Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hope Chest

I made my first official purchase for our child(ren) in Rwanda earlier this week. It is nothing big, just a small stuffed elephant, but with that purchase came a change in thinking for me. I WILL ENJOY this waiting period. I will take this time and think about these children, prepare for them in hopeful anticipation, not anxious impatience. With that, I have decided to created a Hope chest for them, and purchase for each of them one item every month that we wait until our meeting. It may be a special book or toy, or even a cute outfit I see, but I want to focus my energy on believing in their homecoming instead of doubting. And if we end up with only one referral at the end of this process, then that only means that the Hope chest will have a longer time to fill up before we bring the other one home. I hope it will serve as a visual reminder to our kids (especially Asher) that their brother and sister will be coming home soon. Now, I just have to buy the actual chest...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Going to the Summit

One week from TODAY I will be packing up my things (my warm things) and getting ready to head to Minneapolis for the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VI Conference. My amazing husband is taking off two days from work and my mom is taking off one day to watch the kiddos so that I can go to this amazing conference. I will be traveling with two other women from our church, Christina and Erin, who are also leading our Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry. We could not be more excited. We have the complete backing and support of our church, which is sponsoring our trip, which feels amazing. Let me tell you how huge that is. We get to go and participate in really really really awesome breakout sessions, such as: Church-Based Orphan Ministry 101, 201, and 301; Understanding Childhood Development of Overseas Orphans; Engaging Youth and College Age for Orphan Ministry; Adoption of HIV Positive Orphans and Other Special Needs; Help Wanted: How Every Season of Life Can Advocate for the Orphan; Adoption and Orphans: Becoming a Multicultural/Multiracial Family; and so so many more. And on top of amazing break out sessions, we get to hear THESE speakers:

John Piper!

Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman!

Tom Davis!

We are hoping to learn as much as possible in as many different areas as we can to bring back to home to implement in our adoption and orphan care ministry. And I am determined to drink a latte on the plane because little hands will not be able to knock it over!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's Funny Where a Beard Can Take You

How do you de-stress at the end of the day? A piece (or two...) of chocolate, glass of wine, exercise, facebook, reality tv, reading a good book or a bad magazine, blogging, talking with your significant other or a good friend? Well these are all valid choices (except maybe the exercise one), but the past two nights I've been having fun wasting my nightly down time on this site: Yes! That IS my husband's website. He just made it a couple days ago and put it up mostly for professional purposes. HOWEVER, he put up an interactive app that lets you upload any picture and put his beard on your it (have I mentioned he is bearded fellow?). His beard is fully stretchable and re-sizable, so you can put any size face up there. There is also a beard gallery of other people's creations that is fun to browse through. So I know I should probably be doing more important things... but sometimes we all need some time off.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Eagle Christians

Yesterday we went to our friends' church to hear and meet some pretty amazing people from Rwanda. Pastor Charles preached; Pastor Charles along with his wife is the founder and director of Africa New Life Ministries, which does just amazing work in the communities of Rwanda. We also had the privilege of hearing the testimony of Enric Sifa. Enric was just a kid when the 1994 genocide hit, and he and his little brother survived by living in the jungle in a pit. His father was murdered but his mother somehow survived, and they were reunited with her in an aid camp after the genocide had subsided. After they moved back into their neighborhood however, Enric's mother was beaten for advocating to get her land and house back (a more powerful man now wanted it), and she eventually died from that attack. Enric became a "street kid" to survive. He described his life and more importantly his mental attitude as a street kid. He told us how when he would get sick he would just sit on a curb and wait to die, because he knew it didn't matter to anyone whether he lived or died.
Eventually Enric's love of music led him to discover a church, which led him to Pastor Charles and Africa New Life Ministry. Now Enric has sponsors here in America, goes to school, and guess what? He tried out and WON Rwanda Idol! (Rwanda's version of American Idol). This kid is incredible. He taught himself how to play the guitar, and has some serious skills. He spoke of how becoming a Christian and having faith has changed his life, and knowing that people KNOW him and care about him has given him confidence. What a cool guy, in every sense of the word. Get his cd's!!
After the service I wanted to talk to Pastor Charles and his wife, Florence. I didn't really know what to say to them. Hi, We're adopting! just sounded so hollow after hearing everything that was going on in their country. What I really wanted to say to Florence was, I want to be you. Working to take care of all these kids, making a real and lasting difference. Working on the ground. But that sounded flippant as well. So we chatted about our daughters and she wished us luck on our adoption.
But I left the service with a heavy heart. The work being done in Rwanda is yielding amazing results; children love going to school there, the community is thirsty for faith, the government is willing to partner with programs that are seeing results, like Africa New Life. I was just sad that I was stuck a half a world away. I told Jonathan that my secret plan is to get him to live in Rwanda one day (sooner than later), which is why I obsessively ask everyone who goes to Kigali how the internet speed and connections are (Jonathan is a web developer). My secret (which I don't think I was keeping very well before) is out of the bag. Who knows where it will take us one of these days, but I hope it takes us somewhere where I can hold babies and play with kids who need love and work in a community like Kageyo or one of the many other communities in Rwanda that is rebuilding.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

a Reblog

from Heather's blog at Sit a Spell, something so great I wanted to to retweet it, only I don't twitter, I only blog, so here I am, reblogging it:

We may have issues. Can we in the least admit that? Maybe the issue is our hard hearts. Maybe the issue is that the church as a whole is not talking about adoption enough. Let's not get defensive. Let's just admit that there are a whole lot of orphans out there being neglected and a whole lot of us doing nothing to care for them in their distress. Let's quit defending ourselves and simply admit...crap. There's a lot of orphans. There are a lot of Christian families. This discrepancy is a problem.

And now for a can of worms: You guys out there adopting from Rwanda, with or without an agency, who HAS or IS planning on sending their dossier without CIS approval and who HAS NOT. What has anyone heard about this? We thought this was totally fine to do, and had heard from multiple places that we DID NOT have to wait on CIS approval to send the dossier, that we could send the approval along when we got it to our POA and he could put it in.Now we are hearing the opposite - that we need to wait for approval to send our dossier. We were planning on sending our dossier off in a matter of weeks, so this would be a major time delay if we have to wait on CIS; however we don't want anything to go wrong over there. I know what the Migeprof website says (to have approval in your dossier) but we were under the impression that as long as you had it by the time you went to court you were fine - anyone know anything???

Monday, April 5, 2010

And so it began

On April 6, 1994 the plane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi's Hutu president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down as it attempted to land in Kigali. Like us, the small quiet country had just celebrated Easter; families had gathered, congregations had worshiped, neighbors had shared meals. In a flash, the world turned evil. The radios spewed only lies, evil, and hate. Power hungry and evil men took over the government and wanted nothing but the total annihilation of the 15% of the population that was of Tutsi descent. In a country of 7.3 million, that means 1 million people. More land for the Hutus. More jobs, resources, educational opportunities, cattle, food, more everything for the Hutus. For 100 days the world went on while Rwandans killed each other. Hacked each other to death. Hunted one another down. Trapped groups of people - women, children, babies - in schools and churches where they sought sanctuary and set them on fire.
The Rwandan genocide is one of the greatest manifestations of evil in recorded history. I hate thinking about it. I've read some books, done my research on it; I feel I owe it to my children to know as much as I can about their birth country. I do not dwell on it, and I would not even bring it up, but for this one reason: for you to know how much greater the good work that has been accomplished there is.
It has now been sixteen years since somewhere between 750,000 and 1,000,000 people were brutally murdered by their own neighbors, by people they knew and who knew them personally in a country the size of the state of Maryland. In sixteen short years, Rwanda is now once again safe to travel to; in fact I would feel safer traveling to Rwanda than I would traveling to most of the countries in the western hemisphere!
How is reconciliation like this possible?
For one, once the veil of evil was lifted off the eyes of the Hutus - once the genocide leaders were stopped, once the drug and alcohol induced fogs fueled constantly by the genocide leaders, once the killing squads were not called to assemble, once the propaganda stopped on the radio, once the fear-mongering ceased - truth could once again burst forth and be heard. The truth took a long time to take hold. Some were stubborn and didn't want to believe it, for certain, but truth has a way of winning out in the end.
The world finally took notice and came. And then they stayed for while. Peacekeeping forces from France and Belgium were the first to arrive, and later the UN took over and set up refugee camps (where many more died from poor conditions, malaria, and water born illnesses) across the borders in the Congo, and Uganda. When the world is watching, evil men revert back to the cowards that they are.
Restoration. Deep heart changing forgiveness. Rebuilding of trust and of a whole country. Building by building and house by house. The kind of restoration only possible when God intervenes. He alone can change ashes into gardens, mourning into gladness, death into new life.
Money, aid, sponsorship programs, educational programs, counseling programs, programs, programs, programs! Investment is the bottom line. Not only others investing in Rwanda, but Rwandans investing back into themselves.
Obviously the work is not done there. Some estimates put the number of orphans at 750,000, some even higher. Clean water is desperately needed across the countryside. Infrastructure still needs to be rebuilt. There is more work to do. But it has begun.