Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 16th

August 16th is the day our return flight to Ethiopia was scheduled. We are not on that flight and I am not sad to not be sleeping on a plane tonight. :)

Baby Tiger has blessed our lives in so many ways. He is two weeks old today.  Because of his sudden arrival in our family, we will be staying in the US a few months longer than expected.  We are lining up his passport and other documents necessary for his visa.

We don’t have a plan set in stone at this point, but, amazingly enough, the girls’ 1st grade curriculum is mainly in Indiana (math is in Ethiopia).  The girls and I will start homeschool this week. Jon is in Grand Rapids for a training but he has loads of plans and jobs planned. So, while I love having a firmly defined plan for my life, we move forward in faith and praying we have wisdom and clarity for all future steps. We are currently living with my parents but have a gracious offer to stay in an apartment set up for overseas workers.  

A benefit for the extra time is that we have time for dentists, doctor, eye doctor appointments.  This morning, I took the three kids to the dentist, A was the only one with an appointment slot and she had 6 cavities! Not the best start for our appointment spree. 

Now, I know you came for pictures of Tiger. I don’t have any new ones on this computer, but my oh my. He is amazing. He is perfect and daily becoming more alert.  He is also on the nocturnal side, which leads to some exhaustion, but I can’t complain, Jon is immensely helpful in the nights.  While he was gone during training, even Nana took a night shift!   We continue to thank God for this miracle and ask you to continue to pray for his birthmother, a woman very dear to our hearts who is walking deep roads of grief. 

 

Next post will have pictures!  :) 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Our Son

On Tuesday morning, August 2nd,  Jon and I were sleepy-eyed as my dad dropped us off at the airport for the first available non-stop flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. 

When we landed on US soil, just two weeks before (July 19th), we had heard of a birthmother looking for a family and they asked if we wanted to be presented.  We met her over Skype on Thursday (the 21st) and then heard five days later, one week after we had been in the US, in God’s lavish outpouring, this dear birthmother had chosen our crew to be a family for her precious baby, due any day. 

Jeff’s July 31st wedding was beautiful and we were so glad to be a part. On August 1st, we received a phone call in the evening, asking if we could get to Utah, as soon as possible. 

As the plane flew further from Indiana and closer to Utah, I had time to sit and reflect on the many ways God has been moving. When we were in Ethiopia, I was feeling so fear-filled about this adoption, it’s obstacles seemed too many, the paperwork too hard to do without reliable internet, the likelihood of being chosen by a birthmother too low. I told Jon, “I feel like to adopt, you have to fight the universe”. As we talked with friends, I realized I was hoping for a process as clear as the process God had given us with the girls. A burning bush of sorts that made it unmistakably clear this was the step God wanted us to take. 

I told these friends I was willing to step in any direction but felt like I needed to see so clearly this was what God wanted in our family. They encouraged me to move forward in faith, Moses only had a burning bush one time and he moved forward the rest of his life remembering that. 

As the plane neared Utah, I was overcome at God’s over-the-top goodness towards me, a woman with quivering faith, knowing that, even if the adoption didn’t go through and the birthmother changed her mind, without a doubt, this is the direction God wanted us to step. 

 

And there have been a million and 10 ways in between we have seen God pour out abundance, so many of you are praying and we are humbled at His hearing and answering. 

As I write, there is a perfect, seven-pound baby boy, swaddled like a burrito on the hotel bed beside me.  

We have been given a son, wanted by us, chosen by God. 

Meet Tiger (NOT HIS REAL NAME-we are trying to keep his name off of the world wide web. Call me a conspirator). For blog purposes, he is Tiger. ;)

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Right now, all he does is sleep, eat a bit and then sleep some more. 

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We are overjoyed and can’t wait for you to meet him.  

Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support. 

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jeff's Wedding!

When I heard Jeff was engaged, I was surprised, the youngest in the family.  I remember when Jeff was born, I was in 7th grade and I ran into my classroom to announce his arrival, so proud of my little brother.  I still am. I have loved watching him grow in grace. 

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The nieces, waiting for pictures

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Dad, Jeff and Mom

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Aren’t they so cute?

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The brothers and brother-in-laws

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All the sisters/sister-in-laws with Jeff

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Sweet little one, so fun to catch up with our little niece

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The five originals

 

We are so thankful we have been able to celebrate with Jeff and Anna!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Challie

Thanks to those of you who have prayed for Challie, a boy I wrote about on Instagram. The day before we left Injibara, his father carried him to our house. When we hiked to visit him, moving at a good pace, it was an hour. I can only imagine it was several with his son in his arms. Challie’s parents love him relentlessly. 

Challie still has not gained use of his leg and though there has been marked improvement, I was disappointed to not have seen more use of the leg and it is still infected with very swollen knee and thigh. As I am so inexperienced, I think I have impossible expectations on the length of the healing process. 

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Will you keep praying for Challie’s healing? He is a boy who has grabbed our hearts. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Graduation and Expectations

As we scurried to get out of Injibara and down to Addis, we realized we had never officially graduated the girls from KG2. 

Because we travel so much and miss days, we were finishing up our school year. This called for a party.

I am so glad we did it, even amidst the packing mess, as the girls were delighted. Our teammates and two summer interns came over and we ate and celebrated their accomplishments.

