Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Bread of Life for Today, Tomorrow and Forever


From Thanksgiving until Christmas day we rush, plan, pack, wrap, shop 'til we drop (which takes longer for some) and then... Christmas day comes and.....ahhhhhhhh...... sigh of relief..... we can slow down now. Today has been an emotional day of quiet for me. After being with family in SC last week and having lots of noise (the good kind!) and activity, this morning felt all too quiet. The quiet was bringing out an emotion in me that I've been trying to ignore during the busy-ness. It's the emotion of loss - only, I haven't lost anything - I just haven't received what I'm wanting - Lulu. 

It was a little over 2 years ago that God put it on my heart to adopt from Ethiopia. In the next day or so it will be one year since Billy said, "let's get a baby from Ethiopia." It then took us about 6 months to finish the paperwork and on June 13 our paperwork was shipped to Ethiopia and we began our "official" wait for an infant girl. At that time the expected wait for a referral (picture and medical info of chosen baby girl) was right at 9 months. Since then only a few baby girls have been referred and we are at least number 17 on the list. March is not going to be the month for a referral unless miracles happen. Then AWAA (our agency) sent an email out saying that the wait time for an infant girl has increased to 9-11 months. I received this news last week and was sad, but I had so much going on I don't think I let it completely sink in. 

The reality is - miracles will still have to happen in order for us to get a referral in 11 months. I don't know exactly how it all works, but unless more baby girls are referred soon the reality is we are still way down the waiting line and I need to expect a much longer time frame than I originally thought. I know that God has already chosen our baby girl so I do have much comfort in that and I trust His timing. But that doesn't make the wait easy. Today, in the quiet of our small family, it was obvious to me that someone is missing. Lulu is not missing in the eyes of Jesus. He is with her even now. But to me - she is not here and so part of me is not here either... If you haven't adopted this is impossible for me to explain...

On a happier note, however, we have had a delightful Christmas day. We originally planned on having a Burmese family over for lunch and a Happy Birthday Jesus Party, but we found out yesterday that they had other plans. So, here's what we did today

Libby woke up and opened her presents -one of which is a huge and really cute dollhouse. We played with all her toys and rearranged her room to fit the dollhouse in there. Then we fixed breakfast and had a small but wonderful "Happy Birthday Jesus" party with cake, balloons and all! 

Afterwards, we got dressed and took 20 loaves of scrumptious gingerbread to each of the Somali families. I have not seen the Somalis in several weeks and I have missed them so much. I can't tell you how good it was for my heart to see them today. Their little faces lit up with excitement and they seemed kind of relieved that we haven't forgotten about them. We just hugged and loved on each family and let them know that we missed them and will see them again soon. It was probably more of a blessing to me than it was to them. I just needed to be around Africans today! I love them so much!

After that, we drove to Larry and Terry's house and were so excited to find Batula (one of the Somali moms with 8 children!) and all her children having Christmas lunch with the Singletary's. Larry and Terry bought each of the children Christmas presents. Terry prepared a fabulous meal and I walked in to see bright, happy African faces beaming with the knowledge that they are loved and not alone. It was all too overwhelmingly beautiful for me and I burst into tears. One of Batula's sons was wearing a black suit - jacket, pants and all. He was all dressed up for this special occasion. Batula's newest son was just born a few weeks ago. She named him Larry Ali after Larry Singletary. I got to hold Larry-Ali and Libby was so precious with him. And that's when it hit me  - this was God's Christmas present to me - I got to hold an African baby and see my daughter help feed him his bottle. God brought Africa to me when my heart longed to be in Africa getting my baby. How sweet is that!


Our trip to SC was wonderful. It took a grueling 2 1/2 days to drive there because we tried a new route that just took FORVER, unfortunately. Libby started the trip out sick and our first night after traveling the first full day was just AWFUL! It was a long night of crying and total tantrums... but everything got better after that.

My sister-in-law, Carissa and my brother, Kelly, sweetly allowed us to invade their home and stay there for the week. They are also pregnant and due on Feb 19 so my sister and I and Julie (a friend) threw a baby shower for her. It was a great turn out and a blast to do that for her. Libby enjoyed playing with Taylor and Camryn and even Kelly and Carissa's dog - Banjo. Libby flirted with my brother, Kelly, all week and loved opening presents. Billy went fly-fishing with Jason (my sister's husband) for 2 days so Libby and I spent the night with Becky that night and I loved sitting up in bed with my sister having a long, deep conversation. We shared a room growing up, but we haven't had the chance to sit up talking like that since we were young. It was so so good. 

I had the chance to catch up with a couple of old friends. One old high school friend, Will, met us for lunch. I love what God is doing in Will. When God allows the grit of life to humble us, He does such because He is standing by mercifully anticipating stepping right into that humbled heart. He is doing that in Will and I am so thankful for that! Will, lunch was a blast and I just love you, friend!

Betty Jean was in SC the same time we were so we met her and her entire sweet family for breakfast. They are all doing so well and, again, God hand is wonderfully working and has done a great healing in my sweet Betty Jean. I am so glad she is full of life and doing well. I love her and watching her be a mom to Bowen is so amazing. She is an awesome mom.

I also got to catch up with some family members who we never get to see (which is why I am in every picture with each family member - because I never get to see them and wanted to have some pictures of us together to remember). All of my dad's side of the family came in town and we had a big Christmas party with them. Then I got a chance to visit almost everyone on my mom's side of the family. On both sides it was so good to see that God is at work, changing hearts and lives. I was so encouraged by my Aunt Jenny who shared some words of comfort with me that my soul just needed to hear. God is so good. I am, even in the midst of grieving over longer wait times for Lulu, so in awe of and grateful for His never-ending, powerful, inspiring, surprising mercy and grace. 

I posted all of the above along with A LOT of pictures on our family blog. It was going to take too long to try to cut the pics over to this blog so if you'd like to see them - just hop over to:

But I have posted the Somali pics from today since that was such a special gift from the Lord...here they are:


Above pic - we were at Larry and Terry's house which was full of Somalis, food, fun and His Presence!
God's gift to me for today - the chance to hold an African baby!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Not too much to say...

Tomorrow morning will mark 6 months of official waiting (since DTE of June 13). I'd love to say referrals are rolling in and we're moving up the line, but that is not the case. At some point we heard news that there would be some referrals in late November and then more in early December. In fact, late November did bring some referrals but thus far in December - NOTHING! - just complete, utter, awful silence....


We are nowhere close to the "top 10" in the waiting list - currently pushing number 17. I can't imagine how families closer to referral are feeling right now. I have checked our YG a thousand times this week just aching to see some kind of positive news. What will I be like when we are actually in the top 5 -10 - I'll be a total nut case.... you might want to pray for me.... and my family...

The Savage family - Hallelujah! - did pass court today so you can scroll down and on the right side click on "Savage" to see their baby boy's sweet face. So cute! Congratulations Savages.

