Friday, September 20, 2013

Before we head home...

Wow, its been an exciting couple of weeks!

As we wind up our unbelievably awesome trip to Congo there was a couple of things we wanted to accomplish.

First, we wanted to personally take part in escorting two little boys from their orphanage to Sunshine House.  They have officially passed court and are now waiting for their final destination - their home in the U.S.A.!  As we were driving with the boys, we started to wonder what the boys must be thinking - had they ever been in a car, how many of these sights were new to them, where are these crazy ladies taking us, etc!  Do they know their world is about to blossom more than they could have ever imagined!  Armand, and Kado, the two boys, were so excited to be reunited with a little friend from their orphanage!    There is something so incredibly inspiring about being a part of the process first hand.  Such beautiful little boys with a future of so much hope!

Secondly, we wanted to follow up on the status of a little girl who had fallen and injured her arm.  Our staff had taken her to the doctor to have her arm x-rayed.  Her arm was indeed broken and they set the arm in a cast.  We were expecting to see a cute little lightweight cast, maybe in hot pink color - NOT! - this cast is full plaster!  They had to tie a string around her neck to help support the weight of this cast.  It looks like something we made in art class, paper mache', when we were younger!  But she is doing wonderfully and is in good spirits.

The two little boys we spoke of above, I (Debra) am blessed to know the families these children will be joining.  My heart is so happy because they have the brightest futures waiting for them.

This is why we do adoptions.  To change the lives of YOUR children and provide them hope for a future.  To change YOUR lives in a way you have never expected. 

Each of YOUR children that leaves the orphanage makes our lives have meaning... so selfishly, this is our reward..

We arrive back in the U.S. Friday evening, but will be counting the days until January when we return.  In the meantime, we look forward to sharing our experiences with each of you.  We also look forward to each of you sharing your experiences of your completed adoption with us over the next few months!  EXCITING!!!

Please keep spreading the word - there are so many beautiful children, many we were able to meet, many more we have not met, that need loving homes.  We need more EAC families.

We cannot begin to express our sincere thanks to each of you who has supported, prayed for, and followed us on this amazing journey.

As the French Congolese say... au revoir!
Debra and Robin
The wonderful staff at Sunshine House

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We Need Families!

We have recovered from all the hugs!

It took us a day or so to come down from the emotional high we received while visiting Sunshine House.  What a truly awesome blessing!

Another blessing was that we found a great Chinese restaurant last night - yes, a Chinese restaurant in Africa!

Yesterday was a training day for the new EAC social workers (Linda, Daniel, and Johnue).  We took the three of them to two of the orphanages where we recently received new referrals.  Robin spent time training  them on all aspects of gathering information and documents for our attorney and the EAC U.S. staff.  This information is vitally important so that we can make referrals to families.  Today, Robin is working with the social workers and orphanage staff on the process of taking our new referrals to the doctor for medical review.  This process will be the same should any of YOUR children become ill.  These processes can become quite complex as we must remain compliant with the guidelines of both countries.

During our visits at the 2 orphanages, Debra spent a lot of time loving on the kids and taking pictures. (Some of you who have been waiting for referrals may have received "sneak peeks" of a child).  We love being able to contact families to share such wonderful information!  If you havent received an email or call as of yet, you probably will shortly, as we are receiving many new referrals and processing their documents and getting the medicals completed.

Based on the increase in the number of referrals we have been receiving we are in NEED FOR MORE FAMILIES!  Please continue to spread the word in your communities, churches, support groups, schools, etc.  We want to find homes for each of these children!  They deserve a family of their own!
Today we are visiting the DRC Department of Social Ministries and the DGM.  These are very important meetings, as it is EAC's opportunity to proudly display our commitment to the Congo adoption process as well as our humanitarian aid efforts to date.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support.  It is so wonderful to receive emails from each of you while we are in Africa!
Debra and Robin
(We wish we could post more photos, but we are limited due to broadband speed)

This orphanage aid had some help while she was cleaning! (She was actually hand scrubbing the floor with this little angel on her back!)


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hello Sunshine House!

More (HUGS) than we expected!

This was the day we had most been waiting for - our first visit to Sunshine House!  We expected to be welcomed with smiles and curiosity - we did not expect the amount of love and hugs we received!

The day did not start as planned.  We woke up early to get a good start to on the day.  What we did not expect was every one of the 12 million residents of Kinsasha heading out as well!  The roads were packed and it took us nearly 2 hours to travel the 15 miles to Sunshine House.  Didn't these folks we were on a mission to see all of your beautiful children!?

The stress of the travel had us down, but as we neared Sunshine House a certain calm came over us.  Maybe it was Him telling us, "it will be ok, now go share the love with my children".  So we ended our pity party, and, man, did He deliver a wake up call as we arrived.

