One family's journey to hear God's calling, overcome our fears, and be obedient to Him!

Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year Like No Other

Well, I'm off to Haiti to see my girls!!! What better way to start a new year? I can't think of any. I will have a lot to share when I get back.



I am so excited about 2011. It is going to be year like no other!!!

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not feel faint. Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's a God Thing

For the past few weeks I have been pondering the reality that many of the people that know me, think I have completely lost my mind. No, it's true. You know it, and I know it. I completely understand why anyone would think that way. There are endless reasons to think adopting not just one, but two little girls from Haiti, is just crazy. At the same time, it’s not like I’m building a 450 foot x 75 foot x 3 story high Ark!

As adoptive parents, we become dreadful of comments and questions. I know people don’t intend to be mean, but some comments and questions come across as insensitive and even hurtful. Being new to this adoption stuff, I find myself desiring to stay close to home, or with a few outwardly supportive family and friends. I long for the comfort of not having to be on constant lookout for negative comments or hard questions. Here are just a few examples of questions I’ve heard:

• Why don’t you just donate all the money this adoption will cost to some local charity? Well, that would be very noble and Godly. But that's not what God led me to do.

• How will you ever pay for their college? Honestly, I don't know, but I am not worried about sending them to college right now. Right now I am worried for their safety and well-being. God has not revealed to me the ending to His Story, but I trust Him on that.

• Can you love an adopted child in the same way as your biological children? I love my wife more than anyone on the planet. I love my in-laws, and I assure you we are not biologically connected. Jesula and Redjina are our children. God gave them to us just like He gave us Ashley and Matthew. He planned our family of six, perhaps even before He created the earth.

Let me say, I can usually tell where a person’s heart is when they are asking me questions about our adoption. I can also tell from their demeanor. I know there are also some who have wanted to ask questions and have not known what's appropriate. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I want people to ask questions. But, before you ask a question, ask yourself, "Why do I want to know this?" If you want this information so that you can judge the situation, or to try and convince us not to do this, then you probably should not ask. You might also run the question by God and see what He thinks about the matter. Finally, please understand that sometimes our best response to your question may be, "It’s a God Thing"!

Walking down this path I have learned a lot, and my own perspective on adoption has changed very much. I have learned first-hand that when you are obedient it really agitates the devil. The devil knows that something as Godly as loving orphans can have a huge ripple effect of people glorifying God. The devil will work overtime to create doubt and derail Godly things from happening. I challenge everyone to not let the devil use them as a means to discourage Kingdom work. If you can't be positive, uplifting and encouraging, then by all means just be silent.

Adoption is a calling in life. It is not for everyone. Honestly, foreign adoption is very, very hard. Close your eyes and imagine having a child that you love with all your heart, yet you are only able to talk to them on the phone a few minutes a week, and are only able to see them once every few months. Imagine 24/7 wondering what they are doing and if they are safe. Everyone in life has their own calling. Discerning God’s calling is a matter of really seeking Him, and listening to what He calls you to do. And when He calls, you answer. He has called us to adopt two beautiful girls, Jesula and Redjina from Haiti.

Our family wants to share how God has blessed us through adoption. We think this is a miracle and we want all of our family and friends to be able to experience it too. We love you all. Thank you for loving all Six Cunninghams. Thank you, to all of you who have helped us financially, with clothes and gifts for the girls, through words of encouragement, and through prayer.

Be strong. Take courage. Don't be afraid or terrified by others, because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you, family and friends.

I pray that God answers your prayers and blesses you abundantly this season. I pray that if you do not know Him, that you will come to know Him as your best friend. For God to come down and be born of the flesh, and to save us for our sakes, is an honor that we don't deserve. Our need for a Savior does not make us weak but stronger. So richly blessed are we that choose to follow the One whose name means "God With Us".

