Ethiopia)be our son. We hope and pray that is the case. We are trusting in God and His timing. We want things to happen in our own timing, but know that He knows best. This has been kind of a rough week for me as I have struggled to keep my eyes on Him and not fret about our court date. This time is a little harder because we have not passed court already.

If you are reading this on Sunday night, please take a moment to pray that all will go well and we will pass court tomorrow. I will post tomorrow when I know either way.

If we pass, you'll get to see his cute little face!!!

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3


Friday, July 24, 2009

About Ethiopia.......

Why Ethiopia?


Ethiopia is one of the five poorest countries in the world, with four out of every five people living on less than $2 a day.
Subsistence agriculture a way of life for 90 percent of its population and yet, despite the prominence of farming, agricultural production is low and extremely vulnerable with cyclical drought.
The country’s persistently low rainfall totals are a major factor in the extreme poverty that exists in rural areas as well as period famines that affect millions on people.
Ethiopia’s population has grown dramatically in the last several decades, from 33 million in 1983 to more than 75 million today. Many of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas of Ethiopia that face acute shortages of basic social and an almost nonexistent economic infrastructure.
For example, access to safe drinking water in Ethiopia is at critically low levels. Just one in three people have access to clean water while just 13 percent has access to adequate sanitation services.
Waterborne diseases claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year. One Ethiopian child in 10 dies before their fifth birthday; half of those die from diarrhea.

from a Glimmer of Hope website

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tentative Travel Dates!!

We received tentative travel dates from our agency yesterday!! If we pass court on July 27 and all goes well, we will be in Africa from August 15-21 - probably actually traveling from the 14th-22nd.

This makes it so real - it feels so close, I can't believe it!! We have much to do before then and the nerves are beginning to kick in a little, so please pray for us. (well, me, my hubby doesn't really get worked up about much! :)

So excited!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Change of Heart

Since we started this adoption process, I've had a change of heart.

You see, when we began this journey it was all about wanting to be a purposeful part of God's plan and fulfilling His mandate to care for orphans. We felt like this was a way God wanted to use our family and that He could use us to provide a home and opportunities to a child who had neither.
I still have a huge heart for orphans...I want to work on their behalf and make a difference for them. I am working in our church to start an orphan care and adoption ministry and am so excited to see what God is going to do with that. So, my heart has not changed for orphans.

But, it has changed towards this adoption. Our adoption is no longer about an orphan. It is about our child. Something has transformed in my heart....Elijah is no longer an orphan, he is just our child. He belongs to us. So, this adoption is now about bringing our child home...the child that was chosen for our family and planted in our hearts. Not about orphans.

Of course I realize that Elijah was an orphan and I guess technically is until we bring him home. But, the blessing is ours. We get to love and raise this child. He feels as much mine as our other children do. That, my friends, is the miracle of adoption.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Court Date

Well, we have a new court date for Elijah!! It is July 27. We feel fortunate that we have been given a new date and that things seem to be moving along in the court system. This indicates that they do have a sense of urgency about getting these children home. Yay for that!! One little possible hitch - MOWA (remember them....the all important agency that needs to write us a recommendation letter to pass court!!) is closed until Friday, July 24, so that gives them ONE DAY to write their letter before our court date on the following Monday. This fact is what is leaving me cautious about getting too excited. Our agency has said, " MOWA begins work again on the 24th so we very hopeful that everything should be in place for them to complete your recommendation letter by the 27th." Here's hoping!

I want to be excited. I am not pessimistic, just cautious. Our agency says, "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best." I've heard this advice before...under many circumstances I would give it myself. But this is about a child. My child. I just don't know how to tell my heart to do that. I don't know how to walk the invisible line between hope and caution when it comes to my child and wanting him home. It's a tough road to walk.

So, until then, we will continue to prepare and gaze at our pictures and dream of what it will be like to have him home - and hope that day is coming sooner rather than later!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Information....

OK, so today has been a tough one. AND emotionally draining to say the least.

Here's the scoop: Most of you know that MOWA (ministry of women and children's affairs in Ethiopia) has not been writing letters of recommendation for abandoned children within the city of Addis. Elijah was abandoned in the city, so this has affected his case. Our family did not receive the letter from MOWA we needed to pass court.

GOOD NEWS: MOWA has agreed to begin writing letters for these cases. We anticipate receiving a letter the next time we have a court date.

BAD NEWS: We do not have a new court date and MOWA is closing until July 24 for training. (kind of an inopportune time if you ask me, but they didn't consult me!) There is a very small possibility that we will receive court date at the end of this week, but more than likely we will have to wait until after MOWA reopens to find out our new court date. We are still unsure if the courts will close in August like they usually do, which of course could affect our case as well.

Elijah is still ours. He will still be a part of our family in time. It is heartbreaking to think of him growing up without us. It seems senseless. I'm his mom and he doesn't even know me yet. That makes me so sad. However, I am thankful that our case will be resolved in time. I am hopeful for our future as a family and I still very much look forward to the day when we can bring him home!!
Thank you for praying for us.

Court

We did not pass court today. We were lacking one piece of important paperwork. Nothing more to say at this point.....we are just sad. Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Testing

This is just a test to see if I can post from my email.....it appears that even the technologically challenged can sometimes figure this stuff out!!

Who knew....?!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Court Date!!

I am happy to report that we received our court date this week! July 7 is the big day!! I was pleasantly surprised as the date was actually a little sooner than I anticipated - that's the kind of surprise I like!

We are optimistic about passing the first time, but also want to remember that our chances are about 60%. (40% of families do not pass on their first try for a variety of reasons....paperwork, a necessary party not making it to court, judge wanting further investigation into the case, etc.)
As I have told you before, our case is an abandonment case. For about the last 2 months, Ethiopian courts have not been approving abandonment cases because of an ongoing investigation. Well.....great news......they will once again hear these cases as of July 2!! So, we will be one of the first families to go through court with an abandonment case after the investigation. We hope that all will go smoothly, but are mindful that this adds an unknown element to the whole thing. We are thrilled, though, that the courts will be again hearing abandonment cases before our court date - what a blessing!! (if they hadn't, they would have temporarily closed our case on that day and we would have had to wait for a new court date)

Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, so while we sleep on Monday, July 6, a judge will hear our case in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Please pray with us that everything will be in place and that we will have a successful first court date. We appreciate all of you that take the time to read the blog and follow along and especially those of you who will join us in prayer to bring Elijah home!!

Assuming we pass, we will hope to travel at the end of July!! WOW!! We'll also get to share pictures of his cute little face with you.....can't wait!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Elijah

I have been trying to formulate this post in my mind for the last several days. Trying to find a way to explain the myriad of emotions I have felt since we received our referral. Joy of course, is at the top of the list; as well as gratitude and excitement.

I have stared at these 3 precious pictures we have of our baby for the last 9 days. I know them inside and out. I have fallen completely in love with this little one and I am in awe of how God can weave a child into your heart that you've never seen with your own eyes. Never touched his skin or heard his cry. But he is mine. I feel it in my heart and I know it deep down. I would go to the ends of the earth for this child.

This love I already feel is a gift. It makes me excited beyond words for the day I can hop on a plane and go hold him for myself. (so far, I haven't so much been looking forward to the travel - now I can't wait!) It makes it so fun to plan for his arrival, buy his little clothes, pray for him, and dream about the day he comes home and sleeps in the room we've prepared for him.

It also makes it hard. Hard to look at his little face and miss him. Hard to wonder when exactly we will be able to go get him and wish it could be sooner. Hard to wonder about his well-being and ache to be the one who holds him and kisses him goodnight. Hard for me to think about a court date and hope with everything in me that we will pass in time to go get him before the court closures. I find myself riding a roller coaster of emotions. Excitement and anticipation one moment; nervousness and concern the next.

We have decided to name our little one "Elijah" which means "the Lord is my God". Very fitting, I think. You see, He is the one who will see us through it all - every emotion, every roller coaster, every possible hurdle and joy. And for today, I am trusting in that.

Friday, June 12, 2009

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!!!

We are so excited to have received a referral for a beautiful baby boy yesterday! He is approximately 5 months old and we are in love with him. His medical report says he is somewhere between 11-12 lbs. and about 22 inches long; so he's kind of a little guy right now, but he appears to be healthy. He was slightly malnourished and is receiving higher calorie formula to help him gain weight.

So, what's next you ask? Well, we sent in our referral acceptance today and when our agency receives it they will request a court date in Ethiopia for us. We do not attend the court date, our agency goes for us. We hope to receive a court date in July before the courts close in August. (remember, they close from August - October every year) Then, we hope to pass the FIRST TIME!! Please pray with us about this.