As we walked up to the front entry, children began screaming with excitement, and then they came running towards us! Smiles as big as we have ever seen!  Each and every one of them wanted a hug or to be picked up - and just when I think we accomplished that feat, they came back for more!  Yeah, we know, its a tough job, but we will gladly do this kind of work! 
We busily began identifying EAC children and tried to forward each of your prayers, love and delivering special hugs and kisses.  We will try updating each of you shortly.
We then proceeded to tour Sunshine House.  What an amazing place of love and care.  Your children are being cared for very well!  We spoke with staff about each of your children,and we spoke with the doctor.  The great news is, aside from a couple of test results on a couple of the new arrivals, the children are doing extremely well.  We cannot begin to tell you how grateful we were to hear this news!
We talked with staff about the needs they still have.  They are still in need of some cribs and nutritional supplies, but all in all the place is well equipped at this point and time.  They were very grateful for the financial assistance we have been able to provide them for the children
Then it was back to receiving more hugs!  It is days like these you wish would never end.  But let us tell you, hugging can tire you out!  We needed to head back before dark, so we hugged some more, got in our car and turned to see all the kids waving goodbye to us.  It broke our hearts to leave.
As we reflected on the day during our 2 1/2 hour ride home (no A/C in the car - ouch!), we were overwhelmed with emotion.  The children are beautiful and so full of love in their hearts.  You will not be disappointed!

Before we unwound for the night we made a stop at a well known South African grocery store to pick up some food.  They are known for their quality foods, and we settled on a rotisserie chicken and some crusty rolls as we tried to watch a TV movie.

It was difficult to concentrate on the movie as we both kept recounting the extraordinary day we had just spent at Sunshine House.

Good night,
Debra and Robin

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making friends and Making a difference!

Building Relationships and Strengthening the DRC Program!

So yesterdays mild temperatures and low humidity gave way to a real "steamer" today!  Holy hot!

Today was a very productive day as we started our day interviewing and hiring additional EAC staff.  Our focus was on hiring individuals who could care for YOUR children directly!  We want to offer a special service that we think will make you smile, we hired a social worker for every orphanage EAC working with!
The social workers primary function will be to monitor and report on the care of YOUR children.  They will interact with the children daily, making sure their nutritional needs are being met, and taking our new referrals to the doctor.  To cap it all off... they will be providing more reports and pictures!  We want to make sure we have the best care for our children and families!  Today we even started making nutritional charts for some of the children and will fill out more next week!

Early afternoon we had a "working lunch" and invited some of the orphanage directors to join us.  This was our way to say thank you for everything they have been doing in caring for our children.  We must tell you, one of the orphanage directors showed up wearing a traditional Congo outfit - the most beautiful blue, matching blouse, skirt and headware.  Stunning! They truly are beautiful human beings inside and out!
Its been a long productive week - time for some rest - as we head to Sunshine House tomorrow!  We are getting chills thinking about it!  We have been instructed by many of you to send your love to YOUR children and that's exactly what we intend to do!  We cannot wait!

We have posted 3 of the 9 referrals and will have the remaining 6 available tonight! Check out the EAC Congo page

Hugs to each of you!
Debra and Robin
Debra and her new friend!

New Bunkbeds have arrived!

Repairs to the orphanage roof

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making Progress One Day at a Time!

Another productive day in the DRC!

Today was a beautiful, cool day in Kinshasa!  Around 83 degrees, slightly overcast and mild humidity. 

There are many adopting parents staying at the Sunny Day guest house, where we are are staying.  We have been speaking with many of them, finding out what their experience has been like and what they have been doing during their time in Kinsasha.  There are 3 drivers that are very reputable that you can hire to take you to the markets and the grocery store.  A couple of families have mentioned they have visited, what they call the "Monkey Zoo", and a nearby playground where the ex-pats take there children to play.  Robin and I will be visiting these sites on Sunday and we will give you a first hand account.  Our main concern is safety for our families and children while in Congo - if we feel safe in these environments, we may recommend them to you.

We received word the President of the Bandundu region was in Kinsasha, today, to train the local judges.  So, of course, we made sure we had an opportunity to meet with him.  The President of the region is the official who signs off on all Congolese documents and finalization's from their region.  We feel it is very important the President see EAC is committed to the children of the Congo and know we were in country.

We have also scheduled an appointment to meet with a local therapist on Monday (for the children, not us!).  EAC feels its is important to have resources available to the children should they have any issues.  We also believe in being proactive in the adoption process as the children may have questions surrounding their adoption.  This should help in the attachment and bonding period for the parents (you) and the child. 
We will also be interviewing doctors next week.  The doctors will be available for children should the need arise and to work with them on a nutritional program.  We have been providing the orphanages with supplements and vitamins as part of our Congo Mission of Mercy campaign.  We are very happy with the initial results as the children appear to be benefiting.  Moving forward, as families travel to pick up their children, we will be asking they bring nutritional supplements with them for the children who have not yet found their forever families.

We love it here in Congo.  The people we have come in contact with are very friendly.  It absolutely breaks out heart to see such despair, these children are some of the most needy we have seen in any country we have traveled.  The saving grace?  Their beautiful, bright, happy smiles and the fact there are people (like you) who are willing to provide a life of hope and blessings to these children!
We cannot wait for each of you to experience this country and the love of the children who are waiting for you! Be sure to check out today's photos below and spread the word about the EAC Congo adoption program!
Many Blessings,
Robin and Debra

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We are, definitely, "not in Kansas anymore"!

Hello from the DRC!

As we landed in Kinshasa it was late and very dark.  After a long flight we were very glad to get off the plane! Just so you will know, the airport in Kinsasha is a small airport with only one runway, which is, thankfully, long enough to accomodate a big jet.  The customs area is very old, but we found the officials to be very friendly. 

We made our way through customs and proceeded to collect our luggage, where we waited another two hours for our luggage.  Apparently luggage is still unloaded by hand, one bag at a time.  We finally collected all of our bags and were off to another "bucket list" adventure! (that's what we jokingly say, quite frequently, during our foreign travels)!

Waiting for us was our Congo in country coordinator who directed us to our transportation.  Off to the hotel we went.  The road into the city is very dark, except for a few passing headlights and some small roadside fires.......another advenure!
We checked in at our hotel, the Sunny Day guest house.  The guest houses are small flatlets that have a kitchen and one big room.  The accommodations are very comfortable.  Most importantly, the air conditioner and wifi work great.
Now for the reason we are here:
We have been to 2 orphanages the past few days.  At the first orphanage we were blessed to be able to improve the living conditions for the children.  Through generous donations we were able purchase beds, generators, food bins full of food, and towels along with other baby needs.

At the second orphanage we saw our children and obtained new referrals.  To our delight, we were able to take part in transporting 2 children, who recently passed court, to Sunshine House.  As many of you know, Sunshine House is the foster care facility where our children will be cared for until their parents come to bring them home.  This experience was definitely the highlight of this trip for us and we feel so blessed to have been a part of it!  When we arrived at Sunshine House, Claire, Violet, Clarisse, Liam, Hank and Matrice were waiting for us with HUGE smiles.  Ellie and Nifaute are adjusting quite well!

The next day we visited the US Embassy - getting into a bank vault may have been easier, but once we eventually got to where we needed to be.  We were able to meet with officials, who were very helpful and informative.  They informed us our program is very compliant, although we were not surprised it was wonderful to here!

We still have another week of work to do here, but we are so excited to report that EAC's Congo program is very strong!  We feel so blessed to be able to see this wonderful process firsthand!

Thank you for your prayers and continued support!
Debra and Robin

Here are some pictures from our trip so far:

Debra and her new friends!
Robin has also made a few friends!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The first referral of many...

We will be posting our first blog from Africa tomorrow, but, in the meantime, we wanted to present to you one of the 9 referrals we received today!  Meet Sarah....

At age 5, Sarah is a little girl whose caregivers describe her as thoughtful and cooperative, and playful.  A generally healthy child, she desires to belong in a family where she knows she is loved and cherished.  If you are interested in learning how with one trip you can open your heart and home to Sarah please contact EAC today to get your adoption plan started.

Please help us find a family for Sarah!  We will give you a full update tomorrow!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

And... we are off to Africa (again!)

We are so excited about the opportunity to return to Africa.  So much within our program has changed, for the better, since our last visit.  We have that trip under our belt and expect this adventure to be even more rewarding.

In recent months, we have had a number of families receive referrals and go to court - and families are bringing their children HOME!  This is what makes all the late night phone calls and emails worth it!

As on our first trip, we will be delivering much needed assistance to the orphanages we are partnered with - thanks in large part to the generous donations from many of you.  We cannot begin to tell you the despair we see when we visit a remote orphanage - it absolutely breaks your heart.

Aside from the humanitarian aid efforts, we will also be focusing on the overall adoption process, working on efficiencies we can control to streamline the adoption process for you.  As a result of our last visit we were able to enter into a cooperative agreement with a foster care home in the DRC, Sunshine House, where your children will be cared for after they pass court in the DRC.  The children who have already been blessed by this opportunity are making tremendous strides in overall health, nutrition and spirit.  In short, they are flourishing!
Sunshine House

We will do our best to keep you all posted - internet can be difficult to find and when you do the speeds can be slooooowwwww!  Please keep us, and the children, in your prayers as we work to make the Africa programs the flagship for EAC.  In addition, anything you can do financially to assist the children would also be greatly appreciated - your donation will be wired directly to us while in country and will  have an immediate impact on the lives of these kids!  Here is a link to make a donation: Congo Mission of Mercy

We will talk with you soon - thank you and God Bless each of you!
Debra and Robin

P.S. - a special thank you to each of you who has emailed us and texted us wishing us safe travels and asking us to give their babies a kiss for them.  We will do so with pleasure! (Many pictures to follow)