Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kids who need you

I've had something on my mind for a little while and since time is of the essence, I thought I'd better share it now.

See those gorgeous girls in the picture above? Just over a year ago, they had no family. They were alone, waiting, praying and hoping for one but they didn't have one. Most of us cannot fathom how this would feel, me included. I've always had a mom and dad who I could rely on and who always had my best interest at heart. They were there to give advice, give a hug, or a word of correction when I needed it. Thankfully, one now is my daughter and the other is her best friend who now has a wonderful family in Florida.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You all know there are kids out there in this situation. What I need to tell you is that there are some changes taking place in adoption in Ethiopia and it is NOT good for the older kids. (This is my opinion but I think most would agree)

The agency we used to adopt Aliya, Adoption Advocated International has taken in children over the years who are more difficult to place. These include older kids, sibling sets and kids who are not perfectly healthy. I appreciate that they have given these kids a chance for a home, when others strictly deal with healthy babies and toddlers, who are much easier to place with families. So there are kids who have been waiting for families for years at Layla House.

Layla House is really a transition home for kids who are waiting for families to come pick them up. It's not supposed to be an orphanage. I think it has been that. But things are changing now. By the end of the school year, all kids age 8 and over will be returned to their original orphanages where they came from. I am thankful that these places exist but (again my opinion) these are not the best places for these kids. I'm sure they are not as nice a place as Layla House. But let's face it...most people do not want to adopt an older child. They want a baby or toddler, not a pre-adolescent or teenager. So these kids have waited and now they will have to make another huge transition.

To the kids who are being forced to leave, Layla House is their home. They have friends there who are like family. They have house mothers they love. This is the place where their hopes were raised every time they saw one of their friends go home with a new family. Now they will have to leave and I can't help but wonder what this will do to their spirits? Will they lose their hope?

My heart breaks for them. It is so wrong.

From personal experience, adopting a older child and a sibling set has been very rewarding for our family. That's not to say that it comes without a lot of work. I would be lying if I said that it was as easy as pie.

I haven't said this publicly yet but when we adopted Aliya, I decided that I would have no expectations of loving, mother-daughter relationship with her. She is 15 after all. It's not like I can hold her, give her a bottle, and do the things moms do with their little ones that naturally bring about bonding. Don't get me wrong...I do believe that will come in time and we're working on it. But I think it's a mistake to put huge expectations on these kids and then put lots of pressure on them to comply.

This relationship is NOT about us and what we can get out of it. It is completely about Aliya and what we can give to her.

She will now always have a family, support, love and a safe place to come.

Every child needs and deserves this but with these kids being transferred to their old orphanages, I think it is less likely to happen for them and for other older kids in Ethiopia. It's going to make it a LOT harder.

At this time, there are 4 older girls who are about to age out and will then never have the chance to have a family. If you or someone you know are interested in them, you will need to act fast and get your home study done in order to not see them age out. They are great girls. They are Aliya's friends.

Secondly, there are many kids who are age 8 and above who really need families soon! It is a situation that is really serious. I can tell you that their is a sibling set that Aliya thinks is amazing. The girl is probably 15 and is an excellent student. She stays up all night to study for tests. She is sweet and really wants a family. She has a younger brother, who I do not know but am told he is just as amazing.

Can you pray about and for these kids? Can you spread the word?

You never know who may respond.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's happening with Korah?

Oh, those faces. Just can't get them out of our minds. I pray that God keeps them burned in our minds forever.

I haven't blogged much about Korah lately so I thought I'd write a little today to give you an update.

Teams are still going to Korah to work. Project 61 is the ministry from Sumer's church in TN that is wonderfully coordinating all things Korah at the time. Honestly, I am so impressed at the type of people who must attend her church. I'm in awe, really. People have rallied around her and her family, who now live in Korah. They have sent team after team to work and develop relationships. Many have become sponsors. ALL have become advocates for the people of Korah and spreading the word far and wide. Korah, a place that was barely on the map (figuratively speaking) is now known by people all over the world! Christians have been deeply and forever effected when they've seen the faces and heard the stories and are taking action. God's people have awakened! And they're on FIRE!

The first news I'd like to share is that all the slots for the boarding school have been FILLED! 250 kids, who formerly lived in a dump or other difficult situations (like having no parents) are leaving on September 12 for the boarding school in Shashemane, Ethiopia. They are living now in the dorms that Katie, Blake, De and Zach worked on when they were there getting prepared to attend boarding school. Can you even imagine the day they arrive there? I've seen pics and let me tell you, it is BEAUTIFUL. Lush and green, no pollution, a library FULL of books, lovely dorms and a dining hall just waiting for kids to sit down for a meal.

