Click here to read our adoption story from the beginning.

Ethiopia

Exciting News!

We have news about our adoption.  We have decided to pursue adopting a waiting child using a different adoption agency.  

Watch our video to hear our announcement.

INVITE 25

Copy this into your email, text, or social media messenger & send to 25 friends:

I know this family, and I gave $2.  Can you please give just $2 to make sure this child is placed into a loving home?  Then ask 25 friends to watch this video -->  http://bit.ly/2gukH6z

2 Years Waiting

Sunday was the 2nd anniversary of our DTE.  DTE stands for Dossier To Ethiopia, and it is the date that all our adoption paperwork was officially sent to Ethiopia.  We have been in line, waiting to be matched with a child for two years now.  That a long time.  It was hard not to feel discouraged Sunday.  Our family celebrated our DTE date last year with a fun day of sledding, fro-yo, and a movie.  This year we just did dinner out and fro-yo.  It’s hard to be happy about waiting, but I was glad we gave it our best shot.

Something that occurred to me when I was thinking about how long two years is out of our life.  I’ve been obsessing over the founding father Alexander Hamilton since the moment I first listed to the broadway musical soundtrack of Hamilton.  I bought myself his biography by Ron Chernow, and now I know way too much about his life.  In my defense, it is endlessly fascinating.

In history class we learn these events: Boston tea party, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War, Constitutional Convention, Federalist Papers, ratifying and adopting the Constitution.  They all run together in the timeline in my mind.  I picture one leading to the next over a short period of time, but I’m wrong.  As I was reading about Hamilton, I was struck by the lengths of times each of these feats in our country’s history took.  The revolutionary war forged on for 8 years.  Can you believe it lasted almost a decade?  If I knew that in 8th grade, I’ve forgotten.  It took 1 1/2 years to convince congress to adopt the constitution that was written 11 years after independence was declared.

Good things take time.  We live in such an immediate world.  Instant streaming, periscoping, live-tweeting, fast food, and Amazon prime are all part of our daily speak.  My two years of waiting, even if I end up waiting two more years, will all be worth it.  It will be good.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
— James 1:17 ESV

Here's a sample of Hamilton.  This track is aptly titled "Wait for It."  It's actually my favorite song from the musical.  It is sung from the point of view of Aaron Burr, the vice president who kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  Fun fact:  when he says "My grandfather was a fire and brimstone preacher," he means Jonathan Edwards.  Yes, the preacher critical in The Great Awakening was Aaron Burr's grandfather.  Whoa!  Clearly I'm down the rabbit hole.  Send help.

Why I can't imagine not going back

Last week my friend and mission trip leader for the August 2015 ACT trip Shelly Wilson posted a blog titled "Why I'm Going Back."  She explained all the reasons why she felt that God wanted her to go on another mission trip to Ethiopia this summer, even though she, her husband, and her daughter had gone to Ethiopia last summer.

It was great blog post, and you should totally read it.

This weekend I filled out my application to be on her mission team in August.  One of the questions was "Describe why you want to visit the orphans?" and I answered, "I can't imagine not going back."

There are two reason I feel going back isn't even an option for me.  One is that my future son is only a drop in the bucket of the orphan crisis.

I've heard this phrase a lot when I tell people that we are on the list to adopt from Ethiopia.

"You are going to change that kid's whole future."

It's true, and I get goosebumps thinking about what God (not I) am doing in our son's life.

But the fact is that their are millions of orphans in the world that will never get the chance to be adopted.  If you go with the most conservative number, 17.8 million children have lost both their mother and father.  The amount of children that have been adopted in the last decade through international adoption is around 178,000 adoptions.  If you make that into a ratio, it means that less than 1% of those orphans are adopted into a family.

More than 99% of the world's orphans will never be adopted.

Knowing that fact, I can't help but do all the big and little things God sets before me to care for orphans that will never be adopted.

Honestly, I saw needs in the orphanages that were not being met.  I will continue to try to help meet those needs until I hear an audible voice of God telling me to stop.

It is clear to me from God's word that continuing to try to meet the needs of those parentless children is what we as Christians are suppose to be doing.



The second reason I can't imagine not going back is the book of Acts.  If you haven't got out your Bible and read through Acts lately, do it.  Do it, and ask yourself it the early church reminds you of your body of believers.  Most likely you will see some things you and your church are getting right, but you will also be convicted of some things your church is missing the mark on.

Specifically Acts 4:32-37 where it describes the early church sharing their earthy possessions until "there was not a needy person among them" has really opened some serious debate in my head and made my heart so sensitive to the needs of other believers.

On our trip we met the most beautiful, sweet, Christian family.  This family was only a mom and her son, Samuel.  They were both HIV+ and living in a 100 square feet home of corrugated metal and cardboard.  Knowing that this family and I were part of the same Bride of Christ broke my heart in a way that I cannot explain.  This woman was dealing with a serious illness, depression, raising a teenage son with a serious illness, and she was doing it all with less earthly possessions than my 4 year old.

I knew God was taking care of her, and I knew the hope of Jesus was more real to her than most Christians.  But now that I had meet this family, these believers in His church, I knew I was responsible to now live my life like I knew about them, no longer in ignorance of their existence.

Faces are covered out of respect for privacy.
If there is anything I can do to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ in Ethiopia, I feel I have the responsibility to do it.  Visiting them is encouragement.  Praying for them is encouragement.  Giving is encouragement.  Our mission trip in August will allow me to do all three of these things.

Now that I've told you why I can't imagine not going back to Ethiopia again this August, think about if you can image going.  We have 6 people who have signed up for this trip, and I know God has a few more He is calling to go along with us.  Let me know if that might be you.



I hope I can be the kind of friend you call when the rice is running thin.

Run Daren Run

Check out this website http://www.rundarenrun.com. Daren is running 100 marathons in 100 days to raise money for clean water in Ethiopian communities. I'm so impressed with his goals and ability to use his gifts to help others for the glory of God.

He will be running through my town of Amarillo February 8th and 9th.  I don't know about you, but I'm hoping to give him a high-five.















Water is such a basic need, and there is no reason these communities Ethiopia shouldn't have that need met.  Please consider donating to his cause!



One Year Waiting - Celebrating our DTE Day

Today was the anniversary of our paperwork being sent to Ethiopia.  It is one year since our DTE day or Dossier to Ethiopia day.

Instead of dwelling on the long wait we've had and the long wait that is probably ahead of us, we wanted to celebrate.  We are thankful for everything God has done in our family.  Today we had a family fun day full of sledding, fro-yo, movies, and Thai food.

Here's some pictures and videos of our fun day.

Please pray with us for our little boy.  We miss him even though we don't even know him yet.  Pray he is safe, fed, and being cared for as we wait to have him join our family.

Thank you,
James, Jennifer, Lucy, Andrew, and Gabe




















Christmas Ornament Fundraiser

I've started making a few Christmas ornaments for a fundraiser for a children's home in Uganda.  The fundraiser is coming up in November.  I'll post the details soon.

Since the ornaments turned out so cute.  I thought I would add them to our Etsy page, fundraising for our our adoption.  I know not everyone has my  passion  obsession with Africa.  So I've made ornaments with coffee cups too.  If you don't have my   passion  obsession with coffee,  something is wrong with you  it's ok.

Click here to purchase an ornament.

Stay tuned for more information about the Sweet Dreams Fundraiser for Karama Children's Home in Uganda, and mark November 20th on your calendar.   You won't want to miss it.








My Week in Ethiopia

**A note about pictures: I don't feel comfortable posting photos of the children we visited on any website or social media, so I don't have any of those here. They don't have parents to protect their privacy, so I feel it's my responsibility to do that. Some orphanages did not allow photos at all and the orphanages that did allow photos expected us to be responsible with when and where we used those photos. I did make a DVD slide show to share with my church family and supporters, if you would like a copy, please email me.

