Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
So when we opened the package, it was full of African outfits for each of our children. For any of you that have had to buy clothes for others, you know how difficult this can be. Imagine being in Uganda, buying African clothes for American kids you have never met nor seen in pictures! And all the clothes fit perfectly! Everyone loves their individual outfit and is very appreciative.
So, ever since we received this package, I have been thinking about how important it is for me to get a picture of the kids in their Uganda clothes. This is almost a daily thought. When I woke up this morning, I thought, since Jaden and Kellen are on Christmas break now, and everyone is home this morning with no plans of having to go anywhere, this will be a great day to get pics done. So I made a quick chore list for each of the kids with the last one being--change into African clothes.
Everything was going well until I had the camera out. All of a sudden the whole morale of the group went downhill fast! So I reminded them how fast pictures will be if everyone just cooperates and smiles!! This is how the next 20 minutes went:
Me: Everyone stand over here, ok smile, look at me! Christopher, put your shirt down. Jaden no bunny ears for this picture. Look! Smile! Uhh, that would have been good, but Katie you weren't looking at Mommy! Again...Sage please stand on two feet, Jaden, relax a little bit, that doesn't even look like a smile anymore...Click! That would have been good, except I can see your undies! Come one everyone, this doesn't have to take soooo long. Please just LOOK AT ME! SMILE! NOW! Sage, please stop looking at your reflection in the TV. Jaden please stop making funny faces. **Now comes bribery** Everyone look at me, smile and you will get a cookie! (Everyone gets excited and shouts "cookie") click, but now Christopher is sooo excited at the idea of cookie he can't stand still. Jaden has had it...there are no more smiles, he keeps raising his hands in the air, like he's had enough. I'm irritable and grouchy and just keep clicking the camera anyways. Kellen keeps running from his spot to the camera because he wants to see the picture I just took! I know I am nearing the end of every one's sanity, so I try to muster up some enthusiasm and announce that this is the last picture. Everyone give me your best smile! Click! Ok...that would have been the last picture, if Sage would have had been standing on TWO feet, if Jaden was smiling, if Kellen didn't have his arms wrapped so tightly around Katie and Christopher that it looked like they were in a choke hold, if Christopher didn't have his arms in the air, and if Katie didn't have drool down the chin! Augghhh! Let's try this again....Augghhhhh!!!!
And all of you are wondering why you haven't received our family Christmas picture in the mail yet! HA!
So, in the middle of posting the above pictures, my friend Megan, popped in to say hi while on her lunch hour. She and I were downstairs, when we heard a sudden crash and the sound of things breaking or at least hitting the floor. We ran upstairs to find our Christmas tree laying sideways! Ornaments were everywhere. And there were two guilty hoodlums standing next to the tree! This gruffy mom (you are getting a great mental picture of me today!) sent them all to bed. Megan and I tried to lift the tree back into a standing position, which did not work well. As we are lifting and holding and the other is fixing the base, we realize part of the base broke. We notice this, as the tree is in the upright position, I am just letting go of the tree, and Megan is down on her knees looking at the base of the tree. This picture explains the rest...
When this happened, I said, "Megan, are you OK?" She muffled out a "yeah." So I said, "then hold on, I have to run and get my camera!" She graciously let me take this picture. We had a good laugh! If it were not for her being here at that moment...who knows... God knows how much we can handle, and then I guess, he sends in reinforcement!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Why Lord does she have to have Sickle Cell? Why does she have to experience such pain?
A dear friend of ours, who is in his 20's, also has Sickle Cell. He lives in the same town as us, and is from the same town as Christopher and Katie in Uganda. (God has blessed us so much!) He is in the hospital with complications right now, and I ask you to pray for him. That God would heal his body, give him strength and that God would receive the glory. It is hard for me to watch what he is going through. The pain is so great. My heart aches for him. As I watch him, I can't help but think that this may be Katie some day. I feel so helpless. I want to stop the disease and not allow it to wreak havoc on her little body. But I can't. We live in a fallen world where there is sin, pain, and suffering. My eyes have to be fixed on Christ, the One who gives us hope, who forgives us for our sins, and gives us life everlasting. One day, there will be no more tears and no more suffering. Thank you Lacey, for sharing this song and video with me and for giving me a fresh perspective.
click here to view
I am flooded with emotions right now, there are tears falling onto my keyboard, and I am reminded by another song playing right now, "...that You make everything Glorious..." We are not alone. This is not in vain. Everything will be made glorious in His time. I also think about how hard it is to watch my child suffer and to feel helpless, and then I am reminded of God watching His only Son suffer on our behalf. God loves us so much. I am overwhelmed. Thank you Jesus. Click here to view another
Monday, December 15, 2008
I will highlight some happenings from the last couple months to get you up to speed...
There was Halloween...we are not big fans of Halloween and we don't "celebrate" the day, but we do get dressed up and go to a Harvest Party hosted by a local church. I only included this so you could see the picture of our night out! Take a good look...Christopher, not Katie, is the pirate this time!
Then we had Kellen's birthday. He had a party at the bowling alley and we had a ton of fun. Kellen requested a particular cake that he had seen in one of my magazines from over a year ago. The moment he had seen this cake, he knew it was the one!
Todd got his first elk! I am sure I am leaving lots of details out on this one, so you'll have to talk to Todd to get the scoop!
