Friday, May 27, 2011
Just wanted to touch base with you! I've actually only received 2 donations of shirts... but here's the fun part. One guy handed me a bag of 40 shirts and the other came from a 3rd grade class from a Des Moines school with about 60 shirts!!!! They saw my facebook request and decided to make it a social studies project to collect the shirts and follow along with the project! The other donation came from a couple from Boone. The wife had lunch with a friend of mine who mentioned looking for extra shirts and she told my friend she had just cleaned out her husband's closet and wasn't sure what she was going to do with all the extra dress shirts!! Many still had tags!! Name brand stuff too!! Washable silk... Nautica... Izod... Hilfiger... these girls are going to be stylin'!!
Love it! Here’s a picture of some of Laura’s finished dresses made out of the men’s button down shirts:
Thank you to all of you for collecting and giving these donations!!!! Currently we are busting at the seams with material donations and are in higher need of monetary donations which will go towards the building materials for August construction. You can follow along with the amount raised up on my sidebar. Please spread the word about our projects and mission for Asikuma, Ghana! Thanks!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
James is SO EXCITED to finally be here! He has been waiting such a long time, but God is GOOD!
Also, Peprah was approved for his student visa yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mike Davies, coach of Kingdom Hoops Ghana, has a visa appointment scheduled for June 13th. Upon approval he will be attending DMACC in Ankeny and will volunteer coach for Jake’s teams.
McMartey Lawer has an I-20 for Des Moines Christian and will have a visa appointment scheduled soon. We are in need of a host family for McMartey.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Kingdom Hoops hosting program you can email Dawn at email@example.com
Monday, May 23, 2011
Since then, Dau's mission to bring hope and peace to his home country of Sudan has moved full speed ahead. You can read about the inspiring reasons behind Dau's mission in a new article written by ESPN here:
Currently Dau and 12 of his University of Penn teammates are in Rwanda to provide help and resources to people in need. After their service is done in Rwanda, most of the group will return to the United States but Dau will continue his journey back to his homeland of South Sudan to implement the Dut Jok Youth Foundation (named after his late father). The best thing is, Dau and one of his teammates are blogging during their current journey in Africa!!!! You can follow it here:
Friday, May 20, 2011
Happy Birthday to our sweet Jayla Joy today!!!!!
We celebrated last night with the purple-est party ever to hit the town of Huxley!
No I didn't make this beautiful cake. Thanks mom. I was in charge of making the punch and managed to turn it from purple to brown! Everything else stayed perfectly purple though!
Even the boys wore purple (or some shade of it)!!!! Anything for Miss Jayla!!!!
And then it was time to tear open those purple presents!
Meanwhile, a secret present slept the party away in Daddy's car.
And once all the presents were opened, it was time to reveal the surprise!
Yes, she REALLY REALLY wanted a puppy for her birthday but she was still purr-fectly happy to get a sweet kitty instead.
Kitty will have to get used to the craziness around here! No hiding under the couch allowed!
Oh good he isn't a scaredy cat afterall!
Jayla we love you SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! May you always send your wishes up to God and allow Him to answer for you!
Happy 3rd birthday sweetie girl!!!!!!!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I scanned his sheet of paper. Most of his questions centered around this main one:
How do you know if someone’s prophecy is evil?
On the way home I told Ezekiel I wanted to take some time to look up exact scriptural answers to his questions, and that I would sit down and go through it with him after dinner. He explained to me that in Ghana, there are many pastors, prophets, and teachers who claim the name of Jesus and yet do very evil practices. “How do you know what is true and what isn’t?” he wondered.
I felt his frustration. This has been some of our experience in Ghana too. There are definitely some solid, Christ-followers in Ghana. There are also some who profess Christianity, yet mix in other non-biblical practices on the side. Here is a short-to-the-point article on this as it relates to Ghana:
I told Ezekiel that even in America we have to be so mindful of this too. Anyone can slap the God label on just about whatever they want. Like this little brochure that we got in the mail this week:
According to this group, judgement day is on Saturday!!! I’ll get back to the brochure in a minute. First though, let me define the word prophecy. Prophecy is spoken or written communication from God, sometimes predictive in nature. Often it is having the ability to articulate/preach God’s messages with power. A prophet’s role is to speak for God. They confront people and leaders with God’s commands and promises (because of this confrontational stance, true prophets are usually not very popular). Prophets faithfully and forcefully proclaim truth, and place a high emphasis on scripture. The book of Isaiah in the Bible is the first of the writings of the Prophets in the Bible. Prophesying is one of the spiritual gifts given to individuals by God (1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Romans 12:4-8).