To start off with, I want to tell you a few things about Ethiopia, and why I even went on this trip. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never colonized by any other country. Ethiopians are very proud of that fact, and the result is that they have held onto their culture very well. Ethiopia did have an occupation of Italy from 1936 to 1941, and they fought a war to keep Italy from taking control of their government. The result of that occupation that is actually quite good, is that Ethiopia has some great Italian food. We had some amazing pizza the last night we were there. Ethiopia is twice the size of Texas, and they have 91 million people. The city we visited was the capital, Addis Ababa, and they have about 4 million people. Of those 91 million, 4.3 million of them are orphans (meaning they have lost a mother or a father or both.) That means 5% of the total population is an orphan. 2.4 million of those children have lost their mother (and 500,000 of those losses were caused by AIDS.) Of the 4.3 million, 600,000 of them are double orphans (meaning they have lost both their mother and their father.) There are many other reasons a child could end up in an orphanage. Children are abandoned everyday because their family cannot feed and care for that child due to poverty, sickness, or other reasons. Many children are abandoned when their surviving parent remarries, and the new parent does not want to care for the children from the previous marriage. Only 0.002% of these orphans will ever be adopted.  International adoption is not making a dent in caring for the 147 million orphans worldwide. Our call to care for the orphan as Christians (James 1:27, 1 John 3:16-18, Deut. 14:28-29, Deut. 24:17-22) will need to be met in other ways besides international adoption.  This trip was an opportunity for me to do just that.

Day One (Saturday):

We arrived in Addis. As soon as you walk off the plane and smell the spices in the air, and you know that that you are in Africa. Our group was made up of 4 Texans and 8 North Carolinians. The Texans included the Wilson family, Barry, Shelly and 12 year old Libby, and me. The North Carolinians included Cindy (our brave leader), Kesha, Courtney, Janelle, Suzanne, Angie, and Keri. If you noticed, Barry was the only guy name in that list. Barry braved it out with 11 females. There's an extra crown for him in Heaven. The 12 of us were able to bring 31 suitcases full of supplies for the orphanages we would visit. Getting all of those bags off the conveyer belt and onto carts (we had about 7 or 8 of them) and outside to the vans was nothing short of a circus.



The drive from the airport to the guesthouse seemed surreal. I listed some of the things I saw on the drive in my journal: donkeys, a mom sitting on the side of the busy street with her two young children and nursing her baby, small children darting to cross the busy street in traffic on their own, cattle - some in the middle of the road, small feed lots full of goats, a "tent" made out of tarps with a woman and toddler inside, lots and lots of small businesses, boys selling shoe shines on almost every corner, fruit stands, trucks full of fruit, homemade wheelbarrows full of fruit, barber shops, people selling sugarcane.

 




Day Two (Sunday): We had the blessing of going to church at the International Evangelical Church. The church was had many races of people there. The worship team had Americans, Africans, and Asians leading. The pastor, Dr. Mesghina Medhin, was from Eritrea, which is a small country northeast of Ethiopia. His sermon about Barnabas the encourager and his personal testimony were both such a blessing to me.




After church, we visited Kaldi's Coffee for lunch. I had the most amazing Macchiato. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, so it was no surprise that their coffee was topnotch. According to popular legend, Kaldi was the name of the Ethiopian goatherd who was responsible for discovering the coffee plant. The Kaldi's also served really great french fries, even though I don't eat fries much at home, it was comforting to eat something so American.




Israel, AWAA's Investigation and Referral Coordinator, was our guide for all of our outings in Ethiopia. I really enjoyed getting to know her better at Kaldi's that afternoon. She has an amazing testimony and incredible life. She was a sponsored child through Compassion International all the way through college, and she is such an example of how that program can help people become a success and more importantly come to know Jesus. Throughout the week, I watched her time and time again defend her faith and live out the calling that God has put on her life. If you don't sponsor a child through Compassion, go to their website and start one now.



Day Three (Monday):

Finally it was our first day of visiting orphanages. We visited 2 orphanages on Monday. Orphanage #1 was a private orphanage, and probably the best orphanage we visited. Their children were well cared for. The first thing they did was take us into visit the babies. It was heaven. We got to sit and hold babies for about an hour. I could have stayed all day. It was quite crowded with over thirty babies, a few nannies, and the 12 of us in the small playroom. They were so precious, and I will never forget how they really hugged me tight when I held them. The older children were also very sweet, and we had a great time playing games and music with them. They had a great basketball court and playground to play on. Angie is a music teacher, so we brought 100 instruments (sticks, bells, and shakers) as an activity to share with all the children we visited throughout the week.



The second orphanage we visited, orphanage #2, was also a private orphanage, but it was smaller than the first orphanage. The children had prepared a few songs to sing for us, and we really enjoyed their sweet little voices. We played our music instruments with them, and they had so much fun. One girl shared her tribal dance with us, and it was quite impressive.


Day Four (Tuesday):

Visiting the transition home was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Our agency has a home where they bring children to get them ready to be matched with a family.  The children live at the transition home while they go through court and until they are finally taken home by their new parents.  They have a child psychologist and pediatrician on staff to get the children ready mentally and physically to be adopted.  They also verify that the children's stories match up with what is on their paperwork and help the child deal with the trauma that they have faced in their short lives.




One of the things Shelly and Cindy did before we left was collect care packages and photo releases from adoptive families that have already been matched with children at the transition home.  We were able to deliver gallon sized gifts to the children from their parents.  That was a blast.  It was so fun watching them open their package.  It usually had photos, small toys, and gum.  The other children stood around giggling as the package was opened.  The children were so quick to share their new goodies.  The gum spread like wildfire through the transition home.

It was also a privilege to take photos of those children for their parents at home.  I think we had 10 kids to take photos and videos of while we were there.  That was a little hectic, but I knew how much those moms and dads would treasure getting extra photos of their children.  I was thrilled to minister to those adoptive families in that way.


The transition home treated us to a coffee ceremony.  I'm serious that Ethiopia is serious about their coffee.  They have a tradition of welcoming guests with a coffee ceremony.  The coffee is prepared in a jebena (traditional coffee pot) on a small stove of coals.  There is this mix of spices that is placed on the coals like incense.  The coffee is served with a nice set of coffee cups, fresh bread, and popcorn.  It's like nothing I have ever experienced.




It was also an Orthodox holiday called Buhu that day.  There is a tradition on that day that boys go door to door with, walking sticks rhythmically pounding on the ground, singing the song Hoya Hoye, which praises the home owner and asks for bread.  The homeowner then gives the boys bread or in modern times - money.  This scenario had played out at our guest house gate that morning, and it was acted out by the children at the transition home during our coffee ceremony.  It made me wish America had more fun, sing-song, non-commerical traditions like this one.



After lunch we headed off to Orphanage #4 to meet "Rachel."  Here is a link to my post about Rachel.

For dinner that night, we had a night out to a touristy Ethiopian restaurant.  The food was delicious and the entertainment was really fun, but it was clearly the type of restaurant that out-of-towners were brought to.  There was a table of French people next to us and a table of Chinese businessmen behind us.  We have a restaurant like this where I live called The Big Texan.  I've only ate there once in the 18 years I've lived in Amarillo, and it was because I was drug there by a group of out-of-towners.  So we ate at The Big Texan of Ethiopia.  I'll admit it.  I had fun.  Here's a little video I made of the restaurant.





Day Five (Wednesday):

After having a great day on Tuesday, Wednesday was tough day for me.