One night shepherds were camping in the fields, watching over their flocks. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared amung them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring good news for all the people of the world. Just now in the town of David a Savior has been born for you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:9-11

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Wish

Well, I know what I need for Christmas. Wait, I don't really need anything. Actually, I have more than I could ever possibly need. All I really need is to be thankful for what I have.

I have a wonderful family. I can't imagine anyone being surrounded by a better family. The Walton’s have nothing on us. I have the most beautiful and caring wife any man could ever want. I have four children, and a soon to be son-in-law, that are all truly unique gifts from God. They are the joy of my life on this earth. I have supportive parents that have taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I have four awesome siblings, with loving spouses. I have nine perfectly huggable nieces and nephews. I have a wonderful Church home that continually equips my family with the tools we need to grow spiritually. I have a comfortable home with more than enough food, water and clothing. I have a job that I look forward to every day, and I truly love the people I work with. What more could anyone expect?

Yet I, we, take so many things for granted every day. We have easy access to health care. God please humble me so that I never complain for having to wait an hour to see a doctor that will cure my child. I have seen people that have lived for years with routine infections because they don’t have access to a doctor or antibiotics. We have clean water to drink. Not only that, we have water at the touch of a button, right on the front of a refrigerator full of fresh food, while people die every day because they don’t have access to clean water. We have cabinets stocked full of food. I have a grocery store right around the corner, with aisle after aisle of food, while people are starving all over this tiny planet. God please humble me so that I, nor anyone else in my family ever again says “there is nothing to eat in this house.” We have carpet under our feet, in our humble 2,300 square foot home with heat and air condition, while just a four hour flight away there are many thousands of people that live in tents.

So, what do I need for Christmas? I don't need anything. Sure, I have wants. I want Jesula and Redjina here more than anything I have ever wanted in my life. But, no matter how much I want them here, or how little I sleep I get thinking about them, that will happen in God's time, as He has planned.

My wish for Christmas is to be thankful for all the blessings that God has provided, and to share God’s blessings with those in need.

God will bless you with riches in every way. Being thankful you should always give freely. And through your generosity many people will praise God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dossier Update

Dossier in Haitian Creole simply means "file". But, there is nothing simple about it! The Dossier contains everything that has to be presented to the Haitian government for the adoption process.

Our birth certificates, marriage certificate, letters of employment, local criminal record clearance letter, home study report, psychological exam report, medical recommendation letters, bank reference letter, letter to the Director of the IBESR, power of attorney, three letters of reference, are all currently being translated into French. Once that is done they will all need to be legalized.

These legalized documents combined with our already completed medical lab results for negative HIV, syphilis, and TB tests, three months of bank statements, three years of tax returns, individual photos, home photos, and copies of photo ID's, will make up our complete and final Dossier.

In the mean time, we are also working with the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We have submitted our I-600A application along with our completed home study. We are scheduled to complete federal finger-printing next week in Nashville. Then we should be done with the United States requirements.

We hope to hand deliver our Dossier to our Attorney in Haiti in January. We have been told that it will take 8 months, "give or take", from the time we submit our Dossier, to get our girls home!


Anyone who welcomes a child like this also welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me, also welcomes my Father who sent me. Mark 9:37

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Phone Calls aren't Hugs, but they'll have to do!

We called and talked to both of our girls in Haiti last night. It's amazing how they can be so different, yet so much alike.

The first call was to Jesula at the orphanage in Camatin. Jesula is so energetic and full of life. She was so excited to hear from us. She was talking so fast and would change between English and Creole in the same sentence. Every time I said "good night Jesula", she would yell, "Popi, Popi" and then say a long, fast sentence in Creole. She did not want to hang up. We could hear some of the other girls at the orphanage in the background. It is sometimes hard to hear her with all the background noise. She is a little fireball.

The next call was to Redjina in Port au Prince. Redjina is the definition of sweet. She has such a loving tone to her voice. She also has a soft little giggle of a laugh. She giggles when I say something in Creole and don't sound it out just right. She is such a happy child. When she says "I love you", it clearly comes from the heart!

