I thought I would get things rolling by posting an email that I recently sent to a girl that lives in Brentwood, TN. I've never met Gwen, I don't know anything about her other than what I read on her blog, but I've pretty much stalked her as well as Suzanne and Katie for the last few weeks. I found all of their blogs through a friend of mine who is Suzanne's sister-in-law. Both Gwen and Suzanne along with their families, are in the process of adopting from Uganda, Africa. Katie is a young girl, also from Brentwood who now lives in Uganda. So, she lives in Africa full time, she runs a feeding program for one of the villages in the area, she is the mom to 13, no 14 beautiful girls and she also has a ministry called Amazima where she has over 400 children that she gets to see on a weekly basis. Umm, she's probably the coolest person I know/have read about. I STRONGLY encourage anyone reading this to check out her blog at www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com and when you're finished reading all of her posts, and trust me, you won't be able to stop once you've started, go to www.147millionorphans.com and buy some of their cool stuff. All of the money goes directly to feed the children that Katie works with.
Ok, so here's the deal with the email. I had a question that I wanted to ask about some of the stuff that is for sale on the website. It was going to be just a quick email asking my question. It turned into ALOT more than that as you'll see.
Scott and I have talked alot about adopting from Africa, and we both know at some point we will move in that direction. But it goes even deeper, there is a STRONG longing in my heart to be in Africa, to be among the people, and especially the orphans. I've known this for a long time, but have kept it to myself for fear of thinking I was being ridiculous, or just thought it was a dumb idea. I was afraid of people shooting down my dreams. But I know now that the desires of my heart are not ridiculous, and I will continue to seek even deeper into my heart and into God's heart to find out exactly where he wants us to be, and how he wants to use us.
So, below is the email that I mentioned and little bit of what's been going on the last few years.
You don't know who I am, but I am a good friend of Mandy who is Mike's sister. We go to church together, and I have been following Mandy's story for quite a while, regarding their adoption of little Mia from Calcutta. Through Mandy's site, I found out about Mike and Suzanne and then found your blog as well as 147millionorphans.com which then led me to Katie's site, which I am still in the process of reading every single post, I can't stop! Mandy told me a little bit about how you guys are all tied together and it's so cool how God planned this all out. I LOVE that He has placed you all directly in front of me, and I just wanted to share with you what has been stirring in the last few weeks after reading all of your blogs. This totally isn't like me at all to share my story with someone I don't even know, so this is clearly God and he's long winded today!
A few years ago my husband and I saw the first Invisible Children documentary and my heart was broken in millions of little pieces for those children who have suffered so much and didn't have a mom or a dad to turn to. Immediately I was ready to jump on a plane and go to Uganda to find them...ALL of them, and just stay with them. I didn't know what it was going to look like when I got there, I didn't know what I was going to do, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to communicate with them. The only thing I thought I did know was that I could at least love them and just be in their presence, if I could just tell them that God hasn't forgotten about them and that He does love them. I just wanted to make them feel better. So, for several weeks I tried to come up with a plan so that we could go to Africa, and I was serious! I prayed and prayed for God to make it happen, but he said it wasn't the right time...I was crushed. I am so blessed though to have a husband who truly seeks every minute, to hear what God is saying and he told me that I needed to stay here for a while and find those in my own community that I could love and be in the presence of. So I searched and searched, and I was intent on finding a family from specifically Uganda, that I could help...I couldn't find anyone! Through all of my searching though I ran across a newspaper article about a refugee organization that was headquartered in downtown Indianapolis, just a few miles from where we lived. I contacted them to see how I could help, and more specifically did they know of anyone from Uganda that I could meet? Unfortunately, they did not resettle many people from Africa, some...but not many. 90% of all of the people that come to Indiana are from Burma, but there was always a chance at some point that a family from Africa would be placed here. So, I thought this was as close as I was going to get and if nothing else I could wait until an African family was placed here, so I decided to go through all of the volunteer training. I was immediately assigned to a Burmese family that had only been in the US for a few short days. A 50 year old mother and her 13 year old son. It was tough, we couldn't communicate at all but it's simply amazing what a smile can communicate and I loved every single minute of my time with them. I mentored them a couple nights a week for about 4 months (1 month longer than what the organization asks for from mentors...I just didn't want to leave them) when I got a call from Exodus (the refugee organization) saying that there was a new family being placed here from Congo, and they would like to have a mentor, would I be interested? Ok, so it's not Uganda but relatively speaking it's not that far away. I was so excited!! I met with them just after they landed at the airport. It was a father and his two children, an 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter. I found out after a few months that their mother had been abducted when the LRA raided their village and for the last 6 years they had been living in a refugee camp in UGANDA! We all hit it off from the minute we met, and my husband and I have been living life with them for the last year or so. I immediately found out how much they loved God, and I started taking them to church with us every week. They didn't understand a word of what was being said, but they would dance during worship the whole time praying in their language, and my heart couldn't stop dancing! They spoke no English when they got here, and one of the requirements for all refugees is that they attend an ESL class that is offered by other volunteers within the organization. So, I started going with them to English class every week and my life hasn't been the same since. Each Tuesday we have about 50 refugees, mostly from Burma with the exception of my family and one other from Eritrea and one from Iraq. This is exactly what God had in mind when he told me to stay here for a while and love on those right in my own community. I help to teach the class now, and though it's so tough to teach our language to grown men and women who may not even read and write in their own language, more importantly I get to spend time with them every week and just love them and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to do what I'm doing right now.
For the last couple of years, I have been filled to the brim with God's love for these people, and I know they will always be in my heart. I have seen him provide food when they didn't have any, turn the electricity back on in their tiny little apartments when they couldn't pay their bills. I've seen him send people to me with donations of everything you can imagine so that I can give it to those in need. He's provided my husband and I with extra money that we could use to buy school supplies or take someone grocery shopping. He has allowed our small group to volunteer once a month to help teach at one of the ESL classes. Dozens and dozens of bicycles have been provided for those who need transportation. I could go on and on. I've been in awe of his awesome power! I have also been completely broken at times with love for these people. There is a love inside of me that I didn't even know I could posses. But in the last few weeks after reading about Katie, the same thoughts are coming to the surface again. The orphans, and especially those in Uganda, those precious children that in my mind each have a face, and for the last few weeks I have seen a picture of each and every single one of them, they have grabbed my heart, and I don't want them to let go.
We're praying right now for clarity in what our next step will be. I know that God already knows, but wanting so much for him to reveal to us what he wants, and HOPING that the desires of my heart align with those of my Father. Where can we best be used and what should we be doing? Is it adoption, is it a full time ministry? All I know right now is that it's Africa, and I hope that it involves Uganda and it's beautiful children. Just last night I had a complete meltdown with my husband about how much I HURT (I wish there was a stronger word, but I can't think of anything right now) for the orphans all over the world that don't have a mom or dad. I don't even know if that's the most important thing for all of them, maybe it's just love and if I can provide that maybe that's what they need the most. But right now I don't know the answer.
My goodness, I know this is really long and I can't believe I actually wrote that much. You guys are amazing, and I hope you continue your hard work. I can't imagine what you go through on a daily basis, hearing probably much more than we do about Katie and her ministry. You and Suzanne and your families...you're truly are servants of God. I will keep praying for the Mayernick's and little Josie, pray for healing and strength in her little body. Prayer for wisdom for the doctors in Uganda and the doctors here in the US when she returns. I look forward to hearing about God's plan for her life, because He certainly has something great prepared for her. And I pray for a phone call from Amazima for you guys, that you are able to bring your babies home soon!
Thanks for listening!