Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Earlier this month I posted a facebook status about how I was struggling to enjoy the Christmas season without losing myself in deep homesickness.  A lot of friends prayed for me that day, and I have to say that my heart felt lighter after that & although I am not without any homesickness (we wouldn't want that anyways, we still have to feel)  I did feel a lot more peace about celebrating Christmas here in Rwanda.  Many things are still strange (like the "summer" weather we get everyday) but add in some homemade cookies & egg nog & everything seems better.  We had a good Christmas day and I feel so blessed and thankful for my immediate family.

At a Bible study I went to early this month they had a time for sharing a testimony.  As the ladies went around the circle sharing miracles God had done in their lives, I sat and thought, what should I share?  And my mind settled on one thing: my complete family.  I remembered back to when I was a newly married 20 year old, and I have a specific memory of being at my job daydreaming about having kids, and the plans I had.  I knew I wanted 4 kids, 2 close together, and then a space, and then another 2 close together.  Now, here we are, 20 years later, and my family is finally complete.  It was a long road between there and where we are now.  It was not always easy (struggles with infertility, adoption, international details), and by saying that I mean to say sometimes it was really hard!  But now I sit here with my perfect family that I love so  much and I am so grateful.  So thankful.  God has been so good.
We are still working on getting Michael (Jr.) a visa to come to the USA.  We want to get him a student visa to come finish his high school in Vancouver, Washington.  We are having an email discussion with one school there to see if they will accept him.  Please be praying with us for God to give us favor and for God to clear the way of any obstacles.

We would also appreciate your continued prayers for God's provision as we have tuition payments coming due next month for all of the kids schools (including homeschool classes) as well as rent payments.  We are believing God will take care of every need we have, both personally and in the ministry.  We serve a good God!

When the kids go back to school after Christmas break Nate is finally going to be extending his hours at school so that he will be attending all morning & for lunch so that he stays until 12:30 each day.  He has been having good days at school for the vast majority of the time (not as many melt downs or acting out) and we have noticed an improvement in his speaking at home the last few weeks as well (using bigger words and more complex sentences).

KaLia was in a play through her afterschool drama class and did a great job in her part of "The Best Christmas Pagaent Ever".  (Based on the humorous kid's book.)  It was funny and fun to watch.  She will be joining the band program at school after Christmas break and working on her flute skills.

Kelly is getting ready to start her 12th grade classes in homeschooling.  She dreams of attending WSU in Vancouver in the fall of 2012.  She still has some work to do to get there, and we hope to find financial aid as well! 

Mike is busy with teams and ministry administration.  I am busy with homeschooling and being the mom, and helping with the ministry as needed.

Thank you for praying for all of our family.  My heart is thankful for our family and the love in this family.  I feel very satisfied.  I am missing all of our extended family and friends, and the conveniences of the USA, but our God is faithful to give us all that we need right where we are now, and the grace to do all that he has called us to do.

I hope your Christmas was full of love & memories to treasure.
God Bless You,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh Lord Give Me Patience...

We had our meeting with the psychologist and she observed Nate at school two days last week. Interestingly enough he had good days at school all last week!  She is going to start working with him though for two days a week & for now her goal will be to help him with expanding his attention span.

This post is something I wrote in March of this year, but never finished it or published it.  I was just thinking about it & thought I would post it now.  

The other day I overheard a conversation which actually irritated me.  Honestly I wanted to say, "That's so stupid!"  Well, I didn't really want to say that out loud, but that's what I was thinking.  Now maybe you've heard this kind of conversation before, and maybe you've even been the one saying these kind of things.  If that's the case, I'm not saying you, or anyone else is stupid, understand me please.  What I am saying is that although this kind of logic may seem to make sense on the surface, if you really think about it, it is completely nonsensical.

Now, you're really curious, you want to know, what were they saying?  The conversation caught my ear when someone said something like, "oh, no don't pray for patience!"  I've heard people say that before.  They will talk about how they or someone else they know was praying for patience & then it seemed like all hell broke loose in their lives.  In this conversation the example given was of a young woman who had 2 babies that were 14 months apart, and her response was, "Well, I was praying for patience!"  The conversation continued and one of the ladies chimed in, "I always tell people, don't pray for patience, pray for peace!"  You could tell she was quite proud of this heavenly "loophole" she had found, as she repeated it again later.

Why does this type of conversation bug me so much?  I think one reason is the implication it makes about the kind of God that we serve.  The connotation to "don't pray for patience" is that if we pray & ask God to give us patience it's like he says, "Oh!  You want patience do you?  Well, here you go try these trials on for size!"  Like our God takes pleasure in bringing difficulties our way.  If we pray for patience then he dumps on us, but if we pray for peace, oh then he just calms everything down & makes life quiet.  That somehow if we make sure to NEVER utter a prayer for God to give us patience then we can make it through life with less problems.  That prayer for patience is like hitting the wrong button, the one that makes the floor drop out from underneath you.  That's just not how prayer, or our spiritual life, or our God are!  It is a warped and wrong view of all of the above.

Something else brought in as "proof" in the above conversation was one woman said, "That's right, because 'tribulation worketh patience'".  She was quoting from Romans 5:3 (King James version, NIV uses the word perseverance in place of patience) and the logic there being that if you pray for patience you are in actuality asking God for tribulation (trials, hard times).  First of all, let's look at that scripture in context.  Romans 5:1-3 says,

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Did you catch that?  The writer tells us that we "glory" in sufferings, because we know they produce perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to hope! Without sufferings we do not learn to persevere, and without perseverance we do not develop character, and without character we do not know the basis & reality of our hope.  So, if you want to be a quitting, character-less, hope-less Christian then, yes, please don't pray for patience!

Let's think about the "fruits of the Spirit" as they are referred to in the Bible. They are called this because they are the evidences (fruits) that should be seen in the life of someone who has the Spirit of God.  What are they?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  Shouldn't all of these be attributes that we desire to see more of in our lives?  Don't others need to "eat" of this good "fruit" so they will benefit as well?  We need the fruit of the spirit in our lives not only for our benefit but also for the benefit and nourishment of others.  I believe that if the Spirit of God lives in us we do not need so much to work to produce these fruits as to get ourselves out of the way & allow more of God to shine through us.  If you want patience (and I believe you should) as well as peace, love, joy, and all the rest, then what you need to do is cultivate the Spirit of God more in your life.  Focus more on Him, through worship, through prayer, through reading His word, through meditating on his goodness, through declaring his character & ways.  Then when those trials do come (and they will, no matter if you pray for patience or not) it will be a matter of further refining God's character within you, not starting from nothing!

