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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Thank You

I want to take a moment today and just say “Thank You” to those who have helped our family in so many different ways. We have so much to be thankful for!

Thank you to all of you who lift us up in prayer. We cannot begin to express how much this means to us and how much it has helped us through this process. I know of several prayer warriors out there supporting us and I can feel your prayers!

Thank you to those of you who have made financial contributions thus far. There is no denying that the cost of adopting one child from Haiti is enough to keep many people from doing so. And God has led us to adopt two. We need your help and we pray daily that God will continue to provide and we trust that He will.

Thank you to all of those that have given clothes and other items, and made things, for our girls. Thank you for allowing us to be able to take things to the girls on each of our trips to Haiti without having to go out and purchase things for them. This has been an area of over flowing support. Thank you!

Thank you to everyone that is helping take care of our girls in Haiti. Thank you Magdala, and the others helping take care of Jesula in the orphanage in Camatin. Thank you Mona, Jovanie, and the others taking care of Redjina in Tabarre. We are so very thankful that God has provided all of you to care for our girls. Thank you!

Thank you Ricot for all of the work you do in Haiti. Thank you for continuing the good work your father started with the Poor Children's Assistance Project. Thank you for what you do for us and our girls, and for what you do for all of the people that God uses you too touch!

Thank you to Kevin Rudd and Kurt Rudd. I don’t know that we could make it through this process without you. Thank you for the adoption process guidance and for the spiritual support. It has been a blessing knowing that I can pick up the phone at any time and call you about the adoption. Your words of support and encouragement have made this emotional roller coaster bearable. Thank you!

Thank you to all of you who take the time to read our blog. We cherish your comments. Just knowing so many people are following along with us through the blog provides us with comfort.

Thank you to those who take time out of your busy life to check on us. Foreign adoption is emotionally very, very hard. Think about having two of your children living far away in a place like Haiti. This can be a lonely process. I can't even start to convey what your blog comment, email, short phone call or text message means to us. Thank you!

This blog post only scratches the surface of people for which we are thankful. The problem with saying 'thank you' publicly is the fear of someone feeling left out. I have intentionally only mentioned a few names. Some people prefer not to be named. And honestly there are too many names to risk trying to list them all.

Please know that every single act of support we receive, no matter how big or how small, is noticed and is greatly appreciated. Each act of support we receive is a blessing and an answered prayer from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For information on how you can help please visit our page How Can I Help?.

May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 2 Samuel 2:6

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dossier Ready for Delivery to Haiti

Our Dossier is FINALLY complete, finished, ready for delivery. Praise God!!!

We started the adoption process and began working on our Dossier on September 6, 2010. We were done with everything within our control by December 1, 2010. Since that time we have been waiting on our documents to be translated into French and legalized by the Haitian Consulate in Chicago. We finally received all of our compeleted documents today. That said, our Dossier will be hand delivered to our Attorney in Haiti the first week of February, 2011. Can I get an Amen!!!

The most recent time estimate we have been given is it will take 8 months, "give or take", from the time we submit our Dossier until we get our girls home. Please join in on our prayer that God's time will be faster than that!!!

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, January 24, 2011

Matthew Called to Ministry

Yesterday, at the end of the church service during the invitation, my son Matt walked down front and committed his life to Ministry!!


Matt has felt led about a life in Ministry for many months. Matt has prayed about this matter in length. He has spent a lot of time working with and talking with the Grace Baptist Church Youth Minister, Bobby Thompson. God has really worked through Bobby in Matt's life the last couple of years. We are so thankful for Bobby and the mentor role he plays. Our recent Mission Trip in Haiti may have been the culmination of God's plan to lead Matt to this decision.


Matt does not yet know the exact path this decision will lead him down. At this point he feels that work in the area of foreign missions is very possible. Regardless, he knows he wants to do God's work!

We are very proud of Matt. We are excited about the plans God has for Matt!!

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Romans 1:16

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Heaven Feels Like

Before I begin let me say this post is not guided towards anyone. So please don’t be offended by anything I write. This post is a rambling of thoughts that have been running randomly through my mind for some time now. These thoughts and words apply to me and my struggle to be obedient. If this stirs something up inside of you too, then I pray that’s a good thing!

I saw Jesus in Haiti
Many people I know that have been to Haiti, say the first time they went, they went to share Jesus. But upon going they surprisingly discovered that Jesus was already there. I know this was the case for me. You see pictures, news reports, and hear that Haiti is the poorest and filthiest place on the planet. So you think, they have to need Jesus and I am going to share Him. Then you get there and see that it is indeed the poorest and filthiest place you have ever seen. But, you soon discover that Jesus is already there. For me at least, it was one of those “wow” moments.

