After the months of N.O.T.H.I.N.G happening, we now can't keep up with ourselves!! I can't remember who I've told what and I tend to put off making an official blog update when I'm not sure I've shared all the important details in person with my Mommas. Since my brain's on overload, things keep happening so quickly, lots of people care and pray......and, because I have such understanding Mommas....I'm just going to go ahead and put it all out here. Here are the highlights!!
- My heart's been calm. The beasts are, at least for now, wrangled. There's been a sweet peace laced with adventure adrenaline rushes in their place. I like the new tenants!
- Our church family is celebrating...and that's so dear to us. Our Pastor asked us to read our referral announcement blog post in the Sunday morning service. This was an important moment, and I'll admit I had a good bit of dry mouth and crazy, last minute "what are we doing????!!!' thoughts all during worship. In so many ways, we had made the decision to bring all these people along with us on a ride that could prove to be really bumpy, and they hadn't had a vote! And they're people I love, people we've chosen to give our lives to for the past 17 years, people who's opinions are valuable to me. Our church family acted just like family that morning. We cried our way through the post, with commentary along the way....had our nurse friend give a mini-HIV lesson.....and made our announcement. These dear people clapped.....they clapped, they hugged, they put hands on us and prayed, they quietly squeezed my hand, they looked me hard in the eyes and told me they were with us. They did just what we imagined they would do when we were contemplating and deciding. A big line item on the "pro" side of the "pros & cons" list was....our village, our church family. If you don't have a church family you're in deep with....you're really missing out, my friends. They did it for us that Sunday, they did "church" and they did "family." I love them so....
- We've been assigned the first of a couple important dates that will end with us on a plane home with our girls. The Ethiopian court first issues a "birth family court date" and then follows up with an "adoptive family court date." Our "birth family court date" was scheduled for January 28th, Riley's 18th birthday incidentally, and we rejoiced! We were also told that the agency requested a quicker court date since we are fighting the clock for our oldest daughter. A few days later we received word that the judge had been favorable toward the request for a new date and offered February 1.....which was confusing. Further discussions revealed that the original court date had been miscommunicated and had actually been February 25th! Our agency told us that it's not uncommon for extended family to make a trip, even from far out in the country, to appear at these court hearings. We're praying for any of our girls' family members that might be making that trip. As soon as that court hearing is completed, we'll be extended an invitation by the Ethiopian government to appear for our own court date. This will be an exciting day and will set into motion a flurry of activity! We've been warned by our agency that we could have less than a week's notice before we have to be in Addis Ababa, coherent enough to appear before a judge and seem like worthy parents. We're expecting that trip to happen the second week of February and are getting ready to leave 6 kids with grandparents and travel quick! I'm trying really hard to be prepared, but there's a very good chance this isn't gonna be pretty!
- If you travel out of the country, our government suggests that you check the CDC's helpful website for health information about your destination and peruse their list of recommended immunizations that can be found at your friendly health department. Well, we've traveled before....we're not new at this....missions trips and family have given us the gifts of Bangkok, Sao Paulo, Munich....out of the country doesn't just mean Canada to us, you know. Let me just tell you, after wandering around the CDC I've realized we're going to be going off the grid in an exciting way like we never have before. Africa's a whole different ball game, folks! We scheduled our travel immunization appointment, listed to the serious speech and gladly accepted every needle they offered! Now if we can just remember to take the typhoid pills every other day, 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before eating, for 4 days......and start those malaria pills 2 days before we travel and keep taking them 7 days after we travel.....we'll be just fine!
- Our social worker called last Thursday morning. Scott just happened to have stopped home for something and could tell something was up when I answered the phone in the other room and he could hear Kim's excited voice say, "Are you sitting down??!!" It was very much a good news voice! Bethany's Caring Connections board had met.....and decided to award us an $8,000 special needs adoption grant!!!! Could I possibly use enough exclamation points for that??! Those floodgates are just staying wide open! It feels crazy to say that we're on the final leg of a $40,000 adoption, we're starting to get a glimpse of the finish line. God's resources are endless and all the cliche' sounding phrases are true....If it's God's will He pays the bill. Every dime of this, whether it's been funneled through gifts, savings, grants or extra jobs, has come straight from Him.
- We've had some really great connections with other Ethiopian adoptive families this week too. A Momma found me on a Bethany discussion board and realized we were adopting the girl her family had been praying for....she even blogged a plea for people to pray for our girl, a month before we started wondering if we were her's. Maybe their prayers is what planted the question in our hearts. She told me of their excitement when they saw our daughter's picture disappear off the waiting child list.....which reminded me of a celebration our family had when a certain boy's picture disappeared off that same list. Our hearts had been heavy for this little one all summer and we'd been praying for him. Well. Guess who's he is, who snatched him off that stinkin' waiting list.....my new friend who had been praying for my girls!!! Her family's packing up and getting ready to travel next week and bring him home!!! So cool to be able to see the rest of his story, isn't God such a sweet Father to give us this?? Another connection came from an adoptive family facebook group this new friend point me to. After some initial welcomes, I received a message from someone who is in Ethiopia this week and was going to be at my daughters' orphanage today. She asked if I would like her to find them and hug them for me.....OF COURSE I DO!!! I messaged her their info this morning, was thinking about it mid-morning when my phone alerted me to a new message. It was a picture of our younger daughter with this lady and the caption, "Is she yours?" I can't tell you all the things my heart did at that moment....or all the even better things my heart did when I typed back, "YES, SHE'S MINE!!!" (MY FEELING ARE GOING TO BE ON ALL CAPS FOR A WHILE, I'M AFRAID....MY APOLOGIES....) She's there picking up a son and told me she's got stories to share when there's time. I'll admit I've checked messages about 89 times today.... What a gift! They just keep coming...sweet, tender confirmations from God.
Well, that's it....that's been the week....oh, except for the mega construction in the basement, painting of a bathroom, sorting and organizing awesome hand-me-downs from my college student friends, and just regular family stuff!!
Oh, and we had a fabulous photographer friend take these super, sweet little gems for us to use in the photobooks we sent to the girls last week...that happened too!