YWAM’s Adoption Ministry has an annual picnic and invites all families in their program, whether they’re in process or completed their adoption years ago. This year’s picnic was held at Bradley Lake Park here in Puyallup. There was great food (too much dessert, perhaps) and plenty of good company. The kids played non-stop (surprise!), including some organized “pony” races, and much soccer. Some of the kids also played a bit of baseball. For most of the picnic, the weather was great, but we managed to get a bit of a downpour for a while. I don’t think the kids noticed because it happened while they were playing soccer. We took some good pictures; check them out.
On Saturday, we got together with friends who had recently returned from Ethiopia following their adoption of a sibling group (2 boys and 1 girl). These kids came from the same orphanage in Adama that Daniel and David lived in. They had seen pictures and video of our boys, but they did not meet in Ethiopia.
Sary-Jo began praying for these kids as soon as they appeared on the “waiting children” list. Logically, it was unlikely that they would be adopted. We are so grateful that God’s plans are so much greater than our logic! Not only did he find a home for these beautiful children, but he also gave them a home fairly near ours so that we could experience the joy of meeting them in person. A while back, we met with the family and became instant friends. They had contacted us because of their adoption-in-process, and they were seeking advice regarding school, learning English, etc. What an awesome experience to spend a few hours in the park with these same kids.
The boys are about the same age as our boys, and they became immediate friends. They spent hours kicking around a soccer ball. We learned that all four of these boys have incredible skills (and endurance) for their age. Our boys learned that they can still communicate in Amharic when they need to, even though much of their conversation was in English. And the parents had a great time just talking about our early experiences.
What a day!
Click the picture above to see more. Watch the video below.
Sarah’s exchange student, Sara (aka “Little Sara”), helped the boys make a gingerbread house. The results look great – in fact, it looks so good that we don’t want to eat it just yet (well, Daniel does). Overall, the boys have done great in anticipation of Christmas. They seem to really understand the rhythm of the year now (although they don’t know which month is next), and are extremely excited about Christmas. They’ve re-memorized the Christmas story from Luke. They’re also excited about a fat guy fitting down our chimney.
Click on the picture to see a few more of the gingerbread house in progress.
We occasionally spend a few minutes looking at pictures and videos over the past couple years. This helps to remind us just how far we have come as a family, which is especially helpful on those days that it’s clear we have a long way to go. Sometimes we come across an old video that we just have to share. This one came about because the boys were not used to eating fruit from a refrigerator and we served them plums. They had been here less than two weeks, so you not only get their reaction to the cold fruit on their teeth, but you also get a feel for how we communicated without much in the way of a common language. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
On Sunday, we got together with friends and family to celebrate Daniel and David’s third birthdays (they turned 11 and 9, repsectively, but this is only their third actual birthday celebration). We invited people to help us support the boys’ orphanage in Ethiopia, including their sister, who is being ministered to by Adoption Ministry and the orphanage. We gathered at Bradley Lake Park and used the covered area, which turned out to be a really good thing when the skies opened up. The kids, and some adults, kept the soccer game going throughout all types of weather we experienced – it started out very pleasant and sunny, but that did not last too long. We don’t know exactly how many people attended, but we consumed over 10 dozen hot dogs. We know there were many scheduling conflicts on a Sunday afternoon, and there were quite a few people unable to make it. But the turnout was amazing and I think everyone had a great time – rain AND shine. The generosity of our family and friends continues to touch our hearts; thank you to all! You are truly making a difference in the lives of Ethiopian children. Click the picture to see more.
The video below includes a little setup, some soccer, and the crowd underneath cover from the rain.
Most of you know that Daniel and David have an older sister (1/2 sister, technically) in Ethiopia. Tigist was just a girl when their parents passed away and she took on responsibility for looking after her younger brothers. She managed to get them into the orphanage and came to meet us when we visited there.