The African Children's Choir was in town and it was amazing! Those kids are incredible. If they are coming to a city near you, GO! You will be in for a treat. I was emotional during the show, thinking about all that God has brought us through to unite Christopher and Katie with our family. What a fun night and we got to experience it with some dear friends!
Sickness...this could be a whole post in itself. We have had 4 with pink eye, 2 with strep throat, sinus infection, bronchitis, ear infection, emergency room trips for croup/severe breathing difficulty, emergency room trip for an inflamed hip joint which was thought to be a bone infection, impetigo, bacterial infections, hand surgery, and an allergic reaction to the antibiotic for the strep throat...and this is all in a 3 week period!
Jaden lost his two front teeth!
My sister has moved up to Montana and is in her 9th month of pregnancy! We are preparing for the birth of her little boy. We are happy to have her so close! My parents are living with us until they head back to Uganda, and the kids are loving their time with Grammy and Grandpa. Add 5 kids to the mix and a couple of dogs, and we have a full house! There is never a moment lacking in adventure. Our days are full and a wee bit busy! or crazy! However, you want to look at it!
Our life is full of blessings, and as we approach Christmas, we are so thankful that God has united our family. (Last Christmas we were longing to to have C & K here). God has accomplished a lot over this past year. As we go through dry times, it helps to look back and remember all that God has done. Today, I started reading our story from the beginning just to be reminded of our faithful and sovereign Lord. Even at times when I can't feel or see Him in the day in and day out, He is there. It has challenged me to look for glimpses of God throughout my day--even in the mundane activities or routines. I want to be in awe of God. I want to be aware of His presence.
Thank you Lord for never leaving us. May our eyes be fixed upon You, Lord, this Christmas season.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The kids (there were 13 of them!) got to sit in the jury box!
We also celebrated Sage's birthday recently as she turned 4! WooHoo!!
Katie spent another weekend in the hospital. This time she was hospitalized for sickle cell pain which we believe was caused by the sickling of cells in her back. She is doing better and ibuprofen is her best friend.
We had a major snow storm come through this last weekend which dumped 22 inches. The kids had so much fun building snow forts and snow men, throwing snowballs, and drinking hot chocolate. We lost many, many branches from our trees (the trees had not dropped all their leaves yet and it was a very heavy, wet snow).
Christopher's version of getting ready for the snow!
Sage's version of getting ready for the snow!
Since daddy did not approve of her first outfit, this was her second try at getting ready to play in the snow!
Katie's hair is slowly getting longer, and I am having fun experimenting with tons of different hair products and hair styles. Here is one of them...
This is actually Katie's favorite look. We thought hair extensions might be too expensive and take too long, so we just have her wear the head-piece from Pirate's of the Caribbean =)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There's definitely something new with Katie and Christopher. A new family dynamic; a new routine; a new perspective on God's purpose for our lives; a new beginning for all of us in many ways.
Yet, still, there is something old about it all...
Have you ever bought a pair of shoes or pants that made you look twice to make sure they weren't "pre-worn" because they provided the comfort of your old one's? Have you ever been to a place you know that you have never experienced before, and it still felt strangely like home? Have you ever made a new friend in some wierd circumstance, and after a few moments you connected like best friends since junior high?
In a very abstract way, that's what it's like with Katie and Christopher being "home". By our strange disappearance of blog entries, you may have deduced that our days have precious little "left-over" time which has definitely caused us to be more deliberate with each moment. Yet, God's presence is still abundantly clear, and His grace flows in a continual stream.
I've often found myself at the edge of a mountain stream wondering when the water will run out and stop flowing. Perplexed, I keep watching and listening as the dribble, gurggle, pop, and splash never show signs of fading.
Welcome to God's grace. It is the stream that never fades or falters. It is never late, and is always enough for the present need. Sure, there is never enough water in that mountain stream to meet the demands of hundreds of years, but there is always enough for that moment. There is an endless supply of grace; never in surplus or need; always just enough.
We remind ourselves of this as Katie is in her first major hospital visit here in Montana. She is requiring a blood transfusion to overcome some difficulties with her sickle cell. She's weak, tired of being poked and prodded by the nurses, and generally in a little of a fowl mood, but she is very gritty and tough. A couple of weeks ago she had blood drawn, and I watched in amazement as she merely blinked when they poked her with the needle. Then I watched her scream in complete terror as they attempted to put a band-aid on her wound. Go figure, but she is certainly tough. That's God's grace in the life of a little girl with a difficult disorder. His grace is practical and sufficient.
Pray for her health, and ask God to do what we pray over her every night: That she would rest in the knowledge of the presence of God.
Matt. 28:20, "...And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Lots of crying,
Lots of chaos,
Lots of messes,
Lots of laundry,
Lots of dishes,
Lots of love and joy!
We are getting into a good routine and I am feeling almost caught up on sleep. There were a couple days when Todd got home from work last week and I had the kids fed and in bed already--it was only 5:30pm! And they actually slept through the night until 7am! C & K are doing terrific. They are eating very well and liking all the new food. I know the Amani mamas would be shocked that the kids are surviving without eating any posho! Their starch bellies are even shrinking in size. Katie eats about the same size portions as Todd. She keeps eating and eating. I will ask if she is all done and she shakes her head no. I then ask if she wants more and she will sign "more." So we keep feeding her. I can't wait to take the kids to the Dr. for a checkup in a month to see how much they have grown. They already look and act healthier.
