Thusday - Ghana

May 24, 2012 0
This will be the hardest update to write. Emotions are on overload and we are trying hard to keep everything in perspective.  First, I am thankful for a sovereign God who is in complete control of every second of every day.  He knew exactly what would happen today and he knows what will happen tomorrow and I trust in his promises. Our day started, with a trip to one of poorest schools in Accra and it knocked the wind out of me.  Honestly, it took all that I had not to bust out crying as we entered. I have seen this type of thing many times, but it just rips your heart out every time. I wish I could put it into words or you could feel the heaviness of my heart.  Many of these kids have been rescued from ocean diving, which kills so many innocent children who have been sold or abducted from their parents. In one instance, the abductors found out the police were coming and they slaughtered sixty children.  I know this is not easy to read, but we can't hide from the truth.

The word radical is being thrown around a lot these days, but are we really doing things to radically impact the world? These  things are happening on our watch - we can't ignore these situations and just hope they go away.  Kathy and I are thinking and praying through how to best impact this school. We are strongly considering donating to them monthly. Please let us know if you are also interested. Trust me, every penny would help.  We have a local contact who will ensure the funds goes directly to the school. I will post videos of the school when we get home.

Have you ever thought about adopting? We did for almost 10 years, until finally we stepped out in faith and asked God to stop us  if we were outside of his desires.  I believe if you have been given a desire, it's for a purpose! You just need to take the first step.  Men, listen to your wives with an open mind and heart.  Trust me, I am 45 and Kathy is 48, but to a child who has nothing and little hope age is meaningless. We would love to answer any questions you may have.  

After a brief and sad situation at the orphanage, we took Emmanuel to a pool on the ocean with Percy's permission. The grounds also had a see-saw, swing, ladder and slide.  We were there for almost five hours and E'Man wanted nothing to do with the pool because it had "too much water". Until the last 20 minutes and then he started to get braver and braver. Though, he never went all the way in, he had great time splashing and bending over and blowing bubbles. We were also blessed to have "Grandma" Lola Crain with us.  We had the opportunity to teach E'Man how to play on a playground.  He learned how to climb steps and slide as long as daddy was holding his hands :)). I loved hearing "carry me daddy" as he slid down. He has learned to see-saw with his mommy, he just smiled as his mom when it hit the bottom.  We also tried the rocking horse, but he is not a fan.  Lastly, he loved the swing, but he had to make sure we used them both "and this one daddy".  Though, he wouldn't go with me, I had the opportunity to swim in the ocean for a few minutes. Crazy feeling standing in ocean and looking back at the shore and seeing lots of shacks.  No high rise here. Yeah, it was a lot to take in.  Tomorrow, we will say good-bye to our little man for now. We leave him in God's hands, which brings lots of peace.  We will also board a plane to see our two precious daughters. God has abundantly blessed us with them.  I can't wait to hold them and hear their fantastic laughs. 

 This trip has been awesome and we can't wait to come back and complete our family.  Thank you for reading along in our journey.  We will continue to keep you updated.  Birmingham friends, coming home is always ten times harder then going so be patient with us.   We just can't say enough about Percy and Hopscotch Adoption Agency, including all those who watched over us. Father, we are so grateful, for all that you continue to do for us.  You have blessed us beyond measure and brought so much joy into our lives.  Help us to see your path for us and not be complacent on our watch.  Father, find us faithful! Prayer warriors, we have felt you! We both of have extremely well health wise amongst other things.  

Ghana - Day four

May 22, 2012 0
To each person who has prayed for us, bought a t-shirt, participated in a project, gave money or provided words of encouragement, you have changed our world forever. Thank you, doesn't seem to be enough, yet that is all we have to offer. Well, a hug from a cute little boy is coming soon.  We spent a full day with E'man.  He is calling us Mommy and Daddy and tells everyone is coming to America.  His personality is over the top, his smile melts your heart, his laugh is contagious and his dance moves make you smile.  This little boy who almost died twice is now our son! This little boy whose father and mother stated they did want him, now has a family surrounded by friends who love him, because of your generosity.

In these moments, you are confronted with the brutal reality of the world. We will share more about what we have seen and heard about child slavery in the coming weeks.  Over the years, we have been asked over and over again "why go there" and we try to smile and be polite and say God has called us to go "there".  The question is, usually followed with there is so much to do here. We agree there is much to be done "here".  We would love to hear more about how you are serving and how we can get involved with you. :))) 

There is so much on my heart tonight about our view of the gospel and the need to disciple.  The word is alive because the author and creator is still at work.  The walk is challenging and hard, it may feel like its easier to quit at times.  However, please remember you may be one step away from an awaking. The magnificent unexplainable beauty of a rainbow can only be seen after a storm.  A testimony is built through a series of tests and all with the creator walking by your side preparing you to see his glory in His way.

