Friday, March 15, 2013

Beautiful Tihune

I met Tihune for the first time in July 2010 when we visited Zeway. She showed up for the jewelry making training. She was by far one of the quickest learners and made some beautiful bracelets. Tihune was incredibly quiet. She rarely looked up from her beads and never smiled. It was apparent that this beautiful young girl carried a tremendous burden. Often, when I would see her looking at me, when I returned eye contact, she would look away. It was also obvious that she was new to this group of girls because her interaction was minimal.

I asked the social workers about her but nobody knew her story. She was brand new to the CHH program and they had little information about her. I tried to encourage her and love on her as much as I could in that day and a half that we spent together. But still, there was no joy in this young girls eyes.

When we did the art day, 3 siblings showed up....Kalkedan, Abraham & Liyot. There were delightfully cute and we soaked them up. We found out that they were Tihunes younger siblings. Knowing that Tihune was CHH (Child head of household) it quickly became apparent that she was the "mama" to these young children. Some of her burden was explained. But it would take 9 months to know the rest of the story.

When I knew I would be returning again and doing the jewelry training, I hoped I would see her. And I did. When we pulled up to the FH building, there she was. Standing with all the other girls we've grown to know and love...Melekete, Eden, Melesech, Belatu and more. AND SHE WAS SMILING! I was stunned. When I went around and greeted all the girls, she didn't hesitate to hug me. She kissed my face. I just looked at her and exclaimed "Tihune, you are smiling!" and she just giggled.

We had the opportunity to visit Tihune in her home on this trip. And our eyes were opened. As we arrived, we were greeted by her, her siblings Kalkedan, Abraham & Liyot and a 3 year old ball of energy & giggles named Radiette. She was excited to have us and we felt blessed to visit her. I asked her "Tihune...what has happened in your life since I saw you last?" The first words out of her mouth were "the first and most important thing is that I have come to know the Lord". I just cried. I was overwhelmed. The transformation in this girl was astounding.

But then I asked another question and I was not prepared for the response. I asked her "what has been your biggest challenge in taking care of the children". And she broke into tears. Her pain was still very fresh and raw. She shared with us that after her parents died, they were living with her older brother. He would drink alcohol and beat them all. She made the decision to leave their family home with all the children and was on her own with them. That is when FH found out about her....and when I met her last year. On top of all of this, her older sister died and Tihune (at the age of 17) is also caring for her niece, Radiette.

When we visited her, the Social worker informed us that the brother has left the village and his wherabouts are unknown. They quickly moved Tihune and the children to the home she grew up in and will know provide legal support and protection to make sure they can stay there...and that they remain safe from the brother.
When it came time to pray, I asked Tihune to come sit by me. When she sat down, she snuggled right into me. It felt like when my own daughter snuggles into my lap when she wants to be comforted. We wrapped our arms around each other and we sat there....cheek to a loving embrace as Kathy prayed.

When are visit was over, it was clear that trust had been established. That is one of the many beautiful things about this partnership. These children are learning to trust again. They are learning that there are adults in their life that are loving them and praying for them. And most importantly, they are learning about Jesus and His love for them. The FH staff, the people from Grace who visit, the people who consistently pray, the families that make the photo pages and so much more are all acting as the hands, feet and heart of Jesus!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Going back to Ethiopia.....

Nobody is more surprised than I am that God is allowing me to return to Zeway, Ethiopia.  Even as I sit here and begin to type this post, I feel the emotions well up inside of me.  Although I felt God telling me I would be returning to Ethiopia, it just didn't seem like it was going to happen.  I resolved to just pray and turn it completely over to Him.  I felt an overwhelming peace that if I was meant to return, He would make it known.  Well, He did and in just 6 weeks, I will be going to Ethiopia with an amazing team with Hope in Ethiopia.

Lord willing, I will get to see our "spiritual son" Johannes.  To make a really long story as short as possible...(or you can read the whole story here) on our very first trip to Ethiopia (July 2010), Johannes and his father accepted Christ.  It was a moment I will never, ever forget.  Negatu, Johannes' father is an HIV+ widow.  After we left, they discovered Johannes was HIV+ too.