What’s Jesus doing in Haiti?
My family lives in a humble 2,300 square foot home. We don’t owe anyone on this planet a single penny, except for a small mortgage. We have not bought a “new” car since 1997. We don’t take extravagant vacations. We don’t buy expensive furniture or clothes. My wife shops at thrift stores. We don’t buy anything that we can’t pay for with cash. In American terms, we are very frugal and live a humble life style. Yet, during my first trip to Haiti, while walking in the mountain village of Beloc, I became overwhelmingly embarrassed for the lavish and wasteful manner in which I live.



Let me ask anyone bored enough to be reading my blog some simple questions. If Jesus walked this earth today do you think He would spend His time where you spend yours? Do you think He would visit your church? Do you think He would come to your house? Do you think He would ride in your car, live in your neighborhood, spend your money the way you spend it? I could go on and on with this line of questioning, but I think you get my point. For me, the resounding answer to all of these questions is “NO”.

One night over this past Thanksgiving holiday, my brother-in-law Bill and I were having a classic late night discussion. Bill always challenges my thought process. This particular night we were talking about Haiti and Jesus. Anyway, Bill made a comment that has really stuck with me. He said, “If Jesus walked into my house today, He would take a quick look around and say ‘I don’t need to be here’ and walk right back out the door”. How simple, profound, and true is that!!!

In retrospect, of course Jesus is in Haiti.

Worshiping Jesus in Haiti
Every time I go to Haiti, I am amazed by how Christians in Haiti can be so strikingly happy. How can that be? They have nothing. They have no material possessions. Most wake up each morning, journey out of their tent or one room dirt floor shack, and try to figure out a way to obtain food and water for their family for that day. The next day they do it again. All they can possibly have that makes them so joyous is the love of Jesus. Their love for Jesus is so much more transparent than in any one person I have ever witnessed in America. They worship and praise God with intense passion. Honestly, it makes you question your own relationship with God.


Serving Jesus in Haiti
Haiti is such an addictive place. I literally feel drawn to Haiti. And it’s not just for the obvious fact that I have two God given daughters there that I desperately want to be with. It’s more than that.

A friend of mine made a simple comment that stirred my thoughts, “it’s so easy to spread the love in Haiti”. This is so true, but why?

In America we are concerned with serving ourselves. We long for material things. All of our material objects are really just "distractions". They are distractions from what really matters in life, distractions from our relationship with God, distractions from being obedient to Him. Because we have so much more than we need we are constantly distracted from serving God and others.

There are very few, if any, distractions in Haiti. I think that’s why “it’s so easy to spread the love” of Jesus there. I long for that feeling I have when I am in Haiti. It’s a feeling of constantly wanting to serve and worship God 24/7. That must be what Heaven feels like.

Most of all, love each other as if your life depends on it. Love makes up for anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, cheerfully give a bed to the homeless. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He will get all the Praise! 1 Peter 4:11 (The Message)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tidbits about the Girls

It is amazing how the girl’s personalities continue to open up more and more with each visit to Haiti. I realize there is a certain amount of trust to be earned and that comes through seeing that we will return to them and knowing that one day they will come home with us. It is also interesting how the attachment process differs for each of them.


On our trip last October, Jesula's emotions were up and down during the visit. She was really excited to see us when we arrived. One day she was wide open excited and the next she was a little distant and would go play with the rest of the girls. She didn't really attempt communicating much in English. When we had to leave she was sad, but she did not shed tears, at least that we saw. When we were walking out to leave she turned and walked inside the orphanage out of sight. I should mention that Haitians seemed to be much less emotional than us Americans. Anyway, during our visit two weeks ago she was consistently in tune with us. She ran to me when we arrived and didn't want to let go. She left our sides much less than the previous visit. She tried hard to understand our English and attempted to respond in English if possible. She absoulutely fell in love with Ashley and Matt and really clinged to them all week. The night before and the morning we were leaving, Jesula cried crocodile tears. Jesula was really, really sad!


