"We are all handmade people created by a God who is not safe or small." Rend Collective Experiment

Monday, December 31, 2007

Jim in Ghana (Day 5)

Day 5

I finally did it. I succumbed to peer pressure. We stopped off at a local restaurant in Ghana. Zack, to no surprise, had some fried plantain thingies, with fish. The fish was fried, and oh yea, it was the whole fish. Head, flippers, and all. I think it was still moving on his plate. The one thing he did not do which was kind of disappointing was to do as the locals and eat all of the bones, along with the head. Maybe next time. The other companion had some fishy soupy thingy with corn flour balls. She did the customary eating with the hands (right one only). There is a special reason to eat with the right hand. For those of you who are not the seasoned travelers, lets just say it has to do with the lack of toilet paper. So then there was me. I said to myself, “Self, you might as well dig in too.” I ordered the cheese pizza. It was pretty good. The only thought I had was that the cheese was probably goat cheese. It has not yet been 24 hours, and I figured if I make it through that window I should be fine. Maybe I will start bleeting.

The power went out last night right before I was going to update day 4. I was told this could happen, but by the time I packed up and got back to the room it came back on. The guest house has a generator so that helped. It lighted up the 5 lights in the entire building just fine. I guess its good the water heaters weren’t on or it may have overloaded the circuit.

Today was church day..It was hard to understand most of it because it was preached in another language, and the interpreter had an accent who talked half of the time when the preacher spoke. A couple of strange things happened to me. I will just give a few of the highlights. They like to dance. In fact, they all started doing the train thing. Keep in mind this was no white people train, they are all movin’ and groovin’ up and down the aisle. To my horror, the house mother attending service thought it would be nice to show me around. Needless to say, she put me on board the train. When I was a lost person, I hated dancing. Baptists are known for their lack of dancing. I can say I stuck to my convictions and I did NOT dance! I just did the obruni shuffle with everyone else;o). It seemed like hours, but was probably 5-10 minutes. I was one of the few who did not have a white handkerchief to waive around while I was doing the train. I did not shake my behind either like many of the other women. What was done was not irreverent, it was actually quite enjoyable (once I got off the train and I could watch from a distance). They even had tambourines and whistles of all things out among the congregation. They were definitely using them. Just think of reggae type worship music. I have seen some wild stuff on American T.V. which showed stuff similar to this, but I think this put a lot of the American churches to shame. Another bizarre moment was when the preacher told us to gaze into the persons eyes next to us. Then without notice everyone started praying. I would almost say this was in tongues, but everyone was speaking in a foreign language anyway, but it sure sounded like tongues to me. The lady yelled at me to start praying, so I just prayed like I usually would with my typical quiet Baptist prayer. I was warned about church services like this that receive multiple offerings as well. You have to do the train thing to go up front to put your offering in the box. I snuck around the side the first time, but the second time I got busted and was made to get back on board. The good thing was that it was a short trip. I think there was a third offering, and each time you thought church was over, it was like the Energizer bunny, it didn’t stop.

I had to leave to get something and when I came back the kids from the orphanage saw me and brought me into the building where children’s church was. There were dozens of kids and they were all doing the typical stare as they gazed at white man. All you have to do to them is smile and shake their hands and the next thing you know, they will shake over and over again. I have concluded that all of the kids in the area are nice kids who are just a little reserved at first. Most of the adults won’t look at you, but I say hello as I am passing by and almost every adult will smile and say hello. I think if we make good relations with the people here, any time someone comes in the future they will be just as, if not more welcomed. I can see the workers opening up a little more too. At the very minimum, if you go out of your way to be kind, that will open up things for a long time to come for the obrunis. I kind of feel like I am part of the obruni tribe now. Since it is mid day and the internet café is closed for most if not all of the day, I am going to stop here and include the rest of today on day 6….

Jim in Ghana (Day 4)

Day 4

When I went to post this Saturday, the power went out before I could send this writing, so obviously there is a two day delay and the café was closed Sunday.

Imagine this: You take your home stereo system and turn it up about as loud as it can go, but instead of putting your speakers inside your home, you stick them outside your front door for everyone else to hear instead of yourself. It actually seems that the speakers are placed right outside my window of my room. How did these people know that I like to fall asleep to really loud and distorted African reggae music all through the night? What a kind and thoughtful people. In America, this may last for about 5 minutes before the cops would arrive. The other thing is that after about 30 or so minutes, another neighbor down the road switches off and they turn their stereo on instead of the last guy. This way you have more variety of music and everyone gets a turn. Who would have known?