Early in the morning we will be packing up the Suburban and driving for hours upon hours all the way to South Carolina. It will take at least 2 days to get there. We are celebrating Christmas with my side of the family just a little before Christmas so we can be back home for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I am looking forward to being occupied by loving family, active nieces and lunch dates with long-time friends. 

Libby has an awful cough that a less than helpful doctor said not to worry about. Her doctor she normally sees was not in the office today. The doctor she did see - well, he might just get an unpleasant visit from my husband if Libby starts running a fever or ends up with pneumonia on this trip.  I explained to this doctor that last year at this time Libby had the same cough, same symptoms and then - boom - one day she ran a high fever. We were out of town so we had to go to Urgent Care and they did an x-ray and sure enough - the beginning stages of pneumonia. So I was hoping this doctor would do a chest x-ray or just prescribe some antibiotics that we could take on the road just in case there was a need for them - but nope - nothing. He listened to her chest, asked her to breathe deep (she's 3 and doesn't know how to do that so she just sat there) and he listened for about 5 seconds and was done. Do I really have to pay for that? He didn't look up her nose or wait to hear her cough...nothing... I should become a doctor - it looks way easier than the late nights up with a coughing child...

Okay - so I sound down and out and a little negative... but I actually am doing okay. The Lord has been putting some really interesting song ideas on my heart (and I am not the songwriter in the family) and I love the Christmas season and I sense the Lord's presence in all of this - so I'm doing well considering the weight of the wait.

Blessings to all and may referral news be released so joy may abound more than longing...

cindy

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finally got another video to post!

So - if you missed our last post, you should read it and see that video first. It makes this video a little funnier if you've seen the other video before this one..... enjoy....


video

By the way - a couple families, sadly, did not pass court this week (and we are praying for you guys), but today several families did pass and have posted their baby's pictures and videos! Here are the family blogs I have for those who passed - check them out. Every baby/child is so beautiful!

Stagers:
www.teamstager.blogspot.com

Burks:
www.bringinghomeezra.blogspot.com

Caldwells:
www.faceoflove.blogspot.com

Slonigers:
www.beboldjen.blogspot.com

Sparrs:
www.thefifthsparr.blogspot.com

Tennants:
www.ethiopianadoptionspot.blogspot.com - this is the family with one child, Igor, who is adopted from Russia. Igor is the sweet child who painted a canvas for the Orphans Ticket Home Gala. I am so excited that Igor will have a precious little brother!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Little Update and a Special Video

We are nearing the six month mark in our official wait time. I have the major want-to-go-get-Lulu-right-now itch. I've started thinking about what I will need to gather for our trip to Ethiopia. There is some new news on one major travel detail. After much prayer and consideration of how Libby may process the adoption of Lulu, Billy has decided that he and Libby should join me for the trip. Originally he was going to stay home with Libby while I traveled to Ethiopia with my dear friend Cristie. Many months ago Cristie and her husband had offered for Cristie to go with me and I am so blessed to have a friend who would go that distance for me. I was so sad to share with Cristie that plans have changed because I know it would have been lots of fun to travel together and I know she's had her heart set on going with me. Cristie - I love you and I love that you were willing to leave your family for a week to travel overseas with me to get Lulu. You would have been an awesome travel companion! Thank you, also, for being so understanding. Love you!


While I am sad that Cristie is not coming, I am seeing God's hand in the decision for Billy and Libby to come. We know it will be a hard trip. With the short length of the trip, the time change, the culture change, the change in food and schedule - we are sure to have our hands full. But Libby is so perceptive and we feel like she will comprehend this adoption so much better if she can see it with us. I am excited, too, that Lulu will be attaching to Libby right from the beginning. Libby is so full of joy and fun that she is sure to give Lulu some precious first impressions.  We are already praying and asking God to give us many traveling mercies regarding Libby. And we are praying that God would begin to grow her understanding/comprehension of Lulu's adoption. We are also praying that traveling into such a different culture will make its appropriate mark on her heart for the nations and for God's glory - yes, even at her young age. It's possible!

Speaking of Libby - she turned 3 last Sunday. She's been potty trained for almost 2 months now. She is growing like a weed and is smarter than she should be (haha!). She walked by Lulu's baby room the other night and said, "Good night, Lulu"  - totally on her own with no prompting from us. She is starting to understand that a real baby will one day occupy that room - her baby sister. I can't wait to see her mature as a big sister to Lulu.

Libby has been helping us create a special video journal to Lulu. I keep trying to post the second and third video entries - but it's not working. For now, here's the first entry - Hope you enjoy!  (before you push the play arrow for the video - make sure you scroll up to the top right music box and stop the music that's playing!).



video


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Video Tom Davis Showed at Gala - AMAZING!

WOW!!!

Okay - this just in - combining the ticket sales, auction sales, and commitments/donations made - and subtracting expenses - the Orphans Ticket Home Gala in San Antonio raised..............



$25,200.00 !!!!!!!!!!

Plus - we know of several donations that are being mailed in - so the number will be increasing!

PRAISE THE LORD! HE HAS DONE GREAT THINGS!!!

ORPHANS TICKET HOME GALA WAS A SUCCESS!

There will be more pictures and information to come - but for those needing to see some kind of news and pictures of the Gala - here goes. It was a great success!!!


The amazing people of the night! - From left to right:
Doug Martine, Cristie Martine, Tom Davis, Amanda Clark and Brian Lewis 

Tom did such an amazing job expressing the need for the follower of Christ to adopt and care for orphans. He shared a video that was solely about Ethiopia's orphans and Billy and I were crying so hard. It was a moving video. Brian followed up with such a humble spirit. He is such a gentle, sincere man of God.


As people walked in there were 2 big screens in the front and one in the back displaying photos of adopted children and Scripture verses. Above is a picture of Maliah and Libby kissing on their first Gotcha Day anniversary that was shown in the slide show.


Cristie and Doug had this awesome sign printed on behalf of all those who donated to this event. It was beautifully displayed in the middle of the room between the silent auction tables and the guest tables. To all those who donated money, time, prayers, items and services - we thank you for your generosity and support! This event could not have happened without you!

 
Igor is a sweet, little boy who was adopted from Russia. He mixed his own paints and painted this colorful painting and donated it to the silent auction. A bidding war took place and his painting sold for over $100!!! Igor - thank you so much for giving your talents to Jesus so that other orphans can come home to their forever families!
Kari Gibson donated several "simply love" t-shirts and after much bidding they were all auctioned off - some for more the $40! Toni & Guy donated over 22 services and this was a success as well! I won one of the Toni & Guy certificates and I also won one of the mirrors (above) donated by Rhonda Wall of Southern Living at Home.

The silent auction tables were beautifully decorated by Mrs. Gill and Debbie Graff with the help of some other volunteers -displaying 98 auction items in all!


