Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Keep Those Prayers Coming!

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

I am so thankful to everyone for your prayers and petitions on behalf of our family as well as the Mayernicks. We are living the effects of those prayers every day. Even though there have been some dark moments, we have felt God's presence and power. Your prayers have helped sustain us!

There are two things for which we ask you to pray specifically. First, we are planning on going into Kampala in the hopes of meeting the Minister of Gender, a necessary step in procuring Asher's passport. However, in order to do this, we must first have our court order signed and registered. As of now (5:00 p.m. on Wednesday), this has not happened. Please pray that by the time we get there tomorrow, the order has been registered and we are able to meet with the Minister. Otherwise, we will just come home and try again another time. Either way, it is important for Suzanne to meet with the Minister before she comes home on Friday.

The other prayer request involves my sweet, sweet Danny. Because of several things that are going on here, we are beginning to consider whether or not Danny should fly to Uganda next week to help me with Asher. For those of you who have been through this process (and many of you have been such an encouragement to us!), you know how hard this time can be...especially in a hotel room! We are still trying to work out the logistics of children, work, and finances, and we are not sure that we can make it "work." Just the thought, though, has been a huge comfort to me today. Please pray for direction and that God will work out all the details.

Again, I am so encouraged by all of your emails and comments. God has chosen to meet the needs of His children through the work of His children, and this has been so evident in my case. You all have been a huge blessing to me. I am so thankful for you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Got Our Verbal Ruling!

We spent fourteen hours on our trip to Kampala yesterday, but the good news is that we received a positive verbal ruling. Thank you, Jesus! Essentially, Asher is now our little boy. We have legal custody. However, we are still waiting on a written ruling before we can proceed further, and that can take several days to a few weeks--no one knows for sure. After we receive the written ruling, we must then wait on a letter from the Consular (I think that is his title?), Asher's passport, and lastly, Asher's visa. All of this can take two weeks to a month. While I am thankful for the positive ruling, I grow weary at the thought of staying several more weeks by myself. Lord, allow me to live in Your strength today...fill me with Your unconditional love...I cannot do it on my own.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fellowship of the Ring

Well, it has begun…the Fellowship of the Ring is breaking. First, Mike flew home to take care of his children in Nashville; now Mark and Carly are headed to Nairobi to visit some friends who are missionaries there; Suzanne has moved to Katie’s house to take of Josie; and Renee and I are still at the Gately. On Wednesday Suzanne and Renee will fly home as well, leaving me here to tie up loose ends. When I think on these events, I wonder, “Where is my Samwise Gamgee?” And then I hear Him gently and lovingly remind me, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I love The Lord of the Rings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another Funny (Sad?) Story

Asher and I spent the day in town with Mark, Suzanne, and Renee. We trekked through the back streets looking for a shop with soccer jerseys and finally found it. Andrew, you will love it! We then headed to Ozzie's for lunch. Asher had his first grilled ham and cheese. While he really enjoyed it, he says his favorite is still pizza. That's very good for him because we eat quite a bit of Roma's and Nashville Pizza Company at home!

After our little outing, we decided to settle down and watch Monsters, Inc. in the hotel room. When it was time for Asher to go back to Amani, I told him to finish up what he was doing and that we would leave when he completed the puzzle. Of course, it was taking him a very long time to finish, so I jumped in to help, only to find the letter A missing. I told Asher not to worry about, that I would find it later, and off we went. When I was getting ready for bed that night, I found the puzzle piece hidden in my shoe. Asher had put it there hoping that he would not have to go back if we didn't finish the puzzle. Like so much of this trip, part of me wanted to laugh while the other part wanted to cry.

We go to court on Monday at 2:00 p.m., 6:00 a.m. for you Nashville folks. Please pray for this court date to go well and for a verbal and written ruling, the cry of our hearts, but first and foremost that God's will be done.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed and/or loved on my family. Hugs and kissses!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Comedy of Errors

This trip so far has been comprised of two actions: laughing and crying! Today I am focusing on the laughing.

Asher is very inquisitive as he is seeing and doing so many things for the first time. He loves to go through my luggage and bags and just look at all the goodies. He is particularly interested in my makeup bag. Yesterday Asher said he needed to go to bathroom, and he was gone for quite a while, so I went to check on him. I found him “playing” with my razor. Needless to say, he cut his finger and had no idea how. We were able to make it all better, though, with a camouflage band aid (or “plaster” in Uganda). He was very proud of his new look!

When it was time to leave, I couldn’t find the key to my room. Knowing that Asher likes to pick up, I asked him if he knew where it was. He immediately went to the suitcase, opened it up, unzipped an inside pocket, unwrapped some tissue, and pulled out the key. This kid is good!

Another running joke is my total lack of preparation. I think I may be the only person who has ever traveled to Africa without bug spray or sunscreen, and I am constantly borrowing these items from my traveling companions. (Really…you wonder how Danny even lets me out of the house!) I joke that I may have forgotten some of the essentials, but I sure did bring a fancy backpack! For those of you who know me, you know this is true. It’s all in the look!

Asher and I are still in the bonding process. I taught him how to play Go Fish and Old Maid. He enjoys the quality one-on-one time, but quickly tires from the concentration and starts running around. He has already learned many “American” terms and is trying so hard to please. He loves Aunty Renee, Aunty Suzanne, and Aunty Carly. I am trying to get Renee to quit spoiling him with suckers and gum, but she is relentless! As you can imagine, going next door to Aunty Renee’s room is one of his favorite activities. I’m trying hard not to get my feelings hurt!

I am still so thankful for Renee and Suzanne and their words of encouragement. The whole process is more difficult than I imagined, mainly because I miss Danny and need him here with me. It just feels a little incomplete without him. For those families coming after me, I highly recommend that both parents come for at least part of the time. I know, however, that God is providing in the presence of Renee, Mike, Suzanne, and Mark, and He is faithful to meet all of our needs in Christ Jesus.

I am off to the Market this morning and then to pick up Asher for lunch. Blessings to all of you who are reading this post. May God reveal Himself to you as He is revealing Himself to those of us who are in Uganda. Love you and miss you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Difference a Week Can Make

Last night Mark and Carly Button flew into Jinja for a week and joined Mike, Suzanne, Renee, and me for dinner. As we sat around a table clothed in white with music quietly playing in the background, I thought to myself what a difference a week can make. It was one week ago that we arrived in Jinja filled with hope and anticipation. It was four days ago that the world as we knew it was rocked to the core. And yet, here we were, with dear friends feeling the presence and encouragement of the Lord and ready to face for what lay ahead of us. What a difference a week can make.

I thought you all might enjoy some more pictures taken one week after we arrived (still can't upload them...please check facebook). These pictures were taken Saturday morning here (around 2:00 a.m. in Nashville.) As I look at these pictures, an amazing truth hits me. The only difference between me and these orphans, "the least of these," is this: God saw fit to have me be born in America to parents who would love me and raise me in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and He ordained these to be born here. It could just as easily have been the other way around. I could be the little boy with wet pants running around the grounds at Amani. I could be the little girl reaching up with both of her hands and saying, "Hold me." Neither of us did anything to earn or deserve where we born: it is the sovereignty of God and nothing else. And then I have to ask myself: Why then did God allow me to be born where I was? And what I am going to do about it?

This week has forced me to look at the world and my responsibility differently. Part of me can't wait to get home to some "normalcy." However, I now what a selfish desire that is. The need here (and around the world) is so real. These children do not go away when I go home. God is calling His people, His church, His bride, to love them and serve them. I am amazed when I look at Katie Davis who, at twenty one years old, chooses to live the the brokenness. She would rather be here than going to college or being in a sorority, and I have to confess that I am not there. After a while, I want to look away. God, please forgive me for my selfish heart.

Still, it was another good day with Asher. After breakfast (fresh fruit, banana pancakes, and coffee...yummy!) the whole gang walked across the street to Amani and played with the kids. When it was time for their lunch, the rest of the group headed to Katie's to help feed the children of Amazima while I decided to stay back so that I could spend more time with Asher when he got up from his rest. This break gave me several hours to catch up on email, facebook, etc. It was a wonderful time of refreshment: I sat on one of the porches with a Diet Coke (I love this new hotel!) and used the wireless internet for at least an hour. I even had time to take a little nap. When it was time for Asher to get up, I walked across the street and brought Asher back to the hotel with me. We sat outside and colored and played with stickers. For a little extra treat, I got him an ice cream sundae. He loved it! When it was time for him to go back for dinner, I walked him back across the street, and he ran straight in and started playing with his friends. Our routine is certainly getting easier!

The joy of spending time with Asher is always mixed with great mourning for the Mayernicks. I am still amazed at how they have honored God through this whole process. I am glad that Mark is here so that he can now pour into Mike just as Mike has poured into us ladies. Again, it is another testimony of God's provision. Part of that provision is you all back home who have been so encouraging. It helps me feel connected and now isolated. I am so thankful for you!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Good Day

We picked up Asher after breakfast this morning and headed into town. Renee stopped at a small coffee shop called Flavors to try and catch up on correspondence while Asher and I walked around the main street. Every time we stopped at a store front, Asher asked if we could buy Mac, Owen, or Sylvie a gift: “I want to buy Mac that toothbrush” or “I want to take that dress to Sylvie.” It was so cute! (Don’t worry, kids…we did get each of you a little something!)

After our outing, Asher and I headed back to the room. We colored for a little while, worked on a puzzle, and basically just spent quality time together. After a while, we curled up on the bed, stacked all the pillows, and began to watch Aladdin on the computer. I was so tired that I dozed off and on. It was a fun and relaxing time.

Let me tell you, Asher is a piece of work! He loves to organize and straighten, a fact that thrills me! There have been several times that I have been looking for a particular cord only to find it stuffed in a shoe or in my make-up bag. One time I knew that I had packed him a granola bar, but I couldn’t find it. Asher told me he had put it in the puzzle box so it would not get lost. Hilarious! Another thing…he is obsessed with being clean! Every time we come into the room, he asks to brush his teeth or take a bath. I love it! Today he told me he was going to the bathroom, and he came out with wet shoes where he had washed them in the sink. He’s going to fit right in at the Keck house!

There are also several American “customs” that I am trying to teach Asher, and he has been quick to pick up on them. He loves to show off how he can hold a fork the “American” way or how he is learning to put a napkin in his lap. I am trying to teach him the concept of germs, but this might be a harder lesson! He loves to touch and interact with everything, thus my missing telephone cord and power bar. This “Don’t touch that; it can have gems” is a hard lesson for him to learn and one that Renee thinks I should just give up trying to teach at this time. We’ll see how he does over the next few weeks. The major learning curve, though, is Asher’s desire to run off. At Amani the kids are free to walk around and play because the grounds are secure; therefore, Asher is free to go to the bathroom or to go outside and play. As a result, there have many times that he just wanders off without making a sound. This is definitely something I am going to have to work on!

All in all, we are adjusting to our new life quite well. I am so thankful for Auntie Renee, Auntie Suzanne, and Uncle Mike. None of us anticipated all that this trip was going to unfold, but prayerfully God is using it all to refine us. I have seen Jesus in Mike and Suzanne as they have humbly followed where God has led them. Please continue to pray for little Josie’s healing, for God to continue to anoint Mike and Suzanne with discernment, strength, and peace, and for our court date on Sept. 28. It would be wonderful to get our verbal ruling then and nothing short of a miracle to get the written ruling as well. Your prayers are felt, appreciated, and very much needed. Through all of this, we just want to see Jesus lifted up for His glory and our greater good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Court Day

As many of you read the Mayernicks’ blog, you understand just what those details that I mentioned in the last blog are all about. If not, let me share with you the heartbreaking two days that we have had.

When we were in Kampala for our court date, we asked if we could go ahead and have a TB test done on Josie and Asher since there is a new U.S. law requiring this test. While we were there, the nurse decided to take blood to test for aids as well. Much to our shock, Josie tested positive. It was one of those rare moments when one’s entire world changes in the blink of an eye. I know that the Mayernicks’ world will never be the same. My heart is breaking for this dear family of God as they struggle with the decisions that they have in front of them.

As we were mourning and weeping, Asher could not help but know that something was not the same. He began to withdraw a little, and it took some time (and a “sweetie,” or sucker) for him to come “back” to me. By the time we got home and got ready for bed, however, he was back to his giggly and roly-poly self. (Side note: Asher loves to brush his teeth and organize his belongings…he will be great for Owen!)

Today we went in to town and looked around. We visited with Auntie Katie and even hooked back up with Mike and Suzanne at the Source CafĂ© for a little while. When we went to visit Amani, we decided it was best that Asher stay at Amani until we “passed” court. Leaving him there was one of the hardest things I have ever done. He would not look at me, he pulled his shirt over his face to hide the tears, and began rocking. Compare that mental picture with the pictures I posted on facebook. I know that if there is a chance that this process will take longer than expected and I have to go home without him, it is the best thing for him to stay at Amani. However, it doesn’t make it any easier. It hurts to the deepest parts of my heart.

