Friday, November 30, 2007

Please Pray for Keziah Selam

We arrived home at Raleigh Durham Airport on Wednesday to a wonderful reception of over 25 friends and family members. It felt so great to be home. We were exhausted from the long trip; not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Our lives will never ever be the same for what we experienced in Ethiopia. God has truly blessed us for allowing us to go there. The kids were real troupers on the plane ride and although tired, seemed to relish all the attention. Josiah Abel was a little overwhelmed at first but got into the swing of things after awhile. We had meant to post when we first got home but knew that we were pretty wiped out. On Thursday, I got up with the kids and started to get things going because Eileen was in bed with an excruciating headache. It was an interesting morning to say the least. I made myself some Ethiopian coffee and I knew that despite all the chaos, it was going to be a good day. My friend Don stopped by and we visited for awhile. We went through the day with a lot of activity because neighbors and friends stopped by bearing gifts and congratulations. Our friends the Moores brought us a delicious dinner. About Midday Eileen felt better and she came downstairs to join in on all the fun. By the time she came downstairs the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. The kids were all doing great.

But sometime in the afternoon, Keziah had a fever and we gave her some Motrin. It seemed to help but later the right side of her face and neck became swollen and tender to the touch. We called the doctor to get his advice. He suggested we take her to to the ER to get her checked out. We left the house for WakeMed at 10 pm. The doctors and staff at WakeMed are always wonderful. They took great care of our Keziah and felt terrible when they had to put an IV in her little arm. The nurse felt especially terrible when it took her a couple of tries to finally get it going. They drew blood for testing and even gave her a CT Scan. At 2 a.m. they decided that given some of the unknowns about her possible exposure to diseases, they decided to admit her. They had found that she had some type of infection, but were unsure just what it was. Her fever had come back and was 102.4 at one point. They gave her motrin and it helped reduce the fever for a while, but it kept coming back. They gave her an antibiotic through her IV. The doctors seemed to think that they would be able to isolate the cause and she would be home today.

I left Eileen and Keziah at the hospital because we had a scheduled appointment for the other kids with our pediatrician at 10 am. When I arrived home Josiah had been downstairs looking for me. Randy, who along with Melissa, was staying at our house, had just finished feeding Keren, when he found him in my office. Poor little guy..
I took him upstairs and crawled into his bed with him.

At 8:30 we were all up again, getting ready for the doctor appointment. It was pretty amazing. Grandma and Melissa helped with breakfast, I had my Ethiopian coffee and off we went. Four kids in carseats, Ellie, Melissa and me. The doctor was supposed to see Keren and Josiah, but also got to examine Ellie, who was getting over a sore throat, Jimmy, who has had a cold for a few days, and Jeremiah, who just started one. By the time we were done I felt like the guy in the Mr. Mom song. It was sensory overload. Thank God Melissa was there to capture all the info the doctor was telling us.

I called Eileen after that and learned Kez was not going to be released until at least tomorrow (Saturday). They still had more tests to run. Maybe I am getting cynical, but I can't help getting the impression that our little Kezzie makes for interesting training for some of these young interns who rarely get to see a patient two days after entering this country from a third world country such as Ethiopia.

Anyway, I am very thankful for the pediatric staff at WakeMed. Over the years with our other children, they have bent over backwards for us.

We'll hopefully post more tomorrow, but please keep Keziah in your prayers. Pray that God will give the doctors wisdom to find exactly what is wrong and to treat it properly. She is a precious little smiling angel, and we all want her home.


Monday, November 26, 2007


Today is our last full day here. We got up early and had breakfast by room service.
Then we went to the Gladney office to meet with Tigist again. She greeted us with a great big smile, a traditional Ethiopian greeting and kiss, and she seemed to be very much at peace. She gave us the only photo she has of their birth father. They scanned it for us in the office so we could give it right back to her. He was a very handsome man. We spent about half an hour talking and I asked if she had any questions for me. She told the translator that she is so happy, more than she ever dreamed. She thanked us again for the meeting the other day and showed me she was carrying the purse we gave her. She was at such peace and she never even shed a tear. She kissed me & Ellie and the girls and told us to kiss & hug Josiah for her. We opted not to bring him today because it was very hard on him every time he said goodbye to her over the last several months. She understood and was in agreement. She wished us a very safe travel and we exchanged addresses and made arrangements to keep in touch with each other. This was an amazing day. To be able to look each other in the eyes, hug and kiss and be forever bonded in love, in the unity of loving these beautiful children. She walked out of the courtyard with a smile on her face and peace in her heart. It doesn't get much better!

We went to exchange some money and then headed off to a blanket factory. We want to buy 100 blankets for the Kolfe Boys. While there, it was suggested that it may be better to have Gladney purchase them to get the tax exempt discount which means we could get a few more blankets. So, we have to finalize that tomorrow before we leave. With the discount the blankets will be 8.33 each. We also went and bought 10 soccer balls and a pump and then headed back for another visit with the boys. They were very surprised to see us again and we had another great time of fellowship. We took lots of video this time and I asked the boys what they would like "MY FRIENDS" who are coming from America to bring them. This is what they told me: BOOKS, Lots of books. Especially Dictionary - English as a second language college level was suggested by Ryan. At least 4-5 of them. Pencils, pens, notebooks, DVD movies, comedies. They like Jim Carrey movies. Basketballs, and table tennis are also their desire. I suggested socks, shirts, etc. and they said that would be great but they don't think it is possible. They get distributions of socks only once a year so they can't even imagine getting these things. They need them though.

If anyone would like to help with these boys, you can send a tax deductible donation to Gladney and just write in the memo to direct this to the Kolfe Boys Orphanage. Mr. Scott Brown (Ryan's Dad) will see to it that all the money goes directly to them. They currently have several projects on their list, a new kitchen and supplies, new soccer goal posts and a sponsor program to help these young men go to college. They are just beginning their work so they really need our support. After speaking with Ryan today it was so encouraging to see and hear about his passion for these boys as well. They really need us to come alongside them to help accomplish many projects for these forgotten boys. I would also like to replace every single pad on their beds. The blanket factory today had nice mattress pads for about $10.50 each. There are currently 185 young men there. We will post pictures of their beds when we get home and you can see for yourselves the need is great. Please pray about helping with this as well. Just take a moment tonight, when you lay in your nice comfortable bed to remember these boys sleeping on a flat pad with chunks of foam missing, that sits on a cold piece of metal. How can we not be compelled to help them?

As I was composing this list with the boys today, they kept insisting that it was extremely difficult for them to get anything and they were trying to let me know that I should not get my hopes up for them. They said they are given one pen per man and one writing book as a reward system. So, for them to think of getting anything on their wish list is really impossible. I explained to them that GOD is very powerful and that there are other families coming from America that will visit them soon. If the Lord wills and if they will listen to my requests, they will bring some of these items for them. They got wide-eyed and looked very surprised. They said, "OK if God will allow we would very much like this!" So, if you are scheduled to go to Addis in the near future, would you please contact me so I can send you some things to take to them for me as well? If we all work together, we can truly bless these young men. Remember, if we do it for the least of these we do it for Jesus Christ.

We confirmed our flights, got the children's visas from the embassy and we are ready to go home now. I had Tafesse explain to Josiah that he is going on the plane to America. We took him to the airline office where he saw a model plane and we hope he understood. I want him to understand everything so that this will be a positive experience for him. We will be packing up tomorrow and saying goodbye to the wonderful staff here at Gladney. This truly has been an unforgettable and life changing journey for all of us. Please pray for a safe journey home and especially for our sweet Ellie who has a really bad sore throat right now. She can't even talk. We will probably post again after we get home so thank you to those who have prayed for us and followed along on our journey. May you each be blessed beyond measure and may God get all the Glory for all that has happened here. In His Timing & Care.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Day of Rest


Today we started out by attending a Bazaar at the International Evangelical Church. This was a fundraiser event and it was really fun. We got several souvenirs. I bought a beautiful sweater that was hand knit by the blind and all of the items were made by various people here. We then went to lunch with the usual gang and then off to more shops in the town. We came back to the hotel where the twinettes and I rested while Jerry, Ellie and Josiah went in the pool. He is a real little fish. Jerry bought him some swimmies and he can almost swim already. We ordered dinner by room service and called it an early night. This has been such an emotional roller coaster ride that we really needed a day to just chill.


Today was the Great Ethiopian Run right here in town which meant all the roads were closed to traffic. There were 30,000 people in this 7th Annual run and they were from all over the world. So, needless to say, we couldn't leave the hotel to go to church. Our new friends, the McConomys and we decided to have our own church service together. We met at the poolside, in this absolutely beautiful weather with our bibles, a bottle of water, and a roll, and we had an absolutley wonderful 2 hour service together. We read from the book of Isaiah and shared how the LORD has been revealing himself to each of us through the scriptures and then shared communion bread and water. Bill said remember Jesus turned the water into wine in his first miracle, so the water was just fine. We had an absolutely delightful service and feel so blessed that the Lord brought us together to encourage each other and share this amazing adoption journey together. It was so sweet.