Kim Parker of Passionfish Designs donated this beautiful necklace she designed and named after an elder of some Somali Bantu refugees she works with here in San Antonio. It sold for $235!


The room was beautifully transformed over the course of the afternoon. The centerpieces were so perfect. Karl and Jenn Gager put together 50 of these amazing centerpieces. They featured pictures of adopted children that were printed on velum paper so that the candlelight in the middle made the pictures glow. I am in awe of this idea! It was incredible!

Cristie worked tirelessly  on every small detail for the evening. She created these beautiful programs that were full of information about the orphan crisis, the highlights of the evening and contact informations for the speaker, the agency, etc. The Red Letters Campaign also donated some information cards that just happened to perfectly match the colors of the night. Billy and I dressed up for the occasion and were so blessed to have the honor of leading worship for this amazing night!

Cristie and Doug are such hard workers and they are so passionate about caring for orphans and about adoption. If it were not for this couple, this event would not have happened. Billy and I are so blessed to call these beautiful people our friends!

The catered dinner was fabulous. The "Black Tie Affair" outdid themselves. Spectacular set up and food! They were able to give Cristie the red table clothes which ended up making the room so perfect!  

Libby, as mentioned in previous posts, gave up a traditional birthday party in order that anyone who wanted to give money in her name could do so. With that money we were able to purchase a table for the cause and we invited some special guests to sit in those seats - some prayer warrior friends who I know were praying over us and the event all night! I love these people! 


Here is another shot of one of the tables set up. So beautiful! And above is Katie - who we affectionately call "chicken". Katie headed up the hostesses and checking people in for the night. Then she and her friends summed up the silent auction bids and were in charge of printing out the winners sheet for each table. Katie and her team did a wonderful job!

Just 2 days before the Gala some old friends of ours wrote us a precious email regarding adoption. I just knew they were supposed to attend this event. They live in Katy and were able to make it and God put some special things on their heart. This is probably just one of the many powerful decisions and families that were impacted by this Gala. So exciting!

Our band traveled into town and helped us lead worship. We are so grateful for these guys. They are each so precious and we love working with them.

Okay - so as soon as I know what came in through donations and any other important details - I will post it. I'm also going to try to make a video of the event -but that might take this Mac illiterate girl some time!



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Orphans Ticket Home Gala

Tomorrow (Friday) night the San Antonio Orphans Ticket Home Gala for our agency - AWAA - will finally come to pass. A cold front is coming in, excitement is in the air, just under 200 guests have registered, 97 auction items have been accounted for, and we are TOTALLY pumped to get the night rolling. In the morning, many volunteers will gather to set up the silent auction tables/items. The caterers will be coming in the early afternoon. Amazing centerpieces (made by the Gager family) will be put in their places. The main tablecloths are red -  the color of urgency. The centerpieces are black with color photos of adopted children and orphans - beautiful and elegant. The slideshow/video of the faces of orphans and adopted children is chilling. The powerpoint is ready to go. The bid sheets are done and ready for some generous bidders. All the promotion, fliers, radio spots, printed letters/posters/business contribution and silent auction requests are being laid to rest. TO SAY THE LEAST-  Cristie Martine has outdone herself in organizing all these huge and complicated details. For seven months she has prepared, prayed, organized, sacrificed, promoted, designed, shared, begged, pleaded, cried, laughed, slept and ate Gala details! I can personally speak to the time and effort she has put into this project. It is beyond what most people could ever do on their own. She has labor intensely for this event to take place. Most will never know the sacrifices she has made. But none will be in vain.  Hostesses are ready to seat the guests, the speakers have solid directions and strong words to share. Worship songs have been decided. Band guys will arrive tomorrow. Precious people with the gift of hospitality and the generous desire to house incoming guests are preparing their homes tonight for the speaker (Tom Davis), AWAA staff and band. There is a delightful buzz of expectancy in San Antonio tonight. It's almost like Christmas morning is about to arrive. We are so ready to see what God has in store for the hearts of those attending and for the orphans of the world waiting for identity and adoption. The hopes of one adoption agency and the constant work of some passionate AW representatives to alter the lives of over 5100 orphans is about to be impacted greatly by the work of God and the obedience and generosity of His people. 


Please be praying for Doug and Cristie Martine, the America World and staff, Tom Davis, our band, the guests, the volunteers and the orphans as we come into the final hours of preparation. Pray for the healing of some who have been sick all week. Pray for the hearts of those who have always thought about adopting but haven't yet followed through. Pray for those who have money and are called to give. Pray, pray, pray - for the presence of the Holy Spirit, for the softening of hearts, for ears to hear the message, for passion that should never die out, for freedom in worship, for obedience to whatever God calls the guests to do - give, pray, adopt - whatever that looks like. 

Our friends and family ended up donating $920 in Libby's name. $580 was used to purchase one table and 2 extra seats (10 seats in all) (all that money goes to the AW's 4 point initiatives that will help bring 5100 orphans home). All 10 guests invited to sit in those seats are praying, godly people and I know the night will be impacted simply by their presence. $340 will either be used in the silent auction or simply donated - either way - all the money ends up in the same place. We are so grateful to have such wonderful friends and family who love Libby and wanted to help other families bring their little ones home. 

I bought a clear, tall jar and a tube of vintage looking buttons the other day. Tomorrow I am going to give it to Libby. She will learn that each time she gives to people or does something out of selfless obedience she is actually storing up treasure in heaven. As a symbol of that treasure - we are going to add buttons to her jar each time she does something special for those in need. This year she is giving up a traditional birthday party and gifts and giving the donated money to the orphans in need. She will be receiving 3 buttons in her jar representing approximately 3 orphans that she is helping bring home. We will continue adding buttons to this jar over the years and when she is ready to be on her own we will exchange her buttons for a special jewel or ring representing a heavenly treasure. It will be her reminder of how we trained her to live in the reality of heaven. 

I will post again tomorrow to let you know how the Gala turned out. 

Thank you for your prayers,
Cindy

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hallelujah - referrals are rolling once again!!!

This week I have been so concerned about referrals and have just LONGED to see a referral from our agency for the families on the top of the waiting list. Well, today it happened! The Blackwell family, the Hall family and the sweet Forrest family (who lost their first daughter to illness before ever meeting her in ET) all received referrals today. Congratulations to all!


There are rumors that many more referrals are to come - especially girl referrals! COME ON! THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO HEAR! It is expected that by early Dec. all families with DTE's through March will receive a referral! WOW! That means we really are on schedule - I can expect a referral in mid to late March - at least for now. Ahhhhh.... relief!