Redjina said she did not have school yesterday because of the ongoing post election riots. She said she didn't think she would have school today either. I was thinking last night, here we hope for "snow days", while in Haiti they live with fear of "riot days".

I count the minutes between bi-weekly phone calls to our girls. But each phone call makes the waiting to get them here more painful.

God himself has prepared us for this and He has given us His spirit to make us certain of what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:5

Friday, December 3, 2010

Our Angel Redjina

As I mentioned previsouly, we met Redjina during our October trip to Haiti. Instead of going straight to the orphanage on this trip, we spent the first day in Tabarre at the home of our dear friend Mona Juste. Jesula was brought down from the orphanage to be with us there. Redjina, who is extremely smart, is currently staying there with Mona so she can attend a much better school. Looking back, I know God brought us all together with good reason.

We were able to spend some real quality time with Redjina that day. I was struck by Redjina's sweet and loving nature. We had brought and given Jesula several gifts when we arrived. Without our knowing, Jesula gave some lip gloss we had given her to Redjina. Later Redjina came to us and said Jesula had given her some lip gloss and she wanted to make sure it was okay with us that she have it. Redjina helped us so much with Jesula by interpreting English and Creole back and forth. Redjina made what normally would have been a challenging time feel so easy. We got a close glimpse of Redjina's heart and she made a profound impression on us.


A couple of weeks after our trip I mentioned to Shawna that Redjina had been on my mind ever since we left Haiti. Shawna responded that Redjina had been on her mind as well. We began to talk and pray about Redjina daily. We began to ask questions about her to others that know her. Every person we talked to, everything we learned, made us feel more and more drawn to her. We have also been fortunate to share some special phone time getting to know Redjina as well.

So last night we called and spoke with Redjina on the phone. I told Redjina we wanted to adopt her and wanted her to be a part of our family. After a long silence that honestly scared us, Mona who was with her said Redjina was very happy but was not able to speak. Finally, Redjina's sweet but shaken voice came and she said, "when can I come". We had an indescribably sweet conversation after that. Redjina said to Matt, "I am going to be your sister", and she told Ashley. "I can't wait to meet you". We exchanged I love you's, and just like that she is ours!

So it's official, we are adopting Jesula and Redjina. Two sweet Angels. God is just so awesome and we praise Him!!!

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome. Deuteronomy 10:17

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One of God's precious Angels

During our October trip to Haiti to visit with Jesula, my wife and I spent some time with another one of God's precious Angels. Her name is Redjina Jean Simon. Redjina is basically pronounced the same way we pronounce Regina in English. She is a very special young lady.


Redjina has endured more in her life than any of us could even imagine. Yet, she loves Jesus with all her heart. And it shows, as she is very kind and loving. She is also very smart. She can speak four different lanquages, one of which is English. She is truly beautiful inside and out.

Redjina made a profound impression on us. She has been on our hearts ever since. I think God sent her to us to help us on our journey with Jesula. We are praying for Redjina and for God to work miracles in and through her life.

God will command His angels to protect you wherever you go. Psalms 91:11

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haiti Trip Cancelled due to Post Election Riots

Tomorrow morning my daughter and I were scheduled to fly to Haiti. We were travelling as part of a mission team from White Stone Church. The team planned to stay at the orphanage in Camatin, and serve the needs of the people in the Camatin, Beloc, and Coq Chante mountain communities. We also would be spending the week with our sweet Jesula.

We received word yesterday that it was simply not safe to come due to political unrest and rioting following last Friday's Presidential Election in Haiti. The trip is being rescheduled in a few weeks when things have settled down.

I know God is in control here. I have a feeling that He has delayed this trip so that He can do something amazing. I can't wait to see what He has planned!

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Together forever, never apart, maybe in distance, but never at heart.

Well, while Shawna and I were serving the homeless Under the Bridge last night I received a text message that said: "Jesula fell at the orphanage, she is apparently okay, but she broke one of her front teeth". A thousand things run through your mind at that moment. Of course we were very worried, and frustrated because we had no way to know what had happened or to provide her comfort.

Later in the evening I finally reached the orphanage director, Magdala, via phone. Magdala speaks very limited English as does Jesula. My Creole is slowly improving and I can ask her how she is doing, if she is happy, and tell her we miss her and love her! But, I wasn't able discuss the fall or her tooth. I did have a short but sweet conversation with Jesula though. She was so excited to talk to us and we were showered with the usual "I love you Popi" and "I love you Mommy". As for the tooth, nothing can be done until we can get her here and get her to a dentist!

This waiting and distance thing is tough. Actually, it's worse than tough. Ashley and I will be traveling to the orphanage soon to spend five days with her and I can't wait!!!


Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A good name is more desirable than great riches...

I wanted to make a brief post about Jesula's beautiful name.

In Haitian Creole "Jezi" means Jesus, and "La" means There. Jesula is the English form of Jezi La. When Jesula was born she was very sick. Her parents feared she would not live. With time Jesula's health improved. Her parents decided to name her Jesula because they believed that Jesus was There with her and healed her.

We have heard people pronounce "Jesula" in different ways. Based on what seemed to be the consensus, we were pronouncing her name to sound like "Jay-Z-La".


On our recent trip to Haiti we asked her how she pronounces her name. She told us her name is pronounced: "Je-Z-La". The "Je" sounds like it would in the name "Jeff", then you hear a full "Z", and then the "la" sounds like it does in the word "lava".

So, her name is spelled in the English form as Jesula. But it is pronounced just like it looks in the Haitian Creole form as Jezi La.

A good name is more desirable than great riches. Proverbs 22:1

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where Jesula Grew Up: Cité-Soleil

Jesula was born and grew up in not only the worse neighborhood in Haiti, but perhaps the worse neighborhood on the planet, Cité-Soleil.


Cité-Soleil is a slum village located on a garbage dump and land fill in the suburb of Port au Prince, Haiti. This 3 square mile slum occupies some 300,000 residents, most of which live in extreme poverty. The area is regarded as the poorest and most dangerous area in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest slum in the Northern Hemisphere. Cité Soleil is filled with armed gangs. Murder, rape, kidnapping, looting, and shootings are common.


The area has no electricity, no stores, no health care facilities, no schools, and has open sewers. There is very limited access to drinking water. When it rains, mud and debris flow through the streets, through the open sewage canals, and through the make shift houses. These houses are not adequate to protect against the elements.


Most of the residents of Cité-Soleil are children or young adults. The residents are the poorest of the poor and survive on less than the equivalent of one dollar per day. Many of the children there have no clothing and even young toddlers wonder with no one to care for them.

Jesula was born and spent the majority of her life in this environment. I close my eyes and try to picture her there. I cannot imagine the things she has seen and experienced in her life. Can you?

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

63 Hours in Haiti

I want to share a few things from our trip to Haiti this past weekend. We were only there from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning, so it was a quick one. But, honestly we could have stayed 2 weeks and it would have been too quick.

When we arrived in Port au Prince on Thursday afternoon, Jesula ran to me, yelled “Popi”, and grabbed me, and I mean grabbed me, and would not let go for what seemed like 10 minutes. That moment alone was worth the cost of the entire trip. It took Jesula a little while to turn her attention to Shawna, who she had never met. But soon enough they were like two peas in a pod. We spent Thursday evening with our gracious friends Ricot and Mona at his home in Tabbar. Ricot brought Jesula down from the orphanage in the mountains to the city to see us when we arrived. Mona cooked a wonderful dinner of chicken, beans, rice, potatoes, plantains, and slaw. After dinner, the three of us spent the rest of the evening trying on new clothes, playing, laughing, and just spending time together.



