Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kinda like a RT (retweet) from Twitter

Ryan is on his way to Kentucky for a mission trip. On his way, he read this blog (www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com). I have read this blog on several different occasions. It is the life a young woman who is taking care of 13 Ugandan children.  She herself is in her twenties. Her story is amazing (go back and reread her posts some time)!  Most of her posts are positive and about her life in Africa. This particular post is not.  It is about the trials she is facing now.  She is the hands and feet of Christ for the area in which she lives. Just to read this post takes my mind back to the story of Esther and Jane.  If you didn't read my post, click here and read then watch.

Katie is right in that we are failing as Christians to take care of the 147 million orphans and 21 million other needy children that need us. Why? Why can't we be like Christ to them? For them?  Is it because we spend our money on things we think we need but really don't?  After you read her post below, go to her blog by clicking here.  She has ways that you can help on the right side.  If you are a Christian, you need to help. God has called you to help.  You just need to recognize this.  If you are worried about money, that you don't have enough, start giving it away in HIS name.  God will always provide.  You need to trust him.  If you read this post and watch the Esther and Jane video, and still do not feel the need to give to Katie, then I pray for your heart. That God will soften it and stir your soul.  This is a long post by her but again you need to read it.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2009
*be warned: I always re-read things before I post them. I didn't re-read this one, it is liable to be messy...

I am processing so many emotions right now; I'm just going to go ahead and let you know that this post will not be eloquent or well written. It will not be a 
beautifully worded story, but just the ramblings of a mom who is tired today. It will just be, and it will be good enough.


On Thursday of last week,I went to check on Michael, a sweet little boy from the 
Karamajong village that we took care of a few weeks ago. I found him with open sores all over his body. As a result of severe malnutrition, Michael weighs just ten kilos at 6 years old. He is no taller than Jane (my two and a half year old). His skin is breaking and unable to repair itself because his immune system is so weak. His hair is white as snow and his skin is yellow and splotchy and his smile and little bug out eyes can melt your heart and light up the room. Michael is fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the image of my Savior.

I have warned myself over and over that I must NOT start bring home children from the 
Karamajong village. We feed them lunch and supper every day and twice a week I drive my van, the trunk loaded with a mini pharmacy, into the middle of their village and treat anything I can. And I told myself and told myself that I would not bring them home for treatment, that twice a week visits were all I could handle right now. I wanted so badly to guard my heart because here's the thing: once you take one, you may end up with 13. I knew that once I had taken one sick child from this village home for rehab, there would be not stopping point because these children are ALL ALWAYS sick.

But as I looked at Michael, I saw no alternative. He needed to be bathed in warm water every day. He needed milk and eggs and 
ORS and multivitamins and fresh fruits and vegetables and there was no way I could get him all those things regularly where he was. Even if I did, there was no guarantee that his parents would not sell these things and continue only feeding him posho (corn flour). So he came home. He tested negative for HIV, TB and typhoid and we began a pretty rigid deworming routine as well as a highly caloric, proteinpacked diet. In the last 5 days he has gained 2.5 pounds (that's a lot if you only weigh 20!) but he has gained more than that. I have watched him transform from a lifeless, expressionless little boy who slept all day and was unresponsive to a over-the-top cheerful, sometimes down right ornery little boy who hardly ever stops smiling and loves playing games with other children. The transformation has been remarkable.

I will keep him for about another week as I begin counseling his father and step mother (this is the biggest issue, often second wives do not want to care for their husband's other children and sometimes even write them off as cursed or not worthy of food and provision...) about the most nutritious foods for him, frequent meals, bathing,
ect. My heart will break to take him back and yet I will know that it is what is best for him and his family.

Wednesday as I met with the 
Karamjong children for Bible study a woman walked up to me and handed me a baby that I presumed to be dead. And then she breathed.

The mother told me that she was quite positive that she (the mother) had HIV and therefore was not breastfeeding her 10 pound, 9 month old little girl. I asked, quite obviously, what she had been feeding her then? And this was the response that awaited me, "Nothing. We have no food." Um. NO wonder the baby looked dead. She almost was. I pleaded the mother to let me take her with me, to be tested for HIV and be fed. The mother instanly agreed but fist wanted to show me her house.

I think I have seen it all. And then this happens. Thier house was made of cardboard and was smaller than the bed I sleep in at night. On the floor lay filthy old rags on which they slept and a pile of charcoal which they cooked on (when they did have food, I guess). I almost dropped on my knees right there. It was one of those I-just-don't-have-a-clue-what-to-do-next moments. So I did the only thing that comes naturally to me. I scooped her up. I prayed for her mother and the 6 other children living in the house/box and promised to return. I drove as fast as I safely could to the nearest semi-good hospital and then to get some high energy formula.

