I could reference a host of blogs and articles and past experience to tell you why we are here, in the US right now. I could point to ways in which we are far ahead of the curve, and ways in which we are vastly behind. There are people saying it costs $150,00-$250,000 and three years to get on the field, and others saying 4-12 months is plenty if you do it right and ask rich friends.
The truth is, we have done our best, and made mistakes. We don’t have rich friends, but we have a lot of people who love us, believe in us, and have sacrificed greatly for us. To all of you, we say THANK YOU!!! We love you and are humbled that you believe in this with us! We know it was not without sacrifice; it was not just a “spare few dollars.” Every person who has given has had to choose to sacrifice. We know many of you personally and are so encouraged by your choice to do that! God smiles at your “yes”, and we do too!
We founded Mercy Branch on September 10, 2013. We knew when we did that we had a learning curve in front of us. We knew that there were going to be challenges, but we also knew that God had called us into this.
The one factor that we did not put enough emphasis on was our oldest son’s adoption. To be blunt, God has called us to be parents first, and then He has called us to Mercy Branch Inc. and the street boys. It is imperative that we make Habi our legal son and finish this adoption before we leave for Ethiopia. Nothing has changed with that, however, we never expected to still be here with his adoption being what is holding us back from moving to Ethiopia. We were told last summer that it would have likely be completed by the end of that summer. We had no reason to think this was not true. Saying that, it is not at all how things have transpired. We did not receive our first hearing until July 8th of THIS summer. However, that meeting was very encouraging. The judge literally said he wanted it done as soon as possible! Because of the way the law is written, etc. we knew that it had to be completed in 45 days, meaning September 1 was the latest it would be done and the adoption would be finalized. Then we would be on to immigration…
Then, without us knowing or consenting, our lawyer waived that deadline to the court and asked them to give us a date even further out than the three proposed dates from the courthouse. We have, since we learned of this last week, been fighting to get the date pushed back up. We are praying that the court would allow us to have one of the original dates, September 12th. This is a challenge that can only be overcome by God Himself. Saying that, we have seen Him do the impossible many times before and are asking Him to agree with our desires on this.
We founded Mercy Branch with the ideal of keeping people plugged in to what is going on, what our hopes and dreams are, when and why we are doing what we are doing. We really want to keep people in the loop. We want Kingdom partners who are invested in what God is doing through all of us. However, the one area that we have been failing in is in the giving of dates and deadlines for our departure. We have not been passively throwing dates around, we have taken all the data available to us, and projected the logical timeframes. But because we have been given several dates and scenarios, and a few things were done that are completely out of our control, we have obviously missed our deadlines. We did not raise nearly enough money to depart in January as we first hoped and Habi’s adoption was not completed. We then looked at out financials, projections, and the information from our lawyers and said July would be our time to go. We again missed that deadline due to Habi’s adoption delays. We then once again looked at everything in front of us and could see that we have the start up finances, but are not yet done with Habi’s adoption, so we looked at all the projections and were SO CERTAIN that God had us leaving in September and had our board of directors’ approval with this as well. So, we boldly announced September, only to have our lawyers waive rights, and cause delays.
So this is where things stand with our departure: No one wants us in Ethiopia more than we want to be there. But we have finally come to the conclusion that God still has some things for us to learn before we go. Deep in our hearts we know the call God has given us, the desire He has to see our family in Addis, and the urgency we feel, however, we also know that God’s timing really is perfect – even when it is hard. We have been told, and know that when we get on the field in Ethiopia many things will happen that take a lot longer than we hope and that we need to be unwavering and patient. And so we are taking this as a lesson and a learning curve. We are choosing to be unwavering and patient in this. That means that we will not cease to push, ask, and determine to get on the field as quickly as possible, but we will do so within the plan and the time that God has for us.
The situation with the adoption is as follows: We are waiting to hear of the definitive date for our closing appointment for Habi’s adoption. (The court is ready to close and as far as they are concerned it is a done deal.) However, we need to get Habi’s age corrected, and to be honest, the lawyer did not research this in a timely manner adding a bit of complexity that did not need to be there. From there, we need to work through immigration issues. It is complicated. We are working hard and pressing hard. Having said that, it is hard to imagine a scenario that would allow us to leave in September. We need to acknowledge this. Honestly, it could be November. We really just don’t know. We know that we are nearing the time, and that it will be soon. We just cannot for sure say when that “soon” is. We wish we could say faster, but it is time for us to step back and to be realistic. Some of this stuff just takes time, and we have been severely set back by some recent events. Some of that time we cannot recover from, some of it we could if God agreed with us.
Please resolve with us to be unwavering and patient. Please pray with us that God would grant us the gift of the court date for the adoption finalization of September 12th, with the age adjustment going through that day as well. Please pray that the immigration goes quickly. Please pray that we would learn what God is teaching us as we cling to Him.
Some tangible needs that we currently have: If everything was in place with Habi’s adoption, we have been given the go-ahead from our board of directors to purchase plane tickets and go. And if we did this, we could probably make it. However, if we step back and logically think through things, although our major expenses have been covered (praise God!), we still do have some needs that if met before moving, would really help us make the first year of missionary life a little less stressful. A few weeks ago, we had a conference call with our mentors, Trent and Carmen Post who have been living in Addis for several years. In order to make sure we are set up to thrive and not flounder they carefully looked through our budget and determined that we were falling short in a few areas. This is a big blessing to know ahead of time and not find out once we are overseas. Their biggest area of concern was our food budget. We need to beef up our food budget, because of the high rate of inflation in the city; our budget will not meet our needs and feed our family of six. So, we are looking for a few more people to step up and choose to become a monthly supporter of Mercy Branch Inc. in order for us to be able to meet the demands of this budget line. We also need to gather and pack consumables to take over for our family that we cannot obtain in Ethiopia. There are many things that we take for granted here that we just cannot get over there – such as over-the-counter medication and personal care items. This will be very, very important for us to have with four children in a developing country. There are also consumables that are extremely expensive and low quality in Addis that need to be purchased here, such as antibacterial soap, diapers and wipes, shampoo, lotion etc. We have a few items that are just wants as well, like vinyl wall hangings that will make our home in Ethiopia a bit more homey. Some friends encouraged us to make a wish list on Amazon, so that people could see what these items are and have the opportunity to purchase them on our behalf. We need to have enough items to last a year in Ethiopia; this obviously will take a hit to our budget. We are praying that God will provide in this area.
If you feel God prompting you to help us with these needs, we would be so thankful. To become a monthly supporter please click here. To see and purchase something from our Amazon wish list please click here. If you would rather donate money toward these items rather than purchasing one, please click here.
We are thankful for you. We are thankful that you have chosen to partner with God and us in this journey. We feel your love and support and prayers every single day. Without you, we would never be able to do what God has called us to do. You are our team, our backbone – thank you.