Promises, Provision, and a Plan

We were crowded into my friend’s basement and all eyes were on me.

Men, women, children, Americans, and Africans alike were all ready to hear tonight’s story.  At some point, our small group had become a large one, and I was definitely more of a small-group kind of person.  But tonight’s story had fallen to me and I had spent the week preparing for it, so I tentatively began to relay the biblical account of Joshua and how he led the Israelites to take the land of Canaan for themselves, as God had promised.  As I storied, I quoted at times, the commands of God to his servant, “I will not leave you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous . . .” (Joshua 1:5-6).   “Only be strong and very courageous,” (Joshua 1:7).  And again, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9).  As I shared these words, the frequency of them hit me as they hadn’t before, and I clung to them.

We had recently turned in our application to adopt, begun the daunting home study process, and had incurred some major household expenses as several appliances under our roof—and finally, the roof itself—needed to be  replaced.  This required, as my East African friend likes to say, “big money.”  Had we been wrong to turn in our application?  Had we misunderstood our calling?  Or the timing?  Deep down, we knew better, though.  We also knew that our faith in God’s goodness would be evidenced by our obedience.

As I said, I clung to these words.

And I have clung to them throughout these past nine months, as we’ve plodded forward.  Verse nine is scribbled on our dresser mirror in dry erase marker, and is buried in my heart, transforming me as only the Word of God in conjunction with the Holy Spirit is able.

How our Father has proven himself faithful to us!  He has not left us.  He has been with us as we’ve written every check, met every deadline, made every stop on this expensive scavenger hunt that is the international adoption process.

One thing that his faithfulness has compelled us toward is finding ways to financially support other adoptions, even as we are working toward funding our own.  We don’t want to do it later, once we’ve taken care of our own needs first.  We want to do it now!  We have seen God’s provision and we want to bless others on their journeys.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “So long as we eat our bread together, we shall have sufficient even for the least. Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue.”  We want to not only bring home the two that will sleep upstairs, but five, six, twelve more who will come home to other families.  We will not hoard God’s blessings, even as we still need to raise about $14, 931 to cover the $37,423 cost of our adoption.  We trust him enough to provide for all our needs—and theirs, too!

We have come up with a plan, and we want to begin first with the Wallace family.  William and Lindsy Wallace are members at our church who have inspired and encouraged us in our adoption journey.  Their own adoption ride has been crazier than navigating a Nairobi roundabout in a mini-bus!  You can read about it here:  http://wordfromthewallaces.blogspot.com.  Currently, they are in the process of accepting the referral of a little girl named Glory from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they need to raise the rest of their funds fast.

Lindsy and William Wallace

Lindsy and William Wallace

We would love to help them with a fundraiser to help pay for Glory’s referral costs.  So we’ve created a unique coffee bean bracelet we’re calling “Morning Glory,” which is inspired by the colors of that sweet little flower that seems to be able to bloom anywhere.  Each of these unique bracelets sells for $10 and we will split the funds raised with them 50/50, so $5.00 will go toward the Wallace’s adoption, and the other $5.00 will go toward our adoption of two little ones from Ethiopia.  We are only making one hundred of this special design, so consider purchasing one quickly (we will not make any more in this style after they are gone).  For only $10, you can bless two adoptive families and have a beautiful reminder to keep or give as a gift.  You can find them online at www.etsy.com/shop/almostafrica or at a Sunergos Coffee shop in the coming days.  Please help us out by sharing this through social media and word of mouth.

$10 at https://www.etsy.com/listing/94274571/adoption-fundraiser-morning-glory-coffee

The “Morning Glory” Coffee Bean Bracelet is only $10 and blesses two adopting families. Purchase at https://www.etsy.com/listing/94274571/adoption-fundraiser-morning-glory-coffee

Grants and the Cost of Toothpaste

We recently began filling out A LOT of grant paperwork.  It’s interesting, the information total strangers want to know about you before giving you their money.   Many of the forms, though long, are reasonable enough, and I can appreciate that most organizations are simply trying to be a good stewards of their funds.  Others, on the other hand, are complicated, and feel straight-up invasive.  At times, I have flashbacks of reading Thoreau’s Walden, where he listed every single, stinkin’ plank of wood in his home and denoted that each cost precisely ¼ of a cent.  [Did anyone else have to suffer through give a presentation on Walden in high school?  No, just me?  Also, I may not have actually finished it.  Moving on . . .]

One particular form we spent much energy obsessing over, wanted us to delineate how much money we spend each year on “personal care items.”

So, we had to have a conversation that went something like this:

DA:  This one wants to know how much we spend on “personal care items.”

Me:  You mean, like shampoo and soap and toilet paper?
DA:  I don’t know, I guess.  How do we figure that out?

Me:  OK, let’s tackle this methodically.  This should be simple.  Google how much a tube of toothpaste costs.  How many times a year do we actually buy it?  All we have to do is multiply.

DA:  I don’t know.

Me:  OK, how about [picking a random number] three times a year—or four?  Does that sound right?  Or does that sound like we don’t practice appropriate dental hygiene—we wouldn’t want anyone calling CPS, because they think we don’t make our kids brush.  Oh, the kids!  Should the final number include the children’s toothpaste in the upstairs bathroom cabinet?  We keep on hand a tube of Dora, a tube of Thomas, and there’s that dried up infant tube—the one with Little Bear on it.  But Yay was born in 2009, so that probably wasn’t bought during the 2011 fiscal year, right?

DA:  I don’t know.  Should we move on to soap, now?  Do we want to figure out hand soap, body wash, baby wash, or dishwasher tablets?

Me:  All right.  Whichever.  Are you writing all this down?

No one should have to have these conversations during Christmas break while trying to enjoy “Cheese Plate Dinner.”  No one.  [That reminds me, what is our current cracker budget?!  Excuse me while I freak out a bit . . .]

Somehow we managed to complete some of the forms as truthfully as we possibly could.  A few more are in the process of being finished.  In any case, in a couple of months, we should start hearing back from these grant organizations.  Please pray that they will be generous to us in their distribution of funds.  I’m hoping to update this blog soon with where we currently stand in our fundraising.