Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your vote can make a difference!


If everyone who has been on a Visiting Orphans trip or knows someone who has would be willing to vote - Visiting Orphans could be awarded a $50K grant. In order for us to get this grant, you don't have to donate, you don't even have to register (although if you do, you get more votes), you just have to vote. It'll only take a moment but it can have an eternal impact: http://www.givingoflife.com/browse/visiting_orphans/

There are millions of orphans in this world... ALL over the world. We are only in 13 countries. Can you imagine the lives of orphans we can touch if we could reach more countries? With your vote, we can do this! If you register you get 3 votes to use right away...

Please vote for Visiting Orphans today on the Giving of Life website!
Thank you so much!!!



Visiting Orphans is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation; Tax ID # 20-3179796 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One person can change the world

One person can change the world for at least one person.

My Great Aunt Dot passed away while I was in India and I found out when I got home. She lived in California and I first met her when I was in middle school and she and my Great Uncle Hank came to Michigan to visit family. In 11th grade, my cousin Heather and I got on an airplane (my first ever flight) and flew to California to visit my Grandma & Grandpa Kerr and Aunt Dot & Uncle Hank who lived nearby. Aunt Dot was a spunky woman - very smart in business and very proper. I'll never forget the night we got back from Disney Land and went out to eat and I was tired and put my head down on the table at the restaurant and she scolded me and told me it was not acceptable to do so nor to have my elbows on the table. I hated being scolded and wanted to cry right then and there but I held it in and sat up straight and removed my head and arms from the table. Aunt Dot intimidated me but I also respected her and admired her. I loved her straightforwardness and admired how she also spoke her mind. She was a strong woman. Towards the end of the trip she pulled me aside and asked me about my future plans. I told her that I wanted to go to college and she told me that her and Uncle Hank would gladly help me pay for it. She said that she knew my parents couldn't afford to send me and she believed I had a bright future and didn't want me to not be able to go because of money. She told me to work hard and do well in school and when the time came, to give her a call and she would help me. I was honored with such an offer. I didn't quite know what to say but I can tell you what a difference in makes in a life to know someone you respect believes in you and sees a bright future in you. It motivated me even more to do well.

My first two years of college, I was determined that I could pay for it myself. Even though she offered, I felt awkward asking. So I worked a job waitressing and paid for the first two years of community college myself, along with some great grant money that helped with tuition. When I got to my 3rd and 4th year at a different, way more expensive school - I realized about 2 months into it that I wouldn't be able to swing the cost myself and I had to swallow my pride and call Aunt Dot. It was one of the most humbling, hardest things I've ever had to do. She didn't hesitate. She asked me to send her a document of how much everything cost, how often payments were due and how much housing was and she then got back to me with how much they were willing to help with. I told her I was going to try and pay for as much of it as I could too and I also had a lot of financial aid which was a huge help. With her help, I graduated with a bachelor degree from a private art school and only had to take out $7000 in loans. What a blessing. I made sure to write thank you cards as often as possible and I felt like I couldn't quite say enough how much I appreciated their help.

After college, I went out to California for a week to visit while my Grandma Kerr was out there staying with Aunt Dot and Uncle Hank. It was a sweet time with them and I'm so glad that I went. To be able to go and thank her and Uncle Hank in person is something I would have regretted had I not gone. Now both her and my Uncle Hank have left this earth. And yet, the impact of their help and not just the financial aspect of it - but just the confidence it gave me early on to know they were willing to help - lives on. When I graduated college, I called and asked about paying them back. I was fully prepared to pay every penny back and wanted to talk about a payment plan. Instead, Aunt Dot told me that her and Uncle Hank didn't want me to pay them back - they wanted me to help someone else someday and that would be payment enough. WOW! I was blown away and if I recall correctly, I started crying and saying of course, I would gladly help someone else.

So here I am, 13 years after college and a little over a week after my dear Aunt Dot has passed away and I'm thinking about all the people who have changed my life. I'm reading two books right now - The Blessing and True Religion. I feel like I received a huge blessing from Aunt Dot - in the words that said "you have a bright future and we will gladly help you. We believe in you." In True Religion it talks about changing the world for one. You start with one and there's no telling the impact. I truly hope that I can not only change the world for one but for many. I think about the kids I've sponsored through Compassion and this little boy that I'm praying that I get to adopt - it's not a stretch for me to help others. It's who I am and what I love to do. Maybe a huge part of why is because of what Aunt Dot showed me by helping me. Give your life, your money, your talents and your resources away and it will not return void. The Lord will honor your gifts. And there's no better feeling in the world than knowing you partnered with Jesus to help somebody else. I have no doubt that Aunt Dot felt that same joy in helping me and I am truly thankful. She was truly an amazing woman and I'm sad that she's gone but at the same time, I rejoice because she is now with Jesus and her body is no longer plagued with cancer or pain. She's free and I picture her dancing with Jesus. And I hope that no matter what I do in this life, I live it in a way that would have made her proud of me and glad to have invested into my life.

You never know what kind of difference you can make in someone's life by the words that you speak or the finances or help that you give. We can all change the world for one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What a last day!

I am now back on US soil, sitting in the Newark airport waiting for my flight to Nashville in a few hours. We left Delhi, India at almost 11pm at night and our flight was about 15 hours. I watched "Water for Elephants" and then went to sleep and honestly slept almost the entire way. Not straight through but kept falling back to sleep. I woke up and realized we only had 3.5 hours to go. Sweet!!! I love nighttime international flights.
Yesterday was our last day in India and we ended it with some amazing home visits. God showed up and it was quite an experience. We had gotten up and took our time getting ready, then Ananthi took us shopping. (I got some awesome stuff to add to my international store page on my blog by the way. I will get busy adding those things this weekend.) After that, we had another yummy Indian lunch with her and a few others. Then we went back to the flat to pack for an hour before going to the slums of New Delhi to visit the home of a young girl who had been having major breathing attacks off and on for a few weeks. The doctors cannot figure out what it is and it seemed to go away so they sent her home. We went to pray for her and one of our translators from another part of India said he felt called to pray in his native language which none of us nor the people we were praying for would understand. There are many languages in different states in India so the people in Delhi didn't know his native language. He started praying and I was next to the girl with my hand on her back praying and she starts having a full on breathing attack. It was honestly like nothing I've ever seen. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she was breathing so heavy - kind of reminded me of how people describe a panic attack but also with her back arching and eyes rolling back - it really seemed like something spiritual was really going on. Come to find out, the girl only has had these attacks when she goes to school or church. Coincidence? I think not! Her whole family have recently come to know the Lord and we all felt strongly that this was a spiritual attack on this girl. When Prabbat started praying in his language is when it really started happening. Come to find out later - he was asking the evil to show itself and boy, did it. I've heard about these kinds of things but I've not seen it. And I was literally holding onto the girl on one side with the rest of the team, the girls family and some teachers from the school all laying hands on her and just praying. As things got more intense and her breathing was getting really scary, we just kept on taking authority in Jesus name. It was a serious spiritual battle for this young girl and I can't even really fully describe it with words. All I know is that something evil was terrorizing this sweet young girl and we were battling it with prayer and the name of Jesus. At one point, most of us backed up to give her some air cause it was really hot in there and a small room and we wanted her to have some air. She was still very scared and panicked. Abner started singing Hallelujah our God Reigns Forever All my Days. He just held her hand and kept praying. One of the teachers then moved over to her and got the young girl to say the words Hallelujah several times and that was helping to calm her breathing. She then got her to say Jesus and continued to pray with her. She got her completely calmed down and her breathing went back to normal and I'm not kidding, her eyes had a totally different look in them. Like a look of peace and relief. I am believing that she was healed of these attacks right then and there in that prayer time. Our team is going to fast and pray for her for the next few Mondays. The young girls name is Neha - she's about 14 and if anyone who is reading this would like to fast and pray the next few Mondays for this sweet girl, that would be most welcomed. When we left her home, she was in good spirits and even went up onto the roof of their home in the slums with us and took some group photos and was smiling and talking to us. It was like night and day from when we had first arrived. Praise the Lord. That was THE most powerful prayer time I've ever been a part of and I feel honored to be on a small but mighty team who has full faith that God can and does heal today! So, so thankful.






