23 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

Sunday kicks off our string of Christmas celebrations, so we probably won't be posting here for a few days. We just wanted to take one last chance to wish you all a wonderful Christmas. We hope your shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and you're relaxing by the tree with a cup of your favorite hot beverage as you anticipate the birthday of our Lord. We're not quite there yet, but we're only a batch of corn muffins and a pile of gift tags away... so off we go!

22 December 2006

a day full of good news

After the earlier news about passports moving again, we didn't think today could get much better... but it did. We just got 2 new pictures of Joshua and Patience! It appears that Patience has enough hair to braid now, which means Becky needs to get her act together and learn how to do it. In the second picture, they're looking at their albums we sent. If you look carefully, you'll see that they both are looking at them upside down. However, we're still remaining optimistic about their intelligence. Melodie (who oversees the kids in Liberia) said that the kids absolutely love them. On a not so good note, Garty has a cold and is teething this week. If he has to be miserable though, it's nice that we can still get a good night's sleep. We are just so in love with our 3 adorable kids and can't wait to hold them tight!

21 December 2006

passports are moving!

Finally some good news regarding the Liberian passport office. Our agency tells us: We have had 9 passports signed last week and expect 4 more by the end of this month. They seem to be signing 100 of them a day. Keep in mind that these are done by hand in calligraphy. Of the 1000 they are completing, AOH has 4 left in that group. They are releasing the list of the next 1000 soon-- I expect by the end of the week. I will know then how many of our families made the list. Our Liberian staff says it is a good sign when you are on the list as then you will know you will have passports within a few weeks of that. Imagine that... actually having a clue when to expect passports for the kids! We might even be able to make some plans for our life. Hooray!

20 December 2006

disturbing silence

There has been absolutely no talk about the passport situation recently among the adopting parents. We're not sure what's going on over there, but no one wants to talk about it. It's really a bit eerie... like everyone's afraid to say anything or is just too depressed to make the effort. With the holiday coming, the passport office will be shutting down (as if it's open now). Please continue to pray with us for a quick delivery of passports for the families waiting so long, but please pray also for a miraculous issuing of passports for our kids. We're hoping for a January homecoming. Barbara-Jo is anxious to grab Garty and run to the hospital to get him fixed up!

18 December 2006

malaria prevention efforts directed toward Liberia

We just learned that last week the President's Malaria Initiative added Liberia to the list of countries where they are working to prevent malaria. Laura Bush is encouraging Americans to donate $10 to purchase a mosquito net and help save a life in Africa. If you want to be part of this national effort, you can donate through Malaria No More and make a difference. Go, President Bush!

great gift tags

On 12/6 we posted about the cool gift tags some kids at our church made to support the orphanage in Liberia. Now that we entered the 21st century and purchased a digital camera (in anticipation of Christmas money from our family and an upcoming trip to Africa), we thought we'd post a picture. Double click on the picture for a close up.
Aren't they great?! The reindeer is Becky's personal favorite. We still have 5 packs left, so if you want cool Christmas gift tags with a purpose behind them, email us right away. We can drop them in the mail immediately, and you'll just need to send us $5 for the assortment of 20 tags.

While we're at it, we thought we'd post a picture of our $20 Home Depot Christmas tree... because now we can! It was a great find. They even trimmed the stump and wrapped it for us free of charge.

17 December 2006

reflections on Christmas

We both appreciated this thought-provoking post about "preparing room in our hearts so that Christ truly comes."

15 December 2006

little details

Due to some confusion about paperwork, we were never approved by the US government to adopt our 3rd child. We discovered the problem a few weeks ago and sent in the money (everyone wants money) needed to update our files. We're happy to say that today we received our approval, and we won't have to leave anyone behind in Liberia! Now we need our visas (which we'll send for on Monday) and the passports for the kids. That's it! Well, that and a bunch of kid gear, shoes, formula, diapers, and 4 suitcases worth of necessities for our time in Liberia.

scary situation

We learned late last night that a few nights ago our adoption agency's office in Liberia was robbed at gunpoint by 5 robbers who climbed a 10 ft wall and cut razor wire to get in. They stole all the computers and camera equipment, but the most disturbing part is that they threatened the lives of the Liberian staff. Such is life in post-war Liberia-- robbery and petty crimes abound. Please pray for the staff there as they recover from this incident.

12 December 2006

very good report

Tonight we received news on Garty. He is doing remarkably well. He has gained a lot of weight in the past month and has become more and more cheerful and "talkative." We also learned that they were able to put him on the antibiotic that Barbara-Jo recommended for the duration of his time in Liberia. It's great to hear that he's doing so well, although it's hard to hear that he's changing so much and we're missing it! Here are today's pictures. In the first one, you can see that the photo album we sent for Garty is lying next to him in the crib!

preparing for Christmas

I (Becky) am finding it difficult to focus my heart on Christmas this year with so many distractions all around. One thing that has stuck with me though is a blog post I read by Scot McKnight. His perspective has really helped me to remember why Christ came and the great hope extended through him.

passport office progress?

We just learned that the passport office is conducting meetings all day Monday and Tuesday. Then we are supposed to learn the official plan. In theory, they will publish a list of upcoming passports to be signed. They are saying it will be about 2 weeks for those on the list to receive passports. Keep in mind that plans are always negotiable in Liberia, but feel free to pray that our kiddos are on the list. That would mean that we would probably be traveling sometime in January if everything goes smoothly (which it never does).

09 December 2006

why we're happy to be Americans

Sometimes it's hard for our brains to understand the way much of the rest of the world functions. Here's the latest passport update from our adoption agency... NO passports again this week. Because they formed a committee and are now handling the passports differently, it will take a few weeks for them to get that process in place. Diku [from our orphanage] has still said that they are to release a list of 1500+ passports to be signed. When asked how long it will take them to then sign those, he said a couple of weeks. No one knows how this will go... How we wish we could get our task oriented selves on a plane and go "help" them issue these passports. It's hard to be an American when you spend much of your time working with the developing world!

our adoption story

We've recently learned that there are some of you who check our blog regularly who we don't even know. There are others who we've met since we started our adoption and still others who just never knew how we got to the place we are now. Last week we wrote our adoption story for a mailing that Open Hearts-Open Homes (an adoption advocacy group that is helping us raise funds for our adoption) will be sending next week. We thought we'd post the story for those who are interested.

08 December 2006

no passports yet

It feels as if everyone waiting for passports is just holding their breath until something happens. As far as we know, none of the children from our orphanage received them this week. Does that mean the passport office won't deliver, or are they going to issue a ton of passports next week???? Your guess is as good as ours. What it does mean is that we will definitely be here for Christmas (unless something crazy happens with Garty). It's a relief to know one way or the other. Now Becky can plan her cookie baking, and we'll be decorating this weekend.

06 December 2006

why we hate toys

We're now the parents of 3 kids, but they're not here yet. However, I (Becky) and my mom spent a good chunk of the day sorting, in some cases washing, and putting away a pile of toys. Did we put them in a toy box? Of course not! Most of them are too big to fit in a toy box. Did we play with all of them while they were out? Some of them, but many of them don't work yet because they need batteries. Will we be able to play with them 6 months from now? Probably not because by then many of the tiny little pieces will have been carried off and hidden by the cats or eaten by the baby. Peter firmly believes in gift wrapping empty boxes and plastic storage containers as Christmas gifts while the kids are young. I'm starting to think that his plan is a good one. On a positive note though, I had a wonderful time dancing with Barbie on our pretty dance mat. I'm so out of it that my 50-some year old mother had to explain that you plug it into the TV and follow the instructions. I just thought the mat would play music!

kids can make a difference!

Thanks to the creative vision of our friend Melody, a bunch of kids from our church have been making really beautiful Christmas gift tags to help the Acres of Hope orphanage in Liberia. A pack of 20 hand stamped tags sells for $5, and 100% of the donation will buy formula, medicine, and vitamins for us to take to the orphanage when we go. We're so impressed by the desire to help and the commitment of these kids. It's no small job. Melody is quite the task master, making sure that the gift tags are absolutely gorgeous! If we had a digital camera available, we'd post a picture for you. If you really want to see them (or maybe buy a pack), let us know so we can get a picture for you in the next few days. Isn't it great that no matter who we are or what our situation is, we really can do something to make a difference in the world?

