In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Clearing Clearing

 The "tree" people are finishing up their first week. It's really hard to show the progress in pictures since the underbrush is still in the foreground of any area they have cleared. They have completed along the one side of us and are now in the back. They enter and exit from only one path so they successfully are not making a mess in other areas.

 Although I didn't doubt it was true, I really had not seen that our house is on the top of a hill that slopes down on both sides. It is going to be a pretty view and good sledding!

Watching them has kept us all entertained; big trees falling is interesting at any age.

Here's my backyard before shot; I'll show the same area next week after they've cleared out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Second First Day

I have enjoyed seeing other people's first day of school pictures. We are going to have three rounds of first days this year. Alyssa started Challenge 1 (9th grade) at Classical Conversations last week; Elijah started K there today. Elijah, who is often rather shy in new situations, really enjoyed himself. He was very excited to see Alyssa at lunch time. He chose to eat with her and her big friends over the little people in his class; I'm sure that will change over time. Bella is an observer this year; she is staying with me in Elijah's class. I'm excited to see how much she picks up just being there. 

The public school crowd starts next week; Selah is so excited she can barely stand it. We go for her meet the teacher day tomorrow and Tori and Julia on Thursday. I will take plenty of pictures next Tuesday, our third first day!



Monday, August 26, 2013

"Manly" Post

I'm disappointed that I didn't take one picture, but my sister and I hosted a large "raise some money to go to Ethiopia" yard sale last weekend. We did it with Alei, Alyssa and all the little people's help since JD and the boys were attending Hunter Safety class.

Here is the bigger success of the day - the boys holding their graduation certificates. In just a few weeks, they will be going on their first ever deer hunt. (I am working hard to get past my personal anti-hunting feelings...) They are going to hunt on other land and I'm not going to see the deer until it's wrapped in white paper.

While we were busy this weekend, the lumber guys started clearing our land. We are clearing about 20 acres. While I know the terrain is going to be a bit ugly for a while; when it makes it to rolling pasture with animals, I will love it. 
The equipment they have it phenomenal - they cleared about two tractor trailer trucks today. The pine and oak tops are going to pulp while the big trunks are being turned into boards. 

The first clearing is about half way down our drive-way; we are leaving a pretty good buffer between the first clearing and the road.  We like our privacy so we can do our morning animal chores in our pajamas!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Alyssa in South Africa Pictures

This is part 2 of Alyssa's pictures; she actually took about 1,000 pictures, so these and the Zambia pictures are just a sampling. This first picture is of Global Expedition's partner - Impact Africa; they have several schools in different squatter camps around the Johannesburg area. This specific school is in a community called Diepsloot, it has about 250,000 people living in a 2 mile radius. Impact Africa has many different groups that minister there, including church groups.

This is showing the back part of the same squatter camp; the front is about twice that width. Interestingly, if any of you have seen the movie District 9, that movie was actually filmed in this squatter camp.

This is a dump area in a squatter camp called Kya Sands. Trash is piled up in all the squatter camps that Alyssa visited, resulting in them not smelling too great. It was common to see dead (and living) rats all around them!

While they were doing one of the kids programs in Kya Sands, Alyssa shot this picture. At first she didn't realize what the man was carrying, until it started making a lot of unnecessary noise.

Half way through the South Africa part of the trip, the group got to visit a place called "The Lion Park." They were driven through five different exhibits of lions, then an exhibit of wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs and other animals. Alyssa was anxious to get to the enclosure with "baby" lions! That's what South African's call cubs, but in all actuality some of these lions were almost Alyssa's size. This one shown was one of the very mean ones that bit her hand, and scratched her wrist, which she is still sporting marks from.

This lion a lot friendlier, she said that when she leaned down to take a picture with it, and it got up and sat in her lap!

After the lion park, they got back into ministry. This is in the squatter camp Msawawa; it was one of the smaller communities, but the kids were ecstatic to participate in the kids program called Jabalani kids. Jabalani in Zulu means happy. In the squatter camps, Alyssa and her team did shack-to-shack ministry, which is where they'd go around and talk to people, tell them about Jesus, and get to help in practical ways. With Jabalani kids, the missionaries did skits, told Bible stories and led worship for the kids. From the pictures and videos view, it looks like the team and the missionaries loved their time together!

Each color of the South African flag means something, but in each lesson they had a biblical meaning for the colors.

These are the toilets throughout every squatter camp, they're basically port-a-potties, but if you can believe it, are actually a lot worse.

While there Alyssa "got" to eat a mopani worm! Go figure, since she is one of my children very afraid of bugs! They're very similar to an American caterpillar, is what they they told her.