We had one more house to visit when we left hers - a young high school boy whom Abner had been talking to at the school and knew we were coming. We were running very late and Ananthi was waiting for us back at the school to say goodbye. But we saw on the few home visits that we did how incredibly important it was to these families that we came. They truly seemed so honored that we would come and they were so welcoming to us. They gave us tea and cookies and invited us into their homes with such joy. We were honored to visit them. So we went to this young boys home and while we couldn't stay long because Frances and I had a flight to catch - you could tell it truly meant the world to him and his family that we came. We prayed over their family in a circle holding hands. Every home visit we went to this past week - the people so badly wanted us to pray for them. They treated us as I can imagine they would treat Jesus himself. And who are we? Nobody special. But they feel special because we would travel from afar to come and visit them. They are considered by a majority of Delhi as the lowest of the low and we don't see them that way at all. I feel like when you go and you visit what the bible calls the least of these - it makes total sense why Jesus says the least will be the greatest. We have so much to learn from these amazing people in the slums of New Delhi. So much. They are truly inspiring, loving, welcoming people. And this school - the Good Samaritan School - started only with one child and one amazing woman willing to welcome this little one in and show him love - is literally changing thousands of lives. Reading their dreams, hearing their hopes - it is because of this school and the compassion and love of this woman who was obedient when God called her to do something - that these kids have a hope and future. The Lord has his hand on this school and me and my team was truly honored to be able to spend a week+ in their midst.




What a trip! What a journey! What a God we serve!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dream Big!

Today was a cool day. Amanda and Abner performed and shared with the kids at the morning assembly at the high school with the 11th and 12th graders.

Then we had a little bit of time before teaching our first class of the day. We taught 4 classes total. I was praying this morning about what to share with these kids, high school kids. Honestly most of my time with kids has been little kids so I wasn't totally sure what to talk to them about. I knew the name art project was too basic for kids that age. This morning it came to me - a message I heard a few years ago from a great speaker from my church named Joseph Watson - it was a message that impacted me when I heard it and it seemed perfect for these kids. Basically, my version was not as good as Joseph's and it was much shorter but I shared 3 bible verses with them to start.
Ephesians 3:20
Mark 29:27
Jeremiah 29:11



I then talked about how God has put gifts and talents in each one of them and how God is big and therefore their dreams should be big. I encouraged them to not just have one dream or a small dream but to dream big and to believe God to be big enough to fulfill their dreams. I asked them to write down their name and their dreams on a piece of paper and then when they were finished, if they wanted to, they could give their papers to us and we would read their dreams and pray for them and pray for God to fulfill their dreams. Every single kid wanted to give their dreams to us. I asked them if they had ever done this before and they said no and they seemed really into it. They were so focused on writing - it was very quiet in those classes. As they were getting close to finishing their list, Abner got up and shared some of his dreams - including being able to travel the world and play music and how coming to India is a dream of him and Amanda's. He sang some songs by himself and Amanda came up and sang with him on a few also. The kids LOVED it! We prayed for them and then we headed on to the next class. It was a really sweet time with them.



Now that we're back at the flat, I'm reading this huge stack of dreams and I'm blown away and inspired. These are just a few of the things I'm finding in these papers:

"I really love my God. God has given me everything. I see poor children, who are not able to go to school and I really feel sad for them. Whenever I see those peoples then I realize how kindly the God is for me."

"I want to be a doctor. I want to help the poor children by providing them medicine and knowledge. I want to help my parents in their older age."

"I want to become a Prime Minister because I want to see corruption less in India in the future and want to help poor people."


These are high school students. Wow! I love reading their dreams. I told them that God has dreams that He put in their hearts and He has a plan for every one of them. I loved watching their eyes light up as they thought about what to write down on that paper. And I really love that they have such big dreams! So, so good!

So thankful for an opportunity to share that message with them. Tomorrow evening, Frances & I head home and Abner & Amanda head out the next morning to their next stop. It has been an amazing trip. I am so thankful that we were able to spend time at the Good Samaritan Schools - they are doing such amazing work in New Delhi. They are giving these kids the opportunity to get an education and be able to dream. The Lord has had favor on Ananthi and this school and she gives all glory to Him. She is an amazing woman. A true jewel. I am fully convinced that the father will most certainly say to this amazing woman someday "well done, good and faithful servant!" This country, these people, this amazing woman of God and these awesome, inspiring children have truly blessed our team more than we could have ever blessed them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 6 India

Today was a great day. We are all glad we got to see the Taj Mahal yesterday but I think we'd all take a day like today over a tourist day any day. We went to the elementary school this morning and broke up into 3 teams - me doing art with the kids, Frances doing stories with them and Abner & Amanda of johnnyswim doing music. Between our 3 groups, we were able to get to all 8 classrooms of adorable, precious kiddos. I made it to 3 rooms with the art project and even sang with one of the classrooms I did art with - I taught them "I Am Not Forgotten" - a song I learned from the kids in Haiti. Abner & Amanda made it to 7 of the classes and the 8th was the one I sang with so they all got some sort of music. I think Frances made it to about 5 or 6 of the classes. I was hopping back and forth between 3 classes pretty much at once because the art took so long - I would go get another class started and let them work and then come back periodically and check on them to see how they were doing. At the end, every child gave their artwork to me. All of them had written their names on it - that was the project - I talked to them about how God knows each one of their names, knows every hair on their head and loves them. They wrote their name and decorated the papers. Some made them into cards and wrote my name on it too. Some wrote scripture on it, drew flowers and crosses and wrote "Thank you for visiting" and so on. Sooooo soooooo precious. Once they gave them all to me - I told them that not only does God know their name, but I will know their names now too because I have it on those papers! After we were finished with our whirlwind teaching morning, we took the 1st grade kids outside and did two rounds of Simon Says with them. The kids at the elementary school are so much fun and so precious. In between checking on classes, I was also popping in on the other rooms where Abner & Amanda were doing their song - overwhelmingly beautiful and so precious to have all their voices singing it with hands in the air praising the Lord. It brought tears to my eyes so many times. To think of how hard life is for these kids who live in the slums and yet thanks to Good Samaritan school, they are able to get an education and have a hope for a better life. Truly awe inspiring. These kids can teach us all something about perseverance.




After we finished our lesson and game time, we headed back to the big school at Jasola where we got to spend some time with Ananthi and have tea before getting a Cricket lesson outside with the 8th grade boys PE class. Us girls decided it would be more appropriate to watch so we sat on the sidelines with the boys who were sitting this one out. Abner and a young man from Canada who is here helping the school joined the game and got schooled on how to play or at least sort of. It was scorching hot out so it was good that it wasn't a super long game before the bell rang and it was time for next period.



