Sunday, November 23, 2008

The least of these...

I helped coordinate a women's event at our church this past weekend. The event was called 'Mugs and Muffins for Missions'. We honored the 'pioneer' missionary women our church supports.

I truly admire anyone who is willing to give up a comfortable life for a life 'on the battle field' faced with persecution and uncomfortable living conditions. I believe this takes a very special person to find joy in serving the Lord in this way, especially under very extreme and unfavorable conditions. The work of a missionary is truly honorable.

One of the missionaries, her husband and 2 children live in an African country and teach at a university. If they expose themselves as missionaries, as ones who are spreading Christianity, their lives would be in great danger. The country they live in is 99.9% Muslim. They have been rescued by helicopter from a situation that may have taken their lives. The Muslim faith is so strong that if they stay there for 20 years, they will be excited to lead 6 people to Christianity.

Another missionary couple resides in South Africa with their 4 children. They witness people hurting all around them. This missionary woman wrote a letter to our group and shared some very personal experiences. One was about a woman standing on a street corner in pouring rain with her children by her side trying to sell one mushroom. Selling this mushroom appeared to be her only hope for the day but as dusk was setting in, her hope would diminish.

Another group of missionaries work for Wycliff, an organization that translates Bibles into different language so that God's Word can be brought to all ends of the earth.

Just before this event, I heard part of a radio show and the speaker was talking about how Islamic Terrorists were settling in Addis Abba, Ethiopia by growing numbers. There, the terrorists groups take abandoned orphans off the street and train them to be terrorists.

Human Trafficking is another danger for homeless orphans. There are groups at increasing numbers picking up these vulnerable children and turning them into slaves and prostitutes as young as 7 years old.

Joyce Meier and other Christian leaders have been strongly advocating against human trafficking. Joyce, for one has recently funded a shelter in Addis Abba as an effort to rescue women from this horrible life and give them hope for a much better future.

Everyone participating in these efforts, deserve to be honored. Again, this type of work takes a special person and leading from the Lord.

Many friends and family members tell us how blessed our son will be and how we are doing such a good thing. We have also been told that this is the "MOST honorable" act we could perform.

What we have become to realize, however is how much our son will be a blessing to our family. We in no way want this journey to be looked at as honorable or the greatest things we can do to help the orphans.

Many adoption talk shows focus on the several different steps we can take to help the orphans. Adoption is always listed as the best way and then if you are not able to adopt, giving money to charities is the 'next' best thing.

Adoption is only a reaction to the 143 million orphans in the world. The best way to help the orphans is to perform actions that will keep children from becoming an orphan in the first place.

Adoption is the LEAST we can do to help those when it is too late, when there is no hope for them to no longer stay in their birth families.

What we are doing is so easy compared to the work of a missionary. When we go to Ethiopia to bring home our son, we will only be there for 1 week and then right back to the comforts of our home with the precious gift of a son.

For every child and adult that a missionary can bring the Gospel, that is one less person that Islamic terrorists will take into their training camps. When we give to charities, such as Charity Water (see side bar), we help keep families from disease, poverty and the difficult decision of relinquishing their child. When we give up our own comforts and material possessions to show others better ways of living, we help families who face the choice of giving up a child stay together. These are all honorable ways to support the orphans.

There should not be poverty in this world. There should not be people dieing of diseases that are curable in other countries. There should not be 80% of this world without clean drinking water. If we satisfy the needs of the hungry and take care of the oppressed, there should not be orphans.

The best life for our child would be to be raised in his birth family. God intended it to be that way. Our family would be His second choice. Yes, our child will have a better (material) life and more opportunities but how can I explain to him after going through a terrible loss that he is lucky to have us? Is he the lucky one?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Water for Christmas

A friend of mine called me a month ago to tell me a story about her experience with meeting an Ethiopian man. She was sitting at a restaurant having lunch with a friend and just outside the restaurant was a beautiful water fountain. Her waiter was a man in his sixties from Ethiopia. He shared with her that he had been living in America for 20 years. During their conversation he said, "see that water fountain over there? Isn't it just beautiful? Here, in America, people walk right by it without even noticing." Then he talked about how we as Americans take running water for granted and that in Ethiopia as a child he had to walk 6 miles one way to retrieve dirty, contaminated drinking water for his family.

I have been thinking about how to give back to my son's country. Before my friend called to share the above story, I had already started researching ways to help bring running water to Ethiopia. But when my friend called to share this story, I knew that this will be our way of giving back to our son's country.

I am still working on the perfect way to run my own campaign to support well digging in Ethiopia. But for now, another fellow blogger, Tesi has set up a means for us to give through Charity Water, a foundation that digs wells all over Africa. Tesi's project will help dig a well in Liberia.

Please take a moment to explore Charity Water's website. I have added a link on my sidebar for your convenience. Instead of buying the usual amount of Christmas presents this year, consider giving Water for Christmas. Together we can help bring water to all parts of the world. Not only is water necessary to survive but clean drinking water will help lower the spread of deadly diseases.

Here are just a few facts about the lack of water in our world:

  • 4500 children a day die due to lack of clean water
  • Unclean water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, killing more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
  • 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water.
  • 1 in 6 people are affected by the water crisis
  • In many parts of the world women and children walk over 3 hours every day for water that will most likely make them sick.
  • $20 can give 1 person in Africa clean water for 20 year

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November Trivia

Each month I help drive Olivia's class to one of the local nursing homes. There we visit with the residents and create crafts. This month the activities director had designed a page full of trivia questions having to do with events in history that happened in November.