I woke up this morning and thought - "I haven't registered for anything at BabiesRUs for Lulu and I need to do that." So I got started. We already have so much from our first precious girl, but we still need car seats, a double stroller, sling, and some other basics. It just hit me today, for some reason, that I better start getting ready for Lulu to arrive. I need to get baby gates up at the top and bottom of the stairs. I need to get safety plugs on all the electric outlets. I need to get clothes out of boxes and organize her closet. I need to make our payment to AWAA by Jan (that one's not so fun). I need to get some of Libby's old toys out of the storage closet. I need to do so much! And I totally need to start thinking about what I will need for travel. I haven't been reading many posts about that so I need to do some research. Oh! And I probably need to start getting my shots for travel.... oh my, oh my!!! YEAH! This is getting exciting, folks!

Chan family - if I were a valley girl I would say, "You've been waiting for your referral for, like, ever!" I am so praying that you get a referral for an adorable baby boy this coming week!!!!!!!!!!! Holler!

This week some AW families are traveling to get their little ones. Scroll down to link to their blogs so you can follow their journeys: The Juvinalls, the Gambles, the Armstrongs, the Pridemores and the VanWettens (who are going BACK to ET to pick up their 2nd. daughter whose court case was postponed - they were just in ET 2 weeks ago to get their other ET daughter!)

And - here is the glorious updated, estimated list for the "girl waiting list":
(re-adjusted this list on Nov. 25, 2008 because the Black family also received a referral of a girl)
Bowman - 1

Lunceford - 2

Rothermond - 3

Eckhardt - 4

Heinrichs - 5

Jones - 6
Keiderling - 7
Gillman - 8

Mullins - 9
Moffat - 10

Pickard - 11
Delfosse - 12

Drogovich - 13
Gagnon - 14
Bartley - 15

Portilla - 16
Foote - 17!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Redd - 18
Kerby - 19

Reed - 20
Bowers - 21

Carpenter - 22

Monberg - 23

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

5 MONTHS WAITING!!! HAPPY DANCE!

Tomorrow morning I will wake up on the 5 month mark of our official wait time. Anyone else want to do the happy dance with me? I'm not a good dancer, so just move your feet and shake your tush a little and we'll call that the happy dance. 


Not sure if the 5 month mark means much. There have been no referrals in a LONG time! Supposedly AW is going to do some catching up starting mid-November, so next week - we'll see...

I want to take a moment to share a special site and ministry. Instead of explaining it all, I'll just post the link and you can visit the site and see for yourself. It's www.straightfromtheheart.typepad.com

This site is, both in light of it's sole mission to end the orphan crisis and that November is adoption awareness month, highlighting adoption stories/adoptive families each day of this month. This Friday and Saturday the site will feature our adoption of Libby and our current adoption journey to Aria-Lu (Lulu!). It's so exciting having the opportunity to share our stories because we have been so greatly blessed and changed by the power of adoption and we believe so many more are called to experience the same thing. 

This is all the news I have for now. I think an AW conference call is coming up soon (if I haven't missed it already - I better check on that!) If I learn anything new - I'll be sure to fill you in!

Blessings,
Cindy
PS - Lulu, we pray for you and think of you daily. You are becoming more and more a part of our family before you even get here. We moved Libby's changing table into your room this week. Slowly, we are preparing every inch of our home for your arrival. Christmas will be a little bit lonely without you here. Love you baby girl! Love, Mommy

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Special Memory - and the Half Way Mark?

Today many who have been waiting for successful court dates and travel dates were disappointed by news of failed court and delayed travel. These waiting families must ache so much. Some have had a referral for 5 months! Can you imagine having a picture of your child and being completely incapable of getting to that child for 5 months and still have no certainty of when you will finally be able to embrace her? People who have not adopted will find it hard to understand, but a mighty, miraculous thing happens when you get the picture of your baby. You suddenly know and love a child you have never met. You instantly take on every emotion as a biological parent would feel. It's powerful, unexplainable, and overwhelming. The Scripture that says, "a hope deferred makes the heart sick" is so true. Please pray for those waiting and hoping to pass court and travel soon!

As for our family and adoption news - well, not much news, but if the estimate of 9 months still stands for the wait time for an infant girl - then we have passed the half way mark. And though there is no certainty that this is really the half way mark for us - its worth celebrating simply because it helps the wait time go by!

So - what is the special memory, you ask? It is more than special. I can't believe I haven't thought about this sooner. It's just plain beautiful how God set up this story (our ET adoption story)-

In February 2005 we had just begun the paperwork for our China adoption (Libby's adoption) when we decided to fly to Uganda, Africa with a group to visit some friends of ours who had been on the mission field for many years to the then unreached Karamajong people of Northern Uganda - the bush of Africa, truly. There are a thousand stories I could tell from that trip, but there is one that applies to this blog and this adoption far more than all the others.

While in Morotto, Uganda we stayed on the Singletary's "compound" - a "safe" (LOL!) fenced-in area where the Singletary's lived when they were not living in a 3-man-tent on top of a mountain -seriously! In Morotto lives a group of ladies who have affectionately been named "The Lonely Ladies of Lia". These ladies (because of the Singletary's obedience and God's love) now know Jesus. Again - so many stories I could chase right here, but I'll refrain. The Lonely Ladies of Lia were so kind and precious. But in their culture they simply could not understand how I could be 30 years of age and have no children. They didn't know we were working on an adoption and it wouldn't have made sense to them anyway. So Terry, as a way to teach these ladies how to pray for others, asked the ladies if they would pray over me that God would give me a baby. And that's what they did. The put a dark Karamajong baby in my arms, laid hands on me and prayed.

At that time I thought it was so sweet and I thought about our China adoption and - NEVER ONCE did I ever think about how God might one day answer their prayers in His own clever way. So, I started thinking about this the other day and remembered that I had photos of this special moment: (get some tissue!)









and I even located my journal to see if I journaled about it - and sure enough I did! In my journal on Feb. 22, 2005 I wrote: "...so Terry took the opportunity to teach them how to pray and they all gathered and prayed that God would give me a child. They said, 'next time you come to Africa you will come with a little baby in your arms.'"

Little did they know - and even littler (I know that's not a word!) did I know that indeed I would come back to Africa and have a baby in my arms - only - I will get her IN Africa!!!!!!!!!!

Well over a year ago I received word all the way from Uganda that these ladies were still praying for me. I remember thinking then that if I showed up in Africa with Libby (our Chinese princess) they would be really confused about how God answered their prayer. I wonder what they would say if I returned to visit them with both a Chinese and an African baby? Their minds might explode!

This adoption story is so good! God is so brilliant, isn't He?! The only way this story could get any more perfect is if I got a referral on Feb. 22 - the 4 year anniversary of this moment of prayer. But things would have to drastically speed up for that to happen - so I'm not "hanging my hat" on that (I'm such a good Texan for saying that).

Enjoy 2 more photos of some other precious Karamajong babies/children:





You know those old "Where's Waldo" games? .... but this one is just too obvious. My sweet (and very white) husband sits with some of the ladies of Lia.
- Stay tuned for the rest of the story! - Cindy

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kolfe




Great news! If you read the previous post you learned about Kolfe - a youth orphanage for Ethiopian boys who age out of the ET orphanges (ages 12 and up). Looks like Tom Davis (author of "Red Letters Living a Faith that Bleeds" and "Fields of the Fatherless") has visited Kolfe recently and believes it is one of the orphanages he will try to find an American church to sponsor. Here's what he posted on his blog:

Today, we were in an orphanage called Kolfe, a boys home with about 120 kids. You would think this place so filled with testosterone, would be a bit dangerous, cold and resistant. Just the opposite. These boys had incredible manners, they showed so much respect to us, even bowing when they met us. And, it is dirt poor. They have nothing, and I mean nothing. They never get to eat meat, and don't even have the money for a hair cut. They just want the chance to be men, to make their mark on life and accomplish something. Many have dreams of going to college, and I want to help them.Sponsoring this place would transform your community, I promise you. I'll post pictures and video when I get home.I think we are up to 6 orphanages that will soon be available for sponsorship. I'm hoping to have 8 by the time we leave. The vision trip looks like it will be some time in April. Please email me if you want to come. Thanks for the prayers. God is doing great things in this beautiful country. With His help we can change the lives of these kids forever. Want to be a part? Just say yes!

But Kolfe has not been sponsored - YET! You - your church - could be the one to take this on! Click here to read the criteria for a church sponsoring an orphanage like Kolfe:

As you read and think about all this - May the following video impress upon your heart the need to get involved. It is the story of a Rwandan pastor discovering how to minister to those with AIDS. (click the stop button on the top right to turn off the music before hitting play on the video).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Letters Campain - Adoption Journaler I Am!



but it's not about me... it's about the story - the story of obedience that leads to fulfilling joy - the story of adoption. My adoption into the family of the King of Kings is big enough, humbling enough, moving enough, fulfilling enough to cause me to overflow - to cause US to overflow ("Us" being followers of Jesus - my family). Overflow into what? The WORLD! Yes, we are called the "light of the world" for a reason - because we were not meant to be hidden away - not meant to be withdrawn, quiet, passive. No! We are meant to spill over, pour out, shout out and work out our faith in Jesus - by the way we live, the way we love, the way we LIGHT UP the darkness!

For those happening upon this blog for the first time - my name is Cindy. My husband, Billy, and I are worship leaders. He is a worship songwriter. But neither of us believe that the most profound, powerful worship can be found in a song. No, worship - true worship is found in the way we obey Jesus. If Jesus says, "if you love me, keep my commands" or "if you say you love me, do what I say" (which, he does, by the way) then the best way to give Jesus honor - show our love - is to do just that. And since His very own word says, "the most pure religion is the care of the orphans and widows..." then, by all means, this is what we are called to do.

While not every couple is called to adopt - we are all called to care for orphans and widows in some capacity. In many of the Scriptures about orphans the phrase "and the foreigners among you" is included. An orphan is any fatherless or motherless, or lonely or neglected or abandoned or country-less person. And for those people - "the least of these" - we are called to go and RE-present Jesus.

For our family - we do this in multiple ways. Billy and I adopted Libby Song - our sprightly soon-to-be 3 year old - from China in Sept. 2006. We started that journey in Nov. of 2004 - yep, that's right - almost a 2 year process (which is short compared to China's current process). For two years I stepped out in faith that God could make me a good mom - a great mom. I feared - seriously FEARED... no, better said - I was TERRIFIED of becoming a mom. So every day the wait for Libby continued, I agonized with wonder/terror over whether I was really cut out for the job. I share that because obedience isn't always easy. But the joy - oh the sweet joy that comes when the walk of obedience is rewarded. The very moment I embraced Libby all fear was gone and I embarked on a new journey of life, love - love that now, because of a little, helpless orphan and a long journey, seemed more powerful, more poignant, more profound than I could have ever previously known.


Shortly after adopting Libby, three things happened. I felt called to adopt from Ethiopia. Billy informed me that he did not. And God brought a large number of refugees in our city to our attention.

I began to pray for God to change Billy's heart regarding adopting from Ethiopia. It wasn't that Billy was hard hearted. He was just enjoying Libby and comfortable with that - and maybe even a bit challenged with that - enough to not want more challenge. I occasionally asked Billy if he was praying about adopting. He was honest and said, "no."

In the meantime, we began the journey of caring for "the foreigners living among us". In San Antonio, there are hundreds of refugees from all over the world.


We began teaching the Somali Bantu English as a Second Language and caring for their children while the adults were in class. And then the Burmese refugees came to our attention. They are the Karen people - many of whom are followers of Jesus and were forced out of their country because of that very proclamation. So here we were with a beautiful Chinese daughter (and an African one in my heart) and who does our Father have us caring for - Asians and Africans - both with whom our hearts began to fall in love. Interesting in light of what I felt our family would one day look like...

A year after first talking with Billy about adopting from Ethiopia, Billy confessed that to obey Jesus he would indeed have to agree to adopt from Ethiopia and so a new journey began. In January of this year (2008) we started the paperwork to adopt an infant girl. In June (after some agonizing fingerprint issues) we submitted our dossier to Ethiopia. Today we've been waiting just over 4 months - with an estimated 5 more months before we even have a picture of our Ethiopian princess. Another long, slow, anxious journey that is sure to bless our socks off!

Why in the world do I share all this with you, you ask? To toot my own horn? - Goodness No! If any of this were actually my idea - maybe - but this was all Jesus in me deciding to come out. I didn't have a choice. I share all this because.... There is an orphan (as defined above) either near you or far far away - but there is at least one orphan you are called to care for. Did I say adopt? No. I said, "care for". What does that look like? You're going to have to ask Jesus. Beware, you may not like his answer. It may cost you something - maybe money or time or maybe your too-big-love-of-self - which is way harder to give up. I'm not accusing or condemning. I'm talking about reality and reality is - we all love ourselves and look out for ourselves first UNLESS - Jesus take over.

Today, this story came by way of a friend's friend to my attention. Maybe this story is the one Jesus will decide to step in through you. I don't even know the whole story yet. All I know is what I read on this blog: http://jobsdaughters.blogspot.com/2007/11/forgotten-boys.html. A woman/family who has adopted 5 children visits Kolphe while in Ethiopia. Kolfe is a "home" for ET orphan boys who have aged out of the orphange "system"....Here is a portion of this family's blog post about their visit to Kolfe. It's long - but like our adoption journey - it is SO WORTH IT!

After lunch, Ryan took us to the KOLFE older boys orphanage. This is where the boys over 12 years old go. This is also the place where Ellie raised $1200 for their library to be built thanks to the Franklin Academy Charter School and my friend Jennifer Hoffert. After today, I CAN NEVER FORGET THESE BOYS!!!!

