Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I've attached the flyer for the July 4th dessert fundraiser for Maggie and Seora's mission trip to Thailand.
Give me a call or email if you would like to order. Please feel free to pass it on to others. Thanks so much. If you don't live locally, I apologize for tempting you. :) Melissa Carter
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Hi friends and family!
Life is definitely busy around here. Besides breaking my foot, taking 4 teenagers to test for their learner's license, 2 washers and a fridge going out and preparations for the kids' graduation and working on the girls stuff to get ready for Thailand, life remains normal! LOL
While tying up all my loose ends on paperwork for school and getting the kids' transcripts together, I discovered that Nathaniel and Ben had more than enough credits to graduate as well! So we are graduating 4 kids! If you live nearby, We would love for you to come. I am so proud of the kids. After having a rough start in life they have really worked hard,(sometimes with me pushing) :) to get tot his day. So we are going to celebrate it with a bang.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Hi Family and Friends,
I hope this letter finds all of you doing well. Life around here is busy for sure but it is good. We have watched God continue to be faithful and good to us. He reveals to us daily how much He loves us and it blows us away. I have been behind in blogging and keeping up my website but hope that this summer I will be a little more organized. Why are you smiling? I will!
Part of writing this note is to tell you about our daughters. Seora and Maggie, are now 21 and 20 years old. They are graduating from High School this June. We have been home schooling them for the last 5 years and they have made remarkable progress. God has done and is doing great works in their lives.
They will be going to Thailand to help with the childcare of some missionary friends of ours. Our friends’ ministry is very demanding with odd hours, so the girls will be of great help to them and the missionaries will have peace knowing their girls are being cared for and are safe when they have to go out to do street ministry. This will be a great answer to prayer for our missionary friends. They have been needing someone for sometime and so Our family decided, "Why not us?"
I am sure that opportunities of ministry will come up for them to participate in as well. We know this will be a great experience in their lives.
This is in part why I write this letter.
We need to raise money for them to travel next month. They need living expenses + airfare. They will be gone at least 3 months. They need $3500 each for this mission trip.
If want to donate to their trip,
You can donate by paypal to email@example.com -- note: S and M
You can donate by participating in the chip-in on the right on my blog
You can send a check to Melissa Carter at 313 Harris Dr. Florence, AL 35634
Thanks so much for your help and your investing in the lives of others who are spreading the good news.
We are so proud of our girls wanting to do this. My and Duane's desire is that our children grow to have servant hearts and that they spread the LOVE of Jesus across the world. That they live in the Kingdom now. To us, this means we have been successful in life.
Thanks in advance for your support. Even if you can't give financially, You can pray for them. We will let you know more details as we move forward.
May our Daddy-God just send overwhelming waves of Love into your life today,
Duane and Melissa Carter
Friday, March 19, 2010
Enjoying the pizza in the room
uh oh! Sanyaa's Mouth stuffed with m & m's
I do not want my picture taken!
Having fun swimming
All of acting silly
Anna and me
How many times are you going to take my pic?
Miss Jane and Sanyaa
Already to go swimming
We slept in a little and Jason and Sarah came to pick us up for lunch to meet with Nella, the founder of Tamar Center.
We met at the Mall and ate at KFC. It was a little different from ours back home but still very good. What a lunch. Mikki interviewed her asking great great questions about the center and where it started and how and what her visions were. Nella is a Dutch woman and has an incredible ministry. We had church in KFC as we prayed over Nella and then she prayed in return over Mikki. God gave me some words of encouragement for Nella that she accepted readily. Mikki and Sarah felt led to give her seed money for the house they want to buy for the girls and Nella about started to cry because she and her staff had started praying and fasting for the finances of this house. And so this was like God was saying yes, I am going to do this. After listening to Nella, I can only explain my self as feeling as if I was going to burst with joy over and for her. I am so excited about her ministry. I felt that God wants me to fundraise for her so she can do the work and stay on the field which is what she loves to do. So you all will be hearing more about this ministry and how she is helping to redeem a nation. You can also count on me to be bringing teams back here to help. After lunch we did a little shopping at the mall. Each of us taking a girl and heading in a different direction. Sarah and Anna took me to the grocery so I could stock up on authentic Thai spices and noodles and I got lots of goodies to bring home.
We also decided to keep the kids for Jason and Sarah to have a date that night. We felt that since we were here in part to encourage them, that a good date would be appropriate. We took the girls down to the pool at our hotel and they had a blast. Sanyaa ( their 2 year old) took up real well with me and loved the pool. Lillie and Jane had a great time and I got to spend some more time with Anna. After a while of swimming, they started to get hungry so I ran up to the room and got some American cheese, trail mix, and a couple of other stuff and they really enjoyed that. Sanyaa discovered the M&M's and before we knew it, had stuffed her little cheeks so full, she looked like a chipmunk. We had to finally hid them! We then went up tp the room and ordered Pizza. That was interesting. I tried to order in English and they couldn't understand my accent so finally I was like , Here Anna, you talk to them. Which she did and we got Pizza that was pretty good. If I had kept going, there is no telling what we would have ended up with. Afterwards the younger girls enjoyed a bubble bath and the older girls a good hot shower as their hot water had gone out the last few days. I think Jason and Sarah had a good time for a few hours and we definitely enjoyed the girls. Later we found out that Sanyaa did not sleep hardly at all but was pretty wired. Oops! I hope it wasn't the M& M's! :) We had planned on doing some street ministry that night but jet lag was catching up to us and so we decided to stay in and go to sleep.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We are ending another busy day in Pattaya. Mikki, Sarah, and I had a great day ministering today. We began the day by visiting in two prisons, passing out food, water, and fruit, handing it through the bars to the inmates. Usually all the cells are full and there are lots of children in them but today there were only half full and we found no children. I for one was happy that no children were sitting in cells, so we can thank God that that was the case on this particular day.
One of the ladies from the Tamar Center has been ministering in these prisons three times a week for quite some time. We were able to pray for a couple of the women and pass out tracks to those who wanted them. We learned to say "Swadeeka" in Thai which means, hello and prayed for them as each one took the food from us. It was so sad to see these men and women, I could feel nothing but love and compassion for them. I felt no fear, only love. This is totally amazing to me as all of this is totally out of my comfort zone, but it is a testimony to myself that God is doing a work in my life and teaching me how to walk in Jesus' shoes. This is what I have been praying for in my own life for sometime. Please continue to pray for me that I will keep my eyes on Jesus so I can walk in the power of His might daily. It is such an awesome thing to walk in.
It is not unusual for the girls to be arrested for prostitution if the bar owners haven't paid their bribes to officials. The owners don't get arrested but the girls do. Prostitution is illegal here but there are literally thousands of prostitutes on the streets here and bars are an endless sight so bribes are a part of life. The way it works is that the bars only sell drinks. If you buy a drink, the girls must entertain you and talk to you. If you choose to take a girl out of the bar, you have to pay a bar fee, then the girl is yours for however long. If you take her to a hotel, you pay a service hotel fee to the hotel for your extra guest and then you pay the girl for her services.
Later we went to a mission and helped with a party for children of the area. They frosted heart shaped cookies and decorated them, the first time they had ever had an opportunity to do that. They did a great job and seemed to enjoy it greatly. The mission is run by an Australian teacher here. We got to lay hands on the kids and pray for them. They were so thankful for the prayers and hungry for love. We passed out candy and the paper heart cards our kids at Grace House had made for them. It was interesting at how from two parts of the world God threw a theme party! Hearts from AL to pass out and heart cookies to decorate and hugs to be given out! Isn't it just like God to choose LOVE for his theme?????? Oh, He is such a great creative God!!!!!!! I knew He LOVED parties!. We are going to pass out the rest of the cookies on the streets. What was interesting was that before we left and our church family prayed over us, that Mikki was given the word "cookie". That God was going to do something powerful that involved cookies. We had no idea! Mikki came looking for God and when they told us that we were going to help with cookies. We got excited! Sometimes we may not see all that God does behind the scenes but we can trust Him that he HAS done something to add to his kingdom.
There was an adjoining youth mission called the Crossing where youth hang out and skateboard, play pool, etc.
We had some interesting Thai food today, too. Jason and Sarah Ricketts, our missionary friends, have an amazing work laid out before them here and are doing a fantastic job. i'll tell you more about the work God has laid on their hearts later.
Day 1 March 5,
We had a busy day in Pattaya today. It is such a contradiction. Modern highways, a beautiful new mall, Starbucks, and streets with one bar after another after another after another. Hundreds and hundreds of young girls, women, and ladyboys sitting on the streets and beaches waiting for a taker.
We spent time at the Tamar Center. They have a building right in the middle of the bars, offer free English classes, job training skills, and much more. Most of the girls speak limited English but only have a grade school education so the center offers to teach them a skill so they can have an opportunity for another way of life. It seems most of them are from a region about 9 hours away. For many, it is a way to survive and help support their family which is of great cultural importance here. Some are slaves and work in closed bars. We went into the bars this afternoon. I sat and drank a Orange drink with 3 young Thai girls, some who already had children. We played Connect Four. As long as you are paying for something, they will talk to you. I can't tell you how sad it was to see them. They didn't seem "evil" at all. Just lost and lonely. Although it is certainly a dark place, I didn't feel the darkness, only love and compassion. They are caught up in this vicious cycle. As we learn more of the Thai thinking it only proves that the enemy has totally distorted their culture. Unlike China, girls are valued here because they can bring in money to the family through prostitution. Boys are a lot of times groomed to become ladyboys so they too can bring in money.
Later, we had a worship service led by a 30 year old woman who is devoting her life to this ministry. We sang and prayed over the city. More than once today, tears have filled my eyes. I have tried to see what Jesus would see and ask him what he would do.
We walked the beach tonight and looked for opportunities, open hearts, and prayed with one young woman and prayed for many as they walked by. As I walked I prayed over each girl I passed. Sarah knew we were looking for treasure and finally we found her. God said, "She's the one." We stopped and talked to her and prayed for her. She accepted it readily. "God , we ask that that seed be watered and that your love explode into her heart!"
Tomorrow morning we will visit in the prisons. Many children are there because their mothers are incarcerated.
Blessings and Love Melissa
Friday, March 5, 2010
I forgot my camera cord so can't upload pictures until I get back.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Can I ever go anywhere without adventure? Of course not. So here we go.
Today we started out on our trip to Thailand. It turned out to be an interesting day. It did not go exactly as planned but in the end it all turned out ok.
My plan was to not let Isaiah take a nap yesterday so that he would be dead sleepy by 8pm and then I could be in bed by 8:30pm as soon as the other little kids were put to bed. That plan went beautifully, all except the part of of me going to bed at 8:30pm. After tying up loose ends that kept popping into my head, I finally made it to bed around 10:30 pm. I was exhausted. I had hoped I would sleep but my mind would not shut off and my feet and legs would not stop hurting. After 2 nights already of barely any sleep because of leg and foot pain, I was ready to sleep. Sleep evaded me. By midnight I was exasperated, my toe was pounding from an infection. I got up and put some medicine on it, took some tums and returned to bed praying for sleep. I think close to an hour later I drifted off to sleep after prayer for sleep. Around 1:30 I awoke to the light touch of Isaiah standing by my bed. He crawled in bed with me and decided it was time to talk. I coaxed him back to sleep and then a little later put him back in his bed.
From then on out I never totally went back to sleep as the Rita Springer song, “Oh, how he loves me” kept playing through my head. I must have drifted off again as the alarm announcing it was 3am scared me awake. I forced myself out of bed, groaning. I quietly got my clothes I had set out days before and headed to the shower. That woke me up a little and before I knew it 3:45 had rolled around and Eddie, my pastor was there to pick me up.
As we left the neighborhood, Eddie made us do passport checks. Mikki couldn’t find her bag that hers was in so we pulled into Fred’s to get her bag out of the back. She found her little passport purse and we headed on our way. I had almost asked everyone to physically show their passport but I didn’t.
We arrived at the airport in good time, chit chatting on the way. It had started to rain and snow as the temperature had dropped. Huntsville was calling for 1-3 inches. Eddie unloaded us and we went in to the check in kiosk.
