Sunday, June 20, 2010

It is heating up!

And now it is officially VERY hot here. Surprisingly, we haven't been too stifled yet. We either stay inside or stay wet. We have had to get a bit creative with things, like playing with dry pinto beans and measuring cups, and the kids are taking a couple of classes - a sports class (which we originally signed T up for alone, but he would have nothing to do with unless B went with him, so they thankfully let me add her in, too. They are so much like twins at times!), and a tap and ballet class for B. We have thoroughly been enjoying play dates with friends, and we spend a lot of time at splash pads - the best way to get wet without me losing my mind.

We also had the kids do their first swimming lessons. We did a parent-tot class through the city and would meet J after work 4 days a week for two weeks, which was a bit much for us. The kids loved it and did pretty well. T dunks his head with no problem but is not a fan of floating, and B is the opposite. J and I were happy they enjoyed them, but relieved when they were done. Below is a picture of the kids in their new goggles. Yes, they are wearing them at the mall, and no, there is not a pool there. :)
J and I got to go to the wedding of one of the girls who was in my small group when I was a leader for the junior high ministry. She is such a special girl, and in fact, I can very vividly remember her being at our wedding as a seventh grader. We so enjoyed seeing her and her husband so very happy and we loved getting to have a little date night of our own. It's sweet to see a young couple with big dreams getting married mid-college and to realize that we were that young couple just eight years ago. And, as I think about that I realize that over the last eight years God has led us on a path that has far surpassed even our "biggest dreams." Not to mention, I love the man I married even more now than I did then (and I even still like him more...well, most of the time :)
We have been missing Africa a bit, though God has seemingly been bringing Africa to us. We made some new friends from Ghana (yes, I am now the lady that talks to random people at Walmart and then has them over for dinner. After my mom's propensity to strike up deep conversations with random strangers and subsequently embarrass my brother and myself growing up I never thought it would be so. Aren't you proud, mom?!) We also started helping with a refugee family through Lutheran Social Services (check out what they do - I love it!). They are refugees from Eastern Africa and they have been living in a refugee camp in Kenya for years. They have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 year old son who are just precious. Their English was minimal but we were able to communicate a bit and they are very happy to be here. We are looking forward to helping them feel more comfortable in the months to come. Then we had lunch with some old friends from Kenya and had much to talk about.

It is strange that we have been home a month now already. We are actually praying for Kenya right now as they are having some political turmoil and recently had a grenade attack during a rally in a park in Nairobi (you may remember seeing pictures of the park from when we took the kids there). You can read about it here. The vote on their new constitution is set for August 4th.

Lastly, I wanted to share the link to a blog which a friend sent me. This woman recently appeared on The View to share about international adoption and in her post shares all of the other things she wishes she had been able to say. I resonate with so much of what she says and feel like she states it so clearly that I think you should check it out. I love her thoughts on the damages of institutions, the idea that family preservation should be the first choice, and how adoption is much more about hard work than it is about "saving a child." Here's a blurb...

" I wanted to talk about the literature on institutionalized children, and how passionately I feel that the love of a family is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. I wanted to talk about the effects of institutionalization I am seeing in my own home. Even though my son is only three, and even though he was in an amazing orphanage. I wanted to talk about how deep my love is for my adopted children. I wanted to share the way I love them every bit as much as the daughters I have birthed.... I wanted to talk about how poverty is not a reason to remove a child from their birth family. I wanted to talk about how adoption should not be seen as a way of moving children from an "inferior" to a "superior" culture. I wanted to talk about how children can grow up happy and loved in any country if they form secure attachments. I wanted to talk about how a lack of affection is the most disgusting form of poverty, and how that happens right in our own backyard, even in the wealthiest of families. I wanted to talk about the reasons women place their children in orphanages, and how we need to be looking into family preservation when possible."
Here's where you can check it out for yourself...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Back in the Game...

I have been dragging my feet on posting. Why? Because for one, we spent about a week getting over jet-lag, and two, anything I write now will be a complete letdown. Not that life in AZ is fact, it really is quite the opposite. We have had a great time reconnecting with family and friends, playing, driving, etc... :) But, it just seems so commonplace compared to posts about the slums, and sweet orphans, and petting baby elephants. But, all good adventures must come to an end at some point, or you wouldn't have know them to be adventures, right? So, to fully contrast I was going to make this post about the fact that our family is now diaper-less (definitely NOT accident-less...serious-patience testing over here!) for the first time in over three years. I could lament about the painstaking process that potty training my precious, and very headstrong little boy is, but I'll spare you those details and attempt a post that is somewhere in between.
As we have been adjusting back to normalcy, there are a lot things we miss. It's funny how our trip has changed us in little ways. For example, T dropped his spoon from his sample on the floor of Trader Joe's and I just told him to pick it without even a courtesy "wipe off on my shirt" and use it again. The clerk looked at me horrified, and I just replied, "We just got back from spending two months in Africa." She didn't realize that the floor was far cleaner than the bath water T kept injesting in Kenya. So we are a little more laid back. I have also been a lot more mindful of people who are from other countries and have tried to be more friendly. I spent a while talking to a Bangladeshi Walmart clerk today and gave my email to a family from Ghana with a three year old. Pre-Kenya, I probably wouldn't have noticed them or taken the time to talk, and it has been a blessing to be more intentional. I love hearing about others' experiences and countries, and I know what it's like to be the foreigner now, too. It can be pretty isolating.
We are also strategizing some ways right now to keep our family involved in serving the "least of these." I have been reading The Hole in The Gospel by Richard Stearns and it has been rocking my world. I have learned unbelievable things (like the fact that if you make $50,000 per year you are wealthier than 99% of people in the world) and I have more importantly been reminded of God's heart for the poor and vulnerable, and how my faith requires a response from me regarding the suffering of people in our world (both here and across the oceans.) This bringing of the kingdom is the essence of the gospel, and if I really believe it then I really need to act. Stearns addresses the passage of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) and how the passage doesn't say things like, "I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes" p. 59. Ouch!

I feel more moved than I did 3 months ago because now I picture actual faces when I hear statistics and read stories. I am excited for the documentary they filmed while we were there to be released, so others (hopefully including you) will be able to picture faces as well. Because all of the numbers we hear about really are people, vulnerable people like us. Anyway, I would highly recommend you read the book, but here are a few quotes he used to whet your appetite...

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity." - George Bernard Shaw

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it." "Well, why don't you ask Him?" "Because I am afraid he would ask me the same question." - Anonymous

"Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now."
- St. Teresa of Avila