We have lunch after and then got to hear stories of a group of kids that started out in the toilet complex school over 10 years ago. One kid said he walked 9 miles each way back then to go to that school. Seriously these kids are inspiring. They are so dedicated to their studies and so strong. Many of them have a lot of difficulties at home and yet, they are there at school putting in the hard work to do well and rise above. We asked them what they want to be when they grow up and we heard answers like lawyer, accountant, teacher. We asked them where they would go if they could go anywhere - many said to the US, one said South Africa and another said London. We told them to dream big because we serve a big God. Frances shared that she thought they were heroes and that they were to be commended for all they've overcome and that they are role models for the younger generation. We prayed for them and they prayed for us. It was a sweet, sweet time. Amazing kids. It was an honor to sit and talk with them and hear their stories and hearts.




After an amazing day with remarkable kids, we were taken through the crazy roads to a market for souvenir shopping. It was very low key compared to other places I've been in that we weren't being shouted at or followed around by vendors wanting us to buy items. It was nice and calm and pleasant. We all got some neat items. On the way there, we even saw a guy on a pedal bike with literally two small monkey's on the back holding on to the guy. Can you even believe that? I have the picture to prove it! Now, I've seen it all:)



Got home to the flat and ordered some pizza. Getting some rest shortly because we have another full day of teaching tomorrow - this time at the high school.

Thanks for all the prayers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Tourist Day in India





The kids had school off today after their exams yesterday so we had the day off too. We went 3+ hours on a death-defying drive to the Taj Mahal. I've been a lot of places but the driving here is by far the scariest. There's the usual weaving in and out of bikes, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians but here it's often at pretty high speeds. You're heading straight for a giant motor coach at oh 50 miles an hour and none of us can see where our little minivan is going to go in this scenario and yet, the driver whips around at the last minute to a little crack next to the thing and we go on our way and all of us get our breath back. Whew. We may have needed more prayer today for that drive than any other day. But we made it safe and sound, praise the Lord.

The Taj Mahal is beautiful but not functional. It was never even used which is kind of a waste. It's designed just to be beautiful and symmetrical and that it is. The photos almost look fake. It was so bright and sunny today and scorching hot. Thank God for shaded areas. We were sweating horribly! So if we look shiny in the pics, that's why. So glad we went and now I can say I've seen two world wonders (the other was the Great Wall of China) but I'm cool with just going once.

Afterwards, our guide had to take us on his usual stop off to this place that makes marble carvings and try to sell us stuff. Kind of reminded me of a time share pitch that you sort of have to do when you get sweet hotel deals on vacation. We sat through a short video and were shown to a gorgeous showroom. Very expensive stuff. And we were all ready for lunch and not very interested. Nevertheless, it was good to see and two small items were bought by my team members. Nothing for me - I have a little boy to bring home so no extra spending or gifts for anyone. Sorry y'all!

We found a McDonalds nearby and were so excited but it's India so they didn't have burgers. But they did have fries. Not as good as home but it was nice to be able to eat on the go and get headed back. I don't know how with all the weaving in and out but I fell asleep off and on for almost the whole way. In fact, I'm pretty sure we all did which made it a much shorter drive.

We got back to the flat about 5:45 and ordered takeout and have just been chilling for the evening.

Tomorrow we get to go back to the first school we visited and go from class to class teaching the kids music, a story and artwork to go along with the message that we did yesterday at the other school - that God created each one of them, they are special and He knows their names and loves them. Very excited to go back to this school tomorrow. Precious, precious kids. This is the elementary aged kids.

Please keep praying for us. We have 3 days in a row of teaching the kids and this is the main purpose of our trip - to teach them about God's love for them!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 4 India

‎6pm here in India and we had a GREAT day. We visited a different Good Samaritan School about 45 minutes away. It was small but the kids were so precious!!! Abner and Amanda did music with the kids including having them sing along to their AWESOME new song. Frances read them a great story called "You are Special" by Max Lucado which went along perfect with the art work I had them do. I told them they are each special, loved and important and God knows every single one of their names and all the hairs on their head. They each decorated a page with their name and art on the page. At the end, they were so excited to give their art to me. I told them how great they did and how now, not only does God know all their naames - but so do I!
After that, we came back to the big school in Jasola and got to take part in PE class with the 7th and 8th grade girls. The teacher mostly led but in the second class, Abner got to lead the girls in Simon says. It was so fun!
After that we had a yummy Indian food lunch. We then got to pray for all the teachers and Abner & Amanda shared two songs with them. That was a sweet time. We encouraged them and prayed for them and thanked them for the important work they are doing. We went to exchange money after that and then came back to the flat. We're having yummy leftovers from last night Indian takeout for dinner tonight shortly. And then we'll try to go to bed early. The kids had exams today so Ananthi decided to switch our tourist day so the kids could have tomorrow off school. So tomorrow we are going to the Taj Mahal instead of Wednesday. Fun, fun. I'll get to see another wonder of the world.
Wed through Fri we will be working with all the other grades and kids at the big school and the first school we went to.

Thanks for praying!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

photos from India









Sunday in India

This morning, we got to sleep a bit later than we had the past few days which was nice. After breakfast, we headed to church at one of the Good Samaritan schools. We got to worship with the people and then Abner gave the message. He did a great job! After the service, Ananthi announced that we would individually pray for people if they wanted - told them to come over to us if they did and asked some of the students to translate. A lot of people took us up on that and asked for prayer. I think each one of us probably prayed for at least 8-10 people. I prayed for a lot of people with pain and health issues and several for provision for jobs. Several of the kids came up after and asked me and a few of our other team members to pray for their exams. They so value their studies - it is so obvious by how proud they are to show us their work and how much they ask for prayer for exams and to do well in their studies. After prayer, we had tea and hung out with the people and they we helped clean up. Ananthi wanted to teach them not to throw their trash everywhere so she asked if we would be willing to help clean up so we could be an example to them and get them to help us. OF COURSE we would be more than happy to do that. And it worked like a charm - the entire school was out there picking up trash, sweeping and I even got to show a few of the kids how to mow the lawn. It's one of those old school hand push non-powered mowers. Fun! Afterwards, Ananthi took us to a fancy hotel downtown to a really yummy Chinese restaurant. Of course, you can't come to India and not have Chinese. ha ha Abner has been saying that they do have great Chinese food here though and he was right. It was SO good. The hotel let us a use one of their conference rooms - Abner talked them into doing it as a "favor" and not charging us. Sweet. We got some video of Ananthi telling her story and some stories of specific kids she's helped. What an amazing woman - the Lord is using her in such mighty ways. And she has such joy in her eyes. I rarely ever see her not smiling. She is a precious, precious woman. When we got back to the flat, we did a rooftop photo shoot with Abner and Amanda - my team members of the fabulous duo johnnyswim. They were so kind to model our Visiting Orphans t-shirts. We will now have some seriously high fashion photos of them. The fabulous Sarin, also on our team for these first few days to shoot video and photos - took the photos. Amazing. Can't wait for y'all to see them. Now we are chilling at the flat and getting ready for our big week. We'll be teaching bible stories, doing art with it and sharing music with the kids all week. Each day, we work with several different classes. With over 2000 kids total, we won't have the same kids more than once so we're working on one message to do with each group. Thank you so much for all the prayers. We can feel them and we so appreciate them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Getting Outside Comfort Zones