For the first 24 hours, I could hardly stand to look at sweet baby Patricia (her parents had not named her for fear she would die, and I could think of no one better to name her after than my precious Mommy). The hurt and the hunger in her lifeless little eyes was simply unbearable. Every time I changed her diaper, more big fat worms (we are talking really large, earth worm sized) had come out. I cried for the things this child has had to endue for so long. And I cried to know that though I deworm her now, the minute I take her back to her mother, the worms will return. Her HIV test came back negative and I am praising Jesus for that. She was diagnosed with severe pnemonia and malnutrition. She can hardly sleep at night for coughing so much.

Friends, I ask for prayer. For these children and for my heart. I have fallen in love with Michael and Patricia. Their sweet faces that arer Jesus. The tear stream down as I write this and have to think about taking them back to their parents, who I will try to help as much as possible, but still have such fear in my heart about. I look at their surroundings and simply wonder how children survive in this harsh world.

I am sad and I am angry. Between no sleep and a million doctors appointments (imagine that in Uganda you wait even LONGER in the hospital than you do in the US...) and Bible club on Thursday and Saturday program tomorrow and trying to raise 13 children and spend enough time with each of them, maybe you will right my saddess and anger of as the rantings of an exhausted mother and maybe they are, but this is my blog and I am going to say what I feel like. I am MAD. I have been sad and broken for these children for so long and it has finally turned into a hardened anger. I am angry that this culture so lies to women that Michael's stepmother believes that she does not have to care for this child who is not biologically hers, though she has ample means to. I am angry that in the "Pearl of Africa" and the most fertile region of it at that, a mother has litteraly NO food to feed her baby, not to mention herself or 6 other kids. I am angry that the result of this is that these sweet ones suffer in their innocence. I have said it before and it still holds true: I DO NOT BELIEVE that the God of the universe created too many children in His image and not enough love or food or care to go around. In fact I believe that He created the Body of Christ for just that, to help these little ones, the least of these. And I believe that except for a handful, the Body of Christ is failing. And its not just me who thinks this. When I'm angry, I like to research so that I can at least feel a bit justified in my rage ;) According to several differnt resources, there are an average of 147 million orphaned children in the world today (this statistic includes children who have lost only one parent as well), 11 million children starve to death each year or die from preventable, treatable illness. 8.5 million children work as child slaves, prostitutes, or in other horrific conditions (making things like that cute baby Gap dress Jane wore today...) 2.3 million children world wide are living with HIV.

That is 168.8 million needy children like Michael and Patricia. Seems like a big number, huh? It shouldn't, because there are 2.1 BILLION people on this earth who profess to be Christians. Jesus followers. Servants. Gospel live-ers. And id only 8 percent of those Christians would care for just ONE of these needy children, they would all be taken care of.

And now I'm just sad again. And I want to take care of all 169 million. But as I look into Patricia's eyes, that since just 48 hours ago have turned bright and smiley, as I smell her hair freshly washed with baby shampoo and snuggle her into her new footie pajamas (side note: is their ANYTHING cuter than a baby in soft cotton footie pajamas?!) God tells me that this one is enough. That He will hold the others while they wait for someone to come along and hold them tight and give them their milk and their medicine. That He doesn't ask me to take them all but to stop for the ONE because that one is Jesus, His son. Stop for the little boy with white haid and scabs covering his body, stop for the baby with feces covering her dress, so weak she can't hold up her hear. Stop and take the ones right in front of me any trust Him with the rest. He whispers that it will be ok and that I can smile because tonight 2 less children are hungry and that is good for today.

My anger is gone and I am just a mom who is tired and going to make another bottle and tuck her children into bed and love them the best that I can, as we as a family love the ones God has entrusted us with. Tomorrow I will brainstorm and pray and come up with the best way to take Michael and Patricia back to their homes, possibly find their parents jobs, or supply them with food and medicine. Tomorrow I will remember that they were never mine to begin with, that they are HIS and He will go with them where I cannot. But tonight I will just be. I will just sit with my Father in my sadness and brokeness and anger and ask Him why His innocent children must suffer and beg Him to move people to action and let Him hold me as I hold the baby He has blessed me with for today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conference Call

This afternoon AWAA had a Rwandan Conference Call. This call was very informative and I received some new information. The changes are still being settled in Rwanda for their adoption process.  It is very interesting to see how a country accomplishes tasks!