Our agency also told us that ours is an abandonment case, meaning we do not know our child's birth family. If you remember, recently the Ethiopian courts have not been hearing abandonment cases. We have been told by our agency that the investigation that halted abandonment cases is coming to a close and they are now able to request court dates for those children who have these types of cases. We are confident in our agency and trust that they would not have given us this referral if we weren't able to take it to court. They also told us, though, that we will be one of the first families to go through court with an abandonment case after the investigation; therefore we don't know how easy or difficult it will be for us to pass court. Please, please, please, pray with us that we will get through court easily and we will pass the first time. We really want to pass court BEFORE the court closures in August......otherwise we will wait until October for another date.

Lastly, I SO wish I could post a picture of his cute little face, but I can't yet. We have to wait until we pass court to do that. I can't wait to share him with you, though!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Eight Months and On Deck.....

http://www.kosmic-kabbalah.com/images-cards_envelopes/infinite_eight.jpg
We have now been waiting for our referral for eight months.....can you believe it? AND we received our "On Deck" email this week! Most of you are probably wondering what that is.....when you are 1-2 months from a referral, our agency sends you an "on deck" email to tell you that you better get yourself together - your referral is coming! It was so exciting to receive this email! This is actually beginning to feel real.....like it may actually happen!
The good news is that a referral is coming in the next couple of months (unless, of course, something unforseen happens); the bad news is that we will probably receive our referral right before courts close in Ethiopia and will have a long wait between referral and travel. We'll see how all of that pans out...no sense in worrying about something you can't control, I guess.

We had a huge garage sale this weekend, too. We are using the money we raised towards our adoption fees (again, the cost of this adoption will be $25,000+). Many, many generous family and friends donated towards our sale and we were able to raise $1400 in one day in our very own driveway! The sale happens tomorrow, too. Hopefully we'll get rid of a bunch more stuff!

Please continue to pray for us and our baby as we wait for our referral.....we're getting closer!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yes, I am Still Adopting.....

I haven't posted much lately.....I guess, because I don't have much news to report. Ethiopian adoption is experiencing some delays and I guess what you would call growing pains lately. A fellow blogger explained it so well, and if you'd like to read more about it click here. Many families are also not passing court right now as the Ethiopian judges have become much more strict and the referrals have slowed down. I do not know what all this means or how it will affect us.....clearly it could make our wait time longer than we anticipated. I am about to invest in a T-shirt that looks like this:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2326/2419782930_ef795cce5d_m.jpg
In case the writing is too small, it says: "Yes, I am still adopting. No, I haven't heard anything yet. But each day brings me closer to my child."

That is pretty much the way I feel. I have resigned my position teaching second grade to stay home with my kids next year. We will homeschooling our oldest three and hopefully getting to know our new addition together. The barrage of questions about our adoption during this time has been exhausting. I know people mean well and I am so grateful that they care enough to ask, so please don't misunderstand. It's just hard because I don't have any answers. Yes, we still hope that our referral will come by the end of the summer and that we will pass court in time to travel before the holidays. But here's the deal with international adoption: there is nothing predictable and the only thing to expect is the unexpected. So, we keep watching and waiting for good news to come and praying for the children and the other anxious adoptive families. We know that our day will come when God plans it and it won't be a day too late!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

URGENT NEED: Formula in Ethiopia

Our agency is seeing more malnourished babies than it has in the past due to the rampant poverty and famine in Ethiopia. These babies are literally starving when they come to the transition home run by America World. These malnourished babies cannot digest traditional formula like healthy babies can. They need a special formula called Nutramigen which is easier for them to digest and get the nutrients from.
Tom Davis (author of "Red Letters" and "Fields of the Fatherless") has a non-profit called Children's Hope Chest and this non-profit organization is doing a formula fundraiser. Get this! - It is JUST FOR NUTRAMIGEN and JUST FOR THE MALNOURISHED BABIES IN OUR AGENCY'S TRANSITIONAL HOME!!! Their goal is to raise $12,500 dollars in order to purchase 400 cans of Nutramigen for these needy babies!! You never know, one of these babies could be ours! (or one just like them to come to the home soon!)
If you'd like to help, please go to Tom Davis' blog to read more and give from the link below:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

7 months and Cou nting.....

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d7/7NumberSevenInCircle.png

Well, it's official; we've been waiting 7 months for our referral! It's funny how time can seem to stand still and fly by at the same time. Some weeks we see referrals go out and feel so encouraged and excited for the other families.......others we feel like it will never happen. It will, I know!
The current wait is 9-11 months for an infant referral, so you can kind of guesstimate how much longer we have to wait. We appreciate your prayers for us during this wait. We have been able to keep busy with our jobs and kids and have a lot going on in the next month or so, so I am sure that time will go quickly!
Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You Can Help in Ethiopia!!

The following post is from Tom Davis' Blog. He is doing amazing work around the world on behalf of orphans and is right now in Ethiopia.

The Poorest of the Poor

Today our team had the privilege of being with some of the poorest people in Addis Ababa. Mother Teresa used to say that by serving the poor she could be with Jesus all the time. That's what today felt like.
The first orphan care point was called "Gospel for all Nations." 42 children are helped by this ministry, but the help is extremely scarce. They don't have any sponsorship or funding coming in. The little they do have is money the pastor takes from his own pocket. Just like Walter in Swaziland...

The children are orphans--sons and daughters of prostitutes.

We went to their homes. We touched their faces. We hugged them as if they were our own.

The place was filthy and filled with stench but we knew God had us there for a reason, to see what Jesus looks like is the worst of circumstances.

I met an 18 year old sex worker with a baby. She was really a beautiful girl and one of our team members asked why she sold her body.

"So I can have food to eat," she replied.

Nobody should be forced to sell themselves so they don't starve.

The second home we visited is called Shalom, it is a place for street kids. These kids have been abused in the most horrible ways. The boys and girls have been raped and most of them have HIV/AIDS. One boy had TB so bad he coughed the entire afternoon.

They slept on the hard wood floor of this run down building trying to stay safe from the evil that waited for them outside the door.

One saint of a lady named Telagne has given her life to serve these kids. They have absolutely no support. I asked her where they got money for the little food they had. She said, "from my wages." I was awed by her sacrifice.

We canceled the rest of our plans for the evening and decided to have a HUGE pizza party complete with Coke, Fanta, and bananas!

The kids said to us, "we've never had a Coke before."

Tomorrow we're buying them mattresses, blankets, shoes, and food. Oh, my heart is broken for these kids. They are just children, 7, 9, 12 years being the oldest.

At the end they asked if they could pray for us. Are you kidding?

We stood in a circle and they stretched out their hands toward us, blessed us, and prayed for us.

I've never been so humbled.

I saw the Kingdom of God in a new light today. I long for Christ to come back not so I can have a mansion in the sky or to get my eternal reward, instead I want him to come back so these children don't have to suffer anymore. No more pain, no evil perpetrated on them day and night, no tears, ever again.

If you want to help with the expenses for the shoes, food, blankets, and mattresses (we're buying these things out of pocket right now in Ethiopia), just give online at put "Shalom Ethiopia" in your note. GO HERE: Children's Hopechest

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Drawn From Water

I stumbled across someone else's blog post about this amazing organization and just had to share it with you. Drawn From Water is rescuing children in Ethiopia. These children are born into the Kara tribe in southern Ethiopia. The tribe is intensely superstitious and believes they must kill children they believe to be cursed. It is heartbreaking. Go to their website to read the whole story.....those who started this orphanage for these children and rescued them from being drowned in the river are an incredible example of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I am inspired by their story and challenged to be more like them. They saw a need in these children and did something about it. Amazing. Be sure to click on "get involved" to see what you can do to help!

Drawn from Water from Drawn From Water on Vimeo.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Kiddos....

AWAA has several families in Ethiopia to pick up their kids this week!! If you'd like to follow along, their blogs are listed below:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Worthy

Acts 4:12
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Friday, April 10, 2009



I borrowed the following post from the "I Support Adoptions" website......we've heard some of the statistics before, but I think is important that we remind ourselves so as not to lose sight of the reality of the orphan crisis.

Abandoned and Orphaned The best available estimate is that 143 million children are abandoned and orphaned worldwide. Less than 1% of orphans are adopted.

Can you make a difference in the life of just one?




Orphanages There are anywhere from two to five million orphans in orphanages worldwide, an estimate that is in-line with the Human Rights Watch World Report. The vast majority of orphans are found in third world nations.

Child Trafficking and Slavery There are more slaves today than any other time of history, many of whom are children. It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year for exploitation purposes such as forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of slavery.

Orphans In Africa Since 1990, the number of orphans from all causes has decreased in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, but has risen by 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa (from 30.9 million to 53.1 million). The government of Kenya predicts that within the next 10 years, 1 out of every 5 children will be an orphan.

The Most Vulnerable and Alone Every 2.2 seconds, a child loses a parent due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease and other causes. Every 15 seconds, a child somewhere in the world dies from a water-related disease such as parasite and worm infection, diarrhea or typhoid.

At-Risk Children More than 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day. One of our goals at I Support Adoptions is to prevent children from being abandoned or placed for adoption and help biological families care for their children.

Resources: UNICEF, UN, SOS, Feed the Children