I'm overwhelmed right now. Have stepped way outside my comfort zone in new ways already on this trip. I think we all have. We may have a small team but it is truly mighty. We just had a very powerful day that the Lord's presence was all over. We got up and went to the Good Samaritan School for a Saturday morning prayer meeting with the administrative staff of the school and Ananthi who started it. She asked each one of us to share during this time and I think we were all a bit nervous but the Lord spoke through us. Abner gave a great message about Gideon and how God used an ordinary man armed only with horns and clay pots to defeat an army. He talked about how God can use all of us if we are only obedient to what He's called us to do. Frances shared her own personal testimony and I felt like it really spoke to many in the room and Ananthi in particular seemed especially blessed by it. I shared James 5:13-20. Amanda, Sarin and I thanked them for letting us be there with them and thanked them for their work at the school and just emphasized how important their work is for God's kingdom and in the lives of the children. They prayed for us and I got to pray for them at the end. It was a sweet time.
Afterwards, we had tea with Ananthi and then headed up to the worship service. It was their first one and they hope to have many. They invited all the high school students to come. There weren't a ton but there were some. We worshipped together with worship led by staff at the school and a young man who is here for a few months on guitar. Then he led a few songs by himself and then Abner and Amanda - johnnyswim - sang a beautiful song they wrote. The kids sang the chorus with them. It was so sweet. It's an awesome song. I can't wait for y'all to hear it. They are going to record it when they get home and use the proceeds from any downloads to help Visiting Orphans. So cool.
After worship, we got to eat yummy Indian food for lunch and then we rested for a few hours before being picked up to go do home visits in the slums. We just got back an hour ago. Whew. My emotions are heightened. We were welcomed into 3 different homes and had the privilege to pray with each family. The first home we went into was a young girl taking care of her grandmother who has blood cancer. We laid hands on her and prayed for healing in her body. Abner shared a word from the Lord to her and I could see in her eyes that it spoke to her heart. The second home was a mom and dad and 3 kids - mom and dad had both been having problems with their knees and legs. And one of the kids, the oldest, was having white spots on her skin that they were concerned about. We got to gather around them and lay hands on the whole family and pray healing, protection, provision and a blessing over them as a family. The third home we were waiting for the residences to arrive so we prayed over one of the lady who was with us - for provision for her and her husband to get jobs to provide for their babies. The family that came in - a mom and a child - she asked for a job for her husband and to pay off some debt they had incurred. We prayed for provision and for her children - that they would be mighty warriors for God's kingdom. We also prayed for another lady who had been chatting to us as we walked - we couldn't understand her but our interpreter told us she wanted prayer too. So of course, we were happy to pray with her. She asked for pray for her son for work and debt. We prayed for wisdom for the son and her for him. We prayed for provision and also for the Lord to continue to dwell within her - she had such a light in her eyes and a joy you could see. We were able to get a few photos at the second two homes of the family in front of their homes. Such a sweet, sweet time. When I got to the car, I felt very emotional and just so thankful for such an amazing team of prayer warriors. We had such a powerful time. I truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We had a sweet prayer time when we got back to the flat too. I LOVE this team. I LOVE how God knows exactly who is supposed to go and when! He is such an awesome God. May He continue to work in us and through us on this trip. We are being stretched and are definitely operating out of comfort zone - but that is exactly where God wants us. Because in that, we are being transformed more into His likeness. And in that, all Glory must go to Him because we can't do any of it without him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Great first day

We had a great day getting to meet Ananthi, the women who started the Good Samaritan school - what a neat lady with a huge heart for the Lord and children. The 4 school locations now have about 2000 kids. I asked her if she ever dreamed of it becoming so big and she just laughed and said "no - it's all the Lord" - it started with one and now 2000 kids are helped and offered an education they wouldn't otherwise have. That's the impact of being obedient when God calls you. We got to meet most of the kids at two of the schools and through our time here, we will get to do bible stories, music and crafts with most all of them. It's a lot of kids to reach with a team of 4 but God is bigger than us! Tomorrow we are helping with Saturday worship and getting to pray with the staff. We will also visit a few homes in the slums where the children live. Praying we all adjust to the time by tomorrow. So thrown off by this time change - feeling WAY tired! Other than China, I haven't felt this affected by jet lag in a long time. It's 10.5 hours ahead of Nashville so it's similar to China in that the days are pretty much flip-flopped.

The children here are so beautiful and precious and they really value their education. They were so proud of their school work and were so happy to show it to us. In other countries, the kids are more affectionate and want to just pile on you. It's not that way here. So far, the kids here just want to talk with you and tell you about themselves and show you their school work. It is so cute how happy they are to go to school. Our kids in the states could learn alot from these kids about the value of education. This school is giving them hope for a future. And they are learning about Jesus everyday while they are here. I'm so glad we came. This is such an amazing ministry. The needs are great and the workers are few. We need more people to come.

Thanks for your prayers. We have a great team - we will all be getting outside our comfort zones this week as we try to share bibles stories and crafts with 2000 kids and only 4 of us. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 1 - actually day 3

I just woke up here in India - well actually, I woke up every hour from 1 am on because my body was a little bit thrown off by the time change and I slept a lot on the flight over. But I finally got up and showered at 5:30 am. It's 8:30 pm at home right now and 7 am in the morning on Friday here. I didn't know some places were off by not just hours but also half hour increments. Learn something new everyday:) Weird that it's technically day 3 and we are just now about to do our first visits. We get to meet all the kiddos this morning and hear the story of the woman who started Good Samaritan School then this afternoon, we have a planning session where we will plan out what we'll do with the kids for the week!
Last night, we didn't really get to see much cause it was dark. But I will say that the traffic and the driving here is a bit crazy. It kind of is everywhere but probably because it was night and not AS much traffic - we were wipping in and out of traffic pretty fast. Lines in the road are more of a guideline than a rule:) And they drive from the right side of the car here.
The flight seemed short to me - maybe because my last one was 17 hours from Ethiopia. This one was 14 and I slept a majority of it. Not too shabby. And so awesome that it was a straight flight from Newark to Delhi. That made it really nice. We hit some pretty rough turbulence in the middle of the night that scared me but it was really brief and all was fine. Whew.

Our rides should be here to pick us up shortly. We have good wifi here at the flat so I should be able to blog later.

Thanks for the prayers!

We Made It!

We made it safely to India. We couldn't find our ride but got it all figured out - so glad I had the VO phone with me. It's a big airport! We just got to the flat where we'll be staying. It is 11pm here and we have to be up at 6am so we're heading to bed. Tomorrow we'll get to visit the community where we'll spend most of our time and get to meet the amazing woman who started the school. And since it was dark when we came in, we'll actually get to see India:) Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Off To India

Tomorrow I leave for India. I'll meet my 3 other team members in the Newark airport and we'll be on our way tomorrow evening on a very long flight to Delhi. We will get to visiti the Good Samaritan School in the outskirts of New Delhi where over 2000 kids go to school. We will also get to visit some homes in the slums. We'll get to love on lots of kiddos and minister to staff as well. I'm praying for divine appointments and opportunities to pray for people wherever we go. Please pray for our small but mighty team. I will try to update my blog as much as I can. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in India. May we be used in mighty ways to impact the kingdom!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GO. BE. LOVE.