Here is the breakdown (with new changes implemented this week)
1) We should receive our referral in approximately 2 months. Our approval letter was dated 8/12/09. So if you count weeks, 8 weeks is October 7. If you go by the month, October 12. Not sure how the Minister counts so we will go with either/or.
2) Once we receive our referral, a court date will be held in approximately 4 weeks to make Ryan and I the legal parents of our child
3) Once we pass court (no word on families not passing the first time), we will travel within 2-3 weeks to pick up our child. 

So just for fun, let's take these dates an estimate shall we:

If we receive our referral on October 7, we will have a court date by November 4. Travel between November 18-December 2.

If we receive our referral on October 12, we will have a court date by November 9. Travel between November 23-December 7.

So either way, if the Minister and courts stay on the approximate times, our child will be home by Christmas. What a blessing! Now of course this could change at any time if we get our referral sooner (which is fine by me) or if something takes a bit longer than approximated.
I know that He is in charge and it will happen in His time. But I sure do love these dates!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Calmness

The last few days I have felt a wave of calmness come over me.  I am not obsessionally thinking about our approval. I am not checking my email several times a day.  I can focus my thoughts on other things.  I am glad that I am able to feel this calmness. I was waiting for this feeling for so long....

I also am feeling such hope.  When I think of how close we are to our child it makes me smile.  
Our referral will take approximately 2 months.  By the date on our approval letter, 8/12/09, we are 2 weeks into the first month. That means in only a month and a half we could know who our child is.  When I think about this it gives me so much hope, reassurance, and peace.  We are so near the end to our journey...I am thankful. I am thankful to Him for his grace, compassion, and love for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Come To Me

When you are hurting, come to Me and
I WILL BIND YOUR WOUNDS.

When you need to be assured, come to Me and
I WILL GIVE YOU MY EMBRACE.

When you can no longer go on, come to Me and
I WILL CARRY YOU.

When you need comfort, come to Me and
I WILL WIPE YOUR TEARS

When you are uncertain of My love, come to Me and
I WILL SPEAK MY HEART TO YOU.

-Roy Lessin

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What a week...

The fact that we received our approval this week is still sinking in.  We waited so long (21 weeks or 4 days shy of a full 5 months).  I find myself looking at the email sent by the Minister a few times each day.  I am so thankful for our approval!  Not knowing whether or not you will receive the approval to adopt is hard to think about everyday!

So what is next... well, we have another wait ahead of us.  The approval letter from the Minister said "the Ministry will choose and forward you the adoptee matching file, a process that will take approximately two months." During this two month waiting period, our file will go to the orphanage, nuns will prayerfully choose our child, medical test will be done, then the referral will go back to the Ministry for another approval.   Once the Ministry approves the referral, we will receive our referral (which tells us who our child is, how old they are, gender, etc).  Then a court date will be set to make Ryan and I the legal parents of our child.  Then another court date will be set and we will travel. So our child could be home at the earliest by Halloween and by the latest Christmas.  I am going to set my mind for Christmas that way I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen before then.  That gives us and the Ministry 4 months to get this job done!

The week of distractions proved to be very helpful! The kids started school, the dirt has been moved out of the flower beds and replaced by shade loving plants and mulch, and the house is ready for the Ethiopia baby shower!  It has definitely been a crazy week but I do love being busy.  I am looking forward to relaxing this week and getting into our school routine!

To each of you who have prayed for our journey thus far, thank you. Thank you so much.  I love that you are a part of our journey.  

For those who would like to continue to pray, pray for the nuns as they select our child. They will look at our request (0-3 years, boy or girl) and match us with our child. God knows who our child is.  I can't wait to see who they are!  Pray for the Ministry and that they make international adoptions a priority.  These sweet little children need to come home!  Pray for our child, that they are loved, warm, clean, fed, and that they know we are coming to get them soon!

A parting shot, my 3rd grader and Kindergartner!








Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 21 Continued...

So I casually opened my email this morning (read: hoped with such intensity that there was an email from a certain person), took a deep breath, read the titles of the emails, and there it was. Our approval came this morning! I am so relieved!  21 weeks exactly it took for our approval. 

Off to get the kids ready for first day of school!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Week 21

Ok, so I am supposed to be distracted this week, which I am.  But here is a little update:

1) We are 4 short days away from completing 5 months waiting...so next week our agency will call the Ministry to see what is going on with our dossier.

2) We received an email on Monday from our family coordinator saying that the Minister's office has asked for our email address.  AND that we should expect to hear something via email SOON direct from the Minister about our approval.   Several AWAA families also got this email (ranging date of dossiers in Rwanda is late March through early June).   SOON is relative to Africa time though...

3) Two approvals did come through on Monday.  No one from our agency (Gladney and independent). We are so happy for those families!

