Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Memphis, TN

Well we just finished another amazing mission trip at SOS (service over self) in Memphis. This is about the tenth year that we have taken a group down for a week long mission. This year we took 45 youth and adults. The part that we love most about SOS is that the kids and adults think they are going to help people that are less fortunate by doing some construction work on their homes. Instead they end up having their lives changed as God works in and through them during the week.
Was it hot? Yes! Was it fun? Yes! Did you get a lot of work completed? Yes! These are the questions and answers that are asked and given when we return from this trip. The problem is that these questions don’t give an opportunity to tell about what this trip was like. We had a drug addicted prostitute visit the home we were working on. She worked with us some and shared with us about the bad choices she had made in her life. Her husband is in jail and she sells herself to strangers to help pay for drugs and her rent. After she shared her story we shared the gospel with her and prayed for her, we held hands with her and prayed for her. We did not look down upon her but rather lifted her up. I have never experienced something so incredible. She has people that pay money to have their way with her and treat her like trash, but we chose to love her right where she is. We are all his children no matter where we are in this world. The college crew leader on our job is trying to help her by getting her into a rehab center. There are many more stories and I could go on for hours. There is another group of youth from our Church in Washington DC this week on a mission trip. Then on July 11th we start a local week long mission trip, which we run out of our Church called “Transformation Zone”. We have about 160 youth campers that are involved in the mission week. Most of the mission work will be in the Columbus area.

Let me now share a little bit about our adoption progress. This Friday is our appointment date to have our USCIS finger prints completed. We are also looking forward to finding out what our new numbers for July will be in the next couple of weeks.

All of the campers and staff in front of the SOS building.


Everyone dancing before heading out to their work sites.


Me and my work crew.


Tony

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Friends

God continues to guide us to more and more families that have adopted. We met with Bryan and Jodi and their two sons tonight at a local park for root beer floats. We had some wonderful conversations and the kids had a great time playing together. Their oldest son is from Guatemala, their younger son is from Ethiopia and they are in the process of adopting another child from Ethiopia. They live here in our small town, only 2 miles from our house. How have we never met before? I do believe are families will become close friends and our children will enjoy growing up together.




Rain, Watermelon, Ethiopia

I believe the rains are going to finally stop for a while. This has been the rainiest June that I can remember. I just had to share this beautiful picture from our front porch of a rainbow that appeared after the last big rain.



So, now that the rain is gone and the sun has come back out, how better to enjoy a nice summer day than to eat some watermelon. When I was a kid my Grandfather would drive up from Florida and he always brought a big juicy watermelon with him. He would cut it up and share it with us and all of our neighborhood friends. He has since past, but watching my children enjoy watermelon brought back some real good memories.



I have mentioned on an earlier post that my wife had recently taken a trip to Ethiopia. Our youth group has been raising money to build a school in a remote village in southern Ethiopia. The school will cost about $50,000 and so far they have raised 47,854. Thay are so close to achieving their goal. I am so happy for what they have been able to do as children. Education means so much to the people of these regions, most all of them have never been to school and cannot read. I decided to attach one of the videos to share what some of the villages look like because I know many of the adopted children come out of the southern Oromo region. Some of the villages were so remote that they could only be reached by horseback. The two teenagers that went on the trip were only Sophomores. Can you even imagine traveling that far at such a young age.



The youth group sold T-shirts to help raise the money. I have seen some very clever shirt designs on some other families blogs, so I thought I would share our design as well. One of our youth came up with the idea and design.



Tony

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Adoption Groups

Well, first off I decided to change up the blog page and make it look a little more inviting. So, I hope you feel more invited. On Friday evening we took the kids out for a little bike ride. My youngest is only three, so this ride was real short and slow. When we were about 2 blocks from our house we ran into some friends who had adopted three children from Liberia, and they were visiting another family in our neighborhood. We stopped to visit and talk about life and our adoption process. Our friends then introduced us to the family that lived at the house they were visiting. This family had adopted children also, three children from Liberia, one from Vietnam and one domestically from Washington. They also have five biological children. What do you know; just two blocks from our house were 6 African children and more. We talked and visited for about an hour or more and feel like we have gotten a good start to a local adopting group of friends.

On Saturday we received our appointment for our immigration finger prints (USCIS) in the mail. We are so excited to have the next piece of the puzzle to our journey in place.

Tonight (Sunday) I went to meet for the first time with the Ethiopian family group for dinner. The group only meets once a month. There were about twenty different families at the meeting. It was so awesome to see families that looked just like my family will look like soon. The children were so filled with joy running around the play area while the adults took time to talk and share with each other. There were some families there that are still in the process of adopting just like us and others that have adopted several years ago. I had some really nice conversations, met some great folks and my kids had fun playing. The Ethiopian dinner was prepared by an Ethiopian family and it was awesome, nice and spicy!
Tony

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June Numbers

I received a call from the book store this morning saying that the book I ordered was in "Fields of the fatherless" by Tom Davis. after lunch today I sun screened the kids and set them loose into our little kiddie pool. I turned on the river radio station on my computer and then drifted away into my new book. I am truly not a reader. I never go out looking for a new book to read, but here I am engrossed in two books. I guess when God puts a passion in your heart you start to crave more knowledge on that passion.

