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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why Must We Suffer?

Most of us, at some point in our life has asked: God, why must I suffer? God, why do you allow your children to suffer? We have all experienced suffering in our life. It might be personal illness, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. For others it may be a devastating earthquake or trying to provide food and water each day for their family. God provides us with answers to these questions in the Bible.

The Bible has many verses that teach us why God’s children endure trials and suffering. No single verse can answer every question. But let's look at a verse that tells us something that we all need to know. This scripture provides important knowledge for seeing the hand of God at work in the worst times of our life.

So truly rejoice. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold, though your faith is far more precious than gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7

Notice two important words in this scripture.

The first word is “trials”. The word “trials” appears often in the New Testament. It means “tests”. When we take tests in school, we either pass or fail. The same is true of the tests of life. Many of these tests are at the hands of Satan. How we respond to these tests reveals what is in our heart for all to see. For example, when trouble comes our way:

We may turn to God in prayer, or we may become angry.
We may become quiet in thought, or we may talk with a wicked tongue.
We may become full of love, or we may become full of hate.
We may learn new trust in God, or we may rebel against Him.
We may take courage, or we may give in to fear.
We may draw close to God, or we may turn away from Him.

When tested we must choose how to respond. When we fail we give Satan a foothold. But when we respond to these tests with acts of Faith, non-believers will be drawn to the Glory of God. Our response to these tests reveals if we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts.

The second word comes from the phrase, “truly rejoice.” The word “rejoice” comes from the word “joy”. Joy comes from God. Joy comes from satisfaction with God. When we are satisfied with God, we will have joy even in the hardest moments of life. Joy is the ability to face the tests of suffering in our life.

Let’s look at the heart of Peter’s message. The scripture says we face trials so that our Faith, of greater worth than gold, may be purified and tested. God gives us trials for two reasons: One is to prove our faith in God is real. Two is to purify our Faith. As our Faith grows pure, and strong, we grow closer to the one who suffered death on a cross, Jesus.

The verse closes by saying: when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

We all face difficult trials and suffering. But our suffering pales in comparison to the suffering Jesus endured for our sake, death on a cross. God wants us to know that our suffering is meant to purify and strengthen our Faith in Him, and that our suffering will not last forever. The day is near that our suffering will end, and we will inherit all of His blessings!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, no more suffering, no more pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new! What I tell you is trustworthy and true. It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” ~ Revelations 21:1-7

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Empty Chairs at the Holiday Table

I am blessed to be a part of a large family. I have wonderful parents who are all about their children and grandchildren. I have two brothers and two sisters, each having children. There are 25 of us in all.

For Thanksgiving we rent a huge cabin in the mountains. We spend five days as a family, playing games, hiking, talking, chasing kids, and of course have a traditional Thanksgiving feast. For Christmas we all come together on Christmas Eve at my parents' home. We talk, share gifts, watch the kids laugh and play with new things, and enjoy a special Christmas meal together. These holidays bring our family together from different cities and states. These holidays are the highlight of the year for our family. These holidays are truly joyous times. These holidays provide a sense that all is right with the world when our family is together.

But as these holidays, and the time for my family to sit down around the table for holiday meals approaches, I have a reality that I have to face. For me there will be an elephant in the room. In my mind there will be two chairs at each of these family meals that will be empty. Chairs that I long to see occupied. Chairs that as long as they are empty, so too will be empty a portion of my heart.

That said, I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. I am thankful to be a part of a large, loving family, and for each one of them. I am thankful for my wife and especially for my children. I am even thankful for those two empty chairs, knowing that one day they will be filled by two little angels that are truly gifts from God!

Every good and perfect gift is from Heaven above, cascading down like rivers of light from the Father. James 1:17

Monday, October 31, 2011

So Far to Find You

So Far to Find You
by the Casting Crowns

You were broken, abandoned
And crying all alone
We were waiting and praying
And longing to bring you home
And then we saw your face
In a moment you were wrapped up in our hearts
We took a step of faith
And now here we are
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
From a world away, I journeyed
Just to hold your hand
You will never be alone again
I’ve come so far to find you
So far to find you
You were fighting and fearful
You were hiding your heart away
But I was trying so hard to show you
‘Cause there were no words that I could say
If you could see my heart
You would know that all I want to do
Is care for you
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you

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Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Presidential Dispensation Prayer

Our family would appreciate everyone praying this specific prayer, starting now until this is done.

"Father God, please have Haiti's President or one of his administrators sign the Cunningham family's Presidential Dispensation today."

We have been praying this prayer daily since September 13th, when we learned we had been approved by IBESR.

Presidential Dispensation is a big step, perhaps the biggest step in the process. Put simply, we need the office of the President of Haiti to sign a waiver that allows our adoption to be finalized. Once this is done, we will only need a couple of parquet court signatures and the girls will be considered ours in the eyes of the Haitian government.

Thank you for the prayers!

Have faith in God, Jesus answered. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three of God's Angels Come Home

Today three of God's angels make the long anticipated trip from Haiti to Tennessee. It is simply amazing to see God's plan for these girls revealed. To God be the Glory!

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Gladys Rudd
Kevin & Gina Rudd

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Yollande Keck
Greg & Jill Keck

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Marie Michelle Keck
Greg & Jill Keck

Having known these two families for many years has made this day extra special for me. They are all such wonderful people and so deserving of the blessings of this day. Their three beautiful girls come from the same orphanage as my two girls. And their coming home gives me renewed faith that one day my girls will come home too!

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor God's righteous cause. Let them say continually, Great is the Lord, who delights in the prosperity of His servants. Psalms 35:27

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dancing with the Devil

One thing is certain, Satan is smart. It has become so clear over the last year that he doesn't attack all Christians equally. Think about it. If you were the devil, who would you spend your time attacking? Would you waste a lot of time on Christians who are discouraged by troubles or defeated by sin? Or would you focus your efforts on those who were living radical lives for God? The answer is obvious. If you are attacking Satan's kingdom, Satan is going to attack you. His primary goal is to block God's work in our lives.

Take a look in the book of Job and you will see Satan in action. Job was a man of God. He lived a life that honored the Lord and was making a difference with his life. He helped others. He served others. He shared God's truth and God's love with those he encountered. Job was doing damage to Satan’s evil kingdom. As a result, Satan unleashed his full arsenal against Job.

What does this mean in our daily lives? If you are living a life of sin and compromise, you probably don't have to worry much about spiritual warfare. Why would Satan waste his time and efforts on you. But if you are living a life that impacts others and honors God, watch out. Satan has you in his crosshairs.

The devil is clever, sneaky, tricky, deceptive, and works in all sorts of ways. He knows our weaknesses and focuses his attack on that particular area of our lives. One of his favorite tricks is to fill our minds with sinful thoughts, assumptions and lies in order to pit us against our own Christian friends, family, and even our spouses. In this sneaky approach he attacks many Christians at once and quickly gets them doing his evil work for him.

So what can we do to resist the devil?

• We must stay close to God and ask Him to help us recognize and overcome the devil’s attacks. God knows the evil one hates us and He has given us the ability to resist.

• We must regularly fill our minds with the truth of God's Word, and meet every temptation with prayer. If we resist the devil in accordance with the bible’s instruction, he won’t have a chance with us. He will flee away from us in terror.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8

Right now, the devil and his demons are loose on the earth. God expects us to resist every time they lash out at us. We don’t need to fear the devil. We must prepare ourselves by knowing our own weaknesses and by being cognizant of the devil’s schemes. We must stand against him face to face and resist him. We must fight the good fight of faith like good soldiers of Christ.

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adoption News ~ IBESR Approval!

It has been 12 months since we started the adoption process on September 1, 2010.

We received news this morning that our adoption file has been reviewed and approved by IBESR. Our file entered IBESR around June 5, 2011. When our file entered IBESR we were told the IBESR process would take 2-10 months. Ours took about 3 months.

