Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Know.......

I took Megan and Kaylee to the orthodontist this past week and as they were called back for their appointments an older man starting talking with me. He was saying that it must be hard for me to have two teenage daughters in one home and how it was hard enough having one teenage granddaughter. He then went on to ask how many children I have. When I responded that I have six children he ask me a question that I dislike but it made me stop and think in a way I never had.........."Do you know what causes that?"

When we had just four children I would laugh, say yes and be on my way when someone would ask this question but that is not what happened last Thursday. Instead out of my mouth came, "Yes, I do. It is caused by God's Spirit stirring in my heart." He had no response and quickly picked up a magazine and said not another word to me. I am sure he was not expecting that response from me and he will probably think twice before ever asking that question again.

As we sat there in the somewhat awkward silence I started to think about the words that I had just spoken. I thought about the fact that God had stirred in my heart to care for those who are fatherless several years ago and when He did I was willing and said yes to His stirring. I thought about other times in my life where He was stirring and I said no or not now. What sweet blessings I was sure to have missed by not allowing His stirring to make His wanted changes in my life. Missed friendships, missed opportunities, missed times of joy, and the list could go on and on of things that I have missed out on by saying no or not right now.

What is God stirring in your heart? Are you willing and saying yes or saying no? Don't miss out on His best by settling for your good-

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with ALL my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with JOY. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A New Favorite Place........

I have a new favorite place in our home and it just happens to be the top bunk in Jacob and Garrett's room. In the past few weeks I have spent several hours on that top bunk listening to my son share stories with me about his life on a remote island in Ethiopia. Bedtime at our house is one of the most important parts of the day and we make sure to spend extra time with each of our children as we read devotions, say prayers and tuck each of them in. For years every night at bedtime we ask the oldest four a few questions about their day such as- Did anyone hurt your feelings today? Anybody break any promises today? and What was the best part of your day?

For the past several weeks as we put Tia and Garrett to bed we couldn't ask much about their day and so I have prayed that at bedtime they would feel our love. Several times in the past few weeks as I have climbed up into Garrett's bed, he has shared so much of his heart and life with me. It has been priceless time that I wasn't sure I would ever get with him and I am so thankful for the stories that he has been sharing with me. On Saturday night I climbed up onto his bed at 8:45pm and climbed down at 11:00pm. Over two hours of him telling me story after story about his life and the life of his family. Here is a small sample of what I heard as I held back my tears and resisted the temptation to go grab a notebook to write down all that he was telling me:

-He remembers a day when he and his oldest brother Welde found some "duck" eggs. He told me that they were both very hungry and had not eaten for a while (maybe a few days?) and he shared with me how excited he was to have found the eggs. He showed me how he and Welde held out their shirts to gather the eggs to carry them home. He literally was giggling with delight as he was explaining to me how Welde put them on the fire to cooked them. He explained that as he was cracking open his first egg to eat his birth mom Werke came into the hut and wanted to know where the eggs came from. They didn't have enough money to purchase the eggs and the boys both laughed and told her that they had found them by the water. I can just imagine our son sitting around the fire, cracking open an egg and savoring every bite of that special treat, yet it breaks my heart. This was the only time that he had eggs on the island and it is something that I don't think he will ever forget.

-He remembers Werke (his birth mom) sending he and Tia to the store to buy something and the store owner would not take the 4 birr that Werke had sent with him. The store owner said that the birr was dirty and Garrett told me that it looked like someone had stepped on it and made it dirty. He knew that his family needed some food and that this was the only birr that Werke had. He decided to go down to the lake and wash the birr. He showed me how he rubbed it in his hands after it was wet to get it clean. He then explained that he put it out on a rock to dry and when it was dry he returned to the store. This time the store owner took the money and gave Garrett what Werke had sent him to purchase.

-He told me of the time that five people from his island were out on a boat in the lake and a hippo turned the boat over. All five died because they didn't know how to swim. He remembers how sad the people on the island were when that happened. He had many other hippo stories as well-

-He told me about nights when Werke would cry because they had no power. There is no power on the island yet he calls anything that lights up power. He explained to me that they had no "yucky smelling stuff to burn in the light" because they had no birr. As he shared this with me I understood that they had no money to buy oil for their oil lamp. I can't begin to image being a mother of eight alone in the darkness of night out on an island. My heart hurt to think of all of the very dark nights Werke and our twins have endured.

-He shared with me stories of stepping on HUGE (and I do mean huge) thorns and how bad it ouched. How he could barely walk when he would step on them and how his birth mom and his grandmother would pull them out while he cried. They would say for him to be strong and he said he couldn't be strong because it hurt so bad.

-He remembers his brother Welde finding some cookies one day and sharing one with him. It was Garrett's first time to have a cookie and his little brother was begging for some. He told me about giving his baby brother a bite and how his baby brother laughed because he got to have a bite of a cookie.

The story that broke my heart more than the others was one of the last he told me. He explained that his baby brother was very sick and so his birth mom had to take him by boat to go and see a doctor. Garrett shared with me that it started to get dark and Werke was not back from going to the mainland. He was very scared as he realized that she was not going to return that evening. He remembered watching for the boat until it to dark to see the water. He and his siblings spent the night alone and he remembers being up most of the night and not being able to sleep because his mother was not there with him. I could see our son worrying about his birth mom, his baby brother and his siblings that were there with him on that dark night and I shed a tear as I tucked him in.
I am so thankful for the gift of these stories and so many more that he has shared with me over the past few weeks. It is such a blessing to get a glimpse into the six years that I missed with him. Years that shaped my son into who he is today...........a precious boy with a heart bigger than mine!

I am looking forward to many more hours in one of my new favorite places-

Monday, September 27, 2010


For the past few days I have been wondering about several things and one of the things that I have been wondering about is if I should really write this blog. I say that to say that I know that so many of you reading this will not understand nor will you agree with what I am about to write. I am not asking you to understand completely (because I certainly do not) nor am I saying that you must agree with me but for whatever reason I feel that God wants me to share the battle that is being waged in my mind. I promise that sometime tomorrow I will give some fun, funny and somewhat tearful stories of the past week at the Henderson house but for tonight here goes-

I hope that you will understand as you read this blog that this in no way is meant to say that I have it all together or figured out- There is simply nothing further from the truth. All I know is that in the past few weeks as I have been wrestling with who Christ has called us to be as His followers and the more I have looked around the more I see less of Him in those who claim Him here in America. This week as I read a particular blog, magazine article, listened to David speak on Sunday and spent some time alone with the One we are called to imitate, I realized how far away that I am from who He has called me to be. Here are somethings that have been battling in my mind about Christ followers in America.............I have been wondering if Jesus were here in our city today what would He think about the fact that:

We have beautiful homes and drive fancy cars yet here in our city (and around the world) many are going to sleep tonight with no place to call home.
We have money set aside for our children's education in the future yet there are children who will not be alive tomorrow because they didn't have food to eat today.
We have enormous church buildings for our enjoyment that cost millions of dollars to build and to maintain yet around the world there are people who will never have a Bible written in their native language nor someone there to share Christ's love in person with them.
We swim in pools of fresh water, wash our cars, water our lawns and even decorate with water (sometimes inside our fancy church buildings) when so many in our world haven't ever had clean drinking water and millions are dying because of it.
We make sure our kids have their closets full of clothes and shoes when so many are cold tonight because they have not even one shirt or pair of shoes.
We have pet foot in the frozen section of the grocery store and in the next year half a million children under 5 years old will die in Ethiopia alone due to poor nutrition and healthcare.

It literally makes my stomach hurt to think that we are Christ followers aren't stepping up to do more. It breaks my heart that in the past year David and I have been told by pastors, "I am so glad that you and your church are into the whole adoption thing, we're just not into that." Since when do we get to choose what we want to be into? When God's word says to care for the poor, needy, orphans, widows, and the least of these why do we think we have a right to say we (and our church) aren't called to that?

I was forwarded a blog today from a church who is having a food drive and attached to the short note about the food drive was Luke 6:38- "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."- Seriously......we are saying to Christ followers to give to a food drive so that it will be given back to you. I am not sure that Jesus ever loved, gave or sacrificed His life to get something back from us. Our society is such a "me" driven culture that even our churches are using , "You can get more if you give, instead of challenging people to give because Christ first gave to us." I believe the truth of this scripture but to use it in this way? (Sorry got on my soap box there....... I will stop)

I want to be very careful right here because I dearly love so many that poured truth into my life while I was growing up. I am who I am today because so many invested into my life, yet I grew up in church and heard very little about caring for the poor, needy, outcast, orphans, widows, and lost for that matter. If I did hear about the poor and needy it was usually about how the "bus kids" from a low income housing development were causing issues but I never remember being challenged to love and care for them. I can't think of one family in that church that adopted children who were in need of a home. I know that money was sent to help in the area of missions but very few times were we ask to join in and actually do the mission. I was taught how to pray and I even learned how to spend an hour a day praying which is very important yet only praying doesn't share the love of Jesus with those He has placed us here to love. Again, I am so thankful for what was taught to me, yet I hope that for the next generation they will be a light into the darkness not just a light where light already exist.

I say all of this to say that after years and years of our American culture telling us to look out for ourself and our family I think that we as Christ followers have been sucked into believing that even our relationship with Him is all about us. Little by little our churches have bought into needing to be more comfortable and modern all the while the "world" around us is literally dying and going to hell both here in America and around the world. I promise that if you ask any nonbeliever what their town needs they won't say another church building. I promise that if you travel with me to Zway, Ethiopia and visit with Case Abraham, at his tiny church, you will see how far away from being an imitation of Jesus you and I really are. When we have nothing and are promised nothing are we still willing to go all out as we imitate our Father?

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tears, Tears and NO Tears........

Yesterday afternoon as Garrett and Tia hopped off of the school bus I was waiting in the car to pick them up. Megan had joined me at the bus stop and she was going to take Jacob and Lindsay home while I took Garrett and Tia to the doctor. Now I knew not to mention to the twins where we were going because I knew that neither of them would get into the car. They both jumped in and I made sure that the child safety locks were engaged as I closed their doors. The only information they knew at this point was that daddy was waiting on us so we needed to hurry.
We pulled out of our neighborhood and they were both thrilled that we were going to see daddy until Garrett ask me where we were going to see him. I quickly and somewhat quietly said that we were meeting him at the doctor's office. As soon as the words were out of my mouth Tia said, "No ouch! No Ouch! Me no go!" Garrett said, "Seriously? Seriously? Where we go?" At that point I knew that I was glad that I had thought well in advance and had David add to his schedule to meet us at the doctors office. The rest of the twenty minute ride was full of them saying, "No Ouch" and "Me no go" but I hadn't experienced anything yet.
About a month ago Tia and Garrett had their very first doctors appointment here in the US. It was not such a great experience and that was no fault of Cabarrus Pediatrics. The staff was simply amazing with our children and Dr. Douglas went out of his way to care for both of them however they both had to give about eight vials of blood. It took about five minutes each of them being held down by myself and a nurse while another nurse took the blood and that was no easy task. I had not thought ahead on this visit and so I found myself there all alone with two kids who were completely out of control, scared and in pain.
As we pulled into the parking lot at Cabarrus Pediatrics yesterday both Tia and Garrett started to cry. Not a small cry but a loud terrified cry. As I parked the car I noticed that Garrett quickly took off his seat belt and was climbing to the back of our extended Yukon. Tia was holding her seat belt buckle so that it could not be opened. I was so thankful that I saw David pull in as I was turning off the ignition. I stepped out of the car and started to pray as David came over to my car. I shook my head and quickly told him that this was not going to be good. He opened the car door and heard the crying and he quickly agreed.
I told David that I would get Tia if he could get Garrett because I remembered Garrett's strength from the last office visit. I went around to open Tia's door and she was as stiff as a board. I finally got her unbuckled and she would not let me pick her up. I finally got my arms around her to scoop her up and I carried her like a baby into the office. I really have no idea how David got Garrett out of the back of the car but soon we all four found ourselves sitting in the waiting room with two wailing kids. Yes, everyone in the well child area turned to look at us and the ladies behind the desk were laughing as we entered. They remembered us from last time when they thought our kids were so precious until the blood drawing part of our visit.
We sat in the waiting room for several minutes and neither of the kids settled down. Every time the nurse would come out to get another patient Tia would say, "No go!" We just thought the crying was loud but when the nurse came out and called for Tia and Garrett they both were screaming. As a mom my heart was aching yet I knew that what we were doing for them was something so misunderstood by them. They felt we were taking them there to get hurt yet we were doing this to protect them and make them better.
When it was time to sign the forms to allow the nurse to give the injections Tia looked right at me, deep into my eyes. She then tried to escape the room as I signed the papers and she understood enough to say, "Mommy, you say to give me ouch?" I almost cried as I said yes and tried to explain that I love her and that is why she has to have these shots. I am doing this for her own good yet until she is much older she will not fully understand. She of course didn't understand and tried to grab the papers from me as I sat them up on the exam table.
Isn't this so much like yourself, I thought to myself as I sat there. God allows so many things that you feel are hurtful and hard, yet He is working out His plan in your life while you kick and scream the entire time. Things that He plans to use for good and I, just like Tia, want to run or tear up the papers so they won't happen. As they continued to cry I couldn't help but think of some of the painful situations and circumstances in my past that have shaped me into who I am. Days that I wouldn't like to relive but days that I would gladly relive to get to where I am now. Each day as I want to cry, kick, scream, and tear up the papers, I hope that I will instead rest in my Father's arms and trust Him to be working out all things for my good because I love Him. When I do this I will be just like Tia and Garrett as we carried them out of the doctor's office their tears subsided and their fear turned to joy as they knew their daddy had planned a special treat after such a rough few minutes. I think they found the ice cream to be worth all of the pain!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Batman Socks and Bug Spray

If you stop by the Henderson house any given morning at seven you will find this little guy searching high and low for his Batman socks. I should have known the first week between the broken arm and a pulled tooth that this little man was going to be something else. You see while we were in Ethiopia David and I gave him a pair of Batman socks that were fine for him to wear with jeans (they come up to almost his knees and have a huge Batman on them) but maybe not so appropriate to wear everyday to school with shorts. He has wanted to wear them every and I mean every day since our return. I did let him wear them several days with jeans to school but I have drawn the line on allowing him to wear them with shorts. So each day we search......and each day we seem to not be able to find these prized Batman socks. I have a feeling in a few short weeks when the weather is cooler and jeans are a must everyday that not only will that one pair of Batman socks be found but many new pairs of Batman socks will be in Garrett's sock drawer.
Garrett seems to keep our family laughing from the time we get up to the time we go to bed at night. It starts each day with these silly socks and usually ends with him hiding from me when it is time for him to be tucked in. In the past few weeks he has really made all seven of us laugh. Here are a few of the funny things that Garrett has done in the past few days:

He loves popcorn and he was in our basement kitchen area when David went downstairs and he had a coffee filter in the microwave. He was trying to push the buttons on the microwave and David ask what he was doing. He quickly said, "Popcorn!" You see he watches us put some paper in the microwave and then all of a sudden popcorn appears. He was just making his own snack. David quickly told him that the paper that we put in the microwave is a certain bag that makes popcorn.

The next day for after school snack I made popcorn for the kids and after they had finished the popcorn I saw Garrett up on the counter playing with the microwave. I went over to get him down and noticed the empty popcorn bag was back in the microwave. I ask him what he was doing and he said, "More popcorn, Daddy said this paper." David had just explained that only a certain kind of paper bag would make popcorn and he knew that a few minutes earlier I had used that to make popcorn and so he thought it would work again.

Bath time is a hoot with this little guy. He fills our garden tub almost to the top and he swims and I mean swims....... After Garrett takes a bath the entire bathroom is wet yet I just can't stop him because up until a few weeks ago he had never had a bath. You should see him as he puts his head under and kicks his feet and moves his arms just as if he is in an olympic size pool.

Garrett loves hot tea from his days in Ethiopia and so daily he has several cups of tea. He now knows how to make his own tea and so the other day I went into the kitchen to find him pouring salt into his tea. I tried to explain that what he was using was salt not sugar and he could not understand what I was talking about. Only then did I realize that he couldn't reach the sugar. He kept saying, "Same as sugar, seriously." When I let him taste the difference he still grinned at me and said, "Yes, the same!" However he quickly poured our his salty tea and made some with sugar.

Seriously is his new favorite word and we know that he picked that up from his sister Megan. Megan loves to say, "Seriously? " after everything we say and so now Garrett uses it. It cracks us up that he will be brushing his teeth and drop a little toothpaste, he drops a toy, he is playing a video game, or we call him in for dinner.......all we hear is "Seriously!" very loud and with the cutest Ethiopian accent.

Night before last I was dusting the family room and took a break to help Lindsay with something. When I returned I saw Garrett with the Pledge furniture polish spraying his body. He said, "No bugs!" as I got closer to him. No bugs alright but our family room floor and Garrett's entire body was slick!

He is such a precious little guy! Last night as I cuddled with him he was crying because his stomach was not feeling well due to some medication he is taking. It was bedtime and I took him in my room and just held him as he cried. He wrapped his little arms around my neck and as he cried, I cried. I remembered back to the sleepless nights in that same spot where I begged God to bring him home. Nights that I wondered if he was lonely, scared or being mistreated. Nights where I just longed to hold him tight and tell him that even in the hard times in life that I will always be his mommy and that I loved him deeply. I remember one particular night where I cried thinking of Garrett not feeling well, I had talked to Muluken our social worker that day and he had shared with me that Garrett was having tooth pain and was on some medication. I remember crying out to God to put his hands around Garrett and comfort his pain in my absence. Last night it was such a sweet time as my tears turned into a huge smile- This little guy brings his mom such sweet joy and all I can do is say- Thank you Father for hearing my prayers and allowing me to be the one to get to hold him as he cries and for me being allowed the joy of laughing at the funny things he does each day. In the good times and painful times this journey is simply amazing and my heart is so thankful!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Being Reserved............

Jacob shared with me two nights ago about the new "reserve policy" on the kickball field during recess. He was explaining that after he runs his laps at recess each day he is automatically on a kickball team because they "reserve" him prior to him being outside. When the first fourth grade class gets out to recess the two captains pick teams. They pick not only the kids standing there but they call reserve on a few other 4th graders as well. I was asking Jacob more about this and he explained that those kids who are better at kickball get picked on reserve prior to the kids who are standing there ready to be picked.

I don't think that Jacob understands completely that he must be really good at kickball to be "reserved" but I do know that he has been excited to already be wanted when he gets finished running his laps everyday. He doesn't have to wait in the group that were not reserved, instead he just heads out to the field and finds his place. As excited as I am for Jacob to be "reserved" each day it makes me think of all of the kids who aren't reserved.

I remember back to the days on the Mt. Olive Elementary School playground where I was one waiting to be picked. I was never last but very rarely first to be picked. I always felt sad for the kids who always were picked last because it was the same kids day after day. I often thought that if I were them I would just find something else to do during recess instead of being picked last each day and having to feel that pain of not being good enough.

To think about being held on "reserve" prior to being there to being picked last is a vast difference. As I thought about this the past few days I started to think of all of the kids around the world who are just waiting to be picked. They are waiting to be picked for something so much greater than a simple game of kickball but they are waiting to be picked to join a family. Many are on reserve right now and their families are preparing to bring them home, yet many are not.

The picture above is from our trip in November of last year as David and I were showing Tia and Garrett where their new home would be. They were so excited to know at that point that they were "reserved" and had been picked to be on our Henderson team. Yet my heart ached for the children in the orphanage who were not on reserve but were waiting to be picked. Day after day they are longing for someone to pick them.......... Could it be you that they are waiting for?

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Small Prayers Answered..........

Along this adoption journey over the past two years I have prayed many prayers. Some of these prayers have been simple, some in times of desperation, some selfish, some without words because they just wouldn't come, but none went unnoticed by my Father. He heard every one and answered-

I want to share with you an amazing thing that God did while we were in Ethiopia a few weeks ago. As most of you know this process was full of pain for us and full of questions. One of the biggest questions that I had personally was how did our kids get to the orphanage and why was the process so long once they got there. I had pieced together some information and I knew that our children were taken to an orphanage in Zway by Case Abraham for a period of time prior to going to the transition house in Addis but beyond that I knew very little. One of my little selfish prayers was that God would let me fill in some of the time between when they left from the island and when they arrived at the transition house in Addis.

For anyone who has adopted you know that information is very hard to come by and the information that you are given is not always correct. I had asked on several occasions about the orphanage where our children spent some time and all that I was told was that the orphanage was closed and no longer in operation. I assumed from that information that we would never know much about our twins lives while in the orphanage but God is so much bigger than my thinking!

Hang with me as I share with you how God answered my prayer- Last January, David and I volunteered at passion 2010. While we were at Passion we walked over to the "Do Something Now" center to look around at ways that the college students could get involved in mission projects around the world. As we neared the bottom of the escalator we saw a large coffee shop area to our right and we walked over to see what the proceeds of the coffee sold were going to. We both were caught off guard to see that the sale of coffee at Passion 2010 was being used to help orphans in none other than Zway, Ethiopia.

We quickly found the owners of Gobena Coffee and shared with them that our children were from Zway and that we were waiting to bring them home yet we were having many issues with actually getting them here. They shared with us that they work with a couple named Gary and Peggy Ift and they suggested we contact them to see if they could be of any help during the process. We did contact Gary and started having brief conversations with him about orphan care in that area. We quickly realized that our paperwork issues couldn't be resolved by the Ift's but what they were doing in Zway was very interesting to us.

While we were in Zway visiting the island for a couple of days we decided to contact Peggy and Gary to see how God was using their ministry in Zway. David was heading out to one of the islands on Lake Zway for the day and so I made plans to spend the morning with Gary and Peggy. I called to see if we could meet them out in the community somewhere and Peggy explained that Gary was waiting at their home for us and that someone was there who wanted to meet us. I had no idea who would be in the middle of Zway, Ethiopia waiting to meet us and so I quickly got the kids ready to go.

My sister and I pile the kids into the van and we took a short drive to the Ift's home. When we arrived Eskel our driver pulled up to their large gate and blew the horn. Mr. Ift came out to greet us and ask us to come inside their compound. As we went into the gated area Tia and Garrett went running over to a lady who was coming off of the Ift's front porch.

As they went running Gary started explaining to me that the lady they were running towards was their caretaker at the orphanage in Zway. Again I started to cry as I realized that God hears my every single, selfish cry. Now what are the odds that Gary and Peggy's hired house help use to care for my children two years ago? Not only did she care for them but she cared for them during the period of their life that I knew nothing about.

I was so thankful that this caring lady was able to share with me about their time in the Zway orphanage. She shed so much light on all of the paperwork struggles and time line problems that had taken place with our adoption. She was so willing to share about her time with the twins while they were at the orphanage.

She has no idea but she was a part of a small answered prayer- An answer that reminds me that He cares about the small things more than even I do. As I hugged this precious lady goodbye I felt her arms around me and thought back to the first day that she held Tia and Garrett in her arms. I am sure that they were scared and confused yet God had her there to wrap her arms around them with His love.

Life Changing Day............Part 3

As I sat in Werke's hut trying to take in the sights, sounds and smells around me I noticed that many men had entered the hut. I sat down beside Werke and she quickly placed her hand on my knee as she did I gently took her hand in mine and held it. I was still in awe of where I found myself and didn't want to miss anything that was happening around me.

The men who had gathered quickly started to find a seat either on the ground or on a few small stools that Werke had in her home. They all formed a circle and each of the men picked up many blades of grass that Werke had laying on the floor of her home and held them in their hands. Nicco started to speak to all of the men gathered and every so often he would translate to us what was taking place.

Nicco explained that when he and David had visited the island the week prior that Nicco had ask the leaders of the island to come up with the four greatest needs on the island. The elders of the island had done just that and they were sharing with Nicco what they had decided on. Nicco was writing as the men were speaking and he shared with us the list of their needs. The needs were having a medical clinic, clean drinking water, agricultural development and education. The leaders of the community were all speaking and sharing their thoughts as to what was most important to each of them.

Nicco then placed four empty water bottles on the floor and placed a piece of paper on top of each bottle. On each slip of paper was written one of the four needs that the elders of the community had come up with. Nicco then explained that they were going to vote on the order in which these needs should be taken care of. He would state two needs and then each of the men would lay a piece of grass on the one that they felt needed attention first. They continued to vote in this manner until the needs were all placed into order from greatest need to least greatest. To me they all seemed to be great needs yet they had to decide which would need to be handled first.

When the vote was over they decided that drinking water was first, a medical clinic second, agricultural development third and education was the fourth greatest need. I sat and wept as I watched these men listen to Nicco explain that a group of people would make sure that each need would be taken care of. The men were all smiling and very joyful to know that someone was thinking of them. They were full of cheer as they spoke to one another and to us using Nicco to translate.

I cried knowing that God would use us to make such an amazing impact on this island and I also knew why this process of adoption had been so long and hard. What God was doing in this place was very evident and I knew that there is a battle being waged on that island. A battle that is beginning to be won and for that I am so thankful! A battle that the elders of that island no nothing of at this point but one that will change their lives forever. To think that He is using us in this process is very overwhelming but so good.

As I held Werke's hand I looked around the room and prayed for each person gathered in that place. I prayed for each nameless face that they would see Christ love as each of these needs were fulfilled. I prayed that God would allow me to return to this place and see the lives changed not only physically but spiritually as well. I long for the day that we gather in that hut to praise our Father together in different languages yet with the same heart.

I also looked around the room and prayed and praised God for the faces in the room who I knew very well. I thanked God that David and I along with our kids had been given this opportunity that many never will have. I praised Him that our friend KB was there to hear about the great need for water as he plans and prepares to ride his bike cross county next year to raise awareness of the need for clean drinking water in Africa. I was thankful that my sister was there holding one of Tia and Garrett's younger siblings and I knew that God was changing her heart and life as she sat in that tiny hut. To have so many that I love in that small home with me for this life changing day was simply unbelievable and something I will forever be grateful for.

This day was only the beginning of a life change for not only those who live on Zadachu Island but for me................