Monday, February 18, 2013

It is Official!

The mandatory 10-day-wait is over!  We have the official court decree in our hands. WOOHOO!  We are completely, officially, 100%, with no doubt, parents to 3 more beautiful children—and Ukraine recognizes that. In fact, the new birth certificates list us as the parents.  There is something so significant about this waiting period being over.  I'm giddy with excitement just knowing that it is FINAL! 

Elliana, Adalyn, Joshua, and I have been able to spend a lot of quality time together.  Eliana is slowly processing all the changes and handling it very well.  She has a beautiful heart, is wise beyond her years, and takes this adoption very seriously—realizing the fullness of it. 

This past week, as I was leaving the orphanage and saying our "goodnights," Elliana kissed me on the cheek and told me that she would be thinking that night about what she wanted to call me—Momma, Mommy, or Mom.  She said that starting the next morning, she would no longer call me "Jenny."  It was not only a sweet moment, but a monumental one as well.  She has been melting my heart these last couple days as she tells me things like, "I have the best mom ever!" and "I love my mommy so much."

Adalyn is such a joy.  She has a beautiful smile and an infectious laugh.  In fact, one of the other families here, gave her the nickname "Giggles."  She loves teasing (especially her Daddy), and she loves affection, being held, and being close and cuddly.  She tends to be shy with her English, but out of the blue, will shock us all with her vocabulary.  Last night, she was like a broken record reciting her abc's! We have been practicing, but last night was the first time I have heard her sing it, and it was nearly perfect!  It is so much fun watching her blossom.

Joshua has come alive over these last few weeks.  As soon as he spots me walking into his group, he drops what he's doing, and runs full force, with a huge smile, saying "Hi-iiiiiii!"   He is a little sponge and has already learned many English words and phrases.  He is very observant and loves to anticipate what you will do next so he can meet that need.  As soon as he knows it is time for me to leave, he has my boots next to my feet and is handing my gloves and hat to me.  He loves to be a helper!  It is so exciting to begin seeing glimpses of him growing and thriving just because of the love and security of a Mommy and Daddy.

In the evening, before I head back to my apartment, I pray with our three; it's become a tradition that we started while Todd, Jaden, and Kellen were here.  There was one night, when I was tired and wondering if they even appreciate that time of prayer.  Sometimes it feels like I am just going through the motions, and it can begin to feel redundant.  So I decided to skip it this particular evening. As we were walking down the stairs to exit the orphanage, Elliana proclaimed, "We didn't even get to pray yet!"  So we quickly gathered and thanked the Lord. Since then, Elliana has mentioned several times about our time of praying together, and it is clear that it is a highlight of her day.  Now we are beginning the countdown to when we no longer say our prayers as I leave for the night, but rather when we get to say our prayers as we all go to sleep under one roof.

Yesterday was a difficult day of emotions as Elliana and Adalyn said their goodbyes to their best friends as they are heading to America.  Although it was a time of rejoicing, it was also a time of grieving, of saying goodbye, of letting go, and accepting change.  I had flashbacks of the times when Todd and I have moved, and I have had to say goodbye to dear friends.  I remember all the tears I have shed and falling apart emotionally, and I remember Todd trying to put all my messy pieces back together and wondering what he got himself into! Change is difficult!

What really broke my heart, is seeing the children who will be left behind.  Our children will be leaving next week, others have been hosted and have forever families coming to get them in the next several months.  But there are those who have not been given hope, who do not have the promise of a family to love them forever, who have never experienced the comfort and security and love of a mommy and daddy.  My heart breaks as these children wonder if they will ever be "chosen."

A little over a week ago, before Jaden left, he and I had a conversation about the friendships he had developed in the orphanage.  He and Kellen were often seen hanging out with "the boys."  These boys all went sledding together, had snowball fights, tickled and wrestled each other, learned words in each other's language, made up games with items that were lying around the orphanage, and they laughed together.  There were many hugs given and smiles shared. It didn't matter that there was a language barrier; they were friends.  
One boy in particular had a big impact on Jaden. Jaden asked me, "How do we leave him behind?  He needs a family.  He is real, just like me."

There is something so true in that last statement. The term orphan is so abstract. We know there are orphans all over the world, but it doesn't seem to affect us...until we meet one. And we realize they are real, just like us.