At home, the kids feel safe and secure, so we have really seen their personalities blossom. Katie is a little teaser. She has the funniest faces. She and Todd will make funny faces and point at each other--this has become a morning ritual. She makes us laugh so much. She is following commands very well and is signing "please," "more," "all done," and "thank you." She loves music, singing and dancing. Yesterday as the radio was playing, Todd picked Katie up and started dancing and twirling around with her. Katie had the biggest smile and my heart melted as time seemed to freeze for just a moment. She is just so happy so much of the time. Katie seems to be more outgoing and courageous than Christopher, but when she doesn't want to do something there is no changing her mind. She can throw a good temper tantrum!
Christopher is a ham. He loves to laugh and his new saying is "tickle, tickle, tickle!" as he tries to tickle your chin. He loves to find the humor in everything--even mischief and discipline--he usually has this little smirk that is not so funny when you are the parent. When we go out in public, Christopher is the scaredy cat. He is extremely cautious and scared of everything....
Todd's guitar, stuffed animals, toys that make noise, and most people... He will give high fives and pound knuckles, so this is a start. Today he went into the church nursery with minimal crying. When I picked him up, the workers said he did great. He just ate lots and lots of goldfish crackers--That's a sure way to get on Christopher's good side!
Jaden, Kellen, and Sage are enjoying their new brother and sister. They are adjusting very well and have become huge helpers around the house. It has been such a joy to have our family together. Although to an onlooker it appears as complete chaos in the home, there is actually a sense of peace. I even had a dream the other night that I picked up the violin and played perfectly. (I do not have one music gene in my body). Todd says the violin is the instrument of peace and that I must be feeling peaceful. I can't find any other way of describing being home and being together as family. It just feels right, normal, natural, peaceful and joyful.
I know we have been covered in prayer and I thank you for that. There has been an outpouring of love, support, encouragement, prayers, and kindness. It has been a wonderfully warm welcome home and we are so blessed. Thank you for partnering with us in this journey. I had previously mentioned in a blog, "it is finished!" I believe it is more accurate to say that that particular chapter is finished. However, this new chapter is just beginning!
**I have not forgotten about posting pics and video. It just requires a little more time than I can seem to find! One of these days...!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
We are enjoying being together as a complete family--it has been worth the wait! Everyone is adjusting well and the transition has been smooth so far. It is a very natural and normal feeling to have the babies home and to be a family of 7! There is honestly never a dull moment, and the fact that I can sit and blog for a few minutes is a miracle in itself!
Christopher and Katie are doing wonderful. Katie has just blossomed, she is so full of life and personality! Christopher is a ham...he loves being the life of the party. They are smiling all the time and are looking healthy. Jaden and Kellen are wonderful big brothers and Sage is a super big sister. Sage keeps telling everyone, "I love my brother and sister sooo much."
We are currently looking at two hospitals to treat Katie's sickle cell--one in Tennessee or one in Georgia. Please be praying as we begin the referral process and finalize decisions. We are hoping to fly out as soon as we can.
I will be posting lots of pictures and hopefully some video soon! Stay Tuned!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I am not just a little excited about reuniting with my best friend, and eagerly awaiting delivery of two 22 month-old "babies" after 2 years of labor (with many false alarms).
It's late, but if you want to be a part of the welcome home team, head on up to the airport. It's only appropriate for all who've shared in the journey, that you get to experience the joy of the fruit of your persistant labor.
Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing...[!] (Psalm 66:5)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I just now happened to stop by our house to pick up some tools for another jobsite. It was a last minute thing that I decided to do. Thank you, Lord, for letting me be so easily side-trackable.
There was a home phone message that I checked when I arrived that mentioned that Jenny and the kids were ON THEIR WAY TO NEW YORK ! My head is sort of spinning now.
Now I'm scrambling to get their flights in the US arranged.
Pray for flight availability for them on Northwest Airlines, and that the airline medical requirements would all be resolved quickly so that they may immediately get on a flight.
Pray that they will have a very direct route to Billings, MT.
Pray that Katie and Christopher hold up well, and, especially, that Katie will not need any special medical attention in flight.
Katie is doing very well. Thank you for your prayers. The oxygen support availability is all precautionary.
The good news is they have left the ground!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I stare, think fragmented thoughts, and say to God, like Aaron Shust's song:
Give me words to speak. Don't let my spirit sleep. 'Cause I can't think of anything worth saying, but I know that I owe you my life.
I woke this morning to a phone call from Jenny. Because of some confusion with the ticketing for Katie & Christopher, they were likely to miss their flight. So we prayed. The next phone call a few minutes later confirmed that God did yet another thing which is like Him. The flight was delayed by nine minutes which allowed Jenny just enought time to get the ticketing resolved and make the flight!
While I was thanking God for how His timing is perfect, I received yet another call from Jenny. While taxiing for take-off, the airline discovered that Katie has sickle-cell, and that it is possible that she may require use of their on-board oxygen supply. So, the plane turned around and returned to the gate where Jenny and the kid's baggage was unloaded and they were asked to leave the plane because the flight did not have any additional oxygen available for Katie's potential need.