What do you think?  Have you thought this same way?  What are your thoughts about "praying for patience"?  Is it somewhat like the comment, "Don't tell God, 'I'll never' [go to Africa] because that's right where he'll send you..."  oh, but that is a discussion for another day!  :)

God Bless You,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The One

I wrote the post below several weeks ago but had not published it yet.  It seemed appropriate to post today as I am struggling with some issues Nate is having at school.  The teacher/director says academically Nate is doing great; however, he continues to struggle daily with emotional & social issues at school.  Having some kind of frustration/melt down is happening each day per the teacher's report.  Today she told me the last two days Nate has been "exceptionally challenging" culminating with him hitting three different children at school today.  She asked me to keep him home from school tomorrow, and then tomorrow afternoon we are already scheduled to meet together with the teacher and a psychologist.  This psychologist is someone that the teacher has put us in contact with, and the reason for us meeting together is the hope that she will be able to give us some ideas/strategies/therapies we can use to help Nate.  I am a little unsure about this meeting, concerned about if they are going to want us to have therapy sessions with Nate, thus incurring expenses for our family.  Please keep us in your prayers.  We need wisdom on how to help Nate.

I have some thoughts on my mind, prompted by parenting Nate, that I want to share.  Maybe this is therapy for me and of no use to you, but I feel it may be beneficial to someone.  Let me talk about being "the one".  If we are at a gathering or meeting, my son will be "the one" who is wandering around, not sitting still, causing disruptions and distractions.  If we are at church he will be "the one" who is talking out loud and trying to sneak out, or else climbing all over me.  If we are the store he is "the one" who disappears in the blink of an eye and I have to track him down in another corner of the store.  If we are at a friends house he is "the one" who is picking up things that he shouldn't or going in rooms where he doesn't belong.

And I feel like I am "the one" parent that everyone is looking down upon and judging.  I'm "the one" people are thinking that I can't control/parent/discipline my child.  I get really tired of being "the one".  A long, long time ago, before I had kids, I was one of the observers/judges.  After I had kids, and especially after having Nate, I no longer judge.

But I judge myself with much of the same measure that I'm sure people use against me.  Does he behave like this because I allow him to, or is this behavior part of him and I need to work with him?  Does he move around incessantly and talk at inappropriate times because I've allowed him to, or, despite all my best efforts, is this part of who he is & to try to force him to be something else is futile?  Does he climb on me & lay on me during church, like a small child, because I've coddled him & allowed him to be "babyish" or is this something that he needs and helps him to feel comfortable?  When he runs around wild and rolls on the grass play fighting with another boy after church, am I allowing rough & inappropriate behavior, or is this rough & tumble play something that his body needs?  Am I "the one" who is to blame for the troubles he has with fitting into society's expectations?

I will be the first to admit I am not a parenting expert. I knew that as soon as I started parenting!  I have started reading a book right now called "Sacred Parenting" by .  The author's main point is that parenting teaches us and shapes just as much as our parenting shapes our children.  In the chapter titled "The Golden Guilt" he makes a very valid point:  "Parents take way too much credit for their children's successes and hold way too much blame for their children's failures."  I am sure that I am guilty (!) of both!

I still have a lot to learn and understand about parenting, as well as about Nate.  I will admit that I lean more towards "this is who he is, this is what he needs to be" and to try to accommodate him without disrupting other people's lives or expectations too much.  I thank God that we seemed to have found a school where Nate can learn and grow but also have some freedoms to move around and be who he is, within reason.

We know that Nate is a gift from God.  Even his name, impressed upon us before he was born, says so.  This same truth has been reconfirmed through others since his birth.  He is a source of joy & I know that God has a very special calling & plan for his life.  Many times I feel unqualified & unequipped to parent him, but I know God has chosen to entrust him to us.  I can only believe that someday there is going to be breakthrough for Nate.  Someday he will find balance & he will become all that God made him to be.

Thanks for your love & prayers for our family.
God Bless You!

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's His Kindness

First of all, more good news!  I want to thank everyone who has prayed for our situation with Nate and his school, and thank you to everyone who gave.  God has used you to fill a need in our lives.  In my last post I told you we had enough to cover the first half payment of Nate's part time tuition (good news!), but now his tuition has been completely covered!  Perhaps eventually he will be able to progress to going to school all day, and if that happens the tuition will increase, but as of right now his school fees are covered and we are so thankful for what God has done through you.

The second thing I have to share has not been easy for me to put in writing, and I have really struggled with whether or not to share this.  I am concerned what I say may be misconstrued or that I may not state it articulately enough.  However, it is so strongly on my heart right now that I feel I must share it, and I pray God uses it. 

Recently I stumbled across the heart breaking story of Lydia Schatz.  When Lydia was 4 years old she and her two sisters, one younger, one older, were adopted from the African country of Liberia by an American family with 6 biological children.  Three years later Lydia, age 7, was "spanked" by her adoptive parents with a plastic plumbing pipe for so many hours that her heart finally gave out and she died.  Her older sister was also hospitalized in critical condition but later survived.

As people look for answers to this senseless tragedy, one detail of this story has come to light.  Lydia's parents subscribe to a parenting method that comes from a book called "To TrainUp a Child" by Michael& Debi Pearl.  Many people believe there are some serious issues raised in the methods the book advocates.  I admit I have not read the book in it's entirety, only bits and pieces.  There are many things I have trouble with from what I've read, but I will focus on this from chapter 6 of that book:  "use whatever force is necessary to bring him [the child] to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final."  

The problem I have is with ruling, defeating, and trying to control a child.  I believe that our highest calling as parents is to be a mirror of God's character to our children.  It is in this way that as the child matures they will understand the character of God.  This is a daunting task.  We are imperfect and we fail.  However, it should be our goal to parent our children in a Godly manner.

What breaks my heart and tears me up inside is the thought of children who are being raised under a kind of parenting whose goal it is to control a child's behavior for the sake of good behavior, or that in someway by dominating them & controlling them we have "saved" them from their sinful nature.  How can these children ever understand Jesus as the lover of their soul?  How can they understand a God who loves them passionately, unreservedly, deeply?  Their view of God is going to be that of a dominating superior force whose goal is to punish them when they step out of line.  And their version of Christianity will be to adhere to surface behaviors (legalism) all the while keeping their heart far from the Father who loves them so much.  (Children who have had their will broken by force no longer trust their parents with their heart, and thus will not trust God with their heart either.)

God has made it clear, "People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).  When Jesus told us that to hold hatred in our hearts towards another is the same as murder (Matthew 5), he was bringing this to light. It's not about doing what you need to do to fulfill the requirements of the law, it's about what's in your heart.  As parents we seriously need to evaluate ourselves and ask the question, "WHY do I want my child to do or behave in XYZ manner?"  Is it because I want people to look at me and say I'm a good or Godly parent?  Is it because I will be embarrassed by my child's behavior and how I know people will be judging me?  Be real with yourself!  Are these the reasons why we want our children to do what we ask?  Or is it because we somehow feel validated when our children do what they're told?