Please pray for:
     -all the children being left behind, not only in this orphanage, but those across the world, including the U.S. May we 
       be the hands and feet of Jesus. 
           -Adalyn & Joshua to develop their understanding of the English language and that it would happen quickly.
                 -a seamless transition, not only for our three new children, but our whole family as well, as there will be a lot
                  of change and many adjustments.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sufficient Grace

God’s grace is sufficient.

I know that, and I believe that. However, when it comes to living out that truth, I struggle. Over the last month, I have said things like:

“I feel like it is physically impossible for me to leave my children behind as I travel.” …but I did.

“I don’t think I can bear the weight of Todd, Jaden, and Kellen leaving me here all by myself.” …but I have.

“I want to go home right now!” …and I still do!...but I’m still here!

I am weak!
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~Psalm 73:26

It is God who sustains me, and only Him.  God’s grace is abundant, and His grace is enough in each of my trials.  However, His grace is given in the moment it is needed; it is not given ahead of time.  It is during these times of anticipation, or worry, or fear that I am learning to cling to my Savior, to trust Him completely, and to know that God truly is my strength and my portion.

God knew that once Todd and my boys left, that I would be moving into an apartment with another adoptive mom, who would not only become someone I would share lots of laughter with, but someone I would get the privilege of encouraging.  –A glimpse of His grace. 

The Lord also had a sweet, little surprise for me.  After moving to my present location, I discovered a thrift store right across the street!  Those who know me well, know that I thoroughly enjoy treasure hunting.  As silly as it sounds, it was a gift straight from God to me.  He knows my desires, He knows what makes me smile, and I experienced Him delighting in me as I took pleasure in His gift.  –More of His grace.

Although I am expecting His grace to be there, I am still in awe of it when it comes.  The joy and peace, comfort and strength, that I have experienced this past week has kept me in awe of our Lord.  He is so good.  And now I am being faced with the opportunity to lean into Him again as I prepare for my roommate/friend/fellow adoptive mom to depart.  I will choose to praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.  Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens.  Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness.  Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute, praise Him with the clash of cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
 ~Psalm 150

Please pray:
   -for Elliana. Emotions are high as her best friend leaves the orphanage tomorrow. The reality of all the transitions are
    hitting her. Grieving is necessary and healthy but also confusing as it is mixed with such joy. She, especially, is
    sensitive to change.
       -for me, Jenny, as I travel Tues, Feb 19 to a village a couple hours away. I must obtain the three original
        birth certificates from the region where our children were born.
           -for Todd. Since arriving home, he has had a fever and very upset stomach. It has been debilitating. Please pray
            for his health to be restored and for the rest of our family to remain healthy.
                -Praise the Lord with us!!!

Temporary Goodbye's

This is a post from and email update dated Feb. 11:

The last few days have been both exhilarating and exhausting.

Our day in court was a definite highlight.  Todd's original plans were to return to Harrison on Feb. 8th, and leave Jaden and Kellen with Jenny to help out with her travels. Those plans would have required that Todd leave immediately after court with no opportunity to see Anya, Tanya, or Ruslan, let alone celebrate the moment with Jenny and the boys, so we opted to delay Todd's travel plan's.  The next affordable and available day for him to leave was today (feb. 12th).  We thought it best that the boys return with Todd.

We are very thankful for a church family that has given us so much encouragement and grace so that we could do what was best for the needs of our family.  Being able to delay Todd's travel was certainly the best decision.  We were able to fully celebrate what God did at our court appointment, as well as, spend a whole weekend with the children as family.  There was much good bonding through this time together.

Monday came with an early start as we moved our luggage out of our "hotel", which was really a second story of a townhouse that was fully functional for extended stays. Todd & the boys had to leave their luggage in the foyer of the hotel for their return later in the day when they would make a grab-and-go for the train station.  Jenny was moved into an apartment for adoptive parents which she will be sharing with a new friend who just adopted Anya's & Tanya's best friends.  We are thankful that Jenny will have companionship for part of her remaining time there.

We were still able to get to the orphanage in time to walk the girls to school and visit Anya's English class.  This was especially important to her, and the children thoroughly enjoyed the disruption to class that the "Americans" brought!  In fact, they said we should go to their math class with them so that their teacher would not be mean or give them lots of homework!

It was difficult for Todd and the boys to leave Jenny & the kids in tears at the orphanage as they walked to their taxi.  However, we trust that God will give His strength and courage to them as they endure this last leg of the race.  We have often turned to Joshua 1:9 for encouragement throughout this journey.  It will be a well worn page for us as God reminds us that He called us and He will sustain us.  Even more than that, He will make us flourish by His grace and power.