The last several mornings there is a funny resemblance to burning of what appeared to be illegal narcotics. When further sniffed out, it seems that is also smells like a forest fire and plastic too. I have concluded that people burn their trash here and the smell is a combination of whatever is combustible.

I also discovered that people use water tanks elevated in the air and that is how you not only get water into a building, but that is how you can have indoor plumbing that utilizes running water. One interesting thing that I discovered is that when the tank runs out and new water is put in, that the initial color of the water resembles a brownish tint, just like dirty water would look like. Oh yea, that’s because it is dirty water. Just another reason to stick with bottled water. I also noticed that the locals do not drink the water but use water packs that resemble the air bags that some stores ship boxed items in the U.S. The kids like to drink from them, fill them back with air, and make them explode. Fun.

Again, when pictures come and there are a lot of kids outside, they are the locals not from the orphanage. They all like having their pictures taken over and over. It someone wants to really wow the kids, bring a portable printer that can print photos. You will be the hit of the century. Again, sad to be reminded of the simple things we take for granted and not even give a second thought.

If I haven’t mentioned already there is one other thing that is a little different. When we show up at the guest house and sometimes at Starbucks the people smile, shake your hand, and say, “You are welcome.” I had to think for a moment because I did not say “thank you” first or anything like that. That is just their greeting. Instead of saying “hello” or “Come in” they just say, “You are welcome,” so don’t be surprised.

After a quick trip to Starbucks, we went into the downtown area and towards the market. Wow, I don’t think I can describe the scene. There was so much happening. The first place we went to was where you bargain. Fortunately we had Edward and one of the workers went with us. Another strange site was a few white looking people were paving the roads. Edward told us that of all people, our Chinese friends obtain a lot of contracts for road paving in Ghana. Sure enough, as we got closer, there were the Chinese dudes on the paving machines making roads. I didn’t have the heart to tell Edward that the roads contain lead and that they will be recalled within a few years.

The bargaining at the first market was a friendly game, it seemed. I didn’t understand a word, but after several minutes of conversation they came to a price, we either agreed or disagreed, and that was it. There was really no pressure on my end since the hard work was already done. Next we went to the actual market downtown. It is a huge area with thousands of people everywhere. The easiest way to describe it would be like when you see a huge trail of ants which go in both directions. It’s like an organized chaos. There are women everywhere with stuff on their head (yea, just like you see on t.v.). Some of them had babies wrapped on their backs on top of that. On a sad note, Edward told us that most of the abandoned children are found at the market. Most places will not hire you when you have children, so the women just leave their kids to fend for themselves while they go out for work. What a messed up system. People sell just about anything and everything. It’s like Wal Mart but only outside. You don’t really bargain as much there, but you also don’t stand still very long. If you are claustrophobic you won’t last long. You also have to be rude sometimes and push your way through. If you don’t the people behind you either get annoyed, or they push around you. Either way you need to push. I cannot recommend enough utilizing the services of Edward and Percy. Percy is the driver that works with Percy at the orphanage and Edward is the traveling coordinator. Edward knows a lot about the history and gives you lessons along the way. We even saw the coffins that are made into airplanes, fish, and tree like carvings. I wanted to test drive one, but I think they take these things a little more serious than I would. We almost lost Zack for a minute, but us white guys stick out real easy. If anyone is going to go to Ghana, I would highly recommend to bring extra money to take care of Edward and Percy. They will be worth whatever extra you give because they will save you a lot of money with their knowledge. They all work well together. I feel bad for Percy the driver who always seems to have to wait for us wherever we go. He seems kind of quiet, so at least give the guy some drinks (soda). I gave him candy and he later told me that he gave it to his boy. I bought lunch for Edward and he did not eat it so he could take it home to his family. I was very taken back at their humility. Dropping $10 for lunch might be a common occurrence for us in America, but it is almost unheard of for these guys.

Coming back was pretty uneventful, and we just spent some time at the orphanage again. Sampson is a funny little guy. He is going to need some extra attention at first, but he is funny. If he starts to cry, you refuse to let him cry and he almost always starts to laugh again. Go figure. Tomorrow is church day so I will be there and the orphanage on and off throughout the day. I have to be ready for the phone call Monday a.m. I pray that somehow this process will move ahead for the both of us quickly. Talk later…..

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jim wasn't able to e-mail his update today. As he sat down at "Starbucks" the power went out. I did get to chat with him by phone though. Today was market day, and he played soccer at the orphanage. He was going to attempt to hand wash some laundry this evening. I can't wait to read all about it.

