Saturday, October 27, 2012

The July tornado

4th of July week is "family week" at the cabin.  Blaine's sisters' families and his mom and our whole crew head up north and spend the week swimming, fishing, playing cards and eating!  It is a blast:)  We look forward to it every year.  

Katie and her Aunt Jenny share July 2nd as their birthday.  This year Joani made her famous chocolate cake and Blaine and I made homemade ice cream.  We knew a storm was coming and it looked like a bad one but we were going to enjoy our ice cream on the screen porch while Auntie Laura read a book to all the kids.  It wasn't raining or windy.  There was no thunder or lightening.  

I was sitting in the far back corner of the porch with the kids sitting all around me.  It was then that we heard the wind.  It was coming from behind me.  I asked the kids, "Did you hear that??"  They did.  I kept reading.  A couple seconds later I said, "That's bad you guys.  Let's get inside now!"

They say it sounds like a freight train coming.  That may be but I have no experience with freight trains.  I would describe the sound as a jet airplane.  A very eerie sound like nothing I have ever heard come from nature.

At the same time Blaine was getting in the shower.  The power went out and he got out of the shower to see lamps and items in the bedroom flying around.  He yelled to everyone to get downstairs!

We were already on our way.  I don't believe we made it through the living room, through the dining room and down the stairs before it hit.  And we were running!  

Once we got downstairs, Blaine asked if everyone was accounted for.  Someone said, "Yes," but that wasn't true.  Katie and De were missing.

They were also out on the porch eating ice cream and decided they'd better run over to the cabin they were staying in next door and close the windows to keep the rain out.  So they did and were in that little cabin with no foundation when the tornado hit and all the trees fell.

All these pictures were taken the next morning.  It was getting dark when the storm it....around 8:30 or later.  Katie was very afraid and they made the decision to run back to the house we were in since it had a basement.  By this time (all happened in minutes) the worst was past but it was raining and still windy.  Katie and De literally rain over the tops of fallen trees to get back.  The little cabin they were staying in (above) is the one with the green peak on the roof.  They ran over those trees which were maybe 9 feet tall (once fallen) to get to us.

Thank God they made it safely!!  It really is a miracle they did and that a tree, limb or debris didn't fall on them.  Click on the pic above to see.  She told me that she thought she was going to die on her birthday that day.  :(

 The trailer we'd brought bikes up on was now up on Jenny's car and the power line was also down, the pole snapped in half.

 The view to the right down the road.  Blaine and De cleared the entire way with their chain saws all the way to the main road.  I love men like this.  They get it done!

 The view to the right...much worse.  They let the county clean this part up.
 Katie and De's car parked in front of their cabin.  Looks bad but barely a scratch:)

 The new view of the hillside.  I honestly never knew there was a house on top of the hill so close.  There were huge mature pines completely covering the hillside.  The tornado took them all.  We lost 75 trees on the property.

Debris from the storm.  Click on this (above) picture to enlarge to see one of the wicker chairs that was sitting in the porch now resting by the little pump house.  It flew through the screen and landed there!  And it's heavy!

Thanks be to God for prompting me to get the kids out of the porch and down the stairs.  I am not normally the person to be alarmed during a storm.  I thought it would be cool to sit outside in the porch and read and eat ice cream during a thunder storm.  I'm thankful I didn't stand my ground and stay a second longer.  The kids would have been severely hurt or killed.  After all, look where the wind took that heavy chair.

The next day the clean up began.  Gene, Blake and Wayne, who had left for home previously for work came back up and for seven morning till night days they worked until all the trees were taken down and chipped.  They yard was raked and repairs were made.  A little garage had to be taken down due to damage.  Power was out for 5 days and it was HOT!  Water came from the lake, cooking was done with the help of a generator and grill.  Toilets were flushed with buckets of lake water and showers were taken in the lake..The refrigerator stayed on thanks to the generator.

We were so thankful that no one was hurt and that there was very little damage done to the main house.
We were also so thankful that so many friends came up to lend a hand with the clean up.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we'd be in the direct path of a tornado.  I mean...really??  In the grand scheme of things and all we've been through as a family, it seems weird to say that being in the direct path of a tornado is on the minor end of things.  No one lost their life and no one was badly hurt. Funny how our perspective has changed, huh?

We're just thankful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bringing them home!

A couple weeks short of a year ago in October, we went to Ethiopia.  Katie and De joined us along with our friends, Kevin and Denise.  We had asked if any of our friends would like to join us on that trip and Kevin and Denise were the only ones who took the bait!  Having been to Ethiopia twice before, we want so desperately for our friends and family to get a glimpse of the place that has captured our hearts completely and changed our priorities.  Well, Kevin and Denise weren't just 'willing' to go but were very excited and enthusiastic!

If you've been following this blog for a while you will remember the pictures and experiences I shared last year after we returned.  We had a BLAST serving the people of Korah and helping out with the medical mission group there.  We loved visiting Sheshemene and the boarding school kids.  We'll never forget visiting the kids we sponsor through Compassion International in Hossana and also visiting with our kids families.

Truth be told, I did have a teensy little agenda in some of my visits.  I really wanted to visit Layla House (orphanage where Aliya lived).  I believe every person should visit an least once in their life.  Just look into those kids' eyes, see them run and play and realize they are 'real' children, not a pretty face in a photo, who will not be tucked in by a parent that night.  It will profoundly effect you.  Well did just that...visited Layla House to deliver a letter to a little boy who was waiting to join his family (he just got home a couple weeks ago-YEA!!).  I wanted Kevin and Denise to visit the orphanage.

Today, October 3rd 2012 Kevin and Denise find themselves once again at an orphanage in Ethiopia.  This time it is for the farewell ceremony for the 3 children they are bringing home on Saturday!  Yes less than a year ago they first stepped foot in Ethiopia and they've been back twice since (once for court and again now)...3 times in just one year!!  Not fair:)

God got to their hearts in a major way.  Why?  They saw, they smelled, they touched, they loved, they served, they shared, they laughed with, they cried with, they got into life with REAL Ethiopian people and they fell in love.  They knew that because of what they experienced, God would require something of them.  Because they saw they were responsible before God.  And they obeyed joyfully.

I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's book called "7".  I like the quote, "I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not KNOW the poor...I long for the Calcutta (or Addis Ababa, my input) slums to meet the Chicago suburbs, for lepers to meet landowners and for each to see God's image in the other...I truly believe that when the poor MEET the rich, riches will have no meaning.  And when the rich MEET the poor, we will see poverty come to an end."

Hmmm....think about that one for a day of two. There is action in that statement.  But who has to do the acting?  The rich!  The poor can't afford to come meet you.  We must go to them.  Action.  It takes action on our part.

Anyway, Kevin and Denise took action.  Boy did they ever.  I like to think they are "crazier" than we are!  3 kids AT ONE TIME????  Who does that?  Crazy, obedient Christians who have taken action and had their hearts broken and have the desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  And they couldn't be HAPPIER!!!

On Saturday at 1:00 we will go to the airport to meet our new friends, Tigist age almost 13, Melkamu age 9 and little Besu Isaac age 4:)  I giggle at the thought of my friends having a child younger than my youngest.  Girl, boy, boy...just like our kids from Ethiopia.  Do you think God had any thing to do with this?

It won't be easy.  They know full well the struggles we've had along the way.  They know that bringing a teenage girl to a new culture is an enormous undertaking.  Everyone knows that adding 3 children to your family who only had 2 grown ones is no small feat.  None of this is for the faint of heart.  But thankfully they are not the faint of heart type.  They will learn to rely on God in ways they never had to before.  And He will never leave us.  I am so thankful, SO THANKFUL to now be joined in our nuttiness by our great friends.  We can't wait to walk every new step of this journey with them!

We are not alone!