Friday, October 28, 2011

New Family Pictures

This is my crazy family!  Our family with my 94 year old Mamaw, Mom, Dad, two sisters and their families.  Including Mathiang, there are now 13 grandchildren with another addition currently being adopted from Ethiopia.  When he comes home, there will be 14 grandchildren from my parents' three girls!  Surprisingly, Colby Grace is the only girl amid all the boys.  Bless her heart!
 All of the grandchildren...well, it's hard to take the perfect picture....
Our complete family!  Mathiang, Me, Reid, Weston, Mason, Godwin, Franklin, and Braden.  What a blessing!

For those who check in occasionally to see how Mathiang is doing; he's astounding all of us!  This year he has joined the Cross Country team at Maryville College.  He's running the 8K in 32 minutes!  His l-o-n-g legs help him, and the team has nicknamed their 6'5" teammate, "The Intimidator."

Mathiang is still maintaining a high GPA in his junior year majoring in International Business.  Additionally, he is tutoring other Sudanese in the community to obtain their GED diplomas.  Because he is able to speak Dinka, his ability to explain complex problems becomes much easier without a language barrier between himself and his students.  He is changing the world for other Sudanese refugees.

One of the most amazing changes for Mathiang, has been the gift of a new smile.  When Mathaing was 10 years old, six of his bottom front teeth were extracted.  This is tribal custom for the Dinka tribe.  (The teeth are pulled without anesthesia and, if you are a man, you do not cry.  Mathiang, at age 10, did not cry.)  Mathiang also had several top teeth missing from poor dental care.

A dentist and an oral surgeon in Maryville donated their time and services to correct Mathiang's teeth through several surgeries.  Over $15,000 of dental treatment!  He was in surgery for six hours this summer with his final surgery coming in January.  His new implants give him the the most striking smile!  What a gift!  Mathiang confessed having his teeth repaired is a dream he has always had, but he never thought it was possible.  Thank you to both of the doctors who made this possible for him, and to my sister, Kelly, who connected with these doctors and cared for Mathiang after surgery.  Thanks, sis!

Mathiang hopes to return to Sudan this summer for the first time since he arrived in America in 2001.  He has been offered a teaching opportunity through Africa ELI, and will begin this summer.

It is hard to believe God's incredible goodness allowing Mathiang to overcome great adversity.

Mathiang ran for his life at age 7.  Crossing Sudan to Ethiopia then Kenya by foot.  He walked thousands of miles with no shoes, no food, no water.  Mathiang attended school for the first time at age 11.  He learned his alphabet by writing in the dirt.  He survived on a tiny amount of corn, oil, and salt for over nine years.  He arrived in America in 2001, at 6'5" weighing 120 pounds.  He took the test for his GED three times before he passed it.  He could barely read a newspaper article in English when he arrived, yet now is pursuing his college degree fully in his second language.  Mathiang has persevered.  He has continued running the race, even with hurdles in front of his dreams.

We stand amazed at everything the Lord has done in Mathiang's life.  (Honestly, "amazed" is an understatement!)

I asked Mathiang if he ever imagined his life would be like it is today.  He looked at me and said, "It is all because of God."

Yes, my Sudanese son, it is all because of God.  He had plans for you from the beginning.  What a privilege to see His plans lived out in your life.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."  James 1:17

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