Several people have been asking about Eben and Joel. Jim says they are good boys. They have both been quiet with him, but are becoming more comfortable every day. He says that when he arrives at the orphanage Eben comes and takes his hand. Joel spends a lot of time sitting in his lap.

He says Eben is definitely the "older brother serious caretaker". Joel is more carefree. They are very close, and he says it reminds him of our 9 yo and 7 yo daughters relationship (We joke they are our twins separated by 20 months).

My friend asked me last night if they knew that he was "Daddy". They call him Daddy, but we don't know if they are sure what that means completely. I think this is the difference with Eban House and Layla House (Ethiopia). These are the first children at Eban House. They have not had the experience of watching parents come and bring their children home. At Layla House this is occurring on a weekly basis. The children there realize that a photo album means you have a family. They realize families arrive and the children go "Home". The children at Eban House have no experience with this, and they are not sure what all of this means right now, but they are enjoying the Obrunis :o) (Those who have adopted from Ethiopia think Ferengi).

Jim is *so* enjoying all of the children at Eban House. He says they are great kids. Sue, he told me he is bringing Gifty Home in his suitcase to you. He says he has no doubt she would sing and dance the whole way. :o)

He said the kiddies were watching a Dora DVD and they were saying "Swiper No Swiping." He says it's really funny.

The USB cord for our camera is sitting on our bookshelf, so no photos or videos from Jim until he comes home, but he has been taking many.

Heidi took this pic when she was in Ghana last week. I just love it.

These are the clothes I sent with Jim in the hopes that the boys will come home with him.

As I was folding the little jackets and long pants they would need for their layover in New York I began to wonder if this was "Real labor" or "False labor". If you have ever had the humiliating experience of going to the hospital thinking you are in labor only to be sent home you know what I mean.

My heart hopes that this is the real thing. I so want the boys to come home. Yet, I know that God's timing is perfect. Just as our children were born in their own time..Eben and Joel will come home in God's time..

We have so many pics of Eben wearing this shirt. As you can see he has literally worn it out. ..And that makes me beg God to be please let me be "Induced"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jim in Ghana (Day 3)

Day 3

Today started out like most mornings so far. I am awakened by the sound of a straw broom sweeping the concrete around the building. The family outside the guest house in the home immediately next door seems like they are right inside my room. It reminds me that I am not home and that there are people close by. It may seem weird, but I am getting used to it. It is almost like when I wake up and have 2-3 kids who snuck into my bed and fell asleep on top of my legs so when I wake up if feels that someone poured concrete on me and I have to wiggle my way out of bed.

I went back over to “Starbucks” to hook up the computer again around 9 am and it was a lot less crowded. There was American Christian worship music playing this time, which did not seem to fit the locale. I missed the initial call about what happened at the Embassy this morning.

We headed for the orphanage and were able to go to “school” inside the orphanage. We showed up when they were having singing time. It was quite noisy (kinda like at my house) These guys can sure keep a beat (unlike the obrunis) The little children are fascinated with me when I walk by and they want to touch me. They think it is just so weird to see the funny white man. When they see me coming, they probably bet each other that they are too chicken to run up and touch me, so they must take on the challenge.

I forgot my camera this morning and they remembered from last night that they wanted to see their picture in the camera again. I will try again when I walk by in a little while

I was planning to stay in the hotel when I first got here. Since I didn’t know the food situation I brought a hot pot and some packs of rice, cans of chicken, and granola bars. It turns out that I am more chicken that the stuff I brought in the can because I have not eaten anything which I have not brought myself. Zack on the other hand has already eaten cole slaw, fish head soup with some kind of gooey bread (he even ate it with his hands) and he ate the Christmas goat at the orphanage. He has not gotten sick yet. After what he has eaten so far, it that won’t do it, then I would figure that he must have been exposed to radiation at some point in his life and he will be just fine. Good for him. I am sticking to my American diet of stuff that I brought myself. I went to a wild game feast at my church and had several exotic things such as rabbit, buffalo, ostrich, rattlesnake, quail, and deer. I only needed to do that once, and I have no desire to do it again. If everyone else likes fish gut soup and goat surprise then that is great. Some of you adventurous travelers may not see the big deal. As for me and my house, we will serve vegetables (and the occasional chicken) and that’s it. I hear a goat bleeting as I type this, how funny is that. The chickens were clucking earlier too now that I think about it.

We went to exchange money at the bank. Now again, you may be thinking big building with air conditioning, carpeted, with desks where the bank assistants sit. Nope, think of low ceiling with a man standing behind some plexiglass. Just for informational purposes, 1 Ghana cidi (pronounced like city) equals 1 US dollar. The exact exchange rate as of today is 96 cidis for 100 US dollars. They used to have a rate of about 10000 something or others to equal 1 dollar. The new way is much easier to understand.

We went for a second time to Starbucks today and more kids came up to me and started smiling. I came up to them and shook their hands and they started giggling. I think they were shocked that white guy touched them. One of them grabbed me by the hand and walked me down the street to the mini convenient store next to starbucks. He got some sort of ice cream thing out of the freezer and the kid looked at the attendant, walked out of the store, and I got stuck with the bill. It was only about 50 cents, but I thought it was funny. His other friends were laughing at him when he was walking into the store with me. He came out as the one who had the last laugh because when his friends saw that he got some ice cream out of the deal, I think they were jealous. Great, I’ll probably have a mob of kids everytime I walk down the road.

I finally heard about the phone call to the Embassy. I will have to wait until Monday morning to see if something can be done by next week. The phone called seemed positive, and from the beginning there have never been any promises. We are not trying to be optimistic, just realistic. It will take a total miracle to have God open up the way for all of this to happen. But if so, Jesus is the only One who can get the glory. Just as the song goes that I just heard outside my window, “God can make a way, when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.” That was followed by the goat bleeting again.

Goats bleet, don’t they? I know sheep baaaahhhh, but all I know is that I am not going to eat the poor little fella.

I have had a Fanta orange soda and a Coke, both bottled in Ghana. If I don’t keel over in a day or two, they should be safe to drink.

So, for the rest of the day, I will finish up at the orphanage again. We try to get there around dinnertime and leave just before bedtime. I know what it is like when someone comes over and throws off the kids schedule. The parents wind up paying for it in the end, but that is just part of life. I feel the same way here. Although we are totally welcome at the orphanage, we don’t want to get in the way to make it harder on the kids or the workers, it is just to make it easier on everyone involved. Will update again tomorrow…..

Jim in Ghana (Day 2)

Day 2 Embassy Day
The American Embassy is a very large facility.

The ride over was filled with lots of traffic even though we left at 6:30 am. We dodged lots of people and cars. The concept of merging traffic is a constant theme. Have you ever wondered why the buses and trucks in America have their exhaust pipes directed upward? Let me tell you; it is so you do not get carbon monoxide poisoning inside the car when you drive behind the bus. Emissions testing was done away with likely before emissions testing was invented, so traffic jams have the added benefit of fumes

On top of that, you don’t want to keep your windows rolled down, so you can get a little warmer that way in order to help you adjust to the climate. I am not worried about the lack of air conditioning in the guest house since 80% or more of the time you are without it anyway

. Now back to the Embassy. We got past the security checkpoint, and being an American had the privilege of putting us ahead of the others in line. When we got to the immigration part of the building around 7 am, there were already about 50 people ahead of us. There are about 150 chairs lined up in two long rows inside the building. After another hour of waiting, there were another 50 or more people added to the mix. On a serious note, this whole process was quite sad. Percy, the one who took us (there is another Percy who is the driver, back to him in a moment) told us that most all of the people of Ghana who apply for a visa…. never get one. Again, very humbling that we can take for granted our citizenship, but so few who legally try to enter are successful. After another hour or so, Zack and I were called to turn in our paperwork, just to be told to come back at 2 pm.

Oh well, we tried. The reason I mentioned the other driver Percy is that the whole time we were in there, he waited for us in the car. He had no idea when we would come out. He seemed to not be effected by his long hours of boredom, but I think he made up for the lack of excitement on his part by driving around the city again dodging busses, cars, trucks, and people.

So, we got back to the guest house so we could hook up to the internet. Funny thing; for all of those who have traveled before this won’t be a surprise. When I hear internet café, I am thinking Starbucks, or some fancy bistro with modern furniture and paintings and fancy mugs so sip your latte from. Internet café really translates into a 10 by 10 room with Reggae music blasting into the street, wall to wall computers, and wall to wall people.

The guy in charge hooked me up, and although the internet speed was slower than dial-up, he got me online.

So, back again to the Embassy at 2 pm. We finally got into the interview room at the same area of the Embassy. We met a couple who are adopting a boy several hours north of Accra privately and they went in before us. They were told to wait about 3-6 months to have their I-600 processed. I laughed because I know that they have to tell people this. Anyway, I turned in my info. and was told to call in the next day to see how long it will take to process the paperwork. This is the one answer that I do not have as of Thursday evening. So the next update will contain the expected waiting time.

