Friday, January 28, 2011

Crocs for little brown feet!

We went to Target today doing some miscellaneous shopping.  We have had our eyes out for some Crocs (or Crocs knock-offs) for our trip to Ethiopia next month.  The kids at Hannah's Hope are almost always seen wearing these shoes in the pics we have.

We were sure that the Crocs brand would be way too expensive, and we have had a hard time finding any (since we live near the North Pole and it is in the middle of winter here).

To our surprise, Target had a rack of Crocs that had the Crocs brand-name, but were a much lower price model.  Perfect for us!  We picked out 11 pairs of the shoes for the kiddos at Hannah's Hope and can't wait to take them. 

We love the bright colors of the shoes and think they will look amazing on little brown feet!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love in the Driest Season

I finished the book "Love in the Driest Season" a few days ago.  This book was written by Neely Tucker, a white man, born and raised in Mississippi, who married a black woman from Detroit, and eventually, the two of them adopted an abandoned, dying infant African girl while they were living in Zimbabwe.  It is a book that speaks of racial tensions, social injustices, and the African orphan crisis.  It also speaks of the lengths people will go to rescue an orphan from certain death.

Neely Tucker is a foreign correspondent who has worked in more than 50 countries, reporting primarily in areas of war and human conflict.  While stationed in Harare, Zimbabwe, he and his wife crossed paths with an orphanage and were captivated by a little orphan girl in a crib who was at death's door.  This little girl had been found days earlier, abandoned in a field, only a few hours old.  She was found in tall brush with ants crawling all over her - to the point that part of her ear had been eaten away.  She struggled for many, many months, but was eventually nursed back to health by the Tuckers.

The Tuckers eventually became the girl's foster parents and later her adoptive parents.  Though it seemed clear that this little girl needed parents, the Tuckers learned the Zimbabwean government was not interested in allowing foreign adoptions of Zimbabwean orphans.  The Zimbabwean social welfare system was arranged such that endless hurdles were placed in the way of the Tucker's foreign adoption.  And yet they fought and fought and fought for the life of this little girl. 

Their biracial marriage resulted in prejudice by whites against her being black and prejudice by blacks against him being white.  It is a touching book of the struggle that some will fight in order to save the life of an orphan, to give everything for the life of the helpless, to stand for those who are powerless.

It is staggering to consider the situation of orphans in Africa. A generation of parents has been erased and millions of children have been left alone, without love, without care.  There are so many opportunities to assist in orphan care.  There are many ministries that directly help the daily needs of orphans.  What will we do?  How can we help?  These are the questions that continue to flood our minds even in the midst of an adoption.  We know there is so much more to do and we desire to help.  How will you use us God?  You are the answer.

Peaches - we are coming soon to be with you, to hold you, to care for you, and ultimately to bring you home.  We are praying every day for your comfort and peace from the Father of the fatherless. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three Candles

Three Candles

Three candles, standing ready
Each a story, it will tell
One of them burns bright and clear
The other two for now are still
What’s the purpose for these candles?
Surely they are for our needs
Yet their light comes from the one
Whose living flame we kneel beneath

One flame lit, it burns so bright
Its light so young and full of life
A warmth to all those who are near
Who stand within its yellowed sphere
Such future must there be for this
A light that burns so strong
Will it cast its flame beyond
To lands its light has never known?

Then like a crack, a blast of wind
Blows from a mighty source
A sovereign gale, which can’t be stayed
It howls its purpose forth
The light goes out and darkness comes
The flame falls to the grave
And takes with it a part of those
Whose eyes received its ray

Why this candle, not another?
Questions search to find the answer
Grief and guilt come take a hold
Entwine themselves within the soul
This candle now, dark and void
Oh, how it burned so bright
Its purpose though, is not yet ended
Goodbye, young light
Goodbye, for now
Goodbye, Ayotallah

What’s that, over there, across the sea?
The same wind now still blows
This time it breathes its breath of life
Into a family’s soul
Turned warm and gentle, now this wind
Will carry on its flame
And bring one without home or love
And give her a new name

This second candle now dimly lit
Though no one near to see its light
It cries alone to find a home
And fights to stay alive
The gentle wind, though is the source
To heal and rescue this poor soul
This wind will bring her home to be
Brought in to love, with family

How do we understand this wind?
Which snatches life so young?
And at the very moment too
Gives life to another one?
Across the earth, throughout the land
This wind blows perfectly
Willing only to reveal
His flame for us to see

To point to hope, to heal the soul
The third candle is lit
Its light leads upward to the skies
To where our anchor rests
His healing balm will reach within
And rescue heart from pain
And bring the final healing when
No tear will be again

For context, you will need to read the last three paragraphs of this post.

