Because of my "logical" mind, it usually makes sense for us to rent a car when we go out of town. Amber's Camry has 195k on it (still runs like a champ and I don't have a fear of driving it anywhere ... however, trying to conserve miles on it when we can) and my Durango has 125k and is too big of a gas hog to drive out of town. So, Enterprise has a $20/day if you rent a car from Friday to Monday ... so we did just that. They ended up giving us a Kia Spectra which actually was really good on gas and got us there and back so can't complain at all about it.
We got to Jarrod (Amber's cousin) and Patricia's about 8pm and was able to hang out with Patricia and their 2 kids for a while (thanks Patricia for letting Jocelyn and Wyatt stay up late!). Unfortunately, Jarrod is working nights right now so we did not get a chance to see him. Amber and Patricia also made a dessert for us to take to the picnic while I had the important job of playing (I mean babysitting) the kiddos.
This morning consisted of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes, a good-bye to Patricia, Jocelyn, and Wyatt, a trip to Kroger and Subway to pick up some essential items for the picnic and onward to the park. About 1 mile from the park, we get the lovely, 'Road Closed - Detour' sign in front of us. Due to my over-anticipation, what felt like an hour later and a scenic drive around Knoxville, we finally land at the park.
We get to the picnic and introduce ourselves to Julie. She is as sweet in person as she has been online in email/blog (not that I expected anything less). From her husband Josh to their good friends Tracie and Ted to AGCI case manager Julie and on and on, everyone we met was very friendly, inviting, and made us feel at home.
Oh, and Julie/Josh's daughter Maya ... I thought her pictures were adorable ... she is absolutely incredible! Her laugh, interaction, and demeanor just made us fall in love with that little girl. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to hang out with Tracie/Ted's lil' Abel much but hope to get to know him more in the future. All-in-all, the park was filled with beautiful children all around us.
What I loved as much as anything else were all the kids playing together. It didn't matter what race, skin color, or original nationality they were, the kids enjoyed being kids and playing with each other. They didn't even see skin color. It's us stupid adults that plant that junk into their heads. It was an awesome sight.
It was bittersweet to leave ... but we did get a parting gift. Julie is selling Ethiopian t-shirts that are benefiting Hannah's Hope. They are amazing shirts ... below are the words that are on them...
"One in ten childrend die before their first birthday. One is six children die before their fifth birthday. 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old. 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition. The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world). 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia. Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa. In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%). Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, this year no animals). Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school. Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002. Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000. 'come near and rescue me...' Hannah's Hope Ethiopia (psalm 69:18)"
People, I don't have time to go into this tonight but this isn't right. We are way to blessed of folks to let this go on during our watch and I believe that those of us as Christians, we will be held accountable for our days God gave us under the sun. Pray for your involvement to help those less fortunate ... He will reveal how He wants you to help.
As we were driving to church tonight, Amber and I were reflecting about the day. She turned to me and said, "I want our child now." I couldn't agree with my girl more.
Below are a few pics of our trip...
Wyatt while he and I were doing some serious stuff ... like playing trucks.
Amber and I with Wyatt and Jocelyn
All God's Children picnic
Tracie, Julie, and Maya with her best Kareem Abdul Jabbar sky-hook rendition
My favorite picture of Maya from today...