04 December 2006

I'll be home for Christmas????

The situation at the Liberian passport office caused quite a stir in our world this weekend. Though we've been waiting a year to bring the kids home, we now feel totally unprepared. We're packing our bags and filling our malaria med prescriptions "just in case." Various family members are getting really excited. People are wondering if we're really going to show up for Christmas celebrations.
Here are the few things we do know. First, if they tell us we can travel, we're out of here Christmas or not. It actually makes one of us extremely sad to think of missing Christmas (you know how sentimental Peter is...), but we'll do what it takes to get the kids home. However, we don't want to assume that the job will get done. President Ellen wasn't messing around with her demand, but it may not be physically possible to complete so many passports in such a short time. The passport office has failed with commitments various times before. Finally, if they put out a ton of passports in a short time, our agency will not be able to have all the families travelling at once. They wouldn't be able to house us all, but the larger issue is that there are only a limited number of US Embassy appointments that can be completed in a week. There are families that have been waiting months for their passports, so they would probably travel before us unless Garty's situation takes a turn for the worse.
So what does that mean for our schedule? We have no idea, but it's time to do some more laundry "just in case."


Sunday Garty hit the 1/2 year mark. He's now 6 months old. Where has the time gone?

01 December 2006

riot in Liberia?

The news from Liberia today is that a group of Liberians stormed the passport office demanding to know what is going on. President Ellen had more meetings with the powers that be and is requiring them to produce 1000 passports in the next 2 weeks!! We don't know what that means for us, if anything. Please pray that God's hand will be on our passport applications so they will be issued at the perfect time.

30 November 2006

ultrasound report

We heard tonight that Garty is in good spirits despite being sick. It seems like they're used to the routine now, so they caught it before things got out of control. As for the ultrasound, the bad news is that it wasn't a great study, so the radiologist wasn't able to discover as much as hoped. The good news is that there doesn't appear to be anything horrifically wrong. Most of the worst case scenarios would be evident even with a not great ultrasound, and they didn't see any of those things. That leaves several options, all of which will need specialty care when Garty gets home. Most of them are not immediately life threatening as long as Garty's body can continue to fight off each infection that comes his way. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement. Please don't stop. We're not there yet!

lots of elephants

If you missed the 11/29 post about the WildCam or just ignored it, we have to tell you that we just clicked over there and saw a whole herd of elephants... and one cute baby elephant. I (Becky) am so excited that I can hardly stand it. Peter's enthusiasm is less obvious, but he did admit that it was cool. You really should check it out (or maybe we should really get a life)!

29 November 2006

good news & bad news

The good news is that we just learned that we're legally parents! They will be submitting passport applications for our kids by the weekend. After that, we're just waiting for "the call." It may take 3 weeks or 3 months, but there aren't any other steps in the process. We're just waiting for the phone to ring!
The bad news is that Garty is sick again with the same kidney infection. We figured this would happen eventually since he definitely has some kind of kidney abnormalities, but we were so encouraged by his stretch of good health. He's been on oral antibiotics, but he still got sick again. He'll be getting antibiotics by injection daily for the next week. During his period of wellness, he gained weight and his appetite increased tremendously, so they're hopeful that he'll start feeling better right away and not lose more weight. If they feel he is serious danger and the passport in nowhere near completion, they will probably do what they can to get him to Ghana. Please pray with us that this doesn't become necessary. We are praying for a quick response to the antibiotics and that God would miraculously move our kids' paperwork through this passport office mess at a quick pace. (And feel free to throw in a prayer that we somehow get through this tremendously long list of things we need to accomplish before we get on the plane!)

fun website

From time to time we check out National Geographic's WildCam in Botswana, Africa. It shows live streaming video from a watering hole where all the animals hang out. The best viewing times are 4-8 pm EST (night) and 12-4 am EST (early morning). Right now I'm trying to unwind after a busy evening at work and watching a turtle sun himself on a rock. However, there are often much more interesting animals than just a cute turtle. Check it out!

28 November 2006

new names

We actually both had the evening off last night, so we headed to Barnes & Noble to (a) relax (b) use our gift card to get some yummy drinks and (c) page through baby name books until we settled on middle names for the kids. We're discovering that it's really tough to choose names with significance, especially when they have to sound good with first names they already have. We've narrowed options for Joshua down to 3, and we're still not thrilled with the 6 options we have for Patience. However, we did want to announce for those who haven't heard... (imagine drumroll here)... that Garty's new name is Garty Samuel Bowersox. Samuel means "the Lord hears," and we know that God has heard the prayers of so many of you since Garty got sick in October. If you know the Biblical story of Hannah and Samuel, you know that Samuel's life was a miracle. We believe that this is true for Garty as well. We decided recently not to change his first name as originally planned. One reason is simply that since he's been sick, everyone has gotten used to calling him Garty. Plus, it's a common Liberian name, even if it's unusual here. As far as the get made fun of on the playground factor, the worst thing we've discovered is that Garty rhymes with "farty." (A helpful pronunciation tip for those of you who have been wondering how we pronounce his name.) We're sure the fascination with bodily functions will bring this to the surface, but we've heard much worse. Finally, and most importantly, we recently learned that our kids' mother lived for about 24 hours after Garty was born. That means that she was probably the one who named him, and we want to honor her memory by keeping his name. When he gets old enough to understand, we'll let him decide if he's rather go by Samuel or Sam. We're fine with it either way. Stay tuned for the update on the other 2 names as soon as we figure them out.

25 November 2006

adoption status

We just learned from our yahoo group that our adoption is either done or very nearly done. The office assistant here in the States isn't sure who is done and who has finishing touches to deal with, but it's good news either way. It means that we may already be parents (and it's not as tough as we thought it would be)!

24 November 2006

a happy thanksgiving

We hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. We cetainly did. We started the day late. After all, we need to get ahead on sleep while we can! After a yummy brunch of raspberry stuffed French toast, we sat down to read Psalm 136. It has recently become our Thanksgiving tradition to read this together. It's a repetitive but beautiful litany of all the acts God did on behalf of Israel, and each statement is followed by, "His love endures forever." When we finish reading, we add our own reflections on God's care for us over the past year. This year, our additions included such statements as, "To him who provided handyman jobs so we could pay the bills... and who blessed us with wonderful family and friends who love and encourage us... and who sent us 3 beautiful children when we only asked for 2..." Truly God has been so good to us this year, and it was great to kick off Thanksgiving by reflecting on his blessings. By the time we concluded this activity, the cats had joined us on the couch, and we were left with no choice but to curl up and take a quick nap.
The rest of our day included a quick visit at Becky's parents' house followed by dinner with the Bowersox extended family. When we were sufficiently stuffed, we headed back to Peter's mom's to spend the night. However, our good night's sleep was not quite as long as it should have been. Becky stayed up until 3am having a great chat with our 2 sisters-in-law who are in town while Peter enjoyed having access to cable TV and watched parts of quite a few movies. All in all, it was a relaxing and wonderful chance to catch up with those we love... and having 5 adorable nieces and nephews makes everything so much more fun!

passport situation update

We just learned that the Liberian president visited the passport office today because of all the problems and promised that things would be moving along again soon. While there are no guarantees, she is someone we're inclined to believe. She's been doing an amazing job since her inauguration in January, and she knows how to get things done. Please continue to pray with us that our kids' passports will be issued in weeks instead of months. Still no official word that our adoption is finalized though. No news from the radiologist either.

21 November 2006

Liberian passport problems

Some of you have asked if there is a way to speed up the passport process so we can get the kids home. Unfortunately, there isn't. The problem is not one that we can solve through typical US solutions. Putting pressure on them could simply cause them to "lose" our kids' paperwork for a while. Things don't work in Liberia the way they do here. On a positive note, today the problems in the passport office finally hit the local radio station in Liberia. If you want to read the story they aired, you can find it here. It's possible that having the attention of the Liberian public focused on the issue may lead to improvements. Our best course of action at this time is to pray for a miracle. That could be a miracle in getting the passports issued quickly (we have heard a few such stories) or a miracle in Garty's health so he can hang in there for an extra month or two or whatever it takes. It certainly seems that God is sustaining him despite problems in his kidneys.

