Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Empty Beds, Space in my heart

We have been waiting for almost 3 years now and it feels like FOREVER. So, so many days I want to stomp my feet, shake my fists, and throw myself on the floor and scream because God is not moving fast enough in the direction I think he should. I just want our family to be complete. I don't want to wait anymore...I don't want our kids to wait anymore. I am so tired of wondering who they are and what they will be like. I just want to start the hard parts of getting to know them and learn a new language and try to comfort them in their losses and learn the ways they like affection and the ways that they don't. I still don't understand how you can miss people you have never met and don't even know, but I do. Every hour of everyday.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Thick Skin

So we are so thankful to our friends and family who have supported our video and Give1Save1 fundraiser so far! So many of you have supported us over and over with time, money, and anything else I can think of! Thank you from the bottoms, all the way to the tops, of our hearts! Without generous, loving, selfless people like you, the world would be so much less of a place to be. I can't even imagine what this journey would feel like without you.

Five ladies have been journeying this with us from the beginning. They have met with me once a month, come up with ideas, promoted them with me, spent all day for 3-5 days before and all day at and clean up of 6 GINORMOUS garage sales, encouraged us when we were frustrated, loved on us when we weren't very love-able, and cheered us on when it looked impossible.

I brought back a very small token of my appreciation for our team and they were kind enough to model them for me!

This whole process has made me have to grow in ways I didn't want to and grow thick skin even where I didn't want to have it. We have had people, even family, question us and go as far as sending hurtful messages and "unfriending" us on Facebook. I am not sure what God is preparing us for, but I am sure this is only the beginning of the hard. It is difficult not to let the thick skin turn into a hardened heart. But with God's grace and forgiveness, all things are possible.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I guess dreams really do come true!

As I looked at my blog for the first time in a very long time, I smiled because I was able to go back to Uganda. By the grace of God, Matt got to come accompany me. I am so glad that he was able to experience the people and culture of Uganda this summer and know the love I have had for over a year now. It helped him understand that dichotomy of loving home, but longing to be in Uganda at the same time. Loving being in the presence of people here, but longing to be with people there. I remember feeling similarly when we went to Costa Rica together, but I think it is more intense this time knowing that Ugandan culture will be a part of our family culture sometime in the future.

A few things God allowed us to participate in while in Uganda:

  • Wash clothes, beds, and repair a house for a widow
  • Build a kitchen for an elderly lady
  • Build another kitchen for a widow and her 2 daughters
  • Love on the ladies of the village painting nails and doing hair (Matt went with Tyler to the piggery and other errand that day)
  • Build a house for a couple whose house washed away in the rainy season 3 years ago. Their one daughter died from HIV and left her elderly parents to care for her two young children- 6- Henry and 4- Jollia
  • Have a glow stick party with the kids at Okoa
  • Church at Okoa which is my favorite memory from this year and last
  • Learn so many more words in Luganda than I did last year
  • Bond as a team with the other Muzungu (white people) in a deep and meaningful way
  • Have bible study with Tyler and Liv each morning which was incredible. One of the highlights from the trip this year
  • Spend some time with our sponsor "son" Stuart. He is so amazing. A great dancer, singer, good at English, sweet big brother, kind-hearted to the younger children and so much more.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures right now because I left my phone in Amsterdam. When it arrives I hope to have the time to upload the pictures. Life has been busy, but busy in a good way. My sister and her girls have been spending a lot of time with us lately and I am so thankful to have them here more often. Also, our dear friends, the Williams, are home visiting from China. I am so thankful that we have 4 bedrooms in our home. We have had enough space to house the Williams while in Gainesville, my sis and her girls, college girls that have needed a place short term, of course our Iowa family when they come to visit (which has been entirely too long-ahem), friends who needed a place to stay while family was at Shands...that might be it. I am so glad that we can offer the blessing of our home to those who need the space when they need it. We are expecting visitors from Canada next week.

While the dream of visiting Uganda came true, the dream to adopt from Uganda is still a dream. We are waiting on a match and there seems to be no end in sight. We trust that the Lord has his perfect timing and we also know God is/has been refining us for the hard stuff that comes with adoption. 

As the quote above says, "he can't if you don't ask." I am not sure how scripturally accurate this is...I am not sure there are limits to God...he can do anything...but in this situation I have not been praying for specific timelines, for him to open doors that have been shut, or to move those "mountains" that are standing in the way. Lord, forgive me for not spending that time with you asking you to place kids in our family.  Forgive me, for not having the belief that you will give good gifts to me, my family. Thank you for having grace with me when I fail. Brothers and sister, if you would like to pray with us we would be so thankful for your prayers. We want the kids God is preparing for our home to come home quickly, yet not cutting corners or compromising integrity. Pray that the match would come soon. That we would be able to bring our kids home by July of next year.
Our 17 bags awaiting check in. We prayed before we went to the counter for our baggage fees and we were only charged for one extra bag. Delta is awesome and God is miraculous!

Matt and I getting our picture on the Equator...North meets South haha!

Unpacking all of the donations. We are so thankful to each and every person who helped us deliver such a big load to Okoa. Look at all those brownie mixes :)

Craft supplies

Tuna and beef jerky...You can't beat that!

Mountain 'o Cloth Diapers

Books and gifts for the kids

195 cans of formula!!!

A few pairs of shoes
Matt joked that Dennis had a tracking device on him because every time we showed up to Okoa, Dennis found Matt within seconds!

Matt and Gilbert taking a break in the shade after working to build the first kitchen

Our team after the kitchen was finished

Covered in mud!

Every night we would write letters to the kids at Okoa. These are some of the cards I made to give to the kids.

This is the second kitchen we built. We arrived and tied bamboo. Then we went to work making mud and filling the structure.

Tying Bamboo

Stomping mud

Judah hoped in Matt's lap for the ride home and promptly fell asleep. She had done some hard work on that mud!

We headed back to Okoa after we showered up. The little girls we all my buddies! Peace, Divina, Caba Jane, Bisi Irene
David ready for bible study with Mama Li

Bernard and David before bible study

We made it to the house to start tying bamboo and making mud. It was one of the biggest houses of its kind I have ever seen!

Stomping mud...what a leg workout! One of the best parts was the heel exfoliation ;)

I was using a "Ponga" (Machete) to cut the twine for everyone tying.

One of my most favorite pictures from the whole trip. Yana with Kato, Queen and Gideon.

Derrick with his birthday gifts

This pineapple was being grown by the family whom we were building the house for. 

Our second day at the house site, the older kids from Okoa joined us. It was the highlight of our time there working alongside the kids.

Kato and Isaac

Stuart working hard

Bernard, what a smile!

Kevin and Tony

Flavia, Irene, Patrick

Patrick and John Roberts

Isaac standing on an empty Jerry can to fill mud over his head!

Matt before he left, up on Ugandan scafolding

Stuart and I at the house site.

The boys filling mud

The next morning, Derrick was still wearing his binoculars

The kids all wanted to play with chalk and "painted" our faces with it. From the left: Naka, Babirye (yellow dress), Divina (closest to me, on my right), Peace (with blue chalk face), and Annet

Silly faces! From the back left: Yiga, me, Naka, Derrick (with the green straps), Peace (in the forground)

Fausta posing pretty!

Shami with the camera

John Roberts at his piggery

Britt, Megah and I when we walked Megah to the hard road and said our goodbyes.

One of the YUMMY meals we ate!

Britt singing "Making melodies in my heart"

Group hug

This is cassava, cabbage, avocado and chapati...Our last meal before we headed out the next morning.