I could never have foreseen how painful this process could be, nor could I have foreseen how much I could love a little boy in so short a time. Mac, Owen, and Sylvie are going to enjoy him so much. He already knows their names, and we talk about them all the time. He will say things like “I want to color with Mac” or “Where is Owen?” or “I want Sylvie to come and play with me.”

There are several prayer requests, as you can imagine. First, I ask that you continue to pray for the Mayernicks and for God to anoint them with His peace, strength, discernment, and perseverance. Pray over sweet Josie and that God would protect this little girl, “the least of these.” Pray for our TB tests to come back negative. And lastly, pray that when we go to court on September 28 that we receive our verbal and written ruling. To quote dear Barbie Doyle, pray that the Wind of God would blow through that courtroom in a mighty and powerful way like only God, the Author and Finisher of all things, can do.

I know I have not been able to respond to emails, facebook, and the blog as much I would like, but it is hard to find a place with Internet and when I do, it is not always working. Please know that your comments are precious to me. Keep them coming!

We Will Overcome

I am sorry that it has been so long since I blogged, but the last two days have been so busy that I have not had time. We woke up Sunday and a whole group of us went to church:—Katie and her kids, Suzanne and Mike with Josie, Renee, the Amani volunteers, and Asher and I. The service was amazing: white people and black people, Ugandans and Americans and Australians, young and old are worshipping together. I thought to myself that this is what Heaven will look like one day. As we sang a song titled “We Shall Overcome,” I looked at Asher standing beside me who would not take off his backpack because it was the first thing he had ever owned and then I looked at Josie who was crying incessantly because she was not feeling well. Tears came to my eyes as we sang, “We shall overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.” It is so true: these children WILL overcome! These precious children who have suffered more than I can even fathom will overcome because of God’s love for them. We have such a long way to go, but we will overcome!

After church Asher and I went back to Amani and hung out for the rest of the day. I was able to take some pictures of most of the kids coming back to Nashville and just see life as Asher has lived it. When it was time for me to go back to the guesthouse, Asher began to cry because he wanted to go with me. I was nervous about bringing home with me after one day, but I couldn’t bear to leave him there while he was crying for his new mommy, so I followed the advice of one of the volunteers and brought him to the guesthouse with me. It was an amazing time. We bathed him, brushed his teeth, and put on his new pajamas. He was a new boy! He laughed and giggled and cuddled me for hours. Even today in the middle of the afternoon, Asher asked if we could go home and go to bed; that is how much fun we had!

Today (Monday here) was our court date. There is much I want to share, but suffice it all to say that our court date was postponed for two weeks. I still am not sure if that means we start the whole process over in two weeks or if we should have our ruling in two weeks. What that does mean is that I am here for a longer time than originally hoped for. Please pray for me as well as my family back home as we try to manage the logistics.

Again, there is more to share, but I will save it for another post. We need your prayers. We are all so thankful for you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gotcha Day!

Well, we all made it to Uganda, but not without a few bumps in the road. And while I want to share with everyone what the Mayernicks, Renee, Curry, and I have experienced since we landed, I just don’t think I can put it into words. The emotions are just too big. Therefore, I think I will simply recount the events. It will take much longer for me to actually process the whole journey. I can say this, though, with certainty: my God is a very big God!

First of all, we could not drive to Jinja when we landed because of some rioting that was taking place in Kampala, the capital city through we had to travel to get to our destination. Therefore, we stayed at a hotel in Entebbe. While I know it is a small thing, I found a gecko, frog, and roach in the shower as I entered the room. It was at this point that I knew that we weren’t in Kansas any longer.

We arrived at Amani early the next morning. Asher had not been told that I was coming, so my walking in was quite a shock to him. Still, he came up and immediately hugged me and wouldn’t let me let him go. Without even making eye contact, Asher said, “I want to go home now.” My first response was “With me?” and he said, “Yes.” Again…there are no words.

From that moment on, Asher would not leave me and we began the bonding process. We played at Amani for a little bit (tried to break out some crayons and paper, but it became a little chaotic!). We then made a quick drive into the town of Jinja where we exchanged some money. On the way back, Asher and I got to take a boda (motorcycle) ride where he sat in front and I sat side-saddled in a skirt. I must say, it was quite a sight.

After our short trip to town, we all went to Katie’s to help her feed the children of Amazima. Let me first confess that I was in no way ready for what lay in front of me. I have traveled to Europe several times and I even spent a summer in Hong Kong as a missionary, so I thought that I was ready to make this trip without Danny and all on my own. I thought of myself as a rather resilient person with fortitude and strength of mind. I was wrong.

I now know what fortitude looks like, though. It looks like a young boy—perhaps seven or eight—walking by himself to town at 5:00 in the morning to get enough water to last his family through the day. It looks like a boy desperate for food but infected with small pox begging to come in and being told “no.” It looks like 300 children standing patiently in line for the only meal they will receive that day, then bowing and saying, “Thank you, Auntie.” I thought fortitude was staying up late to finish your homework or finishing a hard football practice. I never knew…

I am overwhelmed by everything that I have seen and experienced in a 24-hour period. I am broken by the poverty and great need, yet I am overjoyed with meeting Asher and how quickly he has taken to me. My emotions have run the gamut today, but I am so thankful for God and His presence and protection. Thank you for your prayers. Keep ‘em coming!
I love you all!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Halfway There!

Well, I am sitting in the Amsterdam airport (I love tulips!) waiting for my connection to Entebbe, Uganda. We have just received news that there has been some rioting in Kampala (where we are headed), and so we have been advised to spend the night in Entebbe to avoid traveling at night. Normally, I would be worried about this, but instead, I am just so excited to get to Asher! Nothing is robbing me of my joy today (or tonight...who knows?). I know that God has been before these events, that He is in the midst of these events, and that He is my Fortress. I will rest in that today.

Yesterday was a different story, though. As Danny dropped me off at the airport, I wept like a little child. I am not even sure why, but I think it had to do with experiencing this journey without him. It made me realize that I depend upon him a lot more than I thought I did. Today is Danny's birthday as well. If you read this and you see Danny, give him a kiss (he'll love it!) and tell him Happy Birthday for me. I miss him terribly.

All that aside, I am one day away from running to Asher and picking him up in my arms and saying, "I love you, son!" Nothing can rob me of that will be a little glimpse of heaven on earth...and it's one day away!

Love to all!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Team Asher

Posted on our refrigerator is a family schedule noting where all my children should be at any given time while I am gone. I have jokingly titled it "Schedule for Team Asher." However, the reality of this journey is that it has been a team effort. As I look back on all that has taken place, I recognize that this journey has been more of a relay where the baton has been handed off to the next person as he/she fulfills God's role in this crazy, but amazing, process.

The whole journey/race began with Katie Davis and her testimony of how God is working in and through her to serve His children in Uganda. Katie quickly handed the baton to a dear saint named Erin Littleton who lovingly showed both Danny and me as well as the Doyles how to navigate this whole adoption process. Through her the baton was then handed to Mary at Amani who has patiently walked the rest of the way with us. If it were not for these ladies, I can honestly say that the Doyles and the Kecks would not be bringing home their boys. God has used these women in a mighty and powerful way.

However, the journey/race would never have been completed without our amazing friends at home. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging. It's as though adopting a child from Uganda is as normal as going to work in the morning. I do not think that this would be the case everywhere...but it is in our community, and I am so thankful for that!

The baton has continued to be passed from small group members to teacher friends to students and their parents. Even as I type, parents are willing to carry the baton to help with meals and with taking care of my children (and even the dog!). Most important of all, however, are the prayers that are being lifted up for safe travel, protection from sickness, and our bonding with Asher.

So when I look at the fridge and see the agenda titled "Schedule for Team Asher," I am reminded that God has surrounded us with amazing friends and family who have not only supported us, but who have also carried us. I may be the one who gets to bring Asher across the "finish line," but I will never forget the team who made it all possible. Thank you, dear friends!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Soaps and Shirts

We recently received two more sweet gifts for Asher. First, our dear friend Tara gave us a bag of soaps to give as gifts when we are in Uganda. Each soap says, "We love your heart for orphans." Tara has her own business and makes all different kinds of soaps. If you are interested, click here. I am so thankful for Tara and for her friendship.

The second gift we received was the most precious t-shirt from Rebekah. She and her husband are also in the process of adopting, and we have followed each other's journey through blogs and emails. She also has her own business. To view her etsy shop and help support her adoption, click here. Again, I am so thankful for Rebekah and the encouragement she has been to me through this whole journey.

As the time for me to leave draws near, I am so thankful for these friends and so many other dear sisters in Christ who have given their love, support, and encouragement. As I leave my family for a month, I realize that I could not do it without them. My heart is so humbled, and I praise God for His provision both at home and in Uganda. I know I have said this before, but my heart is just so full! Many, many thanks to you all!