18 November 2006

the joy of sugar

It appears that Joshua and Patience have learned about candy. Rice with palm oil is no longer the extent of their culinary existence.
Check out how long Patience's hair is getting. I might actually have to learn to style it by the time she gets home.

15 November 2006

ultrasounds are here

Tonight we finally received Garty's ultrasounds. You know how you feel when your friend is pregnant for the first time and has an ultrasound early on? She's so excited, so she shows you the little blob on the black page. You're not sure what you're supposed to see, so you smile and try to be supportive as she talks about the arms and the head... but you just see a blob. That's the way we feel at this point. We know they're pictures of his kidneys because the doctor says they are, but we're anxious to hear from Barbara-Jo and the radiologist so we can confirm that the blobs really are kidneys and find out what that means. We'll send more details when we have them.

13 November 2006

busy days & nights

As you may have assumed, we haven't heard any news about the kids in a week, so we haven't posted any updates. We're assuming this means Garty is still feeling alright. However, the woman who sends us updates hasn't had internet access since hers went down last Thursday, so it could just mean that she hasn't read the news from Liberia to send it on to us. Either way, we're trying to go on with our day to day routines trusting that God has everything under control. We spent some time on Saturday with Barbara-Jo, who is anxious for the kids to get home so she can get her hands on Garty.

Our adoption is supposed to be finalized before Thanksgiving, and then the last hurdle is getting passports for the 3 kids. Please pray with us that things would go smoothly. Although we aren't anxious to have the added stress of celebrating Christmas with 3 kids who just got to America, we are anxious to get Garty the medical care he needs as soon as possible.

Things have been pretty crazy here lately, as Becky went from working 2 days a week in the Worldlink office to also waitressing at Outback Steakhouse 3 nights a week and tutoring a few French and Spanish students before teaching ESL on Wednesday evenings. It's been a big adjustment for us, and we went almost 3 weeks without sitting down to dinner together at home! We're starting to get into a routine now and are learning to steal little bits of time together whenever we can find them. This is only a temporary situation. ESL ends in mid-December, and Outback will end whenever the kids come home. We may try to work it out so tutoring can continue one night a week because the scheduling is totally flexible, it keeps Becky connected to her passion for teaching and language, and it pays pretty well. We'll just see if we think we can handle it once the kids are here.

While Becky is at work, Peter has been getting lots of projects done around the house, so it should be much safer and better looking by the time the kids come home. The kids' room looks great, and we're now putting away their clothes and books and toys.

So if you haven't heard from us in a while, now you know why. The goal is to catch up on email and update the blog more frequently between now and Thanksgiving, although we make no promises.

05 November 2006

news... finally!

After a very quiet and difficult week, we just heard that Garty is still doing well. No ultrasound pictures yet, but at least he's hanging in there. Here's a new picture of him. Feel free to email or call and tell us how cute he is!

03 November 2006

no news is... no news

Some of you are starting to wonder why we haven't updated you on Garty this week. Unfortunately, we have nothing at all to report. The only thing we've learned since last Friday (a week ago!) is that he's back at his foster home. We still don't have the ultrasound pictures or any information about what they may or may not be planning to do next. Needless to say, we're a bit frustrated. We often think that no news is good news, and it probably is good news that they haven't rushed him to the hospital this week. However, the ultrasound definitely showed something wrong with his kidneys, so that needs to be fixed before his body can heal completely. If you want specific things to pray about, we would appreciate prayers regarding the arrival of the ultrasound pictures so they can be read by a radiologist and interpreted by a specialist in addition to prayers that his body will be strong enough to continue to fight this infection.
We did learn this week that the Liberian passport office claims that they will be moving passports more quickly from now on. This is potentially good news, as we know a family that has been waiting for passports for their twins for almost 5 months now!! (It used to take 2-3 weeks. Then it was taking 4-6. Then things got really messed up!) Our adoption should be finalized on or around Nov. 20. It will REALLY be pushing it to get passports before the end of 2006, but please join us in praying for a miracle. In some ways, we would love to wait until January or February to bring the kids home. Then we would have the extra time to get through the holidays (a potentially very stressful time with 3 new overwhelmed kids) and get some things taken care of in the house and financially. On the other hand, we really need to get Garty more extensive medical care. We know God is in control of the situation and He knows best. We also know that He can do a very clear miracle in the passport office if He wants to. We're just leaving it in His hands and asking Him to move. If He chooses not to, we will try to rest in the knowledge that He is infinitely wiser than we are.

27 October 2006

a long day

We waited all day for the phone call we expected in the morning, and it never came. We both just walked in the door from our respective busy evenings to FINALLY find an email message complete with pictures. Here's what it said... Patty (our agency director) has a new staff person who is going to be joining AOH who is a pediatric intensive care nurse. She will have her review Garty's case tomorrow, and then we will have a more updated report at the end of the day. Patty has other options that she is thinking about as well. Garty's white blood count is down. This is good, but we weren't able to get a urine sample yet since it is really hard to get the little guys to pee in a cup! His urine still has a bad odor. The doctor was able to take a look at Garty's kidneys with the ultrasound today. The doctor said for sure he noticed that the kidneys were quite large with the right kidney being even bigger with abnormalities. Hopefully we'll get the images soon so your doctor can take a look. Yesterday Garty ran a fever almost all day and slept a lot. When he was awake, his disposition was pleasant as long as he was on Tylenol. Today he had a fever, but it wasn't constant. He was also more alert, and we even played a little. I was even able to get a couple of pictures of him smiling! Here are the pictures plus one of Joshua and Patience that I took the other day. Sorry it's fuzzy.

a doctor's assessment

We woke up this morning to an email and a phone call with our friend Barbara-Jo. Basically, she said Garty will probably die if they don't figure out exactly what's wrong and fix it really soon. Obviously not really what we want to hear, but we know where we stand. Please pray, pray, pray for us today as we try to determine next steps. She's willing to leave right away for Liberia, but we don't know if that would help. Please pray that God will sustain Garty again. His little body has been through so much already, but we need him to hang in there. Please pray for focus and clarity for the two of us who have quite a few important appointments on our schedule today amid all of this chaos!

26 October 2006

back in the hospital

We just heard that Garty is back in the hospital with a distended stomach and something wrong with his liver. That's all we know at the moment, so now we have to wait until morning for an update. We also learned that a few weeks ago Acres of Hope (our adoption agency) was told NOT to ask for any more special passports for sick kids, which means a medical visa to the US is not an option. We're now trying to figure out if there's any chance of getting him to a different African country (which may still require a passport) or sending a doctor to him (which doesn't necessarily solve the problem because it doesn't improve the technology available). So basically, we have no idea what to do except beg you all to KEEP PRAYING! If you read this before lunchtime Friday, pray specifically that we would have the chance to speak with the director of Acres of Hope. They are trying to arrange for her to call us from Liberia tomorrow morning our time. Pray that this conversation would open doors of communication and make our options clear.

25 October 2006

Worldlink project news

Here is a bit of news not about the kids... Some of you know that Peter spent a lot of time last year working to gather bikes, computers, vehicles, books, food, tools, chainsaws, and lots of other stuff to go into a 40x8x8 ft. shipping container headed to Liberia.

Our native missionary partners there are now using those goods for small businesses and ministry purposes. They have just started teaching sewing and computer classes and will be starting an internet café as well. The 5 chainsaws are being used to cut wood and make charcoal. Because there are no utilities, everyone cooks with charcoal. They have already brought in $2,400 from this business!

The Liberian missionaries expect to be self-sufficient when all the businesses are functioning properly. This is exciting for two reasons. First, Worldlink can then shift the support for these workers to new partnerships. Second, it shows that ministries can become self-sufficient when given the chance. Peter is now looking at another plan to help a Tanzanian group start a technical training school which will have far-reaching effects in their community.

There is a full report and more photos online at www.worldlinkonline.org. Follow the “latest news” link.