It was a few months back and Amanda, my boss, sent me this image of a team member in Uganda holding a child on a bench. She said "this needs to be on our website home page" and I proceeded to think of what the headline might read. And then it came to me. Go. Be. Love. I believe that came from the Lord. And that's exactly what we do on these trips. We GO outside our cities and beyond our comfort zones and when you leave your day to day busy, crazy schedules back home behind and you just BE in the moment and love on kids and you forget about all the things on your to do list and you just LOVE with all that you have and you see Jesus in those little faces and you get to be Jesus' hands and feet to little ones halfway across the globe. It's there that you see Jesus the most. You see Jesus all around you when you go and you break free from your everyday grind at home. You don't miss what God has for you or how God can use you to meet someone else's need. It's powerful. And quite honestly, you can't return home unchanged. Or at least you shouldn't be able to.

This weekend was spent with almost 80 people from around the US who are or who want to be Visiting Orphans team leaders. 80 people with a heart for the Lord and a passion to GO BE LOVE to the fatherless in this world and teach them about their father in heaven. They're willing to sacrifice time, money, and even leave their families for the 1 or 2 week trip to go. They're willing to lead conference calls and prayer meetings and organize activities and facilitate the schedule on the ground. They're the reason we can do what we do with over 50 trips a year! There's no way we could send that many teams without them. We only have 10 staff so there's literally no way we can go on all the teams. These leader volunteers go. They lead the charge. And we are so grateful! And I was so overwhelmed to see an entire room filled with 80 of them this weekend. The first night at the cookout meet n greet at the park - I was so taken aback that I literally started crying. To just have so many like-minded hearts all together with a common purpose - to live out James 1:27 - is completely amazing and inspiring! It was a lot of work getting ready for the event but the event itself didn't feel like work it all  - it recharged me so much to share and encourage and hear from these amazing people who are willing to get out of their comfort zones and go! It was the perfect weekend to charge me up even more to head to India. I leave Wed and I can't wait to see what God has for this small but mighty team!!! I'm thankful that I get to GO BE LOVE and that 80 others are joining with me in that and will lead the charge for teams in the coming year to love on the "least of these" around the world. If you want to join the charge - sign up for a trip - we have a ton on the calendar for 2012 and 2013 dates are already in the works. Get out of YOUR comfort zone and GO BE LOVE!!!!

www.visitingorphans.org


Check out or online store too - we now have GO. BE. LOVE. t-shirts:)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My new blog

I created a new blog for adoption. I just wrote my first blog. The new blog address is: http://mysingleadoption.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home with a Heavy Heart

As I type this, I am sitting in the DC airport waiting to fly home to Nashville. I never dreamed leaving Ethiopia would be as hard as it was. I have loved many places I have gone and I have felt twinges of sadness many times before as I left those places. But this time was different - I felt like I was leaving a place that felt very much at home to me. I hadn't expected that. I loved the people, the ministries, the country and one little boy in particular that I cannot get out of my head. I can't post any pictures of him or any of the kids at that orphanage unless it doesn't show their face - like the picture I posted where I'm holding him - you can't see his face so that one is ok. But out of respect for privacy of the kids and the families who are adopting many of them - you can't post pictures online of them. Which I totally respect and understand. But I am thankful they still let us take pictures for us to have for our personal use. I am cherishing all the photos and videos I got of that little boy. I've been praying, thinking, praying and talking with team members about him. As soon as we landed today, I felt a sense of urgency to do something - to contact the adoption agency, to start fundraising, start the process and just move forward while asking God to either open or close doors. If this is meant to be, I just trust God will open doors wide open. And if not, I will just be praying God has a wonderful family for him. I so want him to have a forever family. I wish you could have seen how snuggly he was, how cute he was when he was wearing my sunglasses and trying to put them on me and giggling. The first day I got there - I picked him up and he immediately put his head on my shoulder. I know he probably has done that with others before cause he is a snuggler but I have had other kids snuggle up with me but this time - I just started welling up with tears almost immediately. It was instant love. I wish I could describe it better than that. We did get to go back a second time to see those kids. We went and bought formula and took about 20 cans to Restoration and to Korah. We got to stay for about an hour at Restoration and I got tons of pictures and video of him and just loved on him so much. It was so funny - he was wearing a pink shirt and mix-matched socks. I had a David & Goliath book with me and I got to flip through it with him. And he got a kick out of playing with and putting on my sunglasses. It was so great to see him again but even harder to leave the second time. I was crying when I walked out of there. Thankfully this time he wasn't though cause he was playing with toys when I left. He was cutely waiving at me as I walked out. I left a huge chunk of my heart there. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

LOVE

God’s Mercy and Direction


Yesterday we went to Restoration Orphanage and I fell in love with a sweet little boy who actually is available for adoption and is around 2 years old. What a little snuggle bug. When I picked him up, he just immediately wrapped both arms around my neck and laid his head down. It wasn't too long after that he fell asleep in my arms. When I tried to lay him gently down in his bed, he woke up and was not happy. He was screaming and crying and was very upset. It took the nanny some time to calm him down. We came back after lunch and loved on the kids some more and I got to hang out with him for awhile. I got to hold him and take him on a tour through the building. We stood out on the balcony for awhile and I talked to him and prayed over him and he gave me lots of hugs. What a cute little guy! Later we went back up to the baby room where from what I could tell, he is the oldest boy. The nanny's brought some toys out and he has quite an arm on him - he can throw a ball really well. He was standing next to me and held out his hand and I was being silly and shook his hand and said "nice to meet you" and he thought that was so fun - he kept sticking his hand out and waiting for me to do and say it over and over again. Right before we left - the nanny gave him a bottle and he came over and laid down on me to drink it. Before long, he was out. I just rubbed his little head while he slept and he looks so content and peaceful. But as smooth as I tried to be in picking him up and moving him to his bed - he wasn't fooled and he woke up screaming mad again that I put him down. We all had to put down kids and so the nursery was full of crying babies. The nanny's grabbed some toys and tried to calm them down. It broke my heart to see him crying like that. He just so loves to be held. I found out that his name means "His mercy" referring to God's mercy. Several times the team would see me holding him and say "he's available Autumn - you could adopt him" and I found my eyes welling up with tears several times. I've always wanted to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia and here I was face to face with a very real little boy who was in my arms who is available for adoption and who just happened to be the little boy that captured my heart. There was another single woman there who was adopting one of the kids. I got to talk to her briefly and just found it interesting that she was there that day. But she is adopting a girl and I know a lot of countries don't allow singles to adopt the opposite gender. But I looked up the adopting agency website for the agency this orphanage works with and it didn't say anything about adopting a specific gender and singles over 25 can adopt from her through them. Which is awesome because a lot of other agencies I had looked at didn't allow it here. I know the ideal situation for a child is a mom and a dad. And for a little boy especially - a dad. It makes me sad that I don't have a dad to offer a child. But obviously that's not in my hands. I just keep praying and asking God - why is my heart breaking, why am I so wanting to be a mom and adopt a child and yet why at the same time am I struggling with letting go of the order I thought things would happen. A few of my team members at dinner that night said they thought I should start the process trying to adopt him and let God open or close doors if it's truly meant to be. It's not that I don't want to step out in faith - but I really don't want to get ahead of God. And I think with matters of the heart - it's harder to discern what God is saying sometimes. And I'm just not sure what he's saying. Some days, I think he's saying "wait" and other days I think he's saying "step forward in faith". I'm reading a book at home called Adopting on Your Own - it's all about single adoption and the chapter I was on before I left was about how when you really start to consider adopting as a single, there is a mourning process of letting go of the dreams of having a spouse first and just the order most people dream of things happening. I know that's true of me. I've wanted to be a wife and mom since I can remember - in that order. So the idea of raising a child on my own is scary. This book is great because it talks about all those fears. Fears about never having any help or a break and getting overwhelmed. I love kids and I know I have a lot of love to give and I know without a doubt I want to adopt. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared to do it by myself. And I think I am in that mourning process right now. I'm still moving forward slowly, trying to let go of my plans and asking God what His are. I talked to my roommate about moving out - felt like it was time to try it on my own. And it would be a good step towards seeing how I do financially without a roommate before adopting. The cool thing is - my roommate was feeling ready to live on her own anyway. So that worked out well. God's timing is so awesome. She was excited to look for her own place. And I'm excited to live alone too with my Auty girl. And it really is a good step towards adoption. And if God's plan is for me to adopt as a single - I do not want fear to stop me. I just want to make sure I hear from Him first. And I'm just praying that hearing from Him won't be so difficult with this matter of the heart. I keep praying for confirmation one way or another. I would love all the prayers I can get. I do not take raising a child lightly. I know it is a forever commitment so I don't want to just jump in blindly without seeking God fully and without knowing exactly what it all will mean for my life. So if you're reading this, I would love your prayers for just clarity from the Lord. 

In the meantime, I have this little boy in my heart and on my mind. And I'm hoping we get to go back for one more visit before we leave Ethiopia. We are going to try to get the  AWA mural done in the morning on Monday and are hoping we can go get some baby formula with donation money the team raised and drop some off at Korah and Restoration. We need to make sure that would be ok with both places for us to stop by again. But we all really want to. Our hearts were moved by both those places. I have fallen in love with Ethiopia. I loved Uganda too. But in a different way. It's kind of hard to explain. I hope to go back to both but I feel my heart more invested in Ethiopia. Maybe it's because here I really felt God challenging me to get outside my comfort zone in new ways. And the need in Korah was so great. I love that one of our past team members saw that need and was moved to help. And it was awesome to be able to see that ministry in action. I just love that past team members have been so moved to do more that they couldn't go home and back to life as normal. We are seeing it happen more and more and that is the best part of what we do at Visiting Orphans. To know lives are being changed all around - in the kids and people our teams visit but also in the lives of the team members themselves. We are called to go. And God is then moving those who are obedient to that call to not just go but to be the change the world needs. And so many of them are responding to that call, moving their lives to other countries, starting new ministries, adopting, going on more trips and more. I love that I get to see it all happen and to see God working in such amazing ways. Our God is an awesome God! And He is alive and well and working today. I can't wait to see what comes from this very trip in the lives of these team members. It's exciting to think about. We shall see what God does!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog from 7/22/11


It is 9:15am and we just checked out of Providence Guest house where we spent the first 2 nights. We just checked in to Ethiopia Guest House for the next 4 nights for our remaining time here. As soon as the next van and luggage arrives and we get unloaded, we will head to Restoration Orphanage. 
Yesterday we spent the day in Korah. I am so glad that Project 61 is there helping the people there. There is so much need. The pastor of the church there told us that all of Addis thinks Korah is the lowest of the low. So low that Addis dumps all their trash there.        One of the guys who works at P61 told us that the people there were so glad we came and that the people across the way from Korah who have money won't even look at the people of Korah or acknowledge them. So for us to come and pray with them and hug them is a very big deal to them. There was a girl named Kayla there who was awesome - she helped us by telling us what the schedule should be and we split into 3 groups - one team did the Noah's ark story, one team did music and the other team did art projects. We did each thing with one group of kids and then we rotated to the next group so that all 3 groups got to do all 3 things. Then we got to help feed the kids lunch. They came and found me and asked me to get 3 people to come feed the old men with leprosy who had lost all their fingers and couldn't feed themselves. I'm gonna be honest here - I got an instant feeling of panic like "I can't do this" over me. I had forgotten that Kari Gibson had done that and I had seen the photos so I knew it meant feeding them with my hands. This was definitely outside my comfort zone. And I know it was for my other team members who joined me and helped. When I sat down - I felt nervous because I had no idea how to feed them this ethiopian food with this spongy bread like thing that was flat and big like a tortilla called injera with sauce poured on it. Thankfully there were people there who showed us. It took some practice cause it tended to get soggy and fall apart - I dropped some on the man I was feeding a few times but then I got the hang of it. I just really wanted to do a good job. It was uncomfortable but very humbling. I can love on kids all day long but when it comes to adults, I'm not as familiar. And to get up close and personal with an old man who had suffered so much, lost all his fingers and most of his toes from leprosy - it was humbling. I just tried my hardest to look him in the eye and smile. After he had eaten enough - he pulled out a black plastic bag - similar to a kroger bag in size. He signaled for me to untie it so I did. He then signaled me to put the leftovers in this bag. I looked in there and there were some leftovers already - all mushy in the bag. I dumped the leftovers in and then a lady came around and fill it up with more. I asked and she said they take leftovers everyday to eat for dinner. One of the 3 men had a tupperware type container that he put his in inside the bag and I thought that would be a good thing for future teams to bring for them - some tupperware so they didn't have food in a plastic grocery bag. I got my photo with the sweet man and patted his bag. He put his hands up and smiled so huge - I asked the lady what that meant and she said it was the signal for thanking God. Wow - talk about humbling. To literally be able to feed this man and love on him - what an honor. Uncomfortable - yes. Worth the discomfort - definitely. The mission trip Anticipate journal talked in one chapter about how we're not coming on a mission trip to love on orphans or paint a mural or whatever other thing we think we're coming for. We are coming to be transformed to the likeness of Christ. When I heard the pastor talk about Korah being seen as the lowest of the low and I looked into those precious kids faces - I felt overwhelmed with emotion and knew this is exactly where Jesus would be. Yesterday at Korah - my heart was broken in a new way. And I pray in that moment of loving on that man even when in the natural I didn't really want to - I know it was Jesus loving through me. And for that I am thankful. 
After we fed the people, we ate our lunch and then split into 3 groups and walked to do some home visits. The group I was with visited the home of a mom who lost her husband 9 months ago and had 2 small children to care for. She had a roommate to split the rent but the lady left and now she is trying to come up with 230 birr per month for rent when she usually only makes 6-7 birr per day at the most when she sells corn. Some days, she doesn't sell any. She is really struggling. We got to pray for her and I asked if I could hold her hands. I have noticed in all my travels that people need to be touched. In America, we're all about personal space but in most other countries - a touch means a lot. Especially to those who so many people ignore and pass by. I think that's why the kids just latch onto us. Sure they love games and stories and activities but more than that - they just really love to be held. I tried to look them in the eye so they know that I see them - and that God sees them. 
Korah was a hard place to visit but a great place at the same time. I definitely want to go back. All the kids knew my co-workers name when I asked them if they knew Alicia - they all got excited and said "oh yes, we love Alicia. She is our friend." And I know Alicia knows most of their names. I want to know them, to know their names. I have seen in Haiti that when you come back to a place time and time again - it means so much to the kids. It's great to come visit once and love on some kids but so much greater to come repeatedly. That means so much to those kids! I think then they really believe you when you tell them they matter and that you love them. 