IBESR is Haitian Social Services. They have social workers that study adoption files (dossier) to determine if the prospective parents meet their requirements to adopt. They also judge if the proposed child(ren) are a good match for the adoptive family. Once the social workers approve the file, IBESR issues a Certificate of Authorization telling the courts that they have approved the adoption. Approval by IBESR is the first big step in the approval process and is typically the most time consuming. Our file should now move to the next steps, which include:

* Presidential Dispensation in which Haiti's President approves our file
* Parquet - court approvals (this is where the girls become ours legally in Haiti)
* Application for child's Haitian Passport - starts at Ministry of Interior (MOI)
* Final file submission, review and approval by the US Embassy
* Visa application filed - schedule appointment in Haiti to receive visa
* Time to bring the girls home

I ask for your continued prayers. Pray that Haiti's President, Mickey Martelly signs our Dispensation today. Pray that our file moves into and through Parquet very quickly. Pray that we don't experience any delays, that the adoption process is completed, and that our girls come home so fast that only God can get the Glory!

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Praise the Lord our God. Bow before Him, for He is holy! Psalm 99:5

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Walk Down Jericho Road

Jericho Road is a seventeen mile road that connects Jerusalem to Jericho. The road drops 3600 feet in those seventeen miles. It is a steep, winding, descending, remote road that for centuries has been a place of robberies and sufferings. Evil lurks along this path. It is a symbol of suffering in the world and everyday life.

The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 25-37 is one of my favorite bible stories. As the story goes a lawyer stands up and asks Jesus, “What can I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, being the ultimate counselor, asked him a question: “What do you think?” The man answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.” To which Jesus said, "You do this, and you will live eternally.” The man then asks “Who is my neighbor? Jesus responds, “Let me tell you a story. There once was a man walking down the Jericho Road.”

Through the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus wants us to understand that on our walk down the road of life on earth we will encounter suffering, just like the man walking down the Jericho Road. But also that He expects us to be Good Samaritans and get involved with those who are suffering. God desperately wants us to get involved with those in need that we meet along the road of life.

Why are we not obedient to God's calling to help those in need? The devil wants us to believe that it is not safe, it will cost to much, or that we don't have time. What sufferings are you experiencing on your Jericho Road? Do you recognize and reach out to help those in need along the way? Sometimes I think we fail to reach out and help others because we are so focused on our own challenges along the road.

For the last year my Jericho Road has been the adoption process. Sometimes, on days like today, I have to step back and realize that my sufferings pale in comparison to the lifelong sufferings of the two children that I am desperately reaching out to with love. I am also asking God to help me always recognize those in need on my walk down Jericho Road.

We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8: 17-18

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life After Spiritual Defibrillation

In the spring of 2000, the year Jesula was born into poverty, I signed up for a mission trip to Haiti with the church I attended at the time. I had no idea why I signed up, I just did. I had never been interested in international mission work. I was the prototypical Americanized Christian. More about me and my family, accumulating material treasures, with a dash of church and God added in for flavor. As it turned out, the trip fell through. I don't remember being disappointed. God knew I wasn't ready.

Fast forward 10 years to 2010. Through God's mercy I had experienced significant spiritual growth. I was certainly not perfect, but on the right track and picking up steam. The blinders were off. The material things had been exposed for what they are, distractions. I was eagerly searching for God's will in my life. God knew I was ready, even though I didn't know what He had planned.

In the spring of 2010, for the second time in my life, I signed up for a mission trip to Haiti late that summer. Just like the first time, I didn't really plan to sign up, I just did. I seldom watched the news about Haiti following the earthquake. I was heavily involved in local ministries at the time and was even planning to start a new ministry project locally. But, I developed a curiosity with Haiti that I couldn't quite put my finger on. So, I signed up to go without knowing why, not knowing what to expect, having no real purpose in mind. I just had this strange feeling deep inside that I was supposed to go to Haiti.