There are also children who will attend school right in Korah at the Great Hope Church there. The school is called Bright Hope School and many kids in the community will go to school there in the fall. There was an organization who was doing sponsorships to this school but that relationship has ended and now Project 61 is taking over these sponsorships. The great thing about this is with Project 61, there are NO administrative costs involved. So when you send $35 to sponsor a child, it all gets sent to the school and it's work. They are not equipped to send pictures of kids (the way Compassion or World Vision does) so when you send money, it basically goes into a pool for all the kids to go to school. (Correct me if I'm wrong please!) Because Katie developed relationships with Fasika and Beza when she was there, we are 'sponsoring' them to Bright Hope. The other little guy that Katie fell in love with is being sponsored to the boarding school by another family who also fell in love with him and made the decision to sponsor him when they were visiting Korah.

There are many people who have talked about different projects that they'd like to see done in Korah. As you know the needs there are staggering but God has sent very qualified people from different organizations and fields to research, talk with govt. officials and get the work done. I had the opportunity to be a part of a conference call the other day and hear these people talk about their area and what is currently happening.

I can't help but tell you, I was so excited to hear what they all had to say. Progress is being made! REAL progress. These are people who are not going to give up on Korah. These are 'get the job done' kind of people. One improvement I will share is the need for water in Korah. If you'll remember, people have to walk 45 minutes one way to a dirty river for a jerry can of water. Can you imagine doing this? I'll tell you, it looks very promising that water will be coming to Korah. The changes it will bring to the peoples lives cannot be measured or overstated. Please pray the the proper steps will take place to see this happen.

We have a couple other things in my mind that we are praying about and asking God to show us if we are to be involved in them. Please pray with us.

I wanted to share this encouraging update to let you know that your prayers have been effective.

I will update (I actually have a wonderful short movie I will share soon) when I hear more.

Keep praying,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home from the Black Hills

First, I wanted to share with you a picture of Blaine's office wall. These (except for Aliya's pic) were Father's Day gifts for Blaine last year. All he wanted for his birthday this year was a picture of Aliya to complete his wall. Katie took it...is it not beautiful??? He loves it so much that now he wants new ones of Mihiretu and Katie to update them! Every time he looks up from his desk, he sees these 5 beautiful children looking back at him. What could be better than that?

Ok, on to South Dakota. We got back a couple days ago from a 5 day camping trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We took the 3 youngest kids and had such a blast! It was weird not having all the kids with us but I guess with work and kids getting older, things must change. This is a picture of Aliya at Bear Country. I love it because she looks so happy and pretty:)

We had warned the kids that buffalo were dangerous and that they shouldn't be approached. These were in Custer State Park and were so far away that we thought it was safe for them to get out of the truck to take a look. Misganaw needed a little coaxing from his big brother that it was safe. Cute, huh? Mihiretu is very nurturing and sweet like that:)

We went to a cowboy cookout dinner and they had this jail there. Mihiretu is only pretending to be sad. Just such a cute picture!

We bought the all the kids cowboy hats. This is Misganaw in his. Adorable!

We all LOVED Mt. Rushmore so much!! So beautiful and patriotic!

Yummm! Cowboy cookout!


Friday, August 20, 2010

We're off again!

Here are some more pics of our week at the cabin. I LOVE this picture of Blaine and our nephew-in-law, Bryant. I love it because when I think back to last year at this same time, Blaine was still recovering from his being paralyzed in July. He was on mega doses of Prednisone which turned him into a completely different person. The guy in this picture...THAT is my husband!
Praise God for His healing! You should have seen these guys spinning the jet ski around just to get thrown off and do it again and again!

Misganaw and me. He fell asleep on the boat (again)! So cute!

This is my darling Mom, who even though this is only her second year fishing, has become a great fisherwoman! How cute is SHE? She's one of my greatest supporters and is always, always there for me.

This is my sweet sister, Pam. She loves my kids more than just about anyone! She's also a huge help to me and I love her bunches!

I'm waiting for Blaine to return with a part for the camper and then we will be on our way to "Mountain Smushmore." You see, Misganaw actually believes that we are going to a mountain made of "smushmallows." Poor kid, I keep trying to explain it to him but I guess he'll have to see it to believe:)

This trip will include only the 3 youngest kids, Blaine and I.

We cannot wait to get there but have run into many obstacles with the electrical system in the camper. Hopefully, these will soon be repaired and we'll be off!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Our week at the cabin

Aliya learned a new skill this past week. The CANNONBALL!!!


This is Mihiretu...I know you thought this was some 12 year old! Hard to believe this kid just turned 8 and is a 2nd grader...hmmmmm.

But here's the proof, Spongebob Cake and all! We bought him a little special cake just for him on his birthday.

This picture is of Mihiretu's and my foot. This was not taken to show you how badly I need a pedicure. It was not taken to show you that I cut my leg. It was definitely NOT to show you my tiny, stubby toes!! Ok, get your laughter out now!!! This picture was taken to show you that my little guy who just turned 8 and is going into 2nd grade has BIGGER feet than his mom!!

I have lots of pics to post in the days to come of everyone at the cabin. We had a wonderful time with my family this past week. We did lots of relaxing, floating, eating :) and jet skiing.

Sam and Nastassia's wedding was beautiful! I'm sorry I cannot show you because BOTH of my camera batteries were dead!! But I have friends who will get me the pics they took because you just HAVE to see Misganaw in his tux!!

We were really proud of our little ring bearer! He was a sight to behold, let me tell you. This kid was born to be a ring bearer. He could give classes to other potential ring bearers!

Without any rehearsal, he walked up with his new wife (or so he thinks) perfectly! After the ceremony, the new little couple :) was supposed to walk back down the aisle. Misganaw was rearing to go but his new wife was not. She was adorable but a little shy and she stood there looking at the ground shaking her head, "no." He stood at he front of the aisle motioning with his finger, "Come on, you can do it!"

After the ceremony, while taking pics, the bridesmaids got him to kiss her on the cheek during a picture. This poor girl, she screamed and ran away crying to her dad! The photographer and all the bridesmaids were laughing their heads off but I knew Misganaw would feel badly about this so I went over to comfort him. He looked at me and loudly said (with hands out to his side going up and down with every phrase) "MOM, she didn't....EVEN....like it!"

Then at the reception, he was so anxious to get onto the dance floor. I told him to wait until the father-daughter dance was done. Well, the second the music stopped and some rap song came on, my little man bolted onto the dance floor and began BREAK DANCING!! And I mean this kid can break dance!!!! Everyone formed a circle around him and he went to town! I sat there with my mouth wide open! I couldn't believe how this kid could dance. He went like this all night, even getting his new wife onto the dance floor. They had a blast together!

So I'm thinking...he's such a natural ring bearer that maybe I should make him available for other weddings. You know, like "Rent a Ring Bearer" where for $100 plus the cost of a tux, you can have the CUTEST, funniest, most adorable ring bearer AND then to keep your reception from becoming dull, you could have him for another $100 plus dinner and LOTS and LOTS of cake and punch until 9:30 or until he falls asleep, whichever comes first.

What do you think??


I promise...I'll get some pics!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A project for a summer day

This was a day project for Blaine and the kids. We have a cute little pond in our back yard and the project was to build a little dock into it. Mihiretu LOVES to work so he's a great help.

Aliya had a great time helping, too! A girl with a power tool and wearing waders!! She's got style:)

For some reason, Aliya thought the waders were a great fashion statement. She is holding Tia, the new puppy.

Mr. Muscle Mihiretu is putting in the last post for the dock.

Misganaw posing on the completed project.

I don't have pics of this but the following weekend, they built an adorable curved bridge to go over the river-like end of the pond. Super cute:)

Yesterday, I took Aliya to the make-up counter at Macy's for a little lesson in how to apply make-up. She's never worn make-up at all and really wanted to start but was afraid to tell me, so she told Katie. How funny! This is not something that would upset me at ALL! So we went and let me tell you...this girl loved every second! I'm sorry I didn't have my camera but you have to take my word for it...she looked even prettier than usual:) She LOVED her eyes so we purchased the make-up for that. We thought that was enough (OK, I thought that was enough!) to start with. She was so thankful and appreciative. We had fun together!

Last night, we all went to view our new family picture that we had taken a couple weeks ago by the same lady that did our original family portrait when we were a much smaller family of 4. It was a beautiful picture but it was lost in the fire. I really miss it as it was a central point of our living room. We decided to have her retake our pic since a family of 4 were are no longer! It is funny...when we had the first one taken, we decided our family was complete and it was a good time to do a formal family portrait. We had never before had one done but decided to splurge, just this once!

But God had other plans for our family!! Just when we splurge...God says, "Hey, I have some more kids for you!" This made our old portrait pretty obsolete.

Then we had the fire and decided we would spring for the sitting fee and the insurance company would replace the size pics we lost in the fire. However, these pics have ALL of us in it! So happy to have this wonderful gift. It is very hard to find the good in having a fire, but this is an example of a good thing coming out of bad:)

Many blessings,