Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's all in HIS details ...

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in all church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for eve and ever!  Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

I am so blown away by our God of details.  I am so blown away by our God who chooses to show me just an inkling of what HE is up to!  I am so blown away by our God that allows me, even if just a little bit, to join him in his story!

My theme this year so far has seemed to be:  "Surrender, I got it all covered" - God.

Boy does he ever!
So let me rewind a few months and share how he has been at work.
One afternoon while perusing through my friends facebook status's on my "home" page, a post jumped out to me from a sweet girl I barely know that lives in my neighborhood.  It was a link to a blog post.  Now, in the adoption world, there are a lot of families to follow and with little time in each day, I'm doing good to check in on them from time to time but when I saw the word "orphan", it caught my eye and with one click, there went the rest of my afternoon.

Quickly,  I found myself reading the words of the most amazing family who had uprooted themselves and their precious 3 children, left all they had and knew of comfort and moved to Ethiopia this past September to love on the least of these.  The post was a blog entry of their families journey and a simple post sharing with their friends how the Lord allowed them to bring home a little boy for the weekend from an orphanage they were serving in.


Immediately, my fingers got the best of me and before I knew it I had commented not only on my friends post but had e-mailed this couple directly through their "contact us" on their website.

It felt like the Lord was doing all the typing and I was just here ... playing some small part.

Very shortly, like as in within the hour,  the husband e-mailed back  (and yeah, think 9 hours ahead there, he's good!).  We began a dialogue of me asking a gazillion questions and him sharing their amazing story and work.  We began to see that we had some awesome God prints I'll call them.  Originally from San Antonio (yep, my home), they were now in Ethiopia and in Addis Ababa, where I'd  soon be going on both my mission trip and our family on our adoption adventures (twice).  They also were working with Somali refugees in the area which was a huge God print for me!  As he shared through one of the e-mails about their love for the Somali's, he began to share the stories of that people group and why the Lord had captured their hearts for them.  My heart leapt!  I knew these stories, because I shared the same love, for the same people ... only they were HERE!

For two years we spent ministering to Somali refugees in our city.  For two years we had gone each Tuesday night and not only gained a whole knew depth of knowledge about cross cultural ministry, but fell in love with the precious people that he now was serving.  He was ministering to the exact people we had been ministering to here.  The exact people group that we knew had for so long been so removed from hearing the name of Jesus.  Now that might not sound like no big deal, but believe me .. it's all God.  You see, the Somali Bantu are on the list of the most "un-reached people groups" at number FOUR.  A half a world away, our two families were serving and loving the same people group, that literally had been"untouchable" for so long.   I immediately felt the Lord at work and a connection to a family who shared in so many things we were passionate about.

Not only that ... I was inspired by them.

During our course of e-mails we also began to talk about visiting them and graciously, he offered for the team I was going into Ethiopia with through Visiting Orphans to come into the orphanage they were working in.  I was so excited about that possibility, however, I knew that our agenda was already very full and didn't want to press the issue with my team leaders or the Executive Director!  I held back but continued to pray each night for this family and their work.

Each night the Lord awoke me ... at midnight.  For nights on end, I would awake knowing I was thinking about them.  This orphanage.  Their work!  This was not in my character!  I love sleep .. and I never wake!

Doug and I are on the Board of Directors for Visiting Orphans so I had hoped that once our Executive Director returned from leading a team into Uganda that we'd be able to talk with her about future VO teams going in.  It appeared there was a great need and the invitation had been clearly extended by Jimmy for future opportunities.

I also had told Jimmy that I would love for our family to visit his family and orphanage on our adoption trips.  Not thinking we'd get in before, that seemed like the perfect time!  In the meantime, we also began doing some research on how to get the orphanage up and going on a sponsorship program through a partner ministry that we love.  The seeds were being planted and now we believed we were to just wait again on the Lord to tell us the rest!

