Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walk for Kaz 2010

Wow, I simply cannot put it into words how absolutely amazed I am by the first annual Walk for Kaz. It surpassed our expectations and I know I spent Saturday with happy, overwhelmed tears threatening to spill over - okay, a few may have even snuck out but don't tell anyone.

The total raised was $10,123.28!!! Thank you so much to everyone who supported this event in so many different ways! The money raised will go to provide new beds and mattresses for 100 children in the Ulan orphanage in Taraz. We hoped to contribute to the new bed project and instead, we ended the day with the project fully funded! What incredible support and love - we are so blessed!

I'm so thankful to have been a part of planning this event with three wonderful friends. We travelled together back to Kazakhstan in May and were once again reminded of the great need. Having the opportunity to raise money, to raise awareness, and to provide for the basic needs of orphans is a great privilege. My heart overflows with thankfulness. 

Andrew and the boys walked - I'm so proud of the boys for making it the whole 3.1 miles! They had a wonderful day. Our family raised $250 - thank you to those who sponsored my guys to walk! 

And finally, how about some more pictures of our fantastic, blessed day?

Lunch was delicious! We had a playground, bounce house, face painting, and toys for the kids! I can't say it enough - it was a FANTASTIC day!

*Photos - almost all of the photos were taken by my Dad (our photographer for the event!).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Local Family in Need

Hey Everyone! I'm so excited to share about the Walk - we were amazed at the success! And I will do a post with pictures all about it - it will probably be up tomorrow.

For today, my real-life friend, Katie, brought to our attention a local family with some very important needs. I'm careful what I re-post and I think the post below is important. If you live locally, this is an awesome way to minister to a family in true need. I trust Katie & Joe - I've known them for a very long time.
Here's what she wrote:

Three weeks ago, Joe and I befriended a refugee family who live on the northside of Indy. They are a beautiful, sweet Karen family of seven who have lived the last 10 years in a refugee camp in Thailand. They have only been in America since July.

We initially thought we could to help them learn English, find jobs and understand American culture.

With the help of a translator this weekend, we learned they need much, much more.

I asked to see their bedrooms and saw sheets on only three out of five mattresses.

No blankets.

Maybe four long-sleeve shirts.

The youngest child had zero pants.

Seven pairs of flip-flops. One pair of soccer cleats.

I cried when the mom told us through the translator how cold they have been at night.

We had no idea how little they had and here I've been longing for sweater weather.

We immediately gave them blankets, sheets, some adult long-sleeve t-shirts and some of Madeline's winter clothes for the youngest child. But we didn't have any clothes for the boys or the older girl. We also didn't have any shoes that would fit.

There are many resources around the city through government agencies and churches to help needy families and in the last two days I received some great tips on where to take them and will do so this week.

But I wanted to ask you all as well because I know you are personally awesome. (Why yes, I am complimenting you so you'll be in the mood to give.)

If you have any clothes or closed-toe shoes that you want to purge, can I take them off your hands?
If your kids have outgrown some clothes and you were going to give them (the clothes, not your kids) to Goodwill, can this family wear them?

The primary need is for warmer clothes like pants, sweatshirts, long-sleeve shirts, winter pajamas, etc. (I certainly won't turn down any coats but we will take them to Bob Gregory's Coats for Kids on October 30.)

We only have size estimates because most of the clothes didn't have tags but here's what we think:

Dad - medium
Mom - large
15 year old boy - medium/large
13 year old boy - extra large kids
10 year old girl - size 7
5 year old boy - size 4-5
4 year old girl - size 3-4

We don't know shoe sizes because their flip-flops are very worn down but if any donated shoes (or clothes) don't fit, I will gladly pass them onto someone else who has a great need as well. There are several hundred refugees in their apartment complex who are probably in very similar situations.This is a tougher request but if you have or know of a free or cheap bunk bed, please let me know. They have just put mattresses on the floor which takes up nearly all the available space in the bedrooms.

If you are able to give anything, please leave a comment or e-mail me {katiemayes @ gmail . com} and I'll be in touch. Thank you, thank you if you are able to help in any way, including passing this message along.

Please consider if you could be a part of their mission to help provide for some of the basic needs of this family. If you can help, feel free to bring donations to me and I will get them to Katie or contact her directly. Thanks, awesome readers!

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Here

Tomorrow is the 1st Annual Walk for Kaz! It's been so much work and I'm so excited for it to actually be here. I want to say a huge thanks to the family and friends (you know who you are!) who have supported us, asked about the walk, advertised the walk, signed up, and sponsored the walk or our family to walk. It means so much to Andrew and I and it means a TON to Calvin and Patrick. They are very pleased to have been born in Kazakhstan and they are concerned about the children there "who don't have mommies and daddies."

It's not too late to join us! Feel free to bring your family out tomorrow. Sounds like the weather will be gorgeous. There is lots of fun for the kids and lunch is provided for everyone. It's $20/individual and $50/family up to 6 people ($5/additional).

