15 September 2014

Two weeks to go! Eeeek!

Traveling with Liam isn't the easiest thing to do, let alone flying in an itty bitty plane. It's actually quite a feat to be sure. I have to call ahead to the airline and make sure they are aware that I will need extra time in order to board and help with his wheelchair/car seat/bags/etc. This is to our advantage as it means we actually get to board before everyone else. It's actually a huge relief to not have everyone's prying eyes watching you try to wrangle an almost 7 year old into a car seat when his body is fighting you every step of the way and in such a tiny spot as an airplane seat. I've received many fat lips and bruised eye sockets from his flailing fists and the less people watching that happen, the better my psyche will be. And since we exit last, no one is around except for the flight attendants and they are usually very helpful to me, asking me what they need to do to accommodate Liam and expedite our departure.

Liam is fed homemade food, not the commercially prepared cans of  formula that he used to get so this time our travel has a different set of requirements regarding transport. Since he's g-tube fed and entirely dependent on what I make for him, I will be making all of the food in advance, freezing it, and packing it in gel pack freezer packets for the duration of the trip. When I called ahead, I asked the airline if it will be a problem bringing his food on board and she said no, they can't keep me from bringing his medically necessary items.  She says that, but you watch, they are going to be eyeing me suspiciously when I try to get through security with four 32 oz containers full of liquidy goodness. Oh, you don't want to go through x-ray with the wheelchair? We get an automatic bomb residue check. Hooray.
Liam lost another tooth yesterday! That makes for 3 empty spaces in there!
We only have $782.40 to go! Liam has the best friends, truly. Thank you for all your prayers, questions about how this all works and our expectations from it, and for your continued belief that God is still in the miracle making business. This trip wouldn't be possible with out all of you.

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03 September 2014

We've almost done it.

I could use your help! I am beyond amazed in telling you that Liam's next stem cell trip is now 92% funded! I am blown away again by the beautiful generosity of God's people and have watched in awe as you love on us and Liam and give out of the overflow of your hearts.

Because we are so close, we have stepped out in hope and faith that the last amount needed, $1,082.40, will be supplied in God's perfect timing.

So, we have gone ahead and set the date and bought the tickets!!

Liam will be getting an infusion of his own stem cells on October 2nd!! ��

 Please pray for the remaining money to be provided. We are so close!

Also pray for good weather (no hurricanes!), and for a safe procedure with miraculous results. I am never in doubt that we serve a big God and he is fully capable of answering big prayers. I am always amazed at how he works things out and trust that this will all go according to His plans. So please join me in praying for big, crazy, bold changes for Liam.

I never imagined God would provide most of the money for this trip with out us having to fund raise or even announce to everyone that we were even thinking of going again someday. And yet He boldly showed up and did just that.

I never thought Liam would go again, which just goes to show that God works in amazing ways. I assumed the last time was the only one Liam would get so this trip in and of itself is truly miraculous too!

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25 August 2014

First Day of First Grade

This was the beautiful smile that greeted me this morning when I told him that today was finally the first day of school. He was so excited.

We've been counting down the days for the last week. 

He started first grade today! 

 I always have much to be grateful for but this year I am especially grateful for the ability for Liam to go to school, to get to participate in activities with kids his age, to be educated in a setting where he is well cared for and loved, to receive therapies while in school...because I know there are many children who don't get the privilege that we are so accustomed to as being a right. 

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20 August 2014

A few thoughts: Belarus July 2014

I've been asked how my trip to Belarus went and it's been hard to render an explanation of my experiences in a concise yet comprehensive manner. Normally it's just easy to answer that it went wonderfully. And it did. But there is so much more to be said about my trip.
Visiting Khatyn, a memorial to the village burned by Hitler. Belarus is no stranger to tragedies.

I had heard of reverse culture shock and been told I might experience it after getting home to the US from spending two weeks in Belarus.  I didn't think too much of it until I got back. As I process and deconstruct my time over there I am left with many differing emotions. Thankfulness is the most prominent feeling. I'm thankful for getting a glimpse of what's important.

