Well after an especially rough weekend of mom being gone all 3 days and feeling a little under the weather on Monday, we are doing much better. Dad is not "freaking out" anymore. We made it through Halloween and had a great time. We even carved pumpkins today. I am getting things together for our trip. I am making an excel spreadsheet to make packing easier. I have gotten their backpacks out of the closet and have started getting things ready to take with us. I found little fleece blankets on sale for $6 at KMart which roll up really small. I was thinking about getting a few of those that could be rolled up small and put in our carry on so that we can try to nap during our flights and lay overs. Plus when the kids come back, I have a feeling they may get cold with air conditioning and the change in temperature. I also bought a few word search activity color books to put in their backpacks. Does anyone have any more ideas about what to take in their backpacks. I don't want to bring stuff that they won't play with or is a waste of space, but I also want them to have something to do on that long flight home. Mae Mae suggests a portable DVD player...Well it's something to think about.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Couldn't help but be a little alliterative! I have been researching travel tips, packing lists etc on adoption websites and adoption blogs. I found the most awesome guest house in Addis. You can rent the entire floor with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Breakfast is included. They cook Ethiopian meals and allow your family to assist with cooking the meals. There is a small garden area and they are very adoption friendly. It looks too good to be true. I have e mailed for a price quote and availability of dates. The individual rooms are priced between 15-45 Euros, which is between 22 to 64 US $. So even if we got 3 rooms, that would be cheaper than the Hilton. I am very anxious about hearing back from them. It looks like an awesome place to spend time getting to know our new children. God is so good. I cannot even begin to tell you. We were (OK I) stressing about making ends meet for the rest of this adoption, and we have been blessed with so many generous, awesome friends and family. I will never be able to pay them back for what they've done for us. Plus, if we can get these rooms at the guest house, it will save us even more money. I know that God must have such great things in store for these kids and for us also
just heard back from the New Flower Guest House. The price for 3 bedrooms (the entire floor) is $150 per night. This includes taxes and a continental breakfast every day. This is better than the Hilton by far. The problem is, the entire floor is only available until Dec 15th! Will we be there by then? I wish I had some specifics! I would book that today. Well, we've received everything else we have asked God for in regards to this adoption, so everyone begin to pray without ceasing that we will be able to make travel arrangements soon and that we will actually be able to travel during that time! OK, Start praying!
I think today for the very first time I have come to the realization that I am freaked out. I do not seem to have a grip on anything. I just finished vacuuming the house because I have already done the laundry and ran 2 miles on the treadmill. Please pray for me that I will be at peace and let God handle my business as well as his own. I truly trust him ,but I can honestly say "I don't know". I love all of you and I hope that I will soon be at ease. I love you all and thank you for all of your support. The Incredible Mr. E Jeff
Friday, October 26, 2007
Today's scripture verse is "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11. If there's one thing I'm really learning through this process it that the most important thing I can do is pray for all orphans and realize that God knows best. Isn't it comforting to know that our future is already known by God. He has plans for us. And these plans are to prosper us. I already feel so blessed, I'm excited to see what God will do next.
Well the weather's finally changed. I think this is my favorite time of year. There's something magical about hot chocolate and cuddling under a blanket to read a book. I think the weather change has made me more aware that the kids will be here soon. When we were in the middle of summer, and it was 100+ degrees outside, it was more difficult to imagine the holidays and the time the kids would be coming. Now it's becoming real. It's almost time to celebrate. By the way, just so you know, I did get all of my assignments for school completed in time, (finished at 1 am), the kids had great parent teacher conferences (Jaiden had mastered almost everything for 2nd grade already and Jack had 2A's and 3A+'s.) Yeah! Jordan will be leaving for Philadelphia on her birthday (November 7th) What a present! (For her, not me) So even though I feel like I'm struggling to keep afloat, I am at least keeping my head above the water. (Jen - I'm at least at chin level, maybe even shoulders) Let's start praying for elbows or waist level soon. Have a blessed day. Gina
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Sorry I missed a day, I'll explain that later. "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds id dead." James 2:26. The purpose of this devotional was to examine why church is so unfulfilling for so many. God has called us to spend ourselves on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, thr orphan, the widow, the prisoner, and the stranger in the land. People are afraid to look like they're trying to earn their way to heaven, so they fall back and just don't do anything. People turn inward, looking for what the church can do for them instead of looking to see how they can help the least of these. The thought for today is: Are there people around me who are ignored or forgotten that I can love today? Let me know.
Today's scripture is: "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5 So if God is so almighty, why are there hurting, poor, orphans and widows? Why doesn't he just blink his eye and fix all that? It's not that He can't, it's that God did not design things to be that way. God desires that we step out together as His body and love these children as our own, just as He has done for us. So ask yourself today How can I embody God's love to the hurting, the poor, and the fatherless.