So this is where God really lets us in on his story.  Last week during the day I get an e-mail from our team leader calling an "Emergency 911" conference call.  Something had gone awry with our travels and our leaders would discuss it with us that night.  The end of the e-mail said

"Take 2 flex pills and don't worry"  (HAHA)

That night we found out that Ethiopian Airlines that day had canceled ALL flights flying into Addis Ababa on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Our team leader called the meeting as it appeared that in order for our team to get out, we'd need to leave a day early as we originally were scheduled to go out on a Thursday, February 17th.  Throughout the call she and her husband shared that they just knew this would be a blessing and that the Lord has something wonderful in store.   They knew it would be hard, they knew it may cause anxiety for some, but they also had a peace and knew that he was writing the story.  My heart bubbled over and even as they spoke, I began to type out an e-mail to them with this in the memo line:  " I have an orphanage we can visit if interested ..."
I then shared with our team leader a little about the orphanage and that we had been invited as a a team in for a visit and to serve.  Not knowing how that would be received, I was elated to see lots of excitement and many willing hearts!  

God did his work ... God put together all the details!    

Within hours, the Lord had not only paved a way for us to have an extra day in Ethiopia, but he paved a way for us to GO and MEET and LOVE the children of this amazing orphanage.  Within hours,  Jimmy had responded to Visiting Orphans with an exciting invitation to spend the extra day we now had loving on the 137 children his family helps serve there.  


Do you think our God is the God of details.  Looking back, he knew all along that he'd cancel those flights.  He was already paving out that extra day for our team to have the time in "our" packed agenda to spend where he wanted us to be.  Through a crazy stream of circumstance on facebook, he gave me the opportunity to be a part of his story, allowing me to cross paths with this family a 1/2 a world away, to learn about HIS children,  and the means through an AMAZING ministry to follow through and serve and love on them in whatever means he'll have us!  

He's still writing this story.  I can't wait to read the next chapter!  

"Surrender, I got it all covered" - God!  

Go check out the ministry of this amazing family!  You can be a part of their work by supporting them!  

Jimmy and Rachel Gross:  Heavenly Hope Ministries

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Top 10 of Today!

Just total randomness ...

1.)  seeing a few referrals come in today for AWAA families - CONGRATS!
2.)  My house looks like a bomb went off ... oh, when, oh when, will the construction end!
3.)  My office is getting very full of supplies for Ethiopia and my head is racing in all the things  I have yet to do.
4.)  Tired of refinance paperwork and ?'s ... GEESH, the house is already mine ... I just want to RE-finance it!
5.)  Would love to see more of #1 ... specifically MINE!
6.)  Hence the reason for #2 ... his room and preparations on how to add a fourth to our home ( though the interim work is making me CRAZY!)
7.)  Which led me to #3 ... the desire to go to Ethiopia ... 21 days from TODAY!!
8.)  And hoping doing #4 - will save us some money each month to pay for #7, #5, and #2!
9.)  Which also leaves me wanting to remind you of 3 important things you can do to join us ...

  • COFFEE SALES ... go on, click on the Ground to Cup logo and order some in our family name
  • T-SHIRT SALES ... You can click on the Adoption Bug logo and choose from 4 there OR
  • AFRICA T'S ... I have some left of the ones we printed - e-mail me first to confirm I still have your size!!  
10.)  THANK YOU!!  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I can let the secret out!

I am horrible at secrets.  The excitement usually gets the best of me and I have to tell.  But, in the end, sometimes secrets are super fun!
Our team leaves in 25 days for Ethiopia.  I leave my home in 24 as I will first fly into DC and spend the night so I can make it in time to leave out at noon that next day with the other 29 members of my team.  It's coming down to the final weeks and I am so excited!  The details are starting to come together ... I mean, for the trip that is.  As for me, um, I have a lot of packing and things to do!  Project preparation in the works!

Our final itinerary is coming together.  We had a conference call this past week to discuss the orphanages we'll be getting to visit and the communities we will be getting to serve.  The more our team leader shared, the more excited I got.  
First, for my secret!  No, it's not a referral for Levi - DARN IT!  But exciting none the same.  Something we have known for some time and haven't been able to share is that our team will be partnering with "TOMS" shoes to do a two day and first ever shoe drop in Ethiopia.  SERIOUSLY!  You do know who Toms shoes are right?  Ya know, the buy a pair, give a pair, Toms.   If you don't, then check them out here.     Anyways, we'll be spending two days with a distribution team of Toms called "Baer Essentials" fitting the feet of many many precious children who will be getting a brand new pair of shoes courtesy of this amazing company/ministry!  What awesomeness that we get to play a part in, huh!  