We are thrilled to have a chance to raise money for orphans in need and to show the love of Christ through providing for some of their most basic needs. We are praying for a successful and safe Walk for Kaz.

Pictures will come post walk. In the mean time, I challenge you to hug your kids close and pray for those children without parents to love and care for them. Consider how YOU can make a difference!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We are three weeks into the school year and starting to get a routine. I realize how much I have underestimated my children's abilities! We've had our challenging moments but we have also learned so much! It's been a joy to see the lightbulb go on and to realize how much arts and crafts motivate the boys. Here are some things that have helped our schooling efforts so far:

- Working together to list the different tasks we need to complete on the white board and erasing them as we go - they like to see the progress and they take personal responsibility to make sure the list is completed.
- Planning a fun school activity (usually art related) that we will do at the end of our other work. This is amazingly motivational.
- Using a variety of resources including books, cds, and computer. I love that it keeps them interested.

We school for maybe 2 - 2 1/2 hours and usually have a break with a snack and some time for free play. Overall things are getting easier - I was ready to give up in the beginning. :) I've found that Titus does best being included in whatever we are doing. He is welcome to play in the area with toys and I've tried planning special activities for him but really he just wants to try what we are doing. And it mostly works.

Here are a few pictures of the past few weeks with some explanation:

We studied the country of Afghanistan and made flags, listened to music, identified and colored Afghanistan on maps, made two traditional foods, read books and wrote the capital and country. We spent time talking about the political and religious climate of the country and we prayed for the country and for our troops there. I liked that this activity included art, home ec, music, writing, cultural studies and geography. We all had such a great time and look forward to many more country studies.

We studied the Crusades in history and made shields - they loved this activity and carefully studied the shield pictures from our books.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We Belong Together

It's been incredibly emotional for me as I have been pondering the last 4 years. I was positive I wanted to adopt before I even got married but it is SO MUCH more amazing than I could have even imagined! I often have a hard time understanding why more people don't want to adopt - it's simply incredible. My heart overflows with love for my children. I can't imagine life without them and I would lay down my life for them.

We regularly consider if God would have more children to join our family and while we don't know if that is part of His plan for us. But we do know that we will gladly embrace more wonderful blessings as He directs and provides.

As I recounted to the boys the story of meeting them while looking at photos, I was so touched by the spontaneous, strong hug I received from my middle son. He doesn't tend to express his emotions as openly but it was a sincere, long, tight, I-might-never-let-you-go kind of hug. And was reminded that we all belong together and that we all have blessed one another. I held in the tears and hugged him back - thanking God for my precious gifts. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

4 Years Ago I Held Them For the First Time

I like to write and I like to record and I hope that my children enjoy it some day. Speaking of which...4 years ago yesterday, I held my oldest two babies for the very first time. I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it - it was the fulfillment of a dream, the answer to many prayers, and the end of a difficult and emotional journey. What a blessed addition they have been to our family. Miles and miles separated us and God brought us together forever. I'm so thankful. Looking through the photos of our amazing month plus stay in Kazakhstan make it even harder to believe how much time has passed. I can't stop the waterworks. It's the most wonderful thing ever - knowing that these beautiful boys are ours - forever - our sons.

We are a family.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Walk for Kaz

We are officially two weeks out from our first annual Walk for Kaz (September 25 at 8:30 a.m.)! The planning has been going on for months and it's hard to believe it's almost here. It's been a lot of work - each of the planners has spent many hours on different tasks. I'm so hopeful that we will raise a lot of money for the orphans of Kazakhstan. It was so exciting to see water filtration systems be installed and other donations received at the baby house I visited in May. Two Hearts is doing amazing work to provide for orphans.

I often ponder what it must be like to grow up as an orphan - they didn't chose that life. It breaks my heart. One of the hardest things about being back in Kazakhstan was seeing those beautiful faces and realizing that Calvin and Patrick could have been one of them. Thankfully God had another plan for them and chose to bring them in to our family - a fact that we don't take lightly - we are so grateful!

Our family is committed to continue raising funds and seeking to make a difference for the children still waiting and for the children that will never be available for various reasons. The statistics are heartbreaking for these kiddos. I was so challenged to continue to be involved however I can be after going back and also after seeing how much it meant to Calvin and Patrick. We trust and pray that God will use the ministry of Two Hearts to bring hope and make a difference for each child it reaches.

All of that to say...it's not too late to sign up to walk, to make a pledge for our family (or others who are walking), and/or to provide sponsorship to offset the cost of putting on the event! We are so excited to have around 80 walkers registered already! It's going to be a great event for a really great cause!

You can check out our website or e-mail me for more information! Please consider joining our family!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Have I dropped off the face of the earth? Perhaps...it kind of feels like it. :) I'm barely keeping up with everything since we started the school year and allergies are kicking me in the behind. But really, we are okay. I miss blogging and I'll be back soon - just haven't had the energy, creativity or time. So for today, here are some pictures of my kiddos because when all else fails, post cute pictures. :)