I have started reading the book, Sacred Parenting, by Gary Thomas and it fits in perfectly with what has been put on my heart right now.  Gary states,
"Child-centered parents act nicely toward their children only when their children act nicely toward them.  A child-centered parent goes out of her way as long as her children appreciate her sacrifice.  A child-centered parent bases his or her actions on the kids' response.  A God-centered parent, on the other hand, acts out of reverence for God.  Regardless of how my children treat me, I know that God wills that I move toward my children, to get engaged in their lives, to offer Biblical correction and loving support.  It doesn't matter how they respond to me as much as it matters what God has called me to do...  When God does not supply our motivation, we tend to major in the minors and minor in the majors.  We may raise a courteous and obedient child, but we won't pass on what is of ultimate importance.  If parenting were only about behavior modification, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees and kicked dirt on the adulterous woman."

He goes on later to state, "C.J. Mahoney encourages every parent to ask their children a very insightful question: "What do you think your daddy and mommy feel most passionate about?"  If the gospel does not come to mind, they may have picked up that we really care about avoiding embarrassment over their behavior, having a clean house, getting them into the best schools, or having a straight-A report card to boast about in the Christmas letter...  I think children are our heart's mirror.  How we interact with them truly does reveal what we value most about life."

I believe our motivation in parenting should be to disciple & point our children's hearts towards God so they can make the choice to respond to Christ someday (we can not make that choice for them).  We should remember that God does not force his will upon us, rather it is "his kindness (or goodness) that leads us to repentance" (Romans 2).  We understand our sin and God's love, his forgiveness reaching out to us, and it is our misery in our sin that causes us to reach out to him. 

I do not want to come across as saying that punishment is wrong, or that we just need to be soft or weak.  That is not love either.  We create loving boundaries for our children, and if they cross those boundaries there should be logical consequences, just as there are in life.  God forgives us of our sins, but there are still natural consequences that we have to deal with as a result.  Then we begin to understand that his boundaries for us are because of his love for us and wanting what's best for us.

Parenting is not an easy task- not at all!  We need God's help and direction.  We need to spend time each day listening to God and asking him what our children need (another point well made in the book Sacred Parenting), as well as spending time listening to our children to find out what is going on in their hearts.  God help us to be your ambassadors to our children and parent them in a way that points them to you.

God Bless You,

Some articles that talk about Lydia Schatz, if you want to hear more of the story:  Beauty for Ashes blog.  Mommy Life blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He Who Is Enough

A week or so before we left for Rwanda I had a thought that just came to me, and it was simply "El Shaddai".  I wasn't sure why I randomly thought of it, but I said, "Ok, God please be El Shaddai in my life right now."  I couldn't even remember what El Shaddai meant, only that it was one of the names of God.  Then not too long after we arrived in Rwanda I thought of it again, "El Shaddai".  And I kept praying, "God be El Shaddai in my life." 

Finally, I looked it up (yeah for the internet!) and suddenly everything "clicked".  Maybe you would like to read for yourself what El Shaddai means?  Look here, and here.  El Shaddai is interpreted to mean: the All Sufficient One, and the Almighty God.  I especially liked when I read: the Name might derive from the contraction of sha ("who") and dai ("enough") to indicate God's complete sufficiency.

El Shaddai: (he) Who (is) Enough.  He is enough.  For all that we might need.  El Shaddai is further described as: "the One who mightily nourishes, satisfies, protects, and supplies His people. El Shaddai is our All-Sufficient Sustainer. It is God as "El" who helps, and it is God as "Shaddai" who abundantly blesses with all manner of blessings."

Thank you God for wanting to remind me of this!  You are El Shaddai.  You are the God who blesses and abundantly provides!  It was with this on my mind that I posted last week about Nate's needs and our hope for putting him into a new school here.  I asked if you wanted to be a part of our miracle by helping with his school fees.  I was humbled and amazed by the outpouring of prayers, love, and donations of all sizes that came in.  Thank you!

As of right now there has been a little over $3000 donated. That is enough to cover the registration fee & the first half payment of Nate's tuition!  We will still need to raise the other $2400 before January 15th, but guess what?  Nate had his first day at his new school today!
 What a handsome little man!  And he knows what every kid in Rwanda knows: how to strike a pose!
Nate is starting out just going for 2 1/2 hours each day, 8am to 10:30am.  He had a great time today & we look forward to another great day tomorrow.  Hopefully within the week he will be ready to move towards going for the full morning.
I am so thankful for how God is providing for this miracle, and for each one of you who are a part of it.  (It is ongoing still, as I said.)  I am thankful, I am humbled, and I am amazed.  It is only because of God putting it on the hearts of people to be a part of this that it is happening, and it is all for His glory.
How do you need God to be El Shaddai in your life today?  He is no respecter of persons.  The same God that we have seen do great things in our lives is the same God who wants to show up in your life & do something miraculous for HIS glory!  

Let's believe it!
God Bless You,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We All Need a Little Help Sometimes...

Have you met our son Nate?  Nate is 7 years old and I'm quite sure you would find him irresistible.
He is loving, clever, funny, active, friendly, and empathetic.  Nate also has what is called "developmental delays".  I don't like to use labels or to place him in a box, but for some people this helps them understand why Nate has some troubles.  Learning is not easy for him.  His speech can be unclear & hard to understand at times.  Sometimes he doesn't fully process what is said to him (he says, "what?"  many times a day, even when he heard you).  He also can have a hard time focusing on things or not being distracted.  School is very challenging for Nate.
The school year before we came to Rwanda full time, 2009/2010, Nate was in kindergarten.  He was placed in a specialized classroom where there were 10 students, one teacher, and 2 helpers.  The other children had autism or other similar things that required extra classroom help.  Nate acclimated to this classroom and learned to function within the parameters the teacher set.

When we knew we were coming to Rwanda full time I hoped & prayed that Nate would be able to attend a regular first grade classroom within the private Christian missionary school here.  The school allowed us to try, but after two weeks it became clear that it was not going to work.  The requirements of the classroom (sitting still, paperwork, managing yourself) were beyond what Nate and one teacher for 20 kids, could handle.  I accepted the fact that I would need to home school Nate, and with the help of other moms here in Rwanda who gave me curriculum, and teams who brought some things I ordered, we gave it a go.

