Thursday, November 29, 2012

How was your trip?

I love this question, I really do. But how can I put into words a week's worth of blessings, sadness, poverty, hope and tragedy. How do I adequately explain what my heart feels when I have seen orphans who are so desperate for love they will go into anyone's arms. Or witness a woman so desperate that she wants to take her own life. Or see the potential in a child who is not receiving an education that will pull her out of the cycle of poverty and death. Or see the people who work harder than any of us can imagine to make all the wrongs in this world right.

So the trip was amazing, wonderful, healing, redemptive and challenging in all the right ways. I once again was challenged to live with gratitude, to live with less "stuff" and to live with joy. To appreciate the good parts of the American dream and try to shed the aspects that just don't bring the happiness we crave. And to share about the people who are inspiring and whose work I am honored to support from a distance. In hopes that you may feel inspired to do the same.


The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2003, Eric and I were beyond excited. We had been trying to give Emmi a brother or a sister for 3 years, and I was finally expecting our second child. We had experienced the first ultrasounds pictures, shown them proudly to family and friends and we began to imagine life as a family of 4. But that dream turned into a nightmare. Our baby went straight to heaven and we said goodbye to this little life on Thanksgiving Day. For this reason Thanksgiving Thursday has been bittersweet each year since then. As we enjoy our family and friends, we also silently mourn the child we were not able to raise here on earth. There are still more questions than answers and a longing to know this child the same way I know all my other children.

This year, the sorrow I felt in 2003 was replaced with equal amount of joy as I met my  daughter for the first time on Thankgsgiving Day. As she was placed in my arms, it felt the exact opposite of the day I sat and cried with empty arms. Memories flooded and each one of the sad memories was replaced with a new memory of a Thanksgiving Day miracle that we were witnessing in Africa. It was as if the rips in my heart were being mended with each moment I spent with my sweet little girl. The timing of it all was so perfect, 9 years later I received the restoration I had prayed and hoped would come.

I feared that her disabilities would be too severe, or that I wouldn't be able to connect with her. I wasn't sure how Emmi would react to her and if she was ok with the surroundings of a large orphanage. All that doubt and worry went away as my new daughter sat on my lap in her orange dress. My Momma's heart knew, she was my daughter.

"A" sat on my lap, looked at me with her beautiful crossed eyes and then smiled. She immediately noticed my hair and tried to grab it and pull on it. When I would open her hand so she would let go of my hair, her smile let me know she liked this game. Our first visit was all too short, but she had to go and eat. We said our goodbyes and she disappeared around the corner. Until tomorrow, sweet one.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving

We are here! Emmi and I traveled 22 hours, 3 flights, 4 airports and lots of time to spend together. She is the best travel partner anyone could want. We arrived late in the evening and headed to our hotel.

The next day (yesterday) was Thanksgiving in the US. For me, it was a day to give thanks and to meet my daughter for the first time. I will write about it in more detail when I get home, but for now I can say: she is a beautiful, sweet and cuddly little girl. I am so thankful to be here and to finally meet her.

Some of her medical needs are apparent and I know we will discover more along the way. But I know that if nothing were to change, if no medical interventions would work, she is perfect just as she is. And we will love her just as she is today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Light Gives Heat

When we were planning for our fundraiser auction, Light Gives Heat went above and beyond in helping us. We were gifted beautiful necklaces and their movie Moving On, which I had previously watched online. The movie not only explains the founders journey to start the company, but has such a powerful message in making a difference in the lives of others.

I hope you will visit their website to learn more about their vision and how they empower women by providing sustainable income and hope for the future.

The Spring Pearl necklace was a popular item in our auction. It is even more stunning in person and the vibrant colors will make this a perfect accessory. Now I hope my husband reads this as it would make Christmas shopping incredibly easy for him ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Travel Plans

I leave in 2 weeks!!! The excitement is equal to the panic that ensues when every room is filled with donations, summer clothes, travel medications and lists. I am a list maker and traveling produces so many of them. I wanted to share some of the things I get to do when I am in "A"s (and Kofi and Joy's) country.

1. Meeting our little one!!!
Of course this is the primary reason we are going. I can't wait to hold her and let her know she is wanted and loved. That she has a family on the other side of the ocean waiting for her. My heart is guarded though as we will be allowed visitation with her and every day we get a little (or a lot, who knows) time with her. But meeting her and doing some "Mommy assessment" of her abilites and disabilities will be the most wonderful part of our trip. We have toys and clothes packed for our princess and I know it will be a wonderful time!

2. The Fern House
I am so excited to visit and meet all the wonderful people at the Fern House, a crisis pregnancy center and maternity home that support women in many ways during an uncertain time in their lives. For the past few months, I have learned about the mission and future vision for the Fern House and I am glad to see it in person. I have suitcases full of donations to bless them with thanks to my generous friends and I hope to share more about the work they do there.
this will be me in 2 weeks, enjoying my orange Fanta in a glass bottle :)
3. Cultural "stuff"
This will be Emmi's first (but hopefully not only) trip to West Africa. I hope to show her all kinds of beautiful aspects of this country and culture. We will be shopping (we will be there on Black Friday, so we must) and experiencing new things together. She is an awesome travel partner, a seasoned world traveler (she traveled to Europe twice before her 1st birthday) and I know she will be fun to spend time with.

4. Miscellaneous
I know things will come up, TIA afterall! We are ready for any unexpected opportunities and will keep our schedule in "Africa time" as we should. I hope we have a decent wifi connection while there as I hope to share our adventures as they happen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Holiday Shopping Fundraiser

Last year, as I made my Christmas gift list, I wanted to support individuals and organizations at the same time. It may take a little more research, but in the end it's like giving two gifts at the same time! On November 5th, my dear friend Christy and I are joining our efforts in hosting a holiday shopping extravaganza that has a little something for everyone. These parties can be ordered from right now, others will be added this weekend. Here is the list of products:

Origami Owl
use hostess code 15525

Thirty-One Gifts

(make sure it says Ghanamamas Holiday Shopping Event at the top)

Barefoot Books

Oliver's Labels

Tastefully Simple
(as you check out, click "FIND HOST/EVENT" and enter Jenni Wolfenbarger as host so we will receive proper credit for your purchases)
SimplyFun - educational and fun games for the whole family!
(be sure the page says "your order will be applied to the party of Christy S")
Fine Art Prints by Darleen Stry
mention "GhanaMamas" when purchasing

Christy is in the process of adopting two girls (ages 9 & 11) from Ghana. So you will be helping bring three deserving children into families that love them very much!