Todd and the boys are on their way home now, and, weather permitting, should arrive in Spokane late this evening.  There will be many hugs and kisses waiting for them in Harrison, and much catching up to do.  While this adoption process has been very easy by comparison to our previous experience, the separation of family members has been much more difficult.  The children have handled it beautifully by God's amazing grace, but we are having our hearts strained by the sorrow of being apart.

Soon and very soon the sorrow will end in a reunion of joy.  With that hope we persevere.  Thank you for your prayers!

Please continue praying for:
-Favor with all those whom we must work to get the children to their new home
-Strength, courage, and comfort for Jenny as she endures the last couple weeks alone with the children
-A healthy transition for everybody as all the members of this new family are united
-Thanks for God's faithfulness and sovereignty

Friday, February 8, 2013

Family Brings...A Peaceful Night's Sleep.

Wednesday night, we went to bed with a bit of anxiety over what February 7th would hold for our family and 3 orphaned siblings whom we loved as our own.  The power to give them a forever family, a Daddy & Mommy, and the last name "Moore" was in the hands of an Eastern European court.

Todd had a miserable night's sleep.  A combination of a bad headache and the overwhelming feeling that so much rode on what the next day would bring...not just for him, but for three children that had begun to call him "Daddy" and learned to enjoy the affection of a daddy for the first time in their lives.
"God give us the strength and words to speak.  Fill us with Your Spirit, and help us represent You well.  We trusted You before today.  We trust You with tomorrow.", was the prayer rolling over and over in our souls.

With morning came a restless busyness.  The whole morning tension kept building like a can of soda rolling around on a warm floorboard begging to be relieved, but we knew God had brought us to this moment.  It was not for our glory but His, and He would see His plan through to completion because that is what He does.

...if we are faithless, He remains faithful 
—for He cannot deny Himself.
~2 Timothy 2:13
Finally, the anxious wait outside the courtroom doors ended.  We all stood as the judge & jurors entered the courtroom.  Questions.  More questions.  Testimony of involved officials.  More questions.  Then our official request before the court.

Then a pause...

Then a decision...

Then a family.

The soda can was opened, and tears of joy burst out!  3 more orphans-no-more!

It is so surreal to now gaze at these children as they play or speak with us, and know...that's my daughter, that's my son.  We shared this thought with Anya (now Elliana) today as we sat at a table together.  We shared how sometimes in the stillness of a moment, we think on them and smile brightly as we reflect on our new relationship.
[here we still pause and smile]

Anya said,
"It was so weird.  Before court I could not sleep.  I would wake, go do something, and go back to bed.  After court, I slept so well.  I didn't wake up all night.  It was so nice."
                    [pause again for a smile]

Even now, as everyone lay sleeping soundly this night in the comfort and peace of God through family, the sing-songy "Maaaaa-mmyy" and "Daaaaa-ddy" of Tanya (now Adalyn) and Ruslan (now Joshua) roll over and over through our minds.

And soon after is the undercurrent of God's own words:
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
~John 14:18

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Going to Bed as Daughters and Son

This is a simple update for all of you who have been praying for and with us (more detailed info to come):

Praise God!  We are excited, thankful, and overwhelmed to present to you 3 new Moores!  Months of praying. Months of longing.  Months giving it all over to God and trusting Him for things we could not see or understand.  Family, Church family, & friends joining with us in providing a family for 3 no-longer-orphans.

Tonight they will lay their heads on their pillows as members of a family, as daughters and son.  They no longer will pray for a family.  February 7th, 2013.  A day we will never forget!

Thank you.  Thank you.

Thank God.  Help us give thanks to Him this day for what He has done, and continues to do!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Big Day!

Tomorrow is a Big Day!  Perhaps it's THE Big Day!

Our court appointment is tomorrow morning, and the power to make Anya, Tanya, & Ruslan forever members of our family will be in the hands of an Eastern European court.  It's exciting & nerve-racking!

Please pray for:
      -God to give us favor with all those that have authority to give these three orphans a forever family.
         -God to fill us with His Spirit, and help us to represent Him well.

Thank you for praying!  May God receive all glory, honor, and praise with tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Last 1,000 feet

Upon arrival, there was an excitement and anticipation.  There were new experiences & new people.  There was the reunion with Anya, Tanya, & Ruslan.  All in all, there was a whole lot to look forward to.  Then we got to mainly concentrate on spending time with them, & also encouraging the other children along the way.  Now it feels like the harder work is upon us.

