Friday, July 31, 2009

Great Pics of Amani!

Here are just a few of the pictures that Melissa took during her trip to Uganda. I usually focus on just Asher, but this time I wanted to share some pictures of Amani as well. Amani means "peace," and Amani Baby Cottage is definitely a place of peace for these precious children. Take a look...

Entrance to Amani Baby Cottage

Great murals with Bible themes

Pictures of the children line the walls

Notice the pictures of the forever families!

I had to get a picture of Asher in there somewhere!

I know...I'm shameless! Another picture of Asher with Melissa

That's our boy!

We are so thankful to God for the work that is being done at Amani!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Presents for Asher!

Yesterday the kids and I met Lindsay and her kids at McDonald's so that they could play a little while and we could hand off some "lovies" for the boys. Dee Anne and her husband Dan are going back to Jinja next week, and they offered to go by the orphanage for us. They have been so kind and gracious to us. We are thankful for them and for what God is doing in their lives as well.

Here is a teddy bear we sent Asher with a card and some pictures
in it. How do you like Sylvie's drawing? (I love the heels!) In the
card we explain to Asher that Mac gave this bear to Owen, Owen
gave this bear to Sylvie, and now Sylvie is giving it to her little brother.

Judah's elephant blanket and pictures

Sylvie and the girls hand off the presents to Dee Anne...

All the kids with Dee Anne...

And at last...the whole gang! Dee Anne certainly was a trooper
to take all those pictures! She must love kids!

The Proctors leave on Monday. Please pray for safe travel as they go. I will post more pictures of Amani and Asher tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Picture of Asher

Melissa, a new friend via facebook/blogland, just got back from Uganda. (Isn't it strange how I had never even heard of Uganda in any real personal sense until January, and now it seems like I know of someone coming or going every other week? It's crazy!) She sent me a picture of Asher and a quick update: "Asher was awesome. He is so handsome; pictures do not do him justice. He was very outgoing, friendly and curious. He really liked my husband Rich and his camera; he even took a picture of Rich." Melissa promised to send more pictures as soon as her husband got them uploaded, but she did send one from her camera. So, here it is...the latest picture of our little guy. I think Melissa is right: Asher sure is handsome!

I will hopefully be posting some more pictures from Melissa as well as some pictures of the Doyle and the Keck kids handing off more gifts for Judah and Asher. Stay tuned! I would also like to thank you all for following our journey and for your words of encouragement. They have brought us so much comfort. Keep 'em coming!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

News from Auntie Emily

For the past few days I have been "changing gears." Danny and I had been expending so much energy into getting ready to leave that there was little room for anything else. We were getting shots, making arrangements for the kids, figuring out what we needed to pack, making copies, mailing papers, etc. We were caught up in the "What if?" and the "How about?" phase of traveling and bringing home our little guy. But, all of that planning was for naught, at least for the next six weeks.

Therefore, I am changing gears! With all of that planning behind me, I have had more time to actually miss our Asher. I have found myself looking at pictures and reading notes that volunteers have sent us in an effort to feel close to him. And then today I received this sweet word from Auntie Emily. Her timing is perfect! Here it is:

Asher is in LOVE with his picture book... like completely obsessed! Every day he says, "Auntie Emily, I want to show you my book!" And if it is during preschool, he will wait patiently until free time and then run to the office to get it! He has shown all the aunties, and the mommas, and pretty much everyone he comes in contact with! He knows all his brothers' and sister's names, and the other day he drew a dog in pre-school and said it was Belle. He is so excited to go to America and can't wait to meet you!

These words were music to my soul! He knows our names! He is longing to come home as much as we are longing to have him home! Thank you, Jesus, for preparing ALL of our hearts. Your timing truly is perfect!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

God is Good, All the Time...

...All the time, God is good!

As many of you know, we have been praying fervently for our affidavits to get to Uganda in time so that we could get a court date before the judges went on session break. When we mailed our papers, we were guaranteed that they would arrive by 6:00 p.m. on Monday night. Since that time, our whole family has been on pins and needles waiting to hear if we got the court date.

