Last weekend a group of YWAM adoptive families gathered in Franklin, Tennessee for a reunion/meet-up that we’ll all remember for a long time.  I have to start off by saying that the only thing that would have made it better would have been if all of our families could have been there.  We missed every one of you!

Here are most of the families who attended

I am struggling to put into words what an incredible blessing it was for Joy and I to get to be with these families, most of whom live in the eastern part of the country.  Joy has met some of them in Ethiopia when they were there for court or Embassy appointments but it was the first face-to-face meeting for me.  I have talked with them all at length on the phone and have prayed over each of them and their children from Ethiopia.  But seeing those children in person was, as Joy says, our payday. 

Joy and Addie2
Becky and Matt
“Before” pictures from when they first came into our care at the orphanage kept flashing through my mind.  Many of these children were found abandoned… on a path, in the dirt or left on a hospital bed.  Others were relinquished by a single parent or relative who made a loving adoption plan so their child could be fed, clothed and educated.  I was continually thinking about what the future would have looked like for them had they not been adopted.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Franklin and on Friday night met at Chick-fil-A for a fancy dinner! 


Then it was back to the hotel for some swimming in the sauna hotel pool. 


Monica Barlow – a missionary mom who lived in Gimbie, Ethiopia and was instrumental in the lives of many of the children in our Gimbie orphanage – was also able to join us.  What a joy it was to spend time with her and hear many stories first-hand.


Saturday morning all the moms snuck away for coffee…

Along with many other YWAM moms, these women have become close via Facebook, offering lots of support, encouragement and understanding that only an adoptive mom can give.


The dads stayed behind to watch all of the children.  LOTS of children.  These dads are the cream of the crop… loving, involved, devoted to their kids and their wives.

Just a few of the dads who were there

Back at the hotel, kids were changed into their traditional Ethiopian dress and a mad scramble began to get a group photo.

Some seemed to kinda like posing…


Others, not so much…


I have to say that the older siblings of these children were truly amazing, as I know they are at home as well, helping and playing with the kids all weekend.


We all headed to a local park where we brought our own picnic lunches.  Jennifer Johns brought several of her famous pies!

There was face painting…

face painting

Bubbles were blown…


Nails were painted…


And everyone had a great time!


A rain shower changed our dinner plans and sent everybody back to the Marriott for BBQ pork and hot dogs.  Jennifer made a beautiful video of many of our YWAM families adoption stories that was shown after dinner –featuring lots of ‘before’ photos at the orphanage and then pics of the children in their forever families.  It was AWESOME!

Sunday morning we all went to church at Christ Community in Franklin, then headed up to Nashville for lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

Spaghetti Factory

There will be so many good memories.

Lydia and Samuel Steimer enjoying a popsicle with Joy.  Lydia said “It tastes like heaven dancing in my mouth!”

Sahara and Ella

Thanks to all who made this weekend possible, especially to Jennifer Johns who coordinated everything, made reservations and was overall amazing. 

Now… when is the next one??