We visited orphanage #5, a government orphanage for younger children.  They did not allow any photos at the government orphanage.  We took the largest portion of our supplies to orphanage #5.  We also used some of our money to buy them formula and diapers at the Safeway Supermarket.  The biggest highlight was getting to hand out candies and a few crocheted frisbees to the 6 and 7 year old children playing outside.  They were so excited about the candy.




Orphanage #6 was a private orphanage, and they had only a few children.  We visited it just to advocate for one of the children of off the waiting child list that was living at that orphanage.  It was a short visit, but we did get to see a few babies that had just been brought to private orphanage #6 from the government orphanage #5.  They were in a room by themselves, and they looked happy to be in a quiet spot.

After we visited the two orphanages for the day, we had a special treat of visiting the Hope for Korah ministry.  Korah is a neighborhood of homes that built up so that they could be close to the garbage dumps of the city.  The people live close to the garbage dump so that they can pilfer for things to reuse and sell.  As we drove through the village, many of the people along the streets were working, cooking, and selling things.  It was late afternoon and many people were heading home for the day.  We were greeted with many friendly shouts of the Amharic word for foreigner.  "For-en-j!" "For-en-j!"

We visited Hope for Korah's Income Generation Compound.  It is a clean place for women to come and work making crafts to sell.  The supplies for the crafts are provided by donors and the women's children are cared for in a free daycare.  It was the end of their work day.  They all greeted us very so warmly with hugs and kisses.  Many of them were sewing toy balls.  There was a small shop where we could purchase items made by the women.  I gladly bought a few items, and I was happy to buy one of the toy balls that we had seen the women sewing.  As we shopped, one of the highlights of my trip happened.  After days of visiting children with no mothers, no families, we had the joy of seeing a group of well cared for children come down from daycare to join their mothers to go home.  Babies and toddlers were strapped on their momma's backs, kids were greeted with hugs and kisses, and hands were held as they headed out the gate with their mothers.  It was beautiful.



Next, we visited another ministry of Hope for Korah, the Elders' Home for Lepers.  I never though I would get a chance in my lifetime to meet a leper.  I was honestly excited.  The home housed 8 older men, and a few of them were home to meet us.  They seemed happy to have visitors.  They sang songs for us, and we prayed for them in English and Amharic.  They had a pet goat and little garden out front to keep them busy.



What I found in Korah was joy, joy in work, joy in the families, joy from the lepers, joy from The Lord.  It was such a blessing to me to see that side of Ethiopia.


Day Six (Thursday):

As we were planning our mission trip, we knew that another mission team would visit Ethiopia about a month before our trip with AWAA ACT.  We knew that they would be visiting many of the orphanages we would visit on our trip.  We were anxious to hear their report of what they encountered on their trip so we could meet the needs that they saw and were not able to meet.  One of the needs they presented to us was the need for mattresses at orphanage #7, the older girl government orphanage (they house girls between the ages of 8 and 16.)  They reported that there were almost 400 girls at the orphanage and that only around half of them had mattresses.  With not much time before our trip, we decided to take on the challenge of purchasing 350 mattresses for orphanage #7.  After pricing the mattresses, we realized we had only two thirds of the funds we would need to purchase those mattresses.  AWAA agreed to help get the word out that we needed more money to provide this basic need for the girls at orphanage #7.  They posted blog posts, sent out emails, and made promotional videos to share on social media.  Our team and the mission team who had just returned from Ethiopia worked together to get the word out.

$45 = 1 mattress

Two weeks before leaving for our trip, we got the word that we had raised more than enough money to cover the purchase of the 350 mattresses for orphanage #7.  We were all so grateful for God's provision.  Our team had been gathering blankets all along to take to Ethiopia, and we were only 50 short of having 350 blankets to take with us.  A plan was made to purchase the 50 blankets we needed, and we turned our attention to sheets.  We only had about 30 sheets packed so far.  I knew that God would not provide 350 mattresses and 350 blankets only to not provide 350 sheets for these sweet Ethiopian orphans that he obviously loved.  We were two weeks away, most of our supply suitcases were already full, all of our teams money was tied up for mattresses or travel expenses, and figuring out how to get 350 sheets to Ethiopia was honestly not an easy puzzle to solve.  My church, Citychurch, stepped up to the plate and provided the funds needed to purchase the sheets.  Sheets are heavy, and each of our suitcases could not exceed 50 lbs.  Our team decided to only take a bottom, fitted sheet for each girl.  I bought 100 fitted sheets at 4 Walmarts here in Amarillo, and Suzanne in North Carolina visited every Walmart she could drive to until she had found enough sheets to meet our 350 sheet goal.  It was a little like an Amazing Race task, but we gathered the sheets and got them packed.



You can imagine that we were excited that Thursday in Ethiopia to see the 350 mattresses delivered to the girls at orphanage #7.  That morning, we loaded the suitcases full of sheets and blankets in and on top of our vans, and drove to the orphanage.  I know this is an obvious statement, but 350 girls is a lot of girls.  There were 12 of us and 350 of them.  We were mobbed like the Beatles in 1964.  It wasn't just crazy, it was out of control.  They were so excited about us being there.  After 30 minutes or so, things calmed down enough for us to take a tour of the orphanage.  After the tour, we saw two trucks pull in loaded down with mattresses.  It was a sight I will never forget.  In case you don't know, our God is awesome.






The last orphanage we visited, orphanage #8, was a small, private orphanage.  They had a few children, and we were excited to see a few more babies had been transferred there from the government baby orphanage #5.  Their director was very informative, and we were glad to sit down and talk with him about his orphanage and Ethiopia.  He was pleased to tell us that his ministry was having some success with an inner-country adoption program.  Adopting a child into your family is not a popular thing to do in Ethiopia.  Many people are hoping to change that along with opinions about adoption in the country of Ethiopia.  It would be a very wonderful thing for more Ethiopian families to adopt the thousands and thousands of children that are being raised in orphanages in Ethiopia.  I was happy to hear that he had 22 families who had just completed training and were being matched with orphans in south Ethiopia.



Our adoption agency, AWAA, also promotes inner-country adoption.  They have a large billboard in Addis that promotes adoption among Ethiopian families.  AWAA also provides assistance for adoptions within Ethiopia for no cost to Ethiopian families.


After our visit with the director of orphanage #8, we went into the courtyard to play with the older children and hand out balloons.  When it was time to leave, I looked back at those children playing with balloons, and I couldn't believe all of our orphanage visits were over.  The week had flew by and we were all done with visiting orphans.  It had been tiring, difficult at times, but an amazing experience I would never forget.

Day Seven (Friday):

On Friday, we visited Entoto Mountain, a small museum sharing some of Ethiopia's history, the very first Christian Orthodox Church, and the historical emperor's home.  The scenery was beautiful, and I longed to leave the city and see the beautiful countryside of Ethiopia.  Maybe someday I will be able to make that journey.







We also visited some shops that were not much more than tarps in row, the "post office" shopping center of Addis, and a delicious pizza restaurant with a brick oven.  Do you want to know what the biggest surprise of my trip was?  I found salsa.  My family knows that I eat salsa more than any other food.  It's my go-to snack, and I go to it almost every day.  If you cut me, I bleed salsa.  I never thought I would find it in Ethiopia, but I did.  And it was good.








Day Eight (Saturday):

Saturday morning began our last day in Ethiopia. We all had a mixture of feelings of happiness to be heading home to our families and sadness over leaving the city of Addis that we have grown so fond of. Our day started out with a quick trip to the music store. Our driver Solomon has been playing us an Amharic praise CD all week. A few of us have fallen in love with some of the songs while riding in his van. The store turned out to be a small Christian bookstore. As we purchased the CD's, felt very good to support a Christian business in Ethiopia.