Blog from 7/20/11


Traveling is exhausting. Add together 24 people, 48 checked bags, 2 carry-ons a piece, two countries, multiple airports, multiple places of lodging and you have one exhausted team. But also add into that some amazing kids that we got the joy and honor to love on and it's all worth it. Even with swollen feet and a sore back:) I love this team. We are at that point in the trip where we really do feel like a big family. A really big family. This is my biggest team ever and I am so thankful to say that every single person has been a joy to have on my team. They are flexible, respectful, kind and amazing with the kids. I am blessed. The ministries, staff and kids are blessed. What a great trip! 
As I type this, we are now at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda waiting to board our flight to Ethiopia where we will spend the next week before going home. I cannot believe a week in Uganda has already gone by. We arrived last Friday, drove 3 hours straight to Jinja to Canaan Children's Home where we fell in love with some 145 or so sweet kiddos. We stayed at Canaan's for 3 nights. The second day - we went to Amazima - it was Saturday and they do their feeding program on Saturday. It was awesome to get to meet Katie Davis and see the ministry at work. The community is extremely blessed by that ministry. So glad we got to go. We were even able to help serve the kids their food. The next day was Sunday and we spent the entire day at Canaan's. We broke into groups and did VBS with the kids for Sunday school and then attended church after. We got to play with the kids in the afternoon and take a walk to a site where they are going to build a new and bigger church as they have the finances. They also took us on a walk to their farm where they have cows and stuff. Monday morning, it was already time to leave. We got up at 6am, at breakfast at 7am and hit the road at 7:30. We stopped in Jinja, exchanged money and shopped a bit before heading 3+ hours to Kampala. Once we got to Kampala we arrived at the children's prison and called Sixty Feet - only to find out that is not the location they were at that day. They are at a different prison 2 hours away on Mondays. As it was, we only had planned to spend the afternoon there so driving 2 more hours wasn't really an option. So we went to our guest house and checked in and relaxed. It worked out though cause Moses from Sixty Feet came to meet us later at the guest house and it ended up that 9 of our team members were able to go to the nearby children's prison we tried going to on Monday with him on Tuesday. They had a good but very hard day there. So glad they were able to go. I know they were a light to those kids. They led them in worship and played games with them and loved on them. What an amazing ministry Sixty Feet is - so glad they are doing what they are doing! The rest of us spent the day with Return Ministries and the 200+ kids that come there for a meal and program on weekends. Since we were in town, they got to take off school and come get a meal on 2 weekdays. We went again today for the morning and left for the airport after lunch. That place is so joyful. I love it there! I hope to go back again for sure and would love to stay there longer next time. 

Blog from 7/19/11


We had an amazing day at Return Ministries today. We had a ball with the kids. We did animal balloons, painted nails, did face painting, sang songs and did lots of dancing and loving on those sweet kiddos. There are so many kids there. There had to be over 200 and most of them were pretty little. So cute!!! There was one little girl named Hina who latched on to me pretty early on and would not leave my side. I was trying to help the team and formulate a plan for what to do with the kids but I just really had to stop and love on her. She seemed so much in need of that. I ended up picking her up and she grabbed on to me with both arms so tight. I started praying for her and got overwhelmed with emotion. I don't even know her story but from her tight grip around my neck holding on to me and not wanting to let go - I just sensed she had a lot of pain in her life. I asked one of the ladies later and she said her father died and her mother takes care of her. But that's as much as I could get. I finally got her to let go of me and do some coloring. She gave her picture to me. After awhile, she made her way to the area where the kids her age were all sitting cause they got called down for lunch. Me and Sarah got to go around and wash the kids hands. They hand out a big bowl and a water jug and the kids put their hands out over the bowl and you pour water on and they rub em together to clean them. It was neat being able to go around and do that. For lunch, they had rice and beans with some veggies in it. Some of the older kids formed an assembly line to pass the food down. The smallest kids were served first. After lunch, I didn't see Hina again so I think she went home. Most of the kids live in the neighborhood. Only 15 actually live at the home. The rest are local kids. It's such a great outreach to those kids! There was so much joy. It was seriously like the most fun I've had in a long time. They sang us songs and danced. And then we sang some songs for them and danced. They taught us some dances. Then we taught them the song I always hear in Haiti - "I am not forgotten - God knows my name". Then we did the hokey pokey, father Abraham and head shoulders knees and toes. Oh and not to forgot the makerena:) After that, they just had music playing and I started dancing with the kids. I pulled out any zumba move I could think of. They stood there and imitated all my dance moves and they were awesome. They are such good little dancers. It was like heaven - that's a highlight for me to get to be surrounded by kids and making up dances! The team got some videos of me being silly with them with all my zumba moves. Everyone had so much fun with the kids. We are glad we get to go back tomorrow morning. We will go back in the morning and then head straight to the airport from there after an early lunch. We fly to Ethiopia tomorrow night. Hard to believe our time in Uganda is almost over. It has flown by. Probably because it's been so jam packed. I love the people here and the culture. There's such a sense of community and love! I hope I will get the chance to come back again. It's been an amazing first week. And I trust that God has amazing things in store for us in Ethiopia too. 
9 of our team members went with Sixty Feet today to the children's prison. They brought light, I am absolutely sure of it. They had a great day but a hard day. But they went and they loved on some kids that very much needed it. We are going to have dinner shortly and have a time of sharing about our day with each other since we split up today. 
Thanks for praying. We need the prayers and so appreciate them. 

Ethiopia Day 2

I've been typing up blogs on my laptop but can't add them cause the wireless internet isn't working. So I am using the computer at the Ethiopia Guest House where we just checked in this morning and will stay the rest of our time here. I know alot of my team has family and friends checking this blog so I like to update it as often as possible so they know we are all safe. I'm hoping I can upload my more detailed blogs soon so you can read about our experiences here and in Uganda. It's been a great trip and we still have 5 days to go. We spent the day at Korah yesterday. Today we are going to Restoration Orphanage. One of the vans broke down so we are waiting for a new van to arrive to pick us up. With 24 of us, we travel in 3 vans. The ET Guest house staff are awesome. Even though we couldn't stay here the first 2 nights - they still provided transportation and guides for us and they are great. So thankful for them. We have stayed in 4 different places now so I'm really happy to be staying here for 4 nights in a row. 
Hopefully the wireless will be working tonight and I will upload my blogs from the past few days. Thanks for praying! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Made it to Ethiopia

Internet was down the last day and a half at Adonai in Uganda so we couldn't get on to update everyone. I typed up some blogs that I will upload later but for now - just wanted those who are checking my blog to know that we made it safely to Ethiopia. We are totally exhausted after hauling our bags today and dealing with the craziness of these airports but all is well. We arrived at the guest house we are staying at for 2 nights and the staff from the other guest house we will spend the rest of the week at is providing transporation and guides for us. They picked us up at the airport and helped us with our million bags. I will write more soon but for now, I am about to fall over tired so I'm signing off. We are all safe and all is going well. Thanks for the prayers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back to Kampala, Uganda


It is almost 5pm here in Uganda - we got up early to say goodbye at Canaan's, eat breakfast and head back to Kampala. We stopped to exchange money and do some shopping on the way. Wow - exchanging money took FOREVER!!!! Then we headed to the children's prison in Kampala - only as it turns out - it wasn't the one we were supposed to go to and that one is 2 hours away. Soooo... we called Moses from Sixty Feet and let him know of the mix up. He's going to join us for dinner tonight at our guest house where we just checked in about 2 hours ago and had our first REAL team debriefing. The first few days were incredibly busy - it just felt so jam packed and it went by way too fast. Plus with adjusting to a different time zone - we were all pretty much exhausted by nighttime. But it's been great. We absolutely fell in love with the kids at Canaan Children's Home and Pastor Isaac who is the papa there, along with his precious wife Rebecca. They have huge hearts and quite a story. You should check out the Canaan Children's Home website! There are children that still need sponsors. What joy we saw there. Even with the tragic backgrounds these kids have - they still have joy. Pastor Isaac shared some of their back stories with us last night. Heartbreaking and hard to believe these joyful children have been through all that they have. He told us Canaan's is a place of healing and when teams come, it helps them heal. What an honor and a joy to be one of those teams!