The orphanage and its director – with support from Adoption Ministry – subsequently cared for her and got her into hair-styling school so that she could have an opportunity for a better life. This week, we received word that she graduated! We also received these two pictures of graduation. We are so excited that she was able to receive this training. The boys are having a birthday fundraiser to help with the cost of setting up her own business. YWAM is investigating what it will take to make this happen. Contact us if you’d like to help meet this need.
When we received these pictures, the boys’ faces lit up as they saw their sister. The graduation cap reinforced the value of education that we are trying to instill in the boys. Daniel immediately noticed how nice her hair looked! She is a beautiful young woman who has worked hard to overcome some very difficult circumstances. Though geographically distant, she is very much in our hearts and a part of our family. We are very proud of you, Tigist!!
This week marks two years since we traveled to Ethiopia and began the day-to-day phase of raising our boys. God had already placed them in our hearts and family, but we finally were able to begin experiencing life together. A brief recap of our trip:
- Sept. 12 – leave Seattle for Washington DC and then on the Addis Ababa
- Sept. 13 – arrive in Addis Ababa, make way to guest house just before midnight
- Sept. 14 – up early to meet the boys and then travel to Adama (Nazret) to visit the orphanage (Gotcha! date)
- Sept. 15 – appointment at U.S. embassy – hot & sticky (Sary-Jo was sick!)
- Sept. 16 – shopping & visiting other families and facilities; dinner with group
- Sept. 17 – receive documents, more “rush” shopping; catch late-night flight
- Sept. 18 – arrive in Seattle exhausted and excited
Now, two years later, we just submitted our annual progress report (a requirement until they turn 18) to our agency and to Ethiopia. Our previous reports had been written by our case worker (and friend, Liane), so this was the first time we had to compose it ourselves. Reflecting on the past year and looking through our pictures and blog posts helps to encourage us. The boys really have made remarkable progress, but it’s sometimes difficult to see on a daily basis because life comes at us pretty fast. Reflecting for a couple hours, and organizing our thoughts for the report, was a bit therapeutic.
Along with the progress report, we submitted some photos. They ask us for about 12 photos, but it’s tough to stop there. We sent a package of almost 40 because Daniel and David are so active, successful in what they do, and photogenic! How can we not share???
As we’ve documented in our posts on this site, we cannot begin to describe the life-change that’s taken place in all of us over these last two years. Opportunities to share our story – and therefore provide testimony to the greatness of God – abound. Sary-Jo and I have much richer lives because of these two energetic and intelligent kids. We feel constantly blessed and exhausted. We’re so glad that we said “yes” to this call, even when it seems we’re not up to the task. We receive just enough strength to get through each day as it comes. And we’re looking forward to the next several years!
Our agency (Adoption Ministry of YWAM) has blessed us by keeping in touch with Daniel and David’s older sister, Tigist. They have helped her with medical care when she needed it, and they made sure she got some schooling – she will graduate as a hairstylist this August. We are so happy that they are able to help her in real ways. That’s one of the many things we appreciate about the agency.
On top of all that, we are able to send updates of our family. We hope and pray that being able to see the boys’ progress is an encouragement to her. She did her best to look after them when they were younger (she was probably about 11 when she became head of household), and we know she cares deeply for them. Recently, we sent some letters and pictures with Joy. When Joy returned from Ethiopia she shared pictures that were taken as Tigist read the letters (with translator) and looked at the pictures. These brought smiles to our faces and we think you’ll enjoy them too.
YWAM’s Adoption Ministry sponsored a dinner for the families who have – or are in process of adopting – Ethiopian kids. We met at the Children’s Museum in Tacoma. There were lots of great families, a tremendous variety of great food, and much wonderful fellowship. We had a great time and we took a few pictures. Click on the one shown to see the rest.
In May, a group of us from Lighthouse Christian Center spent a few hours at Adoption Ministry’s headquarters. We completed a few projects, got to know each other a little better, and generally just tried to glorify God with the time we had together. Sary-Jo, Daniel and David snapped photos and took some video, which will give you a quick overview. Click the photo to see more, and click on the video to play it. Enjoy.