Well, I tracked the affidavits as soon as I got back in town from visiting Danny's family and was stunned to see that the package was never delivered. Every party involved has an explanation as to what happened, but the end result is the same: no affidavits, no court date. This means that we have to wait another month until the judges come back to work before we can get a court date or make plans to travel. While my flesh is crying out over these turn of events, my spirit is resting in the truth that God is always good, His plans are always good, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. It does not matter who is at fault because just as in the case of Joseph, "God intended it for good to accomplish what now is being done" (Gen. 50:20). I may not be able to see what good is coming from these circumstances, but that is okay because my God is good all the time, and I choose to put my trust in Him.

So, today I want to praise God for answering our prayers about the court date; I want to praise God for loving us and for never leaving us; I want to praise God for giving us His Spirit; I want to praise God for giving us Asher; I want to praise God for the work that is being done at Amani; I want to praise God for giving us such a special faith family; I want to praise God for His mercies that are new each morning; the list could go on and on! God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for
those who fear you.
Psalm 31:19

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taste and See That the Lord is Good!

Well, as soon as I said that we couldn't get our affidavits in time to get a court date before the judges go on break, God stepped in and proved me wrong! Mary called this morning to say that the affidavits had been emailed to me and that if I could get them to Uganda by the first of the week, there was still a chance that we could be assigned a date before the session break. I high-tailed it down to the Fed-Ex store, and the papers are guaranteed to arrive by Monday at 6:00 p.m. That gives us ONE WHOLE DAY for the judge to assign us a court date... a long shot, but a shot nonetheless!

This is our prayer: that the "Wind of God" (a phrase from my dear friend with whom I prayed yesterday) would blow through the courthouse and that God Himself would cause the judge to give us a court date before he leaves. We boldly go before the Father with this petition, knowing that our final plea is that His will be done for His glory alone. I am resting in the assurance that God is enough and that He is the Author and Finisher of our journey to Asher.

Right now I am just tasting and seeing that the Lord is good! Praise Him for His love, grace, and faithfulness to His children!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It is Enough

Other than a few pictures, I have not posted in a while. There has been so much stirring in my spirit and so many hopes welling in my heart that I just could not put it all into words. It appears that God in His sovereignty has not given us a court date before the break. Even if we get papers tomorrow, we will not be able to get them back to Uganda before the court dismisses for a month. This news makes me feel a little like Elijah who saw God rain down fire from heaven and then ran and hid in fear of Jezebel. We often wonder how Elijah could so quickly forget where his strength and refuge really came from. Well, now I know...I guess you could say that I too had forgotten who was orchestrating this whole story.

But today changed all of that. I was able to meet with two dear ladies to pray for Asher and the other children coming home from Uganda. It was during this time that one of the ladies reminded me that the Wind of God could move through the courthouse and law offices and with a blink of an eye have the papers done. She reminded me that God in His sovereignty could change the hearts and minds of men at His pleasure. He is, after all, the God of Moses and David and Elijah! She continued to pray that I would sacrifice these desires of my flesh and yield them to God in an act of worship and praise. With boldness she prayed that the Wind of God would move in Uganda, but that ultimately God would do whatever would glorify Himself the most.

By the end of our prayer time, God had regenerated my spirit so much that I was able to stand up to my "Jezebels" and to walk boldly in the sovereignty of God. Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers!

So, while we still do not have the affidavits from the lawyer nor a court date, we have confidence that we are walking in God's will and that He is totally in control of all that is happening both in Uganda and at home. And that is enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Notes on Sweet Asher

I received this email from a former Amani volunteer named Rachel. She and her best friend Arielle worked there in November 2007, just after Asher came to the orphanage. Here are her words on Asher:

Asher was not in preschool when Arielle and I first began teaching at Amani. He was still one of the younger ones and spent the mornings playing with his nannies, blocks, books, etc. When Arielle and I began teaching, we decided to pull Asher up into school since he seemed ready. He was SO PROUD to be going to school each morning. He was a really good listener and was so eager to please us. He especially enjoyed playing color and shape BINGO and delighted in winning a sticker when he won. He loved to put the sticker on his forehead. He always said, “Auntie, you see?” and pointed to his sticker. While many of the children had potty accidents during school, Asher was really good at telling us when he had to go! Asher loved doing crafts and liked when we did a craft with glue. I remember a specific day when Asher smeared glue all over his papers. He liked the texture! Sometimes we would read books to the kids and then ask them questions about the story. I remember reading one story about a puppy and asking the children what they would name a new puppy. Someone said Blue and when we asked Asher, he must have liked that idea because he said “Blue” also.