24 October 2006

Garty's progress

We haven't been doing a very good job keeping the blog updated... mostly because we've been too exhausted to get online when we've been home. The emotional struggle of the past few weeks has finally caught up with us and left us very, very tired. The doctors never connected on Friday, but they did run tests on Garty at the hospital. Not much developed from that except to learn that his white blood count was still high, which means they don't have the infection under control yet. On the up side, they are going to have access to an ultrasound machine this coming Friday. This will allow them to determine if Garty has abnormalities in his urinary tract or a kidney absess. Either of these problems would require a specialist immediately to get things on track. Otherwise, they will probably continue to assume he just has a normal kidney infection. We didn't hear any news over the weekend, but a few minutes ago a message came in. Evidently email has been down in Liberia for several days. As of today, Garty is back to drinking 7 oz. at a time (8 is his norm), having normal diapers, playing, and his skin is looking healthier. That's great news, but Barbara-Jo warned that if he has abnormalities in his urinary tract, the symptoms will eventually return. Please pray with us that this isn't the case and that Garty really is on the mend. He's one tough baby, but we believe that your prayers and the grace of God are what really make the difference. Time to go wake Daddy and tell him the news. (Believe it or not, he worries as much or more than Mommy.)

19 October 2006

tonight's developments

As of about 7:30pm our time, Garty had not had any more signs of scary diapers. He was also eating well. He's sleeping in bed tonight with the woman in charge of his care so she can watch him really closely. The plan is that tomorrow they will take him to the hospital and call us while they're with the doctor. Then our friend Barbara-Jo will talk with the doctor directly as they consider possibilities. Barbara-Jo is obviously concerned about blot clots and what they could mean, but she said we should take heart because it sounds like a reversible process (as opposed to an incurable disease). The director of our agency saw Garty today, so she will be able to be involved in any decisions that need to be made. All this is a good thing. We're still terrified, but at least we know everything that can be done is being done. Please pray that if Garty can't be treated in Liberia we would be able to get him to the US or another more developed African country. God has clearly put people in our lives who could help make this happen, but we would need to get him a medical visa from the US embassy and an emergency passport (the really tricky part) from Liberia before his health takes a turn for the worse.

urgent update

Sorry we've been out of touch for a few days. A bunch has happened since we got home, and we just haven't been online at all. We'll update you on all that news later, but we just got very bad news about Garty. Today he filled his diaper with blood clots. At his appointment on Tuesday, there were signs of improvement... although his white blood count still indicated infection. We were just happy to be moving in the right direction, and he was back to smiling and playing a bit. This news though is especially bad because the doctor there doesn't even know what to do. He asked us to contact our pediatrician for advice. Our friend Barbara-Jo said that she doesn't have any idea what to guess without examining him. She said there are lots of possible scenarios... nearly all of them bad. She thinks he probably needs a specialist at this point, which of course is not an option in Liberia. We're hoping to put her in direct contact with the doctor there so they might be able to figure something out. We're also hoping to hear from our adoption agency tonight about the possibility of now pursuing a medical visa. PLEASE PRAY... obviously for Garty's health but also for wisdom on the part of all involved to make the best decisions for him. The director of our agency just got to Liberia this week. Please pray that her presence there will be a helpful thing in making the best decision... It's a good thing that God loves Garty more than we ever could because otherwise this would be too scary to handle.

14 October 2006

very quick update

We just got back to the computer after a wonderful evening at our 10 year college reunion. We're tired and ready to crash, but this mommy couldn't go to bed without checking on her baby. Here's the news... Garty is still sick, though doing better. He used to have a fever almost constantly, now it is off and on and not as high as previously. He will be having another checkup on Tuesday, and we'll be able to get a better assessment of his progress. More on the kids and our fun Homecoming weekend when we get settled in at home on Monday.

13 October 2006

more delays

We just found out a few minutes ago that our adoption is running a little behind schedule. Without wasting your time explaining the international adoption process in Liberia, it suffices to say that our kids most likely won't be home for Christmas. We always knew this was a possibility, but it doesn't make the situation any less disappointing. After waiting... and waiting... and waiting for an adoption that was supposed to be completed in the spring, it's so hard to imagine starting the new year without our babies. On the up side, it looks like Becky's bakery will be open for Christmas, and Peter will have time to work on those few extra projects he dreamed of getting finished.

12 October 2006

Garty's feeling a bit happier

In addition to some more details on Garty's bacterial infection, today we learned that his fever has gone down and he's showing some signs of improvement. Next week they're going to run some more blood tests to try to get more info and see if they're making progress. Unfortunately, the hospital actually has an ultrasound machine, but it's broken! But the information that cheered our hearts the most was... Garty is looking really good today. He was THINKING about playing, was much more alert, and didn't cry as much as yesterday.

11 October 2006

Joshua and friends

Here's a pictures of Joshua in the middle of some friends at the orphanage (the little guy in the white shirt). It appears that he's popular with the ladies!!

riding the roller coaster with Garty

One thing we've discovered in the past 9 days is that we should never assume we have the full story on our little boy. This evening we received two updates. The first said... Garty is looking a little better today. Finally I can see him slowly improving. No smiles yet, but his face was much more relaxed.
Just when we started to feel excited about things looking up, we read the second email written after the doctor's visit... Yesterday I said that Garty has a urinary tract infection. I saw the doctor again today and got more details. He actually has a systemic infection (which is why his liver and spleen are enlarged), and because there were so many white blood cells in his urine the doctor is assuming the infection is stemming from his kidneys. Garty is a very strong baby and is showing improvement, but this illness is very serious. I sometimes wonder how these babies get so sick. Thankfully God is in control, and we do have some medical capabilities in Liberia.
Barbara Jo, our new best friend and pediatrician, replied to this information with several significant questions, so we're going to try to get answers. She's not panicked, so we're not either. However, she did say that an enlarged liver and spleen can mean lots of things. Hopefully they are treating for the right problem, but it is possible that we're not there yet. She also mentioned that we might have the basis for a medical visa if he needs a specialist. Unfortunately, medical visas are very tough to get from Liberia.
As you pray for Garty over the next few days, please pray especially that (1) the doctors will get to the root of the problem and treat it correctly (2) if a medical visa is the best course of action, we would be able to move in that direction quickly (3) no long term damage will be done to Garty's system as they try to heal whatever is going on.

10 October 2006

picture problem fixed

Several people have mentioned that the new picture we posted of Garty on 10/7 was too small and couldn't be enlarged. We finally had time and energy to fix it today, so if you scroll down, you can now click on Garty's new picture and see him up close and personal. It's amazing that African women don't dump the kids on the ground carrying them that way!

picture of the day

We love this picture of the pet monkey at our orphanage climbing into a walker!!

will this ever end?

They keep discovering new problems with our poor baby. It sounds like this time they might finally have gotten to the root of the problem, but we're not holding our breath. Here's the update that came through a few minutes ago... It turns out Garty has a serious urinary tract infection. At the one hospital they were able to tell he had an infection (whether or not it was actually the pneumonia they thought he had) and was anemic. The blood transfusion was very good, but now he needs to be on a very strong antibiotic for this type of infection. He is eating well, though you can tell he just feels lousy. Thankfully we really know what is wrong with him now. The malaria was all cleared up right away, so we don't have to worry about that anymore. He will be given shots for a week but will still be able to stay at home. (He'll go to the hospital for his shots.) Then he'll be on 3 weeks of oral antibiotics. After that he'll have to be on preventative antibiotics for several months.
While this news doesn't make us happy, it's less frightening and life threatening (now that they're treating it) than malaria and pneumonia. We'll keep you updated on Garty's health, but we're optimistic that things should keep improving from here. Thanks for your continued prayers and all the encouragement you've been sending our way.

09 October 2006

fun with poison oak

Saturday and Sunday Becky's poison continued to spread, and her right arm and hand swelled up in big way. It was quite a sight, and Peter wanted to take pictures to post for your entertainment! Unfortunately for you, we don't have a digital camera.

At church on Sunday, we had our friend Nancy, a nurse, take a look at it. She was very concerned about the swelling and the appearance of the rash. She feared it was starting to become infected. She insisted on driving straight to the ER, so Becky has now been in the Mount Holly ER two Sunday mornings in a row! If anyone would like to borrow our frequent visitor card and get it punched, soon we'll earn a free visit.

The doctor determined it wasn't infected yet, but he was concerned about how severe things had gotten. He prescribed a VERY strong 10 day dose of Prednisone as well as a topical steroid. We finally have a doctor's appointment this week, so they'll check again for infection. Already the steroids are doing a great job of reducing the swelling and slowing the oozing. Today we can see 3 knuckles on the balloon hand... only 2 are still missing. Unfortunately, the poison is still spreading on Becky's legs and stomach, but the drugs will stop that soon.

two Garty updates

No news came through on Saturday about Garty, but Sunday afternoon we got this report... Garty is doing well and gaining strength. When I saw him in the hospital yesterday he was sleeping peacefully. His skin looked good, like he is staying hydrated. Praise the Lord, the nanny said he is now drinking five ounces at a time! (When he is well he usually drinks 8 or 9.) He is supposed to come home on Monday, if he is doing well enough.