I am a weak sinful man who has many pitfalls and weaknesses. Yet, I am blown away that God would chose me or allow me to see what I have seen. I am learning to stop asking what God's will is for my life  and simply follow him even when it simply doesn't make sense. Again, we are humbled by you.  

To my small group on Monday nights. I love you and am so thankful for your faithfulness and friendship.

To our Wednesday night group. Thank you for allowing me to work out my knowledge and beliefs in front of you.  You breathe such a fire in me.

To my family- thank you for putting up with me! I know my faith journey has come at a cost at times with you As I have tried to learn how to live with  convictions and love. You have been steadfast with your grace. I love you! 

We finally met our son!!

May 20, 2012 0
What a day!

Video added: Road to the orphanage

We pulled in the driveway and with a beep of Percy's car horn, the gates opened and there was Lola (filming) with Emmanuel in her lap. Wow, this was really about to happen! We sat there a second just looking at him wondering what to do, I stretched out my hands and he came right to me and laid his head on my shoulder. I looked over at Kathy who had tears flowing and a big smile on her face.  I held him for a while, then he laid on Kathy's chest as peaceful as he can be.  Within a few minutes, he was in a deep sleep snoring. What an a amazing moment! 

Video added: Lola made this amazing video at the orphanage. Halfway through you will see the moment we met Emmanuel. 

The owners wife took him inside to ensure he didn't miss snack time.  Within a few minutes, out came E'Man with a fast sprint straight to his Mama.  By this time, he was wide awake and ready to go!  Kathy pulled out his new family photo book and we went through every picture. He would try to say almost every name.  By the end, he was able to distinguish Jessica and Shannon. He also named all his grandparents.

Video added: Eman speaking for the first time

He played for a little while then started singing his abc's and 123's in my lap (fun video).   He has a little gruff voice and a big belly laugh and a smile that will light up a room!  Yes, we are just a little bit proud of  Most importantly, we are in awe of the Lord. 

Video added: ABC's and  123's

The more we talked to Lola, the more we were touched by her testimony. I loved her sweet gentle spirit and passion to seek Christ on his terms. I will share more about her along the way.  We thought she lived in Michigan, but she actually lives in Maryville, Tn. Only 20 minutes from Kathy's mom in Knoxville, how crazy is that? . 

Our time ended with E'Man saying he is coming to America on a plane.  He did ask if we would buy him a pair of shoes and two elephants.  It was hard saying good-bye and knowing leaving him behind on Friday will be painful. We just pray for a short turnaround.

Video added: This was taken soon after we left for the first time.  He is looking at the gates as he talks.  This one is always a little hard to watch.

Video added: E Coming to America

Percy has been so kind and has done so much to help Emmanuel survive (literally) and make this adoption possible.  We learned more about his mother and grandmother who we will meet next time we are here.  We are thankful to Hopscotch Adoption Agency who has done a great job of keeping us informed and setting the right expectations.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  We will post videos and pictures when we have him home. 

Love to all!

Prayer requests:Monday - embassy appointment
Orphans - there are 33 orphans in this home, thankfully many are being adopted. However, there are still 147 million who need homes.  We would love to answer any questions you may have. 

Jessica and Shannon - Praise God for their hearts!

E'Man - primarily his health and the huge adjustment that awaits him.

Kathy - for putting up with me. We walked two miles to get a pizza and it would have been much easier to take a taxi...but not near as fun as walking down a busy road in Ghana. Please continue to pray for Kathy's back.  She is doing much better, the walk may not of been my best idea...

Mixed Emotions

May 16, 2012 0
Kathy and I are very excited by this opportunity God has provided! The last year has been full of surprises and challenges.  Tomorrow we will get on plane and travel 6000 miles to meet our precious new son! Which is amazing! We are blown away by what God has done for our family.  

We we will also leaving our two sweet little girls behind which will be challenging.  Jessica and Shannon, we couldn't prouder of the ladies you are!

As a father, I am so proud of the decisions, you are making and your desire to excel. I love how you make me smile, laugh and exasperate me (lol).  As your brother in Christ, your humbleness inspires me!  You both continue to make tough stands which comes at a cost.  However, you stand firm in your faith, even when others don't understand.   There are hard days and weeks, but in the end you stand strong.  

We love you and miss you already. 

We are going to Africa!