Okay, here were my insights for Ezekiel in discerning a true prophecy from a false/evil prophecy. As I looked some things up in the Bible, I saw that Jesus validates Ezekiel’s exact question in Matthew 7:21-23:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Ezekiel’s observation is right on. There are indeed those who sound religious, who maybe even look religious, but have no relationship with God. How will we be able to tell? Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 7:15-20:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
So, what do a tree and fruit have to do with it? Jesus is giving us a visual. The words and messages of prophets and teachers can be evaluated by examining their lives, by the fruit that they bear. Are they teaching false doctrine (ideas/practices contrary to the Bible) deliberately? Are they motivated by money, fame, or power? Are their lives completely off track from living out the truths of scripture? Does their message minimize Christ and glorify themselves? If so then watch out!
There is also another test to wisely discern true prophecies from false ones. Check it against scripture!!!! Is the message biblical? If it is contrary to the Bible then throw it out. No message from God is ever going to oppose what He has already spoken to us from scripture. Listen to the major warning we get regarding this. This is one of the last paragraphs in the Bible:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
My study notes explain the magnitude of this clear as day: No human explanation or interpretation of God’s word (the Bible) should be elevated to the same authority as the word/Bible itself.
And that is why, it is SO IMPORTANT to KNOW scripture!!! Read your Bible! Otherwise, you won’t be able to discern truth from lies. It is only because I know scripture that the little brochure we received in the mail this week went straight to the trash. I can discern it was a false prophecy because its claim to have calculated the day of Christ’s return contradicts scripture.
Matthew 24:36, 42
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father….Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Scripture does tell us to keep watch for Jesus’ return. We should be living as if Jesus could come back in 5 minutes, or tonight, or tomorrow, or in 10 years, or in 100 years…..which is why I posted THIS on Easter. We have to understand what is coming so we can be prepared and live in expectation.
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Obviously, formulating exact date predictions or calculations of Christ’s return is not biblical. The Jesus I am waiting for is going to have a triumphal entrance announced by trumpets (Matthew 24:30-31), not a mail brochure. The Jesus I am waiting for will have an unmistakable return, and his glory and power will be obvious and visible to everyone (Luke 17:23-24). As if that weren’t enough, Scripture literally states that we should NOT be concerned or preoccupied with dates and times of Jesus’ return (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). Rather, we should be concerned about judgement day itself. Do thoughts of judgement day give you waves of fear instead of waves of peace and excitement for Christ’s triumphal and victorious day? If so, then think on these words from Jesus:
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
Those who have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus can wake up every morning, look heavenward, and proclaim, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come today!” There is no fear. Only peace and joyful expectation.
If you are not yet in the joyful expectation boat, heed the words of Jesus today!
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
Meanwhile, as we wait for Christ's return, watch out for false teachings and false prophets! They are everywhere and can even be disguised as spiritual! The best way to check information or messages labeled ‘Godly’ is to go straight to the Bible for your answers. Ask God to give you the gift of His Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment as you read the scriptures. He will do it!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Also, I have MUCH updating to do here on the blog regarding a partnership in the works with our Isaiah 1:17 Foundation and Adoption Advocates International (the agency that will be handling Christian’s adoption). Our partnership has to do with the foster care home that we will be starting in Asikuma in the near future, and it all started via my communications about Christian!!!! God is always orchestrating so many things that we can’t even see. I love basking in His Sovereignty. I’ll save the explanation of all the partnership/foster care home excitement for a day coming soon!
Today though, I wanted to post about some children in Ghana who are waiting to find their forever families. Adoption Advocates International’s Ghana program is currently advocating for seven waiting (legally free) children, ages 6 to 10 years old to find their adoptive families. Legally free means that Ghana social welfare has done their investigation and they have determined that adoption is in the child’s best interest, long term. Some agencies refer children before they are legally free, which often doesn’t end up well. You may remember that scenario happening to us with Solomon (with the agency we went through for our adoption of Justice). AAI only refers children to families who are legally free to be adopted. There are currently *NO* waiting families for these children…
Lynn is a 7 year old girl. She is healthy and beautiful. She is living in a great private foster home in Teshie. Her adoption will go through in Accra Region.
Bea is a 6 year old girl. She is healthy and adorable! She is living in a fabulous group foster home in Teshie. Her adoption will go through in Accra Region.
Jo-Jo is a 7 year boy. He loves to pose for the camera! He is healthy. He lives in the same great group foster home as Bea. His adoption will go through Accra Region.
**Lynn, Bea, and Jo-Jo are from the same tribe and same area. It's possible that two of them could be adopted together (families with 4 or less children preferred if being placed together).
Corey is an 8 year old boy. He is healthy and seriously cute as a bug! Corey lives at Great Mission International Orphanage (aka CKO). His adoption will be completed in Volta Region.
DeeDee and Ceelo are siblings! DeeDee is 10 years old, and a great big sister to her baby brother. Ceelo is just 4 years old. These wonderful kids are healthy. I hear great things about them, especially DeeDee. They are living at GMI (aka CKO) and their adoption will be completed in Volta Region.
Toby is a 6 year old boy. Because of paperwork delay, Toby has already been waiting for his family for over a year! He is absolutely precious. Toby is healthy, and lives in a great foster home in Bolgatanga. His adoption will be completed in the Upper East Region.
Adopting older children is not the perfect scenario for every family. But, I believe God will make it clear if He is leading your family to it. I’ve written a few blog posts about our own experience:
Before Justice was here: http://team-sullivan.blogspot.com/2009/11/adopting-older-children.html
After Justice was here: http://team-sullivan.blogspot.com/2010/11/adopting-older-child.html
Anita’s (AAI Ghana program coordinator) words on older child adoption:
Now that I have a 10.5 year old, I realize how young a 6, 7, or 8 year old is. But in the world of international adoption, anybody older than 6 has much less of a chance to be adopted than kids under six years. I understand why that is a reality. Families adopting "older" children need to be prepared for the realities of that challenge. But OH (!) what a blessing it can be when the right kids are matched with the right family! If you've been blessed by older child adoption I encourage you to post a comment so that others can be encouraged by you!
AAI Ghana is also advocating for two little girls with special needs:
(Children pictured are other older children adopted out of Adoption Advocates International. For privacy reasons the children listed cannot be fully pictured, and their names have also been changed to protect them.)
Tess is such a sweetheart! She is a 3 year old girl living with CP (believed to be minor). AAI has been told that Tess scoots around on her bum because she is THAT determined to be mobile! AAI has been told that she has typical cognitive abilities.
Anna is a winner! She is a 4 year old girl living with CP (believed to be moderate). Anna suffers from seizures sometimes. We're told that her cognitive abilities are normal. Anna isn't mobile, but she sure looks happy in her stroller!
Anita’s words on special needs adoption:
I can't speak about older child adoption but I can speak about special needs adoption!!! Among our waiting children are 2 precious young girls that are going to bless the socks off of their future family! Seriously folks, adding "special needs" to your life doesn't have to be a big deal. The thing is, once you know your child as your child, the special need becomes smaller in your mind. You somehow see past the g-tube, or the swolleness, or the immobility, or the threats, and instead just see your child. And you would do anything for your child! Just like older child adoption, obviously, a family needs to be prepared for the realities of the special need. But OH (!) what a blessing it can be when you open your heart to someone that may not be "perfect" on the outside but is perfect in every way that matters!
You can catch more of a glimpse into Anita’s life by following her blog here:
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED....
AAI cannot "hold" children for families. However, if you have an approved homestudy or can update your homestudy VERY quickly, and are interested in adopting any of these children, please email Anita at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anita has photos of all of these children and would be happy to share them privately with seriously interested families.
If you are interested but haven't begun a homestudy, it won't be possible to match you with one of these children at this time. HOWEVER, AAI Ghana always needs families for older (than 6) and special needs children!!! You can get started today! [And you never know. Several of these children may still be waiting when you are ready.]
You can receive more info and updates like these by ‘liking’ the AAI Facebook page by following this link: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=lf#!/pages/AAI-Ghana/197511773625841
Please spread the word! Let’s help find forever families for these children!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, May 13, 2011
I received an update about Christian from Joha! Joha went with Michael to the village last Friday. They talked with the family at length but the family didn't know a TON about Christopher's story. They weren't sure how he became blinded in one eye, but one story is that the father tried to poison Christopher when he was very small, and it "killed" his eye. =-( The father abandoned him at a very young age. At some point several years ago the mother "dumped" him at the village and left. Christopher actually lives with his Great Aunt. A "grandfather" was also there (but not sure if he was an uncle or actual grandfather). All of the relatives there were on the mother's side.
The family has very little contact with Christopher's mother. In fact, they can only talk to her when SHE chooses to call (something about her having to go to a certain hilltop to get good reception). The family in the village all agreed that a good plan for Christian would be adoption, but of course that can't happen without mom's permission. The meeting ended with a request that the next time mom calls, please have her call Joha to arrange a meeting. Joha didn't know how long that might take.
Grandfather is very old and sick--he can hardly move. Joha says grandmother is also sickly with a curvature in her front and back (scoliosis?). I asked about how he was eating and Joha said the grandmother cooks once a night whenever her health allows her to (which Joha said is pretty typically for all of Ghana). I know Joha has put Christian on the list for foster care, but we don't have enough foster home! [Hmm....wish the Children's Haven was done already!!!] Hopefully he can go to foster care soon.
Here's the update since Friday:
Joha was able to meet wth the mother! As luck would have it (umm....GOD!) she called very soon after they left, and then Joha went to her village to meet with her earlier this week! The mom is in absolute agreement for adoption. So...Joha is now working to have Christian's documents completed (Social Investigation Report, Declaration). The medical will have to be done after he is in foster care. On Friday a social worker from Accra will be going to Eastern Region with Joha to work on the Social Investigation!!!
Praise God!!! So...if you know of someone who is ready to adopt Christian, they might want to get started on the process!
I can tell you that when I received this good news I was in an overflow of non-stop praise to God! Whenever I think of Christian, the first verse that comes to my mind is Psalm 27:10 ~ Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Christian’s story is all the more proof that God IS the defender of the fatherless. He will take up the cause of the oppressed and needy, and He will rescue them. He hears the cries of those calling out to Him in despair. He will lift them out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire and give them a firm place to stand. He sets the lonely in families.
It gives me goosebumps to think that God has a perfect mom and dad out there for Christian who will NOT forsake him, but love him and show him what it means to have a caring family. I wait in excitement to watch the rest of this story unfold. Yesterday when I received this email I scanned the Psalms to try and find one to express the joy I was feeling inside that God has come through for Christian. This is the one that seemed to speak it all perfectly:
Psalm 145:1-5 ~ I will proclaim your greatness my God and king; I will thank you forever and ever. Every day I will thank you; I will praise you forever and ever. The Lord is great and is to be highly praised; his greatness is beyond understanding. What you have done will be praised from one generation to the next; they will proclaim your mighty acts. They will speak of your glory and majesty, and I will meditate on all your wonderful deeds.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
In time of trouble, say, "First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest." Next, "He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child." Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow." And last, say, "In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows." Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for his time."
At first I wasn't sure why the author used that word 'strait' in the second sentence.....I thought maybe he misused the word there or spelled it wrong. :) Then I checked the word meaning on my thesaurus and saw that it means - passage, channel, canal.
The author is saying that a trial is just a passageway or channel into a different section of our lives. But we have to go through it because God has things for us to learn at this particular time and in this particular situation. I like the above author’s mindset of not focusing on the problem, but rather on God and His Sovereign purposes for allowing the trial.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (James 1:2-4 The Message)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Host Student Makes it Home for Summer
College big-timers Yaw and Ezekiel rolled back into Huxley, IA over the weekend! Poor guys have their work cut out for them because their every move is shadowed by some cute little munchkins!
Justice Sullivan Breaks Question Asking Record
Are there some dinosaurs still alive?
How are there black people in America who weren’t born in Africa?
How do I get into the army?
Can I have my birthday party at Chuckie Cheese?
Who mows that grass in the center of the streets (the median)?
The golf course is SO BIG. How do they see where the golf ball goes after they hit it?
What kind of cow do we get chocolate milk from?
JJ Sullivan, Age 4, Has World Figured Out
Me (in parking lot in Lawrence, KS, frustrated and driving in circles): “How do I get out of here?!?!?!”
JJ (without missing a beat): “The way you came in.”
And these words of wisdom coming from a guy who goes on deep sea diving adventures in the bathtub!! I’ll take it!!
Little Miss Purple Gets Even Purple-er
A ‘Girls Only’ Mother’s Day spent with Grandma Jane up in Minnesota creates the perfect conditions for a little purple purchasing paradise.
Couch Doubles As Trampoline
HINT HINT birthday gift idea HINT HINT
The other morning I woke up to….
Not a dog barking.
Not a baby crying.
Not a rooster crowing.
TURKEY’S GOBBLING!!!! This gang of turkeys was wandering through our back yard with a few of their duck friends. Weird.
There’s A Baby in Da House!
What God is Teaching Me Right Now
Walk with Me in holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to Me. Listen to Me and live abundantly!
Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If only you could check everything off your list, you could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.
There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on My presence with you. This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace. Moreover, I will help you sort out what is important and what is not, what needs to be done now and what does not. Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence). ~Jesus Calling~
I’m giving these things to you, Lord. Help me to mind the present, while leaving the future up to you. I surrender my grasping for control over my life. Take it. I trust You.
My New Motto
This is the blessed life – not anxious to see far in front, nor eager to choose the path, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time. ~F.B. Meyer~