Tafasse then picked us up and took us for a ride up the mountian Entoto, to get a view of the city. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was so nice. We have lots of pictures but can't load them until we get home. There was a man there from Holland who has been traveling the world by car for the past five years. There were people from Italy and Israel as well. It is such an interesting place, people from all over the world are here. We did a little more Christmas shopping in the local shops and then came back to the hotel to rest some more. Jerry and Ellie took Josiah back to the pool for a while and he loves swimming. I fed the babies, bathed them and put them to bed. We are really getting homesick, tired and Ellie & I are feeling a sore throat coming on. She is worse, her throat lookes infected.

As far as the children, they are doing absolutely fantastic. The girls just hang on me & Ellie in the snugglies all day. They are so happy, well behaved and eat like crazy. We are giving them bottles, rice cereal and started them on fruit and veggies. Keren eats more than Keziah and her cheeks are chubbier. She also is a tighter fit in the snuggly. They are so content with us it is like we have had them forever. Josiah is really getting attached to Papa. He only wants him to hold him and take him to potty. He is calling us all by name, he has started to show affection by giving kisses, caressing faces, and holding hands. He adores his sisters, talks to them, kisses them and smiles at them all the time. He is obviously very attached to them. He is adjusting so much better than I anticipated. God is so good to answer my prayers. He too is getting a cough though. I think it may be from riding in the car so much breathing in fumes and dirt. He is eating very well, too. Their diarrhea has also gotten better! We fed them bananas, and Josiah pasta, bread and bottled water. He seems to be feeling better.

Well, that's all for today. We are ready to wind down now. It is getting so much harder to be away from the rest of the kids at home.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Forgotten Boys

Today we decided to slow down and sleep in a bit. We wanted to take Josiah to the playground at the Hotel and just try to absorb what all is happening to us. Jerry has been having the most difficulty with the jet lag so he really needed some rest this morning. We even missed the breakfast service at the restaurant so we had to order lunch or a croissant and coffee. We are all trying to learn Amharic and I tried to order water by saying "WAHOO". The man that was sweeping the floor next to us could not contain himself. He started to laugh out loud, looked at me and then tried to politely redeem himself by bowing and nodding obviously biting his lip to hold it in. He was so sweet. The proper pronunciation is "WUHA". At least I'm trying, but Ellie and Jerry are doing great. My excuse is that they are not using their brain cells to prepare bottles, diaper bags, goody bags for Josiah and such all day like I am. Plus, God is really doing something in my heart and mind that I have never experienced in my life. While we were eating the Maitre'd was watching us with our Josiah as he was eating and talking and we were obviously working on communication with him. He came over and talked with him and translated some for us. They talked for quite a while and then the man stood up with a big smile on his face. He said, "Do you know what, I just told him that they like you, and he asked him if he was happy and if he liked you, his new family? He said he likes you very much" . The people here are amazing. They all care so much for these children. It's so true that complete strangers come up and kiss these children, get right down on their knee to be eye level and talk to them with joyful sounding voices. Grown men in business suits, the guards, security, people just walking by, all of them smile and greet these children and us. It is absolutely delightful!

After this we went to the playground where Josiah really had a great time. By the way he responded, we think it was his first time on the swings. He was nervous at first but then he started to laugh and like it. Yesterday afternoon we took him into the pool that is filled by a hot spring. Jerry and Ellie played with him in the pool while I sat on the lounge with both girls on me in snugglies. Josiah is a fish. He absolutely loved it. He was screaming, laughing and kept wanting to jump into the water. After I noticed he really had NO FEAR of the water, I told Jerry to let him jump in but not to catch him right away. He needed to learn some healthy fear as a safety precaution. After about 3 times, he seemed to slow down and think differently about just jumping in any more. He started to notice where the shallow part ended and then called to "PAPA" or "ELLIE" to catch him. Before that he was pushing them away not wanting them in his way. We spent about 2 hours there with him and it was a joy!

Next we were picked up by Tafesse's cousin, Yasu because his car had to go into the shop. We met Ryan, Travis, Joanna, Avery and Silas for lunch at the Top View Restaurant where we overlooked the city. It reminded me so much of Los Angeles. It was very good and another sweet time of fellowship. Travis and Joanna are house hunting and getting settled into their new life here. A big difference from their life in Texas. After lunch, Ryan took us to the KOLFE older boys orphanage. This is where the boys over 12 years old go. This is also the place where Ellie raised $1200 for their library to be built thanks to the Franklin Academy Charter School and my friend Jennifer Hoffert. After today, I CAN NEVER FORGET THESE BOYS!!!!

We pulled into the facility that gave me the first impression of a very run down old prison campus or something like I have seen in the pictures of Germany during the Holocaust. Very depressed and unmaintained. We were greeted immediately by smiling faces and warm welcomes as numerous young men came out to see who was in the white car that just arrived. I was very nervous because I fully expected these young men to be cold and unsociable. On the drive there I was even thinking I would rather not go there at all and was having a conversation in my head that I would rather have gone souvenir shopping this afternoon. We want to get some gifts to bring home to the special people that helped us get here. Well isn't it just like God to show me again that He always knows better and has a plan for everything. Today I met some of the most DELIGHTFUL, HAPPY, SOCIABLE, LOVING, RESPECTFUL AND WELL MANNERED young men in my life!!!! (Teenagers as our society calls them) I AM AMAZED AGAIN! I must have been personally greeted by 30-40 young men ranging in ages from 12 to 18. They all had genuine smiles and either spoke fairly good English or were learning. They all put their hands out to shake, give their names and smile. Within about 5 minutes, my heart was melting again as I could feel myself falling in love with these boys. As Ryan started to give us the tour, they gathered along side and with "pride" started to explain what each building was. They were obviously excited to have visitors. I was so impressed with how well groomed and clean they were. They take pride in their appearance as well, wearing old tattered clothes, but still having a sense of style and dignity. They all asked questions about us, about America, about our adoption etc. They would all take turns asking questions and as some stayed with me continually as I walked. They very politely and in a very gentlemanly manner helped me walk along the very dangerous broken-up cement, big holes, rocks, puddles, etc. on the ground. You really have to look down because nothing is well groomed or smooth on the landscape. There were buildings with broken windows, sheets or fabric on them as window treatments. They looked like they haven't been painted in 20 years. Yet these young men pointed them out to me with pride and joy! I was so absorbed by their joy that I was smiling so big my face hurt. I was complimenting them on how they obviously worked hard because in spite of the run down condition it still displayed a sense of beauty. They had a vegetable garden planted among the rocks and they even have a flower garden. They were particularly proud of their kitchen that has a window that opens into the next room which serves as the dining room and theater. Hoptamu, the young man that was by my side the entire time and spoke English very well, was particularly interested in asking me how I liked everything as he showed me. He said they enjoy the movie room very much. He then wanted me to see their sleeping building. There were rows of bunk beds as far as the eye could see. It was like a barracks on a military campus. My immediate surprise was how neat, organized and well maintained it was. "PRIDE" everywhere. Then it was off to the soccer field where there was a game going on. The field was just a big dirt area full of rocks. It had no marked lines and the goals were made of the same Eucalyptus poles we see so much here. The netting was shredded and falling apart. It seemed to serve no purpose as any scored goals would go right through them. Even the ball was old and tattered. This facility holds up to 180 young men. There were a great number of them there but I don't have the exact number yet. While two teams of boys played, a great number of others watched and waited on the sidelines. Once one of the teams scored two goals, another team would get to run on the field to replace the losing team. We get so used to seeing boys in America play with the proper equipment, i.e, shoes, pads, uniforms. These boys had none of that. They played in beat up tennis shoes, no pads, no matching uniforms. Some only wore one sock. We watched for about 30 minutes, or I should say we talked with a great number of them on the side lines. I felt like I was in such an unusual situation. I can't really describe it.. The place was so depressing, sad, run down, and yet there was such a spirit of joy that it was contagious. As many of you know about me, I don't do superficial. I believe I was there for the purpose of loving on these young men, to encourage them and to let them know that they matter to me and to God. I asked questions of them like, "What do you want to be when you grow up? The answers were: doctors, electrician, carpenter, teacher, go to America, etc. They have dreams and aspirations, desires and goals to be a positive influence and contributors to society. They love to study. They told us they only play soccer on weekends because the rest of the time they study. It is obvious because they too had great questions for us and I was amazed at how well they spoke English.

There were three conversations I had that impacted me the most. I asked if they have a lot of physical fights among them. They all sincerely looked at me with a sense of surprise and almost disgust. Several of them shouted out the following answers: "No, never!" ; "We love each other."; "We respect each other." "We use our minds to settle problems, as he pointed to his temple area." "We are a family here." We witnessed an example of this as Jerry noticed in the distance one of the older boys who was wearing shoes had accidentally stepped on the foot of another. They both respectfully treated each other with compassion and respect.

The second, a older young man about 16 yrs old told me, "This facility is about 30 years old and the government does not maintain it. He said many people come to visit, take lots of pictures but they never come back and they never do anything to help us." He was not angry or resentful at all, he spoke very softly and like it was just a fact of life. He was very joyful even as he told me this.

The third was, "Are there compounds like this in America where boys don't have a mother or a father?". This one crushed my spirit and heart. I told him we did have some children in America that have not parents too. I was immediately struck with the fact that I could not say we had compounds like this. Later, when we drove away Ellie said this was the time she too fought hard to hold back the tears.

These young men even treated Ellie with great respect, honor and genuinely asked her lots of questions. At the soccer game when I was surrounded by about 20 young men, I told them how Ellie raised $1200, (or about $11,000 Birr) to help fund their soon-to-be library. They all looked very surprised, eyebrows raised, eyes opened wide, and a very sincere thank you was expressed to her. They bowed their heads and said "thank you very much". Again those of you who know me and Jerry would understand that we would never feel comfortable taking her into a compound full of young men. She is absolutely beautiful and such a sweet personality that we always have a huge hedge of protection around her. At first we were both right by her side. But I can't efficiently express how safe she was and how respectful they were toward her. It was unbelievable!

So here is what was etched in my mind that has caused me to know I can NEVER walk away from here and be one of those people that never come back and never do anything to help them. Their beds are very old metal, the "pads on them", not mattresses, are also about 30 years old. They have holes in them, they are absolutely trash dump quality. The blankets and pillows etc. are the same. They cannot possibly keep them warm. Remember, I told you there are absolutely no heating systems in Ethiopia and it gets down in the 30's at night. The windows are broken and in desperate need of replacement. The kitchen was like something out of an old Gothic run-down castle. It was all stone walls, floor and no windows or light.It looked like a dungeon. We have photos that can only explain it because I can't even find the words. Their dining room and theatre was a run down building that had old tables that looked at least 30 years old. We didn't see any chairs so I wonder if they stand? The theater was an old 26 inch TV on a shelf with a couple of old benches in front of it. They looked like old bleacher benches from elementary school when I was a child. They are the most uncomfortable things to sit on. We literally had walk with caution throughout the entire compound because the steps everywhere are broken and the ground is all uneven and full of rocks etc.

I have not stopped crying since last night. These are the forgotten boys. No one wants them. I have to admit that until today, I was the most guilty of never wanting or even considering adopting one of these boys. I had all these preconceived ideas about how bad, dangerous and evil they must be and they did not really matter to ME. OH GOD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!! I AM SO ASHAMED!!! I WAS SO WRONG!!! I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN! I know I must do something!

I spent this afternoon with some of the most respectful, well mannered, joyful, content, happy, sincere, genuine and goal-oriented young men that I ever knew existed. As we wrapped up our visit, Jerry literally had to come pull me by the arm and drag me across the compound. I was pulling away from him and all the boys started laughing. I told them I didn't want to leave yet because I was enjoying them so much. Jerry said we had to be considerate of our driver, he had to get home. I honestly could have stayed there all night. As we got to the car, the boys were following us asking if we could come back tomorrow. Some of them shouted out "DON"T FORGET US!" "PLEASE COME BACK!" I literally pulled away from Jerry, stood in front of them and said "OK, I WANT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU TO PLEASE COME GIVE ME A BIG KISS AND HUG. AND I MEAN EVERYONE!! I held my arms open wide and stood there as they looked around with puzzled faces. They looked at each other, and at Ryan like "Is she serious?" Ryan shouted out that I was MAMA to all of them. I stood there with Keziah in my snuggly as a line formed and I hugged, kissed squeezed and asked God to bless each and every one of them. They were laughing and honestly thought I must be crazy. Josiah was in Jerry's arms and was laughing out loud as he watched this whole thing. He then started to kiss Jerry's cheek repeatedly as to mimic what he was watching. As the line diminished I looked around and saw some shy ones that were not in the line. I walked up to each one of them and made sure they got a hug and kiss too, whether they wanted it or not. Then some other came running from another direction as if someone had gone to tell them what was going on. They said," I did not get a turn". Then a few of them came back for seconds. The young man who told me he wanted to be doctor for babies came back and I gave him four more kisses not just one. I stood there and waited until it was obvious there were no more in waiting. Even some of the older men that looked at least 18 or older came out to greet me and get a hug and kiss. I was so surprised! One of them held my hand for a long time and was speaking in Amharic, He did not speak English. When I asked Hoptamu to translate, he said, "He wants you to help him get out of here!" THIS WAS MY LAST CONVERSATION WITH ONE OF THEM!

Over the last several years the LORD has been impressing on us that pure religion is to care for the orphan. James 1:22, 27. We have been on this adoption journey for several years and have so far, adopted five children. We are now going to pursue adopting a few of these older boys if the LORD will allow and provide. But, for the first time, I now have a passion to care for the orphan in a new way. While I very sadly have to admit that I cannot adopt all of these children, and believe me I want to, I MUST DO SOMETHING to help make a difference and impact them in a some way. My heart and mind have been transformed! GOD HELP ME TO HELP THESE FORGOTTEN BOYS OF KOLFE. We are going to meet with whoever we can before we leave to find out what we have to do to get permission to adopt KOLFE and start a campaign when we get home. My mind is racing with ideas, dreams, hopes and my heart is experiencing something I can't really describe. It is hurting, heavy and yet full of love and joy after having been blessed by the boys of KOLFE! I pray that my heavenly Father will go before me and prepare the hearts of those who will be blessed beyond all measure to join us in this journey. Please, Please, Please, kneel before Him and ask if you may be one of those people. Many people want babies, many people talk of saving the girls from a life of prostitution, but who will speak for the boys that are the future leaders of our world!!! May GOD forgive me and help me to make a difference!!! I can't thank God enough for the experience he has blessed me with today!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today started out with a buffet breakfast here at the Hilton. While waiting in line to pay our bill, two families walked in with adopted children. While standing there we looked at each other and smiled and then this lady says "ARE YOU ELLIE?" Again, we were shocked as she told us she reads her blog and loves it. Then the ladies with her said, "OH, is this the young lady that writes that blog we read?" One was from Georgia and the other from West Virginia. We talked for a while and were blessed to see a total of four more orphans rescued! Praise the LORD!!

Then it was off to the Gladney office to meet Tigist! Our babies birth mother. I started to shake as we walked into the meeting room. We got all the chairs in a circle, got the cameras ready and rolling and took a deep breath. The social worker Yibra walked in with a beautiful young lady wearing a beautiful red scarf around her shoulders. She had her head down and a very somber look on her face. She immediately began crying when she greeted and kissed Josiah and the girls. She sat down and I sat right next to her. I gave the translator a letter I wrote to her and asked her to read it to her. As the translator read it in English to prepare to translate, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said WOW, this is beautiful. She proceeded to read the entire letter to my sweet Tigist. She sat with her head down and on several occasions broke down into tears. She wiped them with her scarf as I sat next to her with my hands on her arm, stroking her back and face gently. I too was crying tears of sorrow as I watched her face the entire time.. She did not look at me, just at the floor. I wiped tears from her face with a tissue and I just felt my heart melting as I was falling in love with her. She is beautiful! She is humble and precious! Ryan worked the video camera and Joanna took pictures the entire time. (With her permission of course) I explained that this video and photos were going to be for the children when they get older. I want them to see her, to hear her, and to know for themselves that this is about having "TWO GOD-GIVEN MOTHERS THAT LOVE THEM VERY MUCH". After the letter, Yibra said to me in English, look at her, her countenance has changed. Tigist then stood up and kissed me and said "Thank you so very much, I am so happy now because I see that you love GOD and that my children are in the hands of God." We then began to go over the questions I had written from the perspective of what the children will ask me when they are older. I really tried to put myself in their shoes and get as much information as possible. Tigist was very happy and cooperative to answer every one of them. (4 pages) What a glorious and miraculous occasion. This was such an answer to my prayer. It went better than my wildest expectation or dream. We also gave her our personal history, stories and told her about our children, family etc. We talked about many things like her dream for each of them, her childhood, her advice to them when they are older and her story. We told her the story of how God called us and brought us to Ethiopia. We asked about why she chose their names and their meanings to her and we explained the names that will be added to those and how GOD himself chose them. She was amazed and overjoyed. We spent 3 hours together. After the questions the entire room was full of love, joy, and even laughter! We then presented her with these special gifts. Warm Flannel PJ's and slippers with a matching very soft and warm robe. All matching shades of pink and white. This is to represent that we want her to be wrapped in our love, and to be warm on the cold nights here. (There is no heat at all in Addis) Then a sterling silver necklace with a cross in a circle that says "Faith". This is to remind her that God has a plan for her, he cares for her and he will take care of her and her children. To never lose "Faith", Then there was a purse with some lotion, lip gloss, toiletries and an umbrella to shelter her in the rainy season. The purse has a special pocket for the umbrella. And then finally I told her the story of the "Prayer Quilt" that was made with so much love and prayers. When I held it up for eyes to see, she melted in tears again. One of the questions I asked earlier was what her favorite color was. How our God cares so much and intentionally works on details. Her favorite is "Pink", everything we gave her was themed in pink!