Leading up to the trip several people asked me, "why are you going to Haiti?" I responded, "I don't really know. I hope I'll find out". A few people asked me, "are you going to adopt?" I quickly responded with a heart-felt, "no, never, I assure you that is not for me". My wife and I had talked on more than one occasion about the fact our kids would soon be out of the house. The month before my trip to Haiti we vacationed in Hilton Head Island, SC. We have vacationed there for many years. We talked about retiring there one day. We even looked at property while we were there. Adopting was not even on our radar, it was for other people. Clear!

Then God hit me with His spiritual defibrillator. On August 20, 2010, I stepped off the plane in Port au Prince. I rode through the streets. Block after block, mile after mile, I witnessed the poverty. I saw the devastation. I smelled it. I met the people. I looked into empty eyes. I sensed the hopelessness. I was surrounded by hundreds of children at a school and church that meets under a tarp in the midst of a slum. They touched my arms believing they might be blessed. I served in a medical clinic treating hundreds of people that waited in line for hours for our help. I felt their suffering. They hurt for months and years with infections we cure with 2 pills a day for 7 days. They have no access to basic medical care and medicines. I was broken by the sight of people living in isolation and starving in mountain villages. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of embarrassment for how I live.

One year ago this very day, August 26, 2010, I walked onto the porch of an orphanage high in the mountains of Haiti and for the first time laid my eyes on beautiful little Jesula. I still vividly remember my first glimpse of her like it was yesterday. She was sitting alone in thought, watching the other girls play. I wondered what she might be thinking. I wondered what the experiences of her life might reveal. I wondered what her future might hold. Then I walked over and met her!

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The more I have learned over the last year about Jesula's past, the more honored I am that God has entrusted me with her future. I know that God planned for Jesula to be my daughter long before I was ready.

This last year has been very long and hard. It seems like we are watching Jesula and Redjina grow up through cherished photographs that other travelers take between our trips every few months to visit them. They have both grown so much in the last year. They are both growing into beautiful young ladies. And with new found hope their personalities are blooming like wild flowers.

Over the past year, I've had plenty of time to think about just how radically our life has changed since that day, a year ago. While our arms are still empty, I can honestly say that our desire and love for our precious girls has intensified a thousand times over. I pray now with a new intensity and focus that our arms will soon be filled. And I remind God every day that I am ready!

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15-16

Friday, August 12, 2011

Adoption Update ~ Prayer Request

It has been 11 months since we started the adoption process on September 1, 2010. When we started we were told the average length of time for adoption in Haiti was 18 months, but that 10-12 months was possible.

There have been unfortunate delays along this journey. The minor delays with translation and legalization of our dossier last fall seem forever ago. In Haiti, unexpected delays are routine. Hurricane Tomas shut Haiti's government down for a couple of weeks last November. The Haiti Presidential Election brought Haiti's government, which at best operates in low gear, to a complete halt for the first several months of 2011. Haiti's government has recently blocked new President Micky Martelly's first and second choices for Prime Minister. It may be months before President Martelly has his cabinet in place. To my knowledge, President Martelly, who has been in office since May, has yet to sign a “Presidential Dispensation”. Dispensation is one of the crucial steps of adoption approval.

Our adoption file is in IBESR. Our file entered IBESR around June 5, 2011. Getting through IBESR is a big step. When our file went to IBESR we were told their process would take 2-10 months. Yes, 2-10 months. What kind of crazy range is that? Anyway, once we come out of IBESR, and have received Presidential Dispensation, we will somewhat be able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been almost a year, and we still have no idea when our girls might come home. I can tell you that all of this "not knowing" is really tough. Tougher than anyone could possibly imagine!

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I ask for your prayers. Pray that IBESR will finish with our file today. Pray that Haiti's President, Mickey Martelly will sign our Dispensation today. Pray that we don’t experience any more delays with the adoption process, and that our girls come home in a blink. Pray that our girls come home so fast that only God can get the Glory!

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daughters of the King!

I travelled to Haiti this past week, July 20-25, 2011 to serve and spend time with my beautiful girls. Our mission team consisted of 16 people. This was really a special group of people which made for an awesome experience. Only God's hands could have assembled this group of people to conduct the Kingdom work that was planned!