Per the airlines request they will now have to return to Kampala to visit an airline approved doctor, submit a request to accomodate Katie's potential need of oxygen support, and wait for the airline's approval of that request. This delays their travel by at least two days. It is a severe understatement to say that this is not the happy birthday that Jenny was hoping for. She has reached her breaking point.
It is so difficult for Jenny and I's human minds to understand why God allows for such disappointment to occur on the heals of what we believed was some form of a miracle in getting them on the flight in time. There is no questioning His sovereignty. There is no doubt that His plan can never be made "more" perfect. Yet, in our humanness, we still ask, with great heartache, "Why?"
It is not an answer we search for. What we desire is simply a calming reminder from God that He is still in control, and that in His perfect knowledge and grace has caused these things to occur as they have for His purpose. We feel like King David who, in the midst of overwhelming spiritual torment, said, "This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High."(Psalm 77:10) We remember that God is sovereign. We remember that He has heard our, and your, prayers. We remember that He is not only capable, but He is also faithful to finish the work which He began. We remember.
Still our spirits are heavy. This journey has cost us more, in every way, than we ever imagined it would. It has likely cost us more than we would ever have agreed to willingly. However, there is not one sleepless night, one penny, one prayer, one heartache, or any single cost that we would not give again. God has taken us farther than we ever wanted to go, but we would not ask for it to be any different.
The apostle Paul said,
But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings...but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Phil. 3:8-12)What we have experienced so far in this journey is merely the tip of the iceberg of God's total plan. It has been full of: heartache, joy, anger, peace, helplessness, victory, thankfulness, humility, exhaustion, and divine strength. We have experienced God in ways and depths that we never knew existed. We have seen the power of God displayed in His people, and over those who oppose Him. Daily we have known His timely, practical, and sufficient grace. We have seen unity in the family of God that is beyond anything that we have experienced.
We regret nothing.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by Adolf Hitler for passionately following Christ, wrote:
Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.' (The Cost of Discipleship, 45)
A delay of two or three days seems a small inconvenience, yet in this portion of the journey it has felt like more than we can bear. Yet we will press on mindful of God's supremacy, and calmed and strengthened by His words and Spirit:
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shalll utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
God's plan for us is no greater or less than the plan He has for each of His people. He requires no special ability, reputation, stature, personality, giftedness, likeability, or beauty. He seeks the willing heart that would say, 'Here am I! Send me.'(Isaiah 6:8) We never imagined what God would choose to do with us when we uttered those words. We are ordinary. Jenny's a stay-at-home mom and I'm just a carpenter. We have practically nothing to contribute to His purpose; only willing hearts.
Still we say, "Here are we, LORD! Send us."
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. ~President Theodore Roosevelt
Monday, April 14, 2008
Happy, happy, happy birthday!!!!!!!!!there is a birthday, birthday for my Mom!I'm going to have Christopher & Katie for a erly show & tail.I can't wate intill Chistopher & katie get here! It's going to be a the best time ever and daddy will haveto chang dipers.and sometimes Kellen & sage & Mommy but never me.Not even if they tell me to.
mom happy birthday 03 mommy is not snowing am momtana
Vvgbbbbbbbbbbbbb kkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkggggggggkkklllk nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn jnjjhhhhhi 88
(by Sage's hands- she dictated while she typed- it's difficult to remember all of it, but she basically said that she loves you. Happy Birthday, Mommy. Thank you Jesus that I get to go to Mommy's party. It's only for girls.)
We are all waiting anxiously. God's speed home.
Friday, April 11, 2008
We are coming home!
There was a huge sigh of relief this morning as I was told that we could pick up our visas on Monday! We will begin traveling on Tuesday--my 30th birthday! What a birthday present!! I am still trying to process the reality of all this. We have been waiting, praying, trusting and believing for two years...today, Friday, April 11, 2008 is the day the Lord had appointed, and it was not delayed. Our Lord is faithful. He is so faithful. All those times I felt discouragement, hopelessness, and fear...my God kept reminding me to trust Him, to wait and be of good courage. It is hard waiting. Not one part of me likes to wait, but it is for our own good and for God's glory. As I look back at all the obstacles (and there have been plenty of them) I have seen God receive the glory and honor and praise. It is worth that every single time!
Our discouraging day yesterday, along with the pouring down rain, caused us to remain in our car the entire day. I wanted to have a pity party. I felt hopeless. There was even a very real possibility that we may not be able to receive the visas. I was so discouraged. Pastor Sam started praying, singing, encouraging, quoting scripture, retelling Bible stories...all in the presence of our Muslim driver. It donned on me at that moment...this is why "it is not all about me." I become so focused on what I want, and I want God to give me an instant answer, blessing, or miracle. But He will choose what will bring Him the most glory. In the long scheme of things, having to wait a little longer is nothing compared to having someone accept Christ as their Savior, seeing others increase their faith, or being a part of making God's name famous around the world. Yet in receiving another full day of trials, we got to be a tool in God's hands. There is truly no greater joy than walking in the fullness of His Spirit.
Honestly, everyday of this week, I have said, "This has been the longest day of my life." And then the next day I would say, "Alright, this has been the longest day." It has been a spiritually challenging and physically exhausting week. Satan has been working overtime all around us. But our God has defeated Satan! He has given us victory. This morning as my mom woke up, the first thing that ran through her head was, "This is the day the Lord has made." As I was sitting in the official's office this morning, God said to me, "This is the day!" It is amazing to see, to live, to feel, to experience, the day we have been waiting for and it has come without delay. There has not been anything that has taken God by surprise. He has used everything for good, even that which Satan intended for evil. Our God is so good. He is awesome and worthy of praise.