This was our first trip to visit Redjina since we asked her to become part of our family. On the previous visits we only had limit interaction and small glimpses of her inner beauty. Her attachment with us has happened much quicker than with Jesula. I think that has a lot to do with her personality, but also because she is two years older and more mature than Jesula. Redjina was my daughter and I was her Popi from the first moment I arrived. Being the special girl that she is, she let Jesula greet us first when we arrived. She is such a caregiver. She looked after Jesula constantly. She made the beds in the morning and swept our room. During our trip she almost never left my side. She was constantly trying to learn English and teach me Creole. Two days before we were to leave she showed signs of being sad. When I asked her what was wrong, at first she said "nothing". But with some prying, she said: "today Wednesday, tomorrow Thursday, and you know what happens Friday". Friday we were to leave. We had some great conversation that day about trust, the long adoption process, and faith that one day she would come home with us. She broke free from the sadness and those last two days were wonderful. But just like Jesula, the night before we left and the morning we were leaving, she cried very hard. And when we did leave, Redjina and Jesula stood on the porch with their arms around each other and waved good bye!


Since returning from our last trip I have really increased the number of phone calls to the girls. In order to talk to Jesula, we have to call the Orphanage Director, Magdala. She speaks very limited English and there is no one to interpret. I can speak just enough Creole at this point to properly greet Magdala and ask to speak to Jesula. Then Jesula and I can have a somewhat limited conversation. But that said, when we call Jesula (two to three times a week) she is so excited and loud. She constantly is saying things like "Popi", "Momi", "Matt", Ashwee" (Ashley), "I love you", "I miss you". Beyond sweet!! Redjina on the other hand has a cell phone. We text each other throughout each day. The constant communication is wonderful, but also makes me miss her even more. She sends me texts in Creole and I text her in English. We both have books and it is helping us both learn a new language. I get the sweetest text messages from her. One of us calls the other at least once a day. She is very soft spoken and loving. She always asks to speak to "Momi", "my brother Matt", and "my sister Ashley". She wants to know what I am doing. It seems like she is always "studying English and French".


Leaving them there is no doubt the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But I know this whole thing is in God's hands and is on His time table. So in the meantime I work on improving my total lack of patience!

God gives us a sense of what He is doing. He makes everything beautiful happen at the right time. Yet we can never completely understand what He is doing from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, January 17, 2011

Give Me Strength Lord

Foreign adoption is by far the most difficult thing emotionally that I have ever endured.

Come to me, all of you who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year Later - Pray for Haiti

A year ago today an earthquake in Haiti took some 250,000 lives and caused immeasurable damage. I am thankful how God has used me and blessed me in the wake of this disaster. Please say a prayer today for Haiti, in remembrance of those lost, and to ask for peace and restoration for the people of Haiti in the challenging days ahead.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are
crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

The Great Healer

The last night I was in Haiti, my daughter Redjina was running an obvious fever. There wasn't really anything I could do except give her tylenol. I assumed she was just upset over us leaving the next morning or perhaps had a cold.

After I left she continued to get worse. But thankfully God planned for a medical mission team to be at the orphanage the week after I left. He even had the thoughtfulness to have a few of my friends on the medical team.

My friend Lisa Keefer called to inform me that late Sunday Redjina had a fever of 105 and that she had been sponge bathing her. They tested and diagnosed Redjina with Malaria. They began treating her accordingly.

This morning I sent Redjina a text message and asked her if she felt better. Redjina responded: "I am today because Jesus came to make me well. I love you Popi".


He spoke, and it came to be. He commanded, and it happened.
Psalm 33:9
Redjina sent this verse to me today!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrating the New Year in Haiti

The year 2010 is certainly one to forget for Haiti. A devastating earthquake causing approximately 250,000 deaths, a widespread cholera outbreak, political unrest and riots, make the headlines. All the while millions of Haitians continue to live in tents and unsafe conditions in general. The arrival of 2011 brings hope for better times.

I travelled to Haiti this past week to serve in the new year. I, along with my 19 year old daughter Ashley, 15 year old son Matthew, and a group of God’s servants from White Stone Church in Knoxville, TN.

Our mission team consisted of 25 people. We met at White Stone Church late on New Year’s Eve. We watched the ball drop, jumped in vans and drove to Atlanta, caught a flight to Miami, then a connecting flight into Port au Prince. We were on the ground in Haiti about 2:00 PM on New Year’s Day. Immigration, baggage claim, and exiting the airport in PAP is like a combination of a three ring circus and total chaos. But an hour later we were loading up our transport truck. We drove three hours through the indescribable streets of Port au Prince and on to the orphanage in the mountain village of Camatin. All I could think about the entire journey was holding my beautiful girls, Jesula and Redjina. The last few miles seemed to be never ending. Finally, after 18 hours of vans, planes, airports, and transport trucks, I was there.

My beautiful girls were waiting. I got the hugs I had been dreaming of for weeks. Jesula and Redjina were so happy and their smiles sparkled. Oh, to hear those sweet voices call me "Popi" is just beyond explanation. Ashley, Matthew, Jesula, and Redjina met for the first time. With one little swoosh of God’s brush it was true sibling love from the first moment. That evening was one that only God could orchestrate. I and my four children spent hours talking, laughing, hugging, singing, opening presents, and trying on new clothes. It was just perfect!


Sunday morning we attended church in the nearby mountain village of Coq Chante. White Stone Church sponsors the Church of the Redeemer Church, School, and Orphanage in Coq Chante. The orphanage collapsed during the earthquake, killing a beautiful 4-year old orphan girl named Atanie. The church now meets under a tattered tarp. God didn’t seem to mind one bit about the lack of a nice facility. The service was beautiful and these people certainly know how to worship! Following the service we served lunch to the local church members.


Sunday evening we attended Church in Camatin, just up on the hill above the orphanage. They also meet under a tarp. God provided light for the night time service with a small generator and two light bulbs. It too was an awesome service of worship and singing. I got up and introduced each of my four children and thanked God for blessing me through the people of Haiti.


We spent the day Monday working around the orphanage. I rebuilt a bed. The team painted the girls bunk rooms which had always just been plain concrete walls. We made water filtration systems out of buckets and sorted clothes and shoes to deliver around the local area. We also had a lot of fun playing games with the girls, and watching them sing and dance on the porch. We spent real quality time with our two girls!


Tuesday and Wednesday was spent serving the beautiful people of Beloc and Coq Chante. Matt and I went with Kurt Rudd and delivered lumber, purchased by my dear friends Jon and Amy Knowles, to build a small house for a family in Beloc. As it happened to me back in August, Beloc broke Matt and he developed a love for this tiny village.


We set up in what remains of the school in Coq Chante and handed out food, shoes, and supplies to church members. We hiked up and down and all around the mountain in Coq Chante. We delivered food, water filtration buckets, bedding pads, and many prayers to the area people. I had the opportunity to meet an elderly Haitian lady that moves herself around with just her arms and hands because her legs are crippled. She treks three miles round trip up and down a mountain side to Church. God was very busy in all of our lives over these two days.


Thursday was beach day. The girls absolutely love going to the beach. Wednesday evening before bed Jesula laid out her new bathing suit and packed a little bag with her float, a change of clothes and a towel. She was so excited. She normally wants to stay up late playing, but she went to bed early in anticipation of the beach. Thursday morning we loaded up 25 orphans and made the 20 mile drive down to the beach in Jacmel. The weather was perfect. We played in the sand and ocean for several hours. We grilled hotdogs and chicken. We had grilled goat and veggies on a stick, which is really delicious! Jesula, except for eating, never got out of the water. We played chase in the water and she laughed so hard. Redjina and I had some nice quiet time and took a long stroll on the beach. It was truly a wonderful day.


Thursday evening back at the orphanage the reality of leaving the next morning hit us. My dear friend Jovanie, interpreted and read a letter Ashley wrote to the girls. I gave the girls little Angel bracelets my friend Bobbie made for them. We all had a long hard cry. We went to Church service up on the hill in Camatin again. That evening we packed our things with long faces. We spent every last minute with the girls. Fortunately for her, Jesula was exhausted from the beach and fell asleep. Redjina cried on my shoulder in bed throughout the evening. She repeatedly said to me, “tell me you love me Popi?” Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep that night.

And just like that it was Friday morning and time to leave. We made some family pictures with the girls. Just before we had to leave, Pastor Zimmerman gathered all the girls in the lobby area. They sang “Worthy is the Lamb” in English. It was an amazing and emotional scene. Ashley, Matt and I all hugged Jesula and Redjina long and hard one more time. It took all of the strength within me to let go of them and leave.


It was a God given week for which I am very thankful. I very much enjoyed getting to know each person that I served with. Each of you made a profound impact on me and my children. I know that God is smiling because of the ongoing good works being done by his disciples at White Stone Church. In Ephesians 2:10 God tells us we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, that He planned in advance for us to do. I am thankful He planned for me to do good works with each of you!

Finally, I’ll say that God really “wowed” me on this trip. He waved his magic wand and created instant sibling love for my four children. I got to witness Ashley and Matt be forever changed by Haiti. He reaffirmed my love for Jesula. He revealed to me that Redjina is one of His Angels and I am honored He chose me to be her father, and oh how I love her too!

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8