A few of our bags were overweight so we had to switch some things around. The agent was real patient with us and with that completed we headed up to security. Sarah told Mikki that she would need her passport at this point so Mikki went to retrieve it. It was no where to be found. We stepped aside and looked in everything. It was not there. We prayed for God to supernaturally place it in her purse and he chose not to. Mikki finally got hold of Eddie and the boys and they found it in her copier! He had made copies and had left it there by mistake. She urged us to go on so we would not miss our plane. We waited as long as we could and went ahead and boarded. There were only about 10 people on the plane and the stewardess moved us to the back of the plane for weight distribution. By this time it was snowing pretty good and snow was starting to stick to the plane. We sat at the gate for some time and then pulled out and sat some more waiting for the de icer people to come. I watched out the window as the de icer men covered our plane first in pink goo and then green goo. I smiled as I thought Graham would love this. Mom’s plane got slimed! I made a mental note to tell him about it later.
After hearing from Mikki on my cell, she first thought she was on a flight to Frankfurt then Bangkok and would meet us there. She called back and said it didn’t work and she was headed home and would fly out on the same flight and get there a day late. We were all disappointed. Sarah and I wondered if we should have stayed. We decided that when we got into Chicago that we would see if we could change our flight to the next day as well so Mikki would not have to fly that 20 hour flight all by herself. We ended up leaving Huntsville quite delayed and arrived in Chicago an hour late.
After we left snowy Huntsville, we climbed above the clouds and it was the most beautiful sight. The clouds were all flat and it looked like fresh fallen snow. The sun was shining brilliantly and the sky was the prettiest blue. As we neared Chicago, we started our descent and it was pretty neat to watch as if we were going to land on the clouds. As the fluffy, white blanket engulfed our plane, I was intrigued by the wings of the plane cutting right through the layers of moisture. I asked myself questions, such as “I wonder if this sorta freaks the pilot out when he can’t see in the clouds, is it like driving blind? “ “ I wonder if the plane wings actually cut the clouds and reshape it?”
Sometimes questions such as these randomly just pop into my head. I wonder if anyone else does that?
As we descended, the clouds turned a little bit grayer and soon the snow covered landscape of Chicago could be seen below. Incredible neighborhoods with large houses were everywhere. An interesting large rock crater filled with a frozen lake lined the back of one neighborhood. A train yard with dozens of train cars linked together spanned a large area. I thought of how all the cars in the parking lots looked like matchbox cars all lined up in neat little rows.
It was right about then, that I saw it and I smiled. There below was a Butterfinger factory. Those my dear friends are my favorite candy bar.
A few minutes later we landed, only to wait a little longer because another plane was at our gate.
When we entered the gate, we headed for a United Counter. The lady there was very nice but wasn’t sure we could change our tickets. She told us where to find a service counter but told us that a human wouldn’t be there to man it until 10am but we could use the phone to speak to a representative. We found it and were told there was some availability on the plane but we would need to either call our travel agent or speak to a person later at the counter to get it changed. We tried to call our agency but they were on pacific time so we had to wait. Finally, 10 am rolled around and after being on hold for a while I got hold of an agent with the travel agency we booked our flights through. I got this really nice guy who was from Eastern Europe and who really wanted to help me but couldn’t so he continued to inform me in ways I might could get it changed all the while reading his entire flight scheduling manuel to me or so it seemed. It all boiled down to that I needed to talk to a United Agent. Sarah and I had already started walking towards a kiosk and finally I had to firmly interrupt the poor guy and thank him for his help and tell him that I was with a United Agent and we could get help now. I hung up with the guy wishing me well and he hoped that United could get me on the flight with my friend.
In the end, we ended up getting the ticket changed with the lady helping us herself and we were told she couldn’t do it but we had to call the international number. She charged us only one ticket fee and gave us a voucher for 50% off of a hotel. She rerouted our baggage so we did not have to retrieve our bags. I gave her one of my art thank you cards and she really liked it.
Happy that we were going to see Mikki in the morning, we headed to our hotel and took a nap, got soup and salad downstairs for dinner and watched a movie before heading off to bed.The next morning, We went to pick up Mikki at her gate but got lost. We finally found her. We went back to the room and ate breakfast that I had ordered. We chilled out until it was time to head back to our gate. We are off to Thailand!
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Mukisa Isaiah's first picture as he got in the van! He stole my heart right here!
He looks like a very chubby baby but in fact he was starving. His body was swollen and his cheeks had that sunburned look.
He was so little! We both closed our eyes for this picture! We found each other at last!
Esther holding Isaiah and Aunty Betty along with Allenni and Andrew
Richard, my driver and friend with Isaiah
This photo breaks my heart. Aunty Betty was so sad. When she came back a few months later to appear in court, she looked so much younger and was so happy to see Isaiah so healthy. She kept thanking me. I let her hold him and feed him as much as she wanted to. She said, "I have never seen him smile like this."
He had been crying
What a doll
I love this gift from God!
Aunty Betty and I with Isaiah. This was the official photo of the release of Mukisa Isaiah to UCOM.
Well, Isaiah's Gotcha Day slipped past us pretty much unnoticed. I knew it was coming and then I realized today that it was two days ago. We actually were celebrating Eli's and Seora's birthdays. So it was no wonder it got forgotten.
Anyway this little boy came to us in no ordinary way. He was truly a surprise from God and an answer to a deep desire in my heart that only God knew about.
We had originally thought there might be a baby sister of Allenni and Andrew's but after much investigation she could not be found having either died or taken to live with another family out of the area. The more likely case is that she died. Andrew remembers her being there and then gone.
