Saturday, March 31, 2012

History Lesson

We decided to tour the museum and a cathedral here in the city with our driver who was our guide. He is quite the history buff! It was a very fascinating and educational experience as I'm not particularly knowledgeable in that area. First, we went to St. Michael's Cathedral, we weren't allowed to take pictures, but it was a beautiful place with lots of murals and ornate decor. I think I posted these 2 pictures a couple days ago, but this is the one we were able to go inside of today.

We then went on to the historical museum and were able to survey about 2,000 years of history in a couple hours: ) It was so interesting to see artifacts from thousands of years ago to Christ's time on Earth to the World Wars time.

Vessels from time of Christ

18th century piano forte - one of my husband's favorite pieces from the museum:)

18th Century Baroque Style Carriage - very intricate woodwork and painting

WWII picture of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin

I've never really been into history before as I've always thought it rather boring, but seeing these things in person helps bring it alive. We all enjoyed our time today as we learned about the history of this beautiful people and country!

We are leaving in just a couple of hours for Libby's region on a 15 hour train ride through the night into tomorrow morning. Please pray for us for sleep and to be rested for Monday when we get to hold our baby girl for the first time and speak with the orphanage doctor about her medical condition. I will post when we get there and are settled into our apartment.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Referral in Hand!

After a successful DAP appointment yesterday, we were allowed to pick up our referral today. Our driver told us to be ready around 2pm so we decided to go get some lunch before he arrived. Our apartment is close to a large shopping complex complete with restaurants and street shops/vendors. We decided to go to McDonalds for lunch today. It was the first time that our American toddler has eaten there and it happened to be in a foreign country: ) How's that for irony?

We walked around a little bit after lunch while waiting to be picked up. The picture below is a shot I took while we were walking around the square (the shopping/restaurant area).

Traffic here is REALLY bad and it seems there are no laws governing how people drive so it makes for quite an interesting ride each time we get in the car: ) I don't know if you can see the lines of traffic, but around here it is inescapable!

We arrived at the DAP and waited for a while until the DAP worker came in and gave us our much-anticipated referral so that we would have permission to visit our Libby girl on Monday!! YAY!! We are so excited to meet her, hold her and love on her! I'm not looking forward to the 15 hour overnight train ride, but know it's worth it as it is taking us to our baby girl!

I will try to post before we leave tomorrow to head to our region. Please be praying for us as we prepare our hearts to meet our Elizabeth Joy and pray that her heart will be open to receive us as her parents and in turn bond with us in a way only God can orchestrate!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

DAP Appointment

We got a great and full night of sleep last night!! Thank you to all of those who have been praying for us, we are feeling much better today: )

We woke up and hit the ground running this morning. Our driver called last night to let us know he'd be here at 11am since our DAP appt was for 12pm. He picked us and another couple up then headed to the DAP. It wasn't quite what I was expecting as we were taken to an office upstairs and told to sit down on the couch. Then our facilitator began asking us a couple of questions and translated our answers. When I told them I was a stay-at-home mom, they asked how many children we have and after I told them, their eyes were wide in amazement! They couldn't believe we have 4 children and how young we looked, especially Richard: ) They even told another lady who was in the room outside of the office to come guess our age and how many children we have! We had our photo book with us and gave it to them to look through so they could see our children and our home.

The DAP worker then brought our file over and began giving us some details about our beautiful baby girl along with a new picture. My heart literally skipped a beat when we saw her photo and I had to focus on what the lady was saying so I wouldn't begin to cry. I couldn't believe that it was really happening, we are here and we're going to be meeting Libby girl in a few days!! We are concerned about some health issues that we were told about and will hopefully get a more detailed medical history on Monday when we meet with the orphanage doctor. So, please pray for her safety while we wait to complete this adoption process and get to bring her home!

After our appointment, the team took us and the other 2 families out for coffee and answered all of our questions. They are a GREAT group and I am SO thankful to be working with them!! You can tell they really love these kids and care about them! We talked with them for a while and then our driver took us to the store to get a few things. After we were done at the store, we headed home exhausted and thankful for the day's activities.