May 11, 2012 0
Court date set, airline tickets purchased, bags being packed! We are so thankful for your support and prayers over the last year. We are very excited about the opportunity to meet and visit with our son! The last two weeks have been crazy. We have learned so much about Emmanuel through pictures, video’s emails and posts. One of my favorite comments is from one of his caregivers who happens to be from Michigan “he is a little guy, who is so full of personality, I tell him all the time he is a 45-year-old man trapped in a two year’s body because he is so smart and funny.” We also know he is left- handed, filled with energy, loves to dance, laugh and has a look that will make you melt.

We are so thankful we have direct flights (around 12 hours) coming and going out of Atlanta and a great friend who will be staying with our girls at the house. Our embassy/immigration appointment is next Monday @ 2:00 PM. We will try to update blog during our stay. We can’t wait to share pictures and videos with you!

For those who know me….I know you’re surprised by this simple and short update. There is just a lot to process. A family friend of Jessica’s (thanks Susan) shared this song with us, and it says so much more than I can right now.  I don't know

David Barnes – Mine to Love

You might wanna close your eyes

It’ll take some time adjustin’

Welcome to your life

You’re everything you’ll someday be

There’s a weight off my shoulder

There’s laughter in the air

You are the answer to every midnight prayer

You’re mine to love

We have all been waitin’ on you

You’re mine to love

Come into these open arms

It took some time to wait it out

But I see it now, you’re worth all the dreaming of

You’re mine to love

You’re mine to love

You might wanna take your time

Takin’ all this technicolor, yeah

We’re on your side

Let us be the one you need

There’s a life on my shoulder

Laughter in the air

You are the answer to all those midnight prayers

You’re mine to love

We have all been waitin’ on you

My son's smile :)

May 03, 2012 0
On Friday, April 27th I (Kathy) received an e-mail stating there was an error in our court document so it would have to be pushed back through court. Tears immediately began to sting my eyes. This is such a huge, emotional roller coaster. It's like you take 1 step forward and 10 steps back. I know the final outcome will be completely worth the wait. But, you get right on the brink of thinking you are about to travel to meet your child, and something seems to always happen to knock you back indefinitely. As I resolved myself not to cry, because I was at work. I re-read the e-mail and prepared to call Rob to let him know-knowing full well the tears would come freely when he picked up the phone. However, just before I dialed, I read the bottom of the e-mail and noticed the e-mail stated what orphanage Emmanuel is at. Before calling Rob, I sent a quick text to a friend in Knoxville to let her know where he is. Immediately, I received a reply that said "call me". Long story short, this friend knows our son. She had seen him and it all clicked once I told her where he was. She connected us with his caregiver. Suddenly, we had well over 30 photos of our son and quickly met other volunteers at his orphanage that know him. It had to be the best moment of this whole process! We have pictures of our son smiling, dancing, laughing, playing and cuddling. Our hearts overflowed with even more love than we already felt for him. The news we received last Friday, "I know your son", along with the pictures that followed have carried us all week-and will probably continue to do so. We discovered he knows English and speaks it very well. This will make our communication so much easier. He has bonded well with at least three caregivers-this will make our bonding much easier. He loves to dance! Jessica is thrilled as she too loves to dance-she's already learning one of the dances he knows so she can do it with him. He loves peanut butter-that's my boy! I know something I can feed him occasionally. He's funny and keeps everyone laughing-thrills all of our hearts. And last but not least, he loves to cuddle and be tickled-something Shannon and Rob are so excited over! All of this makes me think of Jesus. When you read the bible and understand what Jesus went through on earth-rejection, humiliation, being unloved by His own and in the end death, it's hard not to feel the sting of those tears. But if you wait just a few minutes...there's more to the story! 

Jesus is alive and well. As you read His story, you see that He longs for a relationship with you!! You aren't alone and don't have to be afraid because He has bonded with so many before you. They can be your support, they can help you through. Even though He's not right here to touch you when you feel like you can't hear Him, He's there. His Word can paint a beautiful picture for you to look at and read over and over so that you know Him intimately. Today, I want you to know that I know God's Son. Rob and I can tell you all about Him-I want you to know of His love, see His gentle ways, recognize His face and have a relationship with Him. He's waiting and He's holding out His arms waiting for you to run into them. And, when you do, God's Son will smile. :)

Shannon's first Prom

This past weekend Shannon also attended her first prom.  Shannon was escorted by Cade Jones.  Yes, Dad does approve! He is a great guy and treats Shannon with lots of respect.

Jessica - almost done...saying good-bye to good friends. 
Jessica will almost through with her junior year! Hard to believe.  This will be a tough week because she has to say good-bye to two great friends MJ (next to her) and Micheal.  They have been fantastic friends to her and taught her so much about life and how to love the nations right where you are.  MJ is from Haiti, and Michael is from Uganda.  We love you guys and will miss you!!

Rachel and Susan - your awesome!