Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Same but different

Back to journaling our Haiti trip.  It's been on my heart and mind since we left. 
The kids, especially.  

Oh....the kids.  

From the outside looking in, these precious ones have nothing.  They live in a poor country.
In an orphanage.  

Most don't have their 'own' clothes or toys.  

They sleep on simple beds without favorite stuffed animals or special blankets.  

It breaks my heart to think they are still there.  While I have come home to 'normal', that IS their normal.

But when you move from the outside and get closer, you see something here.  The joy.  The evidence that they are loved.  And it speaks volumes.  In these dire circumstances, these kids know peace--a peace that passes understanding.  Passes my understanding for sure.  

I am not minimizing their needs.  The physical and practical ones, or even more the deep need to have a family.  There is obviously brokenness here.  There is pain that I'm sure is just under the surface.  I may have found it if I stayed a little longer, or even if I could have communicated a little better.  I so wanted to scoop them up and bring them home.  To tuck them in at night, to show them the love of a family. I am struggling with that thought on a continual basis.

However, the people taking care of these children are teaching them LOVE.  Love of people, but more importantly LOVE of Christ.  And you can see it.  And feel it.

And when you sit down and put them on your lap, or pick them up, or play a game, you see something else.

Kids are kids.  No matter the circumstances.


They love to sing songs and be silly, giggling between sweet sing-song words.


They love to be seen as special and individual.


They are resilient.

Despite need and poverty.  I wonder if it may be better that they don't really know anything different.
That they haven't seen or even heard about what they don't have.
Because what they do have is enough.
They have something inside that keeps them going.
They live life big.
They try new things.

They make new friends.





And they love big, even when they know it may be for only a short time.




This orphanage was about 20 minutes from the complex where we stayed.  It is supported by them, but isn't quite the same standards as the one on property.
This place looked grey, dim, dirty, and poor.

Until you look into the faces of the people who make it a home.

The women who give their days and nights,

their energy, their love,
 their years,
 and their hard work to care for these little ones.

You look at something that looks so rustic, 
yet, you see something so precious.....CLEAN water.

As simple as it is, a warm, safe place to rest their heads at night.

And, a place to learn.  Because education is a privilege.  A privilege that gives them hope.  Hope for a future.


These sweet ones will be forever in my heart and mind.  They truly seemed joyful.  They seemed cared for, but what will that look like in a year?  In 5 or 10?  Will they grow up to be strong, confident adults in their community?  The needs seem so huge.  Impossibly huge.  I fear for them, for their hearts, for their futures.  What the future will hold, we might not know, but the One who holds the future does.  And I have to hope in that.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Biometrics.....Barely!

Whew....
We got our approval and date to get our fingerprints (ie biometrics) done for USCIS in the mail on Monday.  We have had several friends who have gone early with no problem....so, since the appointment was 3 weeks away AND on a work day for me AND we could combine a trip to see family for July 4, we decided to try to get it done today.
We spent some fun time with family yesterday (YAY, Cathy is back in the South!!).  This morning, we headed to the USCIS office in North Atlanta.  No traffic, great.  Since you aren't supposed to bring 'extra' people in the office, we decided one of us would go in and the other stay in the car with the kids.

Jeff went first.

And came right back.

Denied.....too busy, try to come back in 30 minutes, but 'NO GUARANTEE' it will get done today.

30 minutes passed, I tried.  Got in the door no problem and was told to sit in the red chairs.

I sat.

And sat.

And sat some more.

There was one other 'walk in' sitting with me--and after a while, she asked if there was any plan for us. The security guard politely explained that he really didn't know.  It just depended if there was a break in the action at some point.

So we sat.

We watched the world come through.  I don't mean that by numbers, but variety.  It was actually a fun place to people watch.  Most of the people there were seeking citizenship.  A young couple.  An elderly mother in traditional Indian dress whose son was translating for her.  A man who was a citizen with his foreign wife and precious little girl.  Several female students who were going to study abroad.  A girl who was going to England.  The man taking the applications made polite conversations with everyone as they came to his desk.  And then he would give each a number and say, 'have a seat in the grey chairs.'

How I wanted to be in a GREY chair.

But, I sat.

In my RED chair.

Finally, after an hour, the security guard motioned me over.  AH!  I filled out my form and went to the man at the desk.  Polite conversation with me about adopting.  Told me my patience paid off and I was directed to the GREY chairs. :)

I waited for my number to be called....#780.  That took about another 45 minutes.  Fingerprints taken, and I was finally back out to the car.

I didn't mention that no cell phones were allowed in the building, so I had no way to tell Jeff to go get the kids some food, or how long I would be.  There was a collective sigh of relief when I appeared at the car.

Then, what to do?  Should Jeff go back in?  We thought we would try.

Denied.

Come back in 30 minutes, again NO GUARANTEE.

We decided to take a break and get some food.  Fellini's Pizza, YUM.  But kind of quickly so we could hopefully get back before another 'on the hour' rush.

When we got back there was a line out the door.  Not looking so good.

Jeff went in.

And DIDN'T come back out.  YAY!!!!  We settled in for an unknown waiting period....reading Mary Poppins in the car, several iPods in use.

25 minutes later, Jeff came out - smiling.  I thought he was joking.

DONE!

So, hopefully, we are about 3 weeks ahead of where we would have been in our paperwork process.

It wasn't without difficulty, but we will count it as 'Labor Pains' and keep on keepin' on.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kids Camp

One of our main activities while in Haiti was the Kids Camp.  Each morning, we did a Vacation Bible School type event for the kids in the orphanage on the property, the kids from another nearby orphanage as well as any of the local children from the community who wanted to participate.  The school on site was a perfect location for this event each morning.  We would walk up the hill to the school and set up for the day.

These doors open more than a school.

They open a world of opportunity for the children who walk through them.


The fact that these children have this school to attend is huge.  In a country where most children aren't able to get an education, these kids have been given this opportunity by people who care about them and who love the Lord.

People who 'go' in the name of the Lord are doing such good in this place.  Not just preaching, not just 'giving a man a fish', but--while sharing the gospel, giving hope and opportunity for a future that is a little brighter.  Through education, skills training, and employment.  This school represents hope for the students who are blessed to attend.


One of the classrooms....pretty bare, very different from any class my own children have been in, but such a blessing all the same.  (Notice the fans--ie electricity--a rarity.)

Across the hall--a little more decor in here.

This school has a bathroom, another blessing.
Well....almost....there WILL BE running water soon....


We began each day outside (on the SHADY side of the building-did I mention it was HOT?) singing songs with the children as they gathered....

....while the workers above are building the second story for next school year. :) 

Team members getting ready for their classes.  Our small group from our church joined a larger group from a church nearby--most of whom have been multiple times to this same place.  They were great and super organized and prepared.
Zach, Sam and Kate.

Jess, Karla, Randy

The kids were so sweet.  With sweet Sara.

Thomas and I helped out in the health class.  Kids rotated through health, Bible story, and Bible memory verse.  We had some excellent translators to help us with the lessons.
Thomas helping get set up for our class.
More hand games while waiting....
This sweet one played this game with me almost every morning....it's called hide from the camera, laugh and run away, then come back and ask "photo!"  Repeat. :)
Here they come.....kids from the orphanage.
Time for class....


After the class rotation, they all did a craft.  This was Baby Moses in a basket.
And, of course, this is the best way to carry a baby in a basket.

Our first day's lesson....body organs.  We talked a little about where each one is and what it does.  The absolute BEST part was letting them listen to their hearts with my stethoscope.  To watch their eyes and smile light up when they heard it was really something.


Other topics were the 5 senses, skin, thumbprints and one of the days was about dental hygeine.  We let them look in each other's mouths during this lesson.  I wasn't surprised, but it was still so hard to see how bad some of their back teeth looked.  Strangely, all of the front ones are bright white, but in the back--wow, I don't see how some of them are eating it looks so painful and bad.  The leader of the organization said there is NO dental care anywhere nearby.  We gave out some toothbrushes, but it seemed a drop in a bucket.  So many needs.....


After classes and crafts, there was a time of 'sports' which Thomas helped with by just being himself.  This time usually ended up being pretty short--as it was around 12 or 1 and was (did I mention?) HOT!


Meet Anthony---if you can see him.  This was one of the translators and at first sight seemed quiet and reserved.  BUT...put him in front of the children and he comes alive.  He had them singing/chanting/following him around the field in a dancing congo line.  He was great.  


The last day of camp, there was a more organized 'sports' event....a water balloon fight.  They loved it!  Thomas and some of the others were waiting to ambush them from the hill and then there were scattered bags of balloons around the field.  I think there were 800+ balloons....and they were gone in about 5 minutes. :)


These morning times with these children were fun.  Quite chaotic, crazy, loud, and somewhat hectic, but fun all the same.

We pray that they learned something.
We pray they felt loved.

Because they most certainly were.