Thus far, the whole process has been fairly predictable and easy by comparison to our previous adoption of Christopher and Katie.  However, one thing that has been harder this time is being away from family and the familiarity of home.  We are missing Sage, Christopher, & Katie like crazy!

While Todd & the boys prepare to head back to Harrison at the end of the week (provided a successful court date on Thursday...PLEASE PRAY!!!), Jenny is preparing for the next leg of the solo-journey:  another 2 1/2 to 3 weeks of taxi rides, sitting & waiting for appointments, feeling as if she's a bit at the mercy of officials, facilitators, and a foreign culture, and wishing she were home already with her new family.

That's the "work phase".

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. 
My soul also is greatly troubled. 
But you, O LORD—how long?  
~Psalm 6:2-3

It's the part of this journey where the novelty fades and the reality that we are only about half of the way through sets in.  The work is not even so much the daily schedule of things to do, as much as it is the mental and spiritual effort through it all.  It gets harder and harder to remain joyful, patient, and generous right about now.  It would be great to honestly say that doesn't happen and that the whole thing is one blissful walk through a rose garden to a happy family, but it's just not reality.  The spiritual, emotional, and mental fatigue eventually build.  It's the last 1,000 feet to the summit.  It's the final few miles of a marathon.  It's the labor and pain before the birth.

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 
I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.  Selah
~Psalm 3:3-4

It makes us really identify with so many of the psalmists writings.  Whether it's discouragement, sadness, feelings of being alone, fear, or persecution, the psalmists always come back to this:  "My God is bigger than this.  He will be enough for me.  I will trust Him.  I will worship Him."  So whether or not our struggles are real or perceived, God is bigger.  He is enough.  We will trust Him.  We will worship Him.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
 ~Psalm 9:1-2

And in the midst of this "work" and "struggle", there is purpose.  We have been able to spend some extra time with two children at the orphanage who are about Anya and Jaden's age.  They are extremely sweet kids.  They greet us excitedly when we arrive at the orphanage.  It is a joy to shower them with love and encouragement.  Unfortunately, unique circumstances make it unlikely that the children will become available for adoption any time soon, so their future is a big question mark at this point.  However, God is enough for them.
Perhaps we are just a piece of the puzzle for God to reveal to them that He is enough, and that He does see them, love them, and will watch over them.

Our struggles really are not so great.  They are so minuscule compared with what many of these children face.  Our "aloneness" is temporary.  We will soon travel back home, be reunited with our family, and celebrate that God has added to our number those who will enjoy His love together.  Meanwhile, in places all over the globe, and even in our own backyards there are children who will go on praying for a forever family to find them, redeem them, and love them as true family.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Please pray that:
-Our paperwork is complete & received in time for us to keep our scheduled court date of Feb. 7th.
       -God will fill us with His Spirit that we may represent Christ well, and show His love to those in desperate
                 need of it.
              -God will help us to persevere through every difficulty and trust Him for all things.
                    -These children who are still waiting for a family to "come for them" will be given forever families who
                             love them..

Friday, February 1, 2013

I love you, Daddy.

Yesterday was a great day!

It all started earlier in the day when we got to celebrate with our new friends the Newsomes.  We have become close companions with them, so when they had a successful court appointment, and the judge made official their adoption of Vika and Yana, we all went to a nearby bakery/ restaurant to celebrate over some desert.  Thank you for your prayers on their behalf.  2 orphaned girls now have a family to call their own.

Then the great day continued as we eventually landed back at the orphanage.  We were greeted by a HUGE smile on Anya's face!  She said, "My director asked me if I want to go to school or spend the day with my family!"  So today we will celebrate Vika and Yana's new family by all being together and having fun.  The kids are very excited.  Hopefully, they got some sleep last night!

We got to play and interact with many of the children last night.  Jaden and Kellen played "hide and seek" with Vitalik.  Vitalik is an eight or nine year old normal boy who loves to do the rough-and-tumble.  At the orphanage, however, there is precious little rough-and-tumble allowed!  Each worker at the orphanage has their own way of keeping order.  For some, they give the kids some freedom to explore and enjoy the "Americans".  For others, they make the kids sit and be quiet as if they were being a nuisance.  On this day, however, Vitalik was full of joy that his care-giver let him run around with our boys.  When we left, he was handing out hugs and kisses to everyone, and making sure that we were headed back this evening for more!  It is so good to see these kids smile, and get the kind of love that they crave.  May all of these children be given a family that loves them!

