No Longer Orphans


Like Zane and I, each of our children have a story to tell.  Theirs is a story of redemption, restoration and transformation.

Elizabeth Sanyu {Joy}:

The Lord placed Elizabeth into our family in 2006, she had just turned one year old {she and her brother Ezekiel are exactly one week a part}.  Elizabeth, according to records, was born prematurely, weighing in at less than 4 pounds.  Her birth mother was a young girl, maybe even a college student.  For reasons unknown, the birth mother abandoned Elizabeth at the hospital, never to be seen again.  Soon thereafter, Amani Baby Cottage was contacted and Elizabeth was placed under their care.  Elizabeth did not do well in the orphanage {what child really does}.  She was often left to her own due to a tendency towards sulking and angry outbursts.  Like the Proverbs says, "a child left to himself will come to ruin."  Our first year with Elizabeth proved to be a challenge.  She defied our authority, and due to a lack of discipline and training, would often kick, hit, scream and throw wild fits.  We also believe that Elizabeth was being oppressed by demons.  We often needed to lay hands on Elizabeth and pray for the Lord to calm her spirit.  We also realized that by singing to her hymns she would calm down.  Something we learned early on, in the ministry of adoption, is that it is a spiritual battle.  The moment these children were abandoned the enemy was sure they were his.  We are reclaiming these children for Christ, which is no easy feat {especially considering the strongholds that are present in this country}.

Today Elizabeth is a joyful, kind and compassionate little girl. She will be quick to tell you that "Jesus changed my heart."  Elizabeth loves to care for her younger siblings and is often seen sweeping the floors without even being asked.  We give all glory to God as we have seen such an amazing transformation in Elizabeth's life.  The verse that the Lord gave us for Elizabeth is "He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete," a verse we often pray over her.

Ezra Lee:

The Lord placed Ezra in our home November of 2006, just nine months after Elizabeth.  He too came from the same baby's homes, abandoned after his mother died of HIV.  Ezra was born positive due to his mother's antibodies, but would later test negative {something I find miraculous and full of God's grace}.  Ezra was only five months old when we he joined our family, the youngest of all our adopted children--although he would prove to be our most challenging child.

Today Ezra is a little boy who loves to pray.  He is quick to see needs and lift them up to the Lord. And although Ezra still chooses to be a "challenge," we are starting to see fruit.  Like Elizabeth, we know that there is a spiritual battle for Ezra's soul.  We daily wash Ezra {as with all our children} in the Word and continue to lead him to the path of righteousness.

Elianah Kisa {Grace}:

God brought Elianah into our home in March, 2008.  We had actually been burdened to take Elianah home back in 2006 when we met Ezra.  Elianah was abandoned at three months old at a local hospital.  Her birth mother asked a woman to hold Elianah while she went to check on a relative, she never returned.  Elianah was also HIV positive as an infant but tests proved that she was only carrying her birth mothers antibodies and she later tested negative.  Elianah spent over three years in the orphanage {through miscommunication, we spent over a year thinking that Elianah had been adopted by another family}.  Three years in an institution, without proper discipline and training, proved to make parenting Elianah quite a challenge.  She was used to using charm and flattery to get her way.  And food had become her idol of choice. But, like with all our children, we spoke the Word of God into Elianah's life, specifically scriptures that pertained to the sin that was holding her.

Today, Elianah is not just beautiful on the outside, but she is being transformed on the inside.  Elianah has a wonderful sense of humor and often makes us laugh.  She is kind, helpful and obedient.

Elyssa Mercy:

We first met Elyssa in the Sunday school tent.  She was sitting alone, skin and bones, tears falling from her cheeks.  I proceeded to comfort Elyssa, only for her to shrink back in fear.  I could not stop thinking about this little girl.  I began to inquire about her--who was she, who did she belong to and why was she so sick?  We found out that Elyssa's birth mother had abandoned her on the door step of an uncle's home {who was not even home at the time}.  Her birth father, a fisherman in bondage to alcohol, did nothing.  At first we thought it best to "support" the family to care for Elyssa,  until one day the uncle, who proved to be a very cruel man, said, "if I did not have to stand before God one day, I would throw this girl on the streets."  Needless to say, we took Elyssa home for good in July, 2008.

Elyssa's health continued to be fragile.  We took her to the lab for a battery of tests, and a diagnosis was made, sickle cell anemia.  For most Ugandan children, this disease is a death sentence.  But, we have God on our side.  Elyssa has been healthy and free from any crisis' for over a year.  As of recently, we have seen Elyssa allow the Lord to do an amazing work in her heart.  She is often helping with her younger siblings, loves to help around the house and brings a little wittiness into the family too.

Ethan Aceleri:

Ethan's home coming was nothing short of a miracle.  The battle raged for months but through much prayer, God brought victory. I first met Ethan in 2008, while I accompanied one of our short term teams to Northern Uganda.  Ethan was being cared for {in a loose sense of the word} in a care center for children who had lost their mother.  Ethan's mother was killed by the LRA rebel group while Ethan was strapped to her back {it was a miracle he survived, considering he was only three weeks old}.  Ethan's family, due to the war and poverty, were unable to care for him and that is why he was placed in the care center.  While at the center, Ethan contracted TB and would spend months in a hospital.

Ethan was three years old when we brought him home.  He was such a sweet little boy, and continues to be so.  He loves to sing worship music and is the official worship leader when the children play church.  It was Ethan's life that God used to lead us to minister among an unreached tribe in Northern Uganda, Ethan's tribe!