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We were on the ground in Haiti around noon on Wednesday. We made the long trek up the mountain to Camatin and were at the orphanage about 4 PM. The girls were waiting. We spent the rest of the day Wednesday relaxing and loving on the girls!

Thursday morning early, Ricot drove me back down to Port au Prince to the U.S. Embassy. I had an appointment to file I-600 petitions for Jesula and Redjina. The I-600 classifies a foreign orphan who is being adopted by a U.S. citizen as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States when the time comes. The appointment took about three hours and included submitting the I-600 petitions, several supporting documents, and being sworn in and interviewed by the Consulate General. Mission accomplished. I would like to say a special thank you to my friend Ricot Louis Juste for all of his work with the girls in the orphanage and in assisting with the adoption process. It could not be done without him!

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The team spent the entire day Thursday with the girls. The theme for this trip was "Daughters of the King" and included many activities. We made tie-dye shirts, made mirrors & talked about how man looks at outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), gave each girl a photo album with pictures of themselves, made each girl a photo frame with her name on it and put their picture in it, and colored pictures of princesses. The grand finale was a "Daughters of the King Tea Party". In preparation for the tea party, all the girls had a bath, put on a dress, got their nails painted & makeup, and were given some bling to wear. We gave each girl a photo of themself that we made with an instant camera. We then conducted a bible class and taught them that they were daughters of the king. Each was given a Haitian Creole Bible. Finally each had a tiara placed on their head and it was off to the tea party!

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That evening we hung and covered a banner while the girls were busy in the dining room. We brought them all in and had them sit in the floor in front of it. Ricot spoke to them about being Daughters of the King. When we uncovered the banner, their gasps, expressions, reactions, and chatter was priceless!

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Friday the team travelled to the nearby villages of Beloc and Coq Chante.

Beloc - We went to Beloc to bless a 17 year old girl named Mikanna and her mother. My friend Cyndi Dodson and I met Mikanna on a mission trip last August and she grabbed our hearts. Cyndi helped me provide the funds to purchase food for them. The team walked through Beloc and to Mikanna and her mother's little one room shack. We prayed over them and blessed them with enough rice, beans, fish, cooking oil, etc. to eat for about a month!

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Coq Chante - We walked a few miles around the village of Coq Chante. Along the way we blessed families with bags of rice. We also handed out dresses sewn by my aunt Anne and her friends that live in Florence, AL. There were little girls and elderly ladies with big smiles holding up new dresses!

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We visited Atanie's grave. Atanie is the young orphan girl that died when the orphanage collapsed during the earthquake. We also went to where the orphanage once stood. Agathe, who was the orphanage director at the time of the earthquake, was with us. She graciously shared an emotional story about the events on the day of the earthquake. The group was very moved by her words!

Saturday we took the girls to the beach in Jacmel. Everybody had a great time splashing and singing in the Caribbean waters. We fed the girls a nice lunch with fish and plantains.

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Sunday we walked up the hill to worship in the Church of the Redeemer in Camatin. It was a wonderful service with beautiful singing. After church we served over 250 local people a warm lunch and gave out gift bags of food to take with them. It was truly a wonderful day of worshiping and serving!

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And just like that it was Monday morning and time to leave. I had a wonderful time, not only with my girls, but also with my Haitian friends such as Ricot, Marieflore, Agathe and her husband Roland. I always miss my girls and Haitian friends after leaving, but I am also really missing my friends that I travelled and served with in Haiti. Overall this trip was the most enjoyable yet, which also means it has been the most difficult to recover from emotionally.

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Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion for you. Isaiah 54:10

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Haiti Bound

I am Haiti bound tomorrow!!!

I am so anxious to see my girls I can't sleep. I am ready to see my Haitian friends too. I am very excited about the group travelling with me, and the things that God has in store for us. Please pray we don't miss a single opportunity He has prepared for us. Also, pray my US Embassy adoption appointment goes smooth on Thursday morning.

Bondye Bon Tout Tan!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pancake Breakfast

We are having a Pancake Breakfast to help with the adoption cost. Please help us bring our girls home!!!