Always a refreshing and enjoyable part of our day is dinner with the Newsomes.  It has been so good to reflect and process all that we're experiencing with them, and celebrate the victories together.  They've encouraged us.  We've encouraged them.  Last night we talked about adoption, and the reality that between our two families, there will soon be 10 less orphans in the world!  None of us see it as a special thing we're doing.  Many folks say things like, "what an amazing thing you're doing" or "what a gift you are giving to these children".  We appreciate the encouraging comments, but we all feel like WE are the greatest beneficiaries of adoption.  That we, of all people, get to be the one's that they finally call Mama and Papa is an overwhelming blessing.  For our families, that is overwhelming blessing times 10!

The highlight of the night for Todd, however, was hearing little Tanya say,
"I love you, Daddy."
for the first time in her life!  She's never before had a daddy to say that to.  She has never had the securing love of a daddy's embrace.  That is all different for her now!  This beautiful little girl now will now have a daddy of her own!

This morning we are preparing to join up with the Newsomes, go to the orphanage to pick up all of our children, and then head back to the Newsomes for lunch together.  It should be a very cozy gathering.  There really are not a whole lot of activities to do here this time of year...or almost anywhere in this country for that matter, so we'll be going back to the trampoline park for the afternoon.  I'm sure the kids will love burning off some steam, and just being kids.  Too much of Vika & Anya's lives have been spent as "mama's" to their younger siblings, so it's always freeing for them to remember what it's like to just be a kid!

Today will be about the kids having fun, and we will get the joy of gazing across the indoor park, catching their glance, and knowing..."those are my kids!"  [insert big satisfying smile here]  And they will get the security of catching our gaze and knowing, "that's MY Mama & Papa!"

Thank you for your prayers.

Please keep praying for:
-Our papers to all be ready by Feb. 6th and make it here, so that we may keep our court appointment
          on Feb. 7th.
-Continued favor with all of those whom we are working with to complete the adoption.
-Purpose for each day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Of Friends & Family

Today started with a quiet morning.  Most mornings seem to begin that way right now.  It's actually been quite nice.  We sure do miss our family being all together, but once in a while it is refreshing to have a quiet space to reflect on life.  This is likely how our days will go until our court date, and then again for another 10 days after that as we await the court decree to become effective so that we may proceed with obtaining birth certificates, passports, and visas for the children.

We will go to the orphanage later today, as usual, with some craft or activity to share with the children there.  We look forward to making the kids smile.  Actually, it is not so difficult a task to make them smile.  The kids are all smiles as soon as we walk in, and speak a mile a minute in their own form of language which is sometimes accurate and sometimes a cross between their native tongue, another
common language, and whatever else they might be able to use to be functional in communicating with one another.  Either way, we understand almost nothing of what they are verbalizing, but we still manage to communicate.

Some of the children have tried to help us learn some of their vocabulary.  However, learning to speak a word is one thing.  Learning what it means and how to use it is the crucial link that is usually missing.  However, that doesn't deter them from trying to help us out.  It's a lot of fun.  As good as their care is here, they just do not receive anywhere near the interaction and social stimulation that they need...let alone the love.  The bottom line is we were all created to need a family.

Yesterday, we met with our new friends, the Newsomes, and made our way through a local labyrinth of a market.  John was looking for a few items to help with our evening meal together, so we turned this way and that.  First searching for the items, then simply searching for a way out of the system of mazes under tin roofing.  It was cold, somewhat dark, and jam-packed full of side-by-side "kiosks" that get rolled out every morning & buttoned up every night.  Sometimes colorful displays of old
                                                                              beat-up mannequins
and cheap imitations of popular brand name clothing, coats, hats, cookware, cutlery, intimate apparel, breads, meats, draperies, wedding apparel, fake leather wallets, and all other sorts of seemingly random displays that repeat over and over throughout the miles of tunneling walkways.  It's like some sort of flea market heaven...and then reality sets in that this is normal fare for most of the world.  We're apparently the oddballs for having a heated, well-lit store with wide walkways and well organized merchandise displayed for every need or want under the sun!

After our adventurous outing, we finally made it back to the orphanage to find the children greeting us with smiles and hugs at the entry of their wing.  You can just see it on their faces that this is the moment they've been looking forward to all day excruciating day of trying to patiently endure school and necessary homework to get to this one moment only to have to say "Good-bye" one more time!  I think they believe it is worth it!  Their faces speak what words are unable.  And tomorrow we will do it again...until the last time we will have to say good-bye, and the first morning we wake up together as family!

Yesterday gave us a couple of hours together coloring, tickling, giggling, learning new words, hugging, and some heartfelt sharing with Anya as she processes these new changes in her world.  Several of the other children were also able to join in the fun.  It seems therapeutic for everyone's soul, and they get to experience God's great love and care for even them through our time together.

Every day is a new day, and presents us with new opportunities to do good to the one's He loves.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor,
"Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it"
–when you have it with you.
~Proverbs 3:27-28

Please remember to thank God for all of His goodness and sovereign care that He lavishes on us, and for the concern He has for the orphaned and abandoned, and ask Him for:
-Continued favor with all of those with whom we are working to complete our 
           adoption process.
-The Newsome's paperwork to arrive today, so that they may keep their court date 
-For us to find a meaningful, purpose-filled rhythm of life here where we may be 
                   able to meet with God and reflect His grace and mercy.
-The unity of our family while we are all separated.  There is still much time to 
                         endure, and, yet, it has already seemed such a long time to be apart.

Thank you for taking us before our Father in prayer.  It is such comfort to know that His family cares for one another!  What a blessing to allow three more to experience that amazing love!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life as a Foreigner

Yesterday Anya and Tanya had to return to school, so we were unable to see them until about 4pm.  Since Ruslan is also napping until that time, we stayed at the apartment and played catch-up on a few things.  Jenny got Jaden & Kellen back into a more routine schedule of schooling, as well.  Thankfully our apartment has a mini conference desk that works well for their schooling away from home.  You can imagine they were "thrilled" at the idea of getting back into the rhythm of their education!

They certainly have had great opportunities to learn about another culture, language, customs.  That has been invaluable for them, but will likely be very helpful for Anya's adjustments as she will have the comfort of knowing that her siblings understand where she has come from.  When she speaks of where she grew up, they will understand. She won't be totally alone in her experience.  Thank God for His "little" mercies.

Jenny was also able to do some of the routine things of life, as well.  She got our laundry caught up even though it's a little tricky.  First, finding the right detergent in a different language has it's own challenges.  Secondly, everything must air-dry, so clothes get hung wherever we can find space, but we are very thankful to have a washing machine & hot running water!  Our accommodations are very nice and comfortable.

Yesterday was the first day that we did not really venture out much.  We stayed home except for one little errand to change out some currency.  It is interesting how every people group seems to have their own characteristics.  Here the folks have been pleasant, and some have even been very hospitable.  In general, however, there aren't too many cordial greetings or interactions, not to mention common courtesies, between stopping to allow others to go first through a door, smiling on the street, or even gesturing a "hello".  It seems to be "every man for himself".  In fact, we have been warned that if we don't press our way on and off the bus, we will get the door shut in our faces even if our kids are on the other side of the glass!

Snow removal is non-existent with exception of hand shovels and brooms, so there is snow-pack ice and rutted roads everywhere.  Somehow the taxi's seem to navigate it all just fine while making good time weaving in and out of traffic.  There is a flow to the traffic that is hard to understand.  It seems chaotic to our eyes, but cars & buses swerve in and out while vehicle & pedestrian traffic just keeps flowing.  There are hardly any emergency stops.  You just get used to a trip across town being a string of "close calls", and it all begins to seem so normal.

God has truly blessed us with some new friends here!  We have been able to spend quite a bit of time with the Newsome's who are adopting Anya and Tanya's best friends.  Since they are staying within walking distance to the orphanage, we have been sharing meals & some great encouraging conversation.  John is an AMAZING chef, and it is so good to have friends in a foreign land!  It certainly provides some perspective on how to pray for our missionaries overseas.  They love their family, friends, and familiar surroundings in the states just as much as we do, yet sacrifice it all for the sake of following Christ and making him known.

We all have our role to play in God's family.  Some have been called to minister to the spiritual needs of people far from home.  Others have been called to reach the neighbors they have known all of their lives.  May we all be faithful to that which God has called and equipped us.  Let us never shy away from our joy-filled work because we might feel "uncomfortable" or can't see the outcome of our efforts.  God is faithful always, and His joy is the blessing of our faithful obedience.