OK, now that I've done 2 days worth of devotion blogging, now I'm going to ask for your prayers. Please pray for me for strength, endurance and patience. I am so tired! I just want to crawl in bed and stay there. I've been staying up most of the night this week to finish an important paper for grad school, plus everything else I have to be doing. I am absolutely beat. I think with everything going on, we are all just tired and crabby, even the kids are crabby. At times, I can feel that stress of getting everything just take my breath away, it's choking me. So as we head into the weekend of no sleep, please pray that God will give me super human strength and take these burdens from me. Thank you.
As I went out the door to stalk the mailman today, I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought, what if we're not approved. I have not only not helped these two children, I have given them false hope, which is worse than no help at all. I said a little prayer and walked to the mailbox. There was no mail. So we got in the car to go to parent teacher conferences. I look over on the console and there's the mail. (Jack was surprising me) The first thing I saw was an envelope from the US Department of Homeland Security. After the feelings I just had about being denied, I was afraid to open it. I said a little prayer and opened it. The first thing I saw was in bold face, capital letters at the top which said "NOTICE OF FAVORABLE DETERMINATION CONCERNING APPLICATION FOR ADVANCE PROCESSING OF ORPHAN PETITION." Uh...what? So I read on and it said It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan orphans as described by section 101... Our advance processing application has been forwarded to the American Consulate or Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our application has been approved for TWO children. The thing about this that is so amazing is that it took 19 days. We were told it could take 30-90 days, with the usual timeframe of 6-8 weeks. Everything we have done for this adoption has moved ahead without any delays or problems. This is absolutely amazing. Thank you God!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Today's scripture verse is "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness- secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isaiah 45:3. The devotion is about becoming obedient to God so that I might discover the hidden treasures of God. Don't get us wrong, we are scared to death about what's in store for us. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think "What if they don't like us?" What if, what if, what if. We are worried about Christmas, about traveling, the logistics of having 6 children (laundry!) The list goes on and on. I have to have faith that when God guides, He always provides. God is not going to ask someting of us without giving us sufficient grace to accomplish it. Have a great day!
We went shopping yesterday for Merkeb and Filemon. I realized yesterday that we not only need to get them some winter clothes, but summer clothes for when we pick them up in Ethiopia. It will be summer in Africa when we get there, so that's at least a weeks worth of clothes. And we need a "coming home" outfit. It's just like bringing home our babies from the hospital, we want to get just the right outfit to bring them home in. I was able to find a ton of summer stuff for Filemon that was new, nice and on clearance. I got several summer shirts for Filemon. I also got several long sleeve shirts for him, and 3 pairs of pants. Merkeb was not as lucky. I was able to find her some cute sweats that will be warm when she gets here and a really cute wool jumper from Old Navy. I'm a little unsure what she will want to wear. They are very modest in Africa. All of the women wear skirts or dresses. It's next to impossible to find anything cute here that doesn't make them look much older than 8. Mae Mae and Justine wear jeans and T shirts all the time, but I'm not sure Merkeb will want to do that. So we are continuing to look for some cute, comfortable dresses and skirts for summer and winter for Merkeb. We are taking a break right now to go look for clothes for that beautiful little girl!
