Tuesday, February 22

Check Out My Interview

I did an interview with Blanca over at the blog, Reintroducing Hope. Blanca desires to share stories that inspire hope and the boldness to dream anew. I am honored that "my story" would be categorized as such.

Blanca lives here in Raleigh and we have similar heartbeats. She is a risk taker. She longs to live on purpose. She frequently finds herself telling people, "Just because you haven’t seen someone else do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done – YOU could be the first."

Click here to read the interview and if you have a moment, leave some comment love on Blanca's post.

Thursday, February 17

Learning to Let God Drive

I heard it again yesterday at the bus stop. The "Are ya'll done after Galeta comes home? Are ya'll gonna stop at 5?" I need to come up with a pat answer because I get asked that question at least once a day. Let me tell you what I really want to say when I get asked that question:

Rob and I weren't planning on having kids. It's not that we didn't like kids. We were both teachers, taught Sunday School, led youth group, went on mission trips with the youth. We were constantly investing in kids, but did not care to have any of our own. We were having too much fun just the 2 of us. We enjoyed the freedom and flexibility and knew kids would bring some serious limitations.

Then I got pregnant. I cried. Poor Rob did not know how to respond. We had no health insurance. And I was pregnant for 16 weeks and then miscarried. But during that 16 weeks, God grew in me and Rob a mother's and father's heart. Something more than just enjoying kids and investing in them. At this point we did not try to have kids, but we also didn't try to not have them. We were ok with either.

We quickly got pregnant again. .with Anna who is now 13. This time we rejoiced.

This is Anna's favorite picture of us. She says we should write a book one day and put this picture on the front. That makes me smile.

Again we did not try to have kids and year and half later we were pregnant with David. At this point we said we were done. We were trying not to have any more. God had other plans.

God's other plans were 7 months later we were pregnant with Brooke. This is when my grandfather pulled Rob aside and said it was about time we got a tv. He said it would be a lot cheaper. We had 3 kids under the age of 4. All of them were in diapers/pullups at the same time (and this was before I knew of the blessings of couponing and $4.50 packs of diapers). Now we really were done.

Again God had other plans. I remember Rob and I were at Rock Ola. . he was so scared to tell me what he had been sensing in his time with God. He was so scared to tell me that he felt like we were to adopt. I was a stay-at-home mom to 3 little kids, barely keeping my head above water. He told me and I cried. I had been sensing the same thing in my prayer time. I was scared to tell him because he was a 2nd grade teacher who had just quit to go back to grad school. An adoption cost more than he made in one year.

Jonathan came home from Guatemala about 3 years later. He was 10-months old at the time.

We weren't going to have kids, and now we have 4 and will be bringing home our fifth child, Galeta Soutter soon.

We had our plans and God had his. We are so thankful that God did not leave us to our own ways, but broke in. We are thankful for that first pregnancy. During that difficult time, God changed our hearts.

Rob and I can't imagine life without our 5 kids. Oh what a blessing they are. We are thankful that everytime we said, "We're done." God said, "Yeah, that's what you think."

I pray that God will continue to grow this heart in me. The heart that says, "Not my will, but yours be done." The heart that says, "God I've got this really great idea, but is it your idea?"

I am still learning to let God drive.

I am linking this post here, to A Place Called Simplicity (my favorite blog ever). Every Monday, this blogger hosts a Memorial Box Monday Party where bloggers remember the God stories of their lives. Click here for more details on what a Memorial Box is.

Monday, February 7

Make a Difference with Just a Click!!

Update: Lisa did win this grant!! Her proposal got the 2nd most votes!! Thank you to all who took the time to vote. I am so excited that a library is going to be built in Guatemala!!

More on Ethiopia and Galeta coming, but I want to remind you of my friend Lisa. Remember me telling you here about my world changing friend and how she has applied for a Kindermuisk Good Beginnings Grant.
If she and her organization, Caroline's Promise are in the top 5 organizations with the most votes on February 9, she will receive $1000 to build a library at Casita Adonai in Guatemala. My Anna is sponsoring a kindergartner at this school.

Right now Lisa is #6. . only behind by 110 votes.

Would you visit here every day between now and Feb 9?
That is today, tomorrow, and Wed!

Visit this link and at the top, click the button that says Search "Ideas by Votes".

Choose "Development of a library for inner city school children in Guatemala" It will probably be #5 or #6 on the page.

You can vote up to 10 x a day. Make sure you click that green vote circle ten time each day you visit.

You have to wait 24 hrs between each set of 10 votes.

Spread the word by posting on facebook or emailing, linking to this post or for even more detail, link to my post here. Invite your friends to make a difference with just a click.

And Feb 9, let's celebrate that we came alongside Lisa and made a difference, that we helped change lives, that we helped kids and parents learn to read. Really!!

I know that sometimes I can become so overwhelmed with the magnitude of all the problems of the world that I feel my little bit can't possibly make a difference. I can easily feel hopeless and often times fail to do something because I can't do everything or I can't do it "big enough". Let's not let that thinking creep in. . .let's believe our 2 minutes of time clicking on this link and then clicking on "vote" will make a difference.

I know for sure that small things done with great love can change the world.

Wednesday, February 2

Visiting Galeta at the "New" Orphanage

In Saturday's post we shared about meeting Galeta for the first time. Yesterday, we shared here about the long drive with Galeta back to the capital. Today we will share about our visits with Galeta that Tues, Wed, and Thurs.

During that time, we went to Galeta's new orphanage each day to play with him and the other children. What a treasure it was to have that focused time with our new son. During that time we kicked a soccer ball, blew bubbles, cuddled, tickled and just spent time together. We were so impressed by how quickly Galeta adjusted to his new surroundings. By day 2 he knew the names of most of the kids and had obviously started bonding with his new nannies.