Friday morning we took a road trip to visit the Christ the Redeemer Savane Pistache Church and School. Our home church is supporting this church in rebuilding their facility which was destroyed in the earthquake. I was there back in August, so it was great to see the kids again. They were so excited to see us and they look so good in the new uniforms we provided them.


Friday afternoon, after picking up our wonderful friends, Kevin Rudd and Lorie Johnson at the airport, we headed to the orphanage in the small mountain community of Camatin. Jesula was very unhappy that we were going back to the orphanage. She had enjoyed having peace and quiet and better food in Tabbar. She also does not travel well in the truck. With all of that she was quiet most of the day and not nearly as affectionate, particularly with me. Of course that worried Shawna and I. Kevin and Lorie reassured us everything would be fine. We trusted God's plan, and in retrospect we think He wanted us to see all of her emotions as part of the learning and bonding process. That first evening in the orphanage was great. There are 26 girls there that are all so sweet and starved for attention. We played and chased after kids all evening. Jesula gave many of the snacks we had given her to the other girls. In bed that evening, Shawna fell asleep early, but Jesula and I played with my droid. We recorded the sweetest videos of her singing. She can sing "God of Wonders" in English, word for word. She has the most beautiful voice too! We laughed in bed for a couple of hours before she finally fell asleep.


Saturday morning, we took a small group to visit the remote mountain village of Coq Chante, nestled high above the city of Jacmel. This was an emotional time for many reasons. There is a memorial grave site there for Mona's husband, Pastor Nicolas Louis Juste. His life work was the Poor Children’s Assistance Project, that his son Ricot now facilitates. This project oversaw a church, school, and orphanage in Coq Chante. Atanie, a beautiful 4-year old girl, and the youngest of 18 little girls living there, was killed when the orphanage collapsed during the earthquake. Lorie, who was in the process of adopting Atanie, was our guide for the day. I encourage you to take the time to visit Atanie's Hope website (link on the bottom right of this page) and read the entire story. While in Coq Chante, we also walked down a little path to the edge of some woods to meet Onise's family. Onise is being adopted by our dear friends, Stacy and Sara Cox. Meeting Onise's mother and five siblings, seeing the tiny, remote, one room shack they live in, and then praying over them was surreal.


We returned to the orphanage around mid-day to meet Jesula's grandmother. Jesula's parents are deceased and her grandmother raised her the last few years. She left Jesula in the orphanage full time in January of 2010 following the earthquake. It was emotional and wonderful to meet her grandmother. She had apparently walked there to meet us. Jesula seemed happy to see her and gave her some food that we had brought as well as a new pair of shoes. We made a few pictures and had a nice time together. My next blog post will be in regards to Cite Soleil where Jesula grew up.


Saturday afternoon we loaded up 26 orphans and made a trip down the mountain to the beach in Jacmel. As soon as we got there Jesula ran to the beach, yelled "Poppy, Poppy, look", and wrote her name in the sand. While playing in the ocean, she had a little ball and would throw it and we would race to see who could get to it first. She would sneak up behind me and poke me in the back and giggle so loud. Jesula was so happy. We treated the girls to a wonderful meal under an ocean side pavilion. For a couple hours, all of the chaos and brokenness in Haiti seemed to fade away, drowned out by the sound of laughter and playing. We played in the ocean with them and watched them sing as they splashed and danced. It was truly a time to remember.




That evening back at the orphanage, we handed out donated gift bags, dolls, and clothes that we brought. It was amazing to see how excited they were by things that we take for granted. We had a nice dinner that included chicken, beans, rice and plantains. When Jesula finished eating we excused her from the table. She gave us a kiss on the cheek and we assumed she went to play. We socialized around the table for a little while. About 8 PM we went up stairs to find Jesula sound asleep on the bed. Shawna and I were exhausted from the day so we turned in as well.