Take time to rejoice! Shout praises to our God! Sing a new song to our Lord! Get on your knees and worship our King. HE IS FAITHFUL!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
That night, I called in reinforcement. I had my mom and Pastor Sam meet me in Kampala today to help with the kids, to be prayer warriors present on the battlefield, and to offer the encouragement I so desperately needed. Today was a wonderful day that will be marked in the history books of our family...we got C & K's passports today!! There is absolutely no way to explain this other than a miracle! We are rejoicing, to put it lightly.
Tomorrow early morning, Mom, Pastor Sam, the kids and I are going to the US Embassy for the final step--the visas! Please cover us and this official in prayer. We are so close! Words cannot describe the range of emotions I feel as I approach the finish line after two years of waiting.
Thank you Jesus!
Monday, April 7, 2008
I do not know where to start...
I had a great time in Masaka and met wonderful people. They love the Lord and have the most beautiful servant's hearts. When I would thank them for their unending hospitality, inconveniences, and service, they would always respond...we are all called to serve...Jesus said whoever is the least among these will become the greatest. Jesus himself washed his disciples feet. He came to serve not to be served....Again I was humbled by their perspective on life and their willingness to serve continually and joyfully.
My driver met me at the hotel at 6:30 am today, and I was accompanied by Jacqui (Pastor Benjamin's wife, who is 9 months pregnant and not supposed to travel, but just had to meet me and spend time with me!), Pastor Sam (who works alongside Pastor Benjamin at Mountain of the Lord Church, and is working at teaching me Luganda), and Fredrick (my brother! if you haven't heard this story before I will have to tell you later!). It was quite the team! I felt surrounded by God's handpicked army as I entered the battlefield of Kampala.
We tried to no avail to find a certain official, but this person could never be found. We walked down hallways, into rooms, up stairs, down stairs, through security, talking to this person and that, made phone calls...it was so frustrating and we finally left. We met the Amani foster coordinator along with C & K at the courthouse. We sat and waited just hoping that our written ruling might be done today. Because we have such a tight schedule this week, I wanted to make the most of every minute, so we waited in hopes that the ruling just might come today and allow us to get started on the next process a half a day sooner. But I was totally prepared for spending the night in Kampala and starting again the next morning. Our lawyer found us around 11am and said that the registrar had not yet shown up. I was crushed. And frustrated. But having Sam with me was like having instant encouragement. He was quietly praying the entire day. He continually reminded me that our God is capable of accomplishing anything. Even in the past, if prayers have not been answered according to our wants, we cannot stop believing. We have to continue praying even when we don't understand. About an hour later, the registrar showed up! And he said that he would sign our papers in another 45 minutes! Praise the Lord. We finally received the papers and it was quite a moment of rejoicing. Then we left to go to another official's office. There is an enormous amount of details I could go into to explain my feelings of anger, frustration, nervousness, and outright fear. When I had to speak, my voice was shaky. My knees felt like they would buckle, my heart was pounding...all this and we are in a small crowded office where it was probably 100 degrees and C & K screamed almost the entire time. C & K had also missed their nap and none of us had had a bite to eat. I began to imagine angels surrounding us at the entrance of the room, on either side of his desk, by the window, on the couch with us, and even in the adjacent room. I knew God was softening his heart. It took four hours to obtain the letter, but God prevailed! It truly is a miracle.
So tomorrow I start the passport process. We are getting closer and closer as I got to cross two steps off our list today. Hallelujah!
Christopher and Katie are doing very well. Katie is looking great. She did not get carsick today! She smiled all morning (at least until we ended up in a certain office), she drank a ton of water today, and she was so happy. She is saying more and more words. I believe God is bringing health to her little body. Christopher is such a character and is very expressive. He is so much fun and loves to laugh. It is good to see them doing well. I know it is in response to your prayers. Thank you!
I know I am being vague on many things. I will have to elaborate at a different time. God is at work, He is revealing His glory, and He is giving us the victory! All praise and honor and glory are His!
Today is "On-your-knees" Day! I don't know any details, other than the enemy wants to stop it all! Victory is not his to take, however, and we will not give up the fight! Raise your swords high Saints! The Sovereign King goes before us!
"No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You." (Psalm 33:16-22)
Today is "On-your-knees" Day!
Friday, April 4, 2008
Today we went to Kayunga district. We got to see Tender Mercies Outreach office. (See www.tendermercies.org) Then we went to one of the schools where Tender Mercies is focusing a lot of their efforts. This school has 700 children...and we met all of them! First we inflated a huge football and I had the children form a big circle. I had Prichard translate for me as I made up a few games we could play with this extra, extra large ball. The kids were laughing and having so much fun. It was a great sight. We also blew so many bubbles. The kids were screaming with enthusiasm and chasing bubbles and the ball for over 2 hours! Then I went into each classroom and was introduced and handed out "sweeties" to each child. I also gave each classroom a special gift..a puzzle, a football, bouncy balls... They were so appreciative. We explained that these gifts came from people in America. The givers of these gifts wanted the children to know that they love them and that Jesus loves them. We told them not to thank us, but to thank God for these gifts. We were told by the HeadMaster that we made a huge difference today. He said every child will go home and tell their parents that they had special visitors who gave them presents. For a village that is dominated by witchcraft, we cannot underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working through us in demonstrating love to these kids. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but had the most wonderful time.