Friday, January 21, 2011


We received some of our vaccinations today for travel to Ethiopia.  I got three shots and Heather got four.  Hep A, Hep B, Polio booster and Meningitis.  They gave the shots two at a time.  I must say that the nurses had that crazy "nurse smile" as they moved in for the kill!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pain and Joy - That is Adoption

"It is with great pain that you let her go, and it is with great joy that we receive her."

This is one of the lines from the letter that I am currently writing to Peaches' birth mom.  A letter that we will give her when we meet her on February 28th, 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  This is a very difficult letter to write.  A letter in which we want to share all of our hearts' desires toward this little girl.  So, how can you encapsulate in a letter what you would want someone to tell you if they were going to take your 4 yr old child halfway across the world?  How can a letter express all that God has brought us through in the last year?  As we look at Peaches' picture, there is nothing that can hold us back from bringing her into our family and pouring our love upon her life.  We know that through a miracle she will become one of us, as though it is blood that his holding us together.  How can this be expressed in a letter to her birth mom who through some difficult circumstance had to relinquish her little girl?

And so, I write, and delete, and write, and change, and write, and read, and re-read, and write.....and pray that God would give the words to assure this birth mom that we love her little girl and are forever bonded with her through the miracle of adoption.

And there it is.  Pain and joy.  Our Peaches stands between the pain that her birth mom has experienced in the relinquishment and the joy that we will have when we hold her.  Peaches will experience both these emotions in an unrelenting, unimaginable way that neither we, nor her birth mom, will ever feel or understand in the same way she will.  Pain and joy - that is adoption.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Children's Hopechest Video

I came across this video at Kari's My Crazy Adoption blog.  She has several videos included on her blog and this one caught my eye.  It's fairly short, so take a moment to watch it.

As I watched, I saw the numbers, the statistics.  78 million people live in Ethiopia.  The country has 4.8 million orphans.  That is a staggering number.  Essentially, 1 person out of every 16 is an orphan.  How can this be?  How can these children possibly be cared for?  What do these children think each night when they go to bed?  What do the exhausted careworkers at the orphanages think?  What is the solution?  How can anyone do anything substantial to help resolve this crisis?

I don't have the answer to many of those questions.  These are questions that I often wonder myself.  And although I cannot satisfactorily answer these questions to the point that my heart is calmed, I do know two things.  First, I can do something.  Whatever that is, I can do something.  Whether that is giving money, praying, visiting orphans, fostering, or adopting - I can do something.  Those things don't solve the crisis of orphans across the world, but they might solve the crisis for one or two or three orphans.  Second, God is always working as the Father of the fatherless.  He loves them greatly and cares for them.  Somehow in His plan and His wisdom, He has included the orphan as a special category of people whom He has great compassion for.  I know that He is the answer to their hurt and their pain and their loneliness.  He is the solution.  He has the water that will allow them to never thirst again.

As I mentioned above, when watching the video, I saw the staggering numbers.  But, what I saw even more, were the faces of the orphans.  The need is great.  What is God calling you to do today?  We can all do something.  What is the something for you?

Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blogging for Orphans

Here's our monthly opportunity to "Blog for Orphans." It's an opportunity provided by the group Lifesong for Orphans. Enjoy this month's edition....

William from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

Six year-old William once asked his mother, “Why do other children walk on the bottoms of their feet? Why am I like this? What did you do to me?” When she told him that it was God who did it, not her, William said, “Then please tell God to fix me.”
William was born with clubfoot, affecting both of his feet.  If William had been born in America this common deformity would have been easily fixed when he was still a baby.  But in Zambia it’s a different story.  In Zambia, where the resources are few and the funds are even fewer, healing is only a distant dream.

Last February Lifesong Zambia coordinator, Dru Smith wrote about William in her newsletter.  When Wendy in Illinois heard his story she was prompted to act.  After a thorough investigation she discovered CURE Clubfoot International, which had a clinic in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia!  In April William was fitted for casts (first in a series of 3) and then had corrective surgery on his right foot in June and his left foot in September (the video was taken in September just before his second surgery).
God used His people to “fix” William.  Today William can walk!  Soon he will be strong enough to return to school, play with the other children, and be able to do many of the simple tasks we take for granted!

Through this journey the Lifesong staff has been able to help not only William, but his family as well.  William’s brother, Bright, and cousin, Gift, have both been enrolled at Lifesong school.  In addition his father, Victor, who was unemployeed now works in the Lifesong gardens!  We’re so thankful our God is the master at doing “abundantly and immeasurably more” than we even think to ask!

*Find out more about Blogging for Orphans here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy 8th Birthday Big Fella!!!

It's the Big Fella's 8th Birthday.  We celebrated by having a couple of his friends join us at Chuckie Cheese (aka, "land of contagious bacteria").  After a little bit of pizza and a lot of games, we headed back to our house for presents, a big cookie cake, and some ice cream.  The kids all had a loud good day.

