Friday, January 24, 2014

Gotcha Day!

Four years ago today, this happened:
I used to write a lot about adoption, but I sort of eased up; in part,mout of respect for Charlie's privacy, and in part, because the more I lived it, the more I saw how complex of a reality it is that people often want to package neatly in a pretty box.
Charlie Iranzi Thomas is a spectacular kid. His smile is one of the natural wonders of the world. His ability to hear music in his head and recreate it or move to it astounds me. (Move over mrs beiber, I'm coming for you ((Totally kidding)) ). He is a total pain in the butt only when he wants to be. He is a gem at school. He makes his baby sister giggle in the cutest way possible. He insists on changing his clothes a minimum of three times a day and wearing shorts over pants. And I will be actively working to change the law so a foreign-born American can be the president.
I don't know what you've heard about parenting an adopted child, and maybe my experience is unique, but I find it both miraculous and challenging to watch this boy grow up who I love so completely but who is so NOT me. My other kids, for better or worse, are made up of ingredients that Ben and I are already familiar with, because they are in us too. I can instantly identify Simon's insecurities because they're mine too.
Adoptive love reminds a lot of marital love. It's a daily, moment by moment choice to love (not put up with) someone who is entirely not me. To see the beauty, to see God's personalized image (not my image) on another person, and celebrate it so they see it too. To love the people and the culture and the history that made them them. To let the gospel into deeper darker parts of my own heart. The only place this kind of love comes from is heaven, but heaven brought it here.
See? Miraculous!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Learnings from Northern Thailand

These last two weeks in Northern Thailand have been amazing.  I was here for my second doctoral residency which focuses on Development.  Chiang Mai is a hot bed for development & relief organizations because of its proximity to the hill tribe people, as well as people from Burma, Cambodia and Laos.  

Over the course of the two weeks I have been able to visit 19 NGOs (non-governmental organizations), a bible college and have a conversation with buddhist monks at their university.  I have interacted with people from Laos, Cambodia, China, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Switzerland and America.  I have held babies and played with children who are orphans and have HIV.  I have helped high school students at a welfare school with their English.  I have seen the innocent eyes and smiles of young girls from the Northern hill tribes who are at risk for being trafficked.  All of this has had an impact on my learning and my life. 

I have met visionary leaders, empathetic leaders and families who have left their home country to serve in another.  I have had the privilege of building relationships within my mentors and cohort from America, Korea, Taiwan, Nigeria and France.  These men are pastors, missionaries, seminary professors, directors of organizations and theological educators.  I am privileged to consider issues of Global Christianity in the areas of Mission, Development and Global Leadership with such a fine group. 

The 3000 pages of reading I did prior to the residency and the 2 weeks of being on the ground has helped crystalize my learning and is shaping my focus for our future.  I am looking forward to my writing project that is due in June and the learning that will take place between now and then.  

There are many pictures I have taken.  I am including one that has had the most impact on me.  It was taken at the Keep Girls Safe home in Chiang Rai.  They help girls that have been trafficked. 

While I have enjoyed so much here, Chiang Mai is not my home.  I look forward to going home to be with Susie and the kids, as I continue to process all the learning I've experienced.  If you have any questions about some of the organizations I've visited or other questions regarding my learning, please let me know in the comments section.