Since we got home, we've been resting and eating dinner along with some chocolate we bought here: ) It is very yummy and I'm going to be getting more tomorrow! We will be here in the city until Saturday evening and will then go by train to her region. It will take us 15 hours to get there! We will begin our day early Monday morning going to her orphanage to meet her and get the ball rolling on our court process. It generally takes 7-12 days to have court from the first day we meet her which is Monday the 2nd of April. Once we have court, we can either stay and wait out the 12 days that are required or go home. We are planning to go home and come back when the waiting period is over. Our second trip should be much quicker and hopefully we'll only have to be gone about a week. As we get closer, we will know more regarding the timeline.

Please continue to pray for our Libby's health and for a QUICK process so we can get her home SOON! Thank you!!


Group shot of the 3 families who had their appt today with the team: )

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Day Out in the City

When we're out and about in the city, we get lots of looks, like we have TOURIST written on our foreheads. It could be that they hear us speaking English or that I have a baby strapped to me in the Ergo or the "deer in the headlights" look of wonder on my face as I try to read the signs and understand what they are saying. While trying to communicate with the local people here, I for some reason revert back to Spanish when talking with them. Seriously, it's like I don't have control over the language part of my brain because every. single. time I try to say something to someone who doesn't speak English, it comes out in Spanish! Yes becomes "Si!" and please becomes "Por Favor" and so brain seems to only have room for 2 languages!

After we arrived at our apartment last night, Richard and I set out to find a grocery store to get a few things while Carole stayed with Luke at the apartment. When we walked inside the first grocery store, we looked around for a minute and realized we didn't bring our pocket language book with us (thanks Emily Frye for letting us borrow it!), but my amazing hand gestures got us some water. I'm just talented like that: ) Thankfully, the lady knew enough English to ask if I wanted "gas or no gas". Apparently, carbonated water is popular over here so you have to specify or you might get home with something you didn't want. We quickly realized we had NO idea what we needed to buy as nothing is in English. We decided to take the water back home and try again the next day. On our way back, we spotted a small red sign that said "Food" so we stopped to take a look. It was a small grocery store and the lady working there was very kind! She tried to help us find what we were looking for and was quite helpful despite the language barrier. I decided she is my new best friend while we are in the city. We went back this morning to get some eggs, OJ, butter, and more water. We had a great little breakfast of scrambled eggs and OJ: )

Our driver told us about the underground mall and a few other places in the area so we ventured out after breakfast this morning to check it out. We got all bundled up and started walking the cold, wet streets trying to navigate our way around the city. We found the mall and looked at the different shops. I bought a little doll that has hand-stitched native dress for our Libby girl and Carole bought a beautiful scarf and hand-stitched blouse. Richard then talked with another family here who are also adopting that arrived a few days earlier than we did and were very helpful in giving us directions. They told us about a few playgrounds and a good little coffee shop close by. Coffee was calling our names so we made our way over and we were glad we did! It was a great little place with a fun atmosphere and delicious treats.

We are enjoying our time here so far despite the jet lag. Speaking of jet lag, it's been pretty rough! In the last couple of days, I've gotten maybe 5 hours of sleep total. Luke was up from about 11pm until 7am this morning. I finally just got up with him around 3:30 this morning instead of trying to put him back to sleep for the 20th time. I'm running on adrenaline I guess, but I'm really starting to feel the lack of sleep catch up with me.

Tomorrow is our appt with the DAP so I'm hoping I'll be back to normal by then. Please pray for us as we adjust to our new time zone and that we will stay healthy despite the lack of sleep. Also, please pray for our appt with the govt officials for God to give us the words to say and that we will find favor with them. We're also hoping to be able to pick up her referral (our "permission slip" to go see her) tomorrow which will allow us to meet her on Friday instead of having to wait until Monday. Usually, you aren't allowed to pick it up until the next day, but we want to meet her as soon as possible and start the court date process as well. So, please pray for our patience in God's timing as he works all these things together. Our prayer is for God to be glorified!

Here are some pictures we took today while we were out:

Little Coffee Shop that we loved!

My WONDERFUL mom-in-law!! We are SO thankful to have her here with us!

Our little man and the culprit behind my lack of sleep last night! He's just too cute to be upset with though: )

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We are HERE!!!

Well, we made it safely and are now in our apartment! We are exhausted to say the least, but oh so thankful to be here! From having just minutes to spare to catch our connecting flight in London to landing in an unexpected blizzard here to getting grilled by the customs officer here in country, it's been quite an experience already: )

We have a free day tomorrow and we haven't decided if we are going to try to see some sights or just rest. To say we're exhausted doesn't even begin to cover it! I've been up for over 24 hours with about an hour nap somewhere in there and our little man had a hard time sleeping on our flight to London (9+ hours) and slept a bit better on our flight from London (3+ hours) so he is not feeling himself either.