Also, we began to realize how God had so perfectly orchestrated so many things to allow my mom, dad and I to experience this today. There are way too many details to explain now, but take my word, this day was planned, directed, and fulfilled by our Lord. He had a purpose in us being there!
Today I found out that, once again, our written ruling was not completed. We will have to wait until Monday and hopefully get things going on Tuesday. There are a lot of crucial decisions I am having to make and some very specific connections that have to happen (i.e. meeting the right person at the right time, all of whom need to be in a good mood on that particular day and more than willing to help us out. Pray, Pray, Pray!) We are wanting more than ever to be finished and ready to go home as scheduled! I believe it can happen.
One last thing...My parents and I are leaving for Masaka tomorrow. I am excited and plan on being there until Monday or Tuesday.
Our piki's are here! I will fill you in on more details as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued prayers. They are making a difference for eternity.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Lacey, thank you for your last post. I enjoyed reading that perspective of the widow. I am continuing to reflect on that passage to grasp the full meaning that God has intended for me. It is so fun to see how God works in our lives with these intricate details.
My parents have arrived! My camera battery has stretched its life to give me a few great pictures of the kids with Grammy and Grandpa. (Jessica, your insight into the converter/adapter was extremely helpful....thank you so much!)
Christopher immediately went to my mom and dad. He gave them big hugs and was filled with lots of giggles. He rarely chooses to leave my arms. However, he kept reaching and whining for my parents. If my mom would hold him, he would then lean to my dad. As soon as my dad took him, Christopher would lean back to my mom. He could not get enough of them and could not decide who he wanted. We did a lot of passing back and forth for the 3 hour trip back to Jinja. Katie does not do well in cars, but this was the first time she did not get sick! WooHoo! Because she doesn't feel well in the car, she was fussy and clingy. Today, however, she has been full of smiles and giggles. Dad pushed C & K on the tire swing for awhile, and they absolutely loved it. I got some great pictures that I will post soon. This afternoon, Grammy and Grandpa got to take a special outing with C & K (or as my kids like to call it...C & K got to go on a "date" with Grammy and Grandpa). They got to give C & K ice cream, and then we all went on a boat ride. C & K loved it and were pointing at all the birds. We got to see many monkeys, and they kept saying "monkey" and pointing. It was a special time together.
Tomorrow we are going to a village called Kayunga, with Tender Mercies Outreach. This is through a connection I made with Prichard. (Nadine, thank you for setting up our meeting!...I believe meeting him was a divine appointment. He has so encouraged me about sicklers and is a great new friend. Also, he is friends with Terry, who is someone my parents were supposed to meet with upon arriving here, but they didn't have his number or anything! God is so good! We also met Charles, another Ugandan, who was wearing a "Billings Central High School" shirt!) I am planning on taking more supplies/gifts to Kayunga to distribute to the students. There are about 33 students in this program, all of whom have AIDS, sickle cell anemia, or are HIV positive. I believe this has been scheduled by God, so I am looking forward to our time in Kayunga. This particular village is dominated with witchcraft. Pray that we continue to shine the light of Jesus, share the gospel, and for Tender Mercies Outreach to have a major impact in the lives of this village. To God be the Glory!
Jaden, Kellen and Sage...you will have to tell Mamaw to make lots of banana bread...Christopher and Katie LOVE banana bread too! I received my pictures, paintings, and letters that you sent me. I have enjoyed each one and have them hanging around my hotel room! I think of each of you ALL the time. I just know that you would love it here. There is a really big swimming pool with pretend crocodiles! You could ride on the back of a boda boda all by yourself! You could carry babies on your back like the other 5 and 6-year-olds do! You could play drums, sing and dance, play soccer, catch lightning bugs, and learn to carry things on your head! Give Daddy a great big, super-duper hug from Mommy. XXOO
I am having a great time and believe that God is continuing to direct my time here and use it fully for His purposes and glory. I received word today that our written ruling should be finished tomorrow and ready for pick-up! That would mean that we could start out Monday by traveling to Kampala to get the passport process started. Erryn and I are feeling the time crunch, but are believing that we will finish in time to make our flight home. We are counting on your prayers. We have already witnessed so many answers. Praise God!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Once again I am amazed how God has spoken to us through scripture. Last night we spoke about your week. You said at church JB talked about the widow with two coins. I had just came across the exact scripture in Mark only days before. It is amazing how God shared the same story with both of us within days of each other. After opening my bible today I was given 100% confirmation that we didn’t hear that portion of scripture by chance. I actually didn’t believe my eyes when I looked down and saw WIDOW WITH TWO COINS written at the top of the page. It was a character sketch of this women. I knew I had to share this with you.
She stood in the corner of the temple, fingering her last two coins. They were worth less than a penny, but she hesitated, reflecting on the last few years of her life, her husbands death, the struggle to make ends meet. Without a family to support her, she had nowhere to turn. All she had left lay in her hand. It wasn’t much-perhaps she should hang on to it.
Then she remembered the goodness of the Lord and all that he had done for her. She could not withhold from the one who had sustained her and blessed her. No. She had to let go. Surely he would provide a way for her to survive.
As she dropped the coins into the box, a heavy weight fell from her shoulders. She was totally in the Lord’s hands now. He had invited her to trust him far beyond the comfort zone of faith. Her heart leapt. She felt free. Her struggle was over, and God was in control. She felt safer than she had ever felt in her life. She fell on her knees to worship Jehovah-Jireh, her provider, Jehovah-Shalom, her peace.
She had given her coins in secret, thinking no one saw. Unknown to her, Jesus watched and made note of her gift. “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said,’I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”
He alone knew how much it had cost her. EVERYTHING. She gave not just her money, but her heart, her trust, her daily bread, her future. He alone knew how much she had gained- freedom of a child of God leaning wholly on her creator. Her act was praiseworthy in his sight.
Life is unpredictable. We never know when we might come to the end of our resources-financial, emotional, mental or spiritual. We may think ourselves alone in the struggle, but the Lord is always watching. In our time of need, we can remember this dear widow who so blessed the Lord. She brought everything she had and laid it at his feet. She left with everything she needed, her hand in his.
I committed to writing a final blog when I returned to America. I have been here over a week and am just now settling back into life here. However, I don’t know that my heart will ever settle here. I believe that is how God wants it to be. God took me to Africa for a reason. I feel so blessed to be an American, we have so very much to be thankful for here. I will admit that I am struggling to make sense of this life and all of the stuff I have accumulated here. What does that mean? Where do I go from here? I don’t know, but I thank God for sending me, for transforming me, for showing me what it means to truly have Joy in the Lord, no matter what the circumstance . I went with hopes to teach others, and in return I was taught so much. My life will never be the same, and for that I am grateful.
Todd and Jenny thanks again for including me in your journey! I can't wait to hold those beautiful babies in my arms again!
Yesterday I spent a couple hours at Amani with Christopher and Katie. Katie must be feeling well because her little personality is just blossoming. They are so much fun! During this time, I received the great news that the judge said YES! I was shouting praises to God with 11 little children all around me. They all began raising their hands in the air like I was doing. We are so happy!
This entire adoption process has felt like a never-ending marathon. Not only do I have to run, but I have to jump hurdles! Each hurdle is a huge accomplishment, but the importance and weight of the next hurdle looms over me. I am rejoicing over this particular victory but am continuing to pray for the next several steps we have yet to pass. We also found out that the wording of the ruling could potentially pose a problem. We cannot do anything but wait and trust in our Lord. I know He has a plan and He will see us through. In the mean time...KEEP PRAYING!
* We need a written ruling
* We meet with an official who has to write a letter to enable us to file for passports
* We file for C & K's passports--this can be an intense process
* We take our written ruling, our "okay" from the medical exams (which we have already done), and the children's passports and apply for the visa. This is where the wording on the ruling is crucial. This determines whether or not the children get a visa and clearance to come to the US for final adoption.
I have 9 days to get this accomplished (if you include the day I fly out)! We want to leave as scheduled. Please continue to pray us through the remainder of this process. We are so close! I am thankful we can be in this journey together with so many of you. Even though many miles separate us, we are unified through the bonding of the Holy Spirit. We get to celebrate together -- our Lord is awesome!
Yesterday, after I got the ruling, I went to Calvary Chapel and helped dig post holes. They are raising several tarps/tents (for shade) for a funeral that is today. (A 76 year old missionary, who has been here for more than 30 years passed away this weekend from natural causes). It was so hot yesterday and the labor was intense. There are very few tools to work with, and the ones that are available, are in poor shape or are very primitive. No one had gloves, so we received many blisters. Yet it was an incredible bonding time. Watching a handful of these men dig a six-foot-deep grave was emotionally overwhelming. It took an entire day--and they would not stop until is was finished. It spoke of such an intimate love, compassion and respect for this missionary couple.
Later that afternoon, I spent a few hours with Grace. She cooked another delicious meal for me and then we left together to go to a women's prison. There is a team of about five women that go 2 times a week to do a Bible study with the prisoners and to also teach an English class--using scripture! There are about 30 women that show up regularly. It was another wonderful experience.
I continue to meet people that love the Lord with all their heart--I am being blessed tremendously. It is hard to imagine never returning to this place. I know I will return one day, and hopefully with my entire family! Once you experience a place like this, it does something to your heart. You cannot remain unchanged. You cannot go on living the same. You have to make a choice...who will you serve? Who will you give your life to? What are the most important things in life? It is a very reflective time, and it causes you to take an evaluation of the life you are living. I know, more than ever, with incredible confidence, that I serve an awesome God who loves His people. Life is about glorifying Him. There is no greater joy!
I am signing off...I get to go pick up my parents from the airport! Yippee!! C & K are going with me to meet Grammy and Grandpa. My camera battery is dying...and I cannot find my converter to charge the batteries. Pray that my camera batteries lasts long enough to get pictures of this first meeting of grandchild/grandparent!
Thank you for partnering with us.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
And He's bringing our babies home!
The Judge said "Yes."
Thank you. There are still several administrative things to take care of, including receiving the "written" ruling. Keep praying! You all are a force rallied in the name of Christ! You're prayers are powerful because they are received by the Creator of the universe who loves to answer them!
Stand by for the...rest of the story...