Asher LOVED to play with people's cameras and thought it was so cool to see himself on the digital screen. He liked to have his picture taken, but would often come up with funny pictures because he insisted on saying “cheeeeeeeeeeese.” When he saw himself on the camera he would point and say his name, “Asherife.” He has one of those little boy kind of deep voices- soft spoken and gentle, but can also be loud and excited.

Like I said, he’s really athletic. He’s thin but has a muscular body. He is a good runner and runs all afternoon, effortlessly. He pushed his friends in the little cars that were donated to Amani and also loved to be pushed by an auntie or uncle. He, like many of the other little boys, called the wagons, “loggins.” He and one of the other little boys, Francis (his very good friend) were really good at running while pushing a tire (much like you would picture African children to do). Asher liked to ride the little “boda-bodas” down the hill with his friends in the yard and was fearless. He would also peddle the trikes so fast in the grass and was excited to master the skill of peddling. In the afternoons he also liked to make “food” out of dirt and grass. He would use a Frisbee as a plate and put all sorts of things he found in the yard on it, and would then come and present it: “Auntie, here is your chapatti.”

He was a good eater. He loved treats, like all of the children. In Uganda, they’re called “sweeties,” and Asher pronounced it “tweeties.” The most common sweetie for him to eat was usually a sucker or a hard candy (those are common in Uganda). He also liked popcorn, or as the children called it, “pon-con.” Most of the older kids' favorite food was beans and chapatti. This wasn’t a super common meal made by mama cook, but the kids seemed to always talk about it. I would ask them what they thought lunch would be that day and they’d say, “Chapatti and beans.” Asher can eat a ton of food. For Christmas, the volunteers all baked special brunch-cake treats and I remember Asher eating a ton of them!

During my second Christmas in Uganda, Arielle and I got to plan a fun afternoon for the toddlers. We went to the big market in Jinja and bought a big piece of plastic. We then covered it in dish soap and put a hose on it. It was a huge slip-n-slide. Asher was one of the last kids on it. Like I said, he doesn’t get tired easily! To get ready for Christmas, Arielle and I had the kids create Christmas cookies for Santa out of construction paper. There is a mama at Amani named Mama Santa, so the kids were soooo confused. They thought we were going to present them to her. We decided to change it to Christmas cookies for Jesus. The kids were much happier with that idea, but then expected Jesus to come pick them up!

Arielle and I also started an Amani Bible study with a really cute children’s Bible we found in Kampala. Asher loved Bible study and just like preschool, he was a great listener. We learned about Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Joseph, all the classics. During the Joshua lesson, the children got to march around the play house and the walls “plastic blocks” came tumbling down. Like you saw, Asher got to make his own dream coat out of an old market t-shirt and strips of African fabric. He thought he was so smart (in Uganda this means handsome, cute, dressed up, etc.)! He felt really smart in his shoes too; he used to wear velcro shoes with Clifford on them. He loved having a “doughG” on his shoes.

While he is a busy boy, Asher can also be very much a lap kid. He loves attention and is eager for affection. He gives hugs and kisses and likes to hold hands while you’re walking. He would say he wanted to give auntie a “Ug and Kees.” He loved taking trips to town for soda and a “tweetie.” When it wasn’t his turn he would sometimes get sad and try really hard to stay brave. Sometimes, though, he would be so disappointed that he didn’t get to go on an outing that day and he’d cry a little. He was always okay after we would assure him it would be his turn again soon.

He is gentle, sweet and caring. He loved his friends and his mamas and his aunties and uncles. Basically, he was a happy little boy with lots of smiles and was just nothing but sweet. He will THRIVE with his own family’s love. My heart is so full right now, having just thought about my memories of Asher--I miss him! I’m so thankful you have found him and it is truly an answer to my (and many other people who love him!) prayers.

Rachel is one of the many people for whom we are so thankful. Can't you just tell how loved these children are? I just got an email from Dee Anne Proctor that said as much: she wrote that Dan found the orphanage to be the "most organized, clean, full of love place he has ever seen when it comes to the care and well being of small children and babies." Danny and I are just so THANKFUL for the love these precious children have been given. And we are so THANKFUL to be able to be a part of what God is doing there. I cannot wait to go and see for myself what the Lord is doing! Soon...very soon!