Monday, October 22, 2007
began a two week devotion today especially for parents going through the adoption process. I want to share a little of that with you. The scripture for today is "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18. The devotion question is Am I willing to follow God wherever He may lead so that I might more fully know Him and make Him known? This is applicable in every situation, not just adoption. Listening to God's call isn't always easy, comfortable or perhaps in our case even "sane," but it's definitely rewarding and brings you closer to God than you could ever imagine. We are relying on God to bring these children home. I know that whatever we need to do, God will provide. He will provide the ability for us to work more or the funds we need to make this happen. I know that He will provide us with the energy and the stamina to finish this race. I also know that He has changed our lives in that we will continue to feel a need to help others in need. We sing 'Open the eyes of my heart' and that is exactly what God has done for us. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I got called off tonight, as we only have 4 patients. Yeah for no sick people. Pray that it stays that way. IF I do not get called back in, we are going on our annual hayride, smores making, sitting around the campfire with Sunday school tonight. I find myself thinking more and more about "this is the last time we will do this with just the 6 of us." Everything we do is marked by the fact that next time, we will get to share this with Merkeb and Filemon. I am beginning to hyperventilate about Christmas. We are continuing the 3 gift thing this year. Each kid get 3 gifts as that is the number of gift Jesus received from the Wise Men. Even that, 3 gifts X 6 kids...those gifts have to really be special because there's only 3, so Christmas requires a lot of planning and thinking ahead. I really want to make this Christmas special...how could it not be? The kids are going to be here for the first time at Christmas time! How awesome is that? This is a dream come true to me. I have wanted this for so long, and I never thought it would come to fruition. I am just counting the days until we can go get these kids. I know the rest of you are too. Just think, you're observing a miracle!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I received word today that our dossier has returned from DC. YEAH! Shimellis is leaving on October 22nd to take our dossier to Ethiopia. If it takes 2 days to get there, we will assume it will arrive realistically on the 25th. It takes 1 week to translate the dossier into Amharic. I was told it takes about 17 days to get a court date after translation. That puts our court date at about November the 18th! Can you believe it? That's a month away! We are still realistically looking at traveling the first week of December. That puts our USCIS stuff at 60 days, surely it will be back by then. I have become a mailman stalker. I watch anxiously every day, waiting for his arrival. I run to the mailbox and grab the mail out of his hand and then sort through all the junk mail looking for something from the Department of Homeland Security. I am going to be doing some teaching for the caregivers about the cloth diapers, diaper rash, as well as teaching them about the medications I will be bringing. If anyone find Pedialyte packets on sale at the grocery store, let me know, that is what they really need. I will be taking a suitcase with nothing but meds and stuff for the kids. Also shoes are what they really need, any size. They like crocs and flip flops. I will be working some extras until we go so that I can take as much stuff for those kiddos as is possible. I just can't imagine what I'm going to experience when I get there. It's amazing what God is doing in our hearts and lives. Thanks for keeping up with the blog. It's nice to be able to share all of this with you.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Proverbs 3:24 It's so hard being so far away from the kids. Not knowing if they're OK, if they're happy, excited. Just the not being there for the everyday things. Kissing the skinned knees, tucking them into bed. I think everyone probably thinks Jeff and I are two airheads. We are starting to forget all kinds of important things...immunization appointments, snack day at preschool, picture day at school... I could go on and on. I think it's because our minds are 7,000 miles away. We are in Africa in our heart and in our minds. I am counting the days and they are going so fast!
This lady really had a way with words. Read this and take it to heart. In Mother Theresa's words, "People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway."
I heard from Crystal today. Shimellis will be leaving on October 22nd for Ethiopia. She has not heard about our dossier leaving DC yet. I expect she will hear any day now. It probably arrived in DC on Monday... so maybe by Wednesday? I told her I wanted to send the kids something, at least something small....she said Shimellis wasn't able to take EVERYTHING we sent him, so he's taking the rest of it this trip. (I may have gone a little overboard) So at least the kids will have a little something. I hope to have more pictures soon. So if documents arrive on the 22nd, they will be translated, then we will get a court date. Courts opened up on October 8th after being closed for several months. So hopefully we will have a court date in 1 month. It is my prayer that we will have a courtdate in 1 month. I will keep you updated!
Monday, October 15, 2007
One of the most common questions we get is why Ethiopia? Why not adopt from the US? This week, Jeff encountered the first negative response from someone regarding our adoption. And it was from an African-American man. Go figure. This is a little bit of information about "Why Ethiopia?" The bible tells us: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Ethiopia was the “least of these” for us. Remember in the 80's (those of you who are old enough to remember) the pictures of the starving Ethiopians? Ethiopia is still the 4th poorest country in the world, with the average family making about $160 per family per year. In addition: • One in ten children die before their first birthday • One in six children die before their fifth birthday • 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old • 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition • The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years • 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world) • 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone • Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa • In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%) • Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals) • Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school. • Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002. • Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000. • In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports. Sources: Greening Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s Children, Global Income Per Capita, CIA World Facts. So that's "Why Ethiopia?" I honestly feel like all children are God's children. Children in this country, Ethiopia and around the world. If we can make a difference for these 2 children, that should be enough. My heart aches for all of the children of the world, all countries. I wish I could do more, but right now we will be changing the world 2 lives at a time.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Well our fundraising is going well. Thank you to everyone who has participated. We appreciate it more than you will ever know. Good friends are hard to come by. Those friends you can say whatever you want to and they don't judge you. You know who you are and we thank you over and over again. You are the support we need right now. I love hearing from you and seeing your comments. I love knowing that we have so many people praying for us, following our journey and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest loved ones. Thank you again!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Well it's beginning to sink in. We are going to be parents again. It's somewhat surreal. This is really going to happen soon. Everything we do is accentuated by the fact that soon, there will be two more people here doing it with us. We downloaded copies to apply for our Ethiopian Visa. Evidently we have to have to be in the country. They're good for 90 days. The kids will have to have a Visa as well. I have read about them, but I don't have that information right in front of me, but there are two different kinds of Visa's for the kids, and IR3 and an IR4? Maybe? Anyway an "IR3 means you're free", while an "IR4 means there's still some more" Our kids will have an IR4 which means our adoption will have to be recognized by a judge in the States. It's just for ceremony and officiality, I think. They will have an IR4 status because we did not see them in person before the adoption took place? I don't know. I will have to do some research. We are also researching flights and travel arrangements. Shimellis said he would book our suite at the Hilton as soon as we have a court date. So that's good. We want to maybe have a 12 hour layover in Paris or somewhere exotic and touristy, but we're not sure if we will have to have a separate VISA to visit a country that is not our destination. If anyone knows anything about international travel, let me know. I'm going to have to do some major research on that subject. With our luck, we'd get stuck somewhere and not make it to Ethiopia. TTYL, Gina
Friday, October 12, 2007
Well I have completed our Ethiopian Visa applications. You have to send your passport in with the application, and supposedly it only takes about 3-4 days to get it back. I have been searching for good flights. They're getting a little more expensive than they were a few weeks ago, which makes me nervous, but it's still not unreasonable...yet. Our fundraising is going really well. It absolutely amazes me how many people have donated money for our adoption. People I don't even know. People who definitely don't have money to donate. I am flabberghasted by the whole thing. God is really taking care of these children. So thank you to all of our who have donated your time, money and prayers for our cause. I know that God will provide as we get down to the wire, it will all work out. Thanks again!
I was just browsing the Hope Adoption website which shows the Faith Children's Home and information about Shimellis. I will add it to my links page. Anyway I have looked at it a dozen times before, at least. I clicked on the Ethiopian Program and when I started looking at the pictures, I think I found 2 new pictures of Merkeb and Filemon. I put them on the photos section of this website under the title new photos. The date on the pictures is July of 2006. This would have been when the children arrived in the home. I recognized Merkeb due to her little puffy pigtails. I have a picture just like that on her admission to the home paperwork. Filemon looks like his picture around the same time too. I'm sure it's them! And I think the kids with them are their cousins! Isn't that awesome! I'm on cloud nine and these pictures are over a year old! Imagine what I'll be like when I actually see new pictures. Imagine what I'll be like when I get to hold them in person! They're going to think I'm a crazy woman. Oh well, it won't be the last time that happens!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Just wanted to let you all know, there is a great article in this month's Good Housekeeping about Ethiopia. It is about a man who has started libraries in Ethiopia and has a mobile library he takes out in the country, pulled by a donkey. The purpose is to get books to children who have no other way of getting them. The article is written by the same author of the book There is no me, without you by Melissa Fay Greene. I highly recommend that book as well. I am in the middle of reading it and hope to have it finished by the time I get the kids. (I don't have much spare time these days) The article gives a statistic of "An estimated 72 percent of Ethiopian children can't go to school because their families can't afford to send them." Isn't that sad? The only way to find your way out of poverty and disease is through literacy. The article says Volume I, which makes me think there will be more about Ethiopia in the future in this magazine. The pictures are great also!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
OK, I had to stop today and ask myself...what's the deal with people who are out in the public working and obviously expected to be functioning at a higher level... who have absolutely no grammatical skills? Our bank financial statement which was typed by a very nice girl was full of misspelled words, poor grammar and inappropriate capitalization. Then she had the bank manager sign in the wrong spot and I had to take it back today. Perhaps it's because of too many years of Shurley Homeschool Grammar, but it really makes me glad I have made the kids work so hard at it. I realize how utterly important it is. I'm not sure how all those grammatical errors will translate to Amharic, but hopefully they won't think we (Americans) are a bunch of idiots. Then I took our entire dossier to the UPS store to overnight it to Shimellis. I gave the guy there the correct spelling of his name, as well as the correct address. He not not spelled Shimellis' name wrong, but also the address. So hopefully our dossier will be in St. Louis tomorrow. Then it will be personally carried to Washington DC by a courier hired by Shimellis. This should take 2 days, then off to Ethiopia. Things are really moving fast. I'm having a hard time getting everything done. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I know I will get it all done, I always do. Laters
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
We got everything to the SOS's office and back within 2 hours. I've already dropped it off at Adoption for Families! Tomorrow, it will be sent to Washington DC. Crystal says it will most likely be back by Oct 22, then off to St Louis for Shimellis to take to Ethiopia. We are definitely looking at the first week of December. It is possible we may be able to go before then, however, we ar trying to be realistic. She said court dates have been going really fast in Ethiopia and things are moving quickly! YEAH!