One of the questions was,
"Which president was assassinated in November?"
a. Kennedy
b. Nixon
c. Lincoln

The resident that Olivia and I were paired up with had her ideas:

R: Oh, was that Nixon?
Me: No, Nixon was not assassinated.
R: He wasn't?!! Well, I know it can't be Kennedy because I remember that day like it was yesterday. He was assassinated in the summer, not November.
Me: Are you sure? Well then, do you think maybe Lincoln was assassinated in November?
R: Lincoln was assassinated?!?? I didn't know that!
Me: Yes. Lincoln was assassinated.
R: Well, I still think it's Nixon.
Me: No. Nixon was not assassinated.
R: Ok, well if you are sure Lincoln was assassinated, then I'll put him down. (rather reluctantly)

Then when they revealed the answer to be Kennedy, she looked at me with bewilderment and said, "you were wrong! I was right!"
Me: Whatever!#@#

Friday, November 7, 2008

Preparing to grieve

We have prepared in many ways for this adoption. But after reading the stories of other adoptive families, I don't know if I can fully prepare my heart to handle the inevitable grieving for our son's loss.

But then again, how do you prepare to grieve? Those who loose loved ones without notice, don't have time to prepare. Grieving is just that natural and necessary reaction to a loss.

The hardest part of this whole adoption process is knowing that our son will suffer a great loss and we will all share in his grieving over his loss. Once we hear his story, the grieving will begin.

I have felt great sadness over the past few days for this part of our journey. So, maybe the grieving has already begun.

But just when I think we understand this whole adoption process and feel ready to add to our family, there are parts of the journey where I don't know if I'm ready for or not.

Maybe we have not received a referral yet because God knows we are not ready to know our son's story. As we continue to prepare are hearts, there is no better way to prepare than to read the stories of other adoptive families.

The following is a story of one family grieving the loss of a birth family and country with their adopted toddler son. This is a tear jerker but worth the read:

On one hand, it's the first Halloween our little peanut gets to experience...we've kept the goblins/scary stuff pretty much away from him, and instead focused on pumpkins, his costume (very cute little horse) and the fun day we said it would be. He got to wear his costume to school today which made him incredibly happy and participate in the little Halloween parade they do there.

Now for the other's the one year anniversary that he was relinquished. I've been dreading the day, and the closer it's gotten, the more of a weight I've felt on my chest. The enormity of it, how it changed my son's life forever, feels so much more real now the more we settle into our lives together (and the more in love with him we fall) than it ever has before. We adore each other, truly, but the pain of it is almost more than I can bear at the moment. I imagine what his family felt then and what they feel now, what he felt then and what he feels now, suppressed inside his beautiful heart.

Thanks for reading and letting me get this off my chest...need to go home soon and make the rest of the day as fun for him as I promised!

ETA...(sorry this is so long!) so I almost posted Friday night that we ended up having a great day, while my son was a little confused as to what exactly Halloween was, he loved the costumes, candy, etc and the generally festive atmosphere. Then Saturday While I believe I never let on to him how I was feeling inside or that the date (Friday) was anything special other than Halloween, how's this for a child remembering and letting you know he remembered. I should also say he hasn't talked about his past in ET in several months or wanted to if I mentioned it.

So this is how Saturday went:1) in the morning, he put on his new Lightning McQueen rain boots (not raining, just excited to wear them) and about 5 minutes later casually mentioned to me that his (birth parent)used to wear them. ("not the Lightning McQueen kind but the same boots").

2) later in the morning, a bit of a running joke continued...when my husband asked him if he wanted coffee, he said "no, Dad! you're silly!, my husband replied "you used to drink coffee when you were little" (we have a couple of pics of him drinking it in his lifebook)...only this time my son, instead of continuing the joke, answered him very loudly "that's because I didn't have a mommy & a daddy then to tell me!"

3) late in the afternoon, we are in the big farmers market here(heavily populated by Ethiopians) when he sees a few sugar cane stalks in someone's cart...he gets really excited and starts yelling at the man "excuse me, excuse me, where you get that?" and then "mom, please please please, I need that, it's my favorite". I said "I never knew you liked that", he said "it's so long mom, I never see it, please". So we found some to buy but he's still so excited, showing me how we need to cut it and strip it and how he would chew it. I asked when he last had it. He said, "I have it in English", then "no, before". I asked "did you have it where the other children were?" (care center) and he said "no, before that, with (birth parent)", basically that it was a big treat for him. Fast forward an hour later, we are home preparing dinner, but he's insisting on having some sugar cane, we give him a little piece, he's so happy chewing it, showing us how you have to spit it out.

4) coming out of his bath 20 minutes later, out of nowhere he starts singing "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" and proceeds to sing much of the song...I now have chills, for those of you who've been through the goodbye ceremony might remember the children (who are staying) singing it to the families who are leaving with their children. I ask "do you know this from school?" he said "no mom, from when you and daddy came to get me".

5) finally, not 5 minutes later I'm bringing him to the kitchen to give him dinner when he starts very sad almost baby like behavior and complaining about how his belly hurts. I ask him if he's just hungry or has to go to the bathroom, he says no "it's the sugar", then "I want daddy". We go to my husband and now in an even more pitiful voice, he says "dad, I need medicine, my belly hurts", "the sugar no good" and "please dad". Then for the first time in many many months, he says he's not hungry for dinner, we can just read books and go to bed. 6) on our way to bed, his face just crumples but he's holding it in...I say "you want to cry" he nods and I say "it's ok, go ahead"...he then sobs like he hasn't in months and months. I ask if he's sad, he nods, if he's mad, he nods again, I ask at who? at mommy?, he nods, at daddy?, he nods, at (birth parent)?, he nods again. I ask if he can say why, he just says "the sugar".