Sunday morning we had to leave about 7 AM to make the 3 hour drive to the Port au Prince airport for our return flight home. Shawna and I were up about 5 AM and prayed and watched the sunrise on the roof top. We finally woke Jesula up about 6 AM and she rewarded us with a beautiful smile. She and Shawna had girly time in the bathroom getting ready. Jesula put on a pretty white top, skirt, and white shoes, as she was going to church after we left. She was so beautiful. We made a few "photos", shared several hugs and tears, and then just like that, it was time to leave.


Seeing Jesula on Thursday afternoon when we arrived was one of the best moments of my life. Leaving Jesula on Sunday morning was one of the toughest moments of my life. In between was the fastest, most emotional, truly wonderful, 63 hours anyone could ever experience. And for that I praise God.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet Jesula

I called and talked to Jesula yesterday. She is such a sweet child. It was play time and I could hear all the girls playing and laughing in the back ground. But as always she was so happy to talk to me. "I love you Popi", and "I miss you Popi", and "hurry and come see me Popi". Well, just a few more days and I will be there.


I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for you to prosper, not suffer, plans for hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Haiti Calling

Oh how Haiti is calling me. It never leaves my mind really. Perhaps for a few minutes when I am really busy at work, but quickly it returns. It's such a strange feeling and somewhat hard to process. I can never really explain it to someone who has never been to Haiti. Those of you that have been know what I'm talking about. Haiti, even with it's far-reaching debris, sickness, and poverty, somehow hypnotizes us and calls us back. I think it is the Haitian people that captivate us. They have nothing in our terms, yet they worship and praise God more sincerely than most here ever have. The children celebrate life totally unaware of the circumstances that surround them. The Haitian people make us realize that the material things we are so addicted to are truly insignificant. They teach us such a great lesson about life.

Christ the Redeemer Church Savane Pistache

My experiences in Haiti have definitely changed me and my life. It makes you take another look at your life, how you live, what you expect in life. It affects you in every way. It puts everything in perspective. People don't realize how lucky we are to have what we have. I'm certainly thankful for what I have and more energized than ever to help those less fortunate.

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dossier Time

And unfortunately, Dossier is not a dance. Dossier in Haitian Creole simply means "file". But, there is nothing simple about it! The Dossier contains everything that has to be presented to the Haitian government for the adoption process. Including: birth certificates, marriage certificate, letters of employment, local criminal record clearance letter, home study and report, pyschological exams and report, medical exams and doctor's recommendation letter, lab results for negative HIV, syphilis, and TB tests, bank letter and 3 month statements, tax returns for three years, letter to the Director of the IBESR, power of attorney, three letters of reference, individual photos, home photos, federal finger printing, copies of photo ID's, and translator statements. Most documents have to be notarized. Then these documents have to be taken to the courthouse and have the notary certified. Then these documents have to be taken to the Secretary of State's office in Nashville and be authenticated. Then they have to be legalized and translated. The whole process is basically a combination of the TV shows the Amazing Race and Survivor. That said, we are really moving quickly through the process. We should be able to submit our Dossier by mid November.

On a happy note, we talked to Jesula on the phone again yesterday. She is always so happy to talk to us. She said church was really good yesterday and that school is going well. She is such a sweet child. God is so Awesome!!!


For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home Study Complete

Well after a little more than a month our Home Study is basically complete. We have completed all the requirements of the Home Study: application, multiple in home visits, personal interviews for all four members of our family, combined family interviews, home inspection walk through, autobiographies, parenting questionnaire, general information questionnaire, background checks, criminal background checks, child abuse inquiries, credit checks, medical examinations and physician's statements, immunization records, pet vaccination records, personal reference letters, employment verification letters, proof of medical insurance, proof of life insurance, birth certificates, marriage certificate, tax records, and net worth statement. The Home Study fee was $1,750 which does not include the cost of medical exams, documents, other fees, and personal expenses. Total cost was approximately $2,050. Now we just have to wait for our Home Study coordinator to prepare our finalized Home Study Report. We should have it within a couple of weeks.