In March 2011, I was able to see Johannes again.  During that visit, God showed me my capacity to love a child in a maternal way that did not come from my body.  You can read about that visit here.  During that visit, we found out that Negatu was extremely ill with TB.....they feared he would not survive.  John and I prayed every single day that the Lord would heal Negatu.

In June 2011, my husband was able to visit Johannes and Negatu.  Fearing the worst, they headed to their home.  Negatu greeted my husband at the door!!  He was well!  John shared with Negatu that we had prayed for him every single day and Negatu got up, wrapped his arms around John and wept.  Oh, what I would have given to witness that moment.

In June 2012, another team visit Johannes and Negatu.  They had made this beautiful hat out of old calling cards for John and I.  A sweet friend brought it home for us and and we look at it every single day.  It is one of my most treasured gifts.

I have always had an ache in my heart for Johannes.  I love him dearly.  I can not wait to see his beautiful face again.  The beautiful thing about the Hope in Ethiopia partnership is how it is caring for the child BEFORE they become an orphan.  When it was discovered how many HIV+ widows were caring for their children, the partnership decided to start caring for the widow and the child.  When a HIV+ parent can get proper nutrition and access to the medication they need, their children have such a better chance of not becoming orphaned.  While I have been blessed with a son through adoption....and I believe adoption is a wonderful preservation is a REALLY wonderful thing.

This is just one story from my personal experience.  This ministry serves over 150 orphans and widows in Zeway, Ethiopia and each person has a story.  I encourage you to visit the Hope in Ethiopia blog.  This ministry is a community to community partnership and when you read the stories you will see how lives are being transformed there and here.  There are so many stories of God's beautiful redemption in the lives of our precious friends in Ethiopia

To God be the glory.....always,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Project HOPEFUL HOPE+ sisterhood Uganda!

In January 2011, I made my first trip to Uganda.  While there, I was blessed to meet a beautiful mama named  Robina.  She was HIV+ and so was her son  11 year old son Julius.  He was a sweet quiet boy who was often taunted because of his status.  When I said goodbye to him, he put his arm around me and whispered “I love you.”  My heart was so moved by him.  In October 2011, I received news that he had died to AIDS related complications.  I was broken.  

I’d been involved with Project HOPEFUL since 2010 when a chance meeting with the founder, Carolyn Twietmeyer opened my eyes to the truth of orphans living with AIDS.  After learning of Julius’s death, we began to investigate whether we could duplicate their HOPE+ Sisterhood program in Ethiopia that had proven to be a success.

In April 2012, I returned again to Uganda and met a group of HIV+ mamas under the care of True Vine Christian ministries who call themselves maama watumaine which means “Mamas of Hope”.  After discussions with Project HOPEFUL, it was decided that we would launch the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda.

I met about 14 women on that trip and one of them was Ida.  She was so full of joy, LOVED Jesus and her smile was as bright as the sun.  Just a few weeks ago, Ida died from AIDS related complications.  Sadly, Ida was a widow and a mama so now her daughter is an orphan.  It became aware that the time was NOW to get this program started.  So, I will be returning to Uganda in January to get this program up and running. 

But, we need your help!

The first need is travel.   This is a great time of year to travel and tickets are fairly low so approximately $1300 is needed for this trip.


Second, we will need sisters for these women.  What does that look like?  Although it could be compared to a "child sponsorship"'s much more than that.  You are "sisters" with these women.  Your monthly donation allows her access to meds and proper nutrition as well as the opportunity to start her own business so she can become self sufficient.  Uganda is nutrient rich country where you can grow anything and many of these women would love to have their own produce to sell.  Some of them do crafts and some of them would like to raise animals to sell.  You can be a part of all of this!  Once you become sisters, you will receive photos of them as well as their bio.  You will have the opportunity to write them letters (via email) and offer them your prayers and encouragement.

And here is the really cool part…..when you make a commitment to be a sister, you will be offered the first opportunity to travel to Uganda on the Project HOPEFUL HOPE+ sisterhood trip and meet your sister!!!

Interested?  Please email me at

We have been beautiful blessed by the gift of adoption, however, adoption is not the answer to the orphan crisis.  It's just a part of it.  I believe the bigger answer is family preservation.  Help Project HOPEFUL bring real change to these beautiful women in Uganda.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guess what, Mom?!?!?