This news, of course, made us feel much better, but tonight we're resting slightly less easy since we just received this message... Well, Garty is home from the hospital and doing OK. He's eating OK, but I'm not satisfied with how slow his overall improvement is coming. I am also concerned because his stomach area feels abnormally hard. If he has not perked up by morning, I plan to take him to see an American doctor. He's hanging in there, but keep praying!

It's been such a week of ups and downs. We really believe that God is going to bring Garty home to us, but we've got a long way to go. First we need to get over all these issues, and then we need to get through about 2 more months in Liberia. Thanks to all who are continuing to pray and care for our family. On a positive note, all reports on Joshua and Patience are still good.

07 October 2006

the internet as a blessing

We have been blown away by the number of people who are praying for our sweet baby. The amazing thing is that many of these are people we've never met. They're people that we'd have no contact with if it weren't for the internet. There's an adoptive family in CA with 19 kids. Through my post to our adoption agency's yahoo group, they learned about Garty. They sit down as a family for 3 meals a day (can you imagine that?), and every time one of the children prays for Garty. There's our friend Tom who posted an update about Garty to groshlink.net, his very active blog. Now many more people know and can pray. There are all our wonderful friends and family who we'd never have time to call with updates, but email has made communication possible. And then on top of that, some have activated their church and small group prayer chains to pray. Barbara Jo, the pediatrician we've been consulting, contacted her friends at Samaritan's Purse to ask some questions. Now their stateside prayer team is praying for Garty. Although this has been a terribly stressful week for us, we can't help but marvel at how blessed we are to know that the battle for Garty's little life is going on all over this country. Thanks to all who are standing with us in this difficult time. Please keep praying. We're not there yet.

new picture

You may know that Africans tie their babies on their backs. Here's a picture of Garty being carried around at the orphanage before he got sick. He doesn't look thrilled, but we're glad he's getting lots of physical contact. Becky will be wearing him around a lot when he comes home.

06 October 2006

exciting news

We feel like we've been posting nothing but bad news lately, so we thought we'd share with you the very exciting news of the day... Becky paid $1.96 for gas tonight!!!! It's like God knew we need a little bit of excitement in our week. We paid $1.99 Sunday and were thrilled, but $1.96! Soon they'll be giving the gas away!

Friday night update

We've been very blessed today to receive lots of updates on Garty. After talking to the pediatrician today, we emailed and asked specifically if Garty was sleeping normally, eating, acting alert and "normal", and whether his fever had broken. Here is the response that came through tonight... Garty is still sleeping a normal amount for a baby, though he is sleeping more than usual since he is sick. I am glad that he is not in so much pain that he can't relax enough to sleep. His body needs time to heal, and sleep is healing. Garty still has a fever, but it is much lower than the other day. He is very alert, though he looks like he is in pain. He cried when he was disturbed from a nap but stopped crying as soon as the nanny was holding him. Garty is not eating a lot right now since he feels so lousy and has sores all over his mouth from the antibiotic. Pray that the sores will heal so he can enjoy eating again. The nanny knows it is so important that he does eat, so she is patiently coaxing him to at least drink a couple ounces. Garty does not look better than he did two days ago, since he was at his worst yesterday and today was a very hard day of fighting for his little body. But he looked strong, like he IS fighting the illness, and not weak and lethargic.

lots of news about Garty

It's been a crazy day, but I'm finally able to post our updates. The following emails are what we received between 6:30pm Thursday and today around 11am followed by the interpretation of the information we received from an excellent pediatrician we know. Some of you already received this info by email, but we wanted to post it because we know we probably missed people.

EMAIL #1 -

Garty Kah had to be admitted to the hospital today for a blood transfusion. He was very anemic, so the doctor decided this was best. I am hoping he only stays one night. I'd rather have the kids here with me as long as they aren't on the IV anymore. He looked good today, though sick. His favorite nanny is staying with him.

EMAIL #2 -

Garty was up to 13 or 14 pounds and now he has lost about a pound and a half. When he came to us he was anemic (from not being on good formula: his mother died in childbirth and he had been drinking powdered milk for the 2 months before he came). He was on an iron supplement, but malaria ruins red blood cells, so that’s why he needed the transfusion. The doctor did not think he would have the ability to recover from the malaria and pneumonia unless he was given the transfusion. He has been the picture of health until now. But though he is sick, he still looks okay. His weight is still within a healthy range for an African baby his age.

Godgift Garjay who is 2 1/2 went through the very same illnesses. He had malaria and pneumonia and also needed a blood transfusion. He is doing great now. Before allowing Garty to go through with the transfusion I called an American missionary doctor to ask his opinion. He thought the transfusion was a good idea and did not seem worried about the procedure. If needed, I would be okay with getting a blood transfusion in this country.

I’m so sorry Garty is sick, but I am doing my best to get him the care he needs. I love these babies so much. I wish they never got sick. (Don’t we all?)

EMAIL #3 -

I saw Garty today in the hospital. He had the blood transfusion last night, and it was successful. Garty is weak, but not crying too much. He is very comforted by the nanny and is able to sleep a lot. I wanted to assure everyone that Garty's transfusion was safe, so I met with the hospital director. He is a Spanish man. I mentioned that we want to make sure our babies get the best care possible. He told me there is not a blood bank, but people are contacted to donate as the need arises (usually family members). All the blood is carefully screened for HIV, etc. He assured me that not only would it be bad for the patients if they weren't careful with the blood, but it would be bad for those running the hospital. So I felt confident that the blood was safe (I would get a transfusion from that hospital if needed). Hopefully the blood will be just the boost Garty needs to bring him back to health.


We conference called this morning with a local pediatrician who also does medical work with orphans in Mongolia. She said that malaria is actually a parasite that tries to live in your red blood cells, but when it moves in, it breaks up the cells. Because Garty was already anemic, the malaria was destroying any chance of his body fighting off the malaria and pneumonia. She said that it sounds like all the right steps are being taken with the limited resources available in Liberia. She said that we should start to see improvement in a day or two. However, there are a few types of pneumonia that break down red blood cells like malaria does. If he has one of those, the blood transfusion will simply add fuel to the fire. We'll have to see the direction things go in the next day or two. She said that when his fever goes down, he's eating normally, he's alert, and he's smiling some, we'll know he's turning the corner.

Thanks so much to all of you who are praying and who have others praying. We appreciate the encouragement we've received from you all. Please don't be offended if we haven't emailed you personally. We're just a bit distracted. On top of all of this, I have a nasty case of poison oak that has made my arms very painful, swollen, and barely able to bend. Because I'm a new patient at our doctor's office, they wouldn't give me an appointment until Tuesday, so I'm taking Benadryl and running lots of cold water over my arms when they start to feel like they're on fire.

Between our ER visit over the weekend, my arms, and our very sick baby, I feel like God has done what he did in the book of Job and said, "Go ahead and do what you want to her." However, this time He chose the wrong person. I'm not strong enough to handle it.

04 October 2006

the prayer of our hearts

No update on Garty today. We're hanging in there. Last night for the first time we prayed this beautiful and powerful prayer by Richard Foster. It is a prayer for all the children, but we have especially embraced it for our children as we are realizing just how vulnerable they really are...

Lord God, merciful Father, care for the little ones. Watch over them in all their innocence. Guard, guide, protect. They are so vulnerable in this world gone awry. Famine, violence, and abuse abound. They have no shield, no defense. Be their shield, O Lord. Be their defense. El Shaddai, send your holy angels to protect the children. Protect them as they skip down the street. Protect them as they play on the school grounds. Protect them as they sleep through the night. Protect them from all physical harm. Protect them from all emotional harm. Protect them from all spiritual harm. Keep them from the influence of the evil one: from evil friendships, from evil thoughts, from evil acts. This I ask in the strong name of Jesus who always welcomed the little ones into his presence. Amen.

03 October 2006

Garty update

Here is the updated email we received about Garty today... Garty was taken to the hospital today. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. It seems that his system was weakened from the pneumonia, which made him more susceptible to malaria. The malaria shouldn't be a problem anymore, since he's been treated, but it's the pneumonia he is fighting. He is on a lot of drugs to help him pull through. The nanny is taking very good care of him, and I check up on him several times a day, since he is living downstairs. The nanny was up a lot with him last night just holdin him and trying to comfort him. I will let you know how he is doing as his condition improves.

It is really tough to be so far away from our baby when his is so sick, but we're comforted to know that he's receiving one on one attention from a loving and dedicated nanny. We trying to believe that he'll pull through, but it's easy to doubt. Peter is having some symptoms of anxiety. I am alternating between a relative peace and crying spells. THANK YOU SO MUCH to all who are praying for Garty and us. You have no idea how much your prayers have strengthened us today.

02 October 2006


We just got home after a busy day to find out that Garty is sick. He is still eating well, but he tested positive to malaria and isn't responding to treatment. He is running a constant fever. If he didn't improve today, they were going to take him to the hospital to see if there was something more wrong with him. We're so scared, as the infant mortality rate in Liberia is very high-- especially as a result of malaria. Please pray for Garty's quick recovery. We wouldn't be opposed to a few prayers for our peace of mind as well.

30 September 2006

details about our kids

We just received an email with more information about our kids! There's much more we'd like to know, but at least it's a start. Here's what they sent us...

Joshua is a size 3-4. He is quiet natured but usually happy.

Patience is a size 2-3, though she might only be in 3's by the time she gets to the States. She is also quiet natured. She seems contemplative a lot of the time. She is very sweet natured. SHE IS POTTY TRAINED [emphasis added by a very happy mommy], but needs to wear a diaper during naps and at night.
Garty is a size 3-6 months, but he will probably be a size 9-12 months by the time he gets to the States. He is growing very fast [i.e. getting a big fat belly that mommy can't wait to tickle]. He is a very good natured baby. He loves sleeping with his blankie, playing with his toys, and being sung to. He drinks Guigos formula (a product of Nestle). He does not like Similac. (He won't drink it.) He now takes his formula with rice cereal mixed inside. This helps him stay full longer.

28 September 2006

let's try this again

Hopefully you've already used the links on this page to see our kids. However, after talking with our friend Tom this morning, I (Becky) am once again frustrated that I wasn't able to post our new pictures. I'm going to try again to see if Thursday is my lucky day...

26 September 2006

surprise phone call

We got a call from our adoption agency Sunday at 8:30pm. When Becky heard Donna's voice on a Sunday evening, she was petrified that one of the kids was seriously sick. Donna actually had new pictures of the kids and wanted to email them to us right away! We hardly recognized the older 2 kids. It's weird how you build your entire relationship with your kid around the 1 or 2 pictures you have, and then you can't imagine them looking any other way. We're happy that Patience is smiling, but are otherwise not thrilled with her new picture. It's a strange angle that makes her look completely different than the last picture. We love the other 2 pictures though. Garty is starting to look like a little person with a personality! They all look happy! Unfortunately, after trying unsuccessfully to upload the pictures for several hours yesterday, I've now been trying again for 2 hours today. Something is wrong, but I'm not tech savvy enough to fix it. I'll try to add the photos as a link on the right side of the page. Stay tuned!

23 September 2006

kid projects

You haven't heard from us much this week because we've been working like maniacs at all hours getting ready for the kids to come home. We're not sure if it's enthusiasm or fear that is spurring us along, but we've been very productive! After running into major delays last Saturday replacing the nursery windows, Peter has been flying along insulating behind trim, running wires for lighting and outlets, and repairing walls so they're ready to paint. Becky is organizing and cleaning out throughout the house. We love our house, but it's been such a construction zone for so long that we no longer notice how unfinished it is. It definitely won't be finished when the kids come home, but we need to make it livable. We're thinking that little things like the electrical outlets hanging out of the walls should probably be taken care of...

18 September 2006

Discovery Times Channel

Is there anyone reading this that gets the Discovery Times Channel and would be willing to do us a favor? There is a movie called Liberia: An Uncivil War that we have been wanting to see. It's available for purchase for $30, but it's airing on the Discovery Times Channel several times over the next week. Unfortunately, it's not one of the 6 channels we get. If you would be willing to record the show for us, please let us know so we can send you the showtimes. Thanks!!

15 September 2006

get your own cute little African

If you have time and are interested in learning more about the African orphan crisis, check out this short article: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,645194628,00.html.

update on the kiddos

We just heard that our adoption will be processed in the next group that they're beginning by the end of September, which means that by mid-October Joshua, Patience, and Garty will legally be our kids. Then it will be about 6 weeks until their Liberian passports are issued. As a result, we could be going to pick them up by the end of November or early December!! We knew that this time frame was possible, but now that it's becoming more definite we're getting pretty nervous. We've been waiting so long. Now that it's here, we're not ready. We purposely saved our kid projects for this time frame because we didn't want to be sitting around counting the days. I'm fairly sure that's not going to be a problem! It's going to be an interesting fall at our house.

14 September 2006

we're back

It's been about a week since we arrived home from vacation, and we've been very busy getting back to "real" life ever since. It's a shame we can't all go on holiday at once like the French so that no one would miss anything while they're away.

We had a WONDERFUL and relaxing vacation. Arlan and Marcy (the friends we stayed with) called it our "babymoon"... the last chance to get away before our reality changes forever. They took care of us and fed us good food and chauffered us around. It was a tremendous blessing.

Now we're 100% in kid preparation mode. At home this means getting a ton done on the house. Last Saturday Becky repaired our rotting fence (and contracted poison ivy in the process) while Peter worked on cleaning out the garage for the first time since we moved. Now Peter is running wires and installing lighting in the kids' room. Saturday Becky's grandfather will help install windows in their room (so those cute little warm blooded Africans won't freeze to death this winter in the coldest room of the house). The following week and weekend will be dedicated to painting their room with the fun paint from the oops rack at Lowe's and moving all their furniture in. If we accomplish all this in Sept, we'll move on to figuring out how to have hot water all winter (a novel concept) and finishing up the kitchen. We've had the supplies for all these projects for a long time, but we haven't had time to do them. We're so thankful that Peter has had the chance to develop so many useful skills over the past few years. We can't imagine what it would cost to have these jobs done.

The to do list involves plenty of other non-house items as well, so we're going to have a very busy fall. It's the good kind of busy though. The kind with a purpose... and we are really in love with the purpose.

30 August 2006


We apologize if your life has felt empty over the last week in the absence of news from us. We were actually frantically preparing for a much needed vacation. We spent a long weekend visiting Becky's brother Steve in New York, and now we're spending over a week with good friends who are also expecting their first child this winter. We really needed to get out of town and unwind from the stress of the past few months before gearing up for 3 new (but very cute) stressors.

During our visit to NY, we climbed the 12th and 20th highest peaks in the Adirondacks. Steve is determined to become a 46er-- one of the elite among outdoorsmen who has climbed all 46 of the peaks in the Adirondacks that are over 4000 feet. Saturday's hike had him up to #12 in less than 2 months! As it took 3 days for Becky to be able to walk down stairs properly after climbing about 4400 feet up (and down actually hurt more) in an 8 mile round trip, she is planning to use the 3 kids as her excuse for avoiding these types of climbs in the future. However, despite the pain, the experience was amazing. Check it out...

23 August 2006

golf outing finalized

Some of you saw in recent family newsletter that a golf outing has been organized to benefit Life International, the organization that is helping us raise funds for our adoption. At this point, the other family that was also supposed to benefit from this fundraiser has most of their funds in, so we will benefit tremendously from this event. If you are interested in participating, check out the "golf outing" link on the right. You can sign up by calling the number listed or by sending us a check written to "Life International." If you would like to sponsor a hole, you are welcome to do that as well. Hole sponsors are a huge blessing because nearly all the money is profit. If you have any questions, please let us know. We probably don't have the answers, but we can find out.