In a world where you wear the same clothes over and over and over because you don't waste soap and water on clothes that aren't really dirty, our walk in closets are filled with overpriced clothes and 87 pairs of shoes that we don't even need. It is a thought unfathomable over there to have such over abundance. I packed a suitcase full of clothes and only ended up wearing a few of the items because it's normal to look the same day after day there. It was a freely enjoyable experience of not caring about whether anyone had already seen me in that set of clothes that week. No one cares!

Dirt roads, clay houses, and outhouses are still common place outside the city and you use your yard to garden, not to grow grass. Every inch of the yard was used to grow food. And you use what you grow. You don't run down to the pizza place for dinner if you don't feel like cooking because there isn't a local pizza place. There are no fast food dives. You make what you eat, from scratch. No boxes of mac and cheese let alone 20 different varieties that our local market dizzyingly offers.

You see block upon block of socialist apartment housing.

Restrictions on free speech, free assembly, and religion remain high. Members of a religious organization don't even have the right to share their convictions or to carry out religious activity beyond the borders of the location where they are registered.

In the US where practically everyone here is familiar with Protestants and the Baptist faith and what we stand for, it's odd to be in a country where you are seen as being a member of a cult. Old superstitions are still spread around that you stay away from the Baptists because we might eat your children and we drink people's blood. In Belarus where there is strong restrictions on being able to start a new church, proselytize, and advertise, the way to change people's thoughts about what we believe about Jesus Christ is through direct one to one personal relationships. It was actually refreshing and a constant reminder about how Jesus lived and told people about the Kingdom. He did it one to one, person to person, by loving and reaching the people who society marginalized. He didn't use a tv station, a radio program, or an internet podcast. He used his life to tell people who he was. Joy and peace like that can not be suppressed no matter the governments control.

I was in Belarus to help a local church and to work with people who have special needs. And even our help is legally restricted. We can not teach with out a legal license or we could be arrested. And good luck getting one of those licenses.We helped run a camp for 'kids' of all ages (6-28 years of age) who were so excited to be able to come together and create crafts, sing songs, and learn about Jesus. Their joy was infectious. They would light up each day when they saw us and would yell our names across the room and come running to greet us.

Believers are few and far between there. Less than 1 in a 100 are Christians. The Russian Orthodox Church is the state promoted religion which is steeped in mysticism and paganism with Catholicism thrown in. But the joy in the hearts of the fellow believers is a beautiful thing to witness. They have so many obstacles to overcome in reference to the political climate, the history, and negative misconceptions and yet they have such peace and thankfulness in the midst of it all. They make no assumptions. It was something to be jealous of actually, because they have a deep respect for their faith, which America (as a whole) seems to take for granted. They are full of hope. Hope that the people on their street will come to know Jesus because of the joy and peace they have in their lives, even in the midst of the oppression of their people.

Belarus is a country that is not ready or able to be a democracy yet. That was something that was very hard for me to experience. Growing up in a country where we are given so many freedoms, it was hard to see the people there have so much less than we do. My close translator and guide summed it all up for me though. The people of Belarus are tired from all the wars, the fall of communism, Chernobyl, etc...  They just want peace. Even if that peace means they aren't as free as persons in the US, they are still ok with the old ways of the dictatorship because they are pretty much left alone, as long as they follow the rules.

It was a poignant response, one that filled me with an understanding of the bigger picture in Belarus. The people are oppressed and most don't even know it.

October Square, Independence Ave.,Minsk
Building built specifically for the circus.
October Square
Minsk is clean, beautiful, and safe.
I honestly can't wait to go back. I can't imagine not getting there again and living and working alongside such amazing people as we work with special needs families. I even came home and started learning Russian. I left there with a determination to try to make life easier for Belarusians in any way I can. The wheelchairs in Belarus are still wooden, education for the multiply disabled is either minimal or completely lacking, support for the special needs family is non existent, the suicide rate is high. I don't know why I have been given the life I lead here in the US, but now that I have been able to experience Belarus for special needs families and Christians, I can't not help. <3 p="">
Our VBS team, translators, and the pastor & his wife.

Thankful for new friends.

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