We pulled into the facility that gave me the first impression of a very run down old prison campus or something like I have seen in the pictures of Germany during the Holocaust. Very depressed and unmaintained. We were greeted immediately by smiling faces and warm welcomes as numerous young men came out to see who was in the white car that just arrived. I was very nervous because I fully expected these young men to be cold and unsociable. On the drive there I was even thinking I would rather not go there at all and was having a conversation in my head that I would rather have gone souvenir shopping this afternoon. We want to get some gifts to bring home to the special people that helped us get here. Well isn't it just like God to show me again that He always knows better and has a plan for everything. Today I met some of the most DELIGHTFUL, HAPPY, SOCIABLE, LOVING, RESPECTFUL AND WELL MANNERED young men in my life!!!! (Teenagers as our society calls them) I AM AMAZED AGAIN! I must have been personally greeted by 30-40 young men ranging in ages from 12 to 18. They all had genuine smiles and either spoke fairly good English or were learning. They all put their hands out to shake, give their names and smile. Within about 5 minutes, my heart was melting again as I could feel myself falling in love with these boys. As Ryan started to give us the tour, they gathered along side and with "pride" started to explain what each building was. They were obviously excited to have visitors. I was so impressed with how well groomed and clean they were. They take pride in their appearance as well, wearing old tattered clothes, but still having a sense of style and dignity. They all asked questions about us, about America, about our adoption etc. They would all take turns asking questions and as some stayed with me continually as I walked. They very politely and in a very gentlemanly manner helped me walk along the very dangerous broken-up cement, big holes, rocks, puddles, etc. on the ground. You really have to look down because nothing is well groomed or smooth on the landscape. There were buildings with broken windows, sheets or fabric on them as window treatments. They looked like they haven't been painted in 20 years. Yet these young men pointed them out to me with pride and joy! I was so absorbed by their joy that I was smiling so big my face hurt. I was complimenting them on how they obviously worked hard because in spite of the run down condition it still displayed a sense of beauty. They had a vegetable garden planted among the rocks and they even have a flower garden. They were particularly proud of their kitchen that has a window that opens into the next room which serves as the dining room and theater. Hoptamu, the young man that was by my side the entire time and spoke English very well, was particularly interested in asking me how I liked everything as he showed me. He said they enjoy the movie room very much. He then wanted me to see their sleeping building. There were rows of bunk beds as far as the eye could see. It was like a barracks on a military campus. My immediate surprise was how neat, organized and well maintained it was. "PRIDE" everywhere. Then it was off to the soccer field where there was a game going on. The field was just a big dirt area full of rocks. It had no marked lines and the goals were made of the same Eucalyptus poles we see so much here. The netting was shredded and falling apart. It seemed to serve no purpose as any scored goals would go right through them. Even the ball was old and tattered. This facility holds up to 180 young men. There were a great number of them there but I don't have the exact number yet. While two teams of boys played, a great number of others watched and waited on the sidelines. Once one of the teams scored two goals, another team would get to run on the field to replace the losing team. We get so used to seeing boys in America play with the proper equipment, i.e, shoes, pads, uniforms. These boys had none of that. They played in beat up tennis shoes, no pads, no matching uniforms. Some only wore one sock. We watched for about 30 minutes, or I should say we talked with a great number of them on the side lines. I felt like I was in such an unusual situation. I can't really describe it.. The place was so depressing, sad, run down, and yet there was such a spirit of joy that it was contagious. As many of you know about me, I don't do superficial. I believe I was there for the purpose of loving on these young men, to encourage them and to let them know that they matter to me and to God. I asked questions of them like, "What do you want to be when you grow up? The answers were: doctors, electrician, carpenter, teacher, go to America, etc. They have dreams and aspirations, desires and goals to be a positive influence and contributors to society. They love to study. They told us they only play soccer on weekends because the rest of the time they study. It is obvious because they too had great questions for us and I was amazed at how well they spoke English.

There were three conversations I had that impacted me the most. I asked if they have a lot of physical fights among them. They all sincerely looked at me with a sense of surprise and almost disgust. Several of them shouted out the following answers: "No, never!" ; "We love each other."; "We respect each other." "We use our minds to settle problems, as he pointed to his temple area." "We are a family here." We witnessed an example of this as Jerry noticed in the distance one of the older boys who was wearing shoes had accidentally stepped on the foot of another. They both respectfully treated each other with compassion and respect.

The second, a older young man about 16 yrs old told me, "This facility is about 30 years old and the government does not maintain it. He said many people come to visit, take lots of pictures but they never come back and they never do anything to help us." He was not angry or resentful at all, he spoke very softly and like it was just a fact of life. He was very joyful even as he told me this.

The third was, "Are there compounds like this in America where boys don't have a mother or a father?". This one crushed my spirit and heart. I told him we did have some children in America that have not parents too. I was immediately struck with the fact that I could not say we had compounds like this. Later, when we drove away Ellie said this was the time she too fought hard to hold back the tears.

These young men even treated Ellie with great respect, honor and genuinely asked her lots of questions. At the soccer game when I was surrounded by about 20 young men, I told them how Ellie raised $1200, (or about $11,000 Birr) to help fund their soon-to-be library. They all looked very surprised, eyebrows raised, eyes opened wide, and a very sincere thank you was expressed to her. They bowed their heads and said "thank you very much". Again those of you who know me and Jerry would understand that we would never feel comfortable taking her into a compound full of young men. She is absolutely beautiful and such a sweet personality that we always have a huge hedge of protection around her. At first we were both right by her side. But I can't efficiently express how safe she was and how respectful they were toward her. It was unbelievable!

So here is what was etched in my mind that has caused me to know I can NEVER walk away from here and be one of those people that never come back and never do anything to help them. Their beds are very old metal, the "pads on them", not mattresses, are also about 30 years old. They have holes in them, they are absolutely trash dump quality. The blankets and pillows etc. are the same. They cannot possibly keep them warm. Remember, I told you there are absolutely no heating systems in Ethiopia and it gets down in the 30's at night. The windows are broken and in desperate need of replacement. The kitchen was like something out of an old Gothic run-down castle. It was all stone walls, floor and no windows or light.It looked like a dungeon. We have photos that can only explain it because I can't even find the words. Their dining room and theatre was a run down building that had old tables that looked at least 30 years old. We didn't see any chairs so I wonder if they stand? The theater was an old 26 inch TV on a shelf with a couple of old benches in front of it. They looked like old bleacher benches from elementary school when I was a child. They are the most uncomfortable things to sit on. We literally had walk with caution throughout the entire compound because the steps everywhere are broken and the ground is all uneven and full of rocks etc.

I have not stopped crying since last night. These are the forgotten boys. No one wants them. I have to admit that until today, I was the most guilty of never wanting or even considering adopting one of these boys. I had all these preconceived ideas about how bad, dangerous and evil they must be and they did not really matter to ME. OH GOD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!! I AM SO ASHAMED!!! I WAS SO WRONG!!! I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN! I know I must do something!

I spent this afternoon with some of the most respectful, well mannered, joyful, content, happy, sincere, genuine and goal-oriented young men that I ever knew existed. As we wrapped up our visit, Jerry literally had to come pull me by the arm and drag me across the compound. I was pulling away from him and all the boys started laughing. I told them I didn't want to leave yet because I was enjoying them so much. Jerry said we had to be considerate of our driver, he had to get home. I honestly could have stayed there all night. As we got to the car, the boys were following us asking if we could come back tomorrow. Some of them shouted out "DON"T FORGET US!" "PLEASE COME BACK!" I literally pulled away from Jerry, stood in front of them and said "OK, I WANT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU TO PLEASE COME GIVE ME A BIG KISS AND HUG. AND I MEAN EVERYONE!! I held my arms open wide and stood there as they looked around with puzzled faces. They looked at each other, and at Ryan like "Is she serious?" Ryan shouted out that I was MAMA to all of them. I stood there with Keziah in my snuggly as a line formed and I hugged, kissed squeezed and asked God to bless each and every one of them. They were laughing and honestly thought I must be crazy. Josiah was in Jerry's arms and was laughing out loud as he watched this whole thing. He then started to kiss Jerry's cheek repeatedly as to mimic what he was watching. As the line diminished I looked around and saw some shy ones that were not in the line. I walked up to each one of them and made sure they got a hug and kiss too, whether they wanted it or not. Then some other came running from another direction as if someone had gone to tell them what was going on. They said," I did not get a turn". Then a few of them came back for seconds. The young man who told me he wanted to be doctor for babies came back and I gave him four more kisses not just one. I stood there and waited until it was obvious there were no more in waiting. Even some of the older men that looked at least 18 or older came out to greet me and get a hug and kiss. I was so surprised! One of them held my hand for a long time and was speaking in Amharic, He did not speak English. When I asked Hoptamu to translate, he said, "He wants you to help him get out of here!" THIS WAS MY LAST CONVERSATION WITH ONE OF THEM!

Over the last several years the LORD has been impressing on us that pure religion is to care for the orphan. James 1:22, 27. We have been on this adoption journey for several years and have so far, adopted five children. We are now going to pursue adopting a few of these older boys if the LORD will allow and provide. But, for the first time, I now have a passion to care for the orphan in a new way. While I very sadly have to admit that I cannot adopt all of these children, and believe me I want to, I MUST DO SOMETHING to help make a difference and impact them in a some way. My heart and mind have been transformed! GOD HELP ME TO HELP THESE FORGOTTEN BOYS OF KOLFE.

So, what's in it for you? Well... nothing and everything...it's nothing short of a miracle what God does when we live the way He wants us to - for in the very act of being like Jesus - you meet Jesus in the eyes of an destitute, orphan boy who is filled with joy you have never known even with all your plenty - yes, even in a lonely child, a refugee, a homeless man. Look deep in his eyes, past the hunger, despair and dirt and you will find simple Jesus, the best and only kind.

I don't know how to help the boys in Kolfe. If you have ideas please go to this family's blog (link above) and start a dialogue. Take one step and you will begin to sense a fulfillment you have never known. Maybe you have gone to every self-help, Bible study to overcome some kind of despair from your own life and you still can't get over it. I promise you, when you stop thinking on your own despair and focus on rescuing others from their's - you will find that your despair is gone and indeed is now serving a great purpose. Rescue the perishing and your life will find the most beautiful perspective and finally... you will really know Jesus.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Special Friends

On October 11, our family had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some other AWAA families who are also adopting from ET. We met the Chan family and the Portilla family at and Ethiopian restaurant in Austin, TX for lunch. We had a great time sharing stories and getting to know one another. Here are some pictures from our time together:




Our first taste of Injera bread! It was a really great meal!


Tulio and Karen Portilla and family are on the left. Billy, Libby and I in the middle and Shelley and William Chan on the right.


Here, Billy tried to get a more close up picture of all of us - because he's the "picture nazi".

During lunch, Shelley mentioned that the Austin ET adoption yahoo group (people from all agencies who have already or are currently adopting) was meeting that afternoon for dinner so we decided to stay in Austin for the day to meet everyone. Libby took her nap in the car and when she woke up we were welcomed by Shelley and William into their sweet home. We enjoyed their company and hospitality very much. I'm so excited for the Chan's - they are #1 on the list for a boy. Anyday now they will receive their referral!!!!!!

At 5 pm we met all the Austin families and were overwhelmed by their friendliness. We could hardly eat our burgers because we were constantly meeting new families. What an awesome surprise! We also met some ADORABLE Ethiopian children and some amazing families. We truly had a blast.

We arrived home at 9pm that night and were totally exhausted, but we were also so full of gratitude for such a great experience in meeting other ET families. So encouraging!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Etsegenet Forrest Passed Away

It is with great sadness that I post this news. Baby Etsegenet Forrest (the Ethiopian baby girl that was referred to the Forrest family) passed away over the weekend before the Forrest family could travel to receive her. This kind of loss is so hard to process. Please be lifting up the Forrest family in your prayers. Here is what the Forrest family posted on our yahoo group....

YG,
Thank you for your prayers. We just wanted to let you know that we
found out this morning that Etsegenet died on Saturday.

We are trying to process this information and we are tying to figure
out what is next...

We know that our God is GOOD. And He is Sovereign. He didn't drop the
ball...

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow/In faith and love and every
grace/Might more of His salvation know/And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray/And He I trust has answered
prayer/But it has been in such a way/As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour/At once He'd answer my
request/And by His love's constraining power/Subdue my sins and give
me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel/The hidden evils of my
heart/And let the angry powers of Hell/Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed/Intent to aggravate my
woe/Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,/Cast out my feelings, laid
me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried/Wilt Thou pursue thy worm
to death?/"Tis in this way," the Lord replied/"I answer prayer for
grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ/from self and pride to set thee
free/And break thy schemes of earthly joy/That thou mayest seek thy
all in me/That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

FOUR MONTHS WAITING!!! Details on fee increase, a note about Tom Davis and a Prayer over Lulu and her Biological Mom

On the eve of our 4 months of waiting mark, I wanted to share with you more details on the reasons behind America World's Fee increases. Duni, one of AW's family coordinators, sent an email explaining the various reasons that AW had to make such a substantial increase. It all makes sense and it's all worthwhile. Before reading about all the details, though, I thought you might best understand some of Ethiopia's situation by seeing the video at this link regarding Ethiopia's Green Famine: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2008/aug/01/green.famine

Ethiopia's food shortage is grim and it is impacting the health of their children in major ways. When America World chooses a child to be referred to a waiting family, that ET child is moved from the orphanage into what is called a "transitional home". This is where the child is kept and sometimes nursed back to health while paperwork is processed for referral and waiting families wait for their paperwork to make it through the ET court system and as the families wait to travel. Read below to see AW's explanation for how this and other factors have affected their budget and therefore the fees we need to pay.