We will also be spending some time in two areas a few hours outside of Addis Ababa called "Holeta" and "Ambo".  From our conference calls and my understanding, Holeta has a small orphanage of around 15 or so children.  The woman who runs this orphanage is amazing and one of the most incredible families, The Minovech family, adopted four children through this orphanage not too too long ago.  Tracy said that it is a place of complete destitute.  There is no water, and very little food.  She said they cook over an open fire "like in the stone age", they don't have beds and her exact words were "it's as bad as you can imagine".  BUT, she also said that the beautiful woman, Pochai, who runs the orphanage loves the Lord and shares about Jesus to these beautiful children though the community has a high prevelence of witch craft.  Tracy said her children came to them filled with the love of Christ, but also stories, sadly, of watching their friends be "sold".  Child trafficking is a huge problem in the area and so I am certain the enemy is very present.   I can't wait to meet Pochai, a light in the darkness.  We will spend a day here in Holeta before making our way to "Ambo" where we will spend the night ... in a place my team leader swears is "nice" ... or so she's told (HAHA).  
Ambo has  no "orphanage" per say, however, there is about 20 kids that we will get to spend time with who are orphans.  We will also get to do some possible home visits into the local families homes and do whatever the community needs us to do in the way of serving them.  We are open to whatever the need is!  
In both of these communities, we will be the first to work in their community.  Please begin to pour prayer over our time in Ambo and Holeta ... that through our team, we can share the love of Jesus and open opportunities for future teams of Visiting Orphans to also begin to serve these communities.  

As mentioned in the past post, we will spend 3 additional days in Korah.  To learn a little about Korah, please watch the video below.  Without question, every day needs a covering in prayer.

The last day we are in Ethiopia our team will be broken into two groups.  
One group will have the opportunity to spend time in a orphanage run by an amazing and loving Catholic Nun.  There are about 100 children from the age of birth to 17 who call this orphanage home.  We are told that many children that are adopted from Ethiopia come out of this orphanage.  We are also told that it is a well run facility with a basketball court, a soccer field etc.  
The second half of the team will have the opportunity to go to a very small orphanage called "Drawn from Water".   What I have learned is that a tribe in Ethiopia believes that children can become evil and cursed by two ways 1.)  they are born to an unwed mother 2.)  their top two teeth come in first.  In either circumstance, the tribe leader declares these children "Evil" and will tie them up and throw them in the river to be drown.    The families of these children do not want this to happen.  Often they will hide their children out in attempt to save them.  Drawn from Water rescues these children and brings them to this orphanage.  From my understanding, all the children residing their currently are six years and younger.  Because of cultural differences, none of them, with exception to one little girl, will ever be available for adoption.  This will be their forever home.  

Our team will also have the opportunity to spend time in the fistula hospital of Addis Ababa.  I believe we do so immediately upon our arrival in country.  Through my tired and weary eyes, I pray that I can really take in the beautiful woman there and give them the love they deserve!  

Lots of prayers are needed during our teams travel days and even in the preparation ahead.  I'll chat about those next, but I just wanted to give you a glimpse into what we'll be doing during out stay.  

We will be taking all sorts of donations into these areas.  We will also be doing all sorts of crafts, VBS, and games with the children.  Some have asked what they can donate.  
Think small things and light things.  One friend recently tossed out the idea of hackey sacks for the boys.  That is an awesome idea!  Anyone up for grabbing some?  I'd be happy to take them in!
I have started a pile of donations; so far some crayons, stickers, small bags of candy, about 30 match box cars, some hair bows and nail polish for the little princess's we will meet.  I could always use more of those things.  I am also hoping to collect some tooth brushes, toothpastes and combs.  Maybe some small lotions as well.  I hope to get out this week for some beading supplies and some "pipe cleaners" as I think the kids would love to create with them.  
If you want to play a part, you can do so by contacting me and I would be happy to meet up for your donations.  If you aren't local, you can also donate finances towards the things I will buy or the goats we are hoping to provide the communities (See post below).  You can do that on my "chip in" on the side.  Be sure to put in the comment section "Visiting Orphans Mission trip" so I know that it is your desire for it to be used towards those things .. and not the adoption fundraising we are also doing.  