Homeschooling Nate turned out to be a huge disaster.  I could not get him to sit down & do schoolwork with me.  He hated it.  He would complain and cry and lay his head on the table.  We got some things done, but as the year wore on it became more & more difficult to the point where we gave up.  Thankfully, the private school allowed Nate to come one day a week for a few hours, that way he participated with his former class in art, carpet time, lunch, recess, and PE.  That was good for him.
Nate with our former neighbor (left) and an AGCI team member last year.

As we looked at this school year, I knew my options were not many.  Not only does Nate still have his issues that make a typical classroom difficult for him, but because of our struggles with homeschooling last year he is now even farther behind his peers in his academic skills.  Technically he should be in 2nd grade this year, but he is not ready to do 2nd grade work.  There was no school that I was aware of where Nate could fit in.  My only thought was to try to find a tutor for him.  Someone who would come in each day & hopefully find a way to motivate him to do the school work.  I wasn't sure if it would work, but it was all I could think of.

After we arrived here a few weeks ago I heard of a couple of new schools opening up.  I thought, well, why not check them out & see if it might be something Nate could do?  I don't know why, considering our past experience, but desperate times...  Nate is a friendly social guy, and in our new house we don't know of any neighbors that he can play with.  It's really hard for him to be here at home all day, with no playmates.  I contacted one school I had heard about to find out if they had resources to help children with special needs.  The director told me that Nate's age group is full for this year, but that she would like to meet with me and see if they could help me.  I was encouraged by the fact that she wanted to see if there was someway they could help us, even though she certainly didn't have to.
After this initial contact I went to the school's website.  It was then that I realized this school is meant for people who have a lot of money to spend on their child's schooling.  (There are a lot of people with money in Rwanda, usually foreigners working here as ambassadors or for high profile foreign organizations.)  When I saw how much the tuition is for the school I couldn't believe it, but I figured I could still go to the meeting & see what she had to say about options for Nate.

This school is a Montessori school being opened by a mom who has run preschools for 12 years in the US and has much experience beyond that.  When we met together she explained to me about their school and how it is child driven, hands on learning, and experiential.  The things she was telling me sounded like something Nate could function in.  She told me that they would like to help us, and even though his age group is full, he could come in for the time when children are moving around from station to station.  Start with a few hours a day and move up to half days.  Then, if she got more children in the younger age group she would split the class and if Nate seemed ready he could attend full time.

The director asked me to bring Nate in to see the school and to meet her.  When we did that, I was really amazed at how well Nate behaved while we were there.  He listened to the directions the teacher gave him, participated with her in some activities, and he was very polite.  By the way, the morning of the meeting, when I told Nate we were going to go look at a school, he was so excited to see a school that could be for him that he made my bed for me!

Now comes the hard part.  I had hoped that the part time tuition would be half of what the full time tuition is (full time tuition is $8,000 US dollars).  Half of that, $4,000, would still have been a lot of money.  However, the half day tuition is $4,950; plus a $500 registration fee.  When she told me that I wanted to cry right there in her office.  But, I know that if this is the solution that God has for Nate, that he will provide.

School for our kids has been one of the biggest struggles for us here in Rwanda.  Already, we have to use a private online American school to educate our Rwandan daughter and son, Kelly Christine & Michael, because there are not options that fit what they need here in Rwanda.  KaLia is attending the private missionary school here.  As Mike said this morning, it's absurd that we send 105 children (through the TTI sponsorship program) to school, but we can't send our own kids to school.

Would you like to help send Nate to school?  Can you donate towards Nate's school fees?  The Earth School begins on September 7th.  Nate is already counting down the "sleeps" until he gets to go to school.  Going to school will be a big help to both Nate and his mommy.  It will help my heart to be at ease to know that he is receiving an education and getting the social connections he needs as well as further developing him in all areas.  I believe it will also help Nate with his homesickness.

For Nate, the Rwandan "honeymoon" is already over.  Two weeks, and he's already starting to talk about how he misses America.  When he got up this morning I told him that he had slept a long time.  He said, "Yea, I was dreaming about going back to America," and he got teary eyed.  I hope that having some activity and friends in his day will help Nate to feel better about being here.

Everybody needs a little help sometimes, and for our family, we really could use your help right now.  The school will allow us to pay the tuition in two installments, but that still requires us coming up with at least $2,500 right now.

Please be praying for us, and if you can help, in any way, please visit our website where you can make a donation for the McColm family & put "Nate" in your memo.  Or you can mail a donation to our office at this address:  Ten Talents International, PO Box 873685, Vancouver, WA 98687. 

It's not easy to have to ask for help, but maybe you can be a part of our miracle!

God Bless You,
(Your donations made to Ten Talents International are eligible for tax deduction.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We Have Arrived

We made it!  For Christine and I, it was not such an easy trip.  You see, because our tickets were purchased separately (we purchased round trip tickets for me & Christine when the adoption was finalized) we had a slightly different schedule.  We were flying through Toronto, then to Belgium, then Kigali.  Mike, KaLia, & Nate were flying through New Jersey, meeting us in Belgium and then we would fly together from Belgium to Kigali.

HOWEVER, for Christine and I our flight was delayed 1 1/2 hours from leaving Portland (due to mechanical difficulties) and then once we reached Toronto they made us get our luggage to go through Canadian customs (such a ridiculous thing).  The baggage was delayed another 30 minutes before it started coming out, so when they finally did come out we grabbed all 4 of our bags and ran for our next flight-- only to find out we were a few minutes past what is considered "minimum" transfer time.  They wouldn't let us continue.

They tried to reschedule us, but the Belgium/Kigali flight doesn't operate every day.  We were going to have to stay in Toronto for 2 additional days!  Finally they found they could fly us through London, Nairobi, and then to Kigali.  With the additional flights and layovers it ended up adding 18 hours to our travel time, for a grand total of 45 hours of traveling!  Ew!

But we made it.  There was even an empty seat next to me on the last two flights so I was able to curl up and lay down on those two seats for some much needed sleep.  Mike, KaLia, & Nate came into Kigali Tuesday evening at 7pm and we arrived Wednesday afternoon at 1pm.  Now we have been working on getting over some serious jet lag, which we should finally get into a good rhythm in another day or two.  KaLia had her first day of 7th grade on Friday.  She seemed to have a pretty good time, and almost all of her friends from last year were there.

All of us are very glad to be reunited again with our son Michael.  He had a very boring and long break from us, so I think he's glad to have a full house again.  Christine is enjoying seeing her friends and catching up with people.  Nate is doing fine and keeping himself busy with the Wii and his movies.

Mike and I are getting ourselves back into the work of the ministry here.  Mike has some new plans for the Home of Innocence and other projects.  We thank you for your continued prayers for our effectiveness and for us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit so we can draw from his strength, power, and wisdom.

God Bless You,

Friday, August 12, 2011


Very early on Monday the 15th we leave to return to Rwanda.  We will be there for another 9 1/2 months, same as last time.  The school the girls are supposed to be attending starts Tuesday (yeah, they'll start a couple days late).  We would appreciate your prayers during this time.  Pray for us to get everything we need packed.  We have so much "stuff" to bring for 9 months + ministry supplies, etc.  Pray for all of our luggage to arrive with us- no lost bags!  Pray also for the kids especially as they were just getting used to being back in the US and are having a hard time with leaving now.  All of us are feeling sorrow at having to leave our friends, family, and church again.  Pray for us to have peace.  Please also pray for our 27 or so hours of travel time- it's not easy!

We want to get back into the ministry in Rwanda and for our time there to be effective in ways that God already knows.  We want to give this time to Him for His will and His glory.  We know God hears and answers prayers, so we thank you for praying for us.

I have much to do so that is all I can post for now!

Friday, June 24, 2011

God is Amazing

We are back in the United States now.  The adoption is finalized and Christine is here on US soil.  I would not be exaggerating if I said we encountered opposition EVERY single step of the way, because we did.  It was a struggle and a fight, but it was won in prayer.  So many people were praying for us all along the way.  Rwanda did not want to approve the adoption, but they did.  Even the US at first did not want to recognize the adoption, but they did.  Canada Air did not want to let us fly to North America, but we did (not with them).  At every single turn we found ourselves fighting for this, but we knew this was God's will. 

Thankfully, Mike, KaLia and Nate were able to return to the US on their original air tickets for June 2nd.  It was really hard to send them off, but we did.  I stayed behind to finish the paperwork.  All along I felt the pressure of time because we had to purchase our tickets ahead of time.  4 days after we sent off Mike, KaLia and Nate, we had all we needed and Christine and I were able to leave for Kenya to apply for her immigration visa with the US Embassy there.  I think God wanted Christine and I to have this time just for the two of us to be together & continue to bond.  We prayed & prayed throughout this time and amazingly everything came together just in time for us to get to our scheduled flight back home on the 16th of June.  (We were picking up her visa at noon the same day we were scheduled to leave at 4pm.)

While we were in Kenya I was reading a book I found at our host's home.  It is called "Prayers God Answers" and contains stories from the author's life of how she has seen God answer prayers around her.  As I went throughout each day there were a few verses the kept rising to the front of my mind.  One being in Matthew 28:18, where Jesus says, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  and in Luke 10:19 Jesus says, "I have given you authority..."  I was reminded that all the authority Jesus has, he has given to us.  I also was thinking of Matthew 21:21 where Jesus told his disciples, "you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done."  He did not say, "Pray and ask me to move your mountain."  NO, he said, "tell that mountain to move!"  He has given us his authority and we should pray with authority.  I also was thinking of Matthew 16:19 when Jesus said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

I started praying differently.  I took authority over that adoption in Jesus name.  I bound all obstacles, all confusion or delays.  I released God's favor, his power, and speed over that process.  I also remembered something that Mike and I used to pray frequently a long time ago.  We had read in Judges 7 how God used the battle cry of Gideon's army to cause confusion to come into the enemy camp & the enemy actually slaughtered each other.  Many times we have prayed and asked God to send confusion into the camp of our enemy- the forces of evil which would try to stand in the way of God's good plans for us.  That they would not be able to war against us because they would be too busy fighting each other.  I started to pray that again too.

I also asked God's forgiveness because of all the times we hit obstacles along this road in Kigali I asked God, Why?  I had been upset at God for not answering our prayers in the way we asked, and I had felt unloved and rejected by God.  But I realized that I was upset at the wrong person!  I should have been upset at the devil, because it's his obstacles that keep tripping us up and causing delay (thinking of the story when Daniel was praying and an angel told him, "Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.  But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days." )

To sum it all up, God worked everything out and brought us through miraculously.  This is for His glory.  When God says YES no man can say NO, try as they might!  
 Finally arrived: Portland Airport

Sometimes, when God answers prayers like this, we can start to think that it was the way we prayed that brought about God's answer.  That somehow we found the right formula to make things happen that we were asking for.  But we have been praying for our son Michael to get his visa to come be with us here in the USA for the summer, however it did not go through.  We have to trust in God's sovereignty and good will, and believe that even these testings of our faith will produce fruit within our lives.  (James 1)  We pray, we believe, we stand in authority, but we don't know everything.  Especially the "why's" of it all.  This is faith.  This is trust.  Even when we walk through the "valley of the shadow" we do not fear because He is with us.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and for being in this journey with us.  I do not know what the future holds for any of our children, but I am convinced that none of our children will live an ordinary life.  I believe I can say with conviction that we are no ordinary family, and God has brought each one of our kids to us for a purpose and a reason.  So I whole-heartedly believe God has something extraordinary planned for each one!  I can't wait to see what it is!

God Bless You,

Friday, May 27, 2011


Friday, May 28, 2010: the day I FedEx'ed to Mike in Rwanda all of our adoption paperwork so we could be approved to adopt Christine.
Friday, May 27, 2011: the day we finally got our approval letter from the government allowing us to proceed with our adoption!

Wow!  Almost exactly one year to the day, and now we finally have it.  After praying and believing and dealing with the pain of waiting for one year it is almost hard to believe that we finally have that approval letter in our hands.  I am not completely relieved yet, because there is still at least a week's worth of government "stuff" to take care of here in Kigali (both Rwanda & the US government) and then another week or more of government "stuff" (US only) that has to be done in Nairobi, before everything is finished.

But I will thank God right now that we do finally have this approval- this opens the door that allows us to finally get this done!  No more pain of wondering, "are they going to say yes or no?"  "What will happen if they say no?"  It's interesting because I was thinking today of the story Jesus told about the unjust judge & how because of persistence the widow received justice.  Then I was looking at my blog post from one year ago & this is the verse I had posted there:

Luke 18:1-6
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'  "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " 

Seems so true now!  One year and over 21 visits to their office later, even though they didn't want to (because our adoption of an older child is outside of how things are "normally" done), they approved us.  Like our son Michael reminded us, "When God says YES, no one can say no."

Speaking of Michael (Kumacs) please be praying for him.  He is not going with the rest of the family on June 2nd as we had hoped.  He has a visa interview appointment for June 20th (that was the soonest we could get him in).  We pray for God to go before him & give him favor so that he will be able to join us in the USA for the remainder of the summer.  It would certainly be easier for him to do his online school when I am there with him to help coach him through it, not to mention just being able to be together as a family, as we desire.

Our flight tickets are scheduled for June 2nd, but we are going to have to change that.  It is possible Mike, KaLia & Nate may be able to leave on the 2nd, or we may need to change their tickets a day or so later if we are not able to get the Kigali/US Embassy process done in time.  I pray we don't have to do that ($750 + Nate REALLY wants to go back to the USA).  I will stay with Christine and finish up the process in Kigali & Nairobi.  Hopefully we will be able to be back in the USA about a week or 10 days after the rest of the family. 

It is sad that the rest of the family has to leave without us, and also sad that it is most likely that Christine and I will miss being there for the big TTI event that is planned for Saturday, June 11th, 6pm at the US Digital building in Vancouver, WA.  But we will do what we need to do, and follow this adoption through so it is finished!  Finally!

Thank you for your prayers for us all through this process, and for your continued prayers for the finishing of the process, for our son Michael's visa, and for the TTI event coming up.  Please also pray for wisdom for me as when I change my ticket from the original date of June 2nd I have to pick a date when I think the adoption will be completely finished & that seems to be a bit of a guessing game.  (I don't want to run out of time, but I also don't want to be sitting around waiting to leave!)  I am asking God to give us favor and to go before us to help us all along the rest of this road.

God Bless You,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seas & Armies

This morning I was reading in Exodus about how God rescued Israel as they were escaping from slavery in Egypt.  These verses jumped out at me from Exodus 14:

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

In my heart I said, "Yes Lord- those verses are for me today!"  I continued to read the story of how God purposefully led the Israelites to the Red Sea, and how he hardened Pharoah's heart so he would pursue them with every chariot in Egypt. 

I believe that sometimes God leads us to a place that seems impassible & impossible.  He allows us to be in that place where it seems like there is just "no way", so that he can make a way.  We find ourselves facing a wall of water on one side, and an angry & well-armed army on the other side, with no where to turn & no way to help ourselves.  We are helpless & out of answers.  And it is in that moment that God says, "Do not be afraid."  We are out of resources, we don't understand what's going on or how things are going to turn around and God says, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Why?  Why does God bring us to those places of impossibility?  I believe it is so His glory can be known & shown to all those around.  There is no way to escape from a powerful army when there is a sea in front of you, and you have no boats.  There is just no way.  No one could survive in that.  Well, no one that is, unless they had a powerful God on their side!  As the Egyptians found themselves in the middle of the Red Sea, trying to pursue God's people, suddenly the army was thrown into confusion & the wheels of their chariots began falling off.  What did they say?  “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.” (v.25)

Before this God had said, "The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”(v.18)  God brings us to those places that are impassible & impossible so that when He makes a way for us, it is Him who gets all the glory.  Those places where only a miracle can get us out of, it means that when our God does show up (and he WILL) he gets all the credit!  He gets the glory.  And why is that, why does he want to get the glory?  Look at verse 31:

 "And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant."

If we never found ourselves trapped between seas & armies, we would never know the great power of our God, that he loves us so much, and that he is always on our side.  When he works miracles on our behalf his greatness becomes well known amongst everyone who knows us too.  Our faith is built up, their faith is built up, and we know that "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."(Hebrews 11:6)

So, you could say that it is God's mercy that brings us to these hard places.  Our heavenly father brings us through impassable seas so we can see that he can do anything and that he loves us enough to never forsake us.  He also loves those who know us & they need to hear from our lives that our God can do anything.

What are the seas & armies in your life right now?  What are the places that seem impassible & impossible?  I know what mine are.  Think about those situations and make sure you worry long & hard & stay up late at night figuring out how you can fix them.  Oh WAIT- no, DON'T do that!  Instead, do this:  
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

If you already know it's impossible then why waste another moment worrying about it?  The almighty God will fight for you!  Trust him, thank him, praise him, give it to him, and believe him when he says he will fight for you.  Your God loves you & he is ALWAYS at work for your good.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Today I am making the choice to trust my armies & seas to the almighty God, and I just wanted to encourage you to do the same.  Even if he doesn't part the sea for me or throw all the chariot wheels off of my enemies, I will still trust in him.  I trust in who he is.  I trust in his good plans for me and those I love.

God Bless You,

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Today is May 1st.  Just a few weeks ago I was so homesick I imagined myself feeling much different than I do today.  I imagined how excited I would be that it's almost time to "go home".  We leave Rwanda on June 2nd and will be in the USA for about 10 weeks.  There is a part of me which is so excited to be back with people we love, our church, and all things familiar and easy (read: not foreign).

However, instead of feeling how I imagined, I find myself with very mixed emotions.  You see, there is still too much uncertainty.  Christine's adoption is still not finalized. We went into the office that handles these things early last week and we submitted a letter asking to meet with the person who is over this whole branch of the government: the "Minister of Family and Gender".  We want this resolved.  Unfortunately we have not heard back on this request.  Mike has said, "Worse case scenario is that one of us stays behind to get this all finalized."  Of course, we have a big TTI event June 11th--- so staying behind for very long is not much of an option!  We need this done.

You also know from my last blog that our son Michael was denied a visa to visit the US.  We are praying and thinking about how he can reapply and submit further evidence that we hope will convince the US Embassy that he is not planning to immigrate to the US. The thought of having to leave my son behind makes my heart hurt.

I remember last time we had to leave Rwanda for the US, in 2009, and how my heart was broken in two.  How much it hurt to have to leave part of my heart behind with my Rwandan kids here.  I am asking God, "Please, don't let my heart be broken again." (And again, as it's broken every time I've left them before as well).  I know that God is good, and I know the plans he has for us are good.  I keep thinking of this verse:  (Philippians 4)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

"God I know that I need to not be anxious, but it's so hard when I realize there is only a month left & so much needs to happen this month on my kids' behalf.  I know you're never late, and I know you can do anything, but could you please help my heart to rest at ease by settling these matters for us?"

I am having a really hard time not being anxious, but I am trying to follow his directions: bringing my requests to him with thanksgiving...  oh, it's so hard.  It's interesting because I am not anxious at all about our finances- how will God provide the thousands of dollars we will need before August so that we can return to Rwanda for another 9 months as we believe he has called us to do?  I am not worried at all.  I know this is what he wants us to do.  Of course, maybe once these situations are settled then I will move on to worrying about that, but I hope not!

So, mixed feelings.  The people I love and the things that I enjoy in the USA, I can't wait to see them & enjoy them, but I want to share them with our kids also.  I want them to experience that part of our lives with us.  It has been our family prayer for so long that God would make a way for them to be with us all the time, and he has already done so much to bring them here to stay with us these last several months, but I really want it settled without any doubt left.

Please... God.... help....

God Bless You,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering...

Here is the latest on Christine's adoption:  a week and a half ago we went into the government office to check on the status and they told us there is another family who is in the exact situation as us (wanting to adopt a known, older child) and that she wants to "advocate" for us both at the same time, so she is waiting to get that child's letter- just like the one Christine had to write.  Then she also told us that they need a document stating she is a genocide survivor. These come from the village/area you were born in, which meant a town 3 hours away from us.  Grandma Julia (my mom) was flying in the next day for a visit, so without much choice because we didn't want more delay, the day after Grandma arrived we took a family trip for a few days.

Miraculously we were able to get the document we needed within just two days time.  Thank God for that- especially because we needed to get back to Kigali to get ready for a mission team that arrived last Saturday.  We took the document in on Friday and were told, Oh, there's more documents you need.  A letter from her orphanage, a letter from a doctor, and a letter from her (consenting to the adoption).  So, now we are working on those.  And the clock keeps ticking away the days until we leave...  Only 5 weeks!?

On Monday our son Michael went in to the US Embassy for his visa application to come with us to the US this summer.  We were all heart broken when they denied the request.  They place a great burden of proof on applicants: you must prove that you have undeniable ties to your home country that will compel you to return & not immigrate to the US.  Yup, that's how it is & the letter we presented was not enough to convince them.  I keep thinking about it everyday, all day, I think about how could we write them a letter to help them understand that he is our son & the reason he will return to Rwanda is because we are returning to Rwanda.  If we reapply we have to pay the visa fee all over again.  Please pray for us all with wisdom in this & faith to believe that God can make a way where there seems to be no way.

Mike (Sr.) has been sick with a nasty chest cough for over 2 weeks now.  It's one of those things were you keep expecting it to get better the next day, but it never does.  He gave up today & went to get some antibiotic from the pharmacy.  I thank God that our family has been relatively sickness free in our time here.

It's been nice to have my mom here, though she leaves tomorrow after only a 9 day visit.  Time has gone by so fast.  I can't believe it's almost Easter too.  Again, as with other holidays, it doesn't "feel" like it, but I did bring Easter baskets and an egg dye kit with us, so we will keep a little tradition with us here (and Grandma did bring some Easter candy too- he he!)

After 2 frustrating weeks of "it'll be fixed tomorrow" our Suzuki (the small blue car) is finally seeming to run fine, and we hope that the person who expressed interest in buying it will follow through with some money soon!  We have been renting a styling ride while the team is here though--  Nate loves the blue color, Michael (Jr.) loves the sound system, Christine thinks it's cool, while KaLia & I just cringed & said "noooooooo!" when it showed up in our driveway.  And I think Mike (Sr.) and I just laughed too.  Yeah, it's pretty funny.  ;)
Aw, yeah, dat's how we roll!  (It says "Jabez's Prayer" on the mirror & mud flap, by the way.)

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.  Things are really busy right now with the team, but great things are going on.  I will post more on the TTI blog soon I hope-- oh yeah, my computer crashed too.  Not sure if my data or programs will be able to be recovered, and a little scared to have it worked on here...  (where people profess to know what they're doing but sometimes they don't- case in point would be the Suzuki....)

That's our crazy life right now- God bless it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keep Praying...

Christine & I went to the government office where adoptions are handled today.  We had hoped they had discussed her case at their meeting last Friday & we would have a positive answer.  When we got there we were informed that the meeting was not held last Friday, but she said they would have their meeting this Friday.  Then she asked that Christine write a letter explaining her whole life story and why it is that she should be adopted, so this could be added to her case.

This is not an easy thing to ask of her.  Some of her past is painful & she is reticent to revisit it, even in writing.  Please pray for Christine to be able to write this letter that has been asked of her, and for God to give her the strength & wisdom to write what needs to be said.

Please also pray that they would indeed have the meeting this Friday & discuss this case, and that God would give us favor & a favorable answer from them.  After this Friday the country will be getting ready to go into a time of Remembrance, as the anniversary of the beginning of the 1994 genocide is April 7th.  I am sure they will not be having meetings during the days before and after that.

Thank you for believing with us.  I know our God is great & he can do anything!  I have great news to post on the Ten Talents blog today too...

God Bless You,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So Close

Last Thursday we visited the office of the person who makes the decisions in regards to adoptions here in Rwanda.  I'm talking about the person who can say "yes, you can adopt" or "no, you can't".  She told us that our paperwork had been reviewed & they thought it was OK, but it "was not official yet".  Christine was with us & the woman asked Christine all about her life story.  When our time there was done she told us that she wants to approve the adoption, but this is outside of how things are normally done in Rwanda, and she would need to take it to her colleagues for approval as a "special case".

You see, normally Rwanda does not allow parents to choose the child they will adopt.  It is a safeguard for the children that the government picks the child for the parents.  While we understand this, we also know that God can bring a child together with parents sometimes as well.

Please be praying for us to receive the approval for Christine's adoption soon.  We are hoping she will present it to her colleagues this Friday.  We would just like to have it done, so we can move forward with the other necessary paperwork to make this all official.

Thank You!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Unique Family

I've been thinking about this blog post for some time (and now I realize it is quite some time as I see how long it's been since I posted an update here- yikes)!  Some of you have wondered about Michael, our son, how did he become a part of our family?
Last year when we were submitting our adoption paperwork to Rwanda I shared with you the background story on our daughter Christine.  (Update:  our paperwork is still waiting in the processing office here.  I have heard that a dossier a few files back from ours was being handled recently, so someone should have ours in their hand.  Please pray for this to get finished & approved quickly as it's less than three months now until we head back to the US)!

Woven into Christine's story are the details about our son Michael as well.  By the time we were able to get the adoption process started for Michael he was already too old (16 years) to be considered eligible for adoption by the US government.  But, our history with Michael starts long before he was 16 years old.

My husband first met this young boy in Rwanda in 2004.  He was 10 years old and his given name was not Michael, but Melkiolo.  If you listen to someone in Rwanda pronounce that name, you might not have any idea what name they were actually trying to tell you.  (Have you ever met anyone named Melkiolo, especially when the k is prounounced "ch" and the l like "r"?)  Mike could not get his name after several attempts, but the name sounded similar enough to Michael that he just decided he would call this boy Michael.  All the kids loved Michael (McColm) so you can imagine that Melkiolo was proud to take on the name of Michael, and that is what he has been called ever since.

Now, let me fill in some of this with an excerpt from Christine's story: Our first desires to adopt Christine began when KaLia made her first trip to Rwanda in 2006 at the age of 8. She bonded with Christine & they loved each other enough to call each other "sister". When they returned and I heard the stores and saw the pictures, the thought began to enter my head, should we adopt Christine?
When Mike and I started to talk about this adoption, he shared with me that he had also thought about adopting Michael.  He told me how in all his trips there Michael was always helpful, pleasant, hard working, and smart.  An all around sweet boy.