We started this meeting as strangers, scared and nervous. Yibra, the social worker that has been with Tigist from day one was absolutely wonderful. She said this was the absolute best "meeting" she had ever seen and she wants to use this as a tool for future use. She said she felt like she had just gone to school and learned something amazing. She was amazed at how much Tigist was filled with peace, joy, love and happiness. It was an amazing transformation. She has never seen her so happy. This is what Tigist said, "Because of meeting you today, hearing all of this and seeing how much God has been involved, I will never worry again about my children. I have more faith in God than I have ever had in my life. I see him so clearly and now I know he will take care of my children and me. I thank you with all of my heart. This has turned out even better than I could have ever dreamed or hoped for. I thank God my children have such a good mother, father and family who love God and will love my children. You are more than I dreamed for them.I never expected this!" She was now looking me right in the eyes, we kissed each other on the lips, hugged, and cried in each others arms. There was such a feeling of the Agape Love and the spirit of the LORD was with us all. IT WAS GLORIOUS AND AMAZING. I really feel like she is another daughter to me. She asked if we could keep in touch, if she could write letters to the children and get pictures regularly. We made arrangements to meet again on Monday to receive pictures of their birth father and to give her copies of the pictures from today. Josiah, Keziah and Keren are DOUBLY blessed to have TWO mothers that love them with all of their hearts. As we celebrate THANKSGIVING today, my heart is full of abundant gratitude for having been blessed again with my new daughter Tigist!

We ended this glorious day with an elegant Thanksgiving Dinner at the Sheraton Hotel with the families of Ryan & Abby, Travis & Joanna, and Bill and Michelle McConomy. (They are our new friends that we met at DC airport coming here. They have adopted a precious little girl and I hope to get permission to share their miracle adoption story on a future blog). We had a wonderful time of fellowship and even met some more Americans who work with orphans in Ethiopia.

May the King of Kings and lover of our souls be glorified today as we thank him for His abundant blessings in our lives!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007



We started our day with baby baths and bottles for the first time in years. The girls got up once in the night for a feeding and went right back to sleep. What a blessing that they already come trained on a schedule. Taffy picked us up and took us to exchange some money into Birr. Ellie and I sat in the car just observing the people and sights. We noticed a lot of men walking hand in hand, arms around each other, as well as women and all of the children getting out of school and walking are hand in hand. It is rare to see them walking alone. We watched countless people walking and greeting each other constantly. The men shake hands, tap each other opposite shoulder to shoulder and kiss both cheeks twice. The women just hold hands and kiss each others cheeks numerous times. I'm not exaggerating when I say it is constantly going on. So when Taffy got back in the car, we asked about this. He explained that this is normal behavior and it is tradition. People here are so affectionate and sociable. I honestly have never seen anything like it. The way they talk to each other is also so polite and respectful. As we were walking down the street a man stopped next to us and saluted, put his hand to his forehead, smiled a huge smile, raised his eyebrows and said "I LOVE YOU". He was referring to us having these three children. He was expressing his gratitude to us for caring for his people. Again, we were congratulated all day long and greeted with big smiles.

We first went to the traditional coffee ceremony at the Gladney baby house. This custom is all about fellowship. There is a young lady who has a special carpet/mat on the floor and a little oven. She puts fresh coffee beans right off the tree into a pan kind of like a wok and proceeds to roast them over a flame, constantly stirring so they don't burn. After about 30 minutes they were black and roasted. Then she mashed them in a stone mortar and put it in hot water. She then served all of us in small cups and a big basket of popcorn. The entire time she is doing this, the guest just sit around and talk. This is an intentional ceremony that just makes everyone get together to talk and visit.

While we did this, Ellie spent the entire time upstairs with the babies taking pictures, hugging, kissing, and holding every one of them. She was visiting with all of the ladies and getting to know them. Many of them speak some english. She is so knowledgeable about these babies because of this blogging world we have joined. She knows their names and whose family they are joining. She is remarkable. She has such passion for all of them. She talks with Ryan & Abby about all of this stuff like she is a Gladney employee. Even Ryan said he doesn't remember all the family names, just the babies. Ellie was giving him the run down on everybody. She is such a trip. While standing at the elevator this morning, an American family was standing there with their new five children. They got twins w/ three siblings all over 8ish. So, we are standing there and the women looks over at us and says, "Aren't you Ellie from the blog?" Ellie was shocked, as we were, and the lady said she knew all about us and she loved her blog. She is getting famous.

So, while at the babies house, we also got to meet her "mama caregiver" who was on duty today. She ran to greet us and grabbed the girls to kiss, hug them and cry like she was their mama. She told me she considered them her own daughters and she cared for them from day one. She was so genuine and the girls jumped for joy when they saw her. It was obvious they were all in love with each other. What a joy and privilege to meet her. We took lots of pictures with her and all of the ladies. Ellie gave each of them a bracelet that tells the gospel story by the color of beads and charms on them. They were all very appreciative and gave us hugs and kisses.

Then it was off to lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant. We had to eat fast and we went off to the Embassy appointment. We stood in front of a window, answered some questions and were told the final papers will be ready Friday. So, after about 5 minutes we were done. Then we went to Rico's Italian Cafe for coffee, cookies and cake. While getting out of the car we had to make bottles for the twinettes while I changed diapers. We are using the dropins which are absolutely wonderful. Jerry had all the stuff on the roof of the car, he removed the previous dropin that was still half full with formula in it and set it down on the curb temporarily. As he and Ryan were standing there fixing bottles, this man came right up to them, picked up the dropin from the curb and drank it really fast. He looked at them and said in his heavy Amharic accent "That was really good lemonade"! He walked away smiling with formula dripping down the side of his chin. They looked at each other in complete shock and then bust out laughing. They said he appeared to be drunk or something. We all got such a laugh out of this and said, at least it was healthy and nutricious! Then Travis was standing there with his children Silas and Avery and a man came up to them selling jump ropes and stuff. He wanted to help the guy out so he bought two jump ropes and some candy. He arrived just this week also so he hasn't gotten the money exchange thing down yet. When he asked the price the man said 25 and Travis gave him the birr. The man was soooooooo happy and kept thanking him for buying it. After we got inside he talked with Ryan and realized he paid too much money, he paid 250 birr. Ever since then he said he owns the most expensive jump ropes ever made. He said he is learning how to speak some Amharic words about being rude, thief and not giving change back for the next time he goes back there. That guy must have thought, oh this American, I'll never see him again. Ha, this place is one of Ryan's favorites so this guy is in for a surprise. We got such a laugh again. We got such great entertainment today!!!!

Our next stop was the Kebetsesay orphanage where we spent about 2 hours talking with some of the most adorable children. Again, they ran up to us with hands out to shake and ask "What is your name". We asked them right back and intentionally hugged and touched each of them. There were at least 74 children there of all ages. Several of them were so proud as they told us they were going to new homes in Texas, Oklahoma, and NY. These kids were part of the Bright Futures Summer Camp program. Then there were the children that don't yet have forever families. I heard stories like the little girl approx. 8 yrs, with beautiful eyes and huge dimples that was found on the side of the road just crying and all alone. Another young lady I spent most of the time with is all alone because her family has died of AIDS. She has such a sweet dispositon and while she smiled a lot there was such a look in her eyes that said "Can you please help me?" She is approx. 13 and as sweet as can be. She was like a real mother hen to the little ones. She spoke very good english and told me how she loves children. Then we got to present Deborah with her package sent by the Kincaid family. She is absolutely adorable!!! (Yes we have pictures for you and we will send them as soon as we get back) She was so excited as a large group of children gathered around her to watch. It amazed me that they were all so happy for her and cheered for her. There was one child that was grabbing at her goody bag to see what was in it and a boy about 11 years old immediately came to her defense. He was speaking firmly to this boy and you could tell he was telling him to leave her alone. He was being so sweet but very firm. This child just put his head down and obeyed. They really look out for each other. They hug, hold hands, carry the little ones and laugh while playing on the play ground. Again, Ellie was surrounded and taking pictures of them showing the camera to them so they could see themselves. She was swarmed and I think she got every one of them. I can't tell you how my heart is aching to bring more of these children home with me. We are begging the LORD again to please let us have more.They all need a mommy and daddy, a safe and loving home and they will survive and thrive. Again I am going to plead on their behalf...... please come rescue them. They are older but they are not like the stereotype we hear about in the USA. These kids are so different and they need YOU!!!!! When we were leaving Josiah had his first crying tantrum because he did not want to leave. He was having so much fun on the big slide as the older kids were helping him and playing with him. Of course, we were in tears as we drove out of the driveway watching all their precious faces waving goodbye to us. How my heart is aching for them..........

This was the end to our day, we went back to the hotel, ordered room service and went to bed!


It keeps getting better and better. I was awakened in the middle of the night when little Josiah was kind of crying in his sleep. He was moving like he was having a tummy ache. So I took him potty and yes, he did have a tummy ache. It must have been all the food he ate. Remember I told you he ate like an adult. We then went back to bed to cuddle for several hours. When he woke up, he was quiet for a while and then started talking, smiling and acting like "OK so this is my new life and now I'm ready". He already started calling us by name, MAMA, PAPA, ELLIE. I'm amazed. He was pointing to our pictures in his little book and calling all of us by name. It was like he was telling us, OK now I know who you all are and I am safe. His countenance has changed dramatically. Belay told us it wouldn't take long but I never expected this! He was eating crackers and started singing songs and then repeating a bunch of english words.( our names, doggie, good boy, Josiah, and the names of Jeremiah, James, Sissy, Randy, Grandma and Grandpa) He was pushing the buttons on the TV and laughing as it went on & off. He is so smart. Can you believe they have Noggin on the tv here? Barney was on?? We showed him his sisters photos and he called them by name immediately. We told him we were going bye bye to go get them. He seemed to understand as we got him dressed. He loves his little back pack we got him. He started putting all his toys in it like he knew we were leaving for the day. He litterally pulls it behind him and won't let us help him with it. He is so smart it's scary. He was talking all day like a parrot repeating everything we were saying. It's like he already knows how to speak English. I have to ask again if they ever taught him any because if not, this kid is a genius. He is talking like he already knew it. He was even teaching us some amharic words, he held up his toy truck and said "MAMA" pointed to it and said it in his language, looked at me like "you got it?" He is doing exactly what I have been doing to him. I am amazed. He is so precious. After our trip to the orphange today he did something that we have to inquire about tomorrow. It really has me on the edge of my seat. The little children sang the ABC song to us today and Josiah has been singing it all night. And I mean all of it. So, if someone didn't already teach him this song, he learned it from the kindergarten class singing it one time this afternoon. Stay tuned as we investigate this tomorrow.

Tafesse took us to breakfast to Le Parisienne. It was delicious. A cute little outdoor cafe with a flower garden around it in the middle of a busy part of town. We had freshly made waffles, pancakes, omlettes and coffee. I don't drink coffee but today I did and it was so good. Josiah ate like a champ again. It was so weird to be sitting there and hear at least four different languages going on around us. French, Italian, Amharic and English. There are a lot of foreigners here. After breakfast it was off to the foster house to get our twinettes.

The house is very nice, clean and brought joy to my heart to see they were so well taken care of there. You can feel the spirit of love the second you get on the property. They sat us in the living room and went to get the babies. We had to wait a little while because they were eating. Then it happened, they came down the stairs with the most beautiful little girls in the world. Their pictures didn't do them justice. They are so much prettier in person. They were smiling and looking at us like "HI, how are you guys?" Keren went to Jerry and was absolutely precious looking and smiling at him and Ellie. Keziah was handed to me and she lost it. She turned to the caregiver and started screaming like "What are you crazy, I don't know this lady?" I handed her back and she walked around with her for awhile in the room so she could get used to us. We focused on Keren for a few minutes and then I got up and went to take her back. This time she didn't cry and she has been in my arms, smiling at me and touching my face all day since. They are such good babies. We changed them into their new outfits, and headed off to an italian restaurant for lunch. They both sat there grabbing at food every chance they got. They were so observant and content. They never cried again until they got cold at bath time tonight. They are laughing, happy and acting like they have been ours all along. I can't believe it!!!!! They reach out and touch us, they smile and babble a lot, talk to and watch each other constantly, and they know their brother. It was absolutely precious when we were driving in the car and the girls were touching Josiah who was seated between us. They don't use car seats or belts here. Me Ellie and the three kids were in the back seat. Josiah was talking to them and then he held their hands while we drove around. As they were poking at him he lovingly looked at them and then started to kiss them on their faces and hands and talked very loving to them. With a sweet baby talk voice. Ellie and I almost melted. You can see the love and affection between them and they have never lived together before. Josiah and his mom often visited the girls and it was obvious she talked with him about them a lot. What a blessing that they are finally reunited to never be separated again. Praise the LORD!

We came back to the hotel for a rest and then at 4:30 we headed off to the orphange where my dear friend Deanna's three children are waiting to come home. Layla House was amazing. We were greeted by Ivy, one of the ladies that runs it who is from NJ. She took us on a tour and then we got to meet Deanna's precious children. They too are more beautiful in person than their photos. The kindergarten class sang for us and of course, melted my heart to the point of tears. They sang, If Your Happy and You Know It, ABC's, Intsy Weentsy Spider and the Hokey Pokey. These kids were so tiny and they knew all the words, hand motions and they sang with joy. It was so precious. Then they all circled us as we gave hugs and touches to each of them. I tried to touch every single one of them and look into their eyes as if to say, "You are so precious and God and "I" love you. This was truly one of the most special times of my entire life and I will never be the same. To see so many beautiful orphans in one place and to know they are all yearning for a mommy and daddy to love them and be theirs forever. They were happy yet you could see it in their eyes that they want to be loved and have a family. They were all so affectionate. One little girl no more than 4 years old, carried a torn up baby doll and literally followed us through the entire time we were there. She was so precious and it killed me to not be able to take her home with me. "Oh GOD, I pray for her forever family to get her soon". This place accomodates 150 children of all ages. We saw tiny babies from 2 weeks old to kids that looked like early teens. They were all so well mannered, the place was very organized and they all seem so happy in spite of their circumstances. They took pride in their rooms as some of them showed us their spaces. They even decorated with pictures they drew on the walls and one room of girls made a make shift chandelier on the ceiling with candy and string. They all seemed to get along well as we watched them play, sitting in circles talking, one girl about 12, sat in a chair with a radio and was singing along like she was rehearsing. You could tell she wants to be singer. Ellie and I had the twinettes in snugglies, as we talked and walked around. She took photos and Jerry had the video camera. Taffase had Josiah. Josiah was very quiet and very well behaved. All of the children greeted him, talked with him, they talk to and touched the babies with such genuine compassion and care. Some of the kids even kissed all three of them. They are amazing.

Can I please take this opportunity to tell everyone reading today to get on your face before the LORD and ask him to open your heart to adopt these children? It is so true what I have heard. The ETHIOPIAN people and children are very different. These kids are trained with manners, respect, hospitality and love. They are very very special. And the people everywhere are so happy that Americans are coming to take care of them. They call them the blessed children and they themselves are saying God has a special plan for these kids. Everywhere we go we get smiles and people literally thank us for taking these children and loving them. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Smiles, love and compassion abounds. Even the beggers that come to the car on the road talk to the children with carino and smiles, and blow kisses to them. As if to give them a blessing knowing that they have been chosen to leave their poverty and circumstance. They genuinely looked me in the eyes with a smile as they wave goodbye. They even beg with manners and gentleness. I can't tell you how much we have been forever changed by this experience. We all have agreed that we want to come back here to Ethiopia. There is something so different and special happening here. So, PLEASE PLEASE, come here and rescue these orphans. You will never be the same and you will never experience God like you will here. Jerry is even saying he wished he could get a job here and move us all here. Ellie said she wouldn't mind either. It is so difficult to find the words to truly describe this experience. Maybe one way is...."God at work!"

So, here I sit, at the close of another amazing day in my life that has changed me and all of us forever. We are finally holding, hugging and kissing our son and daughters. This evening really felt like they have been ours forever. OH, I almost forgot. We had a special meeting with Belay today because he flies out to Texas tonight for a vacation for several weeks. He met us at the Hilton and when he greeted us he asked Josiah if he wanted to go with him or stay with us. Josiah responded without any hesitation, he pointed at us and said "I want to stay with them". Belay had tears in his eyes as he translated this to us and said, this is amazing. I told you they adjust but he really is doing better than most. How much more can my heart take?? My throat is getting sore from trying to hold back my tears so much. One minute tears of sadness and the next tears of joy. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. My son, and daughters who were born in Ethiopia, into such tragic circumstances and sadness, are now in my arms, my life, and my heart forever!! Only God knows why all this had to happen, I will never understand it all, but I am forever grateful!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Meeting the Twinettes!

From Jerry:
"We picked them up today and they are just beautiful. Even more beautiful than we expected! Eileen is having the hardest time telling them apart. They do look a lot alike, especially from the side. And they are looking more and more like their brother. Fikir (Keren) has not cried once yet. When they brought them to us, Keren was first and they brought her to me. She seemed to take to me right away, They brought Keziah to Eileen and she was not having a good day cause she started crying. After a while she calmed down and I tried to hold her and she started crying again. Just like Jer and Jim. One is more of a whiner than the other. Josiah had fallen asleep when they brought them in, but was very happy to see them when he woke up.
We took them to another orphanage where we all got to see the Deanna's kids.

And you have to see and HEAR Josiah. He is already speaking English. He calls me Papa, He calls Mom Mama and he calls Ellie EE-Lee. It is so funny. He even calls himself Josiah. He is speaking very well! He is also quite the prankster. He likes saying funny things and laughing. We don't have a clue what he is saying half the time, but other times he just parrots what we say and runs around saying it and laughing. Ellie even taught him to call each one of you by name. He has some kind of stomach bug, but the good thing is he is potty trained. Also, he was eating a cracker and was talking and joking and worked himself up so much he started coughing and threw up. I thought boy, this guy is gonna fit in great. I felt like I was right at home.

All of them are quietly sleeping right now and we are going to eat dinner. Room service has just arrived. Perfect timing. More later....

Update on Josiah!

I got some more photos of their first morning there and being with Josiah. They hadn't come through yesterday, but I got them today!
I also got this email this morning:
Josiah has spoken three 'english' words so far! His first word was ...of course 'ellie' :) 2nd..'doogy', he was reading his book and there was a picture of a dog and he has a toy dog. We told him several times...'doggy' and finally he held up his toy and the book and yelled "DOOGY!!!" It was absolutely precious! He is so much fun and he will fit in great with the boys! 3rd...Agua. (Spanish!) He has been smiling a WHOLE bunch lately and knows all of our names. We ask him, "where is mama?" or "where is papa?" and he will turn to look at the person and smile. He is understanding us a lot better and he is whispering a lot in amharic :) Some times he will rattle something off to us and smile but most of the time he whispers. He loves to turn the tv on and off (He claps and laughs) and flush the toilet (he waves bye-bye to the toilet). He is such a cuddle bug!
Well, we are off to go get the girls!!
We love you all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Update From Ethiopia

This is Melissa filling everyone in. I got an email from my parents this afternoon that I am pasting below. They lost their digital camera at the Dulles airport, but that seems to have been the extent of their troubles...thank you, GOD!

From Jerry: "Our flight was pretty good. It was long but not unbearable. The Ethiopian staff were wonderful and really laid back. We actually got to sleep a few hours. They served us about three meals and the food was ok.

We got through the immigration stuff pretty painlessly at the airport and we were met by Ryan and Tafesse. They took us to the hotel with all our 8 suitcases and 5 carry-ons. The hotel has internet but for some reason we can't access our blog site.

We showered and then Tafesse came back for us around 12:30 to go buy another camera before we went to lunch. We ended up paying WAY too much for it but it was well worth it.

We then had lunch at a German restaurant with Ryan and Abby from Gladney, Belay, and a new couple that has been added to work alongside Ryan and Abby. The food was very good.

We then went to the Gladney office where another worker had taken Josiah for us to meet. We wanted to spend a day with him and get a chance to bond with him before we picked up the girls. We were so excited to meet him we were about ready to jump out of our skin. When we arrived we gave the camera and video camera to Ryan and Travis and they went into the room where Josiah was waiting for us. The poor little guy fell asleep waiting for us. They woke him up and we walked in at 3:13 p.m. (Ethiopia time) to see the cutest little guy you ever did see. He was quiet and shy. Belay was holding him and telling him who we were and then he gave him to Eileen. Of course she could not hold back the tears as she held him in her lap and kissed his face. She tried not to cry so as not to upset him but she just couldn't. The poor little guy got scared and started crying, too, which really was no surprise to us, we kind of expected he might do that. He wanted Belay, and wanted nothing to do with us. So Belay took him back, gently consoled him, told him again who we were and then put him on the couch between us. We gave him a toy car and he seemed to calm down. Then Belay left the room as did everyone else. We just sat with him and talked, and then he sat in Mama's lap. After about 15 minutes we left to take him back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel, Josiah got scared again and wanted to run out of the room. He ran to the door and tried to get out. So Eileen picked him up and did the humming song and rocked him and did tickle-tickles to his head and back. He calmed down again. We put new clothes on him and they looked really good. He really liked them; he kept looking at them and he really liked the shoes. He fit into the largest size shoes that we brought. Eileen was able to calm him down and we gave him some cute toys to play with.

Eileen and I were so tired that we both decided to take a nap before dinner. Ellie stayed up and played with Josiah. She played with him and took him for little walks and got him to play peek-a-boo with her. She really bonded with him! Eventually they were kicking the little inflatable ball back and forth in the room. He finally started laughing and talking to her. Up to that point he had not said a word. He is so cute. He really loves kicking the ball.

After we got up from our naps, Tafesse picked us up and we went out to an Italian restaurant to eat. He ate a bruschetta like it was candy. He licked his fingers and ate every single tomato speck. Then he ate a huge plate of penne pasta and a piece of lamb that Tafesse had shared with him. He no sooner took his last bite and literally leaned over for Mama to hold him and he fell asleep within 2 minutes in her arms. He ate himself to the point of unconsciousness. It was hilarious! We got back to the hotel, woke him up for bath time, and put him back to bed where he is now sleeping like a little angel. This day went absolutely superb. Tomorrow they pick us up at 9:00 we go to breakfast and then pick up the twinettes.

The Hotel is really great too. So much better than we expected. We have two rooms adjoining with two twin beds in both. Two portable cribs that are all metal and cold but the quilts will warm them up. We are very comfortable and happy!"

From Eileen:"This place is wonderful. It really looks like CA!! Rolling Hills, palm trees, tropical plants, and the weather was perfect today. The actual city is a lot like Mexico. So, we feel very much at home.

Let me tell you how our trip started! The big suitcase was over the limit and the international rate was going to cost $540 just for that one. We explained it was humanitarian aid for orphanage and she said there was nothing she could do except split it into another extra bag that would lower the weight at least. Then the other extra bag was still $85. So, by having BJ bring another suitcase, it would have gone down to another $85. While we were repacking the lady walked over to us and said, hey, I've decided not to charge you for anything. Just bring it over here and I'll load it up. I don't know what will happen in DC but this is all I can do. We were shocked!!!! Blessings abounding. Then we got to DC and the agent asked for our receipt for the extra luggage. We didn't know what to do so we just said we didn't have one. He said he had to call his manager to see what to do. So we sat there looking at each other like "BUSTED" He said it was going to cost $380 for them. After about 5-10 minutes Jerry asked to speak to him privately. He told him it was humanitarian aid and we didn't have a receipt because they let us through at RDU. He then handed him our passports back and said OK go ahead and have a seat. Blessings abound again.

So, now we were just sitting there waiting to board. We saw several other Americans in the crowd of Ethiopians so we started to talk with them. Two of them were adoptive families w/ other agencies. Jerry was talking to them and started telling them our "HIS STORY" and suddenly the guy says: "HEY, I just heard your story yesterday on the radio. On the way to the airport this morning I was telling my wife all about it. You said you were going in four weeks so I figured you were going in December. I never expected to meet you here today!! I heard it on Focus on the Family Weekend Edition"! Can you believe this???????? They are both staying at the Hotel with us so we will be seeing each other a lot this week.

So, while we are talking this very old Ethiopian lady is sitting there crying because she lost her ticket. She flew in from Seattle and she did not speak English. The Ethiopian people around her were all trying to help her as were the agents. They were all so compassionate and nice. She was all alone. So, she finally calms down, sits on the floor and starts throwing up blood all over. Then at the same time, another African lady with three small children, 5,3,1yr. started calling out for help. Her 3 year old little girl fell in the bathroom and she was unconscious. Another adoptive mom and I ran over to help. The little girl was out of it. She was listless, we opened her eyelids and she didn't flinch. The agent is now calling 911. The mama is crying, I put my arms around her, started crying and just hugged her. Then the spirit told me to lay hands on this little girl. I literally walked around the crowd, laid a hand on her head raised the other way up to the LORD and I prayed "Our Heavenly Father in Jesus holy name please heal this precious child immediately. LORD restore her to perfect health in your name we beg you" It was miraculous. She immediately, sat up looked at her mama and started smiling like nothing was wrong. She stood up and started dancing and playing. It was unbelievable. The mother was shocked as was the crowd and she said, "Oh maybe she was just sleeping, we did get up really early this morning" There was no doubt that this little girl was unconscious. The paramedics got there just then, checked her out and said she was fine. Then they went to the old lady and checked her out. She was able to board the plane. So, this is how we lost the camera. Just as this all settled down, we had to board the plane. Ellie had the camera, she gave it to me, I could have sworn I put it in the duffel bag just before I ran to the little girl. So, either someone took it from the top of the bag or it fell out??? Who knows. It was just an unbelievable event.

So, the rest of the journey was going great. We were making friends with bunches of people on the plane, everyone was so friendly and there was such a spirit of love and unity. Our pictures were being passed all around and it was really amazing. Then, the lady w/the 3 little kids called out to me to come to her. This time the one year old was burning up w/fever. She said "Will you please pray for my son, I believe God sent you to me like an angel, help me please" So I did, I took his clothes off, got melted ice from the crew and wiped him down with a cold rag. He screamed and did not like it. We gave him tylenol and he seemed to calm down. This poor lady was on her way to Ghana to visit her parents. She was all alone and we adopted her throughout the flight. Ellie really helped her and the little girls fell in love with Ellie. They wanted our phone number to keep in touch. We parted with hugs kisses and prayers as she had to go board another plane. WHAT A DAY!!

That's all for today. WE love you and miss you. Stay tuned as this story continues.

Mama, Papa, Ellie and Josiah!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Radio Testimony

Several weeks ago, two dear friends of mine sent me a note of encouragement to respond to Crown Financial Ministries radio program and Family Life Today radio program asking for people to call and write in with an adoption testimony. November is national adoption month and they are airing wonderful programs that are just amazing testimonies to the miraculous work of our Lord. He is calling many of the saints to step out of the boat and walk on the water of faith to the journey of adoption.

Well, tonight we were aired on the program, our testimony was the very first one shared. You can listen to it here. It is just so amazing and obvious that God is getting HIS STORY out there for the purpose of bringing hope, encouragement and faith to get more of HIS saints to care for the orphan. Jerry and I are convinced that the LORD has given us a platform and ministry to encourage others through this amazing journey we are on. We represent old, poor people that God can still use. He doesn't call the equipped, HE equips those HE Calls!

Please tune in to the radio programs, Focus On The Family and Family Life Today, every day this month and be prepared to be blessed. Thank you to Beth and Faye for their encouragement, support and prayers throughout this amazing journey. I love you both dearly, my sweet sisters!

Also, Jerry & I were blessed tonight when we attended a fund raising dinner for our local Pregnancy Support Services Center. There were 400 attendees and we were so encouraged to hear how God is working in this ministry to care for women and men that are faced with an unplanned pregnancy or post abortion. There are 3000 centers now throughout the US that the LORD is raising up to minister to so many. I'm too tired to give all the details, but be encouraged that God is really doing something wonderful with the unborn and the orphan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Prayer Quilts

My dear sweet friend Kristi made this quilt for the birthmother of our babies. It is a prayer quilt that has knots tied into it representing specific prayers that were prayed for her. This quilt was passed around to several bible studies and approximately 30 women and children have laid hands on it and prayed specifically for her. Kristi had the pictures of our babies printed onto fabric and sewed them into the quilt. Two squares on this quilt are from the two quilts she also made for the twinettes. Can you think of anything more precious and loving to give this woman?

I am so overwhelmed again! I picture her being wrapped in this quilt and resting in the warmth of love and prayers that have gone in to it. We also bought her a pair of warm pj's, slippers and robe that match these colors. I had no idea what this quilt was going to look like until Kristi presented to me this week. As she explained all the intentional detail and labor of love that has gone into this I literally embraced her and melted into another basket of tears. We were both overcome with emotion, compassion, sadness and joy as we literally held each other and balled our eyes out.

Thank you to all of the ladies and children that participated in this amazing gift for our precious T. I can't wait to look her in the eyes, embrace her in my arms and wrap this quilt around her. There are no adequate words to express my gratitude for your thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion and love to this young woman in Ethiopia. May you all be richly blessed!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Dedication To My Husband Jerry

What an amazing journey we have experienced these last 28 years!!! I can't believe it all! It is all too much for me to really wrap my brain around! I feel like this is all a dream. We are on the threshold of another magnificent chapter in our lives. It is taking us places we never could have imagined. As I sit here just thinking about what is happening to us now, I am struck with a sense of complete and utter awe and amazement. How could God have chosen us for this? I am feeling so unworthy and so ill-equipped for this life that HE has given me, given us.

We started our journey twenty eight years ago "WITHOUT" the LORD as our foundation. We thought we had it all together. We wanted it all, love, happiness, wealth. Oh yeah, and three kids by the time I was 30 years old, all girls preferably! Boys were not looking good to me at that time because as I learned of your childhood behavior, I thought if I had a son like you, he wouldn't make it. I have always had zero tolerance for bratty, undisciplined, rude children. All the stories your family told me about you made me want only girls. Then we were blessed with our precious Melissa after three years of marriage. What a gift of blessing and joy she brought us. Life was good for a while. Your career was progressing, my career was progressing, we had a nice house, a live-in Nanny, a gardener, Melissa was thriving and we were having fun. And then one day, it became clear that we were not a happy family, we were individuals seeking out our own fleshly desires, self-righteous and self-serving and headed to divorce court. We became enemies, we became like every one around us, thinking the grass was greener on the other side. Blaming each other for our unhappiness. And then it happened!

In the process of getting a divorce, the LORD saw fit to rescue us and save us from making that terrible mistake. He removed the scales from our eyes, opened our hearts and we chose to step out in faith and give HIM a try. Since HE invented marriage, created us and brought us together, we decided HE may have a better way. We obviously didn't! I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom, and intentionally began to study the word of God to learn how to be a better wife, mother and person. You became born again, making major changes in your life, surrendering your life to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to transform you. You too began to intentionally study the word of God and learn how to be a husband, father and better person. Now, I am absolutely NOT saying that we have arrived, or are by any means perfect. We still have so much work to much growing and learning yet to accomplished. But, I have to tell you that I thank God from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to go through all of the trials, pain, suffering, and work that it took to get us where we are today. What a journey....I could have never imagined that after all that we were, all that we did wrong, all of who we still are, that God has chosen to bless us so much. He gave us Jonathan, Ellie, Jeremiah and James, and now, Josiah, Keziah and Keren. What joy, love, blessings and peace He has given us.

Most people in our age bracket and in this season of life are looking forward to the Winnebago to travel the country, to get on a plane or cruise ship to travel the world, to spend all day on the golf course, to be freed from the kids, to have fun, fun, fun; to have the mortgage paid off, and to retire with a huge bank account!! Isn't that what makes people really happy and successful? Isn't that the American Dream and what life is really all about? HA!!! If they only knew what we have discovered!!!!

"Here we are, at the ages we are and we are still having babies!" (Father of the Bride) We do love to travel and the LORD has blessed us with numerous opportunities, mostly through your jobs. We've traveled across country several times and we have visited family and friends all over the country, Mexico and Canada. And now we are going to Ethiopia in a week! You never did learn to play golf even though we do live in the golf state of NC, our mortgage is a long way from payoff, our bank accounts are just about empty, and retirement is not even on the radar! But look what God has done! I have never been more in love with you, I have never been so sure and secure in who I am and in who we are, I have never felt so close to God and I have never experienced such peace and joy and LOVE!

According to the world's standards, we look pretty sad don't we? Oh, but taste and see that the LORD is good! His ways are not our ways! Like you said several years ago, "God doesn't call the equipped, HE equips those He calls". For reasons only He knows, HE chose us out of the pit of hell and decided to give us so much more than we deserve. When we decided almost 18 years ago to surrender our lives and to give HIM full control of ourselves, our marriage, family and future, we never imagined we would have been so blessed as we are today. We can testify to the great Psalm 127:

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Psalm 128, "Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways,.."

As I reflect on who and where we were when we began our journey 28 years ago, I am so amazed at where we are today. We have been blessed so much more than we deserve. I am honored and grateful to be your wife. I am grateful for all the LORD has done in us and continues to do. I THANK GOD FOR YOU! As we are about to embark on a new journey with three more precious children, gifts from God, I am confident with you by my side as we seek together to TRUST GOD and WALK IN HIS WAYS. We are not worthy, we are really not sure what the future holds for us. But we do know Jehovah Jireh, El Shaddai, The LORD of All creation in heaven and earth. HE will provide, HE will guide and HE will be Glorified! Thank you for loving God, me and our precious children. May we both be found faithful as we seek His face and His purpose for our lives together. "I LOVE YOU"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Our Gorgeous Baby Boy!

Is he gorgeous or what??
He is holding the little airplane with the American flag on it that we sent to him. Another family from NC just went to get their baby girl from the same place as ours and they brought our goody bag to him. It is so amazing to see him holding the little Tonka Toy that the boys picked out for him. They got so excited to see him with it, they literally started screaming and jumping up and down. It made this more real to them.

The photo we received of Josiah had other children in it. When the boys saw them they asked who they were. I explained that they were other children who are waiting for a Mama & Papa to adopt them just like our Josiah. They both very seriously asked if we could get them too.They pointed to two of the other precious boys and said they wanted "that one, and that one". I told them we couldn't get them because we don't have enough money. My precious little Jimmy put is hand on his chin and said "OH, No!" He sat with an intentional thinking face and then shouted "I have a good idea, I can get my money, I have a lot of money in my bank. Then you can go get them!" He ran up the stairs and brought his little train bank, opened it, and dumped all of the coins on the floor. He was ecstatic as he counted and said, "Look Mama, I have a lot, can you go get him now?" Talk about precious!!!! My heart just filled with joy as I watched these two little four year old boys getting so excited and being so serious about rescuing these orphan boys. They want them! If only we were able I would take them in a heart beat. I pray that my boys will always have a heart for the orphan and that some day they too will adopt some very lucky children.

This experience of seeing our Josiah with our care package really makes the world seem so small and brings us so much closer together. We also sent him a photo album full of pictures of his new family, new room, new home and friends. We hope this will help prepare him not to be so scared or freaked out about us coming to take him away from everything he has ever known. Please pray that he will be receptive to us and the transition and plane ride home will go well. I can only imagine how difficult this is going to be for him.

As we are rejoicing and so excited about getting our 3 new babies, I am still overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for their birth mother. She is on the other side of the world preparing to say goodbye to her precious babies. She will never see them again this side of heaven. I am so overwhelmed with emotion. I can only rest in the knowledge that our God is good and HE has a perfect plan in all of this. Please pray for her health, safety, provision and for her to have the peace that surpasses all understanding. I can't wait to hold her in my arms, look into her eyes and hopefully convey the love that is overflowing in my heart for her.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What A Glorious Day!

We got the call from Mary at approx. 1:00 p.m. today! The babies are officially ours! We are their Papa and Mama!!! The adoption is final! Everything went smoothly at our court hearing and we are leaving on November 18th to bring them home. Praise the LORD! We will spend Thanksgiving in Ethiopia with our precious new children. How appropriate, this is my absolute favorite holiday. To focus on "GIVING THANKS TO GOD" for everything in my life!!!!

What another blessing that Melissa & Randy had their ultra sound appointment yesterday that revealed we are having a "GRANDSON"! Our very first grandchild will be born in April! What a joy! I don't know how much more I can take without bursting! It is all too wonderful for me!!! Children are a gift, a blessing from the LORD!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward" Psalm 127:3

It is very difficult to express everything going on in my heart and mind right now. I am just reminiscing over the last three years that have been some of the most difficult but, fruitful and joyous years of our lives. I believe this is directly related to this adoption journey and where the story began. Like the book of Job, we started into a season of extremely difficult trials. And isn't is funny that the Lord used the book of Job, chapter 42, to get us to this glorious day of celebration today!

When Jerry went to work to conduct an interview with an employee of a clinic, just like every normal day, it turned out to be an appointment orchestrated by the Lord. It took us into a season of financial crisis, fear and confusion about our future. Jerry didn't know until after he was there that it was an abortion clinic. The Lord prompted him to pray with a man outside in the parking lot. He argued with God saying he didn't have time and he had to get back to the office. As he started to leave, he knew he would be in disobedience to the Lord. So, he reluctantly walked over to the man and asked if he could help him. The man wound up getting his wife and leaving the clinic. PRAISE THE LORD! The clinic employee had seen that Jerry was talking with them and she called his job to complain that he was responsible for making them lose money. He was fired a few days later! For the next two years and three months, we didn't know from day to day where our next dollar was coming from. We had 5 children at home, my parents had just moved in with us full time, two new babies in diapers and on expensive preemie formula and a daughter in college. We were, or at least I was, expecting to lose our home and very fearful of our unknown future. Jerry had never been out of work in his entire life. He just acted out of obedience to the Lord when he was prompted to pray with this man and then job.

It made absolutely no sense, however, through this entire trial, the only thing that we knew for sure was that God was in control and on His throne. He orchestrated this and was allowing it to happen for a reason. We grew stronger in our faith as we prayed like never before for our daily bread. It was a very difficult time but, it was also such a rich journey as we saw the Lord provide for us day by day. We saw miracles and we saw the saints answer the call to minister to us. We had food and money show up just in the nick of time. We were humbled, chastised and "WE SAW GOD LIKE NEVER BEFORE!" We realized that we had many idols in our lives. We had taken for granted everything we had because we had the notion that we were in control and that Jerry provided for all of our needs. We have come to realize that we are nothing and the Lord God, Jesus Christ is EVERYTHING!

What an awakening we have experienced! We are nothing, we have no control and we can only trust God for all of our provision. He is faithful, He has a plan and He demands us to have no idols before Him. We are to look only to Him for everything. This journey began three years ago with a prompting from the Lord to save an unborn child. And now, today, we have experienced the rescue of three more children. Hallelujah!

So I sit here again, in awe! This is real! It is not a dream!! Some days it all feels so surreal. This year, 2007, has been by far one of the most remarkable and miraculous years of our twenty eight years of marriage. Jerry finally got a steady job in January; on November 1, we are officially the proud parents of eight beautiful children, five under the age of five, and we are going to be grandparents! I am beginning to tremble.

Today, I literally looked up into the beautiful blue sky and said "LORD, are you sure you know what you are doing?" The reality is sinking in that my life is taking another drastic turn! When we adopted the boys four years ago, I felt the same way. Fear, anxious, doubtful that I could do this, and confused. Some of the same questions are running through my mind again. God, why would you choose me to be their mother? I feel so inadequate and unworthy of this very high calling. Why did you wait so long to give us all these children? We struggled with infertility for approx. 9 years of our marriage. Why now, at 48 and 55 years old? We are in the worst financial status due to not having a steady job these past two years. How can we afford this? How can I add three more needy children to my life when I already don't have enough time with everything on my plate? How am I going to fit all of the extra duties in my schedule and spend enough time with each one of them? Will I have the patience? Will I ever get enough rest to stay healthy?

However, there are questions I don't have this time and I have absolutely no doubt about. I will love them with all of my heart! They are my real children, personally delivered by the hand of God. There is no difference between biological & adopted. They were chosen by God to be my responsibility; to train them up in the way they should go. To know God and to know He has a perfect plan for each one of them. Everything in their lives has been orchestrated by His perfect plan. They will be loved by our entire family. They will bring JOY and BLESSINGS beyond our comprehension. It will be difficult, trying, and exhausting. I will be honored and filled with joy every moment of the day because I know this is God's plan for my life. This is His direct assignment for this time and season of my life. I don't know the "WHY", but I do know that "IT IS I THAT HAVE CALLED YOU TO THIS TASK". It is through the faith and knowledge of the living, loving God, the lover of my soul, from which I draw strength, wisdom and peace to walk this road. I know that He has a plan for my life, to prosper and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. Then I will call upon Him and come and pray to him, and He will listen to me. I will seek Him and find Him when I seek Him with all of my Heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13. This is the anchor on which I stand.

The last 3 years, especially the last 10 months, of our lives have brought us and especially me, into such a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus! He has taken me to a new depth of faith, of love, of security, of peace, of his control on my life, and of resting in Him. He is so much more real and personal to me. If it were not for this season of trials and miracles, we would not have had the faith to step out into this adoption journey. We are too old and have no money! But now, I believe that is exactly why He chose us for this assignment. He has to get all the glory, honor and praise because we are nothing and have nothing to offer without Him.

This adoption journey has literally taken me by total surprise and yet I have felt absolute peace all along the way. I feel like God had picked me up in his hand in February and He has been gently blowing on me with His very breath into this new life, this journey to Ethiopia. I picture the dandelions in the grass that we pick up and blow and then watch the seeds fly off into the burst of air. Flowing and wandering at the mercy of wherever it takes them. God himself gently blew me into this adoption journey and I had absolutely no control at all. I just landed where he put me. The call came into my heart and mind, the faith was there, the doors flew open, the journey began, the miracles and money showed up, the paperwork was approved, the babies were chosen, the government officials declared it, and we are the proud parents of Josiah, Keziah and Keren! It is all so surreal!!

I am truly at a loss for adequate words to describe my state of being right now. The one that keeps rising to the surface is "GRATITUDE". How do I thank God for blessing me with the gift of three more children to love? How do I thank Him for showing himself so personal and real to me, so kind, so merciful, so faithful, so caring, so detailed, organized, intentional and so LOVING? If only it were possible to look into HIS eyes, to bow before His throne and have Him look into my eyes. To be able to touch HIS face and kiss His cheek, to THANK HIM face to face.

Oh, the joy of knowing that day will come! But, until it does, I pray that I will be found faithful to serve HIM for all the days of my life with love, perseverance, joy, patience, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. To hear those words spoken "Well done my good and faithful servant"

May I encourage each of you to reflect on your lives, and to find "Gratitude" deep within you this Thanksgiving. To experience a real, deep and personal relationship with the giver of your life and the lover of your soul. May you be blessed beyond all measure and see HIM like you have never experienced before.

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know"

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and call you to Himself!