All of this has been and will continue to be in the hands of the Lord. There is no way to figure any of this out. No matter what the outcome, I will be content. I know that all of these kids will eventually come home to their permanent family, it is just going to be a matter of when.

I finished the day with another visit to the orphanage. I realized that due to the lack of total attention by the kids not being in an immediate family that they are very sensitive to touch. Not just that they like to be touched, but they are SO easy to tickle. When you touch them to tickle them, they all just about double over with laughter. It makes it quite fun. They all like to laugh. Even the babies Mary and Martha are the funniest little kids.

Each time I see a new worker coming in to care for the kids and they all seem very nice and caring. Since I cannot get the pictures to download into my computer, everyone will have to wait until I get back. If you see any kids who are not normally seen at the orphanage, it is because the kids along the walk to orphanage want their pictures taken too. Even older girls want their picture taken. It’s funny that we also take this kind of stuff for granted but they are fascinated with the fact that they are on a picture screen.

That is about it for tonight. The neighbors like to talk loudly outside my window and they are speaking in another language. It makes the sleep interesting. For Ghana, this guest house is considered a pretty decent place. I am just spoiled so it is a little different for me, but the best way I can describe it is like camping….indoors. There is a little teaser button that says “water heater.” It even has a glowing orange light that looks like it could really heat the water good, but I think it is for visual effect since the water on the hot side didn’t seem to produce anything warm.

Oh well. There is not much else to report about the kids today since the focus was on the Embassy, but I will try to get more info. about each kid over the next few days. My body cannot tell if it is day or night, but I am just sleeping whenever I get tired and hopefully it will all work out in the end. Next update coming soon

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jim Goes to Ghana..

My "Guest Blogger" this week is my beloved hubby Jim. ..ha, ha... that just sounds so official and so bloggy.

Here is Jim unedited..(well except for taking out the location thing, and he spelled toilet wrong, but other than that..)

Day 1

Departure Date, Dec. 25th, 2007 8:00 a.m.

Leaving *******was somewhat uneventful. I pried my wife’s fingers off of my arms as I told her I must desperately leave for Ghana. She just did not want me to go. Can I blame her? Anyway, going through Atlanta was just fine, especially since I was upgraded to 1st class. I usually travel no class, but due to my skymiles membership, it finally paid off. Not only **** to Atlanta was 1st class, but Atlanta to JFK was 1st all the way. The flight to Accra from JFK was completely full. There were hundreds of people there. Yes, I was one of a small handful of white people there. I didn’t really seem to notice myself, but I am sure I stood out a little, being white and nerdy and all. So now the big long flight to Ghana. Knowing how uncomfortable it is on a long flight I was somewhat dreading the next leg. My name was called as we were boarding. In my life’s experience, anytime someone ever states my name in public, it is almost always because I am in trouble and that I did something wrong. Well once again, the friendly people at Delta thought it was fitting that I arrive in style, automatically upgraded to business first class, aka “elite” status. I usually do not like it when people wait on me, open doors for me, carry my luggage, etc., but for what I paid for the tickets, Delta could have started to message my feet and I would not have cared. But, needless to say, I was an excruciating flight. I had to use my own personal LCD display for the TV monitoring, which had full access to music, movies, games, flight data, etc. It was very intense. After I was served several rounds of snacks (minus the alcohol), I was forced to eat the four course meal with real silverware and glass drinks. The fancy napkins were a little cumbersome though. Finally, just before arrival, I had to have breakfast. I departed from the plane, and almost instantly I was in trouble again. I did the taboo thing; I took pictures of the plane and airport. One of the security officers said something like, uppp uppp uppp, which I believe is Ghanaian for “Stop that!” I had my visa stamp in about 5 minutes, and the luggage was on the conveyor belt almost immediately. I was about to grab my bags and go, except my bags never came right away. After fighting through the crowds and hundreds of bags that looked just like mine, I finally picked up my bags. I finished up through customs real quick like, and made my way down the red carpeted platform. The luggage carts had brakes on them that were quite annoying, that was until I realized their stopping power on the way down the big red carpeted ramp. If I was in the U.S., I probably would have ridden the cart down the ramp, but due to the lack of qualified medical facilities, I took the adult and mature option of riding the brakes down the hill. I was met by Edward who was holding up the AAI sign for me. He only held it up when there was the lonely white boy coming down the ramp (which was funny to me), so it really wasn’t a challenge for Edward to figure out who his client was. I thought I was going to go to the hotel, but instead went right to the orphanage. I hope there are families for all of those kids, because I would take them all if I could. They were very nice and happy. I don’t know who is who yet, but I will be figuring that out over the next several days. I did start taking several pictures as I have been ordered. If I can find a cable to hook up to the camera, I will send them along soon. It is now 12 noon on Wed. the 26th. Instead of staying at the hotel like originally planned, I wound up at the guest house. It is a block away, and it would be a 15 minute drive everyday if I did the hotel thing. Yes it is humid, but not hot (If you’re from Florida). The guest house does not have air conditioning, but boasts some spectacular barbed wire fencing, along with a community toilet and shower for your toileting needs. The little feathers on the bed sheets are kind of fun to flick off the bed, and the ceiling fan blows air. Since it is so close to the orphanage, I would rather huff it out for a week than to be stuck waiting for a ride each day. I will update more by tomorrow, but I am in a fog because I only slept for about 3 hours and even though it says noon on my watch, it is really 7 am. Zack is currently in the room next to me at the guesthouse. If you are reading this message (then you are not illiterate), that means my computer worked at the internet café just up the road. Signing off for now, and don’t let the bedbugs bite (haven’t found those….yet) Jim