The Big Fella is a special kid!  He loves sports, he loves Star Wars, and he loves video games.  He loves having me fix him waffles in the morning and he loves playing games with his mom.  We are so thankful for him.  He brings a lot of laughter into our house with his own way of looking at life.  He is one cool dude!

Some pics from the last few years.....and you gotta click on the video at the end!

Ready for Trick or Treat!

Christmas of '04

He always has a great laugh!

A bat and a ball are always nearby
Special seating for this lunch

Fun in the snow - a lot of snow!

The Alamo was safe that day

At the beach near Corpus Christi - The Big Fella loves to pose

These two guys are always together - not always getting along - but always together
Day 1 at Disney.  The Big Fella has his shades on and he's ready to go!

Storm Trooper!

The morning after he got his Dallas Cowboys uniform for Christmas, he ate breakfast with it on
He loves to go sledding

Family fun at Uncle Jeff's cabin

What a great smile

I'm sure it was a home run!

Wearing a shirt from another adoption family - showing that our lives have all been changed by Ethiopia

This video was taken at Lifelight (the largest Christian outdoor concert in the world that happens each Labor Day at Sioux Falls, SD).  The Big Fella can bust a move!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Out of the Black Shadows

Out of the Black Shadows is a biography of a man named Stephen Lungu.  He and two of his siblings were orphaned when they were less than 10 yrs old.  Their father had already left their family and their mother had decided that she would rather lead a life of drugs rather than raise children.  So, she took the three to the local market and told them she would be right back.  She never returned.  The children stood in the busy market place for hours until they finally realized that they didn't know where she was and that they didn't know how to get home.  Stephen Lungu and his two siblings were now orphans.

They became street children and learned how to survive on their own.  Later Stephen would be separated from his siblings.  At a later point in his childhood, he found his way home and found his mother.  She was very upset that he returned home.  She told him that he could stay there, but that he had to sleep in the chicken coop. 

In his teen years he joined a street gang named the Black Shadows.  The gang taught him how to survive in the streets through violence.  It was a very unstable, racially charged time in Zimbabwe in the 1960's.  One night, his gang approached an Evangelistic tent meeting where they learned there were thousands of Christians inside.  He hated Christians.  He hated God.  They decided that they would bomb the tent to kill as many Christians as possible.  They entered the tent and heard the preaching and soon Stephen Lungu knew that God was speaking to him.  The irresistible grace of God penetrated his stone-cold heart and he responded by surrendering his life.  Stephen immediately began sharing his story of salvation in the streets.  He shared Christ whenever and wherever he could.  He could not stop telling people what God had done for him and what God could do for them.

Over the next 40 years, Stephen Lungu became one of the greatest evangelists in Africa, speaking throughout the continent.  He also traveled throughout much of the world on various speaking engagements.  He shared his story and watched God saved thousands of lost souls through his ministry.

How can someone who is called worthless by his own parents, purposefully abandoned by his mother, have a life that results in seeing thousands upon thousands of lives changed by the Gospel?  It can only happen by the transformational power of the immeasurable grace of God.  The gospel is our only hope.  The gospel is what can heal the heart of an orphan from Africa named Stephen Lungu.  The gospel is what can heal the heart of a girl from Africa named Peaches.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

On February 23rd, we'll be leavin' on a Jet Plane! We have our tickets booked and purchased and even got all of the receipts from the travel agent in the mail on Friday. It looks so official now.  And we're taking the older three with us too.  In a way, it will seem like a small group of us since the older three are the easiest travelers and instead of our normal 5 kids, we'll only have 3 of them with us.  Grandma and Grandpa will have the job of watching the 2 youngest. 

We used a travel agency called ReachOne that our Agency recommended.  It wasn't until we received our ticket receipts on Friday that we found out that the ReachOne is actually short for ReachOne for Christ.  Very cool.

We'll fly from Omaha to Minneapolis to Washington DC on the 23rd.  Then we'll stay overnight in DC.  The next morning we'll fly from DC to Addis on a straight shot - it's a 12 hour flight!  We'll leave DC at 11:30 am and arrive 12 hours later in Addis.  But instead of 11:30 pm, it will be 7:30 am the next morning.  That should make the next day quite interesting.  I'm picturing us getting off the plane at 7:30 am in the morning in Addis and thinking, "Why is everyone so wide's the middle of the night......go to bed!!!!"  I'm guessing I will come close to overdosing on Ethiopian coffee on that day.

We expect to be able to see Peaches on that Friday that we land.  It's possible that it won't work out until the next day - we won't know for sure until we get there.  It's exciting to think that we're one step closer to seeing our little girl.  Holding her and telling her - "owa da shallo."