In this house we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. 2 Corinthians 5:2

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phone Call to Jesula

Agathe, the wonderful lady that oversees the orphanage, has a cell phone that we are able to call. She is Haitian, but speaks pretty good English. We have been calling about twice a week, usually on Wednesday and Saturday. Getting through can be hit or miss and sometimes Jesula is not nearby or available to talk. In those cases Agathe will just tell us about Jesula's week. The conversations with Jesula are wonderful, but short, perhaps 5 minutes. The language barrier really limits the conversations. Fortunately, Agathe will listen in and help interpret if she is not too busy with the other girls.

Last night, as always, Jesula was really excited to talk to us. She says, "I love you Popi", and "I love you mommy". Last night she added, "I miss you", and "when will you be here?". Just typing this makes me cry. Yes, I am a softy. Anyway, we will be there for a few days in a couple of weeks. We can't get there soon enough!!


And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meeting Jesula - Jesus Was There!

I traveled to Haiti August 21-28, 2010 with a 16 member team. We stayed in a suburb of Port au Prince and worked all week at the Church of the Redeemer Savane Pistache. It was an amazing week. I primarily helped provide a medical clinic and we treated over 600 people for various medical needs.

On Thursday, August 26th we drove approximately 3 hours into the mountains to visit two very small communities, Beloc and Camatin. I sat in the back of a pickup truck, along with Jon Knowles. Jon and I had a great week serving together, along with Cyndi Dodson, in the medical clinic. The views from the back of the truck were spectacular. Kurt Rudd, who served as our guide, drove and had Jon’s wife Amy, Cyndi and Nancy from our team in the cab of the truck.

In the mountains we passed through a very small community that had a dozen or so small houses, actually shacks, along the road. Right in the middle of this row of small shacks there was one shack that looked very out of place. This particular shack was painted. It was painted perfectly, sky blue. It also had two Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie, painted perfectly on the front. I didn’t have my camera ready and didn’t get a picture. I couldn’t believe that in the mountains of Haiti, in the midst of a row of shacks, there was a perfectly painted Disney shack. And, I didn’t get a picture of it. I made a mental note to get a picture of it on the drive back.

Our first stop was in a tiny little community, well off the beaten path, called Beloc. We delivered food and supplies and spent time with some of the people that live there. It was an emotional time seeing how isolated these people live. After a couple of hours we left to meet the rest of our team, who had driven straight to Camatin.

When we arrived at the orphanage in Camatin the rest of the team had walked from the orphanage up to a hilltop above the orphanage. Camatin sits up very high on the mountain and looks down on the coast and the city of Jacmel. The views were spectacular. The Church of the Redeemer meets under a tarp on this hilltop. The church use to meet in the basement of the orphanage, but since the earthquake they are afraid to go down there. After a short time, we walked down the hill to the orphanage. This orphanage is sponsored by White Stone Church of Knoxville and houses about 15 girls at this time. They are in the process of adding about 15 more girls.

When I arrived at the orphanage I was given a quick tour of the place and then enjoyed a snack on the roof top. Most of the team, which had arrived earlier, had already seen the orphanage and met the girls. When I finally walked back downstairs, many of the team members were playing with the girls on the large front porch. I immediately noticed one girl that was sitting quietly by herself and just watching everyone. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now know that God was saving her for me. I asked Brian Lloyd, our other guide for the trip, what her name was, and he said Jesula. In the Haitian Creole form ‘Jezi’ means Jesus, and ‘la’ means There. Jesula’s name means Jesus There. Jesula, like the vast majority of girls, does not speak English. I talked with her briefly through Brian. As Brian told me, she was very shy and quiet. I pulled out my camera and asked her if she wanted to make a “photo”. Haitians know what “photo” means. Some Haitians do not like to have their picture taken. Jesula’s face lit up with the most beautiful smile and she jumped right in my lap. We took several pictures and she looked at them on my digital camera and laughed and smiled. I gave her some silly bands to wear on her wrists. Then just like that, Todd said it was time to leave. I had been with Jesula perhaps 15 minutes and I was not ready to go. They had to call me a couple times to get me to leave and I was the last one off the porch. Jesula and I exchanged a hug and smile, and then it was back to the truck.