The store also had Christian books in Amharic. I was immediately drawn to some illustrated children's Bible stories. Since they were only 23 Birr a piece, the equivalent to around $1, I decided to buy four to give away to children during the day.

Our next stop was the AWAA Transition Home to drop of a few more donations. We were excited to find that 4 children had just been transferred into the home from a government orphanage that we had visited earlier in the week. Three of the children were tiny babies. We took turns peeking in on the sweet sleeping babies. The fourth child was a 6 year old boy. He was so happy to tell us that he remembered us giving him candy at the other orphanage. It was so nice to see children moving another step closer to adoption. It was also nice to hear that we had made at least a small impact in his life by visiting his orphanage.

Barry and Shelly's son Grady only asked for one souvenir from Ethiopia. He asked for a piece of bamboo. While we were near the stores, Shelly decided to quickly look to see if she could find some. The rest of us waited in the car and spent our time saying no to the many, many street vendors that approached our van window asking, "You want?" Shannon spotted a boy walking down the street carrying what she thought was bamboo. She stuck her head out of the window and yelled, "Hey, we want." It turns out it was sugarcane. One of the veteran street vendor boys heard us say we were actually interested in purchasing bamboo. He disappeared and returned only a few moments latter with an 8 ft., freshly pulled stock of bamboo. After we finished laughing at his tenacity, Barry and the driver negotiated a price and asked him if he would be able to cut the stock smaller. He disappeared again, and this time he returned with a machete knife. We all had a good laugh again. Barry finally found shopping he enjoyed, shopping involving machetes, resourceful street vendors, and car side service. We were all glad that Grady would get the small piece of Ethiopia he wanted.




Next we were off to complete our main mission for the day, visiting sponsored children in their homes. AWAA has a sponsorship program for 107 children in Addis Abba. The children are high risk families referred to them by the government. The sponsored families receive 360 Birr per month ($18 US dollars.) The only stipulation is that families put 100 Birr of this money into a savings account for the child's future needs. We had seen so much of the city in the past week, but I was really excited to see where people lived, to see what a home in Addis would look like.

Our mission team split into two groups, and each group would visit 3 families each. On our way to our first home, I asked permission to give away the children's Bible story books that I had purchased that morning. I was given permission to give them to families that were Protestant.

The first and third homes we visited were both young girls who were orphaned but being raised by extended family. Both of the homes were Orthodox Christians, so I was not able to give a book to the children.

The second home visit was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The home was about 100 square feet constructed of corrugated metal and cardboard. The sponsored child was a 12 year old boy who lived there with his mother. The mother warmly invited us in to her home and quickly offered us coffee. We insisted that we had just ate and would not be able to stay long. She repeatedly offered us coffee and tea. She was just so hospitable to us. We were told that both the boy and his mother were HIV positive, and the mother was battling depression. She was very proud of her savings account for her son that included the money from his sponsorship. She passed around the bank register for all of us to see. We began to chat with the family. We asked if they were getting all the medicine they needed; they were. We asked what subject he enjoyed in school; he likes English. We asked what he wanted to be when he grew up; he wants to be an artist, more specifically an author. We finally asked if they went to church, and they proudly told us that they were Protestant. It dawned on me that I was going to to be able to give the children's books to this young man who dreams of being an author. Then the mother told is something I will never forget, she told us that she was happy to have us visit. She said, "You are the only one's who have come here to see us." I felt so completely filled with joy and sadness at the same time. Joy that we were able to visit this family and bless this young man with children's books. Sorrow for the struggle that this family faced with their medical problems, stigma they face having HIV and depression, trying to keep feed and warm in their metal and cardboard home. But I also felt joy that they knew Jesus, that they will one day be free from these Earthly struggles in Our Father's House. As we left I knew I had been blessed by our visit exponentially more that the family could have ever been. We said our goodbyes with hugs and Ethiopian style three kisses on alternating cheeks. As we drove away, I realized that God had orchestrated our seemingly random events that day to bless that boy who loves stories and books with books that he could call his own. That family may not have had visitors, but God is watching, God knows their struggles, their needs, and their desires. He loves and cares for them. What a hope we have in Jesus!

"The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity.
 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him." Psalm 145:18-19a

If you would like to sponsor a child through America World, you can help a vulnerable family - like Samuel's family - remain with their parent or extended family and keep that child out of an orphanage.  Here is the link to AWAA's sponsorship program.

If you've read this whole, crazy long blog post, then you probably need to go to Ethiopia on a mission trip.  Here is the link to AWAA's ACT missions.  It is a trip you won't regret!
Four Texans glad to be back in Amarillo.

Blog links and new sign design

I can hear the summer is swushing by.  My mission trip to Ethiopia is only one month and 4 days away.  Our mission trip team has begun a blog.  You can find it here.  Right now it has introductions to the team members.  It will be a great place to share about our trip while we are in Ethiopia and when we return.

Pray for our trip.  Pray for provision, pray for our spirit to be right and at peace with the work he will equip us to do, and pray for the children we will encounter.

Our adoption agency has a blog that they post updates concerning the Ethiopia program.  It is a wonderful way to see some of the children and places we will be visiting in Ethiopia. We will be visiting our adoption agency's transition home that is shown in some of the blog posts.  Check out AWAA's blog here.  This blog post is particularly sweet.

We have a new listing in our Etsy store for adoption fundraising.  My husband and I were contacted by a previous customer.  She is a wedding planner, and she had a friend that wanted to propose to his girlfriend on 4th of July.  Since he and his girlfriend were from to different states, he thought it would be romantic to have wooden signs with their home states on them at the proposal.  So these signs are the finished product.  We are now taking orders for custom geographical signs on reclaimed barn wood. Tell your friends.  Here is our Etsy listing.


Ethiopia or Bust



For a while I have been considering whether or not God was calling me to go on a mission trip to Ethiopia this summer with our agency adoption agency AWAA.  Our agency has ACT mission trips to different countries to care for orphans in the orphanages and transition homes that they work with.

The Sunday before Christmas, we were visiting my mom and dad's house in Ft. Worth.  We couldn't be home that Sunday to be at Citychurch, but I really wanted to be in church that Sunday.  We decided to go to Village Baptist Church in Ft. Worth.  We arrived early, and as we were sitting and waiting for church to begin, I asked James, "Is it crazy to spend money on a mission trip when we are trying to save money for our adoption?"  James I assured me that he didn't think it was.  Their pastor Matt Chandler went on to preach one of the best Christmas messages I have ever heard.  During his sermon, he made the statement, "It is never wasted money to send someone overseas."  I proceeded to hit James on the leg.  God was giving me confirmation.  (I do realize that my husband is confirmation enough, but that was just icing.)

So now I was sure I was going.  That night I began to fill out the online application for the mission trip, but I wanted to make sure I picked the right dates.  I was pretty sure that our new friends from Perryton would be going on the trip July, and I could go at the same time.  But I found out pretty quickly that they had accepted a referral for two little boys from Ethiopia.  Since they will be traveling for court dates and to bring home their boys soon, they would not be going on the July mission trip.

My other new friends that are adopting from Ethiopia, Barry and Shelly Wilson, from Amarillo, expressed interest in going on the mission trip in August.  It would be just an extra blessing to get to know them better as we serve together on the trip.

August 15-24th are the dates.  I almost want to start packing my bags now.

I can't wait to get my hands on those orphans and be Jesus's love to them in a real way.  I am praying for them all the time, but being a tangible blessing to them will be such a blessing to me.

I have absolutely no expectations of finding the little boy we are going to adopt or picking out a kid.  I want to look at everyone of those boys and girls with a fierce love in an equal way.  I just want to serve them, even if it in a extremely small way and for only a few days.

I love how the book of James puts it in James 1:27, "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

How I long for that worship that is pure and undefiled to the One I love.

James had planned to go to South Sudan in January on a Citychurch mission trip.  That trip has been postponed because of the violence and potential civil war that has been happening there since the last week of December.  Since he did not go to Africa in January, he has been invited to go on a mission trip to Burkina Faso with Lost But Not Forgotten ministries in March.  Please be praying for that trip.  The villages that they will be visiting are mainly Muslim.  James is going with the express focus of reaching children in those villages for Christ.

Praise God for opportunities to serve as missionaries to Africa!


Today is a big day in our adoption! AND your prayer is requested. AND good news.

BIG DAY

Today is the day.  Our dossier is being mailed to Ethiopia today.  We mailed our dossier to our agency on December 18th while we were visiting my family in Ft. Worth.  They double checked all our paperwork, translated it, and today all that paperwork we worked on for SO long is being sent to Ethiopia.

We have a DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) date like a real adoption family.  From now on we can say our DTE date is 1/3/14.  I feel so real, so official.

We are officially entering the waiting stage of our adoption.  We are on the list.  So let me share our pictures.  This is a big deal, so humor me.

James and I saying goodbye to our precious pile of paperwork.

Dear FedEX, this package is special.
James in line.  The man working the counter definitely thought we were too giddy for a FedEx store during the holiday rush.


PRAYER REQUESTED

After sending off our dossier on the 18th, before our dossier could be mailed to Ethiopia today, a news story pops up on Facebook from the website AllAfrica.com with the title "Stakeholders, Public has to end Foreign Adoption."  Yeah.

It didn't take long for our agency to send us an email letting us know what they knew about what was going on in Ethiopia.  They let us know that there had been a multiday meeting with officials and public stakeholders discussing issues Ethiopia has had with adoption.  They ended the meeting deciding to have a strategic plan in ten days.  There were discussions about closing foreign adoption at the meeting, but most of the discussion was about reforming adoption laws.  There is no doubt that there have been some cases of corruption and abuse.

Our agency set up a conference call with all the families adopting yesterday.  They shared all the information they had and allowed questions.  We still do not have any concrete information, but they hope by January 13th we will know more.

Please pray with me!  Pray for the little boy God has for us.  Pray that closing foreign adoption to Ethiopia will not happen, for the sake of those approximately 12,000 little ones in orphanages right now   that are hoping for families.

It is scary to hear the word "closing" at all, but I know God is faithful.

"Weak may be our feet, but almighty is God’s right hand. Rough may be the road, but Omnipotence is our upholding. We may boldly go forward. We shall not fall. Let us lean continually where all things lean. God will not withdraw His strength, for His righteousness is there as well. He will be faithful to His promise, and faithful to His Son, and therefore faithful to us. How happy we ought to be! Are we not so?" -Charles Spurgeon

GOOD NEWS

One of our West Texthiopian friends accepted a referral yesterday of two brothers from Ethiopia, and they will be beginning the court process to adopt those precious two boys.  I won't share the whole story yet, but when she post a blog about it, I will definitely be sharing it.  I will say that their story is an amazing testimony to the faithfulness of God in the adoption journey He calls us to, and it was a big, big encouragement to me.

The other good news is my little brother is having a boy!  I was so excited to find out that my brother is having a son yesterday.  My brother Jason has two daughters, 10 and 6, and they were surprised to find out in October that they were expecting again.  Jason is one of my favorite guys.  He's quiet, funny, insightful, mechanical, patient, an excellent dad, and he loves cars.  My strongest memories of him as a kid involve him and hot wheels.  He has always loved cars, and he has the speeding tickets to prove it.  I'm excited that he will have a little boy to play cars with.  Jason would be playing with cars with or without a little boy, so it's nice God finally gave him a playmate.

A few years ago, I thought our family tree was pretty much filled in for this generation, but God has surprised us with a few more boy branches on our tree.  We have much to be thankful for.  Praise God.

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him." Psalm 127:3

Guess Wot his my new favorite food? You're Shiro to guess it Tibs Ethiopian!


Driving into DFW last night, it was just about dinner time.  After letting my parents know we were about an hour away from their house for our Thanksgiving week visit, I asked James if he wanted to do something crazy and go eat Ethiopian food.  Why not?  

We headed east on 114 toward Dallas to try a restaurant that gets it's name from the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.  I had searched out the Ethiopian restaurant with the best Urbanspoon rating, a 92% out of 210 votes is extra good.  Make that 211 vote, because I just gave it a thumbs up.



Here is what we ordered.  I'm still not sure what menu item name went with each dish on our platter, but I liked ALL of it!
1. TASTE OF ETHIOPIA                               
Lamb tibs with Doro Wot, (C1), Yebeg Alitcha (L1), Shiro and Gomen (V1,V5)

3. HALF AND HALF                                    
Combo of Siga Tibs (B7) and Quanta firfir (B1) or Kitfo (B2)



Lucy, James, and I got our own plate of rolled up injera bread, and we all dug in.  



Gabe ate a little from my bread and pieces of meat, which he called "chicken nuggets."  Andrew chickened out with his chicken spaghetti, which James assures me is actually something eaten quite often in Africa (except usually with fish instead of chicken.)  He braved up right before leaving and tried a few bites off the platter.

James has eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant in a cave (he insists it was in a cave, I know that sounds crazy) in South Sudan.  He also ate in an Ethiopian restaurant in a hotel in South Sudan.  Flying to South Sudan, they had a layover in Ethiopia, and they ate there.

So I was curious to know if what we were eating was comparable to the African food he ate in Africa.  His verdict.  Yes.  He said it was if the guy in the cave could have had access to better sources of fresh groceries, they would have been exactly alike.  The only difference, besides the freshness of the food, was that the meat was less gamey.

Pretty table covering.
I felt so excited to finally have a little piece of Ethiopia tangibly setting in front of me.  I was enamored with smelling everything.  I have been reading and dreaming of Ethiopia since March, and now I could see, smell, taste a little piece of it.  It was lovely.  It is nothing compared to that day in our future when we get to step off a plane, God willing, and meet a little boy who will join our family, but it was something.  Bless that food, God!  Thank you, Lord. 

Contact your Senator

I've spoken to many of my friends who've asked about how my adoption is going about a new process called the PAIR process that the USCIS has just implemented in Ethiopian adoptions.  This process makes the child become a US citizen before the adoption is final.  In the past, this paperwork for citizenship was done after the child was brought home by the family.  We all know there is already mounds of paperwork that is done to get the child's adoption finalized.

This extra step and paperwork that the USCIS has added by adding the PAIR process is, in my opinion unnecessary and actually harmful for the child.  The process did not add any security safeguards to either the US or to the child.  The only thing it has added is the fact that the child will now spend an additional 2 to 4 months waiting in their orphanage before they are allowed to join their new family in a home.

2 to 4 months is a huge deal for a baby!  It is harmful for the older children to.  This extra time is added to the time after their court date and before they are approved to travel home.  Imagine being a kindergartner sitting in your orphanage for an additional 3 months with pictures of your new family and new home in your hand.  That would seem like eternity to a 5 year old.

You can do something to help.  Contact your senator on these children's behalf.

Here is the website for finding you US Senator's contact information.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Below is the letter you can copy and paste into your contact form.

Thank you for your support,
Jennifer Lane

PAIR Letter:


The Honorable (senator)

I am writing concerning a recent decision made by USCIS in the matter of adoptions from Ethiopia. This decision is causing unnecessary delays and will force children to remain in institutionalized care much longer than necessary. With very young children, this can easily mean that they spend twice as much time in institutionalized care rather than in the homes and arms of their adoptive family. Older children will go through additional painful months of waiting, knowing that it is only paperwork and needless bureaucracy delaying them from starting their new life with a family they eagerly look forward to joining. Delays of this sort should not be treated with a se la vie attitude. It is well known and researched that institutionalized care, even when done well, puts children at risk for malnutrition, developmental delays (mental and physical), neglect, abuse, long-term psychological problems, and attachment disorders (North American Council on Adoptable Children: Research on Institutional Care of Vulnerable Children). Everybody agrees that institutionalized care is a sad necessity. Do our public servants really think it a good idea to keep children in institutionalized care longer than necessary? With over 1500 Ethiopian children adopted each year by US families, a low estimate shows that this change will result in children spending an additional 250 years in institutional care each and every year. Who has made this terrible decision?

The National Benefits Center (of USCIS) has instated a mandatory Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process. The work of USCIS to determine whether a child legally meets the US standards of an adoptable orphan is obviously good and necessary, but this particular change does nothing except introduce further red tape and radically slow the process. No additional safeguards have been added to the process. In the end, adoptive families still just file an I-600 application and wait for an I-604 investigation of orphan status to be completed. Currently the US embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia makes it through this process in a matter of weeks. However, when PAIR is instituted, it is expected to take an additional 2-4 months. 

This additional time is being added after the child has already been referred to a family, and both the family and child are eagerly waiting to be joined. This is completely unacceptable. The only possible justification for introducing such a delay is if it necessary to protect against child trafficking and illicit adoptions. Either USCIS should admit that they were failing in this regard under the previous process, or they should change back to the previous process. Let’s stop talking about doing what’s best for the children, and actually do what’s best for them. Letting bureaucrats make changes in order to simplify their job at the expense of the children is neither good domestic nor foreign policy. The significant delay in the new process is unacceptable. It is bad for the children who are future US citizens, bad for the adoptive families who pay USCIS to do their work in a timely matter, and bad for adoption agencies that now face added cost and resources to care for and house children longer—a cost which will inevitably be passed on to the adoptive family.

As my senator, I urge you to hold the USCIS and the National Benefits Center accountable to return to the former speed, processing the I-600 and I-604 in a matter of weeks—not months.  Please do your part to defend these children and their parents, your constituents.

Sincerely,




Shop Sweet: Make your Christmas shopping dollars count in a more meaningful way

Your dollar can be powerful. I don't know about you, but during Christmas I have a lot of dollars going my door. We spend a lot of money this time of year.

This Christmas I have made a decision try to make my dollars count in a more meaningful way.  I'm going to do that by trying 
to buy many of my Christmas gifts from families raising money for international adoptions, companies who employ under-resourced workers, and companies who cycle profits into vulnerable communities, and retailers making a difference.

I've compiled a list of great gifts I've found that meet these qualifications.

Gotta make the joke; if you love buying scarves, you'll be set!  But seriously, I have over 30 gifts below that are varied as they are charitable.

Before you head off to the mall this Christmas, consider purchasing some of these gifts that will give back to communities that need our support.




Families raising money for international adoptions:

  • This families is selling t-shirts and the proceeds actually go to orphanage supplies. The Heckart family lives here in the panhandle of Texas, and they are on our agency's list hoping to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. 

$15.00 ($7.50 goes to orphan supplies.)


Click here to buy Radical Obedience t-shirt. 
  • The Anglin Family are from Lubbock, Texas, and they are on our agency's list to adopt from Ethiopia as well. They are selling jewelry and t-shirts to raise money for their adoption.

$20.00


Click here to buy the hammered copper cuff bracelet.

$25.00 (Comes in Red/Light Blue or Green/Dark Blue)


Click here to buy the Love Africa Tee.

  • This family is adopting two children from the Congo. She has some cute pillowcases for sale in her Etsy shop. You just gotta love the fox print. She also has bears, owls, boats, Hawaiian print, elephants, bike print, and more. And she offers gift wrapping for $4.
$21.00


Click here to buy Flannel What Does Fox Say Pillowcases.


  • This family is adopting a child from South Africa. I love this set of three wooden signs for a boys room.
$20.00


Click here to buy wooden boys room signs.

  • The Pranther family is on our Agency's list to adopt from Ethiopia. She has cute scarves for boys for sell in her Etsy shop. Her shop also includes some cute hats and headbands.
$12.00


Click here to buy the infinity scarf for boys. 


  • Ordinary Hero apparel.  The Daigle family is adopting from our agency.  They are requesting a boy age 2-8.  When you check out, choose Laurie Daigle as the affiliate name, and 40% of your purchase goes toward the Daigle adoption!
$29.95

Click here to buy jacket.











Other gifts from good sources:

  • Sseko sandals from Come Together Trading.  Sseko sandals are crafted from handmade leather by women in Uganda. The base is sold separately from the straps, and is available in Women's 5-11. Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help bright young women continue their education.
$39.00 for base, Straps $10-16


Click here to buy Sseko sandals.

  • Miniature Wooden Animals in a Banana Fiber Box from Come Together Trading. Made in Kenya.
$19.00


Click here to buy wooden animals.

  • Tree of Life Trivet from Come Together Trading. Made in Saharanpur, a city in northern India that is a traditional center of wood carving, this trivet is created by an artisan who recently began working on his own designs, thanks to fair trade sales. Asha Handicrafts has been a leading fair trade organization in India for over 30 years. Asha, which in Sanskrit means hope, is a non-profit organization that was started in 1975 with the mandate to Trade, Train & Transform. Committed to the values of preserving the diverse craft traditions of India and ensuring a fair wage for artisans, Asha's model is to do business in a way that transforms lives. Today, Asha is impacting the lives of hundreds of artisans, working with more than fifty cooperatives and family workshops throughout India.
$18.00

Click here to buy trivet.

  • Women's jackets from Rising International. Handmade by Nepalese women. Nepal is a country that is especially venerable to slave trade and trafficking women.
$55.00


Click here to buy jacket.

  • The Open Arms shop in Austin, Texas. Every year, thousands of refugees flee oppression around the world and are resettled in America. To help them avoid the trap of poverty, Open Arms employs them at a living wage, using re-purposed t-shirts to create one-of-a-kind products you'll enjoy.
$28.00


Click here to buy the Jaqualina Infinity Scarf.

$42.00


Click here to buy the Claudina Black Skirt.

  • PRE-ORDER - Chicken baby/toddler leggings from LaraCasey. ALL profits from these chicken leggings will go to Heifer International, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty by donating chicks (and other livestock) to families across the globe.
$30.00


Click here to pre-order chicken leggings.

  • Mossy Rock Design Prints - 20% of my earnings from Etsy sales go towards buying diapers, formula, etc for orphanages in Ethiopia.
$20.00


Click here to buy Little Friends 10 x 10 print.

  • Handmade African throw pillow Feed the Orphans.com. All proceeds provide food, clean water, and medicine to children in need.
$16.00

 
Click here to buy handmade African throw pillow.
  • Red strands necklace from Project Hopeful. Proceeds help fund adoptions of HIV positive children.
$20.00


Click here to buy Red Strands necklace.

  • 147 Million Orphan baseball tee from Project Hopeful. 
$10.00


Click here to buy Project Hopeful t-shirt.

  • Handcrafted bead from recycled magazines A Hope is a Christian job creation ministry empowering the disadvantaged and those suffering from HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
$14.99


Click here to buy Handcrafted Beaded Necklace.

  • Hope Bag from Freeset, where you and I can find beautiful, well-crafted products while simultaneously fighting human trafficking.
$25.00


Click here to buy the Hope Bag.

  • Seble Scarf from LiveFashionABLE. They create sustainable business for Africans.
$48.00


Click here to buy the Seble scarf.

  • Tigist clutch purse from LiveFashionABLE. FashionABLE products are named after a woman whose life has been changed because of your purchase.
$78.00

 
Click here to buy Tigist clutch.
  • Kalkidan wallet from LiveFashionABLE. Handmade in Ethiopia // 100% Ethiopian leather
$22.00


Click here to buy Kalkidan wallet.

  • T-shirt designed by an orphan feeds an orphan for 1 month. Siphamandia Hiabisa, an orphan from South Africa, designed this shirt sold by Common Threadz. This design is sold on jackets, long sleeve tees, kids tees, and gowns as well. 
$38.00


Click here to buy t-shirt.

  • Leather Traveler bag from Red Earth Trading Company. Made in Uganda. Red Earth Trading Co. was founded in 2010 with the mission of creating a brand that is as life changing as it is fashionable. Not only are our artisan families and communities benefiting from the work, but we also give 5% of every purchase to sustain the community development work of Know Think Act.
$295.00

 
Click here to buy the Leather Traveler Bag.
  • Red Ugandan paper bead cuff bracelet from Funky Fish Designs. - helps HIV positive widows in Uganda. They are created by a group of HIV+ widows and single mothers in Mukono, Uganda. We chose red because it is the signature color for Aids awareness.
$18.00


Click here to buy beaded bracelet.


  • Hanging Art Bird Feeder from The Hunger Site. Every purchase fights famine in the horn of Africa and combats hunger in the United States. This purchase funds 50 cups of food.
$29.95



Click here to buy hanging bird feeder.

  • Fluttering Butterflies Gear Toy from The Hunger Site. Every purchase fights famine in the horn of Africa and combats hunger in the United States. This purchase funds 25 cups of food. They have lots of preschool toys.
$12.95
 
  • Bake & Decorate Cupcake Play Set from The Hunger Site. Every purchase fights famine in the horn of Africa and combats hunger in the United States. This purchase funds 50 cups of food.
$24.95


Click here to buy cupcake toy.

  • Micro Cars Carrying Case Playset from The Hunger Site. Every purchase fights famine in the horn of Africa and combats hunger in the United States. This purchase funds 50 cups of food.
$24.95
 
Click here to buy micro cars toy.
  • Grey Scoop-Neck Tee + White Blanket Design from Neary on Raven and Lily.com. Hand-printed in Cambodia, these eco-friendly shirts are made with remnant, natural-dyed jersey cotton by HIV positive and formerly trafficked women. In addition to providing sustainable economic opportunities, Raven + Lily returns proceeds to fund healthcare and literacy programs for the women and children in this community.
$42.00


Click here to buy Tee.

  • Mango + Grapefruit Candle from Silver Lake on Raven and Lily.com. This soy candle is hand-poured by women at the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles. Raven + Lily is proud to support their efforts to provide creative job skills to previously homeless women. 
$22.00


Click here to buy candle.

  • Hand loomed Cotton Scarf from 14:Hope. Made in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. Proceeds go to orphan care and prevention in Ethiopia.
$27.95

Click here to buy scarf.



Fingerprints are Done (Barely)

Monday we had our fingerprinting appointment in Lubbock.  As soon as the USCIS processes them, they will mail us our last form needed to send in our dossier.  It is so exciting to be this close to having our DTE (dossier to Ethiopia.)

I didn't know what to expect at the fingerprinting appointment.  They had a machine that scans your fingerprints.  They had trouble getting three of my fingerprints to scan.  The man opperating the machine asked me if I used a lot of cleaning supplies like bleach.  I told him I would let my husband know that I've been doing too much cleaning and I need to let him take that over so I can hang onto my fingerprints.  The man operating the machine finally gave up on me and brought his boss in to finish taking my fingerprints.  After many, many tries, she finally got them to scan.

We all learn that our fingerprints are unique as children, but it still amazes me to think that a few lines on such a small area of our body can identify us.  God's design is astounding.

After our appointment, we decided to take the boys to a few of our favorite kid places in Lubbock.  Lucy had to stay in Amarillo for the day so she wouldn't miss her Spanish class.  First, we visited the wooden playground.  The boys had so much fun.  Gabe was especially thrilled to see the wooden train "tunnel."


The tire swing was a big hit.  Gabe repeatedly asked James, "Daddy, is it so fast?"




Next, we went to the Science Spectrum children's science museum.  They had a cute age 5 and under area that they added since the last time we were there.  Gabe had a blast playing in with all the stations designed for little ones.  He played with the water works, grocery store, and music room.  I couldn't help but think how fun it would be to bring our little Ethiopian boy there some day.  

There was the neatest station where the kids could pretend to be a newscaster.  They had a little desk and mic and a screen set up to play stock news footage on a screen behind them.  There was a camera and a monitor so the kids can see themselves on tv.  Gabe was so cute.  He pushed the weather button, which brought up maps on the screen behind him.  Every time Gabe sees a map, he always says, "That's Africa."  (I guess we talk a lot about Africa at our house.)  So he leaned into the mic and said, "I've been to Africa."  This was definitely news to me from my little newscaster.  My camera on my phone wasn't cooperating with me.  I got it to record just about the time Gabe lost interest and ran away.  You'll just have to trust me that he was too cute.  The cuteness overload is probably what caused my phone to refuse to work.



Here's what my guys would look like if they were not tall.  


I'm thankful for our fun day trip with our boys to Lubbock, and I'm looking forward to the day we can have one more boy to enjoy fun days with.


If you are wondering what you can do to help with our adoption:
1. Pray we will have all our money together in the next few weeks.  We have to mail a $8,150 check with our dossier.

2.  We have a Christmas decoration fundraiser coming up.  I am hoping to have the details together to post it here by the end of the week.  So be watching for that.

3.  Coffee makes a great Christmas present, and a percentage of your purchase goes to our adoption.





God Bless!


Pieces and Pieces and Stuck

We have had our completed home study in hand for a little over a week now, and we are now waiting for the government to schedule our biometrics (a fancy word for fingerprinting) appointment.  Once that is done, Homeland security will send us our last form needed to complete our dossier!  Our paperwork pieces are coming together.

We will then mail all of our paperwork to our agency to be sent to Ethiopia.  Of coarse they are going to also want money.  That means we have to pay:

  • Sending Dossier to Ethiopia: $150 RAISED
  • Translation/Authentication $800 RAISED
  • Second Installment of Program Fee $1,700 RAISED
  • Post Adoption Deposit $1,000 RAISED

I wasn't sure until today when the next fee was due:

  • 1st half of International Program Fee $4,500

It turns out that it is due with our dossier submission as well!  So if you good at math, you can add up that we need to send a $8,150 check with our paperwork.  

The good news is that we have well over half of that raised already, and we have been busy making fundraiser signs all weekend.  The better news is that God is in control, and I know he is going to provide every penny we need to write that check.

I am humbled by all of the many families and individuals that have contributed to our adoption in some way or another so far.  As they've donated and given, I have been adding their names to our puzzle pieces.  When I look at those pieces with friends and families names all in a pile, my heart is full of appreciation and hope!



I also know that God is never surprised by the details.  We are talking about the God who overflows cups and gives abundantly.


"You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."  Psalm 23:5a

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8


I have faith that our pieces to our money puzzle are coming together as well.

Yesterday I found out that Netflix just added the documentary Stuck to their streaming movies.  So James and I decided it was movie night with the kids.  I've been wanting to see it since the summer, and I was so excited to finally get to watch it.  

