I hope you will visit my ministry website: http://ajourneyoffaith.net .
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Just time for a QUICK update, but wanted to let you all know that I am alive and well ... although a bit busy.
I had a WONDERFUL time in Seattle with Jim, on Saturday and Sunday. What a treat!
Monday, back to the swing of things ... while trying to adjust to the time change.
Tuesday ... haircut appt. in the evening, after a FULL day of homeschooling the kiddos.
Wednesday ... another appt. this afternoon ... had to change all appts. before I left for Ghana.
Tomorrow ... off to the high school STATE track meet ... Yippee! Joshua is the alternate for the 4 x 100 relay team. Jim and I are taking some of Josh's friends that didn't qualify for State. So, we are taking a van full ... renting 2 hotel rooms ... and looking forward to FUN!
Friday ... Jeremiah arrives home from Jordan. He says he'll be too tired for the track meet, so we are having a friend pick him up in Seattle, to bring him home to sleep for 2 days while we're gone. However, Lindsey will be here with the 5 younger kids ... so Jeremiah will get his fair share of Welcome Home hugs and kisses.
Kids are going in all directions this week ...
Gregg & Ben have been working in Oregon since last Thursday, so I haven't seen them yet. They will meet us in Tacoma tomorrow for the State Track Meet.
Lindsey was here when I got home, but then went to Seattle yesterday and today to visit friends she had made in Germany. She'll be home in time to watch the younger ones tomorrow, when we leave for Tacoma.
Papa got a Painting Job (PRAISING JESUS!) ... so, Josh has been working at the pizza place in the mornings, going to track practice in the afternoons, and painting with Papa in the evenings. Busy! Busy!
Off to STATE tomorrow ... hope to get back to my blogging next week!
Friday, May 22, 2009
I just had to SHOUT out with JOY that my dear husband has planned a very special treat for me when I arrive in Seattle.
Instead of heading straight home to the fun and chaos of a house full of children, dear hubby is going to take me to a hotel so that we can spend 2 days together ... catching up, relaxing, and just enjoying some time together.
It will be so nice to be able to fill him in on the last 2 1/2 weeks, in focused conversations, rather than a lot of little 10 minute excerpts over the course of the next week.
Thank you sweet Jim! Can't wait to be running into your arms at the airport this afternoon.
Oh yes ... to add to the plans that he had to make ... I drove my car the 2 hours to Seattle when I left, so now Jim will take the Airporter Shuttle Bus to Seattle so that he can drive my car home. What a guy!
Thanks Cassie, for getting this great news out yesterday!
We did not have internet again yesterday, in Accra, so I made a quick phone call to my dear husband (the first time I'd spoken to him in 16 days) to tell him we were on our way. Then I asked him to phone Cassie to write a quick blog post.
Yes, we are really on our way ... TO AMERICA. You can't imagine how excited the children are. Okay, Lanae and I are pretty excited, too.
We are currently in Frankfurt, Germany. While I enjoy the amenities of Luftansa Air ... I really like the direct flight on Delta from Accra to New York. It just doesn't seem like the most direct route to come to Europe first.
We just had breakfast at McDonalds, and are now trying to figure out how to spend the next 3 1/2 hours until flight time.
The kids did great on the first flight, so we are not expecting any problems for the rest of the trip.
The children went on their first elevator ride (and they like the escalators, too). It's so fun to see their wide-eyed wonder at all of their "firsts".
PRAISE THE LORD!
Mama is coming home! I'm posting this from Bend Oregon, because the internet is down in Ghana. This morning at 7am (Accra time) Mama and Lanae went to the embassy praying for a miracle, boy did Jesus deliver! The visa's were processed and ready to go before 2pm(Accra time)!!!
Please pray for safe travels and easy access through US customs! Mamas coming home! They will arrive in Seattle sometime on Saturday afternoon!
thanks for all the prayers and support! You all bless me because i know how much you bless my Mama.
praising Jesus from Bend OR,
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Most nights, before the children go to bed, Lanae prays for them (or with them). Last night, however, Josephine asked if I would pray for them. Then, she asked if we could all pray.
I decided to share with the children one of the ways that our children love to pray at home. We go around the circle and pray for the person next to us. Josephine thought that was a good idea. When it was Brian's turn to pray for Josephine, he asked if he could pray for her in Twi (their native language). "Sure." Then, Josephine wanted to pray for me in Twi. "Cool."
It was so precious to hear them calling out to God ... their sweet little voices so earnestly calling upon the Lord of the universe. After our prayer time, I told the children that it was sure neat that God speaks every language in the world. Even though Lanae and I didn't know what they were saying ... our Father in heaven knows every word.
We got the passport!!!
We are Praising Jesus today!!!
It's been a loooong day. We are hot, tired, and HUNGRY. I'll write more after I eat my pizza. Yes, I splurged and bought all of us a yummy dinner. I just didn't think peanut butter sandwiches would be the proper celebration.
THANKS for ALL of your prayers!!!
Stayed tuned ... don't yet know when we can come home.
Need to get the kids visas and ...
... the Embassy closes early on Friday
... Monday is a holiday here in Ghana
PRAYING for visas tomorrow,
in time to catch our flight tomorrow night.
Otherwise ... it will be a LONG weekend,
waiting for a Tuesday night flight.
In my This is Ghana #2 post (below), I mentioned the worm that Jim had in his chest. Several of you commented that you hadn't heard that story. Sorry.
Last year, when we came to bring home our children, I stayed for a month, and Jim was here for 6 weeks, before bringing the children home. (see Feb. - March '08 ... if you haven't read the stories).
After I went home (to the 8 children we left home alone for a month), Jim and the 3 kids were "on their own" in Ghana. A few days later, Jim noticed a little bump on his chest. Not one to panic, he ignored it. After it kept getting bigger, he finally mentioned it to some friends we had made at the Guest House. The wife immediately took charge and said "You MUST go to a clinic and get that looked at." (Thanks Trudy!) Trudy and George had had to make several trips to a clinic with their children, so they knew where to send Jim.
Jim is quite hairy on his chest (sorry for the details), so the doctor decided that she should shave a bit before inspecting the bump. She first tried to shave with a dry razor blade, but didn't make much headway. So, she took the scalpel to his chest hairs. Yikes! (I would have been a bit nervous.)
After shaving, she opened up the bump and found that some type of small worm had burrowed into Jim's skin and found a nesting place. Yuck! The doctor just squeezed out the little burrowing family of worms, cleaned out the hole, and put a bandage on it.
Then, the doctor asked if Jim irons his clothes after washing them. What??!! We are washing clothes in a bucket and hanging them on a line ... you think we brought an iron??? Come to find out ... ironing is very important in Ghana ... it kills the little critters that live in the water that we wash our clothes in. Oh my!
So, there is our nice little story about the worm in Jim's chest. So glad that he found a nice clinic and didn't have to go to Korli Bu hospital (the one we have visited twice on this trip). How sad, though, that even in this clinic ... things are so primitive. Jim felt like he was in a 1960's clinic. He wanted to buy an electric razor on the street and give it to the doctor. Wouldn't that have been better than a dry scalpel? It's not that electricity or electric razors aren't available in Ghana. Again ... where do you even begin to bring "modern conveniences" to the medical world in a Third World country?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Sun is Hot
The Breeze is Cooling
The Grass is Green
The Nights are Black
The Dirt is Red
The Fanta is Orange
The Ocean is Blue
The Lizards are Big
The Palm Trees are Beautiful
The People are ...
Yes ... This is Ghana
#1 People work hard for just $2 /day.
#2 Taxi Drivers take you 30 min. across town,
for just $3 U.S.
#3 Craftsmen will carve you a custom designed
large drum for $35.
#4 People ride in mini-vans (tro-tros), with 20
other people, for 2 hours to and from work.
#5 The hotel chef opens a tuna can with a paring knife.
#6 A clinic doctor shaved Jim's chest with a dry
scalpel (when he had a worm laying eggs inside).
Yes ... this is Ghana.
(highlights of the past 2 weeks)
#1 Lab test results "lost" at the hospital.
#2 Tire blowout on a Taxi Lanae was riding in.
#3 Passport "lost" at Passport Office.
#4 Power Outage 4 times in 1 week.
#5 Bathroom window at hotel is backwards.
(We cannot see out. People in hallway can see in.)
#6 Shop-Rite "closed for re-stocking" for
3 hours on a Monday afternoon.
#7 $100 "lost" from Lanae's pack.
#8 Passport Office needs 4th gr. report card.
#9 Hotel workers bring 1 clean towel for 5 guests.
#10. "Physical" for the children only includes:
height, weight, eye chart, and stool sample.
#11. Hotel "2 room Suite" includes:
1 large room w/ waist high "wall" in the middle.
Yes ... This is Ghana.
We are feeling better today. Thanks for your prayers.
After our Embassy appointment, we stopped by a grocery store. And ... next door was a restaurant with a sign out front that said, "Burgers ... Buy 1 Get 1 Free". Sweet! So, while we didn't get our pizza last night, we got to have cheese burgers and fries for lunch. Thanks Lord, for the surprise treat!!
At the Embassy, however, we met another adoptive mom from the U.S. She was just completing her process today and was excited to get home ... after 3 MONTHS of paperwork delays. 3 Months???!!! Lanae did NOT like hearing her story.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Hello dear bloggy friends ...
First ... I want to tell you how very much your prayers and support mean to both me and to Lanae. (I tell her of your comments.) THANK YOU!!!
Secondly ... I want to ask for a quick prayer tonight. I am not feeling well ... running to the bathroom, stomach ache, just plain yucky. Needing to feel better, for a 7:30 a.m. Embassy appt. to finish up the girls process.
Lastly ... I have to tell you a quick ... sad ... funny ... story, before I head to bed.
I have mentioned that we have a pretty limited diet here ... I think Lanae and I have had fried rice at least 10 times for dinner, out of 2 weeks. Well, we noticed a sign at the local pizza place that Tuesdays are "Buy 1 Get 1 Free". Woohoo! We talked about it this morning ... we thought about it all day ... our mouths practically drooled as we awaited the yummy taste of home.
About 5:30, Brian and I walked down the street to catch a taxi for the short ride up the highway. We were even blessed to actually find our daily driver parked at the end of the street. (Much more fun than getting into a random taxi that may just blow a tire or something.) He was about to head home, but said he would take us up to the Pizza Inn. I could nearly smell it as we approached.
Brian and I rushed in and hurried to the counter. We didn't want Ampomofo (the driver) to have to wait for us too long. Then, just as I got to the front of the line ... the power went out. NO!!! I wanted to scream. How could this happen? Our hopes and dreams of the day ... dashed so quickly.
Brian and I walked over to the Chicken Inn and bought a 1/2 chicken for the kids (as planned, as they don't like pizza). I bought a Sprite for the driver. And, we headed back to the hotel ... empty handed.
You should have seen Lanae's face when I walked in without any pizza boxes. It was the proverbial "straw that broke the camels back". No, I didn't cry when we found out that the passport was lost ... but THIS ... No Pizza??!!! ... just about put us over the edge.
Back to the hotel chef for my plate of fried rice. It wasn't very good tonight. It just couldn't match my expectations.
No ... we do NOT want to be here next Tuesday, for the "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" deal.
Even through ...
... the ups & downs
... the miracles & disappointments
... the joys & frustrations
... God is faithful.
I am spending hours each day in His Word ...
seeking His wisdom and strength.
Here are the verses He gave for us today ...