So back to being distracted. First day of school tomorrow!  Need to go plant some plants~


  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Good Distraction

This week will be full of good distractions!

1) I am re-landscaping our front flower beds (kind of). I am taking about 6 inches worth of dirt out of the beds to lower them. Over the years (house built in the 60s) the dirt has built up higher than the sidewalk and the look just bugs me. So with a rake and shovel I will get this done.

2) I am preparing my home for a baby shower! Rande and Casey Butler recently received their referral from Ethiopia! David will be coming home soon so we are going to shower them with lots of fun baby items! So cleaning this house is a must.

3) The kids start school on Thursday. I have a 3rd grader and a Kindergartner. Wow, how time flies! The kids are excited and so am I..we love our schedule and routine that the school year brings.

This is just the a few items on our to-do list this week. Can't wait to get it all done!

Friday, August 14, 2009

week 20

We have completed 20 weeks of waiting for our approval.  Just 10 days shy of completing 5 months.  Our process has been smooth, quick and fairly bumpless, with only a few documents that had to be added to our dossier in late May. I have been very confident in this process. I know that this is God's plan. I know that this is God's design and intent for things to happen the way they have.  However, this week my self-assurance has lessened a bit.  

Last week we had the privilege of serving Him in Piedras Negras, Mexico.  Our trip was amazing and so much better than we hoped that it would be.  I spent time in 2 orphanages.  I was able to see how an orphanage runs and how the children are taken care of. These orphanages are doing the best with what they have. They do not have much.  This is where my heart starts to break.  I can't help from thinking about the orphanage in Rwanda. How it has to be similar to the orphanage in Mexico.  How the children CRAVED attention from us. How the children just wanted to be cuddled, held, played with.  How I hated to give the baby to someone else because I had to leave.  How some children definitely displayed signs of non-attachment.  

So this week when I have time to reflect on our child who is waiting, I start to get mad. I start to doubt. I start being impatient with this process.  I am to the point now where I just don't want to think about it anymore.  But that isn't fair to our child.  I pray for them daily. I pray that they are warm, clean, fed, loved.  I pray that they know in their heart that we are coming.  I pray that God gives them the comfort that their forever family is waiting too.  I pray that God gives me peace.

God works in mysterious ways.  He is not predictable.  I posted in an earlier post that I can see my faith.  I can see my faith clearly in the faces of the children in Mexico.  My faith is strong, but my heart is not.  Being that it is almost the end of the business day Friday, I am sure that a call is not coming today. So now we wait for another 2 days before we could hear anything.    

I long for the day where I can look back and say "oh, that's why it took so long".......



My children helping to feed a little one at one of the orphanages along with fellow mission team member.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Piedras Negras Trip

We got home Saturday from an absolutely amazing mission trip to Piedras Negras, Mexico. Our family along with 15 others joined together to build a pharmacy, do children's programs in 2 orphanages and 1 soup kitchen, provide a meal for people who have a family member in the hospital, as well as finish up a house for a darling Mexican family.

Our trip was perfect in every way. Everyone worked hard (age range was 5 to 55+), didn't get sick or sunburned, and we all felt the presence of God in our time in Piedras.  

This is the video that we shared at church on Sunday morning.  Ryan did a great job putting it together (from 544 pictures!).  It is truly just a glimpse of the work that we were able to accomplish.  The song is "Burn for You" by Fee which is applicable in so many ways to this trip!  Enjoy!


                                       video

The group that we partnered with in Mexico is Crossroads Missions. They are a fabulous mission team that we would recommend to anyone! They have missions in Piedras Negras, Mexico, then in the US there is New Orleans, Appalachia, Kentucky and inner city Louisville, Kentucky.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We are back!

We are back from an absolutely amazing week in Piedras Negras, Mexico. What a blessing this trip was for our family. The kids were great. They (we had 5 total) were all very helpful during the entire week! They were very busy this week and they wasn't really any complaining.  I think that they now understand (at least understand better) why we need to help others.  I have a video to post from our week but that will be tomorrow.  

I really think that all families should make it a priority to go on a family mission trip.  You experience things you will never otherwise experience...it is simply a blessing. It is a blessing to get out of your comfort zone, to not have tv for a week, to let God be in complete control. To feel dirty, sweaty, working so hard, and falling into His hands in your exhaustion, in your faith, in your awestruck wonder of Him. God is so great and I am humbled by his love for me.

No adoption news this week. I was really hoping for that call this week to share that experience with our mission group.  But we are 2 weeks away from AWAA calling the Minister on our behalf.  August 26 is our 5 month point.  So the countdown has begun!

Come back for the video tomorrow. Ryan did a great job!