Day 1 Evening..

Day 1 evening
Later in the day on Wednesday, more details can be added. The kids are all well taken care of. Most have the typical orphanage behavior of fighting over things that really seem to be about a power struggle more than anything else. Gifty is a riot. She is very ticklish and man can she do the funky dance. Little Mary and Martha are funny little kids. They laugh a lot and you can just move towards them and they start to giggle. I don’t usually see that in kids that young. Most of the kids just want to be held and / or touched. I interpret that to mean that they want a mom and a dad that they can call their own. I sincerely believe that all the house parents really care for the kids, and the affection neededby the kids is understandable. I can tell that they are fed well because most of the kids eat half of what is on their plate, so they are not lacking food J How that smiley face just showed up there is beyond me….

The guest house is interesting. Several observations; I have been upgraded to a new room that has a toilet inside of my room. You get to the toilet by walking through a big, scary, empty room that leads to the bathroom. The room has one small fluorescent light bulb that illuminates the living quarters. I kind of reminds me of having a bug light inside the room. Anyway, instead of looking at barbed wire, I now have a view of the next door neighbors window, and vice a versa. That makes for a lower comfort factor in using the bathing facilities. I was able to take a nap this afternoon, and the wake up service worked very well. It seemed that an unhappy guest was yelling at the front desk area and the voices carried as if they were inside the room. Zack heard it at the opposite end of the hall as I did. Even though I could not understand every word, the international language of profanity did echo quite clearly. Its funny that the only words I could understand only contained four letters and were repeated over and over again. On a more serious note, if you want to spend the most time with the children, the guest house is the place to be. Secondly, the money I am saving by staying here will be able to be used for the orphanage and is a measly little sacrifice for me. I would not recommend this place for a female traveling alone, although things should be ok, it is just a little rough all the way around.
I have been called white boy several more times. I am getting used to it. Make a note that stamp pads with ink for kids does show up well on white skin, but not black. The kids are fascinated with my hair, which for obvious reasons is different and therefore drawing attention.
We are supposed to go to the embassy early in the morning to file the paperwork. So right now that is the main focus of everything. Once that is done, then we will see what will happen next. This update will be delayed by about two days, but after that, hopefully things will be better communicated. That’s it for now…..

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thank you so much for your prayers!!!

I heard from Jim early this a.m., and he arrived safe and sound. Our conversation was very brief as he was on a borrowed cell phone. Everything in Ghana is closed today due to celebrating Boxing Day, so I will have to wait until tomorrow and the internet cafes to open to get more details.

He did spend time with our boys, and has opted to stay in the Guest House to be closer to the orphanage instead of the hotel.

Tomorrow he has an appt. at the Embassy so please pray for quick approval! Pray for Zack and Chanda too as they will be filing tomorrow also.

We were blessed with pictures this a.m. of the Christmas Celebration at Eban House. All of the children received traditional clothing. They are SO precious!!!Joel (See Zack in the background? Hi Zack!)
The Christmas Dinner..err or another view of the Goat ;o)
I want to thank everyone for all of the prayers, calls, and e-mails. They mean so much to us. Your love has blessed us more than you will ever know. My heart wells up with each one. How good is God to give us people who love us so.

The children are doing well with Daddy gone. We had our wonderful Christmas celebration with Jim on Christmas Eve. God gave us a very special family time. My family came for Christmas, and are here now. We have been having a wonderful time. The children are playing hard, and are consuming vast quantities of sugar. It's all good.

I will post details as soon as I hear from Jim. I miss him so much, but I am so thankful he is with our boys.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

Here is a picture of the children at Eban House with their Christmas Dinner :o)!!

In less than 3 days Jim will be headed on a plane to Accra, Ghana!!
He is going to file our I 600 Orphan Petition at the US Embassy, which once approved, will allow our boys to apply and be granted a Visa to Immigrate to the US.

Our prayer is that God will move the hearts of those in the Embassy to move quickly on our case. If they approve the I 600 quickly, and grant a Visa shortly thereafter then Ebenezer and Joel will be coming home with Jim!!!!

We are fervently praying the Lord would make it so. I know Eban House is a wonderful Place, but it is an orphanage. Children deserve to live in homes and families. I think Steven Curtis Chapman captures the sentiments we are all feeling so well in this song..

If you feel led, please pray for favor with the Embassy. Pray that Jim would have safe travels. Pray that he would have a very special time with the boys, and all of the children at Eban House.

Also please pray for Zack as he tries to bring home his and Chanda' adorable boys (who are cousins to our boys). It would be a HUGE blessing for them to come home together.

Most of all pray that Jesus would be glorified!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Romans 8:38-39~

Our precious little Sweet Pea turns one today. It seems just like yesterday she was born, and yet I can't remember a time when she wasn't in my life , and in my arms.

God has blessed us with you Baby Girl, and we are so thankful. You have been nothing but joy from the moment you were born. You are so sweet, and gentle, and content. You are so loved by all of your big brothers and sisters, and it has made you strong. You know that you are loved, and it gives you such a quiet confidence.

Right now you are taking baby steps. You have mastered standing in the middle of the floor, and then you take a step, and wait..for the applause you know is surely about to erupt...and erupt it does. Your brothers and sisters get so excited, and then you become excited too..you clap, and point, and give your scrunchy face..and then you plop down knowing you have given us much joy.

I pray as you grow you will always bask in the love of your family. I pray that you come to know your heavenly Father , and His perfect love which we can never even begin to match, and it will give you joy, and peace, and strength your whole life through.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!! We Love you, and thank God for you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This is for you Marigrace. I thought you would enjoy it.

This one is for you Hopie. I just knew it would remind you of when you stayed with us last summer ;o)

We are still here, just busy , busy , busy.... Jim is leaving for Ghana on December 25th! Yellow Fever vaccines, typhoid vaccine, malaria pills, his Visa to enter the country are all done. We are still working on the Immigration paperwork.

I will post later about the details, but please pray that the boys will be coming home with him. God is moving!

Our e-mail was down last week. At&T assures us now that all is well. They sent us an e-mail to confirm it.;o) If you sent us an e-mail and haven't heard back please send again as it may have been lost somewhere in Cyber Space.

Love to everyone!

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Psalm 147:1~

Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. Psalm 147:1~

The Lohrers are a family who have adopted two children from Ghana. They are there right now going through the Embassy Process, and I have truly enjoyed reading their experiences.

I have cried

I have laughed
(I'm not sure I should share this one with Jim? He leaves for Ghana in 17 days!!)


I am praising the Lord for HIS GOODNESS!!!

Please pray for The Lohrer Family as God works to bring their children HOME!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

John 15:13~

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

When you are adopting from another part of the world you suddenly find yourself wanting to know more about the culture you are adopting from. Soddo, Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Nazret, Ethiopia, and Accra, Ghana are no longer just little dots on a map, but the birth places of our sons. We care about the people there, and we like to know what is happening in those areas.

I guess that is why some time ago( in addition to reading our local/national news) I began reading the BBC Africa News.

Africa is a huge and diverse continent. I have really enjoyed getting to know more about the countries and the issues they face.

I was very saddened to read earlier this week about an Ebola Outbreak in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Ebola is such a fearful disease.

Then a friend sent me a link for THIS BLOG...and it has put on real and personal a face to this Ebola Crisis.

The Missionaries at World Harvest Mission are on the front line of this battle, and they have lost one of their Dr.'s to the Ebola Virus. They trained and loved Dr. Jonah, and they are mourning his passing whilst fighting a real and very dangerous killer.

This paragraph about his life touched me deeply..

Friday November 23 is the day Jonah believed himself to have been infected. That was the day he and Scott examined Jeremiah Muhindo. In between two of the times they saw the patient together, Jonah went in alone and arranged a face mask of oxygen onto the dying man, hoping to provide some relief or comfort. He was not wearing gloves because he could not find any at the hospital at that moment, and he felt that his friend needed the oxygen. That was his greatest exposure.

A Christian brother has gone on to his reward in heaven. Pray for those who are left behind..his wife, children, mother, and brothers, and the workers at World Harvest Mission..who offer this explanation for the title of their Blog Paradoxuganda

"We are a pair of docs in working in Africa ... Paradox: “A seemingly absurd proposition which when explained may prove to be true”-- Oxford English Dictionary. Dying that we might live. Becoming poor that we might be rich. Strong in our weakness. Joyful despite our suffering. Sinners, yet saints. Apparent contradictions, but core truths."

Also, pray that God will stop this killer, bring healing to the sick, and strength to the laborers who are working in His Name..

And now... when I tell my children about the heroes of our faith..Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, Gladys Aylward, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, etc. I will also tell them of Dr. Jonah..another true hero of the faith.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Proverbs 25:25~

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25

We were so blessed to receive these pictures from a fellow AAI family. They live in a country bordering Ghana, and they spent Thanksgiving Day at Eban House.

It is such a blessing to see the huge smiles on the childrens' faces.

They were also kind enough to send these words about our sons..

Your boys are amazing. I uploaded some pictures of the Eban House gang from last weekend. Your boys will be such an amazing addition to your family - they are both so polite, friendly, respectful, and very warm. I don't know how much English they speak but they beam and contribute in non-verbal ways! They are an incredible role model for the younger kids.

God is so good to give us these little tidbits of our boys.

I am always looking and seeking for clues to our boys hearts in their pictures and videos.

I so want them to know how much I love them. I want them to know that they can rely on me, and I want them to know I will be there for them. I want them to know that the days of them carrying the heavy burden of walking this journey of life alone are over.

I sometimes wonder if what I feel is a fraction of how God feels when He is waiting for someone to come to faith in Him and to give their lives to Him. I wonder if He sees us before we are His children, and yearns to take us in. I wonder how He must long for us to give our burdens for Him to carry..for He is more than able. He must know that His perfect love will complete us...and yet He waits for the perfect timing.

I am so thankful to know my Heavenly Father. I am so happy He adopted me, and that He is there for me always.

His love is perfect. I am thankful He guides me. I am thankful he walks with me, and talks with me every day.

Oh, to be more like Him. I pray that He will work through me to Mama all of our children as He wants me too.

Matthew 34:30~

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

December 1st is World Aids Day. It is a day set to bring attention to the plight of those who are suffering from AIDS from around the world.

Every case of AIDS is heartbreaking. It is a painful disease both physically and emotionally. Here in the US Antiretroviral Drugs are helping many with this disease live longer and better lives.

In the above chart you can see that AIDS is ravaging many in Sub Saharan Africa. Less than 1 in 5 Africans will receive medication (either Antiretroviral Drugs or Drugs to stave off opportunistic infections). In Africa AIDS is a death sentence for most who are infected.

AIDS has had a devastating impact on Ethiopia, and the future projections are grim. It is projected that by 2010 AIDS cases will rise in Ethiopia to between 7 and 10 million.

If you have traveled to orphanages in Ethiopia you have seen first hand the effects of AIDS. There are many children who have lost their parents to this dreaded disease. Many times they may have lost siblings too. Seventy five percent of children born to HIV positive mothers are born HIV negative. Currently there are an estimated 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia. If the above projections hold true the orphan crisis will become much worse.

There are people working to help. One in six of the children referred to AAI's Layla House are HIV positive. In response to this AHOPE was set up for those children. You can read the history of AHOPE HERE... and see pictures HERE.. (be sure to scroll down to the bottom and watch the touching video) Currently the children are not only receiving care at a wonderful orphanage, but the Anitretroviral medications they desperately need . Also, HIV positive children are now available for adoption. Contact AAI for more info..

Please pray for those around the globe with AIDS. Pray that God will raise up many people with a heart for those suffering, and pray that the medications will reach all who desperately need them.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I was very humbled and honored when Jess from Making Home asked me to write for her monthly feature "Inside Look". You can read it HERE

Jess has a wonderful Blog. Her focus is on making our homes pleasing to God.

Jess is not afraid to tackle the hard issues. Her posts always cause me to to think and dig deeper. God has used her words to bless and encourage me.

Thank you Jess!