21 August 2006

our kids' sizes

Quite a few of you have asked about our kids' clothing sizes. In an effort to support your desire to buy cute little outfits, here is the best information I can figure based on what I found online. Joshua may still be wearing a 4T when he comes home, but he'll be close to a 4. He's a very little guy for his age. Patience will almost definitely be a 3T. Garty is pretty much on target, so he will be wearing 6 month or more likely 9 month clothing when he comes home. Closer to the time when we pick them up, we'll hear what size they're in so we can be prepared. However, I know that some of you are anxious to hit the clearance racks and yard sales. I (Becky) hate to shop, so I'm thankful for those of you who want to do it!

20 August 2006

orphanage news

We just heard from a woman named Melodie who is now working with our orphanage in Liberia. Her job is to get to know everyone's kids and then send us information about them. We're so excited to know that there is someone solely dedicated to keeping us informed about our kids. She told us that she received 2 family albums yesterday, and all the kids were so excited and asking when they would see their new families. We were planning to do ours this week anyway, but now we're really excited to send photos to our kids. We picked out some pictures this evening, and Becky will pick up albums in the morning.

final kids club report

Despite a slow start, our Neighborhood Kids Club ended strong with 18 enthusiastic kids. Several of them said that Kids Club should be 2 weeks long, but a tired hostess vetoed that idea. We had about 40 people here for the cookout on Friday evening, with a large majority being children. We were hoping for more adults, but we know that connecting with neighbors is a long, slow process. In our neighborhood, people hang out on their porches and talk for hours, but it's unusual to be invited over to someone's house. As a result, I don't think people know what to do with an invitation to dinner. The evening was fun, and we were thankful for Ken, Jackie, and Becky's mom, Sharon, who came to help so we could relax and socialize with our neighbors. Please pray for the long term effects of the contacts we made last week.

17 August 2006

life in the big city

You can argue about whether our town is a city. Technically it's a borough, but with over 31,000 inhabitants, it qualifies as a city by many definitions. It definitely has lots of city problems. We love the neighborhood we live in and feel completely safe here. However, we were reminded today that we definitely haven't chosen life in the suburbs. Peter left for work this morning to discover that our car's side window was smashed and our stereo was ripped out of the dash. The only other thing taken was his Leatherman Wave-- a treasured and often used Christmas gift. When the cops showed up they said they've been having lots of similar break ins lately, and they check the pawn shop a couple times a week for stolen property. They evidently arrested a couple kids for theft, but now it seems like others are on the loose. It's almost comical to note that although the stereo is actually a very good one, it's on its deathbed and doesn't play CDs properly anymore. We're most frustrated by the expense and inconvenience of needing to replace the window. Peter is actually picking one up at a junk yard right now. We were blessed to find one for $50 after only 3 calls, but Peter will lose several hours he doesn't have to spare ripping the door apart. So Peter lost his favorite tool, we're out some money, Becky can't run her errands conveniently, and we won't be listening to music for a while... but life will go on. At least life in the big city keeps us on our toes. By the way, if you'd like to see the 2 bullet holes in our windows from Becky's adventures 2 Sundays ago, feel free to come visit. (OK... so maybe they're just beebee gun pellet holes from the not so careful kids across the alley, but it makes our life sound really dangerous if we leave out the details.)

16 August 2006

kids club midweek update

Our neighborhood kids club is taking place from 1-2:30 every afternoon this week. We really didn't know how many kids to expect. So far we have 13 kids who have shown up. That's a small number compared to the many kids in our neighborhood, but the reality is that people in this neighborhood don't plan their lives around anything. They also don't use a clock as often as we do, so you never know what time they'll show up. After the initial disappointment about the small turnout, we've been encouraged by the kids' enthusiasm about the club and desire to invite friends. Even the soon-to-be 6th graders have been really involved and excited. They're singing, hearing stories, playing games, memorizing Bible verses, and earning lots of tickets to cash in for prizes on Friday. Please pray for the long term impact of the club. Please pray as well for a good turnout at our neighborhood cookout on Friday when we hope to connect with many of the parents. We'll post a final report on the weekend.

rolling right along

Tonight we got sizes for our kids-- height, weight, foot, and head. Of course, we don't have any idea what they mean except to know that the baby is a healthy weight for his age and Joshua will come up to Becky's hip. We have a connection to a pediatrician who takes frequent trips to Mongolia to work with orphans. She will look at the info and let us know if anything seems out of whack. Now to figure out how to translate the info into clothing sizes...

15 August 2006

adoption prayer requests

1. Pray for Joshua and Patience-- especially Joshua-- as they mourn the tremendous loss of their mommy and daddy and adjust to orphanage life.

2. Praise God that the children came to the orphanage healthy, and pray for them in a country where potential health threats are many and health care is extremely limited. Pray especially for Garty as about 60% of Liberian children die before their first birthday.

3. Pray that the adoption process would move quickly and smoothly so we can get the kids home as soon as possible.

4. Pray that God will prepare the hearts of the kids for the day when we will become a family.

5. Pray that God will calm our nerves as we wait for official word that the relinquishment has gone through and the kids are available for adoption.

6. Pray that we will prepare wisely for their homecoming over the next few months.

7. Pray that we will begin now to strengthen our marriage and prioritize time together so that we will be able to handle the stress of an instant family of 5.

happy birthday Joshua

Today Joshua turns 5! We wish we could be with him or at least send a gift, but that would be awkward since he doesn't even know who we are yet. It's weird to already feel so in love with a little one who doesn't know we exist. He will soon though-- hopefully very soon.
On a related note, we realized that all 3 kids have good weather birthdays (June, Aug, and Sept). This is very good news as it allows for many interesting and not insanely expensive birthday party options. Now that I've said that it will probably rain every birthday for the next 5 years.

14 August 2006

the short version

If you want lots of details, skip this and go on to "the whole story." This is just for those with a short attention span or less concern for the details...
We were first contacted about these kids last Tuesday and agreed to consider taking 3. Of course, we believed at that time that all 3 were boys. Nevertheless, God brought us along gradually until Friday we were willing to not only take 3 but take one who is a lot older than we wanted and one who is a girl. We got their pictures Saturday morning and began to fall in love.
At this point we know that all 3 "appear healthy" and are negative for Hep and HIV. Their mommy died giving birth to the baby 2 months ago, so their daddy brought them to the orphanage. He is uneducated, unemployed, and completely unable to care for them. The baby is in foster care now because he's so young. The other 2 are together at the orphanage. It will be 4 to 6 months until we can bring them home.

the whole story

There are quite a few of you who really want to know what happened over the past week to totally change the course of our lives. Here are all the nitty gritty little details...
Last Tuesday evening Becky arrived home to a message about a possible referral. With butterflies in her stomach she called back. Donna (from Acres of Hope) explained that there were 3 boys who entered the orphanage the previous weekend-- 4 or 5, 2 or 3, and a few months old. She knew we only wanted 2 boys under 3 years, but she was throwing it out there just in case we were interested. With terror in our eyes we talked and agreed to consider it. Becky had actually been thinking about the possibility of 3 for a few weeks and was somewhat interested in the possibility, but the feeling wasn't mutual.
By the end of the evening Tuesday the soon-to-be-daddy said (with resignation in his voice), "You know we're going to end up doing this." Please note that this was not a decision but simply the recognition that our lives never turn out the way we plan and always end up crazier than we expect. We made a list of things that we needed to consider before making the decision-- like whether we could fit enough car seats in our current vehicles. We also began to pray a lot more than usual.
We began talking with with several people who we felt could be helpful in our decision. We were especially interested in talking to people who had adopted or given birth to multiples. Hearing their stories made us think that maybe we could survive the transition from 0 to 3 in an instant.