Monday, March 31, 2008
It's a bit frustrating, but God is helping us to keep our minds and hearts on the things that really matter. 20 years from now, it won't have mattered if we had to wait two extra weeks for that ruling. However, right now, it can seem like an eternity.
I'm not by nature a high-strung individual, but these last couple weeks have me feeling like I'm on a quadruple espresso shot I.V. dripline. I awoke this morning to my heart sounding like a hyper squirrel on a treadmill, anxious for news from the court.
I know many of you whom have prayed so intently for this ruling are anxious for news, as well. Thank you, and pray with us that God will help us rest in Him. That peace would still characterize our days, and that every evil thought toward those who "seem" responsible for delays would be dispelled immediately that our attitudes would resonate Christ. The world already knows what it looks like when folks are self-absorbed, impatient, prideful, greedy, unthankful, and full of slander, but, as Christ-followers, we are not of that world. God's Spirit lives in us that we would imitate Christ, no matter how great the temptation to have bitterness in our hearts.
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.'
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:16-18)
...so, knowing that God does all things with purpose, we will consider this an opportunity for kingdom work and His display of His more perfect glory.
Katie is doing terrific! She has energy and spunk! She is smiling and is even saying a few words. She was very active this morning while playing with all the toys. She looks great! Thank you Jesus!
I have been having a great time. I am so thankful for Rachel and Arielle, they have truly been an incredible blessing to me. Arielle's parents and sister were visiting for the last couple weeks, and we joked that Rachel and I were their 4th and 5th daughters. They were so kind and generous, they encouraged me with hugs, prayed for me, and were great company over many dinners. I believe this is another way God has ministered to me...it is tough being in Africa alone, but I have not felt alone because I have been surrounded with new friends who I just love!
Yesterday, we had to take Arielle's family to the airport, so we made a fun day trip out of it. We went to Kampala Pentecostal Church (KPC), see www.kpcministries.org, you can also YouTube this church! It was a very powerful church service. The singing was incredible. Just watching Ugandans praise the Lord through song causes many emotions to stir within me. Seeing their hands lifted high, jumping up and down, shouting with excitement, swaying back and forth and dancing...they are singing their hearts out to the Lord. It is beautiful. KPC has started an orphanage called Watoto Babies Home, see www.watoto.com This place is amazing! We got to tour this facility and love on the children here. None of these children can be adopted, but they are in a great place. It would be wonderful if every orphanage in the world could look like this one.
One our way home, the main road to Jinja became closed (we don't know why). So we took a detour on a tiny, one lane, extremely bumpy, road at 10:30pm, where traffic is still trying to go two ways. A huge truck carry a lot of cargo, was going the opposite way and caused everyone to come to a standstill. Everyone turned off their engines and got out of their cars, trying to direct traffic in the dark. Imagine 20 Ugandans all shouting at the same time, some vans going in reverse barely skimming the side of our van, while we are sitting in a stuffy van trying to figure out what is going on. As Rachel sticks her head out of the van to have a say, we see a man peeing right in front of us. That is when we had one of the moments..."we really are in Africa!" As I write this, I realize there is no way of accurately portraying the chaos last night! We finally had to just laugh, and were thankful when we arrived at 11:45pm. We got home just in time for a huge thunderstorm!
As I write this, I just got a message that, Nicolas, our lawyer is waiting at the courthouse right now. He will call as soon as he receives any news! I will keep you posted.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I held her for 1 1/2 hours today while she slept on my chest, but she was really restless. I feel so helpless for her. It seems that her health status changes so quickly from day to day, even hour to hour. I long to see her healthy and well.
Thank you for your prayers.
This is at Mama Susan's house. This is her sink and her "pantry" area. There is no refrigerator. There is no hot water, but she is blessed to have running water--A trickle out of a makeshift faucet.
Mama Susan's daughter, Sarah, and her house girl, named "Kevin Cinderella" are doing my hair. They kept laughing and couldn't believe that my hair was so "slippery."
We had fun making funny faces for the camera. They would laugh hysterically when they would see their picture on the digital camera. We had to take a funny picture again, and again, and again...
They taught me how to make beads out of magazine paper. Then Sarah, who is five years old, showed me how she makes the necklaces. Mama Susan said it is important for her to learn how to contribute to the family's income.
This is Mama Susan's kitchen. Kitchens are always outside. She has two little stoves as you can see in the picture. She cooked me a feast using this kitchen. It took her 2 1/2 hours and the meal consisted of chicken (which is a luxury item cooked only when a visitor comes), rice, potatoes, avocado, and cabbage. She also made fresh squeezed passion juice and bought me my own 1 liter of coke. Hospitality is amazing here in Africa. I have learned so much from them about giving from your heart, giving all you have and giving the best.
I was distributing magazines to the mamas. These magazines are used to make beads so the mamas can make necklaces and earn a little extra income.
I am enjoying my time here in Africa. I just wish I could click my heels together and have Todd and the kids appear! I miss them so much and the thought of being here another two weeks is overwhelming. I want my time here to count for eternity. I want to make the most of each moment. I want my times with the Lord to be sweet. It is so difficult being patient and waiting on the Lord. All throughout scripture I am reminded to wait on the Lord, to be of good courage, the Lord is with me, and He is faithful. I know God is stretching me and growing me...so it is for my good...but it is still hard!
May God receive all the glory! Amen.