TRANSITIONAL HOME COSTS: Our role as an agency in Ethiopia is quite different than any of our other programs in many ways. One is that we care for the children we are to place in homes. These children come from difficult situations. Some are malnourished and many get sick with common cold, pneumonia or parasites. We don't want to merely "keep" the children until families come for them but deem it our responsibility to give them the best treatment and care we possibly could. Medical care of children, especially when they first arrive in our home is quite high. We also try our best to involve families in the child's life long before they meet them. We send updates with snippets of their children's milestones and pictures. We hire qualified nurses and have a lower nannies to children ratio so that the children can get a more personalized care than they would at an orphanage. We also provide transitional services such as hiring English teachers and an American Social worker to help the children adjust better. All of these things involve significant financial undertaking. We have also found that diapers and Formulas cost quite a lot more than what we projected. This is also due to inflation in the past year and weakening of the dollar.

NEW CAPACITY BUILDING FEE BY MOWA : After many complaints by us (adoption agencies as a whole) of lower productivity by MOWA in completing adoptions, MOWA has mandated a capacity building fee so they can hire more social workers and purchase computers to process adoptions.

TRANSLATION AND AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS: The cost of dossier translation and authentication both at the department of state and Ministry of Foreign affairs in Ethiopia have gone up.

POST PLACEMENT : The Ethiopian government requires 3 post placement reports the first year of the adoption and one self report per year until the child turns 18. As the agency that facilitated your adoption, we are required to follow up with families to make sure that reports are submitted and on time. We will be charging a one time minimal post placement administration fee to cover the administrative cost.

For these reasons we have been unable to cover the cost with the current fee schedule. I recognize that this is difficult news for families, and that the increase in the cost of your adoption will impact each of you in significant ways. The fiscal situation facing the program is a critical one, and these increases are essential in order to maintain our commitment to offering you and the children you adopt the best care and services possible.

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what is going on. I completely trust AW and believe that they are doing everything they can to provide the best care of these orphans. Any increase in fees is a tough pill to swallow, especially when the process already costs a total of around $30,000. So please continue to pray for us and other families as we all trust God to provide in the midst of what can already be an emotional and difficult journey.

Another note to make: Tom Davis - author of "Red Letters" and "Fields of the Fatherless" (and who will also be the keynote speaker at the AWAA San Antonio Gala) is currently in Ethiopia searching for orphanges that churches in the US can partner with. Following his journey is quite impacting and offers some amazing perspective and... conviction. Please visit http://tomdavis.typepad.com/ to follow Tom through Ethiopia over the next many days. To get an idea of what you'll find there, I cut and pasted one of his latest entries below:

Ethiopia Day 2 and 3

Oh how I wish you were here! Let me share a few highlights with you. Ethiopia Cultural Experiences: 1. At an Ethiopian restaurant I was shocked to notice everyone was eating meat. Apparently that's quite the luxury, but the shock wasn't the meat, it was the fact that it was all raw. Yep, you got it. Delicacy of the day: Raw goat meat. Not wanting to take home a pet amoeba, I choose to have it cooked well done.

Rawmeat-1Cookedmeat-1

2. Tonight we were invited to a home for a coffee ceremony. The family was unbelievable. Poor, but filled with so many riches. There are 10 kids, and all of them are very close. We were greeted with three kisses on the cheek and treated like we were family. Their hospitality was something to be desired. One of the things I've come to discover is that the poor have so much to treat us regarding what it means to love, share, and give. I'm convicted.

Coffeeceremony-1Coffeeceremony2-1

3. Have I mentioned the coffee?! From one coffee lover to another, you have never tasted coffee like this! Apparently, coffee was originated here in a city called Kaffe centuries ago. They serve macchiatos that will knock your socks off. Sugar, milk, espresso and froth that Starbucks couldn't touch with a ten foot pole. And yes, that's Simon's belly.

Coffee-1

3. Public transportation. In a mini-van seating 12, we managed to pack in 20! At least it was cheap. A whopping .20 cents each for a 30 minute trip.

Orphanages:VERY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY: We will have one orphanage ready for sponsorship immediately. I can't say enough about how moved I was by being with these children. Their situation is desperate. I know there are at least 100 of you keeping with this trip and involved in helping us launch Ethiopia. If you are ready to have your church, business or organization sponsor this awesome place called Kechene, email me ASAP at: tdavis@hopechest.org. I would like this orphanage sponsored right out of the gate. There are 87 children there, very poor, half are orphaned because of AIDS. There is a phenomenal staff in place, acting as teaching, role models, and providing the nurture they need to grow up healthy. First come, first serve!

Kids2-1Meandkids-1

Please go to his site (linked above) and follow his journey. If your church is interested in orphan ministry - now is the time and the opportunity to get involved. Tom is spelling it out for you! Just read and allow your heart to fully engage.

Lulu, this adoption is teaching me so much. Your culture and the challenges your people face are changing me. I long to hold you, baby girl. I long to know your face and touch your hair and make you smile. I long to look you in the eye and see you soul to soul. We are praying for your biological mom to have everything she needs while she carries you in her womb. We are praying that God miraculously provides for her and that she will KNOW that you are a special baby, chosen by Him. We pray that she will be strong in these difficult days and somehow, somehow she will have a sense of peace and comfort as God prepares her heart to let you go - I don't know how that is possible, but we are praying -praying for her to have some hope in the midst of her despair and grieving. May she be well fed and protected in the night. May the light that breaks in the morning carry hope in it's warmth. May the Lord give her dreams and visions in the night that reveal Himself to her and may He provide miracles by day to affirm His love for her, so that she will know that He sees her, He hears her and He is close to her. And may you, Lulu, be aware of His presence even there in her womb because you already belong to Him. To the spirits of rejection and abandonment we declare that you have no place in our Lulu. She belongs to the King of Kings and from before time began this was His plan - that she would be born in Ethiopia and she would live with us. No lie you have to whisper shall prosper in Lulu's heart, soul, mind. The belt of truth is wrapped around Lulu with great care. Lord Jesus, protect our baby girl while she is away from our reach. Set her guardian angels guard over her body, soul, spirit, mind and heart. Sing and dance over her in the night. As you form her, mold her heart into the heart of a lioness of God - a passionate heart for the advancement of Your Kingdom - a heart that desires to put an end to injustice, darkness and bring peace, love in the sweet name of Christ. Make her gentle but strong, kind but honest. Give her deep thoughts on the things of You and an even deeper desire to know You and make You known. Give her big eyes that both radiate with Your joy but also portray Your unfailing compassion. May her eyes be full of peace and passion. May her smile be illuminating and contagious. May her voice be gentle and yet bold when used for Your glory. May she love to please you more than man. May her beauty be exquisite both inside and out. May Libby and Lulu have a miraculous and deep bond and may they truly love one another selflessly. May Lulu's life be fueled by the desire for Your name to be known among all peoples because Your name is the one to whom she has eternal belonging. Amen.