Of course, we all were disappointed and bummed that she could not be located but something prompted me to ask HFU if there was a baby named Trevor anywhere nearby. I had brought Allenni a baby doll and she and Andrew named it Trevor. As it turns out, there actually was a baby named Trevor at HFU that had been there about a month and HFU asked if we would be interested in him. Here is an excerpt from my blog:
"He is 20 months old but the size of 6 months. His mother died at his birth. . . Of course, my heart wanted to just take him but I told them that I would want to pray to make sure that it was God that wanted me to take him, not a whim of mine and I needed to talk with Duane. When I was able to talk to Duane , he couldn’t believe that I didn’t say yes, right away. That was the confirmation I needed. I had asked God that if Mukisa was ours, let Duane say we needed to take him without me asking. Duane said that as I was telling him about Mukisa, he felt that this child was destined to do great things for God. And we were the ones to help bring that about. It was our responsibility to help him realize his purpose as his parents. That was the same thing I was feeling as I had prayed all day about the decision to take him. So….. We are getting a baby boy as well!!!!! His name is Mukisa Trevor. His birthday is May 17, 2006. I quickly started making calls to HFU to get info needed to file the applications. I made phone calls as well to the States to have our home study amended to include more children. We are not sure if we can accomplish a court date before we leave but we would like to try to bring him home on the plane with us. We will see. "
This all happened around the beginning of February.
After many phone calls and meeting with the attorney, we knew we would proceed with Trevor's adoption. Without going into detail, we were also experiencing some issues with HFU and so were not sure how things timewise were going to work out. I had to place it in God's hands, trusting him to work things out.
Well, He did and miraculously before I knew it I had a baby in my arms in a matter of two days.
On February 24,2008, I was notified that Mukisa Trevor needed to come to Kampala for a physical. he was sick they said and needed to be checked.
In the meantime, God had laid it on my heart to possibly have him transferred to a baby house here in Kampala where I could be near him and get medical help if he needed it. I did not mention it to anyone. I did not know how or if I should bring it up to the missionaries here. I asked God to show me what to do. My gut feeling was telling me to get him out of Rakai and to Kampala, but I had no plan. The next morning on the 25th, Brenda, the missionary brought it up to me, telling me that she was feeling that I should have the aunty bring Mukisa to Kampala and put him into the Feed His Lambs program. I started crying because of the goodness of God.
I texted HFU and asked them if they would think that the aunty would consider moving Mukisa to Kampala to UCOM to their baby house? Surprisingly, they wrote back that yes, she agreed and would be there the next morning. Could I pick her up at the bus stop??? This was a “SUDDENLY” gift from God. The way things had been looking, I did not even expect to see Mukisa T. until I came back to get him in a few months! The day after I got Isaiah, I found out that due to some circumstances HFU was no longer doing guardianships/adoptions. If he had been under their care one day more, I would have lost him.
Here is an excerpt from my journal on February 26, 2008:
"God does what we never expect and gives us surprises! I am in awe at His love and goodness to me.
So, the next morning Richard and I head out with the kids and go to a store to find some milk, porridge, baby clothes and diapers and bottles. I bought the only 2 outfits they had. We then headed to the bus stop and picked them up!
Once again, That feeling of butterflies filled my stomach and I felt like I was in labor. Nervousness and anxiousness all mixed with excitement! Then Richard shouts, "Here comes the baby!"
Well, amongst the thrones of people, I do not see him. But then I spot a beautiful young woman carrying a baby and I recognize Mukisa Trevor from a photo that I had. He grabbed my heart! He is so beautiful! He is 20 months old but is the size of a 6 month old! He is so beautiful and I am in love!
They climbed in the van and we headed back to the guest house. He was so cute! The aunty did not speak English so we mostly smiled at each other. You could tell she was nervous and sad. We arrived at the guest house and went in and John arrived to handle all the paperwork. "
We took lots of photographs and then it was time to say goodbye to the Aunty. This was very hard and one of the hardest things I have ever done. My heart ached for the aunty because you could tell she she loved Mukisa T. very much. But there was no possible way she could keep him. A widow herself and young she had no means. Even her family had disowned her for taking care of Mukisa and for not killing him. As she drove away, I could tell she was fighting back the tears and my heart broke for her as tears streamed down my cheeks. As the van pulled away, I looked once more towards the aunty and saw tears streaming sown her face. we turned to go into the house with me praying the aunty would be comforted knowing he was going to live because she had given him to me.
" I know this baby is meant for great things, I am honored God put him into my arms to raise. Oh, May I be a godly mother to him!"
He was very malnourished. He could not scoot or crawl or walk.
All eight of his front teeth are rotted. (but he looks like a little cute old man when he smiles.) The other teeth were in bad condition. HFU began feeding him and giving him a nutritional supplement.
Here again, his story reminds me of a story in Exodus. Moses’ story. I wonder what God has in store for my little man.
Now you think all that was incredulous? Well, as Paul Harvey would say, "Here is the rest of the story."
Remember when I mentioned that Mukisa who we named Isaiah was an answer to a deep desire of my heart?
Well, a few years before, I had come to the point where after trying again many times to get pregnant and literally crying out to God with tears so deep that I couldn't even utter words to express my longing for another baby that I surrendered my desire to have a little baby to God. I had told him, "Ok, if what you want Duane and I to do is to adopt older kids, then I will be happy and satisfied." I had had peace about it since that day. I had told no one about this, not even my husband.
When God brought this baby into my life, I was totally overwhelmed at His goodness and love! He had remembered me!!!! He had remembered that deep desire that I had handed over to him!
I was totally blown away! I still am to this day blown away. It was a gesture of love from my Daddy-God. So there is the rest of the story.
After one week there was an incredible difference in this child. From My blog:
A Miracle Week- Meet Mukisa Isaiah
Friday, February 26, 2010
I thought I would send out an update on how things are going. Since the kids have come home in August, our lives have been hopping. Allenni, Andrew and Isaiah have for the most part adjusted fairly well. Andrew has had the most trouble adjusting to this new life. Allenni is taking it all in stride and Isaiah acts as if he was born here. Of course you always have adjustments to make when new people are added to the family. Personality clashes, more energy, more noise, more laundry, more cooking, more cleaning, more whining and of course, more laughter and more love. It seems like we have been in a whirlwind for sure and somedays I just feel submerged under water and want to come up to breathe!
Through it all God has proven himself faithful and has continued to give us strength, wisdom and love to share. We can say God is good even on the days when we feel overwhelmed or didn't handle a situation like we would have wanted to.
Life has been quite busy since coming home with the kids, but it has been a good busy.
