Monday, November 29, 2010

Urgent need...

When we returned from Ethiopia on Nov. 10 we shared with all of you that we needed $20,000 to complete the adoption process. Thanks to the generous giving of friends we have raised $7,000 in just 3 weeks. We are amazed & overwhelmed at the generosity of so many people who are now forever a special part of our family. As the date of our anticipated Embassy appointment nears we are asking that you would take every opportunity to advocate for us with everyone that you know.

It is the time of year when business owners and individuals begin considering making charitable contributions to many worthy causes. We are asking you to recommend our church's adoption assistance fund and actively promote this as an option to those you know who own businesses & individuals seeking to make a difference in the world. Gifts to the Moffett Road Baptist Church Adoption Assistance Fund are tax deductible, and those who give will receive a charitable contributions statement in January 2011.

We trust the Lord to provide all that we need but we also feel the urgency to ask for your help. We would appreciate your consideration of what you can do personally to help us and also for actively promoting this giving opportunity to businesses and individuals within your sphere of influence. We believe that our Father desires to involve as many people as possible in this endeavor, and at this time we need anyone who is willing to spread our cry for help. Thank you and many blessings to you and your family during this great season of giving, sharing, and celebration!

Make checks payable to: Moffett Road Baptist Church
Memo Line: Adoption Assistance Fund

Mail donations to:
Moffett Road Baptist Church
5555 Moffett Road
Mobile, AL 36618

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adoption T-shirts!

As of tonight, we have 40 Southern Belle adoption t-shirts that we still need to sell.  It would be GREAT to have them all gone before we go to Ethiopia to bring home our kids in December.  (I would just LOVE to make so many trips to the Post Office over the next few weeks that I know all the workers on a first name basis! LOL)

Adult sizes are $20 and youth sizes are $15.  They would make great Christmas gifts!

Here is what we have right now...
YS -  Bue -  1
YS -  Pink - 0
YM - Blue - 2
YM - Pink - 1
YL - Blue -  4
YL - Pink -  3

AS -   Blue -  6
AS -   Pink -  3
AM -  Blue -  4
AM -  Pink -  4
AL -   Blue -  3
AL -   Pink -  0
AXL - Blue - 2
AXL - Pink - 4
2XL - Blue -  3
2XL - Pink -  1

Get yours before they are gone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Pierce Christmas ~ 2010 ~ Thoughts and Musings