Galeta really seemed to enjoy kicking the soccer ball and was quite good at it. At one point when the other kids were joining in, Galeta asked one of the nannies if she could keep the other kids engaged in their own game of kick so as to not interrupt the one he was having with his new parents. At least that is what we think he said in Oromifa as the nanny came over and hurried all the other children to the other side of the pavement.

Each day we gave Galeta a pen and paper. He wrote the ABCs. He wrote his name. And then he drew 6 stick figures. When he was done he pointed to each and named them, "Mommy, Daddy, Anna, David, Brooke, Jonathan." Our hearts sang. We told him to draw a 7th figure and told him that was Galeta. He was a Soutter. We were family.

Over the three days, Galeta and Rob drew several pictures and wrote words. All of them centered on our new family... pictures of us in a plane, pictures of us in a van, and lists of everyone's name. Galeta wanted to keep the pad of paper and pen we brought.

We were at the orphanage for about 3 hours each day and at times we would just sit on the porch and watch. Playing kick, playing jump, doing horsey rides, playing Ring Around the Rosies with 15 some children quickly tired us and sometimes we just needed to rest. We were quite pleased that Galeta did not cling to us, nor did he forget us. He would play with the other boys and girls for a while and then run over to show us something or sit in our laps for a few minutes. Then he would run back out and join the games. Sometimes while playing, he would look over his shoulder to confirm that we were there and watching.

One obstacle we faced was sharing our affection with Galeta as well as the other kids. As soon as one of us would give Galeta a horsey ride in our laps, all the other kids would want one as well. "Me, me!" they would call in their native tongue. Galeta was very sweet. He would take a turn and then get out of the way and motion for the next kid to have a turn. We loved on all the kids, but made sure that Galeta got an extra portion of our attention. Some times we would just tell all the kids, "No, we are playing with our son now." They didn't like it, but caught on and left us to be alone with our son.

Oh how these kids wanted attention and touch and love (even more than their wonderful nannies gave them). It was almost like seagulls. . you would give one a little attention and the next thing you knew, you had a dozen little ones wanting some love. Su would pray over each one that climbed in her lap or held her hand that a mom and dad would come forward for them. That their little hearts would be kept soft and filled with hope and that they would not have to wait long.

One day, several children had gathered around to play with Su's hair which was quite different from their own. Galeta came up, swung his arms and shouted, "Get off!" in English. We were shocked. I guess he has some instincts to protect his mother. We'll have to ask him about that when he gets home and learns some English.

Each day was a special time of connecting with our boy and learning who he is. We also used this time to try to reinforce that we were leaving, but would be coming back. Each time we found someone that knew both Oromifa and English, we would have them tell Galeta that we would be leaving in 1 day or tomorrow or whatever and that we would come back to take him to America. Repetition is the best teacher, eh?

Finally Thursday's visit came to an end and we had to tell Galeta good bye for the last time. We got an interpreter and explained the plan one last time. We promised to pray for him each day and reminded him that we loved him. We all embraced and Su and Rob cried. Again Galeta seemed very ok with what was happening.

Galeta's only question was, "Is Raji and Sena's mom and dad coming soon?" See, we had explained to him that his good friends Raji and Sena's mom and dad would be coming to get them and bring them back to America. And then after that we would come to get him and bring him back to America. And then once we were all in America, he would get to play with Raji and Sena. (Click here if you missed that story about Raji and Sena's mom and dad living here in Raleigh).

We shared mixed emotions as we drove away. It was hard to leave and yet we felt a great measure of peace. We knew that Galeta had a good understanding of what was happening. He seemed very ok with all that was going on. We knew that Galeta was in a good place and well cared for. And we knew that this was just another step in bringing our family together.

We would be going back soon to bring him home (10-12 weeks maybe?).

More to come.

Tuesday, February 1

Driving Galeta from Gimbie to the Capital

On Saturday we introduced Galeta and shared our reactions upon meeting him for the first time at the orphanage in Gimbie, Ethiopia. You can read that post here. The story continues....

After we picked up Galeta from the orphanage, we spent 12 hours in the van with Galeta and his 4 year old buddy, A-boy (2 hours on Sunday and 10 hours straight on Monday). We could not believe how well behaved these 2 were.

Under normal circumstance you could not pay us enough to drive all day with young kids. For our 4 children at home we bought one of those portable DVD players to take on any trip of 2 hours or more. The DVD player wasn't for the kids, it was for us... to maintain our sanity. Without it, the kids are too loud and rambunctious and fight too much. But not Galeta and A-boy.

Galeta and A-boy spent 10 hours quietly sitting, talking, looking out the window, and playing with their only toy, magna doodles we brought. We were utterly amazed and very pleased as this trip was hard on our bodies and as adults, we struggled. The roads were unbelievably bumpy and we had to twist and wind around potholes and other obstacles (like oxen!!).

On Monday evening, we arrived at the new orphanage in the capital city of Addis Ababa. We were quite concerned about this part of the trip. How would Galeta feel about being dropped off in this new home after meeting his new parents 30 hours earlier? Would he be confused, feel betrayed by his new parents, be scared of this unknown place, or wonder about the new language he was hearing (Galeta does not speak the national language)?

Suprisingly, Galeta seemed to meet this challenge with a great amount of comfort and understanding. He walked right in and joined the other boys and girls at the table for dinner. He seemed very unconcerned as we said good bye and left him in this unfamiliar place.

As we drove away from the orphanage we were filled with a great sense of peace and both commented to each other that Galeta was going to be ok!

More tomorrow about our visits with Galeta at the new orphanage.