I hope you will visit my ministry website: http://ajourneyoffaith.net .
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
These are some of the pictures
I wanted to post from Ghana;
but with the sporadic internet,
I couldn't get the pics to upload.
I hope you'll take a moment right now,
to pray for the many orphans in this world,
and to ask God what YOU can do,
to make a difference in their lives.
I was finally able to relax and enjoy my family this weekend ... after a CRAZY busy month.
I made a 30 page Creative Memories scrapbook on Wed. night and Thursday, for our high school track coach, and it was so much fun to present it to him at the Track Banquet on Thursday evening. I took blank scrapbook pages and colored pens, too, and had all of the teammates write notes to Coach on the pages, so that I can add them to the back of the scrapbook. It was a wonderful banquet, as we celebrated the school's very first State Track Championship. Yea! So much fun for Josh to be a part of his Senior year.
Gregg and I had a great late-night chat on Thursday evening, sitting outside on our patio, relaxing after a long, hot day. Jeremiah arrived home from a friend's at 1:00 a.m., and joined our chat time. Then, we continued visiting until Cassie arrived from Oregon at 2:00 a.m. (She had to work until almost 6:00, so she made the long, late drive after work.)
We had a nice relaxing day on Friday. What fun to have 12 of my 13 kids home for the first time in over a year! Cassie and Lindsey took a walk downtown, and went out to lunch. Then, we went in all different directions for the evening. Josh went to graduation, to celebrate with all of his friends. (As a homeschooler, he did not participate in the graduation ceremonies.) Jim went to the graduation ceremony of a group of high schoolers he had taught when they were in 7th grade. He'd kept in touch with several of them after changing school districts 5 years ago, and they had invited him to graduation. Gregg and a friend went to the Demolition Derby, since he had won free tickets on the radio. Hosanna spent the night at a friend's house, for L's birthday party. Elijah spent the night at J's house, for his birthday. Cassie, Jeremiah, and I went out for coffee, and chatted for a few hours. Then we came home and hung out with Ben and Josh. Everyone older than 13, finally headed to bed about 1:00 a.m.
We celebrated Ben's birthday on Saturday. Since this year's birthday plan is for each child to choose 1 friend and do something special, Ben chose a day of photography. His best friend, however, called at 10:00 Friday night to say that she couldn't join him. (Sad!) But, we still headed out for a fun day. Since Cassie was home for the weekend, and since she has her own photography business, Ben had decided to celebrate his b'day early, in order to include Cassie. Late Friday night, Jeremiah asked us "Where?" on Mt. Baker we planned to go to take pics. When we all looked at him with a blank stare (as I had only been there once, and Cassie had never been up the mountain), we invited Jeremiah to join us as the navigator (he being one of our resident snow boarders and hikers, who has spent more time on the mountain). So, at 9:30 a.m. we headed out in Cassie's 4x4 to explore the mountain, from the view of our Nikon lenses. (Ben has a Nikon D80, while Cassie and I both have Nikon D70s.) After more than a week of gorgeous sunshine, we did get some clouds ... and didn't have the best photo session. But, we had fun. After our trek up the mountain, Cassie mentioned that birthdays couldn't possibly be celebrated properly without food. So, the 3 of us took Ben out for lunch and let him choose the restaurant. (A VERY cool burger place in a "mountain lodge" hotel.)
Saturday night brought a much anticipated "Family Meeting" with the 7 older kids that are at home. Carissa wanted to join us on Skype, but it was past her bedtime in Argentina. This family meeting started at 9:00 p.m. (after church) with a BBQ steak dinner (after the 5 younger ones went to bed), and continued until 1:30 a.m. So, another very late night for all of us. (more family meeting details later ...)
Sunday brought more sunshine, and not much on the calendar of the Big D Family. (Jeremiah had headed to Oregon at 5:00 a.m. to speak at a friend's church missions meeting; and Lindsey was house-sitting for friends; but, we did have 10 of the kids ready to play for the day.) We invited H, a friend of Josh's, and headed out for a family adventure. We explored the beaches at Larrabee State Park ... picked up some Butterfinger Milkshakes at the new Woods Coffee in downtown B'ham ... said a quick hello to some friends that we saw headed into another coffee shop downtown ... took the long way home and explored a part of the county we hadn't yet explored ... dropped H off at a friend's ... picked up Lindsey from housesitting ... and got home at 6:30. Hmmm ... "What's for dinner?" I remembered a recipe I had just gotten from a blog, and told Jim that I would make homemade Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns, if he would BBQ some chicken and hot dogs. Cassie ran to the grocery store to pick up a big can of baked beans ... and dinner was on the table by 9:00 pm. After putting the younger ones (and Papa) to bed, I hung out with the big kids again until 2:00 a.m. Josh even had a friend stop-by at 11:30, since he saw that our lights were on. (Hmmm ... I'm beginning to see a late-night trend here. Any wonder we were all EXHAUSTED by Monday?)
