Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gearing up for TRANSITION

We now have only 2 days left in South Carolina before loading about 15 pieces of baggage and our family onto a plane to fly across the globe to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. We grow more excited every day and the house is getting emptier as we pack up.

We are delighted to report that God has answered prayer after prayer and in a way we couldn't have even hoped. We have all of Carson's important documents, just about all the house projects finished, and even sold our car. We are just waiting on confirmation from a family interested in renting our house and then everything will be done.

Tonight before the boys went to bed we spent some time talking about the transitions ahead of us and discussed how important it is to say goodbyes well, leave with no regrets, and how to have healthy, hopeful expectations for what is ahead. It was a really sweet time and I'm so thankful God gave us that pause in the midst of the crazy!

We fly out of Charlotte on Thursday at 1 pm so please say a prayer for us as you eat your lunch.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Details of Carson's Adoption Story

This was that unreal moment when they placed a sweet baby boy in our arms and we were now in charge of caring for his every needs. We named him Carson John and the hospital gave us our own room in the hospital to bond with and care for Carson. He didn't leave our sides except for his different medical checkups.

Joy, fear, relief and most of all - a flood of love

Bonding with sweet Carson

Totally loved

This was a perfect representation of our days in the hospital: 
coffee, bottles and counting poopy diapers

Lots of skin to skin

1st smiles

Discharged from the hospital on day 3

As you can see by my face in the car, I was in total shock. Were we really allowed to take this sweet baby home? Since we were in another state, we still had to stay another few days before we were cleared to go home to SC but we had special friends to stay with. We began to get into a routine with feedings, diaper changes, and even our first walk outside.

Trying the baby wrap for the first time

Yep, I'm super happy!

1st pediatrician appt at 3 days old
We were actually at the doctor's office in this very room when we got the text from the lawyer that Carson's birth mom signed the papers to give up her rights. Still more shock, total thanksgiving and excitement.

Meeting the Fader grandparents
 When Carson was only a week old we were granted permission to return home to SC. We couldn't wait to get home and introduce him to his big brothers! They all wanted to hold him and cuddle him - we'd prayed for this baby for so long!

Joshua was already eager to learn how to change diapers.

Helping with feedings
Our first family walk

Meeting Mimo (Sorensen grandparents)


Meeting Uncle Stan

In July Carson got to meet his cousin Silas who was born the day after him!

Meeting Aunt Audrey

Aunt Alyssa came all the way from Michigan to meet Carson and be here for his court finalization
So this is our journey so far. Carson is now 3 months old, officially and forever ours, and now we're all working on his paperwork/passport so he will be ready to move to Uganda with us in only 3 weeks!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Final Month

Have you ever wondered what the final month in America is like for a missionary family? I am not writing this for pity or for you to feel bad for us. Rather, I was reminded by a friend the other day how hard it is for those who haven't moved their family overseas to understand what it's like and so I thought I'd explain a bit of the "season" we're in. If by chance you're wondering why we had to say no to coming over to your house for dinner or you're wondering why we have seemed distant or in our own little world, this is why:

Our List of Things To Do is looks like this this week:

1. Take down old back yard fence and rebuild new fence
2. Prune bushes and spruce up the yard for renters.
3. Pick out neutral paint colors to paint the inside of the house before we rent it out.
4. Have the house ready to show to potential renters at any time.
5. Finish shopping for each of the 6 members in our family for the next 3 years - the baby in particular is a fun challenge.
6. Sew name tags into all of Isaac's clothing for when he starts at Rift Valley Academy next month.
7. Write a prayer letter with photos to share with our supporters, friends and family where we're going next and what our ministry will be.
8. Edit our wills
9. Finish all paperwork for both SIM and AIM (we are now seconded to Africa Inland Mission so we have paperwork to do for them too.)
10. Make sure we all are up to date with immunizations including baby Carson.
11. Go to court on Friday the 27th to finalize our adoption!
12. Amend Carson's birth certificate with his real name.
13. Drive to Atlanta to apply for Carson's passport in person to speed up the process
14. Begin to pack up the whole house and pack it into the finished room over our garage.
15. Begin to pack and weigh each of our trunks (luggage)

And somehow in addition to all of this, Eli is finishing two difficult PhD courses and I'm trying to keep meals on the table, care for a 3 month old baby, and every now and then do something fun with the boys like take them to the pool since this is our summer after all. :)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Eli's Uganda Trip - May 2018

The Trip Route
 As many of you know, we've been very specifically praying, fasting, seeking advice and networking since January of this year to find where our next ministry will be. It has become clear over the last year that South Sudan is no longer a good option for our family and yet our hearts are still very drawn to South Sudanese people and we long to continue ministering with them. God has opened a beautiful opportunity for us to move to Northern Uganda where more than a million Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees have fled.

Last month Eli was able to go on a 10 day vision trip to Northern Uganda with our good friend Bradley from our home church. They were able to travel to 7 different locations, meet people, hear about needs and try to get a picture of where/how our family might fit in that context.

Eli and Bradley leaving from Charlotte Airport

It was so encouraging to us that our friend Bradley from our church here in Columbia went along with Eli on this vision trip as an extra set of eyes and ears. Since our home church helped with his ticket, it felt like our church was coming along, supporting us in this new endeavor.

A group of missionaries gathered for fellowship

Driving into the refugee camps

Islam is widespread

They got to stay with lots of neat people and dream up lots of great ministry possibilities

They also got to sit down and meet with pastors and leaders

What a beautiful country
Many of you may know this: I grew up in Uganda from the time I was 4 years old until I graduated from high school. It is crazy that now all these years later we are returning and jumping into a whole new ministry and location.

Our timeline is a little up in the air. Carson's adoption will be finalized on July 27 if all goes as planned and then we aim to leave for Uganda by mid August so Isaac can start his first year at Rift Valley Academy at the end of August. 

We would treasure your prayers as we now switch gears and tackle large amounts of paper work and shopping to prepare our family for another 3 years on the mission field - this time in a new place and with a new baby! We are very excited to be heading back to Africa but I'll admit that we're also dealing with some grief as it becomes more of a reality that we cannon return to South Sudan at this time.

Dedicating Carson to the Lord

4 families in our church dedicated their babies to God. 
 At the beginning of June we had the privilege and opportunity to dedicate our newest son to the Lord in front of our dear church family. From the beginning, we have known he is not ours but God has entrusted him to us to love and care for and in a few weeks he will be ours til death do us part. It was a beautiful reminder that he is a precious gift, completely loved and belonging to His Heavenly Father.
It was so special to stand up there as a family
This picture represents the "giving over" of this precious child. He belongs to God first