Philippians * chapter 4
v. 6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Thank you Lord, for everything that you have already provided for us here in Ghana. Thank you for the peace that you have given, in the midst of things that are difficult to understand.
v. 8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Thank you Lord, for showing us to focus on the GOOD things, and not the bad. Help us to continue to rejoice, when our hearts are pulled towards discouragement. Help us to see all the people that are working for us and with us ... to get us home. Thank you Lord, for keeping our minds focused on You and all that You are doing in us and through us.
v. 11-12 "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Thank you Jesus. I AM content. I KNOW that you have called me here. I KNOW that you are taking care of my family at home. I KNOW that through this time, you are drawing my heart closer to YOU. I do know what it is to have plenty, and what it is to be in need. Yet, my needs are NOTHING compared to the needs of people all around me, here in Ghana. While I may get tired of oats for breakfast, peanut butter for lunch, and rice for dinner .... I thank you and praise you that I have food to eat, that I am not hungry. I thank you for the granola bars that I brought from home, that I can tame my hunger pains with the minute they start rumbling. My heart goes out to all of the people here in Ghana, who hunger day and night.
v. 13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Thank you Holy Father, for giving me the strength to not only "survive" each delay, but to truly make the best of each and ever day that I am here. I pray that you would help me not to waste one moment of this time, but to use each and every part of every day ...
... to honor You
... to serve You
... to draw nearer to You
... through prayer and the reading of Your Word.
Praising the Lord for the opportunity to draw my heart towards His.
In the past week, I have been able to read (and study, and underline, and take notes on) I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Praising Jesus for this opportunity to know Him better. Just as I continue to know and love my husband more and more each day (after 28 years together) ... so, too, do I continue to know and love My Lord more and more each day (after 32 years together).
I think that "tomorrow" ...
means something different here in Ghana.
It doesn't actually mean ...
that something will happen 24 hours from today.
Tomorrow ... we will have been here for 2 weeks.
Tomorrow ... we will NOT be getting on an airplane.
For the past 2 weeks, we have been told that ...
... tomorrow we will get the passports.
... tomorrow we will get internet access again.
... tomorrow the electricity will come back on.
Sometimes it happens ... sometimes not ..
Before we came, Lanae had been told that the orphanage had all of the passports. We came, thinking that we "only" had to deal with the U.S. Embassy, to get the I600 approved and to get the children's visas.
Upon our arrival, we learned that there had been mistakes made on 2 of the passports and that they had been re-filed for.
Last Thursday, we got Comfort's passport and
we were told ...
... tomorrow we will get Brian's.
On Friday, we were told ...
Monday we will get Brian's passport.
Yesterday, we were told ...
the passport file has been lost.
Yes ... LOST ...
after 4 months in process ... it is LOST.
Yesterday, the whole process was started anew ...
new photos, new "stamp" from the court ...
new promises of ... tomorrow.
This morning, the director filed for a new passport. Then, he was told that he needed Brian's report card from the orphanage. What? This is not something that has ever been asked for. He had to drive 3+ hours to the orphanage and back to retrieve a report card? All we could do was laugh ... because it is so ridiculous ... since we didn't want to cry.
we wait ...
we have been told ...
we might get the passport ...
We must call the travel agent
and reschedule our flights.
We must call our families and tell them
that we are not packing for our trip home.
We must continue to pray and seek the Lord.
He knows our needs ...
He gives us strength ...
He gives us grace to face ...
Sunday, May 17, 2009
After a grueling week of paperwork ... we were ready for some FUN this weekend. I'll write more detailed posts about some of the things later, but wanted to write a quick update, with prayer request.
At 11:00 we headed out for the 1 hour drive to the Rafiki Children's Village. It was an AMAZING ministry (more details to come later). They were BLESSED by the gift from you, my bloggy friends. I am so glad that the Lord laid this ministry on my heart, and that we were able to visit for a few hours.
Arrived back in the city about 4:00, did a quick grocery shopping trip, and then headed over to the home of Kafui (a new friend) for dinner. Kafui and her husband and children welcomed us warmly, and prepared a FEAST for our dinner. Wow! What a treat! After granola bars and fried rice for a week, Lanae and I LOVED everything that was prepared for us (3 kinds of rice, chicken, fish, spaghetti with 2 different sauces, salad, fruit, etc...).
Daniel was supposed to join us for dinner (arriving at Kafui's around 5:30). He finally phoned at 6:00, to let us know he was coming. By 8:00, he hadn't yet arrived, and Lanae was ready to head back to the hotel with the tired children. Then ... there was a knock on the door and Daniel came in bearing a BEAUTIFUL birthday cake for Lanae. He had traveled to a bakery he'd never been at, and had ordered her a custom decorated cake. We assured him that is really wasn't a big deal that he spelled "Lanae" wrong ... it's not the easiest name to spell. Lanae LOVES cake, and that was the biggest thing she was missing for her birthday. So, it was a very special treat!
Kafui finally drove us all home at 10:00. I was able to connect with my dear hubby for an instant message chat for an hour after I got home, which was VERY nice. We haven't been able to chat near as much as we had expected, due to the sporadic internet. So, it was good to touch base.
I had my own little adventure today, and had to catch a taxi by myself for the first time (neither of my driver "friends" were available). But, God gave me a very nice driver, who even came back to pick me up 5 hours later to bring me back to the hotel.
Where did I go? I spent the afternoon laying in the sun, swimming, and making new friends at the LaPalm Resort. It is a $300/night hotel, with a beautiful swimming pool that you can spend the day at for just $10. It was a HOT day today, so I am a little pink tonight, but no bad sunburns like last year's blisters.
Back to the hotel only to discover that the power had been out for 7 hours, which meant that Lanae and the children had had no lights, no air cond., no fans, no internet .. all afternoon. They finally got us limited lighting about 7:00 with a generator, and the power came back on at 10:00 (after 11 hours). So, it was a long hard day for Lanae and the kids. Yes, I did feel a little bad ... but I did enjoy my day at the pool.
Please pray that we will receive Brian's passport on Monday. If we do, we should be on a plane headed home by Wed. night (we have booked the flight). If we don't get the passport ... we will be VERY disappointed. We are all ready to head to America.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
More thoughts from Family Driven Faith ...
I believe that marriage is far more important than college. Moreover, I think we lead our children to compromise when we ask them to endure two-year engagements (to finish college) while remaining true to their Christian convictions. If they weren't ready to be married, we shouldn't have allowed the relationship to blossom.
There seems to be an increasing emphasis on our children achieving the "American Dream" at the expense of any sort of costly Christian commitment. It is as though we have forgotten that this is not our home, that the best this world has to offer pales in comparison to what God has in store for us.
Is it wrong to want good things for our children? Not necessarily. Unless in our effort to attain "the best for our children" we ignore their God-given gifts, talents, abilities, and passions.
The key is to understand that our children don't belong to us - they belong to God. Our goal as parents must not be limited by our own vision. I am a finite, sinful, selfish man. Why would I want to plan out my children's future when I can entrust them to the infinite, omnipotent, immutable, sovereign Lord of the universe? I don't want to tell God what to do with my children - I want Him to tell me! When I allow my will to take precedence over God's will, I have not only given way to a rival - I have become one.
While Jim and I haven't put our thoughts so concisely ... this IS how we have parented. We have raised our children to first and foremost follow the Lord (in whatever career choice) and then to .... follow their dreams ... follow their passions ... choose a path that is fulfilling to THEM, even if it doesn't meet the world's standard of a "successful career". I really don't care if my child chooses to be a garbage man (or, "sanitation engineer"), if that is what they choose and where they can serve the Lord the best. It truly DOESN'T MATTER to me and Jim. We are just as excited about Cassie being a nanny as we are about Carissa ministering in Argentina. That is exactly where the Lord has called each of them to be at this time in their lives. Do we hope and expect that several of our children will get college degrees. Yes ... because right now we have 2 adult children that are headed that direction. But, if the Lord changes their coarse ... we will be just as excited for wherever He leads.
Yes ... why would I ever want to plan my child's life for them, when God has such a far better plan that I could ever imagine???
And, college is GREAT ... when that is where the Lord has called your child. Jim could not be a teacher, without his college degree. But, he didn't do it the traditional way ... right out of high school. After we were married, I encouraged Jim to follow his dreams and passions. He graduated from Pacific Lutheran University at age 27, with 3 young children (ages 1, 2, 3). Was it easy to go to school, while raising a family? Absolutely not! Did we ever wish we had done things differently ... college, then marriage, then children? Absolutely not!
Friday, May 15, 2009
... for me today.
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed." II Corinthians 4:8-9
Despite all of the delays and frustrations this week,
there is so much to be thankful for.
I am thankful that Comfort is doing well.
I am thankful that we have Brian & Josephine
with us now, also.
I am thankful for the wonderful driver that we found,
and his nice, air conditioned taxi.
I am thankful for our friend, Daniel.
I am thankful for the work that the Lord
is doing in the life of my family at home.
I am thankful for the extended times of
Bible Reading and Prayer that I have had
I am thankful for the opportunity to once again
visit this beautiful country, that is the country
of my children's heritage.
I am thankful that God is still in control,
even when man fails us.
It's been a busy week here in Accra.
We have spent every day running around ...
... to the hospital for Comfort (2 times)
... to the Embassy (3 times)
... to the orphanage (1 time)
... to the medical clinic for physicals (2 different clinics)
... to the grocery store for water (3 times)
... to the market (3 different markets)
Tomorrow will be our first "Play Day". We are looking forward to visiting the Rafiki Children's Ministry (1 1/2 hour drive each way). Then, we will be having dinner at the home of a friend of Lanae's here in Accra, to celebrate Lanae's birthday.
On Sunday, I am planning to spend the day at the La Palm resort, relaxing by the swimming pool (swimming and reading all day).
So, we are all looking forward to a relaxing weekend ... not worrying about paperwork.
On Monday, we hope to get the 3rd passport. If we get it in the morning, we can get Brian's medical done in the afternoon, and have our visa interview on Tuesday. We are praying for all visas to be completed by Wednesday, and to be on a plane headed home Wednesday evening (arriving in Seattle Thursday evening).
Please join us in prayer, as we seek the Lord for His favor in getting us the missing passport.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I am sure that most adoptions entail
some type of roller coaster journey ...
but today brought us quite a wild ride.
We drove to Korli Bu Hospital
to get Comfort's lab results ...
but the lab results were lost.
We met the orphanage director
to pick up the 2 remaining passports ...
but he only had 1 of them.
We hoped to get both passports today,
and we hoped to be on a plane by Sunday ...
but now it will probably be Tues. or Wed.
We got the visa paperwork from the Embassy,
and found out how to get the children's medicals ...
but the medical office was closed by then.
Comfort is doing very well,
considering her heart defect ...
but Josephine hasn't been feeling well.
I had a 5 minute video chat with Gregg and Elijah ...
but then lost all internet for several more hours.
I am thankful that I even have internet ...
but wish I could post more pictures for you.
I am thankful for the PIZZA
I was able to buy for lunch today ...
but then had a tuna sandwich for dinner.
I am thankful to be here
with Lanae and the children ...
but am missing my sweet husband,
as we haven't talked in over a week.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I bought a new book to read while I'm here, and have been enjoying "Family Driven Faith" by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Here are some thoughts to ponder ...
The Anti-Marriage Culture (page 22)
"As I travel across the country, I am amazed at the number of intelligent, Jesus-loving, Bible-toting, ministry-minded young men who absolutely refuse to grow up and take a wife! It is as though there was a new book of the Bible discovered (I call it "2 Hesitations") that reads, "Thou shalt not marry prior to graduate school, or at least until you have a middle-class income and a 401(k)." The only thing worse is looking into the eyes of the scores of young women who ask me what they have to do to get these guys to man up and marry them.
The young men and women I meet actually believe there is something out there that they need to experience before they dive into the deep, dark, oppressive world of marriage. For some it is traveling to Europe or Africa. Others want to spend time on the mission field first. Still others believe there is some magic age at which one automatically becomes "ready" for marriage. Whatever the case may be, it is a far cry from the biblical admonition, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22)
I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one ...
... thoughts from the young men?
... thoughts from the young ladies?
... thoughts from the parents of
young men and young ladies?
I happen to have 5 young adults of "marrying age", so I know I'll get a few words from them (either on the blog, or privately). I believe, however, that all 5 of them would say YES to marriage, if God were to show them their life partner. And, as the Mama, I would say YES, if God were to show us that this was the right partner. We are NOT afraid of "young marriages". We look forward to meeting the amazing young men and women that will become part of our family. We do NOT believe that our children have to reach some standard of the world's "success", prior to making a life-long commitment.
So, you wonder about my marriage? How young were we?
Jim and I had been long-distance friends for 2 years (with no hint of interest on either part), when the Lord opened our eyes to each other. After our very first date, Jim wrote me a letter (I lived 300 miles away.) that said, "I believe the Lord wants us to spend the rest of our lives together." Was I shocked? Yes. Was I excited? Yes. Was I scared? No. And ... I was "just 19". We got engaged 6 weeks later, on our 3rd date. (To add to the craziness, neither of us even owned a car, so we had to ride the Greyhound bus back and forth across the state to go on a date. It was a 10 hour ride each way.) So, with ... no car ... no job ... no "success" in the world's eyes ... we said, YES to God ... and the rest is history.
Since my post about the hospital, I have done much pondering and praying about where I could make purchases for or give funds to ... to really make a difference in children's lives.
While I would love to do something for the hospital, I just don't see that it would make much of a difference. Lanae saw the lab tech. taking blood without wearing gloves. But, it wasn't because they weren't available; it's that he chose not to. There was a box of gloves nearby. So, if I made purchases for the hospital, I would never know if they would be used. And, sadly, it is not a situation that I could trust someone to give a financial donation to, and make sure it was used for the best purposes.
So, I continued to ponder and pray ...
I know there are orphanages all over Ghana that can always use more food and supplies, I just had to seek the Lord as to which orphanage He wanted to use me for.
Then ... the Lord brought to mind a fundraiser that I attended in February. It was for a local woman (that I had actually attended Bible Study Fellowship with) that is now serving in a ministry here in the Accra area. I visited the website immediately, and sent off an email.
Karen responded today, and welcomed me to come for a visit. She had checked with the Children's Director to see what their most pressing needs are, and was told that food would be most appreciated. She said that I could either make some purchases, or that I could donate money for them to make purchases at the very best prices. Since this is definitely someone I can trust, I will be giving her cash in order to purchase food for the children.
If you would like to find out more about the ministry Karen is working with, you may visit the Rafiki Foundation website for their Ghana ministry. The Rafiki Foundation was started as a ministry of Bible Study Fellowship, prior to becoming it's own entity.
The Rafiki ChildCare Center does not work with international adoptions. Instead, they raise up the children in the Lord (providing all their care and schooling), so that they can be Godly leaders within their own country.
I am very excited about being able to help with food for the children, and to be able to personally visit this ministry. If you would like to help provide food for the children, please send me an email and let me know how much you would like to contribute. I will then give you my address, so that you can reimburse me for the funds I will give in your name.
Lanae and I hope to visit Rafiki on Saturday, and I will take lots of pictures to share with you.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We were finally able to pick up Brian (10) and Josephine (7) today. We spent about 3 hours at the orphanage, and I took over 100 pictures of Brian and Josephine with all of their friends, while Lanae was in meetings.
Comfort's father also came to the orphanage, to meet Lanae and to say his "good-bye's". He is a sweet man, but is just unable to care for Comfort. It was a very special meeting for all involved.
My internet isn't being too cooperative, so this is the only pic I can post. But ... here is Lanae ... with all 3 of her special new children. (Comfort is in a stroller, because any walking is difficult with her heart defect.) Thank you Lord, for this family!
I am so looking forward to having these new friends for my children. Isn't it amazing how the Lord led Mark and Lanae to adopt an older brother and 2 younger sisters? (Just like us!) Sarah & Rachel and Comfort & Josephine are all excited to meet each other.
The U.S. Embassy came through for us ...
We filed the I600 on Friday morning, and it was approved on Tuesday morning. Totally Amazing! This is what took over 5 weeks for us, last year. I believe the current I600 timeline is 3 - 6 weeks. They are working hard for us, so that Comfort can get home for her heart surgery at Children's hospital.
However ... we are in need of prayer.
Before we came, Lanae had been told that the orphanage had the passports. However, it seems that there was a mistake made on 2 of them, and they had to be given back to the Ghana passport office. We have tried since Friday to get the passports, and they are not giving any timeline as to when they will be given to us. We have been told that ALL that needs to be done, is for the passport director to sign them. You can only imagine how frustrating this is for Lanae. We are at a standstill with the Embassy paperwork, until we can get the passports.
As soon as we get the passports, we can leave within 3 days. After we get the passports, we will get the children's medical visits done and get their U.S. visas put into their passports. If we had the passports today, we would be home on Friday.
Thanks for your continued prayers.
I tried to upload some pics from our visit to the orphanage today ... but the internet is being slow. I'll try later.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Skype gave me the most wonderful Mother's Day present ... an AMAZING, God-ordained, two hour chat with my family.
I logged on to Skype and saw that Jeremiah (in Amman, Jordan) was online. After just chatting for a minute or two, Cassie (in Oregon) got online, and we added her to a Conference Call Instant Message Chat. Within a few more minutes, Gregg, Lindsey, and Papa all jumped online at home. And, amazingly, a few minutes later, Carissa (in Argentina) got online. We had 7 people, on 7 computers, in 4 time zones, 4 continents and 2 states that all "happened" to get online at the same time? And, we could all instant message in one conversation? Wow God!!!
We chatted about a lot of random stuff for the first half hour. I was just getting used to this whole Instant Message thing. I love my email and my blog, but I don't really do the instant message or text thing.
After about 30 minutes, Carissa had to say good-bye for awhile (sad!), but the Lord then turned our conversation to some amazing spiritual things that are happening individually and as a family. We shared dreams and visions for our lives and for our family. The Lord brought clarity and bonding like we haven't seen before (with kids living all over the world the past 5 years).
I can't share details right now, but I would ask that you pray for our family as we are seeking the Lord diligently for clear direction in some major decision making. Four of us have been reading Crazy Love, and we want to live our lives radically for the Lord. (We've always been known as the radical bunch ... but we could get even more radical.)
We are passionately in LOVE with the LORD, and we want to SEEK HIM ... SERVE HIM ... and SHARE about HIM in each and every way that He calls us to. We want to know His will for each of us individually, and for our family as a whole. We believe He has called us to do MORE than we can even imagine.
Praising the Lord for the gift of Skype ... the gift of instant messaging ... and the GIFT of an AMAZING family, which is more than I could ever have imagined!!!
After a quick trip to the Embassy this morning, to turn in the missing piece of paperwork, we were off for a shopping day. What an experience it was! Neither Lanae nor I had visited the Medina Market on our first trips to Accra. This is definitely where the action is. The Supermarkets in Accra are for the foreigners ... THIS is where the locals shop.
While we did purchase a couple of things,
we mainly "window shopped" (without any windows).
This is common, every day traffic.
People in Ghana don't care much for lanes.
Yes, the green car is driving right at us.
No, we haven't been hit yet.
Yes, our taxi driver maneuvered to the right of the first car,
and then in-between the cars.
The Medina Market
Grains and Flour
This was NOT for dinner tonight.
Little Red Peppers
And, a simply adorable little market girl.
Lanae, Comfort, and our friend, Daniel.
Daniel has adopted us as his new moms,
and we are BLESSED by his daily guidance.
The pure kind, from "up North".
(This is, actually, what brought about this shopping trip.
We needed some to bring home for the kids.)
Our Favorite ... Fish
Lanae did NOT buy some for dinner.
But we now know where our chef
probably got last night's dinner.
The Art Centre
My favorite shopping place
from our first trip.
A Beautiful Drum
Bought for a friend's son.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Our Mother's Day Dinner
Lanae was so excited for her dinner.
She even encouraged me to order it.
Then, when she saw the head and insides,
she fed it to Comfort.
I enjoyed my Beef Stroganoff and Fried Rice.
It almost felt like I was in California,
when I sat outside to read today.
I LOVE the Palm Trees and green grass;
all I was missing was a swimming pool.
When you have a roadside Vacant Lot ...
there is no need for a Furniture Store.
It is actually VERY beautiful, handmade furniture.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
This is a difficult post to write. There are so many perspectives that our time at the hospital can be viewed from.
There were many trained workers (doctors, nurses, assistants) at the hospital, doing the best they could do, in the work situation they find themselves in. I was left wondering if they have any idea of what they are missing ... what a "modern hospital" could offer the people of Accra. Do they not know that a more sterile environment would mean more successes with their ill patients? Do they not have water, to wash the sheets? Or, do they not have enough sheets to change them between patients?
This is a very large hospital, with many buildings. We were in the "Children's Ward".
We entered the building to a room FULL of young moms and babies. Babies, babies, everywhere. I had to wonder if they have a specific day and time set aside that people bring their babies. Most of the children that morning were under 2 years old, with a few sporadic sick older children coming in, also.
After we had only been there a few minutes, a woman walked up to the nurse's desk and unwrapped a towel in her arms. In that towel, was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. (And, I've seen a LOT of babies over the years.) Seriously, this baby had to weigh less than 3 pounds. Lanae and I just stared for a minute ... deeply touched by the sadness of the situation. In "our world" this child would be in an incubator in P.I.C.U. ... here, he was wrapped in a dirty towel, in a dirty hospital room. Would he survive?
We quickly found out that this child was not a rare case ... over the course of the next 10-15 minutes, we watched 5 more mommies unwrap their tiny, tiny babies to get weighed by the nurses. Does anyone know what the Ghanaian weight measurement would be in, and how that would be equivalent to U.S. pounds? I chatted with one mother later, and she said her daughter was 1.98 . (Actually, I guess it could be pounds. They were soo... tiny.)
We wondered what causes so many premature births. Then we realized that they might not even be premature. Maybe they are so small from lack of prenatal nutrition for their mommies, or lack of nutrition after they were born. All of the mommies were nursing their babies. But, if the mommy isn't healthy, than she can't produce enough milk for her baby. How can we help these babies?
While we were deeply saddened by the situation of the tiniest babies, there were also lighter moments ... moments shared with a smile and laughter between the young Ghanaian women and the old, white "Obruni" mama. The women were all taking their turns getting their little ones weighed. They had to be ready to weigh them as soon as it was their turn. So, they had to strip their children naked and wrap them in towels or blankets until it was their turn (so that they wouldn't waste time taking off their diapers when it was time to get weighed). One woman carried her, probably about 1 1/2 year old, son up to the desk ... put him on the scale ... and he started "urinating" (Ghanaians always use the proper word). She quickly grabbed him off the scale (so that the nurses and their piles of paperwork wouldn't get wet) and just stood there in the middle of the room, holding him at arms' length, with him peeing and peeing all over the floor. All the mommies in the room smiled and laughed, each knowing that it could have been their child. The next few women just straddled the puddle while getting their children weighed. Then the head nurse came around the desk and squirted a bit of detergent on the puddle. Awhile later, a young man came with a mop.
Observations from the waiting room ...
There is no air conditioning ... but I found myself realizing that the patients must be thankful that there is at least electricity.
The doors and windows are open, to circulate the air ... but I was saddened by the fact that this allows more flies and mosquitoes to enter, bringing with them more disease.
There were large fans, cooling the air ... but I had to wonder if they also move the germs around, causing yet more illness.
There are no answers for these problems. As I said, they are doing the very best they can, within their circumstances.
There was a young girl (maybe age 8-10) brought in ... carried limply in the arms of her father. She couldn't even stand to be weighed. Her father had to get on the scale with her in his arms, then hand her to someone else to hold, while he was weighed by himself (in order to subtract the difference). We had to wonder ... where is the Emergency Room? Where are the beds to lay her on? No one was in a panic. They didn't seem to see the "emergency" of it. But, maybe this is what they see everyday? Maybe they already know that she won't survive? Maybe there aren't any beds available in the Sick Room? (We didn't see her later, in the Sick Room. Was she sent home to die? We had to wonder ...)
Observations from the Exam Room ...
Two large, old wooden desks in the middle of the room ... for patients and doctors. I realized that with the way the chairs are set up, they could have 1 doctor on each side of the desk, talking to their own patient in chairs placed next to the desk. Doctors sharing a small desk? Unheard of in "our world" ... yet, I am sure that they are thankful to have a desk.
A couple of curtains hanging from a frame made of metal bars, to shield the one bed in the room. Lanae and I cringed as Comfort lay down on the dirty, wrinkled sheet that was hanging 1/2 way off the bed. Please Lord, don't let this hospital trip bring illness to Comfort. (We were soo... thankful for all of the shots that we have had for our travels.)
Later, the 2nd intern (?) examined Comfort right at the desk in the middle of the room. She just pulled her dress up to listen to her heart. Maybe she realized that it was better to be a bit immodest, than to lay on the dirty bed.
Observations from the Sick Room ...
(which we had to walk through to get to the Lab Room)
This was the most heart-breaking room of all. It was a very crowded room, filled with beds and family members standing next to their sick children.
We wanted to hold our breaths ... not knowing how many diseases were represented here. Instead ... we prayed.
There was a child with oxygen tubes ... and babies with I.V.'s
We had to wonder if any of these children would make it home.
Observations from the Lab
The doctor decided that he wanted some lab work done on Comfort. Comfort didn't like that idea. She kicked the lab tech. and cried LOUDLY (for which she was reprimanded by the lab tech.) Lanae just thought, "She's a spunky one."
The room was crowded, so our driver and I were asked to return to the waiting room. I had followed, on purpose, because I wanted to see all that I could see. So, I was glad that I got a peek, but glad also to be able to leave the Sick Room area.
Lanae made sure that they used a clean needle for Comfort. Yet she was surprised when the lab tech. didn't even wear gloves for the blood draw. Aren't they concerned about AIDS? Don't they know that a pair of gloves could save their lives? Can't they afford gloves? Should I buy them a case if gloves? Would they wear them if I did?
It was sad to see the conditions of this hospital, compare to what we are spoiled by in the U.S. However, I often realized throughout the day, that there are many Ghanaians who cannot even afford, nor travel to a hospital. So, the people we saw were actually the more privileged of the people in Ghana.
I don't have pity for the people here. I have great respect for them. They are a beautiful people, in a beautiful country. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to come again ... and to see yet another side of the living conditions here in Africa.
At the same time, I am always left wondering ... How can I help? What can I do? Where would my limited money be most useful? Most appreciated? My heart is to give ... to help ... to teach ... to assist ...
My last paragraph says that I have "limited money". I'm embarrassed that I even wrote that. I am so very wealthy compared to the people here. Should I live on granola bars for a week (and my free hotel breakfast), and give what's in my wallet to the people I meet? Seriously, I am praying for guidance. I want to step out in faith. I want to go where God leads. I want to give in a sacrificial way.
Please pray with me ... that the Lord would guide my giving this week, and that the Lord would guide my spending. And ... if you want to give me a little that I can give to others ... just let me know. I am so thankful that the Lord brought me here to help Lanae and Comfort ... but I want to do more. Would you like to join me? Would you like to chip in $10 to help those that the Lord leads me to here in Ghana? About 150 people read my blog every day ... can you imagine what the Lord could do with $1500? (Just $10 per person.) Let me know your thoughts ...
I know you all are waiting to hear about sweet Comfort ...
First of all, Comfort is doing VERY well. Last week, she had several incidences where she was close to death. She had a wonderful, American pediatric nurse caring for her at the orphanage, but her situation was critical. This week, she has her mommy with her ... and she has made an amazing recovery from "critical" to "serious". It really shows the affect that our mental state has on our physical body. When she was losing hope that her mommy would come back and take her to America, it affected her physically. (The mental state of a "broken heart" can certainly affect a body that already has the physical state of a broken heart.) This week, not only does she not have any swelling in her body, nor has she had any chest pain since we arrived, but her arms and legs are warm today. (They have been cold for a long time, due to lack of blood circulation.) We are Praising Jesus ... for a mommy's love ... and for His healing power.
Because Comfort had had her last scary episode on Tuesday of this week, Lanae had arranged for her to see a cardiologist at the local hospital, as soon as we arrived. So, even though she was feeling better, we took her to the hospital to make sure that there weren't any problems that we weren't aware of.
Even though we had an appointment, it took us about 3 hours before we actually met the doctor. During that time, several younger professionals (interns or residents?) spent time with Comfort. Each of them wanted to check her out thoroughly. We quickly figured out that because she already had a diagnosis from an American Pediatric Cardiologist, that Comfort was a good training tool for these young docs. They could listen to her heart, hear the differences from a healthy heart, and learn what the diagnosis would be for this type of heart problem, if they are to hear it in another patient later on. They were both very nice, very professional, and always gentle with Comfort.
We spent a little time with the Doctor, and he was very pleased to see how she was doing. He had been contacted by the very concerned American doctor, after the reports of her condition earlier in the week. While there was nothing that he felt needed to be done for Comfort at this time, he did give Lanae his personal cell phone number ... which will be invaluable if Comfort does take a turn for the worse before we can get her home.
While it was quite a drive out to the hospital, and while we did have to sit for several hours waiting for the doctor, our time at the hospital was quite a eye-opener for both Lanae and me. I'll share more about that in my next post ...
Thank you for all of your prayers for Comfort. We have told her that many people in America are praying for her.
We are REJOICING for this wonderful hotel we are staying at. We have AIR CONDITIONING ... WARM WATER ... and INTERNET. Woo hoo!
Last year, we stayed at a very nice Guest House, but we had to pay extra for the air conditioning (so it was rarely used) ... we took cold showers ... and we had sporadic internet.
I slept a full 8 hours last night, whereas last year we would lay awake for hours, dripping with sweat. In my month here last year, I NEVER got more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep at night. What a difference that will make this time.
And, a warm shower in the morning. You can't believe what a treat that is. Oh yes ... Comfort also got to take her very first bubble bath last night. What fun!
Contrary to the hotel's brochure ... we DO have to pay extra for the internet, but it is working much better than the connection we had last year at the Guest House. So, we are thankful.
Also ... this hotel has FREE airport pickup and drop-off. I figure that my internet costs would have been paid to taxi fees ... so I won't complain.
And ... they have a FREE "American Breakfast" every morning. Now, it's not quite what the brochure advertises ... but it is food, and it is free.
Guess what the name of our hotel is? It used to be the Town & Country Plaza ... but this year it changed names to the "Hotel Obama". Too funny!
We LOVE the location of the hotel, as it is just down the street from Shop-Rite, our favorite Grocery Store, and my favorite "Market" (for all of the fun arts & crafts stuff). I'm hoping to do some shopping today. I brought a BIG suitcase so that I could bring home a drum for a dear friend's son.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Yesterday, as we pondered our options for the day, we knew that we needed to file the I600 form. However, we didn't quite know the best way to go about it. Do we just go to the Embassy, and face the likelihood that the guards will turn us away and tell us to come back when we have an appointment? Or, do we call and try to make an appointment, with the likelihood that we will be told to come in next week sometime? We also know that if we call, there will be the likelihood that we will be transferred to a voicemail, and our message will likely never be returned. (All of the above were the things we faced over and over when we were here a year ago. If you haven't yet read about our 6 week process to get the I600 approved, pop back to Feb. and March 2008.)
Well, we went to the Embassy ...
and God opened doors.
It was AMAZING ...
the people that God led to help us.
We filed the I600 and they started processing it immediately. A couple of hours later, we got a phone call asking us to get one more piece of paperwork from the orphanage. We phoned the orphanage director, and he told us he would try to get it from the social welfare office. Hopefully, we will be able to file this one paper on Monday and get approved on Tuesday. They are really trying to expedite things so that we can get Comfort home for her heart surgery.
After the I600 is approved, we need to take the children for a medical appointment, and then make an appt. to get their visas. Please pray that each step of this process will go smoothly, and that we can bring the children home at the end of next week. We were so blessed to watch the Lord work yesterday, and KNOW that His hand is upon our process.
Oops! Just noticed that I never posted this yesterday ...
For those of you who have not traveled internationally (and driving to Canada doesn't count), I thought I would give you a little peak at what Jet Lag looks like.
This is the timeline in Pacific Standard Time:
9:30 am - leave home
eat mocha and muffin on drive to Seattle
2:00 pm - lunch in Seattle airport
7:00 pm - dinner on flight to Frankfurt
everyone else is sleeping ... but we aren't tired ...
midnight - breakfast
(it's light out and the flight attendants
are saying "Good Morning")
3:00 am - depart Frankfurt (we haven't slept yet)
3:45 am - lunch time (I had just fallen asleep.)
7:00 am - dinner time
(the smell almost made me vomit.
all I wanted to do is sleep)
9:00 am - after a couple hours of sleep
(with many interruptions)
I get up and eat the cold "dinner"
from 3 hours ago.
10:00 am - Arrive in Accra.
2:00-4:00 pm - I sleep
(It is 9-11pm here, but "naptime"
After a couple more fitful bouts of sleep, I finally get up at 2:30am (Accra time) ... read the Bible ... go back to bed at 4:00 am ... pray for a couple of hours ... and get up at 6:00 am. By 7:00 I am finally tired (because it is midnight back home), but we must get started on our day.
Long day ... much accomplished ... nap from 4:30-6:30 in the afternoon ... and then go to bed at 10:00 and slept 8 hours. Yea!
This jet-lag turnaround actually went very well.
I've always dreamed of a European vacation.
So, I thought it would be fun to fly Lufthansa
this time, rather than Delta.
Since Lindsey lived in Germany for a good part
of the past 6 months, I thought it would be nice
to get a little glimpse of the country she loves.
Well ... I got a little, tiny glimpse.
I had a 10 minute European vacation,
just enough time to walk briskly through
the Frankfurt Airport.
We did have a pretty good view through the windows,
as we approached Frankfurt. We saw a lot of bright
yellow fields. Lindsey ... are those daffodils? or what?
When we finally landed, got off the plane, and rode a
bus to the terminal, our next flight was already boarding.
So, we walked quickly from one end of the terminal
to the other far end ... and off we were to Africa.
On the way home, we will probably have a 5 hour layover
in Frankfurt. So, we will have enough time to eat some
German chocolate, and the yummy soft pretzels that
Lanae has told me about.
Oh well ... so much for Europe.
We are looking forward to the coming days here in Africa.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
We made it to our hotel in Accra, Ghana ...
26 hours after I left home.
It was a looong journey ...
but we are glad to be here.
It was so different arriving this time ...
... nothing is strange and different.
... everything is familiar.
... I don't even notice the smells,
that were so bothersome last time.
... the traffic didn't scare me.
... I have such a love for the Ghanaian people.
... I look at the young adult men, and wonder
what Jacob will look like when he is older.
... I sat by 7 year old twin girls on the plane,
and saw a lot of little Rachel in them.
We have Comfort with us tonight.
She was brought to Accra to be here when we arrived.
We will go out to the orphanage tomorrow,
to pick up Brian and Josephine.
Thanks so much for ALL of your prayers!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I just found out ...
Lanae and I are leaving for Ghana tomorrow.
I have 16 hours to pack.
(We thought we were leaving on Saturday.)
Please continue your prayers for Comfort (age 8).
She has taken a turn for the worse this week,
with chest pains.
Please pray for ...
... healing for Comfort
... travel mercies for me and Lanae
(Seattle - Frankfurt - Nigeria - Ghana)
... wisdom as we seek health care in Accra
(to stabilize her enough to make the trip home)
... QUICK paperwork processing
Thanks! Next update ... from Ghana.