On Saturday, while I was recovering in the hospital (not at all a planned stay), Trent & his Daddy were very busy re-organizing his room to prepare for the arrival of his brother.  Trent helped his Dad put his brothers bed together, cleaned out his nightstand so they would each have a drawer and painted letters for the wall.  Trent has his name (in bright red) up on the wall so naturally, brother needed his up bright blue.

Today, Trent came running up to me and said "Mama, come here....quick."  I went into his room and the letters were neatly stacked on J's bed.  He said "guess what, Mom?".  At first I thought something was wrong and I asked "oh no....are they stuck together?"  He said "nope"....and one by one lined up the letters spelling out his brothers name.  Then he looked at me with the biggest smile ever and said "We're adopting!".

Yes, we are Trent....yes we are.  Oh how I love my boy.  Trent is going to be an amazing big brother.  In a lot of ways, I believe God started preparing his little heart for this long, long ago.  When Trent was 2 1/2, his best cousin in the whole wide world came to live with us.  Alex was just 1 month older than Trent and they did everything together....shared a room, played in the tree fort, ran around in the underwear with their swords tucked in the back, went name it...they did it..  Alex lived with us for 3 years.  Trent has missed having another boy around so much.

I don't know what the road ahead will look like.  I imagine there will be bumps, detours & road blocks.  But right now, the only thing we do know is that there is a road and God has called us to travel it.  So we continue to walk in excitement, anticipation, obedience......and just a little bit of fear.

One week from tomorrow we will be on our way.  As mentioned we are still a bit short.  There is no emergency with our story.  No immediate medical need.  Just an honest to goodness lack of knowledge of all the extra expenses that come along with adoption.  If you feel led to give, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our Project HOPEFUL Fig fund using the link in the upper right.  But please....most importantly....would you pray for our journey?

God's got this.  We know He does. 

To God be the glory.....always!

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's the final countdown.......

In just 9 days, our family will be boarding a plane and heading to Uganda to get our boy.  Our son.  Our brother.  The newest Patterson to join this crazy bunch. This is our biggest, most amazing Patterson family adventure yet!!   We are so incredibly excited.  We are also incredibly tired.  The spiritual battles we have faced in the past month are nothing like I've ever experienced.  But God has been so incredibly faithful and I know He has carried us every step of the way.  I think Anita Renfro could write one heck of a song about our life this past month. (Just in case you don't know who Anita Renfro's one of her videos.  She's a hoot! )

 Here's the breakdown:

Head lice (have you seen the head of hair Loralee has?  I shall say no more)
Nose bleeds
Broken attic fans
Oral surgery for a 5 year old to the tune of 4k
CT Scans
Female issues (really....nobody likes to talk about this stuff) which resulted in complications, out of control pain and an unexpected hospital stay

But in some crazy, unexplainable, 'only God could do this' way....there has been a peace through it all.  I'm so very thankful for the grace and compassion our Lord gives us daily.

The praises have been huge as well!  Miraculously getting our court date just days before court was scheduled to close.  Having our dear, dear friend from Uganda be able to stay in our home.  Being part of a fundraiser to build a childrens medical clinic in Mukono, Uganda where in just 2 weekends, almost $40,000 was raised!  News that they will actually break ground while we are in Uganda!!!  How awesome is our God??  So, so awesome.

I am happy to say that our bags are literally packed.  Our living room has become "packing central".  We are ready.  There is just one thing left to do.  Ask for your help.  We haven't done much online fundraising.  God has blessed us tremendously through jewelry sales and an awesome fundraiser hosted by dear friends....but we are a little short.  We had been told to expect an April/May court date.  We got a July 3rd court date.  We are sooooooooooooooo thankful that we are traveling this summer, but the cost of tickets is just so much more expensive in July.  We are still hoping to raise another $3000....enough for our boy's ticket home, in country expenses and food/supply donations for his orphanage.  I'd love to say I have the coolest prizes ever.  I don't.  I simply don't have time to pull it all together.  Now.....I always manage to have a few tricks up my sleeve so you never know what I will come up with.  :o)

You can make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation through Project HOPEFUL to our Fig Fund by using the button below:

Would you please prayerfully consider making a donation and sharing our request? We know that the Lord will provide to bring our boy home. 

Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.  We couldn't have taken this journey without you.

To God be the glory.....ALWAYS!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just a little update :oD

6:58 am I get an email from our agency gal saying "I don't know what time you guys get up, but call me as soon as you do."  You can imagine how hard my heart was racing.  I said "honey, I just got an email from Salem and we need to call her right now".  We felt like we couldn't breathe.  And then we heard the words we have been longing to hear "I got your court date this morning!"

Praise God!  We jumped up and down.  We cried.  We prayed.  We hugged.  We kept thanking God over and over.  Trent shouted "Ha!  take that satan!"  We are rejoicing.

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  Matthew 8:26

See, Ugandan courts close from July 15th to August 15th.  I shamefully admit that I had given up hope that we would be bringing him home this summer.  I knew when other families had filed and I knew when their court dates were.  I could do the math and the numbers weren't adding up.  At least in my time.  But God's time is not my time.  His timing is always perfect.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  Mark 11:24

Oh, I have so much to learn about my God.  So much to learn about His faithfulness.  His love.  His compassion.  So much to learn about how I can trust Him with EVERYTHING......including our beautiful Ugandan son.

I won't be sharing too many details via public blog however we will be doing either email updates or a private blog.  If you would like to receive updates, please shoot an email to and I will add you to the list.

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers.  We need you.

To God be the glory......ALWAYS!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adoption IS for wimps

I can't tell you how many times I've read "Adoption isn't for wimps".....or "Adoption isn't for sissies".  I'm going to argue that sentiment.  Not in a "those people don't know what they are talking about" or in an attempt to insult or offend anyone....but because I am a wimp.  Yup.  Total and complete sissy.  I will avoid pain at all costs.  Well, except for the one time I actually chose a drug free natural childbirth....but that is post for another day ;o).  But I do.  I avoid pain.  I avoid hurt.  I avoid confrontation.  I won't even watch chick flicks because I don't want to cry.  I have avoided sharing a lot of our adoption journey because skin just isn't thick enough for anyone's criticism. 

But, here I am.  And I know it's exactly what God has called us to.  Why do I think adoption is for wimps and/or sissies like myself.....because God continually draws us closer to Him through this process.  God has shown me exactly who is in control and it certainly isn't me.  God doesn't choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

One of my biggest fears regarding adoption was hearing our child say "you aren't my REAL mother" or "I don't want to be part of this family".  I just didn't think my heart could handle that.  I laugh at those fears now.  Not because I've conquered those fears, but because I think God has a really interesting sense of humor.  A few weeks ago, Loralee was mad.  And I mean really mad.  She did something funny....well, it was funny to us....but apparently she wasn't trying to be funny and she was fuming mad at us.  She went into her room for a few minutes and came back out very serious.  She said "I have something to say and you need to listen because I won't be here very long".  We said "Ok Loralee, but where are you going?"  She said "well, I am leaving to find a new family and I won't be here long and you need to know that and my new family will know when I am not funny and when I am funny."  And she was serious.  For about 30 seconds until we scooped her up, loved on her, apologized that we didn't understand and told her how broken hearted we'd be if she left our family.  But after it all transpired, I was reminded of my fear.  I know those moments will come.  And I know I'll be ok.  Because I know my God will scoop me up and love me....just like we did for Loralee.

So, while I don't think adoption is for everyone, I definitely think it's for wimps.  There's a saying...."God never gives us more than we can handle".  But, I saw it written differently one time and I like it so much better.  It said "God never gives us more than He can handle".  Amen to that.

And since I am actually taking a moment to blog.....I will offer a quick update on where we are at.  I can't go into a lot of details online but there has been a delay in our case.  Nothing serious or bad....just a delay.  We did receive a small update that we might get news of our court date next week so we are praying without ceasing.  Our boys health is definitely improving after his recent illness which we praise God for.  We must be close to receive a court date though because the spiritual battles are in full force.  It's been a very difficult time in the Patterson household as we have had some crazy health issues around here so we covet your prayers.

Clinging to Him,