Monday, August 30, 2010

$821 closer + yard sale tips

we had our third {well, technically second, since one got rained out} and FINAL adoption fundraiser yard sale this weekend, and we are now $821 closer to our sweet ethiopian joy!! this time we hosted the yard sale at our house and we had a pretty steady stream of traffic. since we've been holding on to an entire room and 2 garages full of stuff, we were ready to get rid of as much as possible so we priced things to sell, and most of them did!

the boys had their first overnight visit with their mom on friday, so it gave ryan and i the ability to set up without too many distractions, and that was nice. we still ended up working until about 2:00 a.m. on saturday morning setting up tables and then were back up by 4:30 a.m. to finish everything up. despite having only about 2.5 hours of sleep, everything went great and we were really pleased with the turn out and the sales! we also got to meet a lot of neat people and got to talk a lot about adoption, which is one of my favorite things to do :)

here are some shots of the chaos early saturday morning:

*we had A TON of clothes which took forever to organize but was well worth it!
*aren't my signs beautiful?? haha. i started those about 1:30 a.m. and was too tired to even try to make them look pretty :)

as the sale was winding down, ryan and i decided that this was probably it for us and yard sales for awhile!! they are a lot of work but we are so thankful for the funds we have raised for adoption by doing them. through yard sales and craigslist sales, we are estimating that we raised about $2200 for our adoption! wahooo!! our leftovers were passed along to another great family raising money to bring home their 2 boys from ethiopia. if you are in the area, they are having another yard sale next weekend so let me know if you want to check it out!

so, as a wrap up of our yard sale season, i thought i'd post my thoughts/recommendations in case you are planning a yard sale as a fundraiser. here's what i've gleaned from my experiences over the last few months:

*try to hold your yard sale during neighborhood wide sales if possible. if not, talk with your neighbors about having a sale the same day as you. get a few houses to chip in a couple of bucks and put an ad in the paper. this will help bring in extra traffic and is a win-win for everyone! believe me, i'm sure your neighbors, like everyone, have stuff to get rid of. this can also be a chance to meet neighbors that you don't know really well!

*advertise on craiglist. put an ad around mid-week for your sale on craigslist and make sure to mention that it is a fundraiser for your adoption. i cannot tell you how many people told us that they only stopped by because they saw that it was for our adoption :) also, craigslist is free and is a must read for most avid yard salers. try not to wait until friday night to advertise your sale though because a lot of yard salers plan their saturday routes ahead of time.

*offer breakfast, snacks and drinks for sale. we made individually wrapped cookies and brownies, and then offered soft drinks for sale as well. people gladly chipped in an extra $0.75 for our cold drinks, especially as the day got warmer, and also bought up all our baked goods. between our two sales, we probably made an extra $100 at least just by selling these little extras! i've also heard of a lot of families having good luck with grilling hot dogs and selling chips, but we didn't have much luck with that {probably due to lack of effort though!}

*check the weather forecast, and if you feel comfortable doing so in your neighborhood, try to set up as much as possible the night before. we live in a court off the main road so we didn't have any problems with setting up the night before our sale. we went ahead and brought everything out the night before, began organizing and then covered everything up and went to sleep. the more sleep you get, the better!! you will need enough energy to be going, going, going throughout the sale and clean up so get some sleep {we learned this one the hard way!}

*ask friends, family, and strangers for donations of stuff to sell. as i think i've mentioned before, almost all of the things we sold were donated to us for our sale. last september we had a yard sale and sold pretty much everything we needed to get rid of, but that was before we were anticipating paying for an international adoption. so, in order to get items to sell, we asked our church family, friends and relatives if they had items they'd like to get rid of. we had so many great people step up and offer some really great stuff to us, and that made a huge difference!! also, once again use craigslist to get other items donated for the sale. i contacted quite a few people through craigslist that were hosting yard sales and asked about picking up their leftover stuff. instead of them having to haul leftover items off to goodwill, i told them what we'd use the items for and picked them up from them directly. as you'll learn with lots of yard sales, items' values are totally dependent upon finding the right purchasers. just because it didn't sell at their yard sale doesn't mean it won't sell at yours!!

*don't be afraid to sell clothes. before having the sales, i really did not want to accept clothes as a donation because i didn't think they'd sell. however, i soon realized that i was so wrong! we probably made the most money off of clothes purchases - especially kids and womens styles. if you price them easily, $1.00/piece or something like that, people are more likely to happily dig through piles of clothes to find things. i heard that it's best if you can hang the clothes for easy browsing, but we just had way too many and were scared to even try to do that. instead, i tried to categorize the clothes on tables for easy browsing. i sorted the men and women's clothes by style - tops, bottoms, dresses, etc. but not by size because that would have been too time consuming. i did however sort the kids clothes by size but not style. this helped me know where to direct people to if they were looking for something specific. as the days went on, i would reduce the price on the clothes or offer to make people a deal if they bought a large quantity of items.

*tell everyone that your sale is a fundraiser for your adoption and not to be afraid to make you a reasonable offer on anything. this not only encourages people to ask you questions about adoption and opens up conversation, but also lets them know that you are willing to work with them on price if what they're asking is fair.

*put up brightly colored, coordinating signs that help people easily find your house. if you can, have all your signs match in color, shape, sizes, etc. so they don't get confused and end up at another sale. this should also help you bring in traffic from people who just happen to be driving by or that live in the neighborhood.

i think that's it for now! if i think of any others, i'll add them later, and please feel free to comment with any suggestions you might have as well :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

elizabeth's wedding

who doesn't love a good wedding??

remember me talking about my friend elizabeth's wedding that i got to be a part of at the end of july? well i just had to share this link to some pictures of the details of her big day. all i can say is that she is a creative genius! most adorable/elizabeth-like wedding ever!! check out her eye for details:

Friday, August 27, 2010

expecting from ethiopia

custom adoption stamped necklace.
that's right. we're expecting from ethiopia and now i'm a proud owner of the above necklace to show it to the world! i can't wait to get it in the mail :) isn't it just cute? i've been loving this necklace for months but was unsure whether or not to purchase it or to just wait until we have a referral and then get something with our little one's name. however, when i went to stalk this necklace on etsy again yesterday, i was convinced to take the plunge and purchase the necklace when i saw that 100% of the proceeds would go to help this family adopt. what can i say, it was a total win-win situation!! if you're interested in a necklace of your own, you should check out nicole's shop. here it is: adorable stuff!!

so, we're still in the expecting news on a referral yet and the wait is getting a bit harder each day, but we're expecting it any time :) our dossier has officially been in ethiopia for over 2 months now, which is about the minimum time we were guessing we'd wait... {our agency tells families to expect to wait approximately 2-6 months for a referral. we are praying for only 2 months!}

although the wait has not been unbearable so far, i still continue to wonder each day if we're going to be adding a little boy or girl to our family. we have been casually kicking around a boy's name for a couple months now but i am ready to know for sure what to call our child. {we'd love to keep their ethiopian name if possible but aren't opposed to changing it to an english name either...we're just waiting to see what their given name is.} come on, can you say monogram? i think i might lose control and monogram everything we own when we pass court with our child!! plus, if we're adding a sweet, little girl to our family, we still need to decide on a girl's name and start buying pink!

overall, it just seems like the last 2 years of our lives have been spent praying for our unknown children and i can't wait to begin praying for at least one known child!! while we know that God already knows the number of hairs on our child's head, and He knows who we're talking about when we're praying...we want to know our child too :)

anyway, waiting is never easy for me but i am trying to persevere and trust that the Lord's timing is perfect. this verse has been encouraging me along the journey and i hope it will encourage you to wait on the Lord too:

"so you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God". -hosea 12:6

in the meantime, i'll just keep expecting and praying, and i hope you'll do the same!