Mike, KaLia, & Michael (he is next to them in the red & blue jacket) 2006

To continue: In 2007 the whole family went to Rwanda for 2 weeks. Again KaLia & Christine held fast to each other, and again we wondered, should we adopt her?  This was the first chance for myself and Nate to go to Rwanda.  From the moment we got to Kayonza (where Michael lived) Nate was surrounded by all the children there & completely overwhelmed (he was only 3 1/2 at the time).  He immediately found Michael to be his safe place: he was held by him, played with him, and stuck with him no matter what!  I felt like this was God's confirmation that Michael was meant to be a part of our family...  At the end of our two weeks I cried and cried about having to leave, and part of that was having to leave behind our kids: Christine & Michael.  When we got home we actually began to find out information about international adoption and were ready to begin, but then suddenly the door closed and we felt like we didn't have a clear "go ahead" from God. So we waited.

One year later:  In 2008 we spent 3 months in Rwanda. When Christine [and Michael] were on break from school they stayed with us in a rented home.  They called me mom, Mike dad, and KaLia and Nate were their sister and brother.

Our last day in Rwanda, 2008.

Six months later: we were back in Rwanda for another three months, but before we left [the US] I had filed applications to be approved by our government to adopt internationally.

While we were in Rwanda in early 2009 we worked on getting documents like the children's birth certificates (not an easy task when their births were never registered to begin with, which is common). While doing this we found out through Michael's extended family that, although he thought he was 15, he was actually 16. The US government will not let you adopt an international orphan who is over the age of 15. Suddenly, we would not be able to adopt Michael after all. My heart was broken, but it was during this trip that God had been teaching me to praise him in all circumstances and to trust in his goodness. Here was some real "field application" for those truths and although I had to cry through it, I surrendered it all to God and just asked him to use us to do His good will for Michael & Christine.
April 2009, Michael is on the far right.

Since we left Rwanda in May 2009, it has been our family prayer every night for God to help us with Christine's adoption and to somehow make a way for Michael to be a more permanent part of our family as well.  Not too long after we came back to Rwanda last August, Christine decided to leave her boarding school and begin to do online high school.  During a visit with us Michael found out about it and began to want to do the same thing.  Some other things you should know about Michael: he is very computer savy and has always been an excellent student.  In 2008 I gave him the name Kumaramaza (in the Kinyarwanda language this means "determination" or something close to that) because once he sets his mind to learning something (i.e. computers, music, swimming) he doesn't give up!  (He has shortened it to the nickname "Kumacs", pronounced "coo-max", fyi.)

Michael was able to receive permission to leave his boarding school and to come live with us so he can do online school full time.  Both Michael and Christine plan to use the accelerated study option in order to move forward in their grade levels beyond what they could do otherwise.  Both also hope to go to school in the US someday and this is a good preparation for that.  Having them both with us right now is a huge blessing and answer to prayer!

However, even as we pray for Christine's adoption to be finalized so she can go with us to the US on June 2nd, there is a prayer request for Michael as well.  We don't want to have to leave our son here when we go back to the US, even for a few months.  And he doesn't want us to leave him as well.  We are praying that God will make a way for Michael to come to the US with us this summer.  This will require miracles on two levels: getting the US to give him permission to come (they don't just hand out these kind of visas, I'm telling you it's difficult) and also being able to afford the cost of the plane ticket, visa applications, passport, etc.

Michael & Nate, 2011
Will you agree in prayer with our family for both Michael & Christine to be able to come to the US this summer?  God has done so much for us already, we know he can do anything!

God  Bless You,

and that's the way they became the McColm bunch....  :)

P.S.  still praying for that Suzuki to sell so we can get a more reliable vehicle & one that's big enough for a family of 6!

Monday, January 17, 2011


And this too, is life in Rwanda...
We have two vehicles here in Rwanda, and this is not an uncommon sight.  Both of them having issues, pieces of them scattered across the driveway, our full time mechanic (yes, that's right between the two vehicles and the tractor at the Home of Innocence, we have enough to keep a man busy).  Of course, some of that "busyness" is also because when something does go wrong he has to hunt all over town for a part, sometimes for days.

The car you see in the background is a diesel Suzuki, and although it gets great gas mileage, finding parts for it here in Rwanda is nearly impossible.  It is constantly having problems.  I think this may be because we have a semi-professional mechanic using semi-adequate parts, but Mike says it's not the mechanic's fault.  Car problems (at least partly due to the reasons I just mentioned) are so common that KaLia's school has a policy that if you're having car troubles you can call the school so you have an excused tardy that day.

The Suzuki has stranded us more than once.  The ol' 1983 Toyota Landcruiser you see in the foreground is more reliable but does have it's own issues at times as well.  Since we got here in August we have spent upwards of $3000 on vehicle repair- yikes! Really, what we need is to sell at least the Suzuki and get a different vehicle that can be a reliable family vehicle- as well as one that has room for our family of 6Please pray for us to be able to get a new vehicle.  If God prompts you to help too, then that would be great!  (You can give through the Ten Talents website.)

Did you hear me say family of 6?  That's right, we have our (unofficial) son Michael living with us full time now as well.  He is 17 years old & is also going to be doing the online US school we have been doing with Christine.  He too wants the option of completing his studies at an accelerated pace.  He was getting ready to go into 8th grade so he will begin there & hopefully progress steadily.  He has always been a quick learner, his English is excellent, and he is very driven, so we believe this will be a good option for him.  Michael is a joy to have in our home and we are blessed to call him our son.

the Michaels & Nate in the front of the boat during our vacation

Pray for me as I try to homeschool Nate (always a struggle), Christine (pray for her to be diligent through this year of homeschool & moving forward in her studies), and Michael (he has big goals as well), so please pray for us all!  KaLia is doing well at her school ("All A's & B's!" she would proudly announce to you) and I thank God for that.  You can also pray for God's provision in our finances, we need to be able to pay for the online school classes as well as KaLia's school tuition.

We continue to remain very busy with administering the Home of Innocence and the sponsorship program here.  We've added many new children (most siblings of children already in the program) and meeting with all the families in the program (and hearing of so many needs, only some of which we can help with) each week, can leave us exhausted from "need overload".  I continually pray for God to guide us in what we do.  I don't want to be just "doing" but being obedient to His calling & His will.

God is good and he has taken care of us well.  We have all been healthy and we always have enough for what we really need.  Thank you for praying for us and for being a part of this amazing journey with us.  Why us?  I don't know, but He asked, we said yes, and here we are!

God Bless You,