Friday, November 25, 2011


It is Black Friday and I am amazed at the consumerism of our country. I have heard of people camping out for over a week, standing in line for hours and literally physically fighting over items that soon will be forgotten. Today as I read these facts online I am reminded of our shopping experience this past week with our family-

David is traveling today to Ethiopia and he will spend a good amount of time with Tia and Garrett's birth family while he is there. We pray for and talk daily about their family and as most of you know Garrett continues to be concerned about their basic needs being met. As David's trip was approaching we headed out to find a few gifts to send to each of their siblings and to Werke, their birth mom.

As the eight of us entered Target the kids headed straight to the dollar spot and I thought that they would pick out a few dollar toys that they wanted to send to each sibling. I was so wrong! The very first thing that Garrett brought to me was a small pair of socks and he said, "Mom, these will be perfect for Abush." Abush is Garrett's four year old brother- Not a toy for a four year old but a pair of socks...... I took the socks holding back my tears and said, "Garrett, these will be great and if you want you can now pick out something for him to play with." Garrett replied, "No, he will need more than one pair of socks mom. He doesn't have even one pair." He then handed me more socks. My heart ached as I watched my son look over all of the fun things in order to provide for his brothers basic needs. We purchased socks for the entire family and then picked out a few fun things for each of them as well.

As we were checking out I could tell that they were excited to be sending gifts to their family and God did the neatest thing. The lady who was helping us check out continued to stop what she was doing to look at Tia every few seconds. I found it a little odd but many times in public people stare at our family. The employee finally said, "Where are they from?" As soon as she started to ask I knew that she was from Ethiopia. We explained that everything we were purchasing was for Tia and Garrett's family in Ethiopia. It was so neat that as we were purchasing these things that in Tia and Garrett's native language the cashier was speaking to them-

It is the little things that God does to amaze me. Not things that money can buy but the memories and lessons of life that He gives. So thankful that before the hustle and bustle of this season God reminded me yet again that a pair of socks for a precious boy would change his little life half way around the world.........

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two years ago today we had to say goodbye......

By far the hardest day of my entire life! Saying goodbye to my precious children not knowing when we would return to bring them home. We made such sweet memories the week that we were together (as you can see in each of these photos).
I will never forget holding Garrett on my lap as David held Tia in the orphanage. I tried to pray out loud but had no words and so David prayed over us. Garrett was sobbing out loud and my shirt was soaking wet from the combination of my tears and his. I didn't want David's prayer to end because I knew that we would then share our last goodbye.
As I gave them each one last hug and kiss I couldn't imagine really walking away from this place and from them yet I knew that I had no choice. I looked into their eyes, said to each of them, "I love you", and whispered, "We will be back soon, I promise!" With that I had to hold onto David and walk quickly to the car or I knew that I would never leave. (Good thing that I didn't know then that it would be seven long months before our return or I would have stayed!)
We got into the car and as we drove off I looked up to see my daughter hanging out of her bedroom window crying and waving goodbye to us. She then quickly signed I love you with her small hands and as I signed back I cried like I had never cried before-
Thankful that two years later we daily get to say I love you and never have to be apart again!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two blankets........

The moment that we had been waiting for and dreaming of came two years ago today. For the very first time we held our youngest son and daughter. Moments that I will cherish forever and a day that will never be forgotten.
I will never forget pulling up to the office of our adoption agency and walking into the office area where they told us to be seated. I grabbed David's arm and squeezed tighter than I had ever squeezed (even harder than during the births of our first four children) as we waited for the orphanage staff to bring Tizita and Geremew to us. We had seen hundreds of photos of them to the point that I felt that I knew them yet I really knew nothing about who they really were.

As they walked into the room I literally held my breath and fought back the tears. I didn't want to scare them by crying yet the joy in my heart was overflowing. All of the days of praying, seeking wisdom, making phone calls, filling out paperwork, and the heart break of thinking that they may never be ours melted away in that moment. Here we were holding these gifts that God had made to be ours.

I first held Tizita in my arms while David quickly scooped up Geremew. Just as I had when I was handed our four biological babies I wanted to take in each inch of my precious daughter. I wanted to see every small detail on her face and so I quickly put my hands on her cheeks and gazed into her eyes. She had a tear in her eye and as I wiped it I thought that this would be the first of many tears that I would get to wipe from her eyes- I am sure that the excitement and fear of that moment was overwhelming to her. To see her mom and dad in person for the very first time must have been unreal for her.

Tizita and Geremew grabbed our arms and continued to rub them over and over. It was as if they were just making sure that we were real and that they were not dreaming. They would then touch our faces and laugh in delight. They held tight to us both and from the first moments that we were together you could see the joy in their little faces.

We had very little communication that first day together because Nicco our translator was checking over their paperwork as we played and interacted with the twins. The twins didn't speak or understand any English and of course we knew very little of their language. Little did we know that Nicco was collecting information that would change the course of our adoption process as we played, took pictures and loved on our kids that very first day.

We brought bears for Tizita and Geremew that we as a family had made at Build-A-Bear. The six of us had recorded our voices inside the bears and so it brought such joy to them as they pushed the button and would hear Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob speak to them. They would laugh out loud and push the button over and over. Pure joy for me as a mom to watch two very scared, shy orphans know that they were loved and that we were there only for them.

Along with the bears we brought both Tia and Garrett a special blanket for them to sleep with each night. We knew that this time together was so special but it was only a few days and we would have to return home without them. We decided to take a blanket for each of them to sleep with while we were apart. I literally prayed over these blankets- I prayed that God would use these simple blankets to remind Tia and Garrett each night that we loved them and that we would return soon to bring them home with us forever. They both had these blankets with them each night the months that we were apart. Tonight as I tucked them both in (and every night) guess which blanket was covering them first? These small simple blankets that continue to remind them that they are loved and cared for! Each night as I pull those blankets up to tuck them in I praise God for all that He has done- A reminder now to me how much He loves me!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am not going......

Two years ago tonight I was in tears as I walked into our bedroom and announced to David, "I am not going with you." He responded, "You are going. You know that God has clearly said for us to go and we are going." He held me as I cried and explained that I couldn't leave because while I was tucking in Lindsay and Jacob they both cried and expressed that they didn't want both of us to go.

Our bags were all packed and tickets in hand for our flight to Ethiopia that was scheduled to leave early the next morning. After receiving word that Tia and Garrett were not adoptable a few weeks prior we felt God leading us to go to Ethiopia and try to find their missing birth family. Their birth family had to be located in order for the adoption to move forward and we knew that if we didn't go there would be little chance of ever bringing them home.

My mind swirled with all of the unknown- I thought of the millions of people in Ethiopia and how we were setting out to find one family out of the millions. I thought about the fact that we were leaving our kids here and that we were traveling half way around the world without them. I thought about the fact that I would soon be holding my precious twins not knowing if we could ever bring them home. I thought of how foolish it seemed to spend so much money on airfare with no guarantee of making progress while there.

I really wasn't sure that my emotions could handle what was ahead. What if we traveled half way around the world and didn't locate the family? What if we spend a few days with our twins only to break their hearts (and ours) because we had no hope for them to come home with us? What if we got to Ethiopia only to find that Tia and Garrett were no longer at the orphanage? The list went on and on long into the night.

All of these questions and concerns yet God's still, small voice continued to whisper, "Trust me." In my clearest thinking I knew that God was saying to go yet the circumstances sometimes paralyzed me. I quoted scripture after scripture to myself as I was laying in bed trying to get a few hours of sleep prior to our departure. I didn't sleep much at all but by the time our alarm went off at 3:00am I knew that God was going to do something amazing on this trip- I just had no idea how amazing the next two days would be............

What is God calling you to do yet the circumstances seem to be paralyzing you? What is He whispering? Are you listening and obeying? I am so thankful that we did-

Friday, October 7, 2011

His Story..........

The man to the left is reading a story about our family-Not our story but His story. He is attending the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta and this photo was sent to us from a friend who was sitting behind this man as he read the story.
Several months ago a lady from the Catalyst Conference contacted me to see if our family would be willing to share our adoption journey with the Catalyst community that is gathering this week. I of course said yes and that it isn't our story but God's story being played out as we simply follow Him.
My prayer is that the thousands of church leaders that are gathered in Atlanta for these few days will read this story and feel led to do their part to care for orphans in our world. So many times people who are attending this conference today feel that in ministry they can't afford to adopt or even begin to think about the journey of adoption. I hope and pray that when they read the story of how God provided for our family when we were simply willing to trust and follow Him that their hearts will be changed and challenged. That many of the thousands of leaders attending this conference will see the plight of the orphan and that many fatherless will have fathers as these leaders trust and follow Him.
I went back and reread this story today since months have passed from when I first wrote this article. God nudged at my heart as I read about how He had provided every penny that we needed to bring our precious twins home. We continue to feel God leading us to bring Limme home to be part of our forever family, yet I continue to see the financial piece as more than overwhelming. We have not one extra dollar to begin the process but today in my own words, I was reminded that I didn't provide it the first time- He did! He provided and will provide everything needed when He calls us to a task. Trusting Him with that today and glad that He has called us to share His story with those who I pray will step up and be His hands and feet to the fatherless of our world. I am thankful that today I was reminded of His provision.

Humbled that He uses us and so thankful that we have followed every step of the way!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am so thankful that today Tia and Garrett's little brother (pictured above) is no longer drinking this! Praise be to God that clean water is now flowing and available. This has been no easy task (by now we should know that anything we are involved in takes a little more prayer and a little more time than expected) as rock continued to be an issue as Water is Life tried to drill for water. Thankfully a few springs were located near the edge of the lake and they were capped, protected and pumped up in order to provide clean drinking water for the entire island.
Last Friday as David and I were enjoying our date day we received word that the water was flowing and of course our eyes started flowing. Tears of great joy as we thought about those who were in real need and that need had been met. Tears of joy for each person who made this a reality- First graders who gave up ice cream for a month, those who held garage sales, kids who heard about this at Garrett and Tia's school last year who brought their entire piggy banks, friends who I haven't seen since high school, great friends who live on the other side of the country, military who gave their bonus check, girls in Nebraska who shared the need in their school, those who sold crazy things on e-bay, our extended family, and many, many more have given. To think that thousands of dollars were given so quickly in order for this to happen still amazes me-
I clearly remember my long conversation with God last year as we pulled away from the island and I felt the weight of this great need. How I knew that we had a HUGE task ahead yet I had no idea how God was going to help us provide the much needed water. I would never have guessed all of those that He used to make this provision a reality.
David will be traveling to Ethiopia in November (and I get to go in December) to spend extended time on the island with our friends and family- We will then have many photos and video of the water............. flowing! For this we are more than thankful-

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's the little things......

A tin sign that hangs in my older girls bathroom says, "Don't miss the little things because one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." A few weeks ago God used that little sign that was given to us by a dear friend a few years ago to get my attention. As you can imagine my life is very full, busy and fast paced which many times makes almost everything seem little and insignificant. In all of the busyness God reminded me to slow down and not miss the little things..........

Less than a week later I found myself in Greenville, South Carolina celebrating Kaylee's 14th birthday. This was not a typical 14th birthday party but instead I glanced over and saw my daughter and seven of her friends with their hands held high in worship at a Hillsong United concert. God whispered, "Mendy, Don't miss this." Tears streamed down my face as I sang, "I see a generation rising up to take their place......" I thought about the fact that my daughter had chosen to spend this special time worshiping with her friends and I am so glad that I didn't miss it!

This summer Megan had to do an interview in order to be accepted into the school that she wanted to attend this school year and as I sat beside her during the interview I was glad that I hadn't missed it. The lady interviewing ask Megan, "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" Megan didn't hesitate and she said, "I see myself teaching as a missionary in another country." Again large tears formed in my eyes and as much as that scares this mom to death I am so glad that we decided to take our entire family to Ethiopia last summer. At the time it seemed like a little (but expensive) thing as we were deciding whether or not our entire family should go. Was it easy? No, but I know that each little thing that happened in Ethiopia last summer have added up to big things in the lives of my children to the point of changing the course of their lives.

The first day of school Lindsay came home very excited because she was chosen to be the classroom leader. In the busyness of filling out paperwork (I have signed no less than a million forms in the past two weeks), figuring out homework for six and preparing snacks I could have missed it. Instead I celebrated with her- I am so glad that I didn't get so busy and overlook what could have been considered a little thing in my day when in reality is was a big thing for my daughter.

As I hold my weeping daughter and remind her that I love her and will never leave her, as I whisper in my youngest sons ear that I think that he is amazing and I am so proud to be his mom, as I listen to stories from Jacob's trip to Mexico, as I wash two loads of laundry each day, as I explain another math problem, as I pack six lunches a day, as I read bedtime stories, as I listen to my kids pray, as I watch my kids serve, as I discipline my children, as I sweep the floor again, as I greet David, as I tuck six kids in, as I have lunch with a friend, as I wipe a tear, as I sit across the table from a younger couple and try to speak wisdom, as I sit in the backseat while my oldest learns to drive, as I sit quietly with my Father and as I see two very broken and unsure kids start to show affection and feel secure I don't want to miss it because these aren't just little things!

What are you considering little? What are you missing?

Monday, August 15, 2011


It has been amazing to our family how quickly Tia and Garrett have picked up English. To see this video from a year ago and to hear her speak now is amazing! Although they have come so far sometimes they still say the cutest things! Here are a few that have been shared at our house the past few weeks......

Garrett was in a little bit of trouble the other day and so I said, "Garrett, look at my eyes." He quickly responded, "Mom, I already know what your eyes look like and I haven't forgotten how they look. Why do I need to see them again?."

Yesterday in the car it was "Soaking Hot!" when we were leaving church.

Tia continues to get cutie and pretty mixed up and she says, "Cutie, cutie please" often prior to correcting herself.

While fixing her hair the other day Tia said, "Mom, my hair looks like pasta!" At first I didn't understand and then she said, "You know the kind that we put red sauce on." So I guess her hair looks like spaghetti to her.

On Saturday, I had the boys go out and pull a few weeds in the front yard. I was explaining to Garrett how to pull the weeds and he said, "Mom, this is kind of dumb. You know that God makes these things grow right back. We are outside mom and green stuff is suppose to grow so why would we pull it up?" I have to agree with him but we needed them pulled.

Tia let us know this week that when she grows up that she is going to be a "rock star" and when she is not being a "rock star" she will be a "professional dancer" or maybe just a "karate girl." She followed this up by singing....."Someday Tia's gonna be a famous rock star....." to the tune of Taylor Swifts song Mean at the top of her lungs.

Garrett stopped while putting ice in the glasses one night last week for dinner and said, "Dad, who keeps putting the ice in here?" After a year of never seeing us put ice in the ice maker he wondered who put it there.

It is always fun to watch them have new experiences and I love to see them discover their new world even one year later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Our First Year Home

A year ago we were making our way home- Never in a million years could I have guessed what an amazing homecoming we would arrive home to. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love at the airport and it was priceless to bring Tia and Garrett into our home for the first time. To see them explore every square inch of our home, open every cabinet and drawer, turn on every light, run water in each sink or tub, climb on their beds, looking at each toy, turning on and off the remote controlled ceiling fan, opening the pantry full of food, seeing the ovens in the wall, pouring water out of the fridge, and both grinning from ear to ear.
To think of all that they have experienced in one short year is mind blowing to me. To remember that a year ago they knew very little English when we arrived home amazes me as I hear them speak and read. To see them feel so comfortable in our home and with us is something that we prayed for and it is a joy to experience. Just yesterday Tia and one of her siblings were in a little disagreement and David said to me, "This is what we wanted for Tia and Garrett to act like siblings with Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay!" I smiled as I agreed and praised God again for a year that has exceeded all of my dreams and expectations.

Monday, August 1, 2011


These containers that hold grain in Werke's hut apparently have been empty for a while. Many of you have contacted me over the past few days wanting an update on her medical condition yet every time I sit down to write an update I am not sure that I can even type with the tears that flow down my face. So here it goes......

Werke traveled to Addis late last week and had an MRI, ultrasound and blood work. On Friday Nicco took her to get the results of the testing and although her condition is better than we first thought, it is heart breaking to me. The doctor came in and explained that her medical issues are all due to malnutrition. As the doctor was talking and asking her questions she broke down and cried as she explained to the physician that she goes four or five days at a time without food in order to feed her children. Due to the fact that Werke has not been eating she has damaged several of her organs. Several of her organs are enlarged and not working properly now simply because she has been starving. The doctor gave her two units of blood and some medication in hopes to help her liver function.

I have known for over a year that Tia and Garrett were placed into an orphanage because of the poverty that Werke faced. This is more of a reality to me now more than ever. The sad part to me is that Nicco has money provided by us to care for Werke's basic needs yet she was embarrassed to let him know of her needs. At first I was upset that Werke had not been honest when Nicco would ask if she had needs yet when I started to think about myself in her position I am sure that I would have done the same. She explained to Nicco that she wanted to be able to care for her family and I am sure if I were her I would have been embarrassed to have needed help. I hope that she now realizes that we will take care of her needs and that she never has to be embarrassed with us or with Nicco.

I simply can't imagine..........she has been going to bed every night hungry. Not hungry like we think of hungry because we missed one meal or our bedtime snack but a hungry that we will never know. I can't imagine being at a place of almost starving to death yet Werke has found herself there. I can't imagine being a mom who is alone on a small remote island with literally no food.

Werke stayed in the city with Nicco this weekend and he was helping reintroduce her to eating. Apparently when you haven't had much food for a while your body rejects it when you begin to consume again. If she was able to eat properly by today (Monday) then he was taking her to purchase four types of grain, spices and anything else that he felt that she and the kids would need for the next six months. He will then return her to the island and make sure that she has more than enough food to care for her family until David's visit in a few months.

Please join me in praying for Werke. Pray that she will know that she is loved and that her basic needs will be provided for. Pray that she will feel God's love by His provision for her and her family. Pray for her heart to be open to receive the love, joy, peace and comfort that only He can give.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks for praying..........

Thanks for praying.........
Werke was willing to travel with Nicco today to Addis to get the medical care that she needs. Here is a photo of her and Allo (a sibling of Tia and Garrett and you can read more about her from my blog on Aug 31, 2010 labeled Need.....) as they took the long 2 hour boat ride to the mainland this afternoon. They then traveled by car for 3 hours and so I am sure that they are tired and scared.
Werke will see a doctor tomorrow morning and so please pray that the doctor will quickly be able to know the extent of what her health situation is.
Thanks for thinking of our family- many of you have contacted us on how to help and for this we are so thankful!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I had more time today to think than I do on a usual day. David and I had to take a quick road trip and so we had several hours in the car both yesterday and today to talk, reflect and enjoy time together. Yesterday was full of talking about us and today we had a few things to talk about that we wish we didn't have to even think about.
We received word today that Tia and Garrett's birth mom is very ill. We were told early last week that she had typhoid but after being medically evaluated something more is going on.

I spoke to Nicco on the phone today and after having an ultrasound (not as modern as our ultrasounds) Werke has a large growth or tumor near one of her ovaries. This will need to be surgically removed in order for her to regain her health. She will need to leave from the island and travel to Addis to get the medical help that is needed. As Nicco was sharing me the information that he had gathered my heart was breaking for this lady that I have come to love- Here are a few of my thoughts:

Who will care for her?
Who will care for her six kids while she is away from the island having surgery?
How can she have surgery in a place where medical care is so poor?(a broken arm was unbelievably scary when it came to health care)
How will she ever be able to heal in an environment where she is expected to do so much to care for the basic needs of her family?
How long has she been so very ill without the opportunity to seek health care?
How scared must she be to know that they only hope to get better is surgery yet she has no money to get the help she needs?

My thoughts then went beyond Werke's health:

How does she live every day and night in her hut which is in the photo above? This photo is from last week and as you can see it is in need of much repair. When we visited her last summer we purchased an orange tarp to cover the roof until a new roof could be constructed. Obviously this has yet to happen and so her home is open to all of the outside elements. Below you can see where she and the kids sleep. Notice the water marks on the wall and the ground where the roof is not providing protection for them.

What does it feel like to be so ill and yet lay on the ground to rest and sleep? As I saw the photo last week of her sitting on her "bed" I was reminded yet again of the contrast between her life and mine. Each night as I crawl into my nice, fluffy, king size bed I forget that so many in our world are sleeping on the hard ground. To think of her in pain trying to get comfortable on the wet dirt floor of her hut makes my heart break.

Who is caring for the kids while she is not feeling well? David and I both noticed that Tia and Garrett's siblings didn't seem very happy in the photos taken last week. They were very happy and excited when we were there yet in the photos from last week they didn't seem very joyful. I am sure that they are each very scared. Welde (the oldest brother) and their older sisters remember when their father died and so I am sure that they are worried about their mom. Tia and Garrett often say that when people got sick on the island then people would be very afaid because when people would get sick they usually would die. This must be a very real thought for the six kids who are watching their mother progressively get more ill.

Here are a few thing that I know:

I would give up my bed, pack it up and overnight it to Werke if I could. I would sleep on the ground in her place right now if I could so that she could be comfortable in my bed while she is ill. How could I not?

I know that God wants to me to go and help care for Werke if/when she agrees to have surgery. A trip to Ethiopia may come very soon for me. This is overwhelming to me yet I know that today God clearly told me to go. How could I not?

Our family will find a way to provide for all of her medical expenses. I am not sure of how we will do this but how can we not?

I am going to be proactive the next few days finding the best care for Werke in Addis. If you happen to know of a great physician in Ethiopia please let me know. I do have a contact with a Hospice nurse in Addis and I hope to be able to contact her soon.

I know that these are all rambling thoughts and not very put together but this is where I find myself and my thoughts tonight. We are trying to protect Tia and Garrett from worrying about Werke and so each night we are praying for Werke to be healthy. We just ask that you join us in praying for her and not mention this to Tia and Garrett.

Pray specifically tonight that as we sleep that Werke would be willing to travel from the island with Nicco to get the treatment that she needs in Addis. I know that it will be scary for her and the unknown is great yet she needs to receive this medical care in order to regain her health. Praise God yet again that Nicco is willing to help us love on our extended family when we can't.

Below is a photo of Werke (sitting on her bed). I hope that God will remind you of your many blessings as you look at this photo and as you pray for her and her precious family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A True Gift......

On Mother's day 2009, Megan gave me an amazing gift that I will never forget. She ordered a silver necklace that was the shape of Africa and on it was a tiny heart imprint over Ethiopia. She made it extra special by having Tizita and Geremew engraved on the back of the necklace for me. Megan knew how hard the wait had been on me while waiting to bring Tia and Garrett home and I know that she hoped that this gift would help me with the wait. I remember crying as I opened the necklace and when I put it on my neck I was determined to not take it off until our twins came home.

Fast forward to August of 2010. As we were climbing off of the boat and onto Zedachu island I started to think about the special gift that hung around my neck. I never in a million years wanted to hurt Megan's feelings but something deep inside me wanted the freedom to give this special gift to Werke (the twins birth mom) if I felt it appropriate while we were spending the day with her. After I climbed off of the boat I found Megan and started a conversation with her about the necklace that was so special to both of us. I wanted to know if she would be hurt if I felt led to leave it with Werke. Megan was excited about the idea of Werke sharing in this special gift.

We enjoyed our time on the island and as we were saying our goodbyes I quickly removed my necklace and gently placed it around Werke's neck. Tears were flowing down my face as I pointed out to her that Tizita and Geremew were engraved on the back. Nicco translated for me as I told her that this was a special gift that I wanted her to have. A gift to help her daily remember that Tizita and Geremew were being loved and cared for. I am so thankful that we had many friends all around taking photos and someone captured this special moment.

Fast forward again to last week. A family and friend from our church spent the day on the island in Ethiopia. Our friends were not expected on the island and when they arrived at Werke's hut they found her sleeping. She is ill with Typhoid that has been hard to treat from what I understand. (Please do not mention this to Tia and Garrett as we are protecting them from worry) She was able to get up and spend time enjoying photo book that we sent to her and enjoying the company of our friends. It was such a blessing to our family to know that our extended family there was feeling loved on and cared for one day last week.

Last night I was able to see a few photos that our friend took while on the island. As we looked at each photo I was amazed at the growth of each of Tia and Garrett's siblings and it was fun to see Werke enjoying the photo book that we made for her. As I continued to view the photos I got to one that literally took my breath away. It was a close up photo of the precious gift that my daughter had given me as it hung around Werke's neck last week. As I saw the engraved letters of my precious children's names I started to cry. The very gift that had brought me joy and comfort for months is now doing the very same thing to a special mom half way around the world.

Please join us in praying for Werke's health. We will continue to check in with her and send updates when we hear about her condition. It is my understanding that she was going to travel off of the island to seek medical help in the coming days.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


A year ago yesterday was one of the most amazing days of my life. A day where God answered what seemed like millions of prayers and blessed our family with two new Henderson's. I literally cry when I think about the emotions of that day.

We woke up early (actually I barely slept at all the night before) and the six of us got ready and headed down for breakfast in the dining room of the guest home. We were all fairly quiet and I think that all six of us had the same nervous feelings. We knew that in a few short hours Tia and Garrett would either be a part of our family or God would have more mountains to move to help get them into our family.

After breakfast we all grabbed our bottles of water and waited for Heiskel our van driver to arrive. We all piled in the van and made sure that Heiskel knew where we needed to be. He assured us that he had spoken with Nicco and he knew where we were going. I don't remember much about the drive other than feeling very nervous and praying the entire way. We really didn't know what to expect in the court room because we were the very first family under the new law which required adoptive parents to attend court.

We arrived at the court building to be told we were at the wrong place. David and I stood with all four kids in an unknown place, unable to speak the language but we understood that the armed guard was telling us that we were at the wrong place. I remember a tear starting to run down my face as we stood not knowing what to do. David quickly called Nicco and he explained that we indeed were at the right place and that he and Werke would be there in less than five minutes. Sure enough we were at the correct place and once the guard spoke with Nicco he understood why we were there.

I will never forget the brief conversation that took place outside the building. One that still makes my heart ache yet I was so thankful to be a part of. Werke was sitting in the front passenger seat of Nicco's car with the door open and Nicco and I were standing on the street right beside her. Nicco was explaining to her what he expected court to be like and of course I didn't understand a word that he was saying as he spoke to her. I then inquired on what he was saying and he ask her one other question. He was making sure that she understood that Tia and Garrett would not be returning to her but would be with us forever. Overwhelmed by emotion I turned as Werke got out of the car and we all proceeded into the courthouse.

We climbed several sets of very old stairs and finally reached the room where we were to wait for court. We were some of the very first people there. The room had dirty cream colored walls and about forty chairs lined the perimeter of the room. It looked nothing like what I had envisioned yet I really wasn't sure what to expect. It was a very cold atmosphere and this didn't help my nervousness.

We waited for what seemed to be hours for our agency and paperwork to arrive. David almost got us into trouble by making photos and thankfully Nicco was there to stop us from getting kicked out of the court house. Finally our name was called. David, myself, our biological kids, Werke, Nicoo and two people from our agency entered into the judges office. We all sat down and I remember us all being very crowded. We were in a very long skinny office where we all ten were on one side of the room and the judge and her office staff were on the other.

The judge started off by asking questions to Werke. Questions I am sure that had to be heart breaking to her but again I couldn't understand the language. Werke answered the questions and then it was our turn. She spoke to us in English and had and several questions for David, myself and even Megan. I realized as David was answering a question that I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life- So much so that I had broken out in hives. After the questioning she looked over all of our paperwork and said, "Tizita and Geremew are now yours!" Tears started to flow and David grabbed my hand. We stood to walk out of the judges office and I felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. They were finally ours!

As we climbed back down the stairs with tears flowing down my face I praised God that He hadn't allowed us to give up. On those days that we were told that they would never be adoptable, when their birth family couldn't be located, when Werke went missing, when paperwork couldn't be collected, when lower courts were closed, when mountain after mountain was ahead of us God was asking us to trust Him and I am so thankful that we did. Those days full of tears, nights with very little sleep, days where David and I disagreed on what to do, those nights at bedtime where our kids would ask why, and every prayer that was prayed had been worth it. They were now Henderson's and nothing could change that.

When we reached the van we invited Werke to go to the orphanage with us to pick up Garrett and Tia. We also invited her to join us for lunch and I am so very thankful that she said yes to both. Our drive to the orphanage seemed long because I couldn't wait to tell the twins that they were ours and that they were going to the guest house with us and would never be alone again. I prayed for Werke as we traveled there for her heart to be opened to Christ and His love for her even in this hard situation.

We pulled up and it was as if I heard God say, "Mendy, let her go first." I held our kids back and allowed Werke to walk in the gate of the orphanage first. Tia and Garrett both ran to her and hugged her and I leaned close to David and said, "I don't know if I can do this." I wasn't sure I could watch them interact yet something in me knew I needed to see their interaction. Again tears were flowing as she kissed them and spoke to them. I didn't understand her language yet I knew what she was saying. The scene was heartbreaking yet so very special at the same time.

As soon as they had a few minutes we walked closer for them to see us and they were told that we had passed court. Tia and Garret both we so excited and hugged each of us. They both could not wait to leave they started saying chow to everyone and they wanted to leave quickly. We gathered the blankets that we had brought to them in November off of their beds and I ask if they had anything else. The workers at the orphanage said no the clothing that they had on was all that they had. Again, overwhelmed with the realization that our kids had nothing yet now they had everything.

We all climbed in the van and Garrett found his place beside Jacob and Tia on my lap. Werke again was in the front and at this time she feel into the shadows. As Heiskel started to pull of in the van Tia screamed and started to cry. She had only traveled once in a car and she was scared to death. I was again reminded of how many new experiences would be ahead for us with both of them. Once we got her to calm down she was fine but that first ride in the van she squeezed my arms the entire way to lunch.

When we arrived at the restaurant we walked over to the table and I remembered that our kids had never sat at a table to eat. We helped them sit in their chairs and we scooted them up close to the table. We helped them unfold their napkins and they couldn't believe the silverware. They both ordered soda and that was another first for them. The giggled as they took their first fizzy sip and made funny faces as they drank. Garrett collected the bottle tops from the entire table and put them in his pocket. We had an amazing lunch and I am so thankful that they had David, myself. our kids, Nicco and Werke there with them for this very special lunch.

After lunch Nicco and Werke said goodbye very quickly and headed off. We then took Tia and Garrett to get their first ice cream cones. That was a sight as Garrett bit the bottom of his cone first and he wore ice cream on his shirt until we arrived at the guest house. Tia loved her chocolate ice cream and smiled from ear to ear as she ate it. We were together alone for the first time as our party of eight and I was simply amazed at God's goodness to us.

We arrived back at the guest house after our ice cream and it was shower time for Tia and Garrett. I will never forget Tia saying Thank you over and over as I gave her a warm shower. I was so thankful for Megan's help because there were time that I was crying so hard that I couldn't help Tia and Megan would take over. Tears of sheer joy as my daughter showered in warm water for the first time in her life. The same scene unfolded when David showered Garrett. A warm shower- something we never are thankful for yet it was bringing such joy to our kids.

The day continued with showing them their new cloths and shoes and Garrett unable to believe that he had more than one pair of shoes. He tried to give his other shoes to Jacob and Lindsay. We played games, colored, introduced them to electronic games, to a million pictures and simply enjoyed being together as a family. Memories that we will each cherish forever were made that day.

My favorite time was bedtime- I had longed to tuck them both in, read a Bible story and pray as I do with all of our kids. I had dreamed of this precious time and it was more amazing that I could have ever dreamed. To hug all six kids, give them all kisses, and tuck them in all in the same room was a miracle and I knew it! I shut the door to their room, rejoiced in the Lord, and slept better than I had in two long years knowing that they were safe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

For months I had wondered............

For months I had wondered, dreamed about and lost sleep over what this moment would be like. Would she be warm and welcoming or cold and distant? Would she approve of me? Would she want to share details of her children's lives with me or would she be silent when I would ask a question? Was she angry and bitter at what life had dealt her or was she at a place of peace?

We pulled up to our guest house in the late afternoon as the rain started to fall. I stepped out of our van and took a long, deep breath and prayed that God would give me the strength to face the next few moments. My head was spinning and I literally felt that I might be sick. As I walked beside the van I could see Nicco's car parked on the road behind us and started in that direction when I saw her. Again my breath was taken away and I was not sure that I could keep walking. As this feeling came over me again I noticed that Werke (Tia and Garrett's birth Mom) was quickly opening the car door and hurrying out of the car. I continued to walk towards her and I wasn't sure how to greet her. I quickly put my arms around her she quickly responded by wrapping her arms around me and as the rain fell all around us we held each other tightly. Our bodies were both shaking and tears were flowing down our faces. She started to kiss my cheeks first the right, then the left, over and over and it was at this point that I was able to take a deep breath and kiss her back. In Ethiopia you greet someone that you love by kissing their cheeks and after months of wondering and being overcome by fear God was whispering, "Mendy, I have gone before you."

We stood in the rain for quite some time as a peace came over us. I noticed that by the time we ended this embrace we were both no longer shaking and we both had smiles on our faces. I knew that she must have had the same emotions that I did as she pulled up to the guest home that Sunday afternoon. The same fears that I had experienced for months had to have been the same that she experienced. All of the unknowns and questions finally were beginning to have answers for both of us.

I gently took her hand and led her into the guest home. As we entered the foyer of this home it quickly hit me that this was probably the nicest home that she had ever been to. It is a large home with running water, electricity, sofas, tables, chairs and even a television. I wondered what she had to feel as she entered into such a different environment with me, the lady who would mother her children. I held her hand more tightly and continued into the living room with her.

We sat down on the sofa and Nicco helped translate for us and I held onto every word. I wanted to remember every piece of information about Tia and Garrett's first four years of life, about their extended family, and about the life that she had lived. As I sat holding her hand I could feel her strength yet I could sense how very fragile she was. My mind raced as she told us about her family. She told of how Tia and Garrett's father had died while she was pregnant with them and how she remarried her brother-in-law (which is customary in their village). She shared that when the youngest twins were three months old their father died leaving her widowed for the second time and having to care for eight children on her own.

She shared how hard it was to have eight children, one of which has a medical condition. She told of times where they had very little if anything to eat and how hard that was as a mother. I cried as I listened to her share story after story. David and I had numerous questions for her and she answered each one. I know that this had to be a painful process for her to share how she got to the point of having to make a decision that no mother should ever have to make- to give her son and daughter away in order for them to have their basic needs met.

Tears flowed from both of our eyes as I held her and promised that I would take care of her precious children.I promised that I would love them forever and I would provide for their needs. She listened to every word that I spoke to her and she responded by thanking me over and over. I held her tight and prayed to remember these moments and promises that will always be so dear to my heart. Promises that I made to Werke and before the Lord to love and care for the children that He had placed in my care. I thanked God for picking me to walk this difficult journey with Werke.

Many adoptive mothers never get these priceless moments that I was able to experience. I realize how blessed I am to not only have had these moments with Werke but even more special moments with her when we traveled to the island several weeks later. Our relationship will continue and I look forward to another visit with her soon where I can share with her how amazing our kids are. How they are growing, reading, have made new friends, and how they talk about and pray for her every day.

God has put it on my heart to get to know Werke even more deeply for my children's sake. I pray that I get to spend some extended time with her in the near future where she and I can trace our stories back and write them down for Tia and Garrett to read. Where we together can write where we have come from, decisions we have had to make and what life has been like for both of us as we have gotten to this place on our journey both together and apart as their moms. Praying that God will make a way for this to happen and I am sure that I will share this journey with others to help others understand what adoption is like for both the birth and adoptive mom.

A year ago this afternoon is a day that I will never forget- A day where once again God reminded me of His goodness by using a precious lady that my kids still call Mom. To Him I am thankful for all that He has done!

I can't believe that a year ago we met for the first time. At times it seems like only yesterday and other times it seems likes a lifetime ago. I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well. You would be so amazed at your precious kids. They have grown up so much this past year (literally by 4 inches). They have experienced so many new things and they are both so very happy. I wish that you could be here to hear them read a book or to watch them play soccer. I wish you could be here when they return from school each day with their stories about their day or watch them ride down our street on their bikes.

Tia has become quite the dancer and she loves to play dress-up. She doesn't like to be dirty or to hot and so island life would be hard for her right now. She loves to sing and I wish you could see her as she gets a microphone and sings to the top of her lungs. She has lost her taste for Ethiopian food but loves anything that we feed her. Tia loves to paint and draw and is a very good artist (I have enclosed some of her work for you). She is all smiles most of the time and she has hundreds of friends wherever she goes. She is an amazing little lady and I am so thankful for her.

Garrett has excelled in every sport that he has tried and several of the boys in his class say that they want to "Run like Garrett" when they grow up. He is such a smart guy and he is reading on grade level after just speaking English for less than a year. He is an amazing student and I can't wait for you to see some of his school work (which I have enclosed). Garrett continues to love Ethiopian food and I am sure that he would love another plate of enjera and dourawat like you gave him as we were leaving the island. Garrett is such an amazing helper and he is growing into a handsome young man.

They both have fallen in love with our family and us with them but not a day goes by without them talking about and praying for you and their siblings on the island. They love and miss you and we look forward to a day when we are all together again. Until that day know that I am keeping my promise to you to love, care for and provide for our precious kids-
Much Love,

PS I hear that the wells are almost finished- I am thankful that in a few short weeks you will have clean drinking water for you and the kids- Can't wait to come for a visit.

(This note that will be taken to Werke next week when a group from our church travels to the island)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

365 days.......

A year ago at this very moment everything changed! I had sent all four kids out to school, David was at work and I was in the middle of doing laundry when the phone rang. I picked up my phone and saw that it was our adoption agency.

When I saw that the phone number was our agency I held my breath. Every phone call from them usually meant more bad news or more time to wait. I said hello and the voice on the other end made sure that it was me. She then spoke these life changing words, "Mendy, start packing your bags because you have a court date on June 28th." I was not sure I heard her correctly and so I ask her to repeat herself and again all I that I heard was court and June 28th. I will never forget that I was in our hallway upstairs just outside of the laundry room when I literally fell to my knees and started to cry. I couldn't think clearly and had a million questions for her but I couldn't seem to think clearly and so I ask her if I could call back when I got myself together.

I hung up the phone and shouted to the top of my lungs, "Thank you Lord!" I dailed David's number as fast as I could and when he answered I couldn't talk because I was crying so hard. (Actually tears are flowing down my face now as I type just thinking of that moment) I tried to mutter that our agency had called and that we were to be in Ethiopia for court in 20 days. David shouted and started crying as well. The news that we had prayed for, fasted for , hoped for and cried out for for months had finally come.

Today I celebrate that when God calls us to a task He will see it to completion. Those long sleepless nights, every tear cried, every prayer prayed- He was there. When the world said that our precious Tia and Garrett were unadoptable our God said trust me and we did..........I am so thankful that this phone call was just the beginning of God completing what He had started!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Our daily bread.........

If you have read many blogs you know that our son Garrett shares many more stories and is much more vocal than his twin sister, Tia. When Tia speaks it is usually very loud and most of the time very important. A few weeks ago she made a huge impact on me with her words and it is one that I have thought about daily.

Prior to tucking in the kids each night we do a devotion with them. Usually it is all four of the younger kids but this particular night it was only Tia and Lindsay. We read the devotion about how God provides for our every need. We read in Matthew 6 on how to ask God to provide for our needs.

Tia seemed to be paying close attention and she seemed to be thinking the entire time that I was reading the devotion about our needs and how God will provide food, drink, shelter, clothing, health, friends and family. She was quiet and didn't have much to say as I questioned she and Lindsay about what God provides for us. The devotion book I use with them always has an activity to end with each day. This night the activity page had pictures of several things and the girls were to circle the things that were needs and cross out the things that were wants.

I really couldn't believe the next few moments as I watched Tia's face. I could tell that she was really thinking about what her true needs were and what were really just wants. Lindsay went first and for the things that she needs she circled the house, milk, bread, and shoes. She crossed out the nail polish, baby doll, and bike. Next it was Tia's turn and I got a glimpse of what she was thinking about as we read the devotion. Tia started by crossing out the wants......first she crossed off the bike, next the doll, and then the nail polish. She then paused for a few seconds and crossed off the milk, next the shoes and then the house. She started to cross out the bread and then ended up circling only the bread.

After she finished marking I ask her to tell me what she needs. She said, "I only need bread." I thought that maybe she didn't understand and I said, "Tia, we need a house to live in don't we?" She responded as she pointed at the picture, "Mom, it doesn't have to be a pretty house like this one. In Ethiopia we had a little house." Of course tears started to flow as I told her that she was exactly right. She then went on to explain that she didn't have milk or shoes on the island and so those were not needs but wants.

As I was listening to my daughter, my heart was breaking. This time not because she had experienced life with very little (literally only her daily bread) but because I knew how the "needs" in my own life are really just "wants". I think that I need so much when in reality God providing my daily bread is all that I NEED. I scooped my precious daughter into my lap and I thanked God out loud for using her to remind me of my selfishness in wanting so much more than I really need. Lindsay and I were both in tears as we both were taught such a life changing message from our sweet Tia.
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