Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…
I have learned the hard way that the best way to become an effective communicator is to become an effective and sincere listener. In ministry and life, I tend to want to hear someone out before telling my story or giving advice. We have all been around that person who seems to care less about what you have to say and is determined to tell his story or give his wisdom. I am learning that there are three things that will make me a more effective leader, parent, husband, and friend.
First, learn to listen to someone who is in need or in pain and be willing to simply empathize or sympathize with them. The bible says we should “weep with those who weep”(Romans 12:15), and, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). So I need to learn to listen and do my best to “feel” what my friend is feeling. I don’t necessarily need to give them life-changing counsel.
Second, I need to learn to share in the excitement, joy, or pain, of a person’s story. I need to become a listener in their story. Everyone has a “story”. Have you ever known someone for a period of time, feeling like you knew him or her pretty well, only to learn that there was a lot more to the person than you realize. I have often been guilty of knowing someone for years before I really learned that this person had a story to tell. So many people carry pain and baggage, but a listening and sincere ear is often the best way to minister to that person. My goal as a believer should be to move beyond acquaintance and toward genuine relationship.
Lastly, I am often guilty of failing to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). When someone is happy or excited because of something they have experienced or learned, I should share in the excitement. I don’t need to be a know-it-all. I need to be eager to learn through what others are experiencing.
These are principals that have been very helpful for me in being a better brother in Christ, but I still have so much to learn. I hope they will help you too.
Every fall, we try to do a Holloway Nation photo shoot. It is a lot fun, and also a great way to watch these guys grow from year to year. Thought we’d share a few of these pics with you. Little and I are so blessed to be in our twenty-second year of marriage together. It has been an amazing journey and I am so grateful to The Lord for the family he has blessed us with. I love these guys like crazy. Plus see how much they’ve grown from last year.
Photography done by Caroline Ellis.
A couple weeks ago, my assistant, Caroline Smith, came by and took some pictures of me and my family. If you know anything about our life here, you know how hard it can be to nail all of us down at one time. It’s even harder trying to get us to all look at the camera at the same time. That’s why we love that Caroline was able to just come over to our home and take photos of us while we were hanging out. It feels more real for our family that way. If you’re interested in using her as a designer or photographer, you can check out her work here.
This year has been crazy. If you’ve followed my facebook updates, you’ll know that Little and our 2 oldest traveled back to Uganda to bring JuJu and Mo home at the end of May, right in the middle of our summer staff training. Holloway life isn’t easy or calm, but JuJu and Mo have fit right into the chaos. While we still have to go through the United States adoption process, I plan to update you guys on how things ended up on the Ugandan side of things throughout the next month.
I can’t begin to express in words how overwhelming the support our family has received throughout all of this has been. I’m so grateful for each of you.
Our SWO14 summer was great, and I’m excited to have this website up and running again. As most of you know, things don’t really ever slow down for us here—I love it! We’ve already had a couple retreats and one conference. Most of you are already back in the swing of school and work. As you get into a rhythm this fall, I want to leave you with this resounding truth in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” In the busy-ness of work, Scripture is sufficient. For the single mom trying to make ends meet, His Word is enough. College student, the Bible is alive and applicable for your circumstances.
It’s easy to let our situations dictate our thoughts, emotions, decisions, etc. I challenge you in this new season to establish yourself in the Truth. Abide in His Word, daily, and let it change you.
‘til the whole world hears,
We are excited to report that the passport applications for JuJu and Mo have been turned over to Immigration here in Uganda. This is sort of like the halfway point of the process. Turnaround for these applications has been about a week, so we will hopefully have our passports in hand by next Monday. Once we get those we can begin the medical screening process, which takes about a week. From there, we go to the US Embassy. The Embassy stage is about a week, barring any hang-ups. We have quite a few friends who have run into various paperwork issues at the Embassy, so pray we are vigilant and detailed in preparing the documentation for the Embassy. Once we are at the Embassy, we can be out of country within a few days. We are just asking people to pray for us until we are on a plane headed for home.
As I write this, I am awaiting a flight for the States. I will be flying into Jacksonville, FL. on Thursday to speak at a church, then home on Sunday. I will have a few days at SWO, then, head to Charlotte for the Live Sent Conference at Hickory Grove. Little and the kids will be staying here in Uganda, and I will return on Monday, March 17. We are asking for prayer during this short trip.
Pray for Little and the kids, and for the continued process of adoption while I am gone.
Pray for JuJu and Mo, as this will be the first time I leave them for more than a few minutes, since we got them. Pray they have a peace from God as they try to figure things out.
Please pray for God’s favor as I prepare, study, pray, and preach God’s Word to students over the next couple weeks. I so desire the power of God to grip the thousands who will hear.
We love you all, and are so grateful for you.
Judge Signed the Court Ruling!