Niko, our driver, said we'd probably be in the city until Sunday and then travel to Elizabeth's region and, Lord-willing, meet her on Monday!! So in a few days, we will be holding our baby girl for the first time!

I'll leave you with a few pics from our trip so far. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more energy to elaborate on our experiences and thoughts!

After a 9+ hour flight, we were looking a bit tired!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane...Don't Know When We'll Be Back Again

We are at the airport at our gate just waiting to board our plane and we have about 2 hours until we are supposed to take off. Our bags have been checked, we've gone through security, and said our good-byes to our precious children. I can't believe we're finally here! I can't wait to meet our Elizabeth Joy and hold her for the first time, to kiss on her, cuddle her! Hopefully, we'll be able to meet her on Friday. If not Friday, it'll be Monday.

Please pray for our baby girl that her heart would be prepared even now to be a part of our family, to accept love and to know she's safe! We've worked for months to get to this point and are so thankful for the opportunity to add this precious baby to our family!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

1 DAY!!!

We leave tomorrow!! Tomorrow! We are checked in and have a our boarding passes printed, our luggage is sitting in our living room along with our carry-on bags, and our house is clean and ready for our wonderful friends watching our babies! I'm still a bit in shock. Lord-willing, we will be getting on a plane to travel across the world in about 18 hours. Please pray for us as we travel to a foreign country where we don't speak the language nor know the cultural customs of the land: ) Pray for our children for peace, safety, and comfort while we are away. That's the hardest part of this all...leaving them. Also, pray for our time in country to be completed quickly and for a smooth process with court and govt officials!

Today's mission: Get some sleep!! I don't know how well I'll be able to do that, but hoping I can at least get some rest.

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and our children!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2 DAYS!!!

EEEEEK! The day after tomorrow we're leaving to go see our daughter!! My stomach is doing flip-flops just thinking about all that we are about to do. Leaving our 3 older kids. Flying for a really long time. Standing before govt officials and explaining why we want to adopt our baby girl with Down syndrome. Meeting her for the first time. Holding her and telling her that we love her. It's almost more than my brain can process at one time as the enormity of it all weighs heavy. I can't really put into words all the thoughts swimming in my head, but today I've been contemplating adoption. What it is and isn't, how our lives will be (and are being) changed by it, the false presuppositions I held as we took the first steps toward adopting (and more, I'm sure, will be revealed as time progresses), our hopes and fears after bringing her home. We are grateful for the elders at our church who have guided us through Scripture as we work through these things as well as fellow believers who are more mature in their faith that have counseled us along the way.

The progress report on yesterday's mission:

We finished everything on our to-do list!! Yay!!

Today's mission: Play at the park with our kiddos: )

We've been having a wonderful time with our kids and enjoying spending time with them! I'm going to miss them so much, but know they will be in great hands while we're gone. Please pray for us, I think it's going to be harder on this mama than it is on my sweet kids!

Friday, March 23, 2012

3 DAYS!!!

First thing my hubby said to me this morning was, "3 days..." and it was exactly the first thing on my mind upon waking. This past week, really 2 weeks, has been a whirlwind as days fly by without so much as a pause. Each day finds me waking up in awe that we are one day closer to bringing our Elizabeth Joy home!! And now, we are only 3 days away from getting on the plane that will take us to her!!

Operation Hug-and-Kiss-my-Kiddos-til-They-Can't-Take-No-More has begun! This mommy will be gettin' in as much lovin' as possible during their waking hours whether they like it or not: ) Thankfully, they are pretty affectionate so this shouldn't be a difficult task. We are looking forward to spending the weekend with them! Please pray for them that they would be comforted while we are gone!

The progress report on yesterday's mission:


Yep, it was quite the feat, but it's done! We also completed our to-do list for yesterday so we are down to just a few things left on our list!!

Today's mission: Cross off the last few things on our to-do list!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

4 DAYS!!

Just 4 days!! I have so many emotions I'm experiencing that it feels like I'm on a roller coaster ride! I am SO excited to get to meet and hold our baby girl, yet I get physically ill thinking about being away so long from my little ones here! We're taking one day at a time and focusing on getting lots of snuggles and kisses from our kiddos!

