Friday, July 29, 2011

My Conflict

It's been a few weeks since I've personally blogged. I've really wrestled with what to say. I feel so conflicted these days...I have always advocated for adoption and orphan care - it's been my calling and career for the last 10 years! Yet, here we are, pregnant with our first baby.

This is awesome news of course! But, we were in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and of course, as God would have it, we finally became pregnant! Honestly, I couldn't believe my emotions at first. They were so contradictory to what I thought they would have been. I wasn't that excited. I just felt shocked, overwhelmed, scared and mostly...sad. Why was I sad? I knew it was because the little girl I had seen in all the photos might now not get to go home to us.

Still today, at almost 7 months pregnant, I wonder...will she ever become a part of our family or will we continue to give birth to more and more children? I am now VERY happy to be pregnant and cannot wait to meet this little man, but my hope diminishes daily for bringing her home. Mainly b/c nothing is happening with her case in Ethiopia any way, but we could STILL adopt another child...right? But at 39 years old, you can't wait too long if you do want to have birth where is my place in this calling? How do I walk it out? Where is my voice?

All these thoughts and emotions make me feel like my word or my thoughts aren't as important and I feel like a hypocrite. I so burn for the orphans and sending out God's people to care for them and I so celebrate every adoption I hear about, yet, I CAN'T travel to visit the orphan OR adopt right now!!!! Am I a hypocrite? Will people judge me and think I'm not walking out what I am preaching?

I was wearing our "Visit" t-shirt the other day at Starbucks. A sweet woman who was standing behind me in line came up to me and said, "I think it is SO neat that you are wearing that shirt about orphans, yet you are pregnant." I'm sure I looked totally shocked and perplexed as I didn't get it at first...but then slowly she started explaining. "Well, it's just so neat that are expecting your own child yet still advocating and not forgetting the orphan." She had no idea how much she encouraged me! I wish I had written down her contact information just so I could thank her for those words.

So, as I enjoy this long awaited season in my life..this yearning to finally bear a child and be a mom, I pray you will understand my heart. A calling is irrevocable. It is what it is. Just know that each trip I send out, I wish I was on...Each day I think about the little girl who might possibly be in our home one day IF we receive a miracle. Yet all the while, I am celebrating these days and looking forward to welcoming Jordan Robert into his forever family! In the meantime, I get to continue to do the background work - sending out the most amazing people of God to love and care for the orphans. I had my time - now it's YOURS!.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Eritrea to Ethiopia.. Meet our VO Intern!

Here is our second Testimonial Tuesday video installment. We want each of you to meet Rahwa Mehari, our Visiting Orphans Intern. Rahwa is from Eritrea and speaks fluent Amheric. We have been so blessed to get to work with her daily and we sent her this Summer to visit orphans in Ethiopia. Listen to how her trip impacted her!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Talking About Titles

I wanted to share this funny blog with you!!! I love it! This young man "Will" whom I never met, totally gets it and even though he's never traveled with us, explains why we are named Visiting Orphans! :)

Talking About Titles

Monday, July 18, 2011


We are starting a GREAT new tradition at Visiting Orphans: TESTIMONY TUESDAY!

Each Tuesday we will submit short video testimonies from different Visiting Orphans mission trip team members. Each one will be unique and will showcase a different country program. We hope by doing this you will get to see how wonderful ministering to orphans can be and even possibly challenge you to go to another country that you might not have considered otherwise.

To start off this awesome new tradition, we begin with Costa Rica! Big T (aka Gwen Kirby) and Little T (aka Gabriela Mastin) will share with you just why they traveled to Costa Rica to love on orphans. You'll also hear them plug our South and Central America Mission Trip Coordinator, Casi Mattox and of course, Visiting Orphans.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

One Orphan to Another...

One thing I love about working at Visiting Orphans is receiving testimonies from our team members. This one particularly impacted me as she was a foster child and is now on her way to loving on orphans in Africa. You will be SO blessed if you take the time to read her story and If you feel moved at all after reading her powerful testimony to donate to her trip, you can do so on our Donation page here. She doesn't have a lot of Christians in her life yet who understand mission trips or the need to go and visit orphans, so she is having a hard time raising her funds. So we ask you to please consider her as I KNOW God will use her greatly as He uses the ashes of her life to bring beauty out of herself and others...

Hi everyone, you don't know me, but my name is Amanda Zerkle and im currently trying to raise the money to go on the August mission trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda. I have recently found my faith and decided to give my life to God on October 14th, 2010. It was the best and worst day of my life, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Here is my testimonial, which I have never done, but am hoping that you can understand what I went through and how hard of a battle spiritually, physically, and psychologically it was for me.

A little about me....I had a very rough upbringing in that my mother was very abusive and a very bad drug addict/alcoholic. I have two brothers who also had to go through this with me which was a very difficult situation. My mother sold anything and everything we had(including food and clothing) for her drugs. She took us on all her drug runs and one time even almost killed us by almost driving drunk off a cliff. She constantly took her anger out on us and it was always a new item to hurt us with, whether it included: knives, bats, pots and pans, or just a plain belt. At one point I watched her stab my older brother in the leg after she had punched my little brother in the face. When I was five I was molested by one of my mothers friends boys, but because my mother was too drunk, when she walked in on it she walked right back out. I just never really knew her sober, which breaks my heart to this day. Cps finally came in and told us we had to live with the father or they would remove us completely. The last words I remember saying to my mom was, "I hate you." When I was seven years old I was informed that my mother had died, but never honestly informed how. My oldest brother, Bo, went to live with my aunt and uncle in Washington state and my little brother, Bj, and I went to live with "our dad". I say "our dad" because for eight years of my life that's what I knew him as, but truth was he wasn't my dad. After my mother died at the age of seven I began to act out. Getting kicked out of school after school after school. I was making myself throw up, hurting my pets, and starting fires in my house. At one point I was jumping on Bj's stomach and while he was turning blue I just laughed. I was stuck in counseling and went through counselor after counselor and put on meds after meds.I was constantly questioning my mothers death as nobody ever really told me how she died just that she had died. My "dad" finally told me the truth which was more painful that any child could ever experience. After CPS came in and told us that we had to find other means of a living situation and we moved with "our dad", mom went to live with a man she had met through AA. He explained to her she could live there and exchange for rent, do chores and take care of the farm, but no drugs or alcohol was allowed. My mother took that opportunity with open arms, but soon realized she couldn't handle it. Trying to come off of drugs and alcohol and not being able to see her kids was too much for her to handle. The man came back and my mother was lying on the floor dead, gun next to her. My mother committed suicide on November 26, 1995, at the age of 32. Between what was going on and the questioning my "dad" decided he couldn't take it anymore and there was no way I was his kid so he had a blood test done. After he found out that I wasn't his real kid he handed me over to the State of California, I became award of the court. I bounced around from foster care, to shelter, to group home, one after the other. Constantly getting in trouble and continuously making myself sick. Not only had I just lost my mother and got separated from my older brother, I then found out the guy I had known for eight years of my life to be my dad wasn't. Then, on top of that I was separated from my little brother, and not able to see any of my family. Bounced around and tossed around like a ping pong ball nobody cared about. It was the hardest years of my life and I wouldn't go back for anything.

Finally, when I was 11 my aunt and uncle were down visiting and I got to see them!!!! I begged and pleaded, and cried for them to take me back and adopt me. So after a lot of paperwork and a lot of decisions, it was decided that I would be getting adopted and moving to Washington State with them!!!! I was so excited to get out of the system, but still so lost as I was still mourning over the loss of my mother. There were so many trials, tribulations, and button pushing going on it was absurd. I had never really had the chance to be a kid, so I didn't know how to act or react to situations such as birthdays, Christmas, or even the 4th of July. School was going a little better, but once I started high school things just kind of went downhill. I began drinking at the age of 14, along with smoking weed. Since I had an older brother, I hung out with an older crowd. After all, my brother was my best friend and the only one that I knew I could really trust. I was good at school so my school work was always done and on time, but in my spare time all I wanted to do was drink. I ran away, got in fights, got in trouble with the law, and went through so many friends. Things at home weren't going good at all as my parents weren't getting along and the way they handled it was drinking, which made it that much harder on me. At the age of 15, i tried to commit suicide. I took a whole bottle of extra strength Tylenol and out of panic ran to tell my parents what I had just done. They didn't believe me until I started foaming out of the mouth. From what I can remember, 911 was called and I was rushed to Southwest Hospital. They were trying to pump my stomach as well as getting me to drink charcoal, in hopes that I would throw up the vile. My liver was failing severely and acid was shooting up into my chest, so they then rushed me to Doernbecher's children's hospital and put me in ICU. I was not allowed to be alone at any point in time and was hooked up on so many machines and ivy's than I could imagine. At one point I remember the doctor telling my parent's I wasn't going to make it. I was in ICU for 3 days and by what I as well as everyone else considers a miracle everything turned around. My vitals were looking up, the acid stopped, and my liver started to heal itself. I was then put in a psych ward for a week and told that I was not allowed to drink. After I got out and returned to school, nobody looked at me the same. Everyone was asking me if I was okay, if I needed anything, and what the could do. I WAS FINE!!!! Or so I thought. The rest of my High School was kind of a blur as it just zoomed on by and all I can truly remember is focusing on my school work and being depressed.

After I graduated, I moved in with a friend and began drinking and partying again. My family moved to Kansas and I bounced around from friend to friend to friend. Finally, I got a job at a fast food restaurant and got an apartment with one of my high school friends. Since i was drinking and partying all the time I began to get behind in my rent, my car payment, my insurance, and my utilities. All of the money I was making was going to gas, liquor, smokes, and weed. I realized that something needed to be done or I was gonna crash and crash hard. I decided to move to Kansas with my family and try to turn my life around. I moved to Kansas in May of 2008, I was 19. I started working for in the kitchen at a nursing home and got an government-funded apartment. I ended up getting my CNA license and working at the nursing home on the floor. I bought a truck and started working a lot of hours taking time away from being able to do anything else. Work started getting stressful, as dealing with the elderly is not only a physically but an emotionally job as well. All I was doing was working and working, so naturally I started to get back into the party scene. When I turned 21 it was easier for me to get alcohol since I could now buy it, and I cold go to the bars. I then moved from town to town to town as that's where my "friends" were who all partied with me. I could out-drink almost all of the guys or girls I knew so I became the "ONE" to party with. Every night was a party nigh and in the mean time my family started falling apart horribly and there was nothing I could do to stop it. My parents started filing for a divorce and my siblings started acting out. One by one, each one of my siblings tried to commit suicide and I was the one trying to be the strong one. My parents were running to me for advice, my siblings were hurting, work was stressing me out to no return, and I was too hungover and stressed to deal with it. I was letting my "friends" move in with me because their lives were falling apart, but in reality so was mine.

On October 14, 2010 I decided to do something I had NEVER done before and that was turn to God. I never believed in him up until this point, but I had leaned on anything and everything and it hadn't worked. So, I figured why not, what could hurt. I ran up to my pastor's house and his wife answered the door. I starting bawling and telling her I didn't know her, but something bad was about to happen and I needed her help. We talked for probably an hour and by the end of the conversation I had decided to give my life to God. The VERY next day I decided to go out to the bar with a "friend". So many things went wrong from: forgetting my make-up to losing my keys to losing my wallet. All I remember was walking out of the bar. The next day I woke up in jail and was soaking wet from head to toe and not sure why. I flipped out and lit my ticket on fire screaming and fighting jailers for answers. I had no idea what I had done and wanted answers. I had no truck, no phone, no money, no family, and no friends there. Everything I knew and had was gone. I was with a bunch of strangers. I decided to bond myself out, call a friend, and find out what exactly had happened. According to the State Patrolman who had pulled me over. I was found at 2am driving down a main road on the wrong side of the road, on a curb and had stopped suddenly six inches from a telephone pole. I have no recollection of this at all as aparantly I was in a blackout. When they checked my BAC level EIGHT HOURS after I had started drinking it was .199( over double the legal limit)!!!! I had went to 3 bars that night and drove clear across town not hitting anyone or anything. God saved my life AGAIN that night. That was the ONLY explanation I could come up with. I found my truck in impound, slowly but surely paid to get it out and it cost me over $500. Went to court and applied for a diversion (which was granted ) and had to pay about $1400 in fines. I had two classes to attend,got my license taken away for a year, and had to attend 10 AA classes. I then decided I was an alcoholic and needed to quit drinking. I went to God, my church, and my pastor's wife. I knew if I was going to give my life to God, I had to give him EVERYTHING not just part of me. I started going to church, dropped all of my friends, stopped going out, and started focusing on God and I. I asked God to show me where he wanted me to go and what he wanted me to do and asked him to walk with me. After I made that decision I can honestly say it has been a HUGE spiritual battle as Satan is really REALLY trying to destroy what I have accomplished. Through prayer and lots of faith building conversations things slowly started looking up and up. In May of 2011 God lead me to Barclay College( a bible college) in Haviland, Kansas. It seemed the more and more I tried to run from it the more and more I ran into it. I continuously was having meetings with my pastor and his wife and praying praying praying about where God wanted me. When she told me about Africa I instantly felt called to it. Im a nursing assistant and LOVE helping people, so when I get a chance to I go for it!!!

After lots of prayer and conversations with God, I decided to move in May of 2011. I moved to a quaker town where I am surrounded by GOOD CHRISTIAN people and my COLLEGE!!!! I am currently enrolled and start school in August hoping to major in Missions and Nursing. I have two jobs and am NOT drinking OR SMOKING and my faith in God grows more and more each day. I still don't have my license back, but am working on it and I just recently got back from Camp QuakerHaven(which was a blast)!!! I now know that NOTHING is impossible with God. God saved my life not once, not twice, but THREE times. I am more thankful for my life and appreciate it WAY MORE than I EVER have. I'm not saying things are peach pie, but I also know "Facing storms is never easy, but they are inevitable. They will come. However, God doesn't allow storms in our lives just for the sake of them happening. He has a plan, He has a purpose, and through them all He is with us." I am here for a reason and I cannot wait to see what that reason is!!!! GOD IS AMAZING!!!

The toal cost for this trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda is $3400-$3600 and I have already raised $1400. Im coming upon deadlines and although I know that God will never let me down, he does expect me to do my part. Im working sixteen hour shifts and working as much as I can between two jobs that I can(It's a struggle to get there since I don't have a license, so I have to pay somoene for rides). I am asking for your help PLEASE as a friend in Christ for either prayers or donations to my trip. My pastor and his wife are the ones leading it and it is through Visiting Orphans. We will be visiting different orphanages and spreading God's love to everyone, in hopes to make a difference. We leave August 7th and return on the 18th, so as you can see my deadlines are approaching fast and I'm already behind. If you would like to donate to me PLEASE either email me back for further information, or feel free to call me (620)518-1768. Anything helps, and prayers are strongly encouraged and always welcome. God saved my life and made a difference in me, please help me to spread the word and make a difference in someone else's life! Thank you!!!!

In his hands,

Amanda Lee Zerkle