Thanks to all who have prayed with us for the judge to sign the court ruling. It is done! He signed it at 7:00 pm today, Friday. We do have a few things that need to be corrected before we can go to the US embassy for document review. The document file for these kids is literally about four inches thick. There are so many forms, and they must all match perfectly. Names and spellings, dates and places, and every detail must be without contradiction. If any two documents do not match perfectly then the whole process can be delayed weeks, even months. Pray that as we move through the passport and medical stages, the other documents can be corrected and ready for US embassy review, in the final stage.
One of the critical changes that must be made is to Mo’s birth certificate. We were told that it should arrive in the lawyer’s mailbox on Monday. This would be a huge blessing because we could then go to apply for passports on Tuesday. I fly out at midnight Tuesday night. We have to have the birth certificates and the court ruling the judge signed today in order to apply for the passports. Keep praying!
On the lighter side, we are enjoying the time here, and the people we are meeting. I wanted to share a couple of videos that you would hopefully enjoy. We are trying to introduce the kids to everyone before we get back home. Through the comments and emails, it is obvious that so many of our extended family already love these two with us. Thank you all for that.
We will keep you posted. Pray on!
I wanted to just give everyone an overall update on where things are. First of all, we cannot express as a family how grateful we are for the overwhelming support. It has made this journey exponentially easier and more encouraging. Thanks, and please hang in here with us until we are home.
I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief order of deadlines and decisions that must be made to get the kids home.
First, we had our court date. Many of you prayed and the judge ruled favorably. This was a ruling for guardianship, but it is temporary until a written ruling can be obtained. This takes a couple of weeks, and it is what we are waiting on now. A few days after the court date, we received an official court ruling that is then written out, and signed by the judge. We are waiting now for the signing. It is on his desk, so please pray he will do this quickly.
Once this is done, we are clear to take the ruling and apply for passports with Ugandan Immigration. Once we apply, we wait until they call us with the passports. This can take anywhere from three days to three weeks. We obviously are praying for this to go quickly. Average time has been around a week for the other families we have spoken with.
When we have the passports in our hands, we can go to have medical clearance for the kids. This is about a one-week process, consisting of a general exam and TB test, and then an approval is sent to the US embassy.
Once the exams are complete, we will apply for an appointment with the embassy to have all of our documents reviewed. This is where a lot of people run into trouble, as the pile of documents is huge and there can’t be a single mistake or discrepancy. We have met people who were hung up in country for weeks and even months because of a wrong date on a document, or a misspelled word, or any other number of things. We will have to go through these documents with a fine-toothed comb before we go for our review. We still have quite a bit of paperwork to do through each stage of this process. We cannot afford to mess those up. For those of you who know Little and me, this is our biggest weak spot. We are both horrible administratively. Pray we are vigilant in this area.
Once we have been cleared at the document review, we are given a visa appointment for the kids’ passports, which will be two days after document review, then called in two days later for a final exit interview. Once that is complete, we are given all we need to leave the country.
- Court date and initial custody granted (Birth fathers present)
- Official verbal judge’s ruling (1 week)
- Official written judge’s ruling (what we are waiting for now)
- Passport applications
- Passports issued (Can be 3 days up to 3 weeks)
- Medical exams (one week)
- Document review (3 to 7 days)
- Visa applications (2 days)
- Exit interview at Embassy with birth fathers present. (one day)
Hope this isn’t too confusing. A lot of steps, I know. If we get the passports applied for this week, and then the medicals and document review goes well, we are looking at about three more weeks in country. I will travel home on March 5-6 and be in the U.S. for about 10 days. This would put me back in country here just in time for the final two steps. Please pray this all runs smoothly!
We could be home by late March if all is well. In the meantime, we could not be more convinced that we are in God’s will here. We are learning much and seeing new life in these two little ones. Our three older ones are doing an amazing job, and we couldn’t be more thankful for them.
Thanks again for all the prayer support. We will keep you posted.
We are learning a lot on this journey. Adoption is always hard. Adoption is always worth the fight. We didn’t come in here with any preconceived or romanticized ideas. We knew it would be hard. The long days of waiting for the next appointment. The attachment issues. The task of giving love to someone who has never experienced it, and may not always want it. But as the saying goes, “The reward is worth the risk.”
This evening, our new daughter was standing alone in the yard, in the dark, crying softly. Kilby found her, and brought her to me. As I held her and stroked her hair and gently wiped her tears, I told her the things I would tell either of my other daughters. “I love you.” “Jesus loves you.” “It will be okay.” I spoke Psalm 23 over her, and made up a song and sung to her. And then it dawned on me, ”You can cry as long as you want to.” You don’t have to stop crying.
In a culture of survivial, I wonder if she has ever felt the freedom to cry. Or, maybe, she has spent a lot of nights crying herself to sleep. I don’t know. I don’t speak the same earthly language as her, and I am not sure she would have given me answers to those questions even if she could. The language barrier was shattered by gentle hands, soft words, and tight squeezes, and hopefully the love of an earthly father that reflects a God she will soon know. After half an hour, Little took her to her bed, and rubbed her little scarred belly and arms until she slept. Now, she is peacefully resting, and I have to believe feeling a little more secure.
Loving someone who doesn’t understand your love is as good a picture of the Gospel as I have ever seen.