Project Preparation is under way!  Thank you in advance for joining me in serving the least of these!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Don't be a Goat ... Man Up for a Goat!"

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Then the righteous will answer him, Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? 
"The King will reply, ' I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 

I have been preparing myself for a trip I have wanted to go on for so long.  Spending time in Ethiopia!!  It's coming down to the last month before I leave and I have so much going on in my head and my heart that on many days I can't organize my thoughts and my simple "to do's" to get prepared.  I have so much to prepare to travel and go, but I have been really trying to prepare my heart for what I will experience.  I'm not really sure that it's possible to fully prepare ones self for the 10 days that lye ahead.  I mean, how do you prepare to fall in love with orphans ... many of them and then have to leave them?  How do you prepare to spend 3 days in a dump; the smells, the sights and the truth of the over 100,000 people who call it home every day and walk away?  How will I come home to my life of abundance?  The Lord arrested my heart for his orphan over 4 years ago when he placed one in my arms and called her mine ... but that's just it, she's mine!  How will I compute leaving them behind and live each day responsible for what I have seen and known.  My friends and those who know me know that I am already very vocal about my passion for the church to care for the orphan.  How will I feel after I have learned their names and felt their breathe on my face?

For some time I have said that I can't wait to go and be Jesus!  To get to just sit and love on his children!  To kiss the cheeks of a child he adores!  To be his hands to hold them!  To be his voice to tell them they are adored and loved!  But, Jesus ... what a daunting task, to be Jesus!

But then I was reminded of quite the opposite!  You see, my perspective has been that I am getting the amazing privilege of being Jesus to others and yet, he tells me in the above passage, that they are him!  He says, whatever I am doing to them, I am doing to him!  I'm not Jesus .. THEY ARE!  What wouldn't you do for your King?  I'm not sure if it makes the perspective easier or harder?  My Jesus amidst the thousands eating from a dump?  My Jesus, living in an orphanage with no mother or father to call his own?  My Jesus, sitting in a fistula hospital living a life of shame and despair?

Let that sink in!

So, I am preparing and hope you will help me prepare.  First, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the city of Korah where the team I am with from Visiting Orphans will spend 3 days;
**  be sure to pause music below **

The Village of Korah from ReFocus Media on Vimeo.

Will you pray for our team while we minister to the precious people in Korah?  We will be partnering with Project61, a ministry dedicated to caring for the people of Korah.

We will also be doing a huge goat roast there, a project one of my team leaders affectionately calls the "Man Up BBQ project".  We are working to raise the money to purchase and slaughter and roast 50 goats.  They will cost $45 each.  He has put out a challenge called "Don't be a Goat and Man up for a Goat" challenge to raise the funds to provide for the Man Up BBQ.  This totally CRACKS ME UP ... and I want to play!!!  
But, in all seriousness, will you help?  If you would like to donate towards the goats, you can do so by simply clicking my "Chip In" on the side (yes, the one we are raising funds for Levi with).  In your comments, please denote that you'd like your donation to go towards the Man up challenge or for supplies for my mission trip!  

Lastly, I'm collecting all sorts of small items to bring with me.  Crayons, paper, beading supplies, stickers, nail polish, barrettes, etc.   So if you have anything you'd like to donate, let me know.  I'd love to bring it along for some awesome fun with some of Jesus's most precious treasures!!!

33 days and counting!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Prepare Ye the Way

Levi, we are preparing a home for you.  Today we started construction on the playroom.   A great guy Daddy knows with work,  Mr. Cajun, is busily creating magic.  We are adding two closets and built in bookshelves and a door so that your two sisters can move into that room ... making it a bedroom fit for the princess's.  And Levi, guess what, that means YOUR room will be empty and ready for your Mommy to begin to prepare the way to turn it into a room fit for a beautiful, precious and chosen little boy.  Each step we take to you ... even preparing our home ... is one step closer!

SO, this is what it looks like now ... rather boring.  It's been simply a place to play and well, admittedly, your Mommy has never "decorated" the space.  Just wait though ... the girls and I have picked some precious bedding, beautiful paint and goodies to make it their perfect place!

And that leaves the place that was once all girlie for the "Little Ladies" in our life to be made into a room fit for a precious little boy ... YOU!
I'll give you a picture of what it is now ... but what it will look like is still yet to be revealed.  BUT ... this space will soon be yours, Levi.

Prepare Ye the Way ...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Things rambling around in my head ....

I have so many things running around in my head.  To do's, worries, wonders, fears, lists .....  If you only knew how exhausting it was to be in my thoughts.  They are wearing me out!  I can't get myself organized.
  •  41 days
  • seriously.
  • I'm going to Ethiopia
  • in 41 days
  • that's soon
  • i need to make a list
  • and should probably call the Dr. to see about Malaria meds.
  • do I take the meds?
  • some said not to
  • others said we should
  • Oh, crud
  •  I can't find my notes from the last conference call 
  • that call was long
  • like two hours
  • hmm, but I was in a coffee shop
  • Fun!
  • on a date
  • in Colorado Springs
  • listening to my call
  • should have been Doug's call too
  • but he's not going
  • this makes me sad
  • I won't know anyone ...
  • there were so many people on that call
  • I hope I'll remember their names
  • and make a friend
  • I can't believe I'm doing this
  • alone
  • they listed so many shots
  • and those shots cost a fortune!  UGH
  • and prescriptions ...
  • What were the other prescriptions?
  • Darn it, I can't find my notes
  • I wonder if the Dr. will make me come in 
  • maybe he'll call in the prescriptions without seeing me.
  • put that on the list
  • Call Marilyn 
  • that will cost another small fortune
  • Fortune ... 
  • it sure was fun buying those keens for the trip
  • hope their cute
  • because well, I may be in Ethiopia ...
  • but shouldn't I still be cute
  • and comfortable!
  • the last pair I bought before China
  • memories!
  • That was a long time ago
  • 4 years 
  • but I wore them the whole trip
  • and after
  • for a LONG time
  • actually, I still do
  • pretty good use of a small fortune
  • fortune ...
  • hmmmm
  • I wonder how much cash I should bring to Ethiopia?
  • I'll ask on our next call.  
  • Put that on my list or notes
  • UGH!
  • Where are my notes!?!
  • Oh, ... another conference in January 
  •  more details ... team captains, donations 
  • EEK, I need to get donations
  • but I LOOVED my Christmas Gift
  • with Crayons, and stickers
  • Cindy Lu Hu ... I adore you!
  • oh yeah, beads
  •  the Somali girls loved beads!
  • I wonder if we should bring some beading supplies?
  • I should contact Erika about that
  • put that on my list
  • Baseball practice soon ...
  • ugh, I hate driving 45 minutes 
  • Just to get to practice and back.
  • well, at least if the men are at practice, the girls and I can have a quiet night alone.
  • What is Maliah doing?
  • she sure is quiet 
  • and alone
  • is she singing?
  • Pretty good!
  • Chris Tomlin?
  • That girl is hilarious!
  • I bet I should get Canyon a snack before he leaves ...
  • snacks
  • I need snacks on my list
  • I don't want my bags to be too heavy
  • UGh, remember China
  • Horror!
  • opening my whole suitcase in the airport and getting rid of things 
  • right in front of people
  • how embarrassing
  • peanut butter
  • oatmeal
  • good thing I didn't pull out underwear
  • What if I had embarrassing things in there?
  • like tampons 
  • Darn it.
  • I bet it'll be that time when I go
  • Shoot!
  • we'll be in a dump
  • where will I go to the bathroom?
  • oh Lord!
  • please don't give me cramps!
  • am I really talking about cramps
  • and tampons ...
  • on my blog
  • people are now really thinking I'm crazy
  • crazy
  • I'm leaving for Ethiopia
  • in 41 days
  • ugh .. I have so much to do!
  • it makes me scared
  • and excited
  • and overwhelmed
  • where is that list?
  • Add solicit prayers to that list!
© Lead us to Levi

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