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Hands down, favorite part of the evening was their “Graduation Speeches” which they gave, prompted by questions from Jon. 

When A was asked, “What are you most looking forward to about next year?” She sweetly exclaimed, “Riding the school bus!”

J was asked the same question and she said, “Umm, getting a different teacher.” She also mentioned to me earlier in the week that she was really hoping she would be able to go to first grade in a castle and she was feeling disappointed.  We all were trying to control our laughter to not stop the speeches. 

We had a few conversations about expectations and we realized they think school is only when they go to the international school in Addis. Apparently what Mama and the girls do is just hang out? Crack me up!

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We had a time of prayer and then said goodbye to the team as we start our journey to the US on Monday night! (your day). Have I mentioned how much I love international travel (sarcasm is heavy here)…we will save this post for another day. :)  Please join us in prayer for safe and uneventful flights, sleep and our health. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

June, Where Have You Gone?

Today I write under gloomy skies, under a pile of blankets, I think the melancholy weather may leak through into my mood. :) The month of June has passed in a rush of neighbors, guests, meetings and sickness.  There have been infrastructure changes on our project and we prayerfully move forward. It seems I have spent a disproportional amount of time looking at my ceiling as I’ve had a few rounds of bugs.  The rains are heavy and nights are cold so many neighbors have been sick as well. 

A few chances at listening to medical concerns and helping others get to a hospital has been rewarding but also makes me ache. Often when we see someone sick, it is at a much later point than we would react to in the USA so it’s a bit alarming and urgent.

When we are asked for medical help, I realize I can’t yet do it without suffering with that person, taking it on, crying out to God for healing. I don’t know if this is an area where I can learn mentally healthy separation or if my aching will always be my human response to others in pain.

Following trusted men down a trail to a new region to visit a sick child.

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I wrote on instagram that I felt like Dr Quinn Medicine Woman but without the skill, knowledge or life-saving capabilities.

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Challie, so sweet and joyful despite a terrible sickness that had claimed the use of his leg. His parents had been washing and caring for his leg, oozing pus and blood but it was far beyond what washing could fix.  They had been advised that as he had loss use of his legs, he needs to get used to walking with a crutch, this is what life would be forever. 

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We were served boiled potatoes and coffee that was roasted and ground in the main room. Everyone peels their own potatoes (not cultural to eat skins). We laugh and chat before getting to the purpose of the visit because life here is wholly relational.

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The grandmother in the house showed a picture of her father who had fought with the Italians.

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The picture, he looking so regal in his military uniform.

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Charlie’s sisters, so gracious and welcoming. The older sister did the whole coffee process over the fire.

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This little one has probably never been to the main road, eyes bright and full of life, excited to start school in two years..

The father carried Challie to the main road and through God and your generous support, he went to Bahir Dar for medical treatment. They saw knowledgable doctors and he will regain use of his leg as his bone infection clears up and he does some therapy, praise God.

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God’s brought many friends along for the girls in this season of life.  It is so amazing when we get visitors here (these are Swiss girls, family stationed in Addis Ababa) as we have time for our shyness to melt away and deep bonds to form.

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The girls hike along with their babies.

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They also love Christian, a frequent visitor to our house. :)

And now, here we are, coming to the USA in two weeks. 

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Our rainy fourth of July cookout, complete with teammates, friends passing through, coffee, burgers and smores.

As always, we think about our trip to America with great excitement and thankfulness. We also have some nerves.  The girls have begun asking if we can stay at Grandma’s house, the one that’s been the most home base of any in the US since they were two.  They say they can’t believe Grandma has died and wish they could sit and play piano with her.  When we are gone, life rightfully moves on and it feels we are in a parallel universe, where time travels differently and we should be able to go back to just how things were. 

Another brother is getting married and we are overjoyed. I’ve also identified it makes me panic a bit, to have my family change so much while we are away and not know the shape the reforming takes. 

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This coming year is full of unknowns, mostly tied to family growth, location, timing, if we are chosen, an unknown amount of times we fly across continents, unknown amount of time we spend in the US to finalize and adoption and start a visa process.  It’s thrilling, stretching and unnerving.

Thank you for all your prayers! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Anti-climatic Dungeons

After it was discovered the castles didn’t have furniture, chandeliers and beautifully dressed princesses coming down grand stair ways, the girls fixated on how cool the dungeons were going to be.

Unfortunately for all of the world and us in the moment, the dungeon was a structure that had been bombed out, so it was open a few stone walls, with grass growing. It also wasn’t the true dungeon in that it was just a holding cell before judgement.

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There were no chains. No dank caverns down spooky stairways.  The “real” dungeon was on another location.  We had been touring just about long enough that the girls were feeling hungry and tired and this realization brought a disappointment that we couldn’t go on. We tried to find other things to distract ourselves.

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We found the lion cages then.  Until 1991, ceremonial lions were kept here. It alleviated our disappointments for a bit.

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We toured a building used as the banquet hall.

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Then, our brilliant tour guide took us around to another structure, the lion cages from another side. He called it the dungeon and let the kids in.

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Here are the kids and their dungeon faces, chained to the walls, so stinkin’ happy we finally found something dungeony.

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To wrap up Gondar, we would highly recommend it if you want to see amazing castles. If you happen to be obsessed with dungeons, maybe try a castle in Europe.