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Tickets - $5 minimum contribution - Please contact us today to pre-purchase tickets. Then if you can, come let us serve you breakfast.

You can make a contribution by clicking the yellow "Donate" button on the right side of this page. If you would prefer to mail a contribution please email us at: jesula10@gmail.com to make arrangements.

All mission work is a partnership. There are people God equips to serve, adopt, and there are people He equips to help with finances and prayers. We greatly appreciate your support!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spread Your Wings and Fly

Like the wind the years go by. It seems like just yesterday that my little princess Ashley Marie was born. That was July 10, 1991. She hurried right into this crazy world and she hasn't slowed down since. In what seems like the blink of an eye, almost 20 years later she has grown into a beautiful young lady inside and out. She loves Jesus and she is mature beyond her years. She knows where she wants to go in life and she is on her way. Precious butterfly, spread your wings and fly.

This Sunday, June 5, 2011 my little princess will be married. Jeff is the perfect partner for her and I am thankful God brought them together. I pray they will keep God first in their life, and with that they will have a lifetime of happiness together!

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Butterfly Kisses ~ Bob Carlisle

There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.

But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly.

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure-I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over...gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
"Walk me down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.
To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses-I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.

I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.

Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. Matthew 19:6

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meeting Redjina - God's Majesty!

During my recent visit to Haiti I spent a lot of time talking with Redjina. Her English continues to improve and we are able to talk more in length. During our conversations we will write some words down on paper to help clarify when we don’t understand the others pronunciations. And we sometimes need to look up words to translate meanings. But all in all we are able to communicate very effectively.

That said, I want to share something that God revealed during this past trip. This story is so amazing to me that it is obvious that only God could have orchestrated it, and for which only He deserves the glory!

I arrived in Tabarre around mid-day on Wednesday, May 4th. Jesula had not yet arrived from Camatin and Redjina was still in school. So, I spent some time with Ricot discussing the status of the adoption process for both girls. With regards to Redjina, Ricot said the only outstanding item he needed was to obtain a Death Certificate for her deceased father. Although I had never discussed Redjina’s father with her, I understood he had died when she was very young. Anyway, Ricot said he hoped to have the Death Certificate within a week and at that point everything needed would be in the attorney’s hands.

On Thursday evening Redjina and I were alone talking. During the conversation and to my surprise Redjina said, “Popi I miss my father”. For some time I have been hoping the opportunity would arise for Redjina and I to discuss her family and childhood. Well, here was my chance to learn more. I asked her, “Jina why do you miss your father?” to which she replied, “because he die.” I told her about my mother dying when I was young and how I still miss her 30 years later. Then I asked the question to which God revealed his majesty. I simply asked, “baby, when did your father die?” She thought for a minute, like she does when she is trying to figure out how to answer in English and in a manner I will understand. Then she said, “Popi, do you remember when you brought mommi to meet Jesula for the first time, and I met you?” I said “yes baby, that was last October...”

Looking back, Shawna and I met Redjina by chance when we travelled to Haiti last October for the sole purpose of Shawna meeting Jesula for the first time. We spent only a day, October 29th, in Tabarre where Redjina lives, before going onto Camatin with Jesula. During those few hours in Tabarre on October 29th Redjina made a very profound impression on us. God placed her so heavily on our hearts that day, that after we left her there, Shawna and I could not get her out of our thoughts. Within a couple of weeks, following a lot of prayer and discussion, we knew God was leading us through a chance meeting to adopt her, and that we did!

Anyway, back to my conversation with Redjina. So, I had asked Redjina the question, “when did your father die?” To which she replied, “Popi, do you remember when you brought mommi to meet Jesula for the first time, and I met you?” To which I said, “yes baby, that was last October, it was October 29th”. Then, in a shaky voice Redjina said, “my father die that day I met you.” I was stunned. In my mind I questioned if that was possible. I thought maybe she was confused. I questioned her again and she appeared sure about that being the day. We talked a little longer and soon decided it was time to sleep. Needless to say I had a hard time sleeping that night.

The next day on Friday, Ricot came to me and said he had gotten Redjina’s father’s Death Certificate and handed it to me. The first thing I saw when I looked at it was, ‘Date of Death: October 29, 2010’. I asked Ricot about her father. Ricot said her father was injured in the earthquake, January 12, 2010, and had indeed died shortly after Shawna and I left Tabarre on October 29, 2010.

How Great is our God? I am just in awe to see myself placed in the middle of God’s eternal plan. To realize that God’s plan included what I thought was a chance meeting with Redjina, only to find out many months later that her father died on the same day that I met her and that God placed her in my heart. I have no doubt that my family is Living a Part in God’s Story!

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I will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. Psalm 145:5

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dreaming of Our Sweet Girls

I travelled to Haiti this past week, May 4-9, 2011. The purpose of my trip was two-fold with the obvious reason being to spend time with my two beautiful girls, Jesula and Redjina. But I also went at the invitation of my dear friend Mona Louis Juste to attend her 50th Birthday Party.

I had a wonderful time with Jesula and Redjina. We shared a lot of special moments, laughs, and tears. I had some really special conversations with Redjina, about her mother and father who are deceased, and her childhood. I visited where Redjina lived with her guardian sweet Saintela, in Savanne Pistache. I will share an amazing story soon about how God brought Redjina and I together in a way only He could orchestrate.






I had a great time with Ricot. We worked on adoption paperwork, took Redjina to the doctor, met with our attorney, and also found time to get out and have some fun. Ricot is a hard working man that truly loves the girls in the orphanage. I am honored to call him my friend.











My sweet friend Mona had a wonderful birthday party. There must have been 75 people in attendance. And even though I perhaps looked out of place, I felt so at home with people that I have become so very close too. Thank you Mona for having me to be a part of your special day. It was an honor.





I'm home now and as always I miss Jesula and Redjina more than anyone could imagine or understand. I can't kiss them goodnight. I can't see them when I wake up. I can't hear Jesula singing and giggling. I can’t hear Redjina say “wow” or “I love you popi”. I miss them terribly, so much it hurts. Sometimes when I lay in bed at night and close my eyes, I can smell their hair. I remember what it feels like when they hold my hand. When I am able to sleep I dream about them. I dream about what it will be like the day they travel home with me. I dream about things we will do as a family one day. I dream about the things God has planned for us!

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I'm praying for God to do amazing things to bring them home. So amazing and fast that only He can have the glory!

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:9-13

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy 11th Birthday Jesula!

Today is our precious little Jesula's 11th birthday!

She is such a precious child!

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She is also full of life!

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We miss you and we love you.
We can't wait for the day we will always be with you!

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy 13th Birthday Redjina!

Today is our sweet angel Redjina's 13th birthday!

This is the sweetest child on the planet!

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She truly is an Angel!

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We miss you and we love you.
We can't wait for the day we will always be with you!

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy 16th Birthday Matt!

Happy 16th birthday today Matt. The last 16 years have been a joy, but they have gone by so fast!

Matt being Matt in Haiti - Haiti is Matt's passion!

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Matt in the market in Beloc, Haiti - His favorite place on the planet!

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Matt playing high school baseball - Baseball is Matt's other passion!

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Matt almost home after a Homerun!

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Don't you see that children are God's best gift? The fruit of His generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Psalms 127:3-4

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter - Jesus is Risen!

Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James went to put burial spices on Jesus’ body. On the way they were discussing who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. But when they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone – a very large one – had already been rolled aside. So they entered the tomb, and there on the right sat a young man clothed in a white robe. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Do not be so surprised. You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body. Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died!” The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk.

It was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw Him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen Him, they didn’t believe her.

Afterward He appeared to two who were walking from Jerusalem into the country, but they didn’t recognize Him at first because He had changed His appearance. When they realized who He was, they rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them. Later He appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their unbelief – their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And then Jesus told them,

“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone,
everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.
But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked with them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

Happy Easter!!!

Easter photos of four of our family of six!

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