Sunday, September 28, 2008

What We Should All Know About HIV

(thanks Erin for letting us use your info!)

HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging,


shaking hands,

sharing toys,

sneezing, coughing,

sharing food,

sharing drinks,


or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Birthdays Galore

We have had four birthdays in the last month!
First Lacy turned 11

Then Aaron turned 4 (which forced me to stop being in denial of the fact that he's not a baby anymore!)

Then Janaya turned 15--We laughed that if we lived in Mexico she would have had a way bigger birthday celebration (quincenera)!

Then Jesse turned 22 (and warned me that it's no fun getting 'old')

Jesse wasn't cooperating when I was trying to take pictures but I tricked him into laughing for this one--then I warned him that I was going to post it on my blog with a super corny label like "family fun" or something :)


Sunday, September 21, 2008


(these are old pictures but I thought they were cute!)

Though it's usually met with lots of protests and requests for "five more minutes", bedtime at our house is a really sweet time. All of the little ones get a story read to them, they say prayers with mom or dad (or sister), and then get tucked in with lots of hugs and kisses.
It's amazing to think back and remember all of the nurturing that I got before I went to sleep at night as a kid. I'm sure the countless stories that were read to me had a positive effect academically, but more importantly, I always closed my eyes feeling secure and loved. That isn't necessarily the case for many kids in the world and it was especially evident at the children's home this summer. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for bedtime stories and kids usually don't get tucked in institutional settings. It made me so sad to compare my childhood with their reality. For a lot of them just being able to go to sleep at night in a safe place was a blessing compared to what they had to deal with in the past.
Ideally I would have created a bedtime routine for each kid at the ranch this summer, but since that just wasn't humanly possible with only one of me and close to 30 kids, I decided to try it with the girls. They were the youngest and since there were only 3 of them we were able to spend really quality time together. We would read stories, talk about our days, and pray.

The first time I asked if they wanted to pray before bed Darina got a concerned look on her face and asked me "Why, what happened?", but it soon became an anxiously awaited routine. The girl's prayers were incredible to hear. They would always pray for their families, often telling God just how much they missed them. My heart melted when they began praying for my family every night too. They'd also pray for friends from the children's home that were now gone, asking God to protect them and keep them safe. One night Melina(7) even prayed for all of the Disney princesses by name! "God bless Cinderella, Snow white, Sleeping Beauty..."

Tonight the copy of "Juevos Verdes con Jamon" (Green Eggs and Ham) that I ordered came in the mail. I swear we read that story a million times this summer! As soon as I opened up the first page I was flooded with emotions and memories. I remembered how Darina almost had the entire thing memorized. I remembered how after breakfast Melina would already be asking me whether or not we were going to read stories that night. I remembered how Ana fell asleep in my arms during storytime after a particularly emotional day. I remembered the nights Darina would ask to hold my hand and then firmly tell me not to let go before she closed her eyes. I remembered being scolded for almost forgetting bedtime kisses. And I especially remembered the countless "Buenas noches hermana, te quiero!" (goodnight sister, I love you!).

I can't describe how much those three months with the girls meant to me. It's so hard being miles and miles away from them now...I hope and pray that even though we can't read stories tonight the girls go to sleep remembering that they are loved.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Re-Entering the World of Blogging

Both of my blogs have been pretty neglected this summer, but I think I'm finally ready to start writing again!

Three months in Mexico was an experience of a lifetime! It was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. I was able to see incredible transformations in some of the kids this summer, and I experienced love in a whole new way. I learned a ton, grew a lot as a person, and am so grateful that I was able to share my summer with some of the most amazing kids on the planet. I'm sure I will be talking a lot about everyone at Miracle Ranch as I continue writing this blog because they are such a huge part of my life now. As if I wasn't blessed enough with my awesome family, now I have 27 more brothers and sisters in Valle de las Palmas!


Unfortunately, we DID end up getting stuck in the Ethiopian court closure, but the good news is we now have a court date! It's October 15, and if all goes well my parents will be traveling 4-6 weeks later. This process has dragged on longer than we would have liked, but we see the beautiful light at the end of the tunnel! Families have sent us new pictures which is so helpful. I can't wait to be able to share them...until then, here's a pic of the outfit Z was wearing in one of the most recent pics. It makes me smile! :) Homemade-multicolored, Bunny-rabbit overalls and purple tights...

And here's a few pics of some of my other siblings, since I'm allowed to show you their faces!

Last but not least, I stole a few videos of Aaron off of Leah's Blog because he is just too cute...