Cassie headed out pretty early Monday morning, for her long trek back to Oregon. And, we surprised Hosanna with a trip to big sister's house. She actually gets to stay 3 whole weeks, until we all meet up again for a friend's wedding. Cassie and Hosanna met up with Jeremiah in Salem, OR, and he headed over the mountains with them to spend a few days at Cassie's also.
It was WONDERFUL to have so many of the kids home for the weekend. I am so, totally BLESSED by the AMAZING relationships I have with my 6 adult children. Wow, God! We love to WORSHIP together ... we love to PLAY ... we love to CHAT ... we love to TALK about DEEP stuff ... we love to just BE TOGETHER. Who could ask for anything more?
... at 10:00 a.m. your 7 year old says,
"Mom. I didn't sleep very well."
Mama responds, "You can go back to bed."
Sweet 7 year old slept for 1 1/2 hours,
and mama slept for 2 hours.
... at 12:00 p.m. (when mama wakes up from
her morning nap) your 18 year old decides to
change out of his p.j.s and says,
"You said it was a lazy day today."
... you discover that your 20 year old also
went back to bed for a morning nap,
when she found out that mama was sleeping again.
... at 2:30, you tell the kids it's time for their 2 hour
"Quiet Time", which means silent reading ...
and, your 9 year old says, "I'm really tired. Can
I take a nap and then do my reading?"
He proceeds to sleep 2 1/2 hours.
... everyone heads to their room for Quiet Time.
Mama heads to her room to read, and ...
falls asleep for another 2 hours.
... Mama wakes up to find out that 15 y.o., 20 y.o.,
and 24 y.o. are all taking afternoon naps, also.
Yes ... today was definitely a day for catching
up on needed sleep, for the Big D Family.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
... of the Big D Family.
I haven't forgotten you ... my sweet bloggy friends. I hope you don't all give up on me.
I go to bed every night thinking of all the things I want to share with you ... but, alas, am still just barely treading water all day. After being gone 2 1/2 weeks ... home for 3 days ... gone for 3 days ... home for 4 days ... and home to more big kids living at home ... things have been a bit CRAZY! Six weeks ago, we had 8 of our children living at home. Now, we have 11 ... with one more headed home for the weekend. (Sorry Cassie ... we ran out of beds this week.) Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE having my big kids at home. Yippee! Wish you were here, Carissa!!! But, it just adds a few layers of organization: who has what car, when? who is home to watch the young ones? who needs a ride, where?
Since Jeremiah arrived home this week, I've had to think about a few more things, make a few phone calls, and run a few errands. He needed a new cell phone (added to our family plan). The car he needed to drive needed a new battery. Then, he got it up and running, when we realized the tabs had been expired for a few months since no one had been driving it. (Thankfully he didn't get pulled over for expired tabs, before I could make it to the department of licensing.) Now, I still need to call the insurance company and AAA, to add him back to our policies. Not at all complaining ... just explaining the extra busyness that even wonderful "big kids" can add to a mom's daily life. Of course, the extra driver brings many bonuses to such a large family, so I will gladly get him back behind the wheel of our good old 1988 Honda Accord.
To add to the CHAOS (ummm ... I mean ... FUN ...) last week one of our children got their 2nd concussion in less than a year. We don't quite know how to teach this child to put their arms/hands out when they fall, rather than doing a face plant. Last summer's face plant involved lots of blood, as the face hit pavement. Last week's face plant just caused a monster headache and concussion, as face hit rocks instead of pavement. Child just says, "No one ever taught me to put my hands out." Well ... we never taught any of the other 12 children to put their hands out ... it was just kind of automatic. Our "wonderful" neighbor would probably report us if he saw me outside pushing this child, trying to make them fall down (to learn to put their hands out). No ... it certainly wouldn't look good.
Now ... to add to the actual FUN around here ... I am making a scrapbook today and tomorrow, to give to our high school track coach at tomorrow night's Track Banquet. Because ... our boys WON the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!!! Yea!!! Ben and I took over 1,000 pictures last weekend, and had over 150 printed at Costco this morning. I started the album at 11:00 tonight (oops ... it's now 3:00 in the morning, and I started this post an hour ago). I will work on it most of the day tomorrow, except for the 2-3 hours that we are having company for lunch (2 sweet young mamas and their 6 children under age 5).
Oh yea ... more CHAOS ... when we were at the State Track Meet last weekend, Papa's cell phone rang the first night, and one of our young ones said, "Dad ... I broke a window." What?! In 25 years of parenting our children have only broken a window one other time. What happened? Well, this dear child had been told MANY times not to throw ANYTHING in our small yard. This child does not understand aim, distance, strength of throw, etc... Not only does our house have many LARGE (and, therefore, expensive) windows, but our yard is lined by commercial parking spaces for the doctor's office across the street (and, thus, lined with cars that do not belong to our family). So, this specific child has been told MANY times that they can ONLY throw balls and things when we are at a local park, NOT in our yard. However, it was not a ball that broke the window ... it was a rock. You see, there was a bird in our yard, and there was a handy little rock just sitting on the ground next to this child, and this child thought it would be fun to hit the bird. Remember, this child does not understand "aim". So, bird on ground is safe as can be, whereas little brothers' bedroom window is NOT safe. Ugh! Thankfully, this was one of our smaller windows and it will "only" cost $110 to replace the glass (if WE take the window out and drive it to the glass store.) Said child does NOT have money to pay for this "accident"; which is NOT good for our current budget crisis.
To add to the BUSYNESS this week ... Jim is still teaching every day, but is painting a house every afternoon. (Yea ... for another painting job!) Josh is working every morning ... and painting every afternoon. Gregg and Jeremiah are painting, too. Today, though, in the midst of teaching and painting ... we added in 4 big boy dental appointments. And ... in between dental appointments, Josh got to ride on the back of a fire truck for a State Track celebratory parade through town. I grabbed my trusty camera and ran down the street with the little guys (and a friend I was babysitting) to wave at Josh and his friends as they drove by, with lights flashing and sirens blaring (the fire truck was also escorted by a police car and ambulance).
Then ... of course ... there are always BIRTHDAYS to throw in the mix. Two our our big boys have birthdays this month, and they are BIG birthdays (16 and 25). Woo hoo!!! In addition, three of our kids are attending friend's birthday parties this weekend. So, I have a few presents to buy, cards to have the kids make, plans to make, rides to arrange, etc... Two of the three will be attending overnight parties, so I have bags to pack.
And ... there are two out-of-town TRIPS to plan for later this month. One for a birthday party and one for a wedding. FUN! FUN! But ... plans and organization needed, none-the-less.
I was planning to work on the scrapbook earlier today, but ... I was BLESSED today ... by a surprise 2 hour coffee date with a friend that I haven't gotten together with since last summer. Then ... Jim and I went out to dinner with some friends, while their 3 boys played at our place with all of our kids. (Jeremiah actually piled 6-8 of the kids into our BIG van and took them to a nearby park to run off some energy.) Then ... we all came back here for dessert.
I will post more pictures SOON of our time in Ghana, since our internet was so slow and sporadic. I want you all to see the BEAUTIFUL children that I met.
I will post a THANK YOU from the ladies at the Rafiki Children's Village ... where WE donated $200 for the purchase of food. (If you haven't yet sent the donation that you said you would, please send me an email.)
I will post PICTURES of the Rafiki Village ... a WONDERFUL ministry. Wow!!!
I will write a post about CRAZY LOVE and the impact it has had on our family.
But ... for now ... my bed is calling ... as I must get up in a few hours to get back to work on the scrapbook.
I hope you all are doing well ... and hope to hear from you soon!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Our God so faithfully brought Comfort home from Ghana ... and we had no idea exactly how critical the timing was.
At her first hospital visit (a week ago), the doctors saw that she was stable, and said that they would probably do surgery within a month. However, yesterday morning (her 8th day in the U.S.) Comfort took a turn for the worse. They rushed her to the emergency room. She had 3 "scary episodes" while in E.R., and she was admitted to ICU. They are truly blessed to live very close to Seattle Children's Hospital.
They are hoping to stabilize her until Thursday, and then do surgery. But, they may need to jump in at any time and do an emergency surgery.
The doctors also discovered yesterday that her condition is more advanced than they originally thought, and therefore the surgery will be much more serious and extensive than planned.
Please pray for Comfort and her family, as they face some very difficult days ahead.
You may want to read Lanae's blog for more details.
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.