Saturday, November 10, 2012

Attention bloggers!

This is a shout out to all you bloggers out there! There is a wonderful blog designer by the name of Leigh who has done some amazing design work on some fellow adoption blogs and more that I follow. For the next three months, she is donating 15% of her profits to help with the adoption of a group of siblings from the Ukraine by a couple, Les and Prudence. What an amazing gift! But here is the great part, she is also giving a way a free blog design to one special blogger as well. For more details on how to enter click here! I'm definitely entering! I am not so good at the technical aspects to make this page look pretty!

And for anyone interested in taking part in helping with Les and Prudence's journey by purchasing a new blog design or if you just want a great new look, check out Leigh's design blog Crazy Cocoon!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Orphan Day

Hard to believe, but we are officially into November, this year continues to fly at amazing speed! I wish I could say the same for our wait list number! We only moved one spot since last month. We are officially at #108 down from #109. While we are bit disappointed with the slow trickle of numbers, we are happy and thankful for any movement at all.  On another note, I am actually pretty excited about this month, November is National Adoption Month! It actually began as National Adoption Week initiated in 1976 by Massachusetts's Governor Mike Dukakis. The movement was primary started to bring about awareness of adoption and in particular kids in the this countries foster care system. President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation and in 1990, due to popularity and widespread movement, the week expanded to a month.  During November, communities nationwide celebrate adoption as a positive way to build families and provide homes to children in need. Activities are aimed at not only adoption education and need awareness,  but also to dispel myths about adoption, provide guidance for prospective individuals, and to just celebrate adoption!  Communities, organizations, businesses, families, and individuals attend recognition dinners, public awareness and recruitment campaigns, and special events highlighting the needs of children in need of a loving home. November also includes National Adoption Day, traditionally a Saturday where across the nation, thousands of adoptions are finalized simultaneously in courthouses everywhere.
Additionally, and perhaps more specific to our situation, November 4th is National Orphan Day.
This day commemorates Christian’s stand for the million of Orphans around the world. The history of this national movement began as a seed planted in Zambia Africa. White attending a church service in Zambia, an American visitor was struck by the local pastor’s passionate call for the orphans in his local community. This community, like so many in the African continent, had been ravaged by AIDS and poverty, and while the members of his small congregation had desperate needs themselves, the pastors God given passion  for orphan care reached the hearts of everyone present. At the end of the service each member, one after another, stepped forward with money, food, even the  shoes on their own feet to be given as an offering for these local orphans.  
The American visitor was a man by the name of Gary Schneider, and he was so impacted by the hearts of those who have nothing, yet gave  everything, he began to help Zambian leaders to coordinate what came to be known as ‘Orphan Sunday” across churches throughout Zambia. In 2003 the efforts spread to the U.S. and is currently licensed to the Christian Alliance for Orphans as a registered trademark of Every Orphan’s Hope.
Each ‘Orphan Sunday’ event is hosted locally by churches, small groups, concert halls, and small gatherings, and each event (whether through sharing a meal, sermon, or group activities) seeks to bring awareness and wake believers to God’s call to care for orphans. For more information on Orphan Sunday click HERE!
Our church, The Vineyard, thankfully continues to  participate in Orphan Sunday. In fact, I believe we both attended last years event and later attended the Orphan Summit which prompted us to start our adoption journey shortly afterwards! This year, orphan care is even closer to our hearts as we count down our monthly wait list number and patiently wait to bring our kiddo home. We cleared our busy schedules and made a point to attend all church services dedicated to orphan care and outreach. In fact, we made it a family event and Sheila, Brian (aunt and uncle), Jan, Kurt (Jays parents), and John (brother) all attended as well. The service started with startling statistics, like the fact that there are nearly  153 million orphans world wide and that if only 1 family (or individual) out of every 3 churches in the U.S. was led to foster to adopt, there would be ZERO orphans in the United States. You see we have more churches in our country than the number of kids that needs homes, and the sermon spoke to the fact that as Christians, our calling should be like Gods, to care for orphans and to give them homes. I loved the scripture they used, Psalm 68:5-6 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families". On one side of the room was a wall of actual orphan faces. They did not have names, but their organization was located on the back of their picture, and during worship, we were to pick up one from the wall and simply pray for that child for the next week, month, year whatever! My favorite part of last night though, was the simple way they revealed exactly how many kids are orphaned during a short time. Tables such as the ones above were displayed and every couple of minutes someone would bring an armful of shoes to place on top of it. Each shoe, represented a child who just became an orphan somewhere in the world during our short sermon. There were hundreds of shoes on the stage, and the impact was powerful. Afterwards, everyone ate a small orphan meal of rice and beans, and the family went out together to think of our own little guy.

Now Jay and I both understand that adoption was OUR calling, and we know not everyone is called to literally bring an orphan home from the depths of impoverished countries or from foster care. However I believe we are ALL called to care for  orphans in this world (James 1:27).  If you are interested in learning how you can begin to live out this calling yourself, please click HERE!
I know we are getting a little long here, but if you are still reading....I think you will enjoy this months Ethiopian Education. This month I researched some amazingly unique churches found in a small town called Lalibela. The town was originally known as Roha, but was renamed after the 12-th century King Lalibela who commissioned the churches built there. King Lalibela was a member of the Zagwe dynasty, but when his rivals began to increase in power, he sought the support of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church by building the churches in this small town. 

According to history, King Lalibela's vision for the churches was to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land (and to create a sacred city to rival powerful Axum, with its Ark of the Covenant also located in Ethiopia and previously written about in blogs of past). According to some reports, King Lalibela had been to the Holy Land himself and was inspired by what he saw. But the king made no attempt to copy the churches of the Holy Land; in fact, Lalibela's sacred architecture is some of the most unique in the world and  is considered one of the eight wonders of the world. You see, the churches were not constructed per se, they were excavated! Each church (11 in total) was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of volcanic rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest of all the churches is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with such precision and intricate details with only hammers and chisels is astounding.

Here are a few pictures of the outside and inside of these famous churches.  The detail is unsurpassed.

 Apparently, one of the churches, Bet Maryam, contains a stone pillar on which King Lalibela wrote the secrets to the  buildings' construction. It is covered with old cloths and only the priests may look on it. But according to popular legend,  angels were involved in the process! The angels came every night while the workers slept and picked up where they had left off. Each morning, when the workers awoke, more of the magnificent church was built up in great detail than the day before.
King Lalibela's project for gaining the church's favor had two unexpected results: the creation of a holy place of unparalleled beauty and the kings' conversion to a religious life. After laboring for 20 years, he abdicated his throne to become a hermit, living in a cave and eating only roots and vegetables. To this day, Ethiopian Christians regard King Lalibela as one of their greatest saints.
I found out about these churches by coming across a history channel special...and I found an excerpt you can watch yourself below. It is definitely worth the watch. However, it should be stated, that there is of course some controversy regarding how the churches were built and the short video discusses that....Enjoy!

My Resources and references:

New Testament Bible

Nostotro (2010). The History of Christianity in Ethiopia. Retrieved at: