Saturday, September 27, 2014

We're headed to Asia!

I just realized today that those of you who aren't on social media probably haven't heard our great news! We're headed overseas!

Now before you get too excited - no, this is not for our adoption. This is a work trip, for our non-profit The Sound of Hope. My husband and I co-founded this non-profit in 2010, and we work full time to care for almost 200 orphans and vulnerable children in Thailand, Burma, India, and Swaziland.

We normally travel more frequently, but the past 2+ years we've been "stuck" in the US - partially due to a lack of travel funds, and partially because we really needed to finish all of our adoption paperwork before we left the country. But now it's done, and thanks to some very, very generous people we were able to buy our tickets!

We leave in 3 days (Sep 30th), so we are pretty much running around like crazy people right now - trying to finish up all of our packing and preparations before we go. We'll be gone for 47 days and we'll be working in 3 countries, 9 cities, and 5 Children's Homes! We are SO excited to be back with our precious kids overseas. We love these little ones so much, and it's been too long since we've been able to hug them and spend quality time with them. These children know that we help provide for their needs, but nothing says "I love you" to a child like spending time with them!

(Above) Ericka with the Asha House girls
(Below) Rusty with the Asha Mission boys

We have a lot of work to do while we're there. For those who may want to invest in this trip, we do have a few needs still. So many people have given so generously - and for that we are grateful! You can see from the list below that most of our needs have been met. We just have $600 to go to have our list completely checked off and our trip fully funded! If you'd like to donate, you can give online through this link.

I will do my best to post some blogs here while I'm overseas, but my main focus during any internet time will be keeping our Sound of Hope blog and social media up to date. We post a lot of "real time" updates (videos, pictures, and stories) - and we would LOVE to have you follow our journey! There are actually 5 ways you can follow us on this trip.

We hope you'll follow along and be a part of what we're doing around the world! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Love Is Waiting

We just got confirmation this month that our dossier has been translated into Thai and received by the orphanage we'll be adopting from in Thailand. Our agency assured us it would get there, but it was still so good for this momma's heart to have it confirmed. And now, we really do know that there is nothing for us to do but wait. So it seemed like the perfect time to share these photos!

We are adopting from Pattaya, which is a coastal town, so a beach shoot seemed appropriate for our little beach baby! You would think (after my last post) that we took these on our recent beach trip - but this "Adoption Photo Shoot" was actually done on our Florida family vacation last October by my sweet baby brother (thanks Jaron!) At that time, we thought we'd be done with our paperwork by Christmas. We thought we'd share these within a few months. Little did we know it would be almost a year! But finally - after working for so long - the day has come that we can say, "We are waiting."

The song, "Love is Waiting" by Brooke Fraser is one that is really special to us. For those that don't know, Rusty and I dated long distance for 11 months before getting engaged. (And by "long distance", I mean that he was in a different country every month, on a trip called "The World Race".)

It was really difficult. We actually had very little time together, in person, to fall in love. We learned to love each other while we were apart - waiting to be together.

And so, the phrase "Love is Waiting" seemed appropriate for this shoot. We are here waiting, and our daughter is half a world away...

We don't even know her yet, but as we wait, we fall more and more in love with her.

Some families have a little empty chair in their home to remind them to pray for their child. 
We have a bunny.

We bought this little handmade bunny when we lived in Thailand in 2011 - long before we decided to adopt from there. I have a big thing for bunnies (Rusty's nickname for me is actually, Bunny!) and the idea was that it would sit on our child's bookshelf someday. Little did we know, that child would be a little girl from Thailand!

Baby girl, we cannot promise you that a perfect family will be waiting when you come home. We cannot promise you that a perfect house will be waiting when you come home. But my darling, we can promise you that so much LOVE will be waiting here for you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Family" Beach Trip 2014

As usual, I'm playing catch up on my blog! This post is about a month late, but I didn't want to miss it. We went to the beach in early August with some of our dearest friends, the Tuckers and the Flemings, and the pictures and videos are worth sharing!

Kristy, Josh, Carly, & Archer Fleming

[We took our good camera and "gifted" our friends with family beach pictures while we were there!]

Carrie, Chris, Ruby, Mae, & Jane Tucker

Sometimes in life, you get blessed with "family" that you get to pick. These people aren't blood related, but they are just as much family to us as our own siblings. Rusty and Josh have been friends for 23 years. Rusty and Chris have been friends for 33 years. They're practically brothers. Rusty has been friends with their wives since they started dating his friends 14 years ago, so Carrie and Kristy might as well be his sisters!

The Jacksons, The Tuckers, and The Flemings - 2014

These people were some of the first that Rusty every introduced me to, and I knew meeting them was as important as meeting his parents! When I married him, I "married in" to this group, but I didn't realize just how lucky I was until recently. These people really are like brothers and sisters-in-law to me, and I can't imagine loving a real niece or nephew more than we love their little ones!

Goody baskets from Uncle Wusty & Aunt Ewicka! (Jane-8, Mae-5, Ruby-3 months, Carly-5, Archer -2)

The only sad part, is that we see them so rarely. The Tuckers live 10 hours away, and the Flemings live 7 hours away. We're lucky if we see them once a year. We've talked several times about how we should spend more time together, and how we should vacation together, but we never made it happen until now. Losing our dear friend Ben earlier this year turned our lives upside down. His death made us all realize that life really is short, and time together is sweeter than we ever knew. So when our schedules lined up, and we found an incredible deal on a condo, we jumped at the chance to be together. (Oh but Ben... we so wish you, Amanda, and Ella could've been there!)

There were 6 adults and 5 kids all under the same roof for one week, and it was beautiful chaos! Rusty and I slept on the sleeper sofa, so we got a front row seat to the "Frozen - LIVE" show several mornings (it's a good thing we like to "Let It Go" and we always want to build a snowman! ha!), and the occasional snuggle bug sneaking into our bed!

My morning wake-up call!

Archer man loves his Uncle Wusty

Carly and Archer holding their "cousin" - Baby Ruby

It wasn't relaxing, and yet, it was wonderful. I barely made it through one of the four books I took, we never slept in, and I ended up covered in sand (I hate being sandy!) and carrying toys and snacks every time I went to the beach - but I wouldn't trade that week for the world. We finally got to be with the friends we love for more than a day "here and there", and spend real quality time with our "nieces" and "nephew" before they grow out of the snuggly phase and their adorable speech impediments. (Oh how I'll miss hearing "Uncle Wusty and Aunt Ewicka" when they learn to pronounce their R's!) I'll take being sandy and sticky and sleepy any day if it means we get to make memories like this!

It was a special time that I don't want to forget. Someday, I hope we're able to make it happen again when our sweet Kate can meet her "cousins" and be a part of that beautiful chaos! To the Tucker and Fleming crews - thanks for a wonderful week! We love you!