Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More photos from Andy's phone

I was able to skype with Andy (and Natalie and Zac) yesterday. It was the best conversation we've been able to have. He has had a lot to say about the orphanage. They have been to play with the kids 3 days now. He loves it!
He's taken a million pictures on his camera, but has been sending me pics from his phone, so I can keep up with where he is.

Well, not these two, Jessica took these.
Hippo. Apparently, Andy was throwing rocks at it to get it out of the water. ?

The classroom where the girls sew
These next few are from the refugee camp on the border of Tanzania and Rwanda. I believe these people were forced here with the genocide. ANLM has started a school there. It is pretty remote, they had to drive 3 hours to get there.

Sunday morning children's worship

These two are the suitcases full of stuff Andy and Zac brought. See the girls tutus?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From Natalie

Natalie is just a bit more descriptive than my husband :) so here is her day 3 (with him)

Muraho friends!

Oh, how I wish I could bottle the sights, smells, tastes and voices of Rwanda and send it your way through this blog post.

The people of Rwanda are truly beautiful. How can I articulate in words the resilience and joy in their eyes and spirits?Their worship to our Lord pours out through their voices, in their dancing, and in kneeling down before our Maker…no matter the age.

Our third day started with a visit to Africa New Life Ministries’ Dream Center in Kigali. The children who are sponsored in and around Kigali are invited to attend “Center Day” three of the four Saturdays each month. (The last Saturday of the month is a mandatory “cleaning” day enforced by the government.) The children arrive on foot in the morning and are lined up by age for roll call and to be checked for good health and clothing. The difference between these children and the street children we visited on Thursday is obvious…and the difference is sponsorship. The sponsored children are visibly healthier and full of more energy because of their access to education, health care, spiritual nurturing and food.

After roll call, the children were separated by age to attend worship and bible class. Zac, Andrew and I went with the older children to worship and bible class. I loved looking across the room at the children as they worshipped our Lord and Savior. Their sweet voices were full of genuine love and dependent pleas to our Heavenly Father. We also popped in to see the younger children worship...PRECIOUS! Little ones falling on their knees and dancing without inhibition to sing of their love for Him….oh, how we have so much to learn from them.

Our lunch at the Mission House was a quick one (fried potatoes and fresh salad) as we had many things to try to squeeze in before dinner. Our first stop was the local outdoor market to purchase food for our visit to “Home of Hope” Orphanage later in the day. All I can say is…thank God for our friend Stephen! He works for ANLM and graciously assisted us in negotiating with the folks at the market to get fair prices on $250 worth of food. (Rice, Beans, Maize Flour, Salt, Sugar, Cooking Oil and Mangoes) The inside of the market was a sight to see! Fresh and colorful produce stacked high with hardly any space to walk or move at all. Some local Rwandans say that they do not like to go in there…but we all enjoyed it. (Even the oily ducks charging my legs! Thanks for the cover, Pastor Zac!)

The second market we visited was full of local artisans’ work displayed throughout several small stalls, which are arranged in a small “U.” My wonderful and dear friend, Samantha, helped Zac and Andrew navigate the stalls to find the best deals on Rwandan gifts for their families. (Be excited!)

Our next stop was one that we have been praying for with great hope and expectant favor. We pulled up to the gates of “Home of Hope” at 3:30pm and were welcome by Sister Gracias. Our new friend, Bonita, called to advise her of our visit---which was such a blessing. We introduced ourselves and gave Sister Gracias our food gifts from the market and were then escorted down to the children’s facilities. Andrew spent some time talking with another Sister about the Schulz’s adoption journey, and we all had the opportunity to spend time with the children. We spent the majority of our time in the 12 month-old room. Our sweet friend, Anne Kelley, joined us at the orphanage with Jessica Taylor and Jessica’s friend, Molly. We all sat around in a circle and loved on these precious ones. I particularly loved the sight of two grown men sitting on the floor, legs criss-crossed, with precious ones in their arms. It is a vision I will carry with me as it was exemplified a Father’s heart. How He loves for us to crawl into His heavenly lap and be loved on by Him.

Our visit to Home of Hope felt very fruitful, and our prayers will continue as we walk alongside each other in building a friendship with HOH…and as we encourage and support those one their adoption journeys.

Our day ended with a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant with Pastor Charles (New Life Bible Church) and his wife, Florence. We were also joined by Samantha Blair, (and three of her friends) and Anne Kelley. How wonderful to share a meal with so many friends so far from home!

Thank you for your continued prayers. We feel them in the land of a thousand hills!

~Natalie Green

Day 3 & 4

So far, so good. Andrew, Zac, Natalie and Jessica are doing great. They went to the orphanage yesterday and had a fabulous experience. The nuns are very protective of the babies and don't really let people go in the nursery, but I think they let Andy for a few minutes, knowing he is adopting from that very room. He did say they were thrilled to know he was adopting and Andy felt really good about the orphanage.
The picture above is at the ANLM center, they train women to sew. That's about all I know.

Yesterday, they brought a bunch of groceries, maize, beans etc... to the orphanage. Today they are going back and bring formula and meat.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Day

I talked to Andy earlier today, after their first day. They are 8 hours ahead of us. They were picked up from the airport and driven straight to the Africa New Life center where they prepared and served lunch to about 300 street children.
They haven't really slept in two days, so they were ready to hit the hay!

A longhorn sweatshirt?? did we bring this?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AND... he's off

Andy left yesterday to spend 8 days in Rwanda. He is traveling there with our pastor and friend, Zac. They will be exploring the opportunity to have a long term relationship between our church and Kigali, specifically with Africa New Life Ministries and Home of Hope Orphanage. So many people in our church have a heart for, experience in, and connections with the people in Africa.
Honestly, Africa has NEVER been on my radar. Africa was scary and unknown. The "really brave" missionaries lived in grass huts there. Places like Guatemala, the Ukraine, Mexico, Russia or China seemed much more "doable" for mission work. But it sure seems like God is leading us to the people of Rwanda. So, here we go.
Through reading books, talking to people who know, seeing pictures, and movies, I have come to fall in love with Rwanda. It is an amazing country. Reconciliation and hope have transformed the country. It is now one of the safest African countries, businesses are moving in, the leadership is honorable and trustworthy, and the people are lovely.

Only a few times in my life have I felt that, as weak as I am, God is orchestrating plans and opening doors all around me in a supernatural way. The times I sense that I am right in the center of his will. That He is choosing to use me, at the same time that I feel very unusable. This is one of those times.
I am reminded that I am a jar of clay, so easily broken, as I struggle this time of year, every year, with some sort of seasonal slump. The anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, short temper... By spring break it will clear, but during these times I am so aware of my weaknesses and failures. I come to depend on the Lord more, and often He uses my dependance on him to accomplish great purpose in my life.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." I Corinthians 4:8
6 weeks ago, I was telling Natalie, as she was trying to make this happen "there is NO way he can go, he has too much work, there's too little time, it's too expensive..." and here we are. Our church leadership has planned, funded and basically told him he is to go. The partners at his firm encouraged him to go and covered his clients for him. Natalie arranged for them to spend time at the orphanage where we are adopting from... everything just beautifully falling into place. It is really fun to see God work, I need to get out of the way.

A week ago, I sent out an email to a few friends, neighbors, and family, that I knew I would see over the week, asking for things to take in a donated suitcase to leave at the orphange. I received 11 soccer balls, (deflated, with pumps) tons of childrens medication, dum dums, onesies, pjs, bubbles, stickers... My girls sent several of their tutus for the girls in the orphanage to dress up. Everyone was so generous! I had to stuff it in. They also sent over $1000 cash for Andy to buy formula and groceries for the orphanage once he got there!!
I am overwhelmed by God's goodness through the people he has surrounded us by.

Please pray for the team from Austin Bible this week. That they would have a clear vision for the opportunities in Kigali, sense where God is leading for future involvement, for discernment and wisdom, traveling mercies, and unity.
Also, that Andy would have the opportunity to meet and bond with our future son. That there would be a child that he feels is clearly meant for our family.
I think that's it for now, I'll have updates when they are on the ground running...

"Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purposes that prevail." Proverbs 19:21

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Piper: "Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel"

John Piper, one of my favorites, gives this sermon at an adoption conference. It makes me refocus, take a step back, and look at the huge, grande scale of my adoption as Christ's child. Earthly adoption is the perfect picture, horizontally, of my redemption by him, vertically. What a joy to be able to take part in that!!

Now that the holidays are over, I am excited to get my home study back, completed, and apply to US immigration for approval to adopt internationally. We'll do that next week.
My wonderful new friend, Jamie Jo, is guiding me all along the way. She sends me lists of things to do and collect, formatted letters, exact forms to fill out. She has already given me tons of advice for travel, hotels, customs, and transition bringing him home.
I am so thankful for her!! She just adopted her 2nd from Rwanda a couple weeks ago, a darling 6 year old boy, Tiki. Braner party of 7 blog to the left.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ice Skating at Whole Foods

Happy New Year!!
I have high hopes for 2010, it's going to be a great year!!

Whole Foods has a seasonal skating rink on it's roof every winter. I haven't skated for about 20 years, so, I fell about as much as the girls.