The progress report on yesterday's mission:

We were able to get a lot done yesterday and cross off quite a few things on our to-do list! We are now down to a one page list instead of multiple pages. Yay! I didn't finish packing completely since I was waiting on a couple of items to come out of the dryer. I should be able to finish up today and have everything ready to go!! I'll be glad to have that crossed off my list!

Today's mission: Finish packing and tackle today's to-do list!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 DAYS!!

Wow! The days keep flying by and I feel like I can barely catch my breath before the next day begins! I realized yesterday that I had MORE to add to my to-do list and started feeling very overwhelmed. I'm trying to break it down and get as much done as possible not focusing on all I have to do, but rather on each day's tasks.

It's starting to sink in that we are leaving in 5 days! I'm going to miss my children more than I can say, and yet, I'm looking forward to what the future holds. It's very difficult to describe, my heart is in 2 places. Never before have I had children on 2 different continents and had to deal with the emotions that result from that.

The progress report on yesterday's mission:

I was able to get the clothes I pulled in the space*bags and was able to pack a few more items. Yay! Only a few more items need to be packed and then we should be done with packing! That is truly music to my ears: )

Today's mission: To finish up packing and cross a few more things off my to-do list.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

6 DAYS!!

We are just 6 days away from starting a journey that will forever change our lives!! I keep imagining how our first meeting will go and so many questions are running through my head. Will she go to us willingly or will she be scared? Will we have an instant connection or is it going to take days, weeks, months? Is she doing well or is she very sick? How long will we have to wait to be legally declared her parents?

Whatever happens, we know that God's grace will sustain us during this time as we lean wholly on him and his perfect providence. We know that trusting in his plan doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be easy which is why we are praying for grace to bear whatever the future holds. Please pray with us that we will trust the Lord in trying times and hold fast to his Word as we take each day as it comes.

Ok, here is the progress report on yesterday's mission:

I went through everything and weeded out what wasn't absolutely necessary. I think I may have to rethink "absolutely necessary", but I guess we'll see what the final weight is on our suitcases soon and go from there. I was able to pack all of Libby girl's (one of our nicknames for our girl) clothes and other things we're bringing for her!! I also pulled clothes for the rest of us that just need to be vacuum sealed in space*bags. So I completed all I hoped to accomplish yesterday: )

Today's mission: Seal clothes in space*bags and start putting in suitcase. Today's mission is going to be light as we have plans this evening with family. It's Nana's 77th Birthday today!! Happy Birthday Nana, we love you!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 DAYS!!

One week!! I still can't believe we're only a week away from flying across the world to meet our newest daughter!

Although we've accomplished much around here, it seems there is so much left to do. We're hoping to have everything done and ready to go by Friday so we can have the weekend to spend time with our children. We haven't decided what we're going to do this weekend, but whatever it is, I'm hoping I can get through it without crying and just have fun! I still haven't cried yet and I'm wondering if I'm going to be the mom who bawls the last few days before we leave or if as soon as we sit down in our seats on the plane, it's going to be free flowing...I guess we'll see!

Packing has commenced and after repacking one of our suitcases 3 times now, I *think* I'm done with it. I'm having a hard time staying within the weight limit since we're only bringing 2 suitcases. Because of our food allergies, I was planning on bringing lots of food, but I'm quickly realizing that some things have got to go: / One suitcase has our meds and food so that means the other suitcase has to house our clothes, toiletries, and other odds and ends we're planning to bring. So as you can imagine, it's been quite a feat trying to make it all fit AND not go over the weight limit. I keep hearing "pack light", "pack LIGHT!", and I am packing light, at least compared to how my American self normally packs. I learned from my mom, who is the most prepared woman on the face of the earth no matter where we are. Seriously. We often joke in our family that whatever you need, and we mean whatever, that Mom has it! So, trying to make my brain realize that I don't actually need both Dayqu*l and Nyqu*l or a full bottle of both Adv*l and Tylen*l has been a challenge, to say the least. Anyway, I'm hoping I can pare down all the stuff and figure out how to get our luggage under the limit.

Today's mission: Go through all the stuff and get rid of whatever isn't absolutely necessary and try to pull most of the clothing we're bringing.

My goal is to post each day on our progress and what we're doing to get ready so stay tuned for tomorrow to see if I completed today's mission: )

Monday, March 12, 2012

Par-tay at the Rector House!

We have two WONDERFUL reasons to celebrate today!!

