Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summit Highlights

After a full day of travel last Wednesday, we arrived at our dingy Motel 6 room at 1am-- a room claiming to be non-smoking but smelling anything but.  We slept for a little less than 5 hours and headed to the Summit which was hosted by Southeast Christian Church

As we pulled up, I didn't know exactly what to expect.  I knew it would be amazing, and I knew that God wanted me here, but I didn't want to be so attached to the experience I had at last year's Summit that it took away from what I was supposed to get out of this year's Summit. We walked in to this monstrosity of a church to register and right away the Twietmeyer family walked by us.  Tears came to my eyes just seeing them.  Here's a family that has 7 biological children, and has adopted two sibling groups of 3 from Ethiopia (some with HIV or AIDS), and another baby from the US with Downs Syndrome.  They also began an organization called Project Hopeful that works to advocate for and break down stigma's associated with adopting children with HIV/AIDs.  I knew our time there would be great and I was so in awe of how God brought me to this place when we didn't have the money to get there ourselves.

The time we spent at the Summit was amazing.  We got to meet Kiel and Caroline Twietmeyer:

We met Paul Pennington, Co-founder of Hope for Orphans:

We met our adoption coordinator that we've only corresponded with over the phone and email, gave her a big hug and were able to ask her a ton of questions:

We heard from former pro-football player, Luther Ellis, and his wife about their heart for adoption and how God has used their family of 13 to care for the Fatherless (Jamey ran and snagged a picture while I held our place in the lunch line):

We attended several breakout sessions including ones about protecting your marriage from the challenges of parenting adopted children, beginning an orphan ministry in your church, HIV and the orphan, becoming a multiracial family, starting an adoption ministry, current legislation affecting adoption and orphan care, and advocating as a busy mom.

We got to see the Mwangaza Children's Choir and later Sara Groves in concert (sorry, no picture!):

And we left with a lot to consider...

I'm sure I'll be processing all that we took in for quite awhile (I'll blog about some of it!).  One thing was clear and was stated several times while we were there: when you care for orphans, you come close to the heart of God!  I'm so excited to see how God uses all that He poured in to us to "Defend the cause of the Fatherless..." (Isaiah 1:17).  I'll be praying that He continues to work in each of your hearts, and reveals to you how He wants you to live out the biblical mandate to care for orphans and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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