Monday, December 28, 2009

Fun!

My brother and his wife


love, love, love blanket sleepers! I'm used to my kids sleeping only in diapers...so this is fun!


This picture epitomizes the personality differences in my children.



My grandmother used to paint. When I was born, she painted me a beautiful picture of a little girl with brown eyes. It hung on my bedroom wall until junior high, and then was left behind and lost forever in Liberia during the war. This Christmas my Grammy gave me another of her pictures--also of a little girl. Very, very special.


Christmas part 1




Christmas part 2

My heart is full! Thank you, Lord, for wonderful memories with our families.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Adoptive Parent's Perspective on "Find My Family"

ABC's new reality show, "Find My Family," helps adopted kids (who are now adults) find their birth parents, and birth parents find the kids they put up for adoption. When I heard the premise, first I didn't want to watch it. Then I decided that I wouldn't be allowed to really have an opinion about it unless I watched it at least once. So I did.

On one hand, the show made me glad. Without meaning to be (just like Juno and Bella), it is very pro-life. One of the people featured on Monday's episode said, "I want to thank my birth mother for giving me life." When she finally got to meet her birth mother, those were some of her first words. She knew her birth mother had a choice. She was a teen mother and could have very easily taken the easy way out. But she didn't.

On the other hand, it made me sad. I've read the books--so many of them. I know how hard it is on adopted kids to not know where they came from, to not look like anyone in their families, to not know anything of their genetic or genealogical history. I can understand why adopted kids feel the profound need to search for their birth families. But that's why it makes me sad--my kids won't be able to. Of course, I would always be happy to support my child in a search. But short of giving DNA tests to every person in Tanzania, my kids are not going to find their birth families. We know nothing. Not a shred. So it makes me sad to see these adopted people in this show talk about how important it is to them, and know that won't ever happen for my kids. Only their Heavenly Father will be able to heal that hurt.

The rest of my feelings were just conflicted. Is the show pro-adoption? I can't really tell. One person featured seemed pretty unhappy in his adoptive family. The other said to her adoptive mom, "You're the only person I will ever call Mom." That was cool. But I worry that by only focusing the show on the birth families, prospective adoptive families could get scared off. Why adopt a child if they never really will feel part of your family? Even the name of the show, "Find My Family," bothers me. Don't my children already have a family? Are we only second best? That's not how I view adoption, and that's hopefully not how my kids will see it.

I also wonder what it's like for adopted kids to watch this show. I've read that most adopted kids fantasize about their birth parents, and usually they believe that their parents never wanted to give them up, are living a happy life somewhere, and desperately hope to find their children someday. Of course, this show only focuses on stories like that that really are true. They are not going to feature the stories where the birth parent is living a screwed-up life, or has no desire to meet his or her child. They're not going to tell the stories of the multitude of international adoptions where there's no way to ever find the birth family.

You know what would make a great show? Adoption stories. Where children with no family finally find one. That's a show I would watch.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home

Many have said to us, “Welcome Home!” And some have added, “Not that this is really your home.”

Is it?

This is called “Home Assignment.” (Years ago, it was called “Furlough.” Mission organizations changed the name because furlough implies “rest and vacation,” which is not what we are doing.
Well, that’s not entirely what we are doing. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, Amy….all of your pictures show that you are working really, really hard.” Of course, you don’t really want to see pictures of Gil working on sermons or me making appointments. Right? But it is true that December is a bit of a down month for us—it’s not really the time when churches want us to come speak. So instead we are making up for lots of lost grandparent time.)

Anyway. Back to the “Home Assignment” label. Where is our home?

We grew up in California (when I wasn’t in Liberia, in my case). We went to school, met each other, got married in California. Our families are here. We are flooded by memories….people, places, events…everything that made us who we are. We speak the language; we understand the culture; there are so many who love us here.

Yet Gil and I have lived over 6 out of our 9 years of marriage in Tanzania. Life in the States has gone on without us. We can’t keep track of our friends’ kids. Our nieces and nephews have grown up and we have missed it. We are nomads here: We own no home or car and are dependent on the hospitality of others. Tanzania has changed us; we aren't comfortable with the American way of life. We feel out of place, like we don’t belong.

So then is Tanzania home? We’ve lived there for over 6 years. We have invested blood and sweat and tears (especially sweat) into our ministry. Our children are Tanzanian. Places are familiar to us and we have grown comfortable with the way of life. (Well, until the power goes out).

Yet we will never be Tanzanian. We will always be foreigners, always attract stares wherever we go, always seen as different from the majority. We will never truly understand what it’s like to be Tanzanian. We’ve moved houses four times in the last four years. And our community at Haven of Peace Academy, especially among the staff, is always, constantly, changing. We’ve said good-bye to so many good friends over the last few years that we’ve felt some burnout and depression. It’s made it hard to emotionally invest in anyone other than our students.