After shack-to-shack ministry was over, the team moved into Muslim ministry. Alyssa sadly couldn't take any pictures during it because it'd be considered rude. But there's a mall called the Oriental Plaza, which hosts a lot of middle eastern Muslim shop owners. The picture below is actually of one of the largest mosques in the southern hemisphere. After Muslim ministry, they went to this Turkish mosque that was absolutely beautiful (and cost $280,000,000 dollars to build).

At the very end of the trip they got to visit another safari, which had tons of wild animals. They also had a "Bush Braii" similar to a barbeque, except they ate things like Kudu, which is a large deer like animal. Only in Africa would they show you the animals, then feed you the same specie!

This picture is showing the end of their trip when they landed back in American soil. We are proud of the work she helped with in Africa.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alyssa in Zambia Pictures

Since I finally got Gabriel and Alayna's wedding pictures posted, I am going to show what Alyssa was up to while she was in Africa. Her first stop was 2.5 weeks in Zambia. They ran a program called Camp Hope that was hosted at a family style orphanage. The kids that lived there did not actually attend, but it was open to the children in the community - many of them orphans that live in the nearby slums. See how they divided their teams by bandana color? Smart idea!

 Alyssa and her partner, Rachel, taught the same group of children all day for a week straight. They were only allowed to take pictures on the last day, so it wouldn't be a distraction for the children. Here is Alyssa's and her little friends  - Sara and Cephas.

Alyssa and Rachel with their entire orange group; the kids got to keep their bandana and t-shirt which was very exciting for them!

We might be noticing some favoritism here - Alyssa and Sara again.

The kids were also blessed with a warm blanket at the end of the week -

The kids at the family style orphanage are in desperate need of sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring one of the children at the orphanage, let us know!

The following pictures were taken at a safari park that the group got to visit.

Alyssa and some of her new friends -

Tomorrow I will show a few pictures from her time in South Africa.


Monday, August 19, 2013

WEDDING Pictures!

 Here is the link for the wedding pictures - there are links along the left side for the specific groups of pictures, like family, etc. Enjoy!

Gabriel and Alayna's Wedding Pictures

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bible Club

The kids and I joined Aunt Deb at a Bible club that was held in a low-income housing complex where she works with Afghan refugees. The kids had a great time and the most exciting part for me was we met Ethiopians - both an adopted daughter that was there helping with the program and two little Ethiopian girls that live there. Tomorrow we are going back and I'm going to meet the little girls' parents. I can see why my sister enjoys working with the refugee families - they were very kind and welcoming (about four of my children had to borrow bathrooms).

Alyssa and James were trying to convince Elijah to join in the games - it takes him a while to warm up sometimes.

My sister has a big advantage with the Afghan families; she can speak their language. I spend a lot of time smiling and nodding.

I think this picture is so cute of Aunt Deb - it captures her enthusiasm.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Homecoming Sunday

We were blessed to be invited to speak at a church yesterday on adoption. Since we don't attend a church with a choir, my little guys had never seen a choir wearing robes. As they filed in and sat down, Elijah leaned over and whispered, "do they have any clothes on under those robes?" Our initial speaking was a 10 minute teaser for an afternoon homecoming service; when I sat back down from speaking, Elijah leaned over again and commented, "you didn't even sing." Since I never sing, I'm not sure why he was disappointed.

Of course I didn't take any pictures of us talking, but I did snap this one of the girls on our way home when we stopped at WalMart to pick up some cilantro. (JD and the boys were at Lowe's next door.)




Saturday, August 10, 2013

Some Progress

 I feel like there is hope of catching up in life the next two weeks. While the mission trip and wedding were busy, they were enjoyable; Julia's hours of hair a day the last few weeks has just been frustrating. I am thrilled to say that we salvaged enough hair to braid and bead. At this point, she and Tori will both be due for a new "do" right before school starts, but until then, I can focus on bigger things.

My garden is starting to look rather neglected. I picked a good bit today, but need to weed and stake some plants. I think I overestimated how many grape and cherry tomatoes we can eat. I have been giving them away, but decided today to try canning them.

I added nothing and ran them through the course food processor to keep them chunky enough for pico de gallo. My three bowls made nine quarts total. (The bottoms will settle when they cool.)

I am still fighting the bills from Selah's dental surgery. We were told on two to three occasions that it would all be filed under medical due to the nature of the surgery. Shortly after we were sent a $4,800 dental bill. They were apologetic about filing it incorrectly, but we can't get anyone to actually correct it. After filing a $81,000 (That is not a typo!) medical bill that my insurance paid $31,000 on, we thought it was finally resolved. Not so - I got a new $4,800 dental bill in the mail yesterday. Want the best part of all? One of her caps has already fallen off and has to be redone! I'm going to see if my dentist will do it rather than dealing with the children's hospital dental billing mess again. Something has gone terribly wrong with our medical system considering I had a C-section for $6,000 back in 1991!

We were invited to speak on our family and adoption at a church a few hours away tomorrow, so we are all heading out bright and early.