On Thursday we called to say that we were indeed interested in knowing more about the kids, but we DID NOT want to see pictures of their cute little faces. We learned that there had been a slight mix up and the middle boy was actually a girl!! This fact added to the fact that the oldest was turning 5 instead of the 4 that we were hoping for just about ended the deal for Peter. He pretty much wigged out for 24 hours, and there was no way to tell what he was thinking. Mommy, however, made the transition in her head fairly quickly and decided she could live with a girl as long as Daddy decided he could. She kept her opinions to herself while waiting to see where things would end up.
Friday afternoon Peter returned from a lunch meeting with the conclusion that this is the right decision even though he doesn't like it. We asked God to make it clear by the end of the day if this wasn't his plan. Around 5pm, with no change of heart, we called Donna to ask for pictures of our kids.
The pictures came very late Friday evening, but we were in Lancaster County for our annual pool party with college friends. They don't have internet access at home, so as soon as we got up in the morning we drove into town to try to find an unsecured wireless network to download the pictures to our laptop. We found one, but the sun was so bright that we couldn't really see the screen. If you had been in the Manheim post office parking lot at the time, you would have seen 2 people bending over a computer in the trunk of their car with a poster board over their heads while the crazed lady kept saying, "Are they cute? I think they're cute! Can you see them? Hurry, let's go back and go inside so we can see if they're cute!"
So that's how we got to the point of having 3 adorable kids. They all "appear healthy" (the Liberian version of a full physical) and tested negative for Hep and HIV. Their mommy died giving birth to the baby 2 months ago. Daddy is uneducated and unemployed, and he has no way to care for 3 little ones so he decided the best thing he could do is to give them up. The baby is in foster care because he's so young and susceptible to so much. The other 2 are settling in at the orphanage.
It's hard to imagine the loss the older 2 kids have experienced in the past 2 months. We can't wait to hold them in our arms and tell them that everything is going to be OK. It's hard to accept the fact that we still have 4-6 months until we can escape the threat of malaria and other common illnesses. Though we are clearly NOT ready to bring the kids home, we want to get them out of Liberia as quickly as possible.
Tonight we actually learned that there are 18 month old twins available now. They knew this was our "perfect" option, and they wanted to know if we want to reconsider. Surprisingly, we both said no almost immediately. It's amazing how quickly our hearts changed, but we already can't imagine these 3 not being ours. We feel that God lined things up in such a way that we opened ourselves up to blessings we never would have considered otherwise. It actually felt good to say no to the twins because it confirmed in our minds that this is the right decision. The only fear that remains about the choice is the fact that the kids aren't officially relinquished yet. That process will take another week or 2 until we know for certain that no one is going to claim our cuties. It's unlikely anyone will with their mommy gone, but we're pretty nervous after what happened with Moses and Saturday.
For those of you who are the praying kind, we'll post a list of specific prayer requests tomorrow. For now please just pray for our nerves as we wait to hear that this one is going through, and pray for the kids' health and emotions as they go through all these difficult changes.

13 August 2006


Well, it's been quite a week of surprises and rearranging of our expectations. Check out Joshua (turning 5 this week), Patience (almost 3... and a GIRL!), and Garty (2 months). Yes, there are 3! And yes, they are ours! This is a massive diversion from our original plan, but we feel certain it's the right decision for our family. We'll share the whole story after a good night's sleep, but tonight we're both too tired. Please pray for our kids, especially for their health. We just learned that some of the kids who have contact with our 3 kids are very sick with malaria, dysentary, and pneumonia. With very little health care in Liberia, many illnesses are a matter of life and death for these little ones-- especially babies as young as Garty.

09 August 2006

Mercy Ships

Mercy Ship Anastasis recently left the Liberian port after months of work caring for the poor and sick of Liberia. We recommend checking out their pictures from their time in Liberia (under links on the right side of this page). They're enlightening and sad and hopeful all at the same time. We've been following the work of Mercy Ships over the past few months, and we're so impressed with their commitment to those most in need. However, for us personally, looking at the pictures is really about picking out our favorite cute kids!

oldies but goodies

Today I (Becky) was trying to calm my frazzled nerves by playing the piano (a great new addition to our house thanks to my parents who were cleaning out). I was flipping through a very old hymnal playing songs I haven't heard for years. Not only was the music a great stress reliever, but the truths of the classic hymns really spoke to me.

"Every joy or trial falleth from above. Traced upon our dial by the Son of Love. We may trust Him fully all for us to do. They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true. Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed. Finding as He promised perfect peace and rest."

"Never a trial that He is not there. Never a burden that He doth not bear. Never a sorrow tht He doth not share. Moment by moment I'm under His care."

Sometimes God meets us in unexpected moments and reminds us that He's still there. The best part is that He has everything figured out and knows why we're going through whatever it is that we're going through. Sometimes I need that reminder.

05 August 2006

tutoring job

With a new school year on the way and kids nowhere on the horizon, I (Becky) decided to find some teaching related work. Though details aren't finalized, it looks like I'm going to be tutoring with an agency on the Main Line that actually pays a decent hourly wage. They're very excited to have a French and Spanish tutor, and I'm very excited to get back to the education field. I'm still anxious to find an ESL teaching opportunity, but for now I'm glad to use my gifts in a productive way after a full year away from any teaching.

01 August 2006

home sweet home

After a good but exhausting week in Costa Rica, we're finally settled back in at home where the showers are warm and the bugs are few. Overall the group we led had a great experience and was really stretched beyond their comfort zones. We also made some great contacts with people doing incredible work with children and youth. Thanks for all your prayers for the trip and especially for your prayers for us as we process the loss of Moses and Saturday. We're doing OK, but it's getting harder and harder to be patient and believe this is God's plan for our family. Becky is on the verge of grabbing any child she can find, and Peter is becoming jealous of other dads who have great relationships with their kids. We'll share more about what's going on with us when we have a few more minutes. For now, here's a picture of us at a mountain lake right next to a volcano and some adorable kids who danced in a holiday celebration that we participated in at a local school last week.

26 July 2006

very, very bad news

We just received word that things were moving right along with our adoption, but during the Ministry of Health investigation Moses and Saturday's birthmother changed her mind. The entire family is in favor of this adoption, but it can't proceed if she doesn't think she can go through with it. Despite the rest of the family's desire to proceed, the boys have been removed from the orphanage because the mother is unwilling to go forward. Not that we blame her. We can't imagine having to give up our babies. She wanted the kids in the orphanage so they could receive food and proper care that she can't provide, but they can't remain there if they're not going to be adopted. So here we sit in an internet cafe knowing that we're back to square one. Please, please pray for us. It's going to be a tough night. Pray for Moses and Saturday, too. We're scared for them.

25 July 2006

life in the developing world

If you've been anxiously awaiting news about our boys, join the club. There was some miscommunication between Liberia and our agency in the US previously... something that we struggle with at Worldlink as well when we're trying to communicate with those in the developing world. We finally learned that the boys were with their birthmother again... not in the orphanage like we expected. They were officially relinquished this past Saturday and are now safely in the orphanage. Unfortunately, we're now in Costa Rica and dealing with our own communication problems. We found out yesterday that the agency now has all the info on the boys... pictures, history, and medicals. However, she forgot that we can't be reached by phone. We asked her to email us everything. She said she will do it today, but she hasn't yet. We may not be able to get to an internet cafe again today, so we may have to wait until tomorrow. We're both on edge as we wait... Peter even more than Becky, which is quite a surprise. Stay tuned for news tomorrow. Sorry we haven't kept you all up to speed, but we had a miserable week last week before leaving. Now we have to find time to get to an internet cafe for a few quick minutes each day in the midst of working with this team. Being stuck in Costa Rica doing ministry isn't all bad though. You should see the beach!

14 July 2006

hurry up and wait

That pretty much sums up the entire adoption process. You work yourself crazy taking care of all kinds of paperwork, and you do it as fast as you can so you can bring your kids home soon. Then you wait for the government to process your paperwork. In our case, we should have been matched with kids very quickly after we got our approval back. Unfortunately, things went wrong so we waited 5 months more. Finally we heard about OUR BOYS. We figured once Moses made it to the orphanage we would get pictures and personal information, but still we wait. We're getting very good at waiting. Hopefully we'll have something to report over the weekend, but we've learned not to put any certainty in the adoption process. It's exhausting, but we know that when all is said and done the perfect kids will join our family. That moment will be worth all the waiting.

12 July 2006


We were just checking email before bed and learned that Moses made it to the orphanage!!!! We don't have any details yet, but we should be getting some tomorrow. We're praying prayers of thanksgiving. So much for going to bed at a normal hour...

many prayers

Thanks so much to all of you who are praying for Saturday and Moses and the two of us. We haven't heard anything new since the weekend, but we are surprisingly relaxed. Other than Sunday night when Becky didn't sleep a single wink, we're both feeling relatively normal. It helps that we're leading a group from Reading on a mission trip to Costa Rica July 21-29, and we have a ton to accomplish before we leave town. We expect to hear an update on the boys over the next few days, but we wanted to take a moment to let you all know that we appreciate your prayers, support, and enthusiasm about our kids.