Tomorrow we spend the whole day at Return Ministries. We get to meet the papa there - Pastor Samuel - he and his family are going to join us for dinner tonight too. 

Thanks for all the prayers. We so appreciate it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heading to Kampala, Uganda in the morning

We have been in Uganda 3 days and it's gone by way too fast. It has been a jam packed itinerary and I wish we had more time with the kids at Canaan's. Love them all!!! Our team is amazing - what a great group. I am so blessed by then. We went to Amazima yesterday and spent the day there. Today, we got to have church at Canaan's and teach a VBS story and craft to the kids before attending regular church. We got to hear the kids sing and then we got to hand out many of the clothes we brought to all the kids, along with some toys. It was a good day but went by too fast. I can't believe we are leaving here early in the morning. We are heading to Kampala and going to minister at the children's prison with Sixty Feet on the way, then the next two days we will be at Return Ministries and then we fly to Ethiopia. We are having a great trip. Thanks for all the prayers!
Love,
Autumn

Friday, July 15, 2011

Safe and sound in Uganda

After a long 24 hours plus of travel, we just arrived shortly ago to Canaan Children's Home in Jinja, Uganda. It was a 3 hour drive from the airport. We mostly all slept the whole way. We are pretty tired but super excited to be here. We made it safe, as did all our luggage. Internet access is very limited so I probably won't update as much as usual during these first few days but wanted everyone to know we are safe. Thanks for praying!
Autumn

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why Wouldn't I?


Last week, the Visiting Orphan staff drove to Louisville, Kentucky for the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit. It was the first one for me and several of our other staff members. We were all impacted greatly by being there, hearing testimonies, stories, learning how to do what we do better, sharing ideas and getting to meet so many people with a heart for orphans. The worship was amazing, the speakers were awesome and I was moved. We had a staff meeting today where we were supposed to share what spoke to us most from the conference - what the highlights were. For me, the thing that spoke loudest was adoption. There were two on-stage radio interviews from Focus on the Family that were being recorded at the event - both with families who have adopted a bunch of kids. One family has 14 kids - some biological, most adopted and they have an income of roughly $65K a year. Wow - that spoke to me. Yes, I may be single and I may not make a ton of money but if they can care for 14 kids at 65K, I can find a way to care for at least one. I can cut some things out, make some changes, I can make it work. Even as a single. Another thing that I had my eyes opened to was domestic adoption and fostering. I honestly had never thought much about it or knew much about it. But I kept running into people who were talking about it, who had or knew someone who had adopted from fostering and I even had the opportunity to attend a breakout session about fostering to adopt. I learned a lot and I felt like this may be a good thing for me to look into. Since I've been home, I have started looking into it. And I am definitely open to it if that's where the Lord leads me. I'm also getting more and more ok with the idea of adopting as a single. A friend said the other day that she has a single friend who adopted and she once said to her, I can be ok without being a wife but I can't imagine never being a mom. That's how I feel. I want to be married and I still hope and believe God has that for me. But... if he doesn't, I could live with that. But I cannot even fathom going my whole life and never being a mom. I have felt like I was meant to be a mom since as long as I can remember. I know it'll be hard. I know it'll be an adjustment, especially if I'm doing it as a single. But I also know I have amazing friends here in Nashville who would be a huge blessing and help. And I know I have a God in heaven who has adopted me and He has given me a heart for children. I also know having His people take care of His little ones is so very close to the Father's heart. There are some definite things I need to do to prepare my life for such a change. Some things need to be paid off, some plans need to be made in advance. And of course, I need to continually be seeking the Lord on what He's saying and what His perfect timing is. But when I went to that conference last week and I heard the song title "Why Wouldn't I?" by the amazing Peder Eide who led us in worship - I felt like that question was for me. I was reminded how many millions of orphans there are in the world - precious little ones who just want someone to love them, hold them and never leave them - why wouldn't I say "here I am Lord, use me"! Why wouldn't I adopt when I have a mothers heart already and a lot of love to give and enough money to make it work and a house with enough room and a great support system? I can't think of any real reasons not to. 

Video of the song "Why Wouldn't I" and Peder Eide telling the story of the song:
Our VO staff with our "I Am" signs from the conference. They told us to write down what the Lord is saying about us, who we are called to be and/or how He sees us. I wrote "I am a mother" and cried my eyes out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

To Be A Mom




For some reason today, I started thinking about what it means to be a mom. And how for so long, I’ve been saying “I can’t wait to be a mom someday”. And all of a sudden on this Good Friday afternoon, I just had a revelation that I am a mom! Firstly, I’m an adoptive mom to a 1 year old dog named Auty. On top of that, last week I got to be a mom to several kids in Haiti who fell asleep in my arms not to mention countless others that I got to hug, kiss, play with and tell about how much Father God loves them. I got to be a mom when I had the honor of serving lunch to 30 kids. I get to be in a mom-like role when I teach Sunday school, babysit or even just lend a shoulder to a hurting friend. Those are all mom-like roles. So while I don’t have a biological or adopted human child YET - I am still a mom in many ways. And that revelation makes me smile!!! The truth is - I was made to be a mom and I find the most joy in that kind of a role. I always have. I like to take care of other people. And I kept waiting and waiting until I got to be a mom someday and truth be told - the more trips I go on, the more I want to have a child but until then - what a cool perspective the Lord gave me today when lo and behold - He just showed me that I already am a mom in so many ways!!!! How cool is that? And not only that, but people are actually using that title now because of Auty. I had to take Auty to the vet today cause she has this gross eye gunk and I wanted to make sure it was nothing wrong. They said they thought it was probably allergies which makes sense cause I have major allergies right now too. As I was waiting in the lobby with her for the appointment though, the lady at the desk called me mom several times. It made me smile cause I had started writing this blog about being a mom before I left the house. When they told me to bring Auty back, she said “ok, mom - you can bring her back now”. I love being called mom even more than I thought I would!! I always knew I wanted to be a mom and how awesome that not only am I a mom in a sense to orphans and other people I get to care for in a mom-like role from time to time - but people are officially, actually calling me mom. Many people will likely not get why but I think that is totally awesome!!! I was telling my chiropractor today that I got a dog and he said “dogs are a lot of work huh?” and I had to stop and think about it because honestly, it doesn’t feel like it is work at all. I think part of that is because I was blessed with the most awesome sweet natured dog in the universe. And part of it is because of how God made me. I thrive in the mom role! That’s the best way to describe it. What a divine discovery to have a new point of view - I’m not missing out on motherhood - although I do VERY much want to be a mom to a child someday - I can embrace it now! It’s interesting to have that ah ha moment today, on Good Friday - when we recognize Jesus ultimate sacrifice for us. Father God sent His only son to die for me! How deep the Father’s love for us! And how sweet of the Father to remind me of that love today and to not only remind me of His parent love toward me but to show me a new view into how He made me to love as a parent and beyond that - how He has already been using that mothering gift in more ways than I even realized. Thanks Lord for showing me that today and thanks for giving me the honor of getting to be a mom - whether it’s for a day or a lifetime - I am blessed by that honor!