First, today is our anniversary! Happy anniversary my love!! I praise God for 8 beautiful years and the blessing of our four children (soon to be five children, Lord-willing) as a result of our covenant. I pray the Lord grants me many more years with you as we work together to make much of Him, less of us. I love you more with each passing day and thank God for how he has shaped you into the man you are today! I am truly a blessed woman!

Second, we received the long-awaited call this morning from our stateside helper at 5:39am!! Of course, I was already awake and had been for almost an hour as I couldn't sleep from the excitement of the possibility of getting our date this morning. So without further ado, our date is...


Which means that we'll most likely be leaving 2 weeks from today!! We have SO much to do and I'm hoping this kicks me into high gear: ) I seriously couldn't stop shaking and smiling for over an hour! It's funny because you know (or at least, we've been told) that your dates are coming eventually, but when you actually get an appointment with the adoption authority in-country, it's still a shock and awe feeling. I can't put into words how thankful and happy we are to know that we'll be holding our sweet girl very soon!! Please pray for us as we get ready for our trip, for our baby girl's safety and health, and for our children here. Thank you to all of you who have been praying and encouraging us as we've walked through this process! You are a blessing to our family!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Aaaand Cut...That's a Wrap!

My garage sale days are officially over for a while! Our neighborhood had their community wide garage sale today and we decided to set up and try to sell what we had leftover from last weekend. Overall it was good. More stuff sold + adding to our adoption fund = Success!

A few very dear friends came to help and we had a great time of fellowship, so all in all, it was a good day!
(Emily on the left, me in the middle, and Lynn on the right)

This amazing girl (holding her most adorable baby sister) helped organize the seemingly ever-growing mess pile of clothes without one complaint today! She along with some other great kids who belong to these lovely ladies above came and spent their time helping me sort, organize, unload and pack up last weekend and today. Thank you to each one of you, we couldn't have had such a successful sale without all of your help! With YOUR help, we were able to raise money to help us bring our baby girl home: )

Isn't this a precious sign?! The wonderfully talented Emily made it so people could see why we were doing the garage sale and who they were helping. And now the sign is actually taped to E's crib in the the girls' room, thanks to our daughter who can hardly wait until her baby sister is home: )

We raised more than enough to buy 2 roundtrip plane tickets!! We are so thankful for all of the donations, help, and money raised these last 2 weekends!! I can't tell you how grateful we are to have the love and support of so many - so THANK YOU again to everyone who was involved!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

*Correction on the Shut Down

I just found out that E's country WON'T be shutting down for a couple of weeks!! YAY! Sorry for the confusion, I really thought I read that in an email, but I must've dreamed it up...I am a bit on the crazy side since we started this adoption: )

So, even though I still am really hoping for a date very soon, I'm glad to know we won't have that obstacle to face! Thank you to all of those who are praying, we greatly appreciate your prayers!

The Waiting Game...a not-so-fun game

I had hoped this post would be a huge celebratory announcement about getting our travel date and how my brain was mush from excitement, but unfortunately, it's not. My brain is mush, but not from excitement. We were told the 7 families that were submitted 2/9/12 should start getting our dates starting today, but found out yesterday that it was not going to happen today. No reason as to why or when to expect to get our travel date, so I have no idea as to when we'll hear any news. When I found this out, my heart literally ached as tears flowed.

I know God is in control and His timing is perfect. In my frailty, it is hard to wait without any idea of a timeline. I'm a planner and this adoption has completely turned that side of me upside down! So, will you please pray for us as we wait to joyfully submit to God's timing and plan? That's a hard one for me right now!

Please continue to pray for favor with these govt officials and for a quick-as-possible process in country. One of the reasons we're hoping for a sooner rather than later date (other than the obvious reason of wanting to see and snuggle our girl) is that there is an upcoming period of shut down for a couple of weeks so if we don't have court before then, we will very likely have to make 3 trips instead of 2. In addition to the added expense of another trip (plane tickets, lodging, food, etc), going back and forth with the time difference is rough on the body and it would delay her homecoming that much longer. So, we are asking you to PLEASE pray for us and our situation as we wait! Pray for our precious girl for health and safety as well!

In the meantime, we are continuing to get ready for our trip and each day I'm crossing things off my to-do list. We have all of our clothing and shoes, just need to get all the little stuff together so we can start packing. My plan is to have our bags packed and ready to go in case they give us a few days instead of a couple weeks to be over there. Hopefully we'll have some wonderful news next time I post!