Carrie came home for dinner, which we sat on the back porch to eat. It is a gorgeous evening (sometimes I feel guilty wondering where our child is and if they are in good care). During dinner Carrie looked up at me after looking at her phone and said "do you want to know our new numbers?". My heart jumped in my chest... "well of course I do!". This process is so exciting! Oh how I wish we were leaving on the next jet to meet our little child and bring them home. This waiting... ugh.

We decided to set up the tent in the backyard for a camp out tonight. The kids are so excited, they can't stay out of the thing. The nursery is so close to being finished and we can't wait to share pictures with everyone. We are just waiting on a couple finishing touches, but it looks incredible. We have names picked out for each sex's but we are going to wait before sharing them. A little hint is that they must start with a "D" because our other two children's names do.

So, you want to know the numbers, right?
Well, they're not really number but rather Psalm's.



Psalm 56:3-4 "When I am afraid,I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Psalm 34:3-4 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

We will continue to Glorify and Trust God!
56 on the girl's list
34 on the boy's list

Another giant step closer, yeah!

Tony

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ethiopia and the Zoo

What an amazing morning at the zoo. We live close to the zoo, so our family goes quite often. Today the big focus for me and the kids was to see the new polar bears, but God had more planned. See we have been in contact with other families in the adoption process from around the U.S., but we have really been hoping to find a local support group. I have only been able to find one local group that meets to support interracial adoption families; it does not focus on Ethiopia. Well, as we were walking to the polar bear exhibit I saw a lady with her three children posing for a picture. Two of the younger children looked as though they might be Ethiopian, so I ask and sure enough they were. I then told her about my families’ story and how we were adopting from Ethiopia as well. She then told me about the support group that her family attends that is just for Ethiopian adopted families. She took out a pen and piece of paper wrote down her name and e-mail address so that she can get us connected with the group. That was so awesome! Then as we were leaving I saw another woman with a young child (under 2) who also appeared to be Ethiopian and so I thought I would ask. Well it was a grandmother with her adopted Ethiopian grandson. She was so proud of her grandson and went on and on about the incredible blessing he has been to their family. She said she couldn’t imagine life without him. She encouraged us on our journey and said that there is nothing for anyone in my family to fear. She also told me that her daughter and son in-law attend the same support group that I had just gotten information about. How super exciting is that? In all the trips we have taken over the years to the zoo I don’t ever remember seeing any families that looked as though they had adopted from Africa and today I meet two that adopted not only from Africa but from Ethiopia. That is so COOL. The polar bears were pretty sweet too.
Tony

Monday, June 7, 2010

Waiting

We are off to a relaxing week. School is out and the little plastic pool is filled with water. What more could the kids ask for? I am reading a great book.

“Parenting your internationally adopted child” This book covers all ages from infant to the teenage years. It tells you what you can expect and gives you some tools to assist in most any child raising issue. After reading and taking all of the online course work to meet AGCI’s requirements, it is nice to find another good resource to be able to turn to if and when needed.

I had a very interesting phone conversation today with a family that my wife and I use to volunteer with at our old church’s youth group. Well, there were actually three different young husband and wife teams that helped the youth minister and this was about 10 years ago. So, it has been a while since we have talked, and come to find out they had adopted a baby girl from China 5 yrs ago. She has adjusted incredibly well. She just finished kindergarten this year and they are so happy. They also have two older biological boys. I am so happy for them! Then,(it gets better) come to find out the other family is in the process of adopting a child locally. How cool is that? We never talked to each other about having a passion for adoption and yet here we are many years later being obedient to God’s call on our lives.
Tony

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jungle Jack

We mailed in our USCIS paperwork today! Just another stepping stone.
Tomorrow is the last day of school and the first round of the Memorial golf tournament. Tonight we took a family trip to the Safari golf course for a junior golf clinic. They provided free pizza, free ice cream and a hitting demonstration from a golfer who is paralyzed from the waist down. He sits in a special seat on the side of his golf cart and smacks some incredible shots. He shared a message about dreaming and never giving up on your dreams even when others say it can't be done.
Jack Hanna is always a big supporter of the Memorial tournament and took the time tonight to visit with the kids.





Aaron Baddeley (pro-golfer from Australia) with Dylan


Badds is a Christian and actually maps out the S O A P devotion method along with daily readings on his website. I love good Christian role models.
Tony