The background for this post actually began December 25, 2009.  Last year on Christmas day, even before we had decided for sure and committed to adopt, I prayed that God would bring our children "home" by this Christmas. I wrote the prayer down on a slip of paper and put it inside a Christmas ornament that has been sitting on the table by my bed all year.  The entire adoption process has gone extremely smoothly and quickly by all standards, and it appears that we will indeed be together with our kids this Christmas, possibly in Ethiopia - and "home" is wherever your family is, so that totally counts!
Since we have been closer to the final steps of completing our adoption and bringing our kids home, we have realized that major portions of our process would likely happen around Christmas time.  We've "warned" our 4 bio kids for a while that they should not expect Christmas as usual at our house - one gift or quite possibly none, with the exception of a new brother and sister, of course (and B & T truly are "gifts"!), and most likely no decorations.  To their credit, we've not heard a single complaint about the likelihood of no gifts this year.  While they are not accustomed to overboard or outlandish gifts at Christmas (everyone gets 3 gifts each, and if it is something big like a PS3 or a pet, etc. it counts as one of the three for each kid), I am still so proud of them for having their hearts in the right place... so, so proud.  (They won't be doing without gifts because we can't scrounge up enough to buy them something, we just think our money is better spent in other ways this year.)
I have, however, heard from several adults who wonder if I'm going to have time to get "all my Christmas shopping" done before we leave for Ethiopia.  I always say with a smile, "No, we're not buying Christmas gifts - everyone we know has too much junk already!"  Really, all the adults we know have too much stuff, and all the kids we know have too much stuff.  WE have too much stuff!  So, if you know us personallly and were expecting a gift, sorry, but we're not getting one for you this year!  "Your" gift will be going to an orphanage or a needy family. :)
And if you come over to visit during the Christmas season, you won't see all the usual decorations and lights at our house.  We're just not going to go through the hassle and headache of doing all of that.  In light of eternity, it won't matter.  It really won't.  And it will not hinder our celebration of the coming of the Messiah  - it will likely even help us celebrate Him!  (Another good thing about not putting up decorations is that it will help when we come home with B & T - they probably wouldn't know what to think about all that stuff!  I surely don't want to be telling them, "No", about taking ornaments off the tree, etc. and then have to spend an entire day taking it all down and putting it all away.  We're going to make everything as simple as possible.)
One somewhat unexpected attitude we've encountered is that some people are under the impression that we will be disappointed not to be "home" for Christmas.  Honestly, at this point, I would be disappointed to NOT be in Ethiopia for Christmas!  My celebration of Christmas is not tied to any place or even tradition we may hold dear.  I can celebrate my Messiah's birth anywhere, and I believe that serving Him through serving "the least of these" is the best way for our family to genuinely and sincerely worship Him on that day.  I think that would be the best Christmas ever!
I am so thankful that the entire adoption process has been an experience that God has used to teach our family to focus more on the needs of others.  We have always been a relatively "giving" family.  But God has REALLY focused our hearts on meeting the needs of people around the world who need Him and also those who have physical and material needs, as well.  We have become passionate about it.  Now I really can't even imagine buying stuff for people who already have way more than they need.  I had much rather spend any "gift" money on the needs of those who actually have "needs".  Our kids usually draw names and buy gifts for each other, but this year they are going to each purchase one gift to donate to an orphanage. 
I wonder what would happen if each Christmas we would all give just half of the money that we spend on "junk for other people who already have too much junk" on meeting the actual needs of the least of these as Jesus commanded us to do.  (That would still leave half for buying stuff for people who don't need anything!)  Can you imagine the difference it would make in countless lives around the world?  Can you imagine the difference it would make in the life of your family?  I know it is making a huge difference in our family.  I am so grateful that God is ripping us out of our old ways of thinking and of doing things and placing us in the middle of His will, that He is breaking our hearts for what breaks His, and that He is changing our family forever! (I just want everyone to have this experience!)
So, the Pierce Christmas 2010 will not look like any we have ever had before.  When I prayed that we would have our kids by Christmas 2010, I was just thinking of my own little small-minded plans.  But God had bigger plans that I never would have dreamed.  I never would have begun to imagine that we could possibly be spending Christmas IN Ethiopia WITH our children.  I never would have imagined all the things God has taught us throughout this year.  And I never would have imagined that our family would have changed and grown so much in just the last 11 months.  I love the way God answers prayers and that His ways are always greater than my own.  We're still praying that God will supply all the funding for the entire family to travel, and we believe it will happen!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Together for Christmas?

(This is what our puzzles look like!)

Now that B & T are officially ours, we are planning for our trip back to pick them up.  We have word from our agency that our likely embassy appointment date is December 22nd.  We have all along wanted to take the first four with us when we travel to get them so we can all come home as a family.  (See our April 1st post about this here.)  But now it is more urgent for us to raise the funds for this.  We have only a couple of weeks before we HAVE to purchase plane tickets and make all final reservations.

If we don't have the funds to take everyone with us, our family will be separated for Christmas.  Michael and I will be in Ethiopia with B & T, and the other four kids will be in the states with other family members.  Our embassy appointment on the 22nd would mean that we would have to return to the embassy on the 24th to pick up their visas and would not be able to be home for Christmas Day as a family. 

Taking the enitre family on this second trip is something we have been praying about and feeling we should plan for for a long time - with no way of knowing it could possibly end up being around Christmas time. We are using our Puzzle Piece fundraiser (more info here) to raise the money for this trip.  We need to sell every last piece in order to afford to take everyone and be together for Christmas.

Please help us keep our family together for Christmas by donating. 
Thank you!
(PayPal donate buttons located on right side-bar and October 1st post here.)

The newest Pierces!

Found out moments ago that we passed court and they are officially ours!

Biruk Brielle & Tebarek Jeremiah

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our first trip to Ethiopia...

Days leading up to trip...
~Packing, packing, packing - for parents to go to ET and for 4 kids staying in 3 different places 2 states!
~Getting snacks together for us, for kids in ET, and gifts for ET nannies and guides. 
~Finalizing arrangements where the kids would be staying each day (many thanks to family and several friends). 
~Buying some supplies with money donated for orphanage.

Wednesday, November 3rd - Thursday, Nov. 4th
~Went to Mobile airport for 10:30 am fllight but were able to leave on 9:15 flight because there was room on the plane and we were there early. 
~Mobile to Atlanta.  Short and boring flight... just the way we like 'em!
~Atlanta to Dulles.  Seated next to Kim S. from Starkville, MS.  About a million things in common:  both went to MSU (at the same time but didn't know each other), both have 3 boys and one girl, both home school, both on our way to Ethiopia!  (She was going for a medical mission trip.)
~At Dulles.  Long layover.  Met the Grants!  :)  Met Ethiopian woman who told us what our kids' names meant.  (Both mean "blessed".) 
~Dulles to Addis.  Long flight.  Long, long flight.  Stopped in Rome for fuel.  Flight from Rome to Addis was fun.  A "party" on the plane!  People everywhere up talking and visiting.  Answered many questions and shared Jesus with some Muslim guys who just happened to ask Michael what he does for a living! ;)  (Then the guys in front of us who were on a mission trip to Malawi were asked the very same questions, so those Muslim guys got to hear the Truth twice!)  Were able to introduce the man behind us to the medical mission team so they could work on setting up something in Somalia. 
~Arrived in Addis @ 8:15ish Thursday night.  (26 hours...) Went to Yebsabi Guest House.  Met Gowins, Davidsons and Flemings.  Then to BED!  Heard dogs barking and roosters crowing all night...  thankfully, we were super-tired. 

Friday, November 5th
~Breakfast at Y.G.H. Some ET breakfast foods and coffee.
~Transition Home for "Meethcha Day"! 
~ Photos and videos of Grants meetcha.
~Met T and B for first time!!!
~Gave and received the hugs and kisses we've waited so long for.
~Gave them fruit snacks. T called all his friends over to share with them.
~Played on the playground, kids got our cell phones and took pictures of everybody and everything.  They had a great time taking a photo and then showing their subject the pic.  Everyone else seemed to enjoy having their photo taken, too.
~Lunch at Metro Pizza.  VERY good!
~Went to ET museum at University of Addis Ababa.
~Back to T.H. for more play time and meetings with doctor, psychologist, and social worker.  All went well.  Great reports from everyone.
~Michael and T played soccer.  T was very good and whenever Michael would pretend to "cheat" or tell him the wrong score, T would always call him out on it.  It was SO funny!  Michael would say, "7 points for me!" and T would say, "No, 6 for you! 6 for you!" 
~Delivered care packages and took photos and videos for other waiting families.
~B fell asleep for a few minutes in Michael's arms, but that didn't last long because T woke her up trying to get the cell phone to take more pics.
~A VERY good first day!
~The Grants and us walked to dinner at Zebra Grill.  Much fun visiting with them.  Power failure.  Sat about 10 minutes with no light.  Generator started up... power!  Lots of visiting.  Good food.  Cat wandering around inside the restaurant.  Electricity still out when we went outside to walk home.  Very dark - only light was passing cars' headlights.  Not afraid of anything but tripping on uneven sidewalk.
~Met the Whipples!

Saturday, November 6th

~Breakfast at Y.G.H.
~Trip up Entoto Mt.  Very steep drive.  People and mules carrying things (sticks, eucalyptus, dung, firewood). 
~Met the VanCleaves!
~Lunch at Lucy's.  YUM! 
~Went to T.H.  Photos and videos of meetcha for VanCleaves and Whipples.
~More fun visiting with T and B.  Michael flipped them again and again.  They had so much fun.
~Dinner at Avanti. 

 Sunday, November 7th
~Walked to Devon photo shop with Grants to get photos of kids and us printed for kids to keep by their beds.
~International Evangelical Church.  Pastor is from North Carolina.  Great to worhsip with people from ALL over the word!  Like heaven...
~Lunch at Lime Tree.
~Visit T and B.  More fun.  Saw their rooms and beds at older kids' T.H.
~Shopping.  Kids came to van trying to sell gum and other things.  We asked them to sing a song, and they sang, "This is the Day"!
~Dinner at "traditional" restaurant.  Ate traditional food and saw traditional dancing.  VERY interesting.

Monday, November 8th
~Coffee factory.
~Meeting with birth mom.  Difficult and heartbreaking, but well worth it.
~Opened window in Y.G.H. room and heard Justin Bieber singing "Baby, Baby" coming from outside! 
~Lunch at Amsterdam.
~Grants, Pierces, and Whipples to Kaldi's Coffee then COURT! (None of us passed that day, but Whipples received word Tuesday that they passed. Grants have Dec. court date. We have another court date set for Monday, Nov. 15th.)
~Visiting the kids at the T.H.!
~Back to Y.G.H. for a "quiet" evening. We went up to the Grants' room for popcorn, movie-watching, and snacks. Fun! Joined a while later by the VanCleaves and Whipples - CRAZY fun! We had the best time. Laughed harder than in a long time. We love our new friends!

Tuesday, November 9th
~Visited orphanages: KVI and Kids Care. 
~ Shopping.
~Lunch at Makush.  Met Jeanine J. and O. and A.  (She had just picked up A. from T.H. for good!)
~Last visit with T and B. 
~More photos and videos for other families.
~Loved on T and B.  Went back to Older Kids' T.H. for last time. 
~Kept from crying until I made it out of the gate!  (Yay, me!)
~Back to Y.G.H. for quick shower and packing. 
~To airport with Grants and Chad F. 
~LONG plane ride to U.S.A. begins. (27 hours travel time!)

Wednesday, November 10th
~Arrived at Dulles
~Ate lunch with Grants.
~Almost missed our flight to Atlanta because we talked for too long with the Grants!
~Dulles to Atlanta.
~Atlanta to Mobile.
~Arrived in Mobile 5:45 pm.
~HOME (with a surprise delicious dinner waiting for us from our friend T!  Thanks!)

UPDATE on Ethiopian Orphanage

Well, last week when we were in Addis, we were able to visit the orphanage I had written about (10/28/10).  And, yes, it was very, very sad. 

In the toddler room, there were at least a dozen kids.  They were so sweet...  All I could think is that they deserved to be in a family, not living in a big room full of beds and kids.  Only a few, though, wanted to be held and tried to get our attention.  Most kids that age want to be held, but I think they were not accustomed to being carried around and loved on.  The nannies reallly do the best they can, but there are so many chores that must be done just to keep things in working order (everything is hand-washed - clothes, sheets, diapers, dishes - and keeping things tidy and clean takes a lot of time with that many kids to care for) that there is no time left for snuggling. 

We next visited the baby room.  A room about 12x12 with 5 beds and about 13 babies.  The babies were lying on blankets on the wood bed bottoms. The mattresses that had recently been purchased by the other group when they were there were not on the beds because they had been taken outside to be cleaned.  They are wrapped in plastic so they will not be ruined, but they have to be cleaned often since there are no good diapers.  The babies were still wearing onesies that were holding their make-shift diapers on, but with no plastic pants to cover the diapers everything just leaked onto their clothes and beds.

The room was a kind of dark, there was a bit of crying but not a lot, and multiple babies in every bed.  One bed had 5 tiny babies in it.  Their feet were all cold because they did not have socks or blankets on.  We picked up some of the babies to hold, and every single one had on wet clothes.  Their make-shift diapers were almost useless.  We had just brought in several bags and containers of diapers, wipes, sheets, clothes, etc. so we 4 moms went into "mom mode" and started asking if we could change the babies and dress them in dry clothes that we brought with us.  We went to the office, grabbed bags of disposable diapers, wipes, and dry clothes so we could start cleaning and changing babies. 

As we changed, cleaned, and dressed babies, the nannies started bringing in the freshly-cleaned mattresses. Several of the babies were too small even for the newborn sized diapers and clothes that we had brought.  We were able to put new crib sheets on mattresses, and place the clean, dry babies back into the soft beds.  (We tried to explain to the nannies how to use the plastic-backed crib mattress protectors that we brought, but I'm not sure they understood.  Hopefully, they will soon - it would really lessen their work load.)  We put socks on tiny, cold feet, and we held and hugged and loved on as many babies as possible until we had to go.  We wished we could stay and rock them to sleep, realizing that many of them had possibly never been rocked to sleep in their lives. 

Try to imagine all the craziness of four moms in full-on "mom mode" and a couple of nannies in this tiny room with all these babies as we were trying to make sure every last one was clean and dry before we had to leave.  It was cramped, loud, bustling, and a picture of the love of Christ in action.  The nannies were so grateful for the things we had brought and for our help.  They just kept saying, "Bless you... bless you." 

We also were able to take $200 cash donated through the blog so the orphanage could purchase other supplies needed.  And another family brought $150. (Our agency office in Addis has possession of the money and will be working with the orphanage to use it most wisely in purchasing items needed.)  It's true that $350 can buy a good bit of stuff, but with so many babies and toddlers, it won't last long.  Just think about how fast one baby goes through diapers and how much laundry they make.  Multiply that by 25 to 30 babies and toddlers - whew! that's a lot of work and money. 

We took several packs of disposable diapers, which would last a while with only a baby or two, but I am sure they probably only lasted a few days with that many babies.  When we go back (hopfully in December), we want to take a bunch of cloth diapers and plastic pants with us.  At least, they can be washed and reused many times. 

It was an amazingly painful and eye-opening experience for all of us.  We will never be the same...
(We pray we will be able to take our four bio kids with us when we go next time.  It will be truly life-changing for them as well.)

If you would like to make a donation for supplies for us to take on our December trip, please see the October 28th post and donate through PayPal "Donate" button.