As we turned it on, Lucy jokingly asked how long dad thought we could go without tearing up.  It turns out we made it about 1 minute.  It was so amazing to see the footage of Ethiopia!  I can't wait to go there.  It even showed the court process in Ethiopia for two families.  Gah.  I was verklempt.

I assumed that the movie would be a huge encouragement to me, but the truth is that after watching it my heart is so heavy.  My heart not only hearts for my little guy in Africa, but for the millions of orphans all over the world, especially those in orphanages.

Stuck is a must watch.  It very well produced and extremely eye opening.  If you have Netflix streaming, you must watch it soon.




B is for Buying Books


This weekend we had a picnic with some other families adopting from Ethiopia from our area.  One family was the Cavitt family that I previously blogged about.  They adopted their beautiful daughter from Ethiopia 6 years ago.  I loved hearing everyone share pieces of their adoption journeys.  One of the best things about the day was Pam Cavitt brought a stack of Ethiopian, African, and adoption children's books to show everyone.  She graciously email us a great list.

Here is her list.  I'm excited to say that I found several of these books on half.com for 75 cents.  If you are adopting, or need a gift idea for someone who is adopting, or just want your kids to know more about Africa and adoption, here are some ideas.


  • The Long Ride by Don Regier (this is the two-way book about the Chinese orphans waiting for their family and the American family waiting for their Chinese daughters/sisters)

Another mom at the picnic added this book to the list:


Since Pam Cavitt's daughter has such gorgeous hair, Pam was also generous to share some hair resources.

Update:
Our adoption agency, AWAA, just sent out an email with a list of adoption books for children.  I thought I would add them here:

PRESCHOOL TO AGE 8
Double Dip Feelings by Barbara Cain (ages 2-8 )
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis (ages 2-8)
Susan and Gordon Adopt a Baby by Tony Geiss and Judy Freudberg (ages 2-8)
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (ages 2-8)
Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz (ages 2-6)
Horace by Holly Keller (ages 2-8)
Beginnings: How Families Come to Be by Virginia Kroll (ages 4-8)
Families Are Different by Nina Pellegrini (ages 4-8)
All Kinds of Families by Norma Simon (ages 2-8)
W.I.S.E. Up!sm Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle (ages 6-12)


CHILDREN AGES 9-12
The Mulberry Bird by Anne Brodzinsky (ages 7-12)
Adoption is for Always by Linda Girard (ages 6-12)
Why Was I Adopted? by Carole Livingston (ages 7-12)
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (ages 9-12)
W.I.S.E. Up!sm Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle (ages 6-12

West TExThiopians


Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a woman’s event at Washington Avenue Christian Church.  The speakers were two women who are also adopting from Ethiopia from our adoption agency.  Both families are in the waiting stage of their adoption.  And guess what, one family lives here in Amarillo, the other lives in Dalhart, TX (only an hour away.)  

The family that lives in Dalhart just returned from a mission trip to Ethiopia, and they are planning to adopt a set of siblings.  They had amazing pictures and stories to share.  I was entralled.  Another family from Dalhart also went on the mission trip and met a teenage girl that they are now working to adopt.  

I loved every second of the whole evening.  I couldn’t get enough of their testimonies.  It was so affirming to me to see God working in these families from my area, families that I had never met.  Our God was speaking to each of us with the same mission, the same calling.  God called each of our families because of His’s love for orphans living 8,000 miles away from where we sat.  We prayed for those little ones.  We made them goodie bags.  It was a FABULOUS night.  

I was so moved by their love for Ethiopia and the African children that they will soon call son or daughter.  It is amazing to think that in the last 9 months, God, separately called these 4 families (and two other families in Lubbock) to adopt from Ethiopia.  I was so thankful for these women whose hearts have been molded.  Their hearts, like mine, had been forever changed by the faith adventure of international adoption.  I am so thankful.  

I am so excited that some day, when we finally have the little boy home, we will not be alone in our journey.  God is raising up a community for these children right here in Amarillo, Texas.  And more importantly, he has five little ones in Ethiopia that he has made special plans for, plans to set them in forever families.  The tragedy and loss that those little ones are going through, will still be going through, is not God's best for them, but He is working.  God is working, and we are working because He is working.

"God sets the lonely in families..."  Psalms 68:6a

"Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.'  Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.'" John 5:17,19-20




Domo?

I've been thinking a lot about the fact that our son will not speak English as his first language. I'm inspired to learn a little Amharic, but I'm pretty apprehensive about how well that will go. I feel like I've been trying to learn Spanish my whole life, but I still can't carry on a real conversation. I'm not sure how I'm going to learn a language that they don't even have a Rosetta Stone version of. I've found a few YouTube videos, and Amharic looks hard ya'll. Citychurch has a Sudanese church, and one of the founding members is Diana (pronounced i as an e and both a's short sounds.) She actually knows someone from work that speaks Amharic. I was excited to hear that there is someone in Amarillo, Texas who actually speaks this language that is so strange and far away to me. I guess people have learned crazier things. Aren't their people who not only learn Klingon, but have their wedding ceremonies performed in it? Maybe I can do it. 



There is a Facebook group of people who have either adopted from Ethiopia or are waiting to adopt from Ethiopia. I've really enjoyed reading the posts and hearing their joys, stories, and prayer requests. Yesterday someone posted the funniest thing, and I just have to share it.
     Mom #1: Can someone ask their child what a word that sounds like "domo" means? Tewolde says it a lot in different contexts and I can't pinpoint its meaning!!

          Comment Mom #2: I asked my 11 year old and she's clueless.

          Comment Mom #1: Haha, well he is 4...who knows?

          Comment Mom #3: domo arigato Mr. Roboto? Maybe they have good music in the Transition Home.

          Comment Mom #4: I nearly spit my OJ out when I read that. Lol that sums up our communication experience here to a T right now.



So I guess I have some fun times to look forward to.  I feel pretty strongly that everyone has an emotional connection to their first language, especially after reading the book God Speaks Numanggang by David Hazell.  It is a book written for children about a family who moves to Papua New Guinea to translate God's word into the language of the Numanggang people.  The author David Hazell is a missionary who worked in many Russian areas coordinating translation projects on 70 minority languages.  Let me share a story from the back of the book.



"It is amazing to be a part of seeing God's Word become available to people who have never heard it before.  To have the Bible in your heart language - the language you think, pray, and dream in - is invaluable for gaining a true knowledge of God.  This woman's daughter shared her story:

"My mother was a devout Christian and went regularly to church in the village where we lived, but she always came home very disappointed.  With a deep sigh she used to say, 'How I would like to understand what the pastor says in church, and how I would like to read the Bible in my language!'  My mother knew only Khakas and very little Russian.  I was a teenage at that time, and I felt so sorry for her.  She used to come to me with her Russian Bible and I tried to help her translate passages into Khakas.  For 40 years my mother prayed that the Bible would be translated into Khakas.  

"One day we heard that some foreigners had come to our village intending to translate the Bible into Khakas.  When my mother heard this she said, 'It is so good, so clear!  God speaks to me in Khakas!'  My mother was 82 years old.  Her prayers had been answered and her joy was complete."




I want to be a mother who can speak some words in the language my son "thinks, prays, and dreams in."  I am thankful that missionaries have translated God's Word into Amharic.  There is even a version of the Jesus Movie in Amharic.  My son will know that God speak his language.

You might be surprised to know that right now there are just under 2,000 languages without any of the Bible translated into them.  There are about 209 million people who speak those languages, and they do not have a Bible in their language.  How can that be in 2013?  It is true.

Please check out Wycliffe Bible Translators website, and give if you feel led.

I also wanted to share the latest sign James made.  It turned out pretty cute.


God Bless!
Jennifer