I first heard about Enoch from a friend in 2009.  She had brought a short term missions team to Uganda's oldest orphanage.  While she was there, she learned of a 12 months old baby boy dying of sickle cell disease.  Knowing our experience with Elyssa, and our heart to care for children with such a condition, she shared his story.  To be honest, I had not intentions of visiting Enoch, but often prayed for his life.  However, the burden of this child would not leave me.  One day I called the director of the orphanage to enquire about Enoch.  The first words out of her mouth were, "do you want to adopt him?"  My husband and I spoke about what the Lord would have us to do.  We both agreed it would be good for me to visit Enoch once a week, just to let him know he was special. So, every Saturday afternoon, I would board a taxi for an hour long journey, just so I could hold Enoch for one hour.  Within a months time this baby was coming alive {up to this point he was often left in bed all day due to his illness}.  But, he was still so sick and fragile.  After hearing the news of another baby boy dying of sickle cell at this same orphanage, we knew we needed to make a decision.  To be honest, we thought we would be brining Enoch home to die, but at least he would know he was loved.

Today Enoch is full of life.  Like Elyssa, he has not had a sickle cell crisis in nearly a year.  He is a bright boy who loves being a big brother to Eston.

Ephraim Francis:

The Lord brought Ephraim home after much tribulation.  We first met Ephraim back in 2006, when we went to pick up Elizabeth.  He was such a fun loving and happy toddler {and he still is}.  We enquired about bringing him home too but found out that a family was already pursuing adoption.  We felt so strongly in our hearts that Ephraim was to be our son, and so we continued to pray for him over the years.  Through a series of events, we pursued bringing Ephraim home on two separate occasions, only to have our hopes dashed.  Then, in December of 2009, we got the call we had been waiting for {although the circumstances proved to be heart wrenching}.  Ephraim was in a need of a family asap.  After seeking the Lord, we held on to the fact that the Lord had told us back in 2006 that Ephraim was our son--despite what he had been through over the past four years.

We are so delighted to finally be Ephraim's parents.  He is such a blessing to our family.  We have already seen the transforming work of the Lord is Ephraim's life.  And although he struggles with fear, we continue to reassure him that we will never leave him, and neither will Jesus!


Elijah is the biological brother of Ethan.  It was just recently {November, 2009} that we found out that Ethan had any surviving siblings.  It was actually my husband who first found out about Elijah while taking Ethan for a visit to the village {an agreement to us adopting him}.  Elijah was suffering from severe malnourishment and neglect.  As a total orphan, he was being treated more like a slave than a seven year old little boy.  My husband came home after that visit and asked me to start praying about brining Elijah home.  Like many adoptive mothers, I was worried about his age.  But, the Lord gave me a peace.  

The Lord brought Elijah into our home in February, 2010.  He was so sick. His head was covered by a fungus and he was suffering from the effects of malnourishment.  Those first few weeks were hard.  Now I look at Elijah with so much joy.  He is a handsome boy who was just waiting for hope, for love and a family to call him their own.  

To be honest we know very little about Eston's life before the Lord brought him into our home in April, 2010.  He was being cared for at the infant care center that once cared for Ethan {the same one I volunteer at once a week}.  He was obviously not thriving, and doctors would later diagnose him with "failure to thrive" and malnourishment.  We thought we would bring Eston home long enough to love him back to health, but then we decided that if he was brought back, it would only be a matter of time before he ended up like before. 

In one months time Eston not only gained 5+ pounds, he gained his life back. Eston is so much fun and full of joy.  We are still trying to figure out    his story, but we know that the Lord has plans for his precious life.


Eryn and Ezekiel are our biological children.  The Lord gave us these two gifts very early on in our marriage.  Eryn was born just two weeks shy of our one year wedding anniversary. She is growing up to be an amazing young lady.  She loves the Lord, is compassionate and kind, and is a wonderful mommy's helper.



I was five months pregnant with Ezekiel when we moved to Uganda.  He was born at home, by candlelight, with the help of two marvelous midwives.  We always joke that Ezekiel was born with a smile on his face, he is such a delight.  Ezekiel is very advanced for his age when it comes to spiritual matters, and we look forward to see what the Lord does with his life!

Eli is the biological cousin to Ethan and Elijah, although we did not know this when we fell in love with him.  He too was once just another face at the Kitgum Infant Orphan Care Center.  He had been placed there soon after his mother died {presumably after giving birth}.  He was one of the quiet children who often sat to the side.  After praying, we felt the Lord would have us bring Eli home on the weekends so that he would be able to experience the love of a family.  However, as we well knew, this did not last long.  After tracking down Eli's birth family, it was decided that he could become a permanent part of our family.

Eli took longer than most of our children to understand what it meant to be part of a family, which is understandable after spending the first five years of his life in an institution. However, today Eli is a wonderful addition.  He is bright {learning to read in less than a month}, has accepted the Lord and is quick to jump in and help with chores.

Eden's story is quite unique.  It all started with a phone call from her clan.  They were calling to inform us that they unanimously decided that we were to take in this little girl after the death of her mother.  We had never seen the child and knew nothing other than the fact that she was around 2 years old.  One of our "criteria" for taking in a child is that 1. the mother must be dead and 2. the child must be in a life or death situation.  Both, we would later learn, was the case of Eden.

We arrived at the village after dark.  We walked into the open meeting area where all the relatives were sitting in a circle around the fire.  Proper greetings were given , a "speech" was heard, a few questions were clarified and a scared little girl was thrust into our arms.  And honestly, that was that.

Oh my!  Eden is such an amazing little girl.  It was not without a few months of struggle.  We learned soon off that the reason Eden was malnourished was due to an extreme case of intestinal worms {which had traveling into her lungs}.  She had never sat on a toilet, wore clothes or bathed in a shower.  But, as it is with all of our new children, she quickly learned the rules of the house!  We are so grateful for this little ball of life.

We have claimed 2 Timothy 3:15 for all our children,

"From childhood you have known the holy scriptures that are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ."