Sunday, July 10, 2011

capturing the memories...

we are home safe and sound :) and oh buddy, did a hot shower ever feel good!!! my brain is swimming but i sat down and uploaded photos and captions to help me stay awake. everyone in the house is pretty well wiped out from either travel or fun all week while we were gone :)

if you want to see pictures of the kids, click here (double click on 'view album' and then 'play slideshow'). most of the pictures have a short caption....

so glad to be home, but it feels strange to not be around lydia mahilet and abraham samuel. although our relationship is just beginning, it all felt so natural. we have never had an adoption unfold so smoothly, and to say it is awesome is an understatement. i realize the real work is ahead, but seeing how much they have already become family makes me ready to get started for real.

p.s. there are a few good pictures from rwanda posted here if you are interested in seeing more of the country that started our love affair with africa :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011


found out today that the orphanage workers in nazaret called mahilet 'fandeesha' which means 'popcorn'. it is because she is always happy, bouncing around, and has such white teeth (against her very dark skin) that look like popcorn :)

all packed and heading home in four hours. so many mixed feelings that i can't really describe it all. your prayers for a safe return are ginormously appreciated. Lord willing, i will send out pictures via email (cannot post on blog until our MOWA letter arrives) soon as we get home. greg and i are madly in love with them. little abraham has captured my heart beyond anything i expected.

thanks for following along with us :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

the simple things

i have a feeling this will be a random post. there are so many thoughts in my head, and without being able to record them as we went, it will be a challenge to organize several days into one. bear with :)

we met our new kids on tuesday night, the 5th. at the airport, it was looking pretty likely that our bags didn't make the short flight from kigali to addis, but they did! a simple thing you take for granted, but when you wait an hour and the clerk keeps saying 'maybe in five more minutes', it makes you pretty stinking happy to see neon green luggage tags come down the conveyor belt. samuel had been asleep as it was about 10:30 when we arrived. he is a very quiet shy boy. i am guessing that will change in time. he is much more himself when he is playing. it is hard for him to hug and kiss back but he smiles when you do it to him. i was impressed with him (and the other kids too) this morning. we spent a little over two hours in their playroom/dining area and did two crafts. he stuck with it perfectly! he made necklaces and bracelets and a bionicle with sam I. mahilet (lydia) also worked very contently. mahilet is just beautiful. her teeth are brilliant white! her hair is gorgeous! she does this little thing when she is excited that i love (it reminds me of abi in china with her little head nod thingy :) where she sucks her breathe in and it is soooo cute!

we found out today that there is a 13 year old brother from their biological mom and dad! can you say "surprised to hear this?" our paperwork said no siblings. woudneh did not believe mahilet even though she had a picture. he called someone and confirmed it. this boy is living at the orphanage with their mom. i asked woudneh why the birth mom never revealed this? he siaid it is not uncommon because the mom knows that siblings sets are hard to place and a sibling set of 3 is practically impossible. add to that, a 13 year old and she was sure none of them would be. pray on this. i asked woudneh the other day "why would she just not keep them in the orphanage with her since she is working there?" and he looked at me intensely and said "and then what? she has no home. they will age out and then she can do nothing. relinquishing them was her only choice for them to make it." at yesterday's court hearing, there were birth moms there also....signing away their children in the hope of a better life. this trip has made the reality of abandonment and relinquishment very very well...real. everyone else in our group is adopting infants and each story is just heartbreaking. some have met birth moms, some not. some have talked with the police who found them. poverty is alive and well here.

i will forever cherish the time God allowed us to have with the birth mom of lydia mahilet and abraham samuel. she is a neat lady. i saw her do little things to the orphanage kids to fix clothing and pick up litter. she is the type of mom i respect.