Monday, August 23, 2010

fundraising with Both Hands

i know i've briefly mentioned that we've been given a pretty amazing opportunity to raise funds for our adoption through the both hands foundation, but i've yet to explain the process so i want to finally do that today. i know most of you have probably heard of lifesong for orphans and if you haven't you should check out their website! they have some amazing resources for adoptive families or for people who just want to get involved with orphan care.

when evaluating the expense of adoption and praying about ways to make it feasible for our family, ryan and i quickly decided to apply for a grant through lifesong for orphans. in doing so, we noticed an option on the application for a "both hands project". at the time we had no clue what that was but we figured that if it would help us get our kiddo home, we'd do it so we checked the box! {good thing the "both hands project" was something good! for all we knew, we were signing up to give both of our hands in exchange for a kiddo...but i guess we'd be ok with that too :)}

a couple weeks later, i was doing some reading on lifesong's website and learned more about the idea of both hands and fell in love with the project. at the time i told ryan that i hoped we'd get approved for a grant but i also hoped we'd get approved for both hands as well. it just seemed like an awesome opportunity to fulfill james 1:27 more completely than adoption alone. well, my wish came true and we heard back early this summer that we'd been approved for a $4000 matching grant and the both hands project!!

Both Hands

so, what is a both hands project you may ask?? well, essentially the idea is serving the orphan with one hand and the widow with the other! in order to do so, we are going to be hosting a full day of service on a widow's home in our local community. through some connections with our church and campus crusade for Christ, we were able to connect with an elderly woman named lucille who lives in louisville's inner city and is in serious need of help cleaning up her home. mrs. lucille has been widowed for about 10 years since her husband passed away from throat cancer. unfortunately, due to grief and lack of help, mrs. lucille has been accumulating A LOT of stuff since her husband's passing. so much stuff that a few rooms in her home are packed almost floor to ceiling!! she has asked for our help to get her home cleaned up and possibly for help preparing for a large yard sale from the items that are salvageable.

the neat part about the project is that while we are helping and serving mrs. lucille, our family also has an opportunity to raise funds to bring our sweet child into our family. how does that work, you might ask? well, we have put together a team of 9 awesome couples, 1 single gal, and our families to write letters asking for sponsorships for their day of service. similar to a walk-a-thon or golf scramble, our team of letter writers has sent out letters to their network of friends and family asking to be sponsored. to our amazement, all the money that will be raised by our letter writing team and through our personal sponsorship letters will go towards bringing our little sweeney home!! 100%!

so, where are we currently with our fundraising? we are estimating that we still need to raise about $10,000 {not including the $4,000 being matched by lifesong}. of the $14,000 we still need to complete our adoption, $8,000 will go to our agency for all the paperwork, lawyers, court fees, case workers, etc. in ethiopia and $6,000 will go towards our travels to ethiopia. while that amount seems like A LOT, i know that it is nothing to God! He has faithfully provided for us each and every time we needed to make another payment on our adoption or fill out another costly form, and we're trusting Him to continue to do the same if this is His Will for us.

in order to think of it in an easier way, i'm going to break down our needs:

we need 100 people to give $100
we need 200 people to give $50
we need 400 people to give $25
we need 100 people to give $20, 75 people to give $40, 50 people to give $100

that's it!! seems manageable, right? i think so :) most the letters from our team are beginning to trickle out now, and we plan to mail ours in the next few days so if you think of it, please say a prayer for those letters. our hope is not only to receive the funds to adopt but also to give others the opportunity to join this journey with us through prayer and giving!

another awesome giveaway

you've got to check out this awesome giveaway over at the mathews family blog. i just bought my entries for the giveaway and hope you will too! although secretly i didn't want to share about the giveaway because i want to win, i can't keep this awesome prize pack a secret :) it's another awesome way that little by little, we can help support bringing another orphan into a loving family. you can enter the drawing for $5 and get other entries for posting about the giveaway as well. go here to see all the amazing prizes (including one of our One Less tees)!!

**speaking of the tees, we're placing a reorder for the shirts today. please let me know if you would like a shirt as this will most likely be our last order!! thanks so much for all your support so far. the shirts have provided for many of the extra expenses {like those lovely vaccinations!} that we were not ready to pay for...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

supporting adoptive families

as a fumbling adoptive family ourselves, i know it is not always easy to know what to do or what to say to those who are adopting. i have friends who consider the details of their adoption process quite private, while i am comfortable being an open book and hope others will be encourage to adopt themselves after seeing the reality of the process. so, for those who are unfamiliar with the process, i'm sure it can be kinda sticky to know how best to support adoptive families.

so to help , i want to share with you a great post written by megan of the terryhousehold blog with some great guidelines for supporting adoptive families during different stages of their adoption. {i actually found megan's post through lisa of little did i know, so thanks lisa!} megan gave permission on her blog to share her post, so i hope you find it helpful! here ya go:

Having been through both the adoption experience and the child birth experience, I found that all kinds of people know how to take care of you after you give birth, but hardly anyone knows the right things to do when you bring home your adopted child. Most people also don't know how to respond appropriately when you tell them that you are adopting in the first place. This is meant to be a guide for the friends and families of adoptive families in the praying/planning/dreaming phase as well as families in process and newly home. Link it up, cut and paste, email it out to your family. I will say all the things to your family that you are afraid to say or maybe that you yourself don't even know that you need yet! (I don't mind being the heavy!)

1. When your loved one comes to you with the news that they are planning to adopt:
  • Do not say, "Oh, don't give up trying for 'your own'" or "Don't you want to have one of 'your own' instead? Adoption is not something people enter into lightly. And prospective adoptive families already do consider this child that they do not even know as 'their own'. By saying this to an adoptive family, it insinuates that you will not be accepting their new addition as your 'own' grandchild/neice/nephew/etc. Also- many families that consider adoption have been through long periods of time dealing with infertility and adoption may be a very emotional decision. It signifies the end of one dream and the beginning of a new dream. Supporters need to be very sensitive to this and be positive!
  • Share your concerns about the finances of adoption, but do it in a non-judgemental way. Yes, adoption is expensive. But you need to understand that there are grants, fundraisers, and ways to aquire the money. So instead of looking at the people who want to adopt and saying, "Oh my gosh- you are so poor, you will never be able to afford this!" say something like, "I know that this will be expensive, how can we help you plan a fundraiser?"
  • Do not recall in gory detail every terrible adoption story you've ever heard. This is the equivalent of telling a pregnant woman that her baby will be born with 12 arms and she will be in labor for 3 weeks and her boobs will fall all the way down to the ground after breastfeeding. Just don't do it.
  • If the family is adopting internationally, do not condescendingly talk about how there are so many kids here in America who need home. Each person needs to do what feels right for their family. Sometimes that means adopting domestically, and sometimes that means going international. Either way, a child who needs a home and a family will get one. Focus on that fact and leave your personal opinions about which you think is best to yourself. Remember- they are BOTH awesome (and BOTH necessary!)
2. Once families are in process:
  • Check in with the adoptive family's (from here on out called A.F.) emotions! Adoption can be a very emotional process. There are days where you are in the dumps and days when you want to celebrate. Give the A.F. the space to talk about their feelings and their frustrations. When they call super excited and say, "I got my I-171h", pretend like you know what they are talking about and jump up and down and throw a party.
  • Throw a baby shower just as if the A.F. was pregnant. Make a big stinkin' deal over the mom to be. Obviously, don't play the how big is your belly game. But do everything else the same!
  • Support A.F. fundraisers. They need your help! Better yet- host a fundraising dinner, pancake breakfast, auction, raffle, etc. to help the family raise the money to bring their child home.
  • If there are other children already in the A.F. offer to babysit them leading up to traveling so that mom and dad get a few last dates in before the new addition.
  • If the adoption is international, educate yourself about the child's birth country.
  • If the adopted child will be of a different race, educate yourself about transracial families by reading articles, books, etc. Just googling transracial families will bring up a wealth of information.
  • Offer to keep siblings, pets and housesit for the A.F. when they are traveling.
3. Once families are home:
  • All the same rules apply as when you bring a baby home from the hospital. Bring food, offer to coordinate meals and food dropoffs for church groups. Come over and clean. Wash clothes and put away laundry. Wash dishes. Do not believe the A.F. when they say they do not need help. THEY DO!
  • Respect the A.F's rules regarding holding their new addition. Many families may wish to not have any outsiders (this includes Grandma!) holding their child so that this child who has been with many caregivers can learn who mom and dad are. A.F's do not do this to hurt your feelings. They are only doing what they feel is best for their new child. Do not make them feel bad about this.
  • Also- sometimes to foster attachment in our adopted kiddos, the parent's don't want to leave them with a sitter or family member for a long period of time after coming home. Understand that this is not because the family member or sitter is not trusted or loved. It is just to help give the new child the right sense of family and permanence.
  • Offer to run the carpool, run errands, cut the grass, babysit the siblings, pick up items at the grocery. New moms are notoriously sleep deprived- even if this is the 10th child they've adopted. Drop over a huge cup of Starbucks. Say hello at the door with said cup of coffee and leave.
  • Give gift cards for takeout and pizza- so that long after the food welcome wagon has stopped coming, the family can still eat without having to cook! Seriously- who wants to cook when you've been up all night with a crying baby?
  • Even though the A.F. did not give birth, families who are bringing home new children will be exhausted from long nights in the hospital (domestic adoption), long flights or a week or two in a foreign land with a new baby who has most likely been screaming non-stop because the child has no idea what is happening to them. Give the A.F. the forum to share how ragged they are. Do not judge them. Every single part is not going to be perfect. Let them get how hard it all is off their chest without feeling guilty about it.
  • Watch for post adoption depression. It is a real thing. Just because a woman isn't flooded with pregnancy hormones, doesn't mean that she can't develop depression. There is a lot of leadup going into an adoption and sometimes the reality is tough and can lead to lots of emotional ugliness. Be supportive.
  • Do not expect adoptive parents to be "super parents". I find that there is a huge stigma that adoptive families should have it all together because they "paid a lot" for their children. All families are on a learning curve- no matter how they got their children. Do not be quick to dispense advice if you've never adopted a child (because parenting an adopted child in the early days is a lot different than a biological child), but be quick to say, "How can I help?"- Then be willing to actually help!
  • Most of all, share in the joy that comes with bringing a new child into the family!
let me know your thoughts/feedback!! thanks :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

orphan sunday

did you know that november 7th, 2010 is orphan sunday?

i am pretty excited about it and am hoping to somehow get our church involved. however, since i've never been to a church that's focused on orphan sunday, i am still brainstorming exactly what that would look like. so, i'm wondering if any of you have any experience with orphan sunday or any input that would be helpful in getting a small, young, yet Christ-focused church on fire for orphan care. if you do, please send ideas my way!! thanks :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

a thousand words

i thought it was overly time for me to share a few pictures from my recent trip to afghanistan. since i couldn't begin to adequately describe all the contrasting instances of beauty and pain in the country, i thought i'd let you see for yourself. please understand that these pictures do not by any stretch of the imagination do this place justice!! enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

doom and gloom girl

ok, so i feel like i'm beginning to sound a little like "doom and gloom girl" on here. i'm sorry if i've been excessively melodramatic lately in my posts, but truth be told, that's a little of how i'm feeling lately. it just seems that many things are not quite going as planned or expected for me lately...which i guess by now should be the expected!! between my trip to afghanistan and the tragedy that happened while i was in the country, the ceiling in one of our bedrooms and living room having to be torn out from water damage, not getting a referral for our ethiopian kiddo yet, my unexpected trip to the hospital {i'm still here, btw}, and the news ryan received at our home visit today for the boys**, i'm really am just feeling a little overwhelmed and spent.

**sidebar: the boys will be beginning overnight visits with their mom. the SW wanted to start this friday but my dear husband kindly informed the SW that she would have to keep dreaming. he told her that he wasn't going to rock the boat this week after things have already been so chaotic with me being in the hospital and school starting back today. to say that i'm a bit shocked/disappointed with the timing of all this is a bit of an understatement. without disclosing too much, we've just had a frustrating few weeks with the boys' mom and the care they've been receiving while at her house. {i guess that's not really new, huh?} unfortunately, our concerns are obviously not shared by the ones who are supposed to be in charge of the boys' best interest though... so, starting next friday the boys will be heading to their moms on fridays after i get off work and will be returned to us saturday night. poor ryan had to be the bearer of the bad news to me today since i couldn't be at the home visit and i think it liked to kill him. he tried to encourage me to look at it as positive because we now have an extra date night and an opportunity to sleep in late on saturdays again. i tried to appreciate his point of view but i know him well enough to figure out that he's still trying to convince himself of the positive side too. {see, there i go again. more doom and gloom...ah!}

anyways, i say all of this because i really feel like the devil is on the prowl in my life more than usual and i hate that. i really wish he'd GO AWAY but at the same time, i'm glad i'm actually on his radar. i hope that means that my life is messing with his preferred path of destruction!

as all these things keep adding up, i can't help but to reflect on a blog post i read a week or so ago by missy at it's almost naptime {cutest blog name ever, huh?}. you can read it for yourself here but she is basically talking about the devil's spiritual attacks against adopting couples. she points out that satan would love nothing more than to destroy the living portrait of the Gospel that adoptions paint, and i completely concur.

in the spirit of letting the devil know that he's not going to steal my thunder, not now and not ever, i would like to state publicly that come hell or high water, our family will continue to serve the Lord as He calls through foster care and adoption. no, i can't begin to guess what that will look like in the future, nor do i think that it will always be easy. however, i do know that we've seen and heard everything that we know on foster care and adoption for a reason and i'm not ready to forsake that purpose any time soon.

so, just to wrap up, if you're an adoptive/adopting family, please read missy's blog post. if you know a family in the process of adopting or that's already adopted, please pray specifically for them to be armed and ready for the devil's attacks, frustration, trickery and manipulation. thanks :)

"let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God" - isaiah 51:10a

{ps - as a complete first for our little macbook - my computer completely froze and i had to do a hard restart while typing this post...sorry, satan! it's still getting posted :)}

Monday, August 16, 2010

laid up

that's right...i'm spending the day laid up in the hospital :( i started not feeling great friday night but had hoped it was just travelers' stomach stuff and that i'd be on my feet before the weekend was over. however, after staying down and out for most of the day saturday and sunday, we decided it was time to head to the ER last night. {i'll spare you all the gross details but boy am i glad i got to the hospital when i did!!}

after having a CT scan, they determined that i have colitis possibly caused by bringing home some little friends from afghanistan. i had a pretty rough night but am feeling much better now that I've been pumped with a cocktail of antibiotics and fluids all night. i'm supposed to be seen by a GI doc today and they're hoping my labs will reveal exactly what i need to be treated for. so far, they are kicking around giardia or amoebas but we don't know for sure...

in the meantime, i'm just pretending that i'm hanging out at a hotel...napping, watching tv, reading, etc. i'll be on this little "vacation" until at least tomorrow so once again ryan is caring the burden of daddy duty. all I can say is that i'm a lucky girl! he's taking good care of me and the boys so I couldn't ask for more.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

back in the US

hey all. i've made it back to the States from my trip to @fghanistan. i had planned to try to report in daily on the things we were doing on our trip but given the tragedy that took place within the NGO (non-governmental organization) community in @fghanistan last week, i decided to discontinue my updates until i got home. i did this partially for security and partially so i'd just have more time to reflect on what i'm comfortable sharing and what i'm not comfortable sharing...

i still haven't really began to decompress everything from my trip yet, but i can say that overall, it was really wonderful. i do not remember a time when i felt prayer and God's provision in such a real way. it was a blessing to see friends and staff from our afghan office again. also, God definitely pulled together the right people for our team. i'm so glad that our team was able to be there together to pray alongside our brothers and sisters in @fghanistan while they were struggling to process everything that happened. despite the security concerns, i felt very safe and comfortable during my trip which i really think shows God's protection and provision!

i still feel quite groggy from the jet lag but did get a full night sleep last night (from 9:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.) so that definitely helps. thanks for those of you who thought of and prayed for me and my team while we were gone!! it meant so much! however, please don't forget to continue to pray for the hundreds of other people who have committed their lives to serving the hurting people of @fghanistan on a full time basis. please pray for the community of NGO workers to have healing and to be able to grieve the loss of their friends. please also pray for the people who were responsible for these tragic acts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

video from BA

sorry, here's the video i was trying to post yesterday:

i have another that i'd love to post too but let's just say that the internet connection is less than stellar here :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

a-stan: day 2

seriously, today was awesome!! we had such an amazing time away from the city and spent it in a village {B.A.} where our organization has been serving for some time now. i visited there almost exactly 2 years ago on my last trip, which you can read about here. it's amazing to see how much progress has been made in those 2 short years, yet how much work is still left to be done. the people of this country are still hurting so deeply from being in over 30 years of war, suffering from poverty, oppression of women, etc. however, days like today remind me that God is sovereign and He is at work in this land and has been doing so since the beginning of time.

i wish i could describe the magnitude of the beauty of this place! it is surrounded by mountains upon mountains, and they are beyond majestic! i used my flip video to capture some of the beautiful children and the scenery but i promise the pictures and video do not do this place justice!! here's a cute video of the kids as we were loading up in the car to go home:

while at B.A., we got to tour the community and visit the school, clinic, site of the deep well, and a widow's home that was built by our organization. what a humbling experience! simply americans, we have no clue how much we have! even our poorest communities are blessed well beyond many of these families. the kids were flocking to us at the school and we had a good time taking pictures of them, playing hand clap games, and trying to communicate :)

i am trying to begin decompressing many of my thoughts from this trip but it's still only day 2. my prayer is that God would continue to show our team the things He wants us to see and hear while we are in this country so that we may be able to help mobilize resources and others for this country as well. i am so humbled to have the opportunity to be in this country, amongst friends, not just once but twice now! when i arrived at the guesthouse yesterday and got to see many of our organization's staff, i felt right at home which is definitely a God thing :) if you know me, i hate being hot {the guesthouse has no AC}, i'm not adventurous when it comes to new food {i tried a super yummy eggplant dish tonight}, and i don't handle dust and dirt real well {hello - that's all there is here}. however, despite all of those things, i would not want to be anywhere else right now and that makes all those other things seem ridiculously minimal!

so, that's all for now! i'm the last one still up so i better head to bed. nighty night!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

i made it!

that's right...after departing at 7:00 p.m. on monday, i'm officially finally in afghanistan! {well, technically, i've been here for almost 15 hours but am just now getting to post an update.} the trip over was very smooth and the flights were pretty much a breeze. in fact, on my long flight from atlanta to dubai, there was a family sitting about 3 rows in front of me that were on their way to pick up their 7 month old son from ethiopia!! we got to chat briefly about it, and my heart leaped a little to think that we will be in their shoes in a few months :)

the hardest part of the trip is an 8 hour layover in dubai, but even that passed pretty quickly. thankfully we found mcdonalds for a late dinner/early breakfast and also some comfy lounge chairs where we could stretch out and sleep. the cultural diversity in dubai never ceases to amaze me though! you literally see all kinds of people there and i could people watch all day!

when we arrived in afghanistan, it was crazy to see that it was raining and very cool for august {not that i'm complaining!}. i have been bracing myself now for weeks expecting temperatures of the upper 90's but to me delight, it was around 75 degrees today! i guess God decided to answer my desperate pleas for a cold front :) we got settled into the guesthouse around 8:00 a.m. on wednesday but our bodies felt more like was midnight on tuesday...very confusing! so, at the advice of our seasoned guesthouse team, we decided to take a mandatory nap until lunch at 1:00 p.m. and i was seriously out like a light!! i slept very hard and was not even bothered one bit by a bunch of loud banging and hammering being done on a building right next to ours.

after our naps, we had lunch and then spent some time as a team talking about our expectations for our trip and cultural differences. our team is small {there's only 4 of us total} but mighty :) everyone is super sweet and flexible, which is key here!! we also have a variety of giftednesses but all seem to be focused on children and education primarily. it was also good because we got to spend time this afternoon with friends who are working here long term. what a blessing they are to us and to our afghan staff! we chatted most of the afternoon away, which i'm thankful for because i was growing increasingly sleepy and was trying to avoid the temptation of laying back down! around 6:00 p.m., we headed out for a fabulous dinner at a lebanese restaurant. i'm not usually a very adventurous eater, but the food was awesome and the atmosphere was even better! the restaurant is set in the heart of the city but you would never know it. we ate outside in the gardens and the cooler weather was a nice break from the hot summer we've been having in kentucky!! it actually felt more like october than august.

overall, it was a great first day and i can't wait to see what the rest of the trip holds. we are headed to B.A. community tomorrow where hundreds of afghan refugees have relocated, and our organization has been actively working for a few years. if you've been lifting us up in prayer, thank you!! so far so good so please keep praying :)