When I was climbing into the back of the truck to leave, the Disney shack flashed back to my mind. I told Kurt, there is a perfectly painted house with Disney characters on the side of the road on the way down the mountain. I want to stop and take a picture of it please. He looked at me like I was crazy and said sure. We drove through some really hard rain on the way down the mountain and Jon and I got soaked. But honestly, we both enjoyed it for some reason. I looked for that house the whole way down the mountain. But strangely, I never saw it. It was like it disappeared. I was really disappointed I didn’t get a picture of the Disney shack.

Later that night, back at the house in Tabarre, I was thinking about Jesula, as I had all day. I pulled out my camera and started flipping through all the pictures I had taken that day. When I got to the first picture of Jesula and me, I saw something I had not seen before. Right there on the front of Jesula’s shirt, Disney characters. At that moment I felt an overwhelming awareness that God led me to Jesula. I know that JESUS led me THERE, to the mountains of Haiti, to JESULA!


For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Psalm 37:28

Saturday, October 9, 2010

They Grow Up Too Fast

Ashley, who is a sophomore in college, coaches the Powell Middle School soccer team. Soccer has always been her passion. It's great to see her continue to be involved in soccer as a coach. Anyway, her old competitive coach called her yesterday and asked her to coach a competitive team for his club. She is really excited about it and will be coaching during a tournament at Disney in Orlando during January!

Matt, a sophomore at Grace Christian Academy high school, is really busy with off season baseball. They workout and/or practice about every day. Anyway, I am taking him today to apply for his passport. He is going with mom to Haiti in January to spend a week with Jesula at the orphanage. He is really excited about the trip and about his new sister!

We have been calling Jesula about twice a week. The wonderful lady that runs the orphanage has a cell phone we can call but getting through is hit or miss. And the conversations are brief because of the lanquage barrier. But I am working on learning Haitian Creole and Jesula will be working on learning English. We will be calling her later today and I will try to post after that!


Do not withhold your mercy from me Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11

Friday, October 8, 2010


Welcome to The Adventures of the Cunningham Family blog. This is my first ever post as a "blogger." I created The Adventures of the Cunningham Family blog as a way to keep our family and friends informed of the wonderful things that God is doing in our busy lives!

First things first: I am amazed at how God has blessed our family. Our God is truly an Awesome God. He is real. He is everywhere. Take a walk along the ocean side or through the mountains and you’ll see His artwork. You can see Him in many of the people around you. That’s where He lives. He serves and ministers to the lost through His followers. He loves you and wants to live in and through you too. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Strike up a conversation with Him, He's a great listener. Tell Him what’s on your mind and then be still and listen. Ask Him when you need help. One day, perhaps today, perhaps 10 years from today, His answer will amaze you. And then, Praise Him!

God recently blessed our family with a new addition. Jesula, which means Jesus There, is a precious and beautiful 10 year old girl. Jesula currently lives in an orphanage in the mountain community of Camatin, Haiti. We are involved in a long, expensive, and tedious adoption process. We are very hopeful that Jesula will officially be with us here in the states sometime next summer.

Our family is dedicating this blog to Jesula. She is truly a gift from God and we are so very thankful for her. We love her and are very anxious to have her here with us.

Thank you for visiting The Adventures of the Cunningham Family blog today. I will post updates and pictures of Jesula and our family as often as I can. So please check in with us here again soon!

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3