and i don't want to forget to include how totally awesome our travel group is! we will share a bond for all eternity. all are Christian and are some of the most generous, helpful, kind people i have ever met. from washington DC to kansas to colorado to california to indiana, we are connected. we are all sharing everything and i consider it an honor to call them friends. just a
great great group of folks. one family now has 13 kids :)

i also cannot say enough good things about our agency, west sands. this has been the most complete and well-rounded taste of the country we have experienced (our trip to china was also the best but it was not the agency, that was to the credit of alex and tony :) we have seen and done it all! while i adore the people of ethiopia, it cannot hold a candle to rwanda, in terms of landscape. rwanda is in a class of its own. here it is very very very very dry and brown. and the pollution? i have no words. one of the things i am most excited about is getting our new kids into clear country air!!!!! i cannot believe people can breathe this day in and day out and not be sick. fresh air is another simple thing, or so i thought, that i will not take for granted again. breathe deep and praise God for it :)

please continue to pray for our health. sam has had a fever. everyone has had days of feeling pretty crummy. you can't run at this pace with all the physical and emotional stress and not feel it. getting sick at home next week would be better than being sick here :)

i miss our kids at home more than i can ever say. i am praying continuously for their safety. i realize just how much God has them covered. thanks again to amy, amy, and rick/kristi for all you are doing. i will be forever indebted and grateful.

love you....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


i am so happy to find a computer that could get a connection!! i have sooo much to write but i am beyond mind cannot form thoughts :)

tomorrow i pray that after court, i can do two things: buy a phone that works and post a long blog entry. amy -- my sister should have called with a number for emergency, and here is a second one -- 011-251-923-215-965 pin 1904. it is so hard to not call and check in (of course, if you recall in china i wrote that it was easier for me to not call...and now that i can't call, i want to. what's with that?) i miss you ben, thomas, abi, and phoebe soooo much!!!

but here is what i know you want to hear! our new kids ARE PERFECT!!!!! they are the sweetest, cutest ever!!!! i am completely serious. i cannot believe it. o ye of little faith. i am in awe of how precious they are. tomorrow more, Lord willing!!!

and the meeting today with the birth mom was PERFECT!!!!! she walked me all around the orphange and we held hands. they did a traditional ethiopian coffee ceremony and we just next to each other hugging and drinking coffee ... does it get any better! she was so proud of us, i was completely humbled. she kept showing people the photo album we gave her. she literally loved them enough to give them a hope and a future. at the end, there were no tears. she told the director she was just so very very happy. can you even imagine?

gotta go to bed -- up early (again!!! ahhh!!!!) for court.

lyd, missing our texts. hoping i remember how to use my phone.

amy, please let me know via a comment that everyone is good.


Monday, July 4, 2011


wow, am i actually connected to the internet? if i'm not, at least it feels good to type :)

as you guessed, we arrived safely. uneventful, just like we like it. i will not even attempt to upload pictures because i am a realist at the moment and it is not going to happen with this connection (or the connection i hope i have as it has been spinning for minutes in an attempt to save these few words, so i'm guessing pictures are not gonna happen...and i actually took a few snapshots! our airplane seats had individual consoles with movies and games. i took a picture of a little doodle pic i made saying "time does not fly when you fly". that was about the 7,223 mile mark and i was desperate for something to do :)

once again, the hospitality we have been shown here in rwanda is just amazing. i heart these people more than i can express. i think the time here has helped prepare my heart for meeting our kids (tomorrow, Lord willing!!).