We went on a family vacation and conference to VA Beach and Williamsburg, VA in September. Duane and I were trained to become Beyond Consequences Trainers to help adoptive parents. While there we learned a lot about helping our kids emotionally. After 3 days of intensive training we enjoyed a week in Wiliamsburg with the kids.
We kicked off our homeschooling that week after and I must admit it was stressful getting everyone on a daily basis to do what they were supposed to while teaching several different grades all the while Isaiah was on the loose!
After much prayer and seeking what to do from God because I felt like I was being spread too thin and no one was getting good attention or focus in school and not many were cooperating, we felt peace to put Andrew, Eli, Allenni, and Graham in public school.
With Allenni and Andrew not having much schooling in their previous life, we opted to put Andrew in the 4th grade and Allenni in 2nd. Eli we put in 1st and Graham in the 7th. They started this past January. They are all doing really well. Andrew and Allenni get help with their English on the side. Since the rest of the teens are too close to graduation and we have an adjusted school plan for them, we felt like finishing out their schooling at home was the best idea. Seora, Ben, and Nathaniel turn 18 this year and Maggie just turned 17. We are focusing on finishing their credits needed and vocational training. With the little ones not here, I can focus more closely on their education, though Isaiah in himself is a one man tornado and is ever getting into things he shouldn't in a flash.
In October, Duane and I enjoyed a week in Pagosa Springs, CO thanks to airmiles and timeshare. It was great to reconnect with each other and paint, read and chill out.
Christmas at our house was great with lots of people! For the family Christmas present, we went on a cruise to Mexico. We totally enjoyed ourselves with Duane's parents and his sister. Duane and some of the kids went to see and climb some ancient Mayan Ruins. We followed that with 4 days at the beach. The kids loved Christmas and asked lots of questions about Jesus and Santa Claus. Duane's sister came down and bless her heart got the stomach bug so it was not the greatest day for her.
New Year's week my mom and dad and sister along with my grandmother and my african brother and his family came down for several days and we had our Christmas celebration. There were 21 people in the house!!!!
At the first of January, Duane and I took a few days and went to Destin, FL which happened to be the coldest they ever had there but had to leave early as we got word that my grandmother in a matter of a few days had gotten sick and died.
Duane dropped me off in Birmingham and I flew to NC to attend the funeral. It was very hard for me. I loved my grandmother dearly. I was so glad that she had been able to come visit several days before.
So as you can see we have been on the road this year but it has been great making family memories.
In January, I found out that I had won the DIANA award and so Duane and I attended the ceremony here in town along with Duane's parents.
That spurred some articles in our local papers which you can read at the links posted if interested.
So here it is February and I can't believe how time has gone by already.
We just got back from a long weekend with the kids in Memphis where we got to see some old friends and eat Corky ribs. We continued on to Branson. Our family friend Song went with us and we totally enjoyed having her along. The kids went to the Titantic Museum and we all enjoyed a day at an indoor water park!
I am headed to Pattaya Thailand for 9 days with 2 other women to visit some missionary friends and minister where God would have us. Our friends work with others in ministering to girls caught in the sex slave trade industry. I am not totally sure why God is sending me there but for months now I have had the urgency to go to Thailand. Come to find out, the missionaries there had been praying for some time for God to work it out for me to come. Going over there was actually a suddenly and was not planned until January.
I ask that you cover me in prayer as I go It is a spiritually dark place. I will be gone March 2 -11. Pleas pray for Duane and the kids back here in the States. I am sure they will be fine. Nine days is nothing compared to how long I have been gone before. Duane is very supportive of this all and I am very thankful for a husband such as he is.
I have had several people ask me, "Are you going to adopt?" NO! We've asked God to hold off for a while. LOL! Our hands are full! Thailand only lets you adopt if you live there. But I am going to see how I can help the orphan girls who are slaves in this terrible industry. I have been praying that God will let us shine his furious love in such a desperate place. My heart aches for those girls who seemingly have no hope. I hope we can shine a ray of hope at life to at least one of them. I hope to blog from there and you can follow me on my trip to Thailand at http://oneeggshortofadozen.blogspot.com
Last year, our year was consumed it seemed in getting our three kids home. As I look back at all that took place in 2009, I am in awe at the incredible works of God, not only in my personal life but in the lives of others. He has given us our kids, just like I knew He would. He even opened doors through our adoption for others to be adopted. God is incredible and we will always speak of his great love and wondrous works.
I have finally had a little bit of time to finish up my blog about our trip to Africa, so there are new stories and new pictures. I am on the last leg of the story and hope to have it finished in a few days. You can catch up by going to http://oneeggshortofadozen.blogspot.com. Other happenings of our family are kept on http://oneeggshortofadozen2.blogspot.com
We look forward to see what God has in store for us in the year 2010. Mine and Duane's deepest desire is to know God on a deeper level and to experience the furious love that he offers us, so we can be vessels of that love, poured out on others. We have realized that nothing else is important on this earth other than knowing the Father intimately. We want to daily seek Him. We continue to pray for complete healing for all of our kids that comes from the trauma, fear and abandonment they experienced as younger children. Theirs is not an easy road to travel but we know Jesus is the abundant life and the healer and that he has great things in store for them. This keeps us going when the times are tough. We appreciate all your prayers. They are deeply felt.
Blessings to all of you,
Duane and Melissa Carter and kids
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Well, last night we celebrated Allenni and Andrew's First Gotcha Day. Though I wanted to blog about it last night, time did not permit and so I have a few moments while Isaiah is napping to write.
As I reflect back on what has happened in order for us to have these kids in our home, I am amazed at the journey that God has taken us on. What great lengths OUR God will go on to grow us, show us his love and his power and to show us Himself.
Every adoption has taught us new things spiritually and has built upon lessons we learned from previous adoptions as well. Just as I talked recently about digging for our treasure when we were pursuing Eli, in this adoption of Allenni and Andrew, it was more like being a tree that would not be moved no matter how hard the wind try to blow us away.
Their story actually started in China. Yes, while we were picking up Eli, God slyly (or as Duane says, "Jehovah Sneaky" ) planted a seed in our hearts by mentioning Uganda. Of course another adoption was not even on our radar screen. But God who knows all things and plans all things, set us up to meet a family from Arizona who we instantly bonded with. They were in our travel group and had told us about some friends who worked in Uganda. This interested me because of my growing up in West Africa as a missionary kid. It was just casual conversation, or so we thought. I see God chuckling right now even as I write this. It was a seed planted. No more was Uganda thought of with all the adjustments of bringing Eli home until one day in April, three months later, I had some free time and thought hey, I'll go look at those missionaries' website in Uganda. After searching for the website and not finding it, I decided to shoot my friend an email. Just as I was about to do this, the phone rings and it is my friend, who lives in Arizona.
"Hi this is H. I wanted to call you and tell you that my friend in Uganda contacted me and told me about these two kids and I just knew that you were their parents. " Well, I didn't jump in the wagon that fast and told her, "There is no way! We just got home with Eli and he is having surgery soon and we are broke." She insisted we look at their pics she was sending in an email and pray about it. I hung up just totally surprised.
A little later I got the email and the pics. The kids were definitely cute.
"Oops! there went a little water droplet on that seed!" That God of ours!
After that I could not get those kids off of my mind. I told Duane about the events and He laughed, "She is crazy! How can those kids be ours??? No way! We are broke and our hands are full." I think God probably chuckled, "Those humans."
A week later I still could not get them off my mind, so I figured God must be up to something.
"Drip, Drip, Drip, Oh look, a little sprout. Now we have something going here"
Now, I have looked at hundreds of orphan pictures, but I don't just keep thinking about them unless somehow I end up involved with them. I "accidentally" left their pics and info and web pages of HFU up on the computer screens so Duane might happen to read them. A few days later I asked him, "Did you read that stuff on those kids?" Sighing, he said, "Yeah, and this is crazy, but I can't get them off of my mind. I have been praying about them. Maybe we are supposed to adopt them. I told God, I was willing but we really needed to get some debts paid off and He needed to give us the money for the adoption fees and the debts."
The next day, Duane walked in the door, home for lunch, with this look on his face and I knew something was up. He showed me a check stub of a deposit he had just made. I couldn't believe it! Before I knew it, I had slapped him on the arm, laughing, "You, have got to be kidding! Where did you get that kind of money?" "It was on my desk, our office manager said it was owed to me." It was enough for the lawyer fees and the debt he had wanted to pay off.
"That sapling is growing into a nice strong tree"
Fast forward to May: We inquired and things got set into motion. Uganda rarely had adoptions happening so had no adoption programs, so this was going to be an independent adoption.
We first were going to adopt Allenni and a little boy named Michael. But in the end, Andrew was found and taken in from the streets and reunited with Allenni and when another family asked to adopt Michael, we released him and decided to take just Allenni and Andrew. We definitely knew that these kids were ours.
So started the journey to Uganda. Paper work takes time and in our case, The Ugandan paperwork surprisingly went quickly but the US paperwork did not.
In July 2007, we had gotten all the paperwork gathered and home study had been updated and then everything was sent to DHR in Montgomery, AL and from there it would be sent on to Homeland Security to get approval to bring them to the States. We expected this to take a few months but were hoping that they might honor an expediting request and get it done sooner.
Well, 3 weeks passed with no word from anyone, so I inquired. I found out that our home study had not been sent to Montgomery because there needed to be criminal checks on all of our teens living at home and our home study needed some corrections in it. Then we got word from our Ugandan attorney saying we needed a letter from our Mayor and/or Senator saying we are good people and would be qualified to take these kids in.
Here's an excerpt from my journal on July 21, 2007:
"NOW, we WAIT. I totally dislike that action. Waiting is boring! When you wait , there is nothing to do. I guess, that is why God uses it as a lesson for us. When we wait, we DO have to put it in His hands. At first , I was irritated with all the delays, but then God reminded me, "Melissa, you still have not learned this lesson after all the other adoptions. My ways are not your ways and neither are my thoughts your thoughts. Trust in me and I will finish the task." Ok, I am not fretting about a timetable here. God will do his work. It is all up to Him now anyway."
"Good their roots are getting stronger. That's going to be a nice tree. I think I'll move it by the river here. It's going to need a lot of good water."
Ten days later, on Friday we had the criminal checks back and the letters from the Local Family Court Judge and Mayor and was ready to send our home study to Africa or so we thought. Come Monday, we found out that our medicals for the DHR file were lost and so we had to go get medicals redone.
"I'm teaching them to drink from the River, that way they get stronger when a rough wind blows their way."
In August we heard that our home study went through Montgomery and was being sent to Atlanta so we just waited to hear that we could come and get our fingerprints done.
In September, we found out that our home study GOT LOST somewhere between Montgomery and Atlanta after I inquired on the status of our case.
Our Social worker sent in another copy. Finally about two weeks later we got our letter to get fingerprinted but it came only two days before the appointment and Duane couldn't get off of work so we had to reschedule for another week. We got that appointment for October.
I had to keep relying on God for patience with all of this.
"Yes, that tree is getting nice and stronger, little do they know what terrible storms are ahead and these small wind trials only mean to make them stronger."
November came and was almost over and we had not heard anything about our finger prints. After calling ATL and checking, it was discovered that our fingerprints had not been forwarded to Homeland Security so there fore our application had not been processed!
"Look at those roots dig deeper, this tree is growing nicely"
I'm glad God had a plan because I wasn't following and it was quite frustrating for these nit picky things to be happening. All we could do was to trust his timing. Two weeks later, our fingerprints were located and four weeks later they processed our approval letters. We were finally able to make plane reservations to leave January 21, 2008 to Uganda.
We left fully hoping we only had to be in Uganda for about 4 weeks. Our court date went just fine with out a hitch and here is an excerpt form my journal:
"We awaited upon the balcony, with butterflies in my stomach as I went through all the emotions of what this day would bring. "Would they like me? Am I sure I can handle two more children? What am I doing? Do they understand what is going on? Will skin color matter to either of us? Will the judge agree to let me be their guardian?" A little later, K. and Be arrived from HFU. A few moments later, In drove a SUV carrying Allen, Andrew and K's little girl, S. My heart pounded as I strained to see them through the car window. They parked and got out and came running up the stairs. First, they ran into K.'s arms and when she told them, "There is your mommy", they ran into my arms and what a meeting! All the questions that had been running through my mind melted away as I felt love flood my heart and I had MY children in my arms! They were beautiful! They knew who I was. It was awesome!"
When we started working on the kids passports there were many things that went wrong and it would take a book to write about. (Which I hope to do one day) I ended up staying 4 months instead and boy I think those were the hardest of my life ever! God really taught me about Himself and deepened my relationship with Him. Even though I ended up coming home without my kids during this time, I can look back now and see many things that God worked to our benefit. One of them was getting baby Isaiah. His life was saved because God's timing was perfect.
There were many times when I just felt that I could not do this anymore. I had nothing left inside of me. I was very sick, the baby was very sick, I was very lonely, I missed my other kids, and Allenni and Andrew had behaviors, I wasn't sure how to deal with. I pictured myself, hanging onto the last string of a really big rope, crying out to God. I was stripped of everything I knew identified me. But what God wanted me to do was for me to find my identity in Him. Emotions well up inside of me as I write because this space is not enough to write what turmoil and fights against depression I fought in those days in Africa. I had to fight to get out of bed to take care of the kids. Through it all though, I never gave up on God and the thought that these were my kids. I thank God everyday for my friends S. & B who spoke into my life and encouraged me and fed me scripture when I was too weak.
"I knew those strong winds would not knock that tree over when it got stormy, Now that tree is even deeper rooted and drinking my Living water."
It took me three months to recuperate physically after returning and even longer to get back into the sync of things with my kids and family in the States. All the time we kept asking God, When? When do we go back and get them? "Not yet he would say, Wait." I was glad God had opened up good foster homes for me to leave them in and so I did not worry about their care.
Finally in April, I told Duane, it is getting time for me to go. It is going to happen soon. Finally in May 2009, one year later from the time I left, I got on a plane with my daughter Maggie and headed back to Africa fully planning on bringing my kids home. My faith was not to be wavered. Those kids were mine. And I was going to claim them. I ended up staying three months, but God was awesome and Faithful and I kept knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would leave with them. It WAS VERY hard again. There were lots of times, I cried and prayed and told God I did not understand, Storms raged and sometimes I felt like giving up but then again I'm not a quitter. I was certain of what God had spoken to me. "Those are your kids, I have given them to you."
In the end we saw God perform miracles and throw open doors and give us favor. He granted those passports and not only that but changed a country's policy on the matter which would allow children in their same circumstance to be granted passports immediately. In the past many children never made it to their adoptive families because they never received passports on ethnic problems.
So, there believe it or not is the short version of our journey to celebrating Gotcha Day for Allenni and Andrew. God planted a seed of perseverance, faith and trust in HIM and watered it and tended it and it grew and grew. At times it hurt to grow, there were times we thought we would break under the pressure and snap in half, but in the end we were strong because of His might and power. And For this we are glad.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:2-4
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-9
Friday, January 29, 2010
I actually wrote most of what is below on the anniversary of Eli's 1st Gotcha Day! I still feel exactly the same and so I feel it is worth repeating. I changed up some of it to make it relevant to this year. If you would like to read All of Eli's adoption story you can go to http://journeytome.com to link over to my other blog.
Today, three years ago, Eli (Dang Ji Min) walked into a sterile room scared to death. As he cried, not knowing what was happening, I cried too, sensing his fear as well as feeling the joy that our long awaited journey to him was ending and a new one was beginning. I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and let him know that he was going to be ok and he was safe and had been loved ever since the first day that I had laid eyes on his photo.
Today is our "Gotcha Day". I know some people totally dislike that word but I look at it as a special simple phrase signifying a great happening.
I found a treasure one day back in November of 2004 when his picture popped up on my computer screen.
He stole my heart. But according to China policies we were too large of a family to be eligible to adopt him. We were waiting for Vietnam to open up. Duane and I prayed for him and 2 weeks later, we got word that he had found a family. I secretly still kept his picture and would pop it up to look at and pray for him. We continued to wait on Vietnam to open. Three months later, an email from our agency arrived stating Dang Ji Min was back up on the list and the other family had decided they could not take him due to his medical condition. We prayed again for him to find a family. A few weeks later, our agency sent out another email stating that China had changed a policy allowing special needs kids to be adopted by large families, if they met certain criteria. Of course, I was elated and ran to tell Duane. He quickly bursts my bubble by telling me that we had no money and cannot afford an adoption right now. So I dug deeper for my treasure and prayed.
A couple of weeks later, we received an email again from our agency saying that Dang Ji Min's fees have been drastically reduced in order for them to find a family for him. This is his last chance at a family before China removes him from the "adoptable list" for good.
I shouted a gleeful Yes! and ran to find Duane. He didn't say much, which means he is thinking about it. I dug deeper for my treasure. I prayed.
Now it was almost Mother's Day 2005 by this time and we were sitting in our sun room and my husband casually asked me, "So, What do you want for Mother's Day?" I replied, "Oh nothing, I have everything." THEN A LIGHT BULB CAME ON!, I got this awesome thought and idea! I started making this excited noise like oh,oh,oh! and Duane looked at me like I had gone weird. "I know what I WANT!" What? He asked, looking intrigued. "A LITTLE BOY FROM CHINA!!!!!!!" He knew exactly what that meant! As I stood there, looking at him, waiting for an answer, I noticed that HE DID NOT ROLL HIS EYES! (This was a good sign) Then he said, ok, check into it!!!!!!
I dug for my treasure a little deeper. I contacted the agency and started the paperwork process the next day!
We ran into obstacle after obstacle with paperwork on the US side and once even thought the US would not approve us to adopt. We ran into many other obstacles with the adoption as well, making us very weary. We had to dig in and get creative to raise the funds needed. But through each obstacle and storm we dug deeper for our treasure. We watched God perform miracles as we prayed, sometimes cried and clawed our way through the dirt. I knew in the depths of my heart that that treasure was ours.
Finally, a day late leaving on Dec. 31, 2006, we set out on the last leg of our journey as we boarded a plane to Ancient China to claim our treasure.
After a few days in Beijing we headed to Taiyuan and on January 4, 2007, we loaded into our taxi and took the short drive to a large government building that loomed up into the cold smog. We took the old elevator up to the second floor, and as we entered that bleak, gray room with large dirty windows, my heart leaped within me as I laid eyes on my treasure! He was sad, scared, lost, dirty and broken but how beautiful and priceless he was to me!
It was all I could do to shout to the world, I've gotcha! I've gotcha! You're mine!!! You're finally mine!!!
That day my treasure found a new life and his named was changed from Dang Ji Min, meaning, "Lucky property of the communist people" to Eli Chapman Zhao Kai Carter, meaning, "The Lord is my God and Morning Song of Triumph".
How God has already proved his name to be true!
Today, three years later the child who had a life destined to be a crippled now has a life destined to be a runner, proclaiming the miracles and awesomeness of God!
Treasure that satan tried to hide away in China never to be found, God brought forth to be polished and displayed. I love our God! He gave all He had to claim that Treasure! Wow! The Lord is Eli's God and Morning Song of Triumph!
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matt.13:44
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A LOVE BEYOND BORDERS
(They are having their auction in March. they have decided that proceeds will benefit Haiti. I always donate to the auction. Do you have anything to donate to help?
Get in touch with Christina Newman at :
17607 Y St
Omaha, NE 68135
They are receiving donations for auction until March 1st.
GOD'S LITTLEST ANGELS
I do not endorse any of these organizations but came upon them in my research for you to check out. Blessings, Melissa
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Reaching Out to Help Orphans by Adopting from Haiti
Adopting from Haiti After the January 2010 Earthquake
By Carrie Craft, About.com Guide
See More About:
* haiti adoption
* adoption and foster care news
* international adoption
"Many people are interested in learning how adopting from Haiti can save an orphan."
Many people are interested in learning how adopting from Haiti can save an orphan.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Adoption SpacebookGet Free Adoption Information & Advice. Call Or Contact Us Form.www.AdoptionSpacebook
America World AdoptionInternational Christian Adoption Order a Free Information Pack Now!www.AWAA.org/Internati
Considering Adoption?Confidential Adoption Help Services Sign Up For Your Free Info Kit Now.www.AdoptionNetwork.co
Haiti News Video Haiti Population Adopt Babies Adopt Infant Adoption Laws
Jan 21 2010
It is wonderful thing, the outpouring of concern for the children who have been left homeless and orphaned by the earthquake. Here are some things to keep in mind as you seek to find ways to reach out with an interest in adopting from Haiti.
Agencies and organizations that process adoptions in Haiti have been destroyed, paperwork lost under collapsed buildings, and workers killed in the tragedy or have died from wounds received due to the quake. Communication systems are down and those who have survived can't be reached. Remember, right now, the main focus is on survival and meeting the immediate needs of the children.
Families have been separated by this tragic earthquake. It will take time to determine which children have been truly orphaned by the earthquake. Children who have been left orphaned will then be placed with family, if possible.
There are legal requirements that must be met before a child meets the definition of an orphan and is eligible for adoption by U.S. standards, as well as standards as set by the child's country. In this case, children must also meet the definition of an orphan as set by Haiti's requirements for adoption as well.
The immediate survival needs of the children need to be met at this time. Take time to see how you can help these children now as adoption takes many, many months. See how you can help children in Haiti during this time by giving and volunteering for known organizations.
Know that the State Department is continuing to process adoptions from Haiti.
Go ahead and contact an adoption agency about adopting from Haiti, but know that it will still take time to bring a child into your home. But there is no harm in starting the adoption process. Again, it will take time for Haiti to sort through the rubble and determine
o which children have already been matched to other prospective adoptive families before the earthquake
o how far along each child's case was within the adoption process,
o which children are newly orphaned due to the earthquake
Children Affected by Natural Disasters and Conflict - U.S. Department of State
Adoption Alert for Haiti - U.S. Department of State
More About Adopting from Haiti
* What Is the Status for a Haiti Adoption Already in Progress?
 Is it a good idea?
Concerned with the possibility of child trafficking, the US National Council for Adoption is opposed to any expedited efforts to process new adoptions in Haiti, and also generally frowns on "baby lifts," the practice of wanting to adopt in times of emergency. You may want to remember that adoption is a lifelong commitment, and that there may be easier and better ways to help right away with what is going on in Haiti.
But if you were considering adopting anyway, and want to do something with a longterm positive impact on someone's life, adoption from Haiti or elsewhere could be incredibly meaningful.
 What should I do next?
The best way to help an orphaned child right now is to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti. Thousands of children are at risk of illness and death because they are not getting adequate water, food and medical care. Once the situation in Haiti stabilizes, the normal adoption process will start again and families can be matched to children.
To get things started already, people interested in adoption can contact the agencies placing children from Haiti and fill out this form.
 More details
The standard procedure for adopting a child in Haiti involves receiving appropriate documentation from the Haitian courts and from the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Research (IBESR). The general steps include receiving a legal release from the child's birth parents or custodian, submitting this release to the IBESR which, after examining certain factors, will issue an authorization of adoption, then presenting this authorization to a civil court which will then grant an official adoption decree to the adoptive parents. The child also needs to obtain a Haitian passport so that he or she can leave the country. See http://haiti.adoption.com/
However, because there is such a serious need now and documents traditionally required to go through a formal adoption process are likely lost in the rubble, the U.S. government is being asked to grant Haitian orphans referred to American families humanitarian parole to the United States, thus expediting the release of children who already received adoption clearance by the Haitian government.
Scroll to the bottom of the Joint Council on International Children's Services Haiti web page to find out about adoption agencies around the United States with connections in Haiti.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010
With my husband being a Pediatrician, we are very aware of the medical needs and what happens in a 3rd world country if a disaster strikes an already needy country. Click here to link to an organization that is responding to the medical needs there.
No matter what your financial situation, you can help. Every penny will help someone to possibly live and be saved. You can also remember to lift medical teams and relief workers up in prayer that they would have the supernatural strength and stamina to do the work needed.
Other links to visit: