Safe In The Arms of the Shepherd

Safe In The Arms of the Shepherd
This is Who we want our children to know!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My artist daughter

According to Brittany, this is what I used to look like! Now she is an art major at Edinboro University, which is about 45 minutes from our home. I haven't changed a bit . . .

Overcome with nostalgia today!

As much as we are all looking forward to our new life with three daughters, this morning I cannot help but reminisce back over the wonderful years with my beloved first daughter Brittany Kathleen, for a long time thought to be my only child! As I was cleaning ('fess up, you know you know you all "nest" right before you leave for China!), I came upon these photos from past years. They speak volumes about that unspeakably wonderful mother/daughter relationship . No more words needed, except to say that I will cherish these, even as I look forward to future pictures of my new daughters and I. I can only hope that in time we will have a relationship akin to that Brittany and I share!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Here we come, girls!

How exciting to share our itinerary with you! It is a very busy one, with not a lot of idle time, lots of travel within China, so please keep us in your prayers. At the end of this post, I will give you a list of prayer concerns. Maybe one or two will tug at your heart throughout your days and you will lift us up!

11/24 Thanksgiving afternoon - leave by car for D.C. with our niece
11/25 12:30 P.M. Direct flight to Beijing!
11/25 10:30 P.M. Fly to Jinan (capital of Yi Li's province)
11/27 Meet and take custody of YiLi at the Civil Affairs Office (afternoon)
11/28 Return to that same office to finalize YiLi's adoption paperwork
11/28 Travel to Qingdao (YiLi's orphanage city, she lives out in the
country in a foster home
11/29 Apply for YiLi's Chinese passport
11/29 4:30 P.M. Fly to Guangzhou
11/30 Meet and take custody of Gan at the Civil Affairs Office
12/1 Return to that same office to finalize Gan's adotion paperwork
12/2 Apply for Gan's Chinese passport
12/3 Visa medical examination for both children, including TB
12/4 Sightseeing (Safari Park)
12/5 Return to medical clinic for TB results and prepare with guide for
our adoption interview
12/6 10:00 A.M. Visa interview and oath ceremony at US Consulate
12/7 Pick up children's visas in the adternoon
12/8 Very very early take a can to Hong Kong airport
12/8 10:30 A.M. Fly home via Tokyo
12/8 - 12/? Stay with Lisa in VA until we recover from jetlag! Meet her
Chinese student Sara who came home 2 years ago. The girls can talk
to her and she will be able to explain a lot and comfort them!

Just some musings and some prayer requests:

We wish we could have toured. It just didn't work out. We feel it might not have been in the girls' best interest. I am particularly disappointed that we won't get to spend more time in Qingdao, for many reasons. I wish we could meet YiLi's foster family (almost never permitted). I wish we could visit her orphanage (2 1/2 hour ride into country, might be possible, depends on how YiLi is doing), and the city itself is said to be one of the most beautiful in all of China. Rick and I had decided that we would be very satisfied spending some time there rather than Beijing. But since the government requires all adoptions to happen in the provincial capital, along with the trip planning being done by the agency rapidly, it just could not be worked out.

I feel that we will get to tour Gan's orphanage because we will be spending the rest of our time in her province. Generally, kids benefit from getting to go back and say goodbye, as well as seeing that the people they care about are in total support of the adoption. It is difficult, but many times at this point they are able to go forward emotionally. Again, we will see how Gan feels about going back. If she is struggling, one of us will stay with her and the other will visit the orphanage.

Prayer requests:
1. Physical endurance for the journey - it looks busy!
2. Courage and comfort for our girls - such a big step for them!
3. Specifically pray that YiLi is not brought to us early. Many times when
parents arrive at the hotel, the child is there in the lobby already. We
will have been up straight for 23 hours at that point. It will be 11:40
P.M. China time but it will feel like 11:40 A.M. of the next day after
we travelled for us. They say adrenaline will carry us through!
4. Those first few moments, the "Gotcha" moments, to be sweet ones
5. Pray for all of our reading and training to come to the forefront when we
need it. Pray for God's wisdom in the little responses and the big ones.
Pray for the knitting together of our family to begin!
6. Pray for neither of us to take rejection personally if it happens
(usually a child is so overwhelmed they can only "bond" with one
parent at first and the other is "refected" temporarily. we understand
logically, but it's hard on the heart!
7. Pray for us to find ways to communicate the necessities.
8. Pray for my wrist to hold up under all the luggage lugging!

I am sure I am leaving lots out - ask God to show you what you should pray for in our regard! We are counting on these prayers being lifted! Thank you, God, for entrusting these treasures to us on this earth. We pray in the name of Jesus that you will keep us close to you, that we will look to You for counsel, that we will keep our minds and heart stayed on You only, that the enemy will be powerless, that the hearts of our precious children will be soft and open to the love of earthly parents and a heavenly Father! We pray for safe travels and good connections, guides that we have a rapport with, and that we would get to visit both orphanages. I even pray, Lord, that we would be able to meet the "mama and baba" that mean so much to YiLi, even though it is said to be impossible. Nothing is impossible in Your Name! Amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lambie hats and the love of the Shepherd

After my first post I promised to tell you about a very special hat. It's a long story though!

When we saw YiLi's video, way back almost one year ago, reps from our agency were there videotaping her being interviewed so that the video could be shown to families like us who showed interest in possibly adopting her. We saw her teensy picture on an adoption advocacy site called Rainbow Kids (check it out). We immediately contacted WACAP and requested her file. Well, Seattle received so much snow that they had to dig themselves out, and it was two weeks before we received the video!

In her video she sings a song. She starts on too high of a pitch, but this girl never gives up! She finished her song gloriously!

YiLi explained, through a translator, that she lives with her "mama" , "baba", and grandmothers on both sides - no other foster children. She obviously loves them dearly, and is too young to understand that she could not live with them past the age of 14 within the foster care system, atleast. And very few families would be able to afford or would be willing to keep a foster child without being recompensed by the government. Please pray for YiLi as she works through her grief when she comes home to us.

She wants to own a grocery store when she grows up so that she can have all the food she wants and so that she can share it with all her friends. Even this is unusual. Many orphans cannot give an answer when asked what they want to be "when they grow up" because they cannot imagine the future at all.

When asked her favorite toy, she almost could not think of an answer. When she finally did, she gave this little sideways grim toward her nanny as if they shared this funny little secret, and then said "toy gun".

Her favorite animal? Little sheep . . . why . . . because they eat grass. Now it very well may be that a lamb is not her favorite animal at all. Maybe it's all she could think of in the stress of the moment. But it got me to thinking about how we are all just little lambs . . . and how we are all adopted . . . and how we can tell YiLi about a loving Shepherd who doesn't rest until all His sheep are safe in the fold. When He calls her name, I hope with my whole heart that she knows the Shepherd's voice and follows him!

OK, almost done! Here's the connection. A young mom at my church makes these hats on demand in the shape of different animals. So I asked her to come up with a lambie hat, to use her own creativity, which she has a LOT of, to create a hat for YiLi to wear. It went from there to her making a dozen or so hats for us to leave at YiLi's orphanage! God must have known that we would be headed there right at the onset of a very cold winter, to the north of China! Thank you, Nicole, for your ministry of hats! So much love went into these hats, and we can't wait to take them with us. Here's Lambie Hat!

Peace in the midst of "Yikes!"

We are leaving for China most likely two weeks from today! That also happens to be Thanksgiving Day! I can't think of anything better to be doing than crossing the ocean to bring home our daughters YiLi Rebecca and Hannah Gan!
Let me show you the first pictures we ever saw of the girls:

I am not sure, but I think Gan was about nine years old here. I'll never understand why no one chose to adopt her before now, other than God meant for her to be a part of our family, but isn't it sad that she waited so long? That's why she is named Hannah. Hannah in the Bible waited a very long time for a son. Our Hannah has waited a very long time for a family. Hannah dedicated her son to God and we will do the same for our Hannah until she hopefully makes that decision for herself!

This is YiLi. We have some pictures of her when she was four years old, but they are not on the computer. She is really chubby faced, with very short hair, and she is standing at the top of a sliding board waving to the world! And this is the closest I've come to a picture with some of the girls together. We'll fix that as soon as we arrive home!

Well, we have a lot to do! So many little details to wrap up! Pray that we pack everything necessary, and, like my older brother Bob says, anything we forgot we can pick up at Walmart!

We'll let you know travelling details as they are received. Our agency is working at obtaining a definite consulate appointment date, on which the whole trip is based. We hope to know today, but may not until Monday due to tomorrow's holiday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our first birthday celebration after we come home!

I told you Rick was really getting into this "baba" role. He can't wait to start building some traditions that followed his childhood. So we were talking this morning at the kitchen table. I was saying the Gan's birthday is January 3, soon after our return home.

Rick says "Well, first we are going to celebrate someone's birthday Who isn't even physically with us. That will help the girls understand who Jesus is and what He has done for us! We'll sing Happy Birthday and have a cake for Jesus."

That is how his parents taught him about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas . . . and thus we will pass on our first tradition to our girls!

Come on, travel approval, we need to get to China!