Please pray:
-For the Newsomes and our paperwork to be processed in time for us to have our 
          scheduled court hearings (theirs is Jan. 31st, ours is Feb. 7th).
-We may have more opportunity to encourage and love on all of the children at the 
-That we continue to grow in our unity and love as a new family.
-That Jenny regains energy and recovers from some of the exhausting portions of the 
          journey thus far.
-Thanks to God for His foresight in providing for all of our needs!

Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Traumatic Love of God

 Weekends are slow times in terms of getting anything accomplished for the adoption process.  However, thankfully, we have been able to spend much more time with Anya, Tanya, & Ruslan.  We may visit the children at the orphanage at 10am, and take the children with us until 6pm when they have dinner.  Yesterday, Jaden, Anya, and Todd made lunch.  It was fun to just do some normal family things together!

Today we all opted to eat at a very good restaurant near our apartment.  The cost is very reasonable, but the food is incredible.  Apparently, the rest of the world can spot an "American" from quite a ways off, so coupled with the fact that we had 5 kids with us (that's 4 more than the norm for here), we really drew some attention!

The waitresses treated us as special guests, and even had us sign a special book because we were from "abroad".  Redneck Royalty might be a fitting description.  We had a great time over a great lunch, but, always, the most enjoyable part is being together!

When we got to our apartment with the children, we considered letting them watch a movie together.  Anya requested no movie...she just wanted to spend time together as a family.  So we tried to just have as normal a day as possible, & even squeezed in a tea time.

We purposed to get back to the orphanage a bit early to allow us time with the other children there.  We haven't had much time to encourage the others, and are hoping that our time here can be fruitful in helping them to see the love that God has for them through the way that we love on them.

Every kid draws security and joy from that!

Anya's perspective on what is going on in her world is amazing.  Today, Todd asked her what the last thing she wanted to do here was.  Her eyes got big, and a very solemn and reflective look came over her.  She said it was the first time that the reality of leaving and never returning hit her.  She said that made her sad.

There is so much change coming for these kids, but especially for Anya.  What they are just beginning to experience is nothing short of traumatic.

Please pray:
-That God would lavish them with His abundant grace and mercy through this transition time for them, and help them to find their place in their new family and environment.
-That we would be able to invest more meaningful time at the orphanage with the other children.
-For Anya, Tanya, and Ruslan to be able to grieve in a healthy, fruitful way over the people and things which they are leaving behind.
-Thanks to God for these beautiful children, and that He has allowed us to be the avenue of His love for them.

Thank you.  We daily know His presence and the power of the prayers of His people!

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday we celebrated Tanya's 7th birthday!

We went to a unique place here that I think I can best describe as Chuckie Cheese on steroids! There is a huge trampoline floor surrounded by trampoline walls at this facility.  It's about the size of a basketball court.  I'm not sure if it ended up being more exhausting for Mama & Papa or for the kids.  We all had a great time!

 Jaden made several friends with a group of teenage boys that were there.  He managed to impress some of the boys with his gymnastics, and they kept ooo-ing and ahhh-ing, and asking him to try new things.  It was great to witness his confidence in talking with the boys (as much as was possible with the language barrier).

It's already getting more difficult to say goodbye to them each evening at 6pm when we are required to leave the orphanage, but the they seem to take it very well knowing that we will return.  Anya just wants to be with her family all the time.  It has been very moving to watch an older child respond to adoption.  She has processed this over and over, dreamed about it, prayed over it a thousand times, and now it's finally coming to fruition.  She's nervous, a bit sad to leave friends at the orphanage, and the comfort of familiar surroundings and language.  However, there is much comfort in knowing that her and Tanya's best friends (which are sisters) will be going home with their new family about a week before us.  They will be in Rhode Island.

We do have a big praise (& prayer request)!!  Yesterday we found out that we have a court date set!  It is set for Feb. 7th.  There is a little concern that paperwork will be ready for the proceeding, but our facilitators have been working very diligently to ensure that will not be an issue.  When we arrived, they informed us that we would likely not receive a court date before Feb. 14th.  We are thanking God for the good news.  However, we still must trust Him to continue working out details.

We have made friends with the couple adopting Anya & Tanya's best friends.  He happens to be a chef, & prepared an amazing meal for us.  He made the mistake of offering his services again, so we will definitely take him up on that!  Sometimes it is just refreshing to speak with another couple that can relate to all the adjustments and processes, and speak a common language with relative ease.  We are thanking God for new friends.  It's given us a better perspective on God's call for us to help "widows, orphans, and strangers in the land (foreigners)".  All three are vulnerable groups, and we get the honor of being Christ to them.

Please continue in prayer:
-For all the necessary paperwork to be complete, accurate, & ready for the court proceeding to take place.
-That God would continue to give us favor with all those with whom we working to complete the adoption.
-Rest & strength for Jaden & Kellen.
-For God's love to be knitting our new family together at the deepest levels.

Thank you for your prayers!

11 Year Old "Mama"

The following is a post from an email update dated Jan. 24th:

Today we figured out how to make our way to the "big" market.  Actually, it's a pretty normal supermarket, but it was a little victory in helping us to feel a little more freedom, and not be so dependent on our facilitator who has helped us with just about everything.  It's nice to gain a little independence, especially since we seem to be in a very safe area.

There has never been any concern for safety...other than when in a taxi or crossing streets!  It seems that signs and lines are really just mild suggestions when it comes do driving.  In fact, if you don't find a parking spot, you just create your own in an intersection, sidewalk, etc., and the police don't seem to concern themselves unless you steal the spot they are holding for somebody "important".

The boys have been learning to count local currency, as well as, beginning to learn their alphabet with pronunciations.  It's been tough to get our mouths and tongues to cooperate!

We made our way to the Notary again today, & were successful in getting our document notarized.  We are still waiting for the Inspectors report so that we may officially petition the court and receive a court date.  Yesterday was very exhausting.  There has been quite a bit of walking here and there, struggling with language barriers, not being able to eat regularly, and being at the mercy of others in many regards.  Thankfully we were able to get a great sleep last night.  I think we are finally settling into local time.

The next several days should be less complicated schedule-wise.  It seems to be the drill for international adoption:  Hurry from place to place until you're completely exhausted, and then go some more.  It seems we find new frontiers of persevering, and then there are days where there seems to be nothing to do.  We are only allowed to spend afternoons with the children at this point since they are in school.

The great thing is that Ruslan is now getting to spend more time with the girls.  He has been separate from them because Anya was getting stressed by feeling the need to personally care for him.  At 11 years old, Anya has shouldered the weight of the future of her younger siblings.  She takes that responsibility very seriously, and it obviously weighs heavy on her at times.  

Tanya simply adores Rusie, and is very good with him.  Oh, for them all to learn how to just be kids with the security of a loving family!

Please pray that:
-We continue to find favor with those with whom we are working to complete the adoption
-We will effectively encourage the children at the orphanage with the love of Christ each day
-Jaden & Kellen will find new strength in Christ and be able to persevere through all of this
-Sage, Christopher, and Katie to be comforted and encouraged by the Lord each day
-Anya, Tanya, & Ruslan to be preparing for the transitions that are to come

And always praise God for all that He has done and is yet to do.  He has been so faithful.  He continues to be our motivation and strength.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "First" Meeting

The following is a post from an email update dated Jan. 23rd:
The first walk into the orphanage!

Many thanks and praises to God!

We had an AMAZING reunion with Anya, Tanya, & Ruslan.  Anya was very nervous, but all three went for Jenny with open arms.  By the end of the day, Ruslan decided Papa's arms were the place to be.  They all look better than Jenny recalls from previous visits.  It seems that the hope of a family God has given them has even brought physical, intellectual and emotional health.

The Inspector asked the girls if they needed 24 hrs. to decide whether they wished to be adopted into our family.  They said they did not need any time!  They were ready to write their letters of consent right now.  It was a beautiful thing to watch.  Tanya was all smiles as she worked hard to write her letter.

Afterwards, the girls took us to their rooms where they gave us some hand-made sculptures which they had made specifically for us.  One of the little creatures was holding a heart-shaped sign that read "We love you!"

The Inspector is preparing her paperwork, and tomorrow we petition the court for a court date.  We have been informed that recently some small changes have been made in procedures for processing some of the paperwork, so we are anticipating about a 1 week delay in our planned time-frame.  Todd will likely be required to remain until around Feb. 15th due to this delay.  However, as with the rest of the adoption, we must trust God for all of our needs.

Please pray that:
-God will give us energy, strength, stamina and perseverance
-God continues to give us favor with all of those whom we are working with to complete the adoption
-All remaining paperwork is moved through without hinderance
-That God will cause our court date and other work to be done in very timely way that we may return to the US as a complete family ahead of schedule.

Thank you again.  Your prayers are powerful and effective!