i want to get on paper the events of yesterday. honestly, they could not have played out more perfectly than they did. i am humbled, in awe, and so grateful that He allowed this opportunity to forever connect lives. in the previous post, i talked about a possible meeting with some people we met last year. He took care of all things, down to the small things -- our driver (amable) and our escort from Partners in Health (shaka) became instant friends and are getting together next week. you would have thought they had been friends for years and they had never met. they thanked me several times for bringing them together. i kept telling them, "it was not me! it was God! thank Him :)". our visits took us to a town called Rwinkwavu. we met with the social worker we went with last year, Evelyn, and the woman is a testimony to being a vital link in a system that works. she knows this community and its people very very well. she knows their needs. and she cares deeply. she was instrumental in taking the money that was donated by the TriMedx Foundation and pulling off no small feat. the money that was sent for one home, she got two built. this is where i want to park. i think the amount sent was around $4,000. yes, that is alot of money but no, that is not alot of money. to see what $4,000 can do! our money makes a difference in people's lives. i have never experienced such an amazing transformation in someone's life than yesterday. a home has given these two women dignity. one changed her name from one that meant poor to one that means rich. the one woman we met last year exuded confidence. she sat upright and proud; last year, she sat slumped over and disgraced. and these homes are so, well .... i do not want to take away from the beauty of what i saw yesterday to rip apart how, as Americans, we would describe their homes as unsuitable to live in. because the fact is, these homes far exceed the homes of most rwandans. a sad and true fact. the second woman we had not met before. evelyne said she was the most stubborn young woman she has ever worked with and the woman agreed. we gave a small monetary gift to them through Partners in Health. the one woman had achieved status by buying goats, growing them bigger, and then selling them for a little profit. she is now raising three to prepare for sale. her goal is five. i asked evelyne to ask her how much it would be for these two new goats, and not surprisingly it was the exact amount PIH had recommended (prior to our visit) be put into an account for her (60,000 francs is $100 US). when we left, she was beaming that she now not only had a home, but five goats!!! and the other woman is able to find work about three days per week. she digs, which means she prepares the gardens of people so they can plant. are you sitting down? she makes $1 US dollar for six hours. do the math. she makes $3 per week. her gift money is equivalent to her working 600 hours of physical labor. that is what $100 can do for a person. isn't that mind-blowing and amazing? and then we saw ambrose, the man who has the prosthetic leg. you would never know he had an artificial limb. he now works (and is usually the first one there), can afford to send his daughters to school, and is seen as a leader.

and the day just didn't stop there. amable called simba (our driver from the first trip who we fell in love with -- if you are super bored, you can go here to see how simba impacted us: ) and tried to explain that some people were here that met him last year and wanted to see him again. he said one of them is a boy named sam. and simba said, "the sam who gave me the Bible?". ah yes, that sam. and we sat and visited with him last night and he told sam he used his Bible. he said twice, 'i just cannot explain to you how i feel. that you came back and wanted to see me.' ah yes, the simba we could never forget.

and today was another crazy good day. it was good enough that i am exhausted and will save it for tomorrow. tonight we are in gisenyi on lake kivu. breathtakingly beautiful and a world apart from rwinkwavu. we sit listening to music being played next to the pool, using wi-fi, and enjoying hot water (thanks to a physician visionary that invited us). a big change from our previous nights here but a world we are very accustomed. it is hard to reconcile, no actually it is impossible, how some live like this and so many don't. while i am so grateful for these amenities, it drives home in me my unworthiness and undeservedness.

again, thanks to amy and amy for your loving care on the homefront. and thanks to anyone reading this who has been praying. i can tell you have :) i could not be this far from home without them. i can't imagine being here without knowing my friends pray.

p.s. follow-up to last post -- greg said after finding his wallet, everyone wanted a part of getting credit (read: a reward :) for finding it. i am the cousin to the operator who called airport security. greg said it probably cost him more in finding his wallet, than losing it ... not really, but you get the idea :)
p.s.s. to kristen -- well girlfriend, i got a big ol' taste of motion sickness today. geez. we wound through curves at top speed going up mountains for what seemed like an eternity. i have a whole new level of sympathy.
p.s.s.s. to sandy -- that is so fun you met my friend and neighbor! yes, she is a definite keeper...
p.s. more -- sam and sarah are doing awesome! sarah is a rockstar as so many little kids have never seen a chinese person! it was like ben in china :)
p.s. last time promise -- happy one year home abigail heming! you are one of the absolute very best things that have ever happened to me. take care of phoebe and thomas as mommy II, okay? xoxo