Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 1: Honduras 2012 . Tissues needed.

It was an early morning starting at Charlotte Douglas at 4:00am. We were all a bit tired but oh the excitement that was brewing. About half of the 20 team members went on this trip last year. There was much anticipation from those going for the first time as well as the veterans. On a normal day we would all have probably been a bit grumpy at such a time of day, but there was too much joy in the air. We each knew God had led us to this point (even if we didn't quite understand why yet) and we each knew something big was going to happen. 
I am happy to report that He didn't disappoint! It was a awesome trip!
 All grins at o-dark-thirty!
 Oh yeah! Our kids went too.They were super stoked about being reunited with their 'best friends' from last year and "helping the kids".
 Welcome to Miami.
We spent four hours in Miami. Even though it was 8:00am most of us ate 'lunch'. We had, after all, been up for at least 5-6 hours already.
Finally we were in the air and on our way to Honduras. A country that is dear to my heart. An orphanage that just feels like is part of my bones. My heart yearns to be there to hold those kids again. To hug them and play with them. To do just about anything needed.
 We hit the ground and with just a bit of confusion with my father-in-laws luggage actually being in Chicago, Illinois US instead of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Yikes. Fortunately it came that night.
  As team leader I was holding my breath that one lost bag was going to be the 'one' hiccup of the trip.
 Look. It's a box of Gringo's! LOL Many of us had no clue what we were in for! Fortunately as the week progressed the grins just got wider even if they were behind the dark circles under our eyes. Yep we were exhausted, but it was awesome!
 I can't share many pictures from the rest of our day (we were visiting a public orphanage and the government doesn't like you to put pictures online). The picture above is from inside the wall of the orphanage not even an hour after landing. Nothing like hitting the ground running! This was a place we didn't visit last year.
Clayton and Maylin running across the courtyard in the rain.
When we first arrived the scene was bleak. It was beginning to rain. The sky was darkening the only child (I remember seeing at the moment) was outside screaming, crying and stamping his feet. I was unaware of what he was screaming. Unaware of what I was in for.

We rushed inside to get out of the rain. And stood... It was all a bit of a blur but what I remember is that at first there weren't any kids in sight, minus a few who were peering over the railings and from behind columns to see us. We pulled out a box of apples and suddenly they were coming from all directions. They loved the apples. It is something they don't get very often. Many of the kids ate the whole thing core, seeds and all. We were told to give each kid only one and warned that they would try to sneak more. I saw a few kids sneaking away with one in each fist. They looked at me with questions in their eyes? Was I going to make them give it back? How do you tell a kid who is that excited about apples to put one back. I just grinned, nodded and winked as they ran quickly out of sight.

Adam tried to lead the kids in song but they were more interested in eating their apples and trying to strum his guitar as he played. It was chaos.

While all of that was happening a few of us snuck up the stairs to the baby room. On the way I passed a big, otherwise empty room with a little boy wrapped tightly in a sweatshirt as if it were a straight jacket. My heart sank and I didn't know what to do but keep walking. He was rolling on a bed and groaning. It made me sick to my stomach.

Once in the baby room there were lots of babies. Two to a crib. There were also several older special needs children. Several of the special needs kids were in a cribs, one was strapped into a  wheel chair by scraps of old torn clothing. We were told not to go near him because he scratched and pinched.... I found out they were right. :o

We changed the babies diapers and held them. I held a ten day old baby. She was beautiful. Others held babies with no expressions. They were limp and listless. It was heart wrenching.
The medical team came in and checked out several children. There was a boy with pneumonia .. He is probably not much longer for this world... In the states he would be in the hospital in serious condition... Not there...

Tara brought a few age appropriate toys for the toddlers to play with they were mesmerized. These kids had nothing to play with. There were no toys just empty rooms and beds.

I came to find out what the little boy who was stamping his feet and screaming was saying...He was crying for his mom and dad who had just abandoned him there that day. (He thought when the guards were opening the gates to let us in that his parents were coming back for him. He was sad and angry that we were not his parents.) He was still running around crying all alone with no one to comfort him when I came out of the baby room. I reached down and picked him up and hugged him tight. He clung to me as if his life depended on it. The only words I knew in Spanish were Jesus loves you. I said that over and over and over and over. Eventually he calmed down a bit...   (I am going to sneak a picture in here...shhh)
I held him as long as I could. Soon the few and overworked nannies were calling for the kids to come to bed as it was turning dusk and they needed the kids in their rooms for safety. He was staring towards what would become his 'room'. I carried him over telling him again that Jesus loved him and praying over him in English.

I felt terrible. It was as if I was walking him to his doom, as if I was abandoning him all over again.  I wanted to run and take him home with me.  I realize most of these kids have similar stories. Some of them may have been there since birth and don't remember being abandoned... that may have been easier??? I don't know??? I wanted to take them all.

As we approached the room I gently tried to put him down. He put his legs down but clung to my neck. I squatted beside him and gave him a kiss and brushed his hair while I tried to smile. He still didn't let go, but the nannies were calling.

 Several of the older boys were starring at us. I really wasn't sure what their intentions were. Youth with no parents and little supervision for their whole lives... well I just wasn't sure if they were going to mock him, be indifferent to him or what? I looked one of them in the eye and he seemed to have an understanding look about him. I motioned for him to come and put his arm around the boy and lead him into their room as I couldn't go with him past the door. The boy did. I was grateful.

The older boy walked over patted the little one on the shoulder and gently guided him into the large, baron, dimly lit room. The little one walked into the room with a gait of defeat. He had lost the battle but he was going to surrender willingly. For a brief moment he glanced back towards me with a look of heart break. I nodded and smiled as best I could fake.. and then he rounded the corner and was gone forever from my life.

I sobbed...

I wonder to this day, to this minute how that little boy is doing? Did his parents decide to come back for him? Is he still there? Does he know that Jesus loves him? These are questions I'll never get the answers to. They are questions that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

It was getting dark and the orphanage wasn't in the best part of town so they were quickly herding us to the bus. They were warning us to look under seats and under the bus because kids try to escape all the time... As we were walking out of the building my kids were skipping along in front of me. I was watching the guard and for a second I saw him flinch as if to grab them (thinking they lived there). Then he looked at me and I could see in his eyes he understood his mistake. It all happened in half a second. It was an innocent mistake but it was terrifying. For a fleeting second my heart dropped. I was ready to grab my kids and run and scream. I felt helpless, afraid and then the next second so relieved that I knew my kids could walk out of that place on their own with their Mom and Dad, three of their grandparents and 13 others who love them! How blessed we are to be a family.

How helpless I feel that I can't give all these kids families.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving thanks?

 The grown up table
The kids table

 YUMM!!! The turkey.
 The spread!  Makes my belly full just looking at it.
 The kids table. It looks better with the kids and the plastic green plates don't you think?
Shameless dogs hoping for another bite of turkey.
 I can't even express all of my "thankfulness".

 In the same breath I can't even begin to express my feelings of selfishness, gluttony and greed. How can you love God, love orphans, love the poor and sit and feel happy about Americans celebrating all of our 'stuff'.

Yes, I know many of us are also thankful for familly, friends and freedom of religion... but how many of us sat and really thought about how thankful we were for clean water, air conditioning or heat, having the basic 'necessities' of life?

By necessities I mean "necessities" not things we think we are entitled to. Not our excessive amount of '1st world' stuff. Nor our over-sized homes, gas guzzling cars, all of our electronics and gizmos.

As I write this I am laying on the couch with my computer on my lap thinking to myself "I could use an extra pillow for my neck right now." immediately my thoughts turn to the 10's of millions (no I am not exaggerating) of children around the world who have no pillows... have never had pillows. They have no couches... will probably never have a couch, nor have a computer? My gut cries out when I think of the conditions most of the world lives in. Why? WHY?

No. Me giving away all of my possessions would not make all the children in the world suddenly know what it is like to sleep on a mattress or have a pillow, or have clean drinking water or sleep without fear of thieves or those who intend to do them harm.

But slimming down on the excessive things in my life is one step closer to what God calls us to. Slimming down frees up the means to help a little more than I do already. Slimming down helps me step out of the "rat race" and stops promoting the "American dream" with my lifestyle.

The world is unjust. That is never going to change. Christ himself said the poor will always be with us but I don't think that meant "the poor will always we with us so don't worry about it because you can't change it."  We can't eliminate poverty but we can show God's perfect love. We can't totally alleviate loneliness disparity and hopelessness but we can die trying.

There is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.' -David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.

OK if that wasn't a random stream of thought I don't know what is?! Sorry! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am thankful...

for this group of people.
 Then add the rest of these guys into the picture and my heart just about explodes with love and gratitude.
I am grateful for unconditional love.
I am grateful for giving hearts.
I am grateful for children who accept my hugs and kisses.
I am grateful for clean drinking water.
I am grateful for family.
I am grateful for sleeping in safety.
I am grateful knowing that these kids will also soon sleep in the security of a completed wall.
I am grateful for missionaries who live their lives to make sure these kids know the love of Christ.
I am grateful for the love of Christ.
I am grateful...

for so much this Thanksgiving Day.

Blessings to all!
(ps I'll have much more about our trip to Honduras in the next few days/weeks)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Friends= Good Times

Homeschooling has brought me back in touch with friends I have missed for too long. It has been such a blessing to reconnect and watch our kids connect so easily!
 Maylin is so enjoying getting to know her new friend Harper.
 Pierson... well he can make friends with anyone but he loves Oliver and Calvary!
 Harper gives Maylin a run for her money! They are AWESOME climbing partners!
 And Finley just fits right into the mix as a little cuttie pie!

 Harper and Maylin spent the afternoon gathering pine needles and sticks. They used pony tail holders to tie them all together to make brooms! These girls are a match made in heaven!

And the boys... well they spent the afternoon chasing people with the pine needles. Another perfect match. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Have I told you how much fun we are having?

Another plus for homeschoool... 
field trips with cousins!

 hiking up and up and up and up!

 checking out 'uptown Charlotte'.

 exploring the 'caves'

 Life is good. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I realized that I didn't explain myself very well in my last post. It is a confusing subject... Very hard for me to explain or put into words. (Sorry if this post leaves you more confused than the last.) There are two thoughts that seem to contradict.

I asked myself and answered: "Do I wish we had adopted an infant so we could avoid these (hard) conversations? NO!"
I realize that sounded a little harsh. I didn't mean I hate infants or wouldn't want the bother of infants. Nor does it mean I love having hard conversations. It just means that if we had gone the "infant" route we would have missed the chance to adopt Pierson and Maylin. God definitely called/shoved us into the older children/sibling cue. 
He had a plan for Traci and Adam. He had a plan for Yong-Sheng and Yu-Fong. He saw the two of them in need of a forever family. He saw us willing to adopt... He formed our family.

The fact is Pierson and Maylin weren't available for us to adopt as infants.
Even though my next statement was "Would I have brought Pierson and Maylin home earlier to save them from ever having to wonder about things like this. YES!
I would if I could have... but we couldn't. 
 If I could go back and change their life stories so that I could have been their mom from day one. I would in a heart beat. If I could take some of their past away by never letting it happen in the first place I would.
 But to even ask if I would throw any of this journey away to have another child with no past.
 Well... that is my absolute NO.  

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
June 2010. 3 months after they came home.
God's plan is a perfect one. Does my human heart want to make my children's lives easier. YES! Would I miss out on P and M so I had an easier parental role to play. NO WAY! 
 They have walked down a lot of paths together. Literally and figuratively. Since Maylin was born they have only been separated for 9 months. I am the third "mother" they have had (which pains me to say). There was/is their birth mother who they have no real memories of, their foster mother who they do remember but sometimes I think they wish they could forget. Not to mention the father figures in their lives haven't been what you call 'upstanding'.
 Is it a hard road for all of us... ? I guess it seems like the answer should be "yes".  But honestly loving them isn't hard. Sure their are moments of frustration. Who doesn't have those? But being a family seems so natural... so easy. I wouldn't change any of this journey for the world. Pierson and Maylin you are forever Loved By Choice.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rocking Chairs and Tears

Pierson, as he was sitting in a rocking chair: "I wish you got me when I was a baby."   
Me: "Me too. What makes you say that though?"
Pierson: "Cause I bet you would have rocked me to sleep."

Be still my heart! Our life as a family is a vicious cycle of "I wish". Do I wish we had adopted an infant so we could avoid these conversations? NO! Would I have brought Pierson and Maylin home earlier to save them from ever having to wonder about things like this. YES!

Now it is our job to hold them until they fall asleep as long as they want us to. It is our job to teach them what a future of love and compassion is, not to try and erase their difficult past. The two parts of their lives will be forever intertwined. To try and take one part away would unravel their present.

Pierson and Maylin we forever love you. All of you. Your past, present and future.

Digging Deep

As I was pulling out Maylin's play coat from deep in the closet (which hasn't moved from last winter) I thought to myself, "Gee this coat is heavier than I remembered." 

   And then I heard the unmistakable sound of rocks clinking together.   

My girl does love some "shiny rocks"!

May your pockets always be full of things you love.
May your heart always be shiny and happy! 

Friday, November 2, 2012


Maybe leave the pink princess skates to your sister next time. :)