Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Trifecta

The week started with our entire family getting a stomach virus,
then came a sinus infection,
and finally the FLU.

All in one week.

I've spent the better part of the last 4 days in the fetal position, never getting warm, but with fever, the kids just running around me. You should see the house!
It's been a rough one around here.
Next week will have to be better, it's Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We Wait

Many of you have been very thoughtful to ask us about our

adoption lately. Although we are growing weary of waiting for something we thought would have already happened, we know in the big world of international adoption, setbacks and

prolonged waiting are the name of the game.

We do know they have hired two additional people in The Office to help with dossiers (files). The hope is that we will see results of their work soon!! We also know the Nuns at Hope of Hope orphanage are overworked and overrun with children. I ran across this post recently, by a woman who visited the orphanage. Although Andy went there in January, his account is slightly less descriptive!

This photographer who is in Kigali:

There are some moments in life where I feel so overwhelmed by an experience that I have a hard time putting it into words. I struggle to grasp all that it meant to me or all that I saw. Perhaps it's due to my visual nature and the fact that I feel more content telling my story through pictures than I do with words. However, you'll have to bare with me as I try to describe my experiences at the Home of Hope orphanage in Kigali, since I was unable to take any pictures inside the orphanage.

I thought I felt prepared before I entered the blue gates at the Home of Hope. Several families from my church have adopted children from the orphanage and they've described to me first hand the conditions these children live in. But it's one thing to hear it and another to see it yourself. We came in the afternoon, when the orphanage allows visitors to come play with the children or rock the little babies. Jana and Keli go on a regular basis to give the littlest ones massages, since they are mostly lying flat on their backs in their cribs all day long and suffer from stiffness and weak muscles. They also just need to be held and feel the touch of an actual person. It's not that the nurses do not hold them, but they are just overwhelmed. There are so many babies and only few workers to attend to their needs. It's impossible for each baby to receive the love and attention that they truly need.

The first time we came, we were bombarded by dozens of toddlers when we entered the gate. They came rushing up to us, all wanting to be held or touched. It was both adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. Here were these beautiful, precious children, all just wanting to be loved and shown attention. How could we pass them by to go hold the infants? I felt so torn. I wanted to love on each little kid in the orphanage, but we only were allowed to visit for one hour. But I couldn't resist their sweet, smiling faces so I picked up one child and more of them followed us inside. I eventually had to take the little guy back outside, because they were not allowed to come into the room with the infants. As I walked him back to the door, he started crying and my heart started ripping to shreds. I felt like the worst person in the world. But I knew that the babies were all in the other room needing just as much attention. There's just so many needs to be met and I already felt overwhelmed by it after being there less than 10 minutes.

They took us to a room with many cribs all lined up side by side. The first thing you notice when you enter is the smell. It's not quite like stepping into an outhouse but it's pretty close. Most of the children have on cloth diapers but they're not changed often enough. With 20 or so babies to a room, it's going to leave a smell. At the time we entered they were feeding the older babies and had them all either on the floor or in 2 larger cribs to the side of the room. Dinner consisted of bananas mashed up with eggs. Not exactly appealing to me but the babies didn't seem to care. They all just wanted to be fed. We waited for the nurses to bring us the littlest ones to have massages but held a few of the older ones until they did. I noticed that most all of them had flat heads and bald spots on the back of their heads. They are so accustomed to lying on their backs that their heads have conformed to that shape. Some of them had herniated belly buttons or distended stomachs due to malnourishment. The first little one they gave me was crying when they gave him to me. However, after just holding him close to me for a bit, he calmed down and became at ease with me. He wasn't eager for me to put him down after that when I tried to lay him on the table to massage his arms and legs and such. So I picked him back up and just held him until he fell asleep in my arms. It was the most precious feeling ever to know that I calmed this little guy down and he felt content enough to fall asleep as I held him. It gave my heart some peace.

Most of these children will not be adopted. The girls might grow up and come back to work there as a nurse, like many of the women working in the orphanage now. The men will be given a small plot of land to tend to once they reach a certain age. They'll have little education and little hope for a bright future. I felt this great desire to adopt 10 of them on the spot, but of course that was not possible, especially since right now adoptions are temporarily closed in Rwanda. I came back feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted from the first experience but I knew I had to go back again while I was there. I wish I could have gone back every day, but that wasn't possible. The second experience felt even more overwhelming than the first, as there was one moment where about 5-10 of the babies were all crying and I just didn't know who to hold and what to do. I can't imagine how the workers must feel on a daily basis.

I know that now, as I'm back in the states, all I can really do for these children is pray for them. I pray that their physical and emotional needs will be met. I pray they will all find a home and a family who will love and care for them. I pray they will grow up strong and receive a good education. I'm thankful for people like Jana and Keli who go there on a regular basis and do what they can to help. I'm thankful for all the families I know who have opened their homes and their hearts to adopt children from orphanages all around the world. I have a great respect and admiration for all of you. In all of this, I have to believe that God is working. It only took me a fraction of a second to fall in love with these children, but I know that God loved them before anyone else and will always love them. I put my hope in His love.

I'll never forget Home of Hope. I left a piece of my heart there."

It is hard knowing that our son, Drew, is waiting for us in one of those little blue metal cribs. Our family has a hole in it that we did not know existed until God changed our hearts, and created the hole.

On a happy note, we have our dear friend, Natalie in Rwanda right now with many, many Austinites, so we get to see pictures and hear updates. Check out her pictures of the Gorillas!!

Thank you for praying for and asking us about Drew, he'll be here in His perfect timing, until then we wait, and wait.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Moabitess

Caroline was Ruth for her history project this semester. She memorized her little speech and drew a picture of Ruth and Boaz making googly eyes at each other.
Sweet thing, other kids were Cleopatra and exotic Egyptians, but no, she knew that burlap, barley, and Boaz were it for her!
She was quite perfect for it being an old soul and a little romantic at heart!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I simply remember my favorite things...

Singing this song to all three kids the other night in the guest bed at 2am, I did start thinking of some of my more recent favorite things. There was a thunderstorm. They do not do well with thunderstorms, and then it became a big slumber party for 2 hours. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the list below, but take it or leave it, I love these books and music right now:

She is unbelievable. She is a true songwriter (not that I really know music) but, I have listened to her album nonstop for about 3 weeks. Her songs, Weightless, A Thousand Things (which has me crying like a baby), Life Costs so Much, Fly, the tongue in cheek Don't call it Love...

Yes, I know I am probably the last one alive to fall in love with Ann. Her words literally calm my soul. It sounds silly, I know, but there is something very special about her. She lives on a farm in Canada, with her farmer husband and 6 kids. She writes like noone else about gratitude, the holy in the mundane, every beautiful detail of our ordinary lives. Again, I have cried through several of her posts. Yes, I am taking my Vitamin B and fish oil to help with this!

God book for Preston: Read Aloud Bible Stories. I LOVE these for his age! They are simple and rich with big pictures. Sound Theologically and not silly, but sweet.

God book for Lucy: Leading Little Ones to God This book is organized in a fantastic way! We went through it with Caroline a couple years ago. It is really a Systematic Theology book for the 4-6 year old set. Right up my alley! It has 14 Sections with 6 readings in each. For example,
part 2: God is Very Great.
a. God is One God
b.God is Everywhere
c. God Knows all things...
The pictures are horribly outdated and the hymns I've never heard of. I would LOVE to re-do this book.

God book for Caroline: Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. Bruce Ware is a Seminary prof, and brings all his depth to this book for kids. Andy usually reads this with Caroline. It is amazing!! Much more indepth than Lucy's book, but organized the same way, ie:
Section 3. Creator and Ruler of All
a. God rules the world he has made
b. God provides all good things in the World
c. God controls all Bad things in the World...

That's it for now. I haven't read anything for myself lately, any suggestions??

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Run for the Water and NEW Cousin Charlie!

Sunday Morning we had a first as a family. Caroline and Lucy ran their first race, the Run for the Water. I ran the 10 mile version with a couple girls I run with alot. Gilbert from Burundi is a bit of an Austin superstar. His running group, Gilbert's Gazelles, trains the same time I run at the lake at early-thirty on Saturday mornings. He has an unbelievable story of escaping the genocide in Burundi (same Hutu/Tutsi conflict as the Rwandan genocide) The race raised $ to send to his home village to build water wells. The girls loved the cause and running fast!
Lucy was slowing quite a bit, but heard me cheering for her, put her head down and sprinted to the finish :) The pink converse were lightning fast!

Megan and I stayed together the whole time. Beautiful race through Tarrytown.
Joanie and Eric-dynamo duo
In major family news, my brother Daniel, and sister in law Liz had their first baby Saturday night.
Charlie Preston Farrar.
He is beautiful!! We got to see and hold him briefly, but he's struggling with blood sugar levels. I don't have pics yet as he is in the NICU, but doing great and will be home soon. I'll post pics soon.
Congratulations Daniel and Liz, we LOVE you!!