Wednesday, June 16

Why Ethiopia?

Thru many blogs and books, we have become educated on how AIDS, poverty, and war have created a crisis of unfathomable proportions leaving millions of children orphaned and all alone in Africa.

An entire generation of parents are no longer; there are 4.4 million orphans in just Ethiopia.

Our hearts have broken for these orphans. We feel like God has enabled us to weep for these children.

And now we feel like God is asking us to be one of these children’s mom and dad.

We are excited; we are scared, we are in awe. Us? He wants us?! to be the mom and dad of this little boy? What a privilege! He chose us out of all the moms and dads to be this little boy’s family. That brings tears to our eyes.

• One in six children in Ethiopia die before their fifth birthday

• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old

• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)

• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)

• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.

Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.

• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.



Incomprehensible to us middle class Americans.

We (Rob and Su) are not oblivious anymore; we are no longer ignorant.

We have been made aware.

We have grown disturbed and broken over this crisis.

And we’ve come to realize that crazy love takes action.

As one blog we stumbled upon posted:

Love is an action word

Love doesn’t sit idle

Love doesn’t stay where is comfortable

Love doesn’t wait until there is enough money

or until all its ducks are in a row

Love doesn’t worry about what other people think

Love is an action word

The action we feel God is calling us to is another adoption.

Thursday, June 10

African Children's Choir coming to Raleigh

Mark Your Calendars!! Friday evening, June 25th, 7pm the internationally acclaimed African Children's Choir is performing at the Raleigh Vineyard at 6894 Litchford Rd in Raleigh!!

Since 1984, the Choir’s message has reached many millions of people across North America and Europe and as far a field as Australia. Some of their performances include the White House for President George W. Bush, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, American Idol for "Idol Gives Back," the United Nations Assembly, and Westminster Abbey for the Queen of England.

Through the excellence of their performances they have raised substantial sums of money. This supports both the commitment of the organization to the ongoing care and education of the Choir children themselves and funds the education and welfare of many thousands of children in some of Africa’s most troubled and needy areas. There is no charge for this event at the Raleigh Vineyard, but a love offering will be taken during the show if you are so inclined.

The African Children’s Choir is the ambassador for Africa’s neediest, most vulnerable children.

The Choir shows the world that its members, like the millions of abandoned and traumatized children in Africa, have beauty, dignity and unlimited potential.

We Soutters will all be there and are super excited. We see this as a great opportunity to be intentional about supporting those in need, nurturing a broader world vision (and for us, getting a glimpse into our son's birth country). Let me know if you want to come and we'll meet you in the lobby and go sit together.

Tuesday, June 8

A Craft Show Miracle (from 2007)

Linny over at the blog, A Place Called Simplicity (my favorite blog, really) hosts a blog party every Monday where she asks others to share the God stories of their lives. She calls this party Memorial Box Monday.

As Linny says, "the purpose of each Memorial Box Monday post is to remind yourself and others of God's great faithfulness, His powerful provision and His Unexpected Gifts in each of our lives." For even more detail on what a Memorial Box is click here.

I am wanting to participate in sharing our God stories "because when we actively remember God's faithfulness in the past, we see that the future is under His control as well." And I need to remember that God has this current adoption in His hands.

So today's story that "only God could write" took place at the end of 2007. Anna was 10 years old at the time.

Over the Thanksgiving break, we sat Anna down and asked her to pray about how she was going to raise the money she needed to go to Guatemala. She and Rob were planning on spending a week that coming summer (2008) loving up on the children in a number of orphanages in Guatemala, including the one Jonathan (our 4th child) lived in for his first 10 months. Anna needed $1500 for her part of the trip.

Anna prayed and said she felt that we were to participate in Sanderson’s Holly Days craft show. We told her that she probably wouldn’t get in since it was coming up quickly. We asked her to keep praying.

In the meantime, Rob and I prayed privately and both of us felt God telling us to follow Anna’s lead and support her. By the end of the long weekend, Anna was sure that God was asking her to do the show, which we had discovered was less than a week away.

Rob and I had a crisis of faith. Were we going to take some serious risks and support our daughter? Or were we gonna tell Anna that she probably hadn’t heard God because it was too late to get in the show? We went with the former. We bought lots of art supplies, cleared our schedules to find time for creating, began making logistical arrangements, and emailed the folks at Sanderson.

By that first Thursday in December (the show started Friday), the crafts were getting done but we had heard nothing from Sanderson. We called the school and were given the same email we had already tried. We wrote again. This time we heard back, a letter telling us they were full and we would not get a space, they had more vendors this year than any other year. We emailed back, thanking them and letting them know we would be available if anything changed.

That night, we pulled the kids and prayed again. Anna felt like she got a picture of us at the show and people flooding our booth. She also saw a picture of Su at her computer on the AOL screen but did know what it meant. After the prayer time, we continued to craft and Rob and David drove across town to pick up tables for the show.

Part of us felt we were crazy preparing for a show we did not even have a booth at. The other part thought there was nothing else to do: of course we were going to prepare for the show, like Noah preparing for rain.

Later that night we put the kids to bed and each one begged God that we would get in the show. Rob and I went downstairs and continued to create.

We popped open email and found a note from Sanderson that read: “We just now had a cancellation. You will take so and so’s place.”

We jumped up and ran to the kids’ rooms. Everyone was screaming and jumping up and down. Tears were streaming down Su’s face. Anna had the hugest smile on her face and said, “I just knew it!” and hugged Su so tightly. We cheered for Jesus and thanked him for showing up.

Our pastor often says, “How do you spell faith?

The answer is, "R-I-S-K”

We are so glad we took the risk. And so to remember this story. . Anna and I bought the wooden word FAITH to put in our Memorial Box to help my now 13 year old

remember the very first (when she was 10) supernatural, faith filled, risk taking God adventure. May this be a mark of her life.

I'll tell you the turnout of Anna's craft show next Monday.

And if you missed my very first Memorial Box Monday post about God showing up at the mall, click here.