As a typical MK, I never felt the need to put down roots. Until I had kids. Now it’s a struggle. But it’s one of those struggles I must be thankful for, because of its sanctifying work in me. For this earth (as it is now) was never meant to be our home. It is all temporal. And as much as I long for security and roots, I must remember that they will always be an illusion. Nothing in this world is secure or permanent. “Home” will never be entirely Tanzania or California. My Home is yet to come.

And [the heroes of the faith] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Discovery

These have become all-time favorites!




Balls were flying....shooting...up into the air.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Blog Post on Blogging

This January, it will have been three years since I started this blog. I originally started with my family and close friends in mind. Honestly, I didn't anyone else would be interested. But then I started getting readers that I had never met before, and some of them even linked to my blog from their sites.

That's very cool. But also intimidating.

I love to write. Ever since my fifth grade teacher made us turn in creative writing every week, and my 12th grade English teacher taught me how to organize my thoughts, and my Advanced Writing professor in college really pushed me, I have loved to write. When I was a little girl, I dreamed about becoming an author. But since then, I never really thought that I had something significant to say. It took me a while on my blog to really write...to write something other than snippets of my life. And when people said they were interested, that was a shock. I have something interesting to say? That someone other than my English teacher wants to read? Well, okay then. But at that point my perfectionist nature kicked in and I was scared to post anything that I wasn't totally satisfied with.

Yesterday, I read this in WORLD magazine: "The ease of self-publishing has resulted in many bad books by authors who did not spend time learning to write or building an audience. That's too bad because we live in a time when anyone with talent, discipline, and an idea can start with a blog, keep at it over time, and eventually build an audience while learning to write better." She then went on to describe four new books that have been published out of blogs.

At this point I have no ambition to publish a book from my blog! But her thoughts are freeing to me. Oh....I get it....blogging is about practice! I don't have to only publish perfect thoughts. I don't have to worry that everything I post is interesting to everyone.

So I am going to make an effort to post my thoughts in writing more often. Because I enjoy it. Because it helps me to sort out what I am learning. Because maybe God can teach others through what He is teaching me.

And I will think of it as practice. It doesn't have to be publishable or perfect. Right?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

First Impressions

I lived this life once…but it seems so distant.

On Driving:

The roads are so smooth! Everyone follows the lines! No one is driving on the shoulder!

“Think right, Think right, Think right…” (the right side of the road, that is)

Constantly turning on the windshield wipers instead of the blinker…. (did you know they are reversed in British cars?)

Pay attention to the speed limit! (In Dar we never can go fast enough to worry about the speed limit).


In the store:

SO MUCH! So many choices….so many yummy things….how is there ever time to eat it all? Why do we need 16 types of Cheez-Its to choose from?

Everything is processed! Where is the flour and yeast? Why should I even bother making a homemade pumpkin pie when it’s cheaper to buy the bakery one? I must admit that’s a bit disheartening.

WHY DO PEOPLE BUY ALL THIS BOTTLED WATER? Buy a Brita, save the money you spend on bottled water, and send it to a country where the majority of people watch their babies die from water-borne diseases. Oops, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Will I remember what to do? Do I remember how to pay with a credit card? I feel foolish, awkward…everyone expects me to know what to do…I look American…but I feel out of place.

On media:
I hate commercials! I hate advertising! I get immune to this after a while, but every time I come back to the States I feel bombarded. Except that I guess I can’t complain too much since I am a Republican who is very much in favor of a free market economy. Oooh…better not get on that soapbox. So I guess I put up with the advertising.

I like wearing socks. I like using a curling iron. I like not feeling sweaty all the time. I like cooking with cream cheese and raspberries.


Yep, that was pretty much Josiah's impression of Disneyland.


Finally, a partial smile!

With Grandma


With cousin Maddie
For the first time in my life, we got season passes to Disneyland! Gil's folks live only a half hour away, and the deal for So. Cal. residents is great. So when we went in to get our passes, they asked for a phone number.
Gil and I just looked at each other. "Ummmm....."
"Any phone number is okay," the guy said. "A cell number is fine."
"Uh, we don't know...."
"You don't know your phone number? Any phone number?"
We turned red.
Gil ran out to get his mom's cell. I fumbled over an explanation which included words like "Africa," so the guys eyes just glazed over and a polite smile appeared on his face.
We get that a lot.

First bike!




Give him a ball and some dirt and the smile reappears. I still can't get over seeing him in jeans and long sleeves!

This has been hardest on him, but he's handling it like a champ.

I'm here for Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? Thank you, Lord!