Wednesday, September 23, 2015

And then God led us to...Kaytlyn

Last week a post lady stood at our door with pen in hand.  One look at that white envelope in her hand made my heart beat faster knowing the potential content within could be information about an available baby.  I signed my name fast and Cameron and I shut the door and looked at each other, took a breath and ripped that baby open!

Sure enough it was a scheduled meeting for September 24th and then my eyes went to the birth date 08/12/14 and my heart squeezed in disappointment a little.  Now to some of you wiser readers of the blog, you will see that date and think "December 12, 2014" but when we saw it, we read "August 8" which means our potential daughter was 13 months old.  Please hear me when I say that YES YES YES we would be so blessed to receive a daughter at 13 months old, that is sooooo young in the adoption world!  But my heart squeeze wasn't out of ungratefulness but rather from a shattering of a daydream, a desire of my heart....I wanted a baby, a baby'er baby than 13 months and every day dream and prayer had been for a baby 3 to 6 months, up to a year.  Cameron and I talked and I explained to Cameron that this whole entire process has been led by God and if He chooses an age outside of my ideal age range, I would rather have what He wants because He is such a good God and Father and has proven Himself to be a giver of such good gifts.  I truly meant it but the ache in my heart would return.

Many of you reading this are a part of this story and have been praying for our adoption process.  Others stood beside us after a general post last week on Facebook to pray for us regarding knowing God's will. (Many emails followed asking if we were leaving the IMB *Note! hard to have general adoption prayer requests at the same time your mission organization is letting go of 600+ missionaries)  So I say this to say, Thank You! Thank you for praying and standing beside us.  My stomach was in excited, scared, worried, excited, scared, knots! And without even knowing of the scheduled change, many have told me that the Lord led them to pray for us this morning, not knowing that we were driving to meet our girl :)

Our appointment was moved to a day earlier and the morning of our drive to meet her Cameron mentioned, "You know, when I daydream about our daughter I always picture a little girl who is roma. I haven't really thought about what it'll be like if a little blonde haired, blue eyed baby is brought into the room." I said "I understand.  My daydreaming always includes putting a little baby in my ergo and being there for her first toddling steps."  We both gave our hearts back to God on the drive to her city and again told God "We want what you have for us even if it doesn't match our daydreaming.  We know you have always given us exactly what we need and you will give us the daughter that You have in mind, not who we have in mind."  We continued the drive and I tried to kill butterflies in my stomach.

We walked into a room and met the social worker.  Immediately he asked if we would like to see a picture.  We took the form that her picture was glued on and looked down at a blurry, poorly shot photo of a little roma baby, around 4 months old.  I turned to the social worker and said "That's nice but do you have a more recent picture." The social worker replied "It's not so old, she's only just turned 9 months old." I insisted that this wasn't correct, she was 13 months old. He asked for my form and reminded me that the date really reads December 12th, she was 9 months old.

Tears filled my eyes and I looked into Cameron's and I knew God was again being so generously kind and amazing to us.  We looked over her medical history and our amazing Dr. Ivo from Sofia arrived. (Folks, this doctor! He took the day off to drive 6 hours to meet us in this city by 10am!)  We went to the meeting room and in came her foster mom pushing our daughter in the stroller.  Dressed head to toe in pink, with the longest eye lashes in the world our eyes locked and it was like looking at a piece of my heart outside of me that I didn't even know was missing.  Everything in me ached to hold her and run out of the room and scream I FOUND YOU!!! *I did not do this

She is the calmest, sweetest little baby, with big brown eyes and a little upturned nose. When I held her for the first time she just looked at my face and ran her hand around my nose, mouth, into my hair and then reached for my glasses.  Daddy's turn was next and his blue eyes looked like a cartoon with hearts pumping out of them, he was smitten and in love.

Dr. Ivo took a turn asking questions and examining her and all I could keep thinking was "I really could care less at this point, she's ours whether something is found medically wrong or not."  Praise God all of her medical documents were portrayed accurately and she does indeed have a clean bill of health.
Cam and I said YES and then went to the court house to request a trial date for custody.

So here is what is next for us:  Saturday the boys will get to meet her.  We have been told a court date can arrive between two weeks to a month at which the social worker will call us and inform us of the date.  We will arrive for our court date and when the judge hands over custody, we can take her home that day.  So you can be praying for that court date to come quickly and for there to be no problems gaining custody.  Again Thank You.  Thank you to so many who play a big part in us arriving at this moment.  When I saw so many of your "likes" and "comments" on Facebook, it reminded me just how many of you have been praying for us and standing beside us and how humbled and loved we feel celebrating this joy of Kaytlyn with you now. In case your wondering, until we have legal custody we are not allowed to show her face.  Soon! xoxo

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Village of Hope

Last week as we drove away from a village of chaos everything in me never wanted to return.  However, everything in me knew that the battle being waged was not in the flesh and blood that surround us that day, but rather spiritual darkness in the unseen, that was screaming for the light of Christ to be gone.  We all came home with heavy hearts and minds and felt defeated.  This was the first time Gina led a group of her own and all around her was fighting and screaming.  Kids were trying to steal anything they could while parents with mental disabilities stood over us screaming for free diapers, water, more crayons and in the midst of this circus of crazy our boys were being treated similarly.

We put our kids in the car while the village kids reached into our pockets hoping to find something else to steal.  It was chaos, it was ugly, it was sin staring you straight in the face screaming "HOPELESSNESS! DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME HERE! GO AWAY AND NEVER COME BACK!"

When I got home, my eyes read the verse hanging on the wall:
"Be patient in tribulation, Rejoice in hope, Pray constantly." Romans 12:12

The next day I spent a lot of time in Jeremiah and was renewed to demolish and destroy the kingdom of darkness that has taken root in that village and rebuild in the name of Jesus a new season of life in this village of chaos.  I also renamed the village "Village of Hope" because while we "are patient in tribulation", we will "rejoice in hope" as Romans states and we will claim hope over this place by God's power alone.

In the midst of chaos, a group of preteens followed me around begging to study together.  I told them it was impossible in that environment but if they could make a list of 10 kids and find a house I would return to study with them.  Before we left, that group of teens had secured a location and gave me a list of kid's names.  Today Cameron will go early and tell the people that if they want to study today, each house will need to form a group of ten kids.
The characteristic of this particular village is that there is a lot of disability in one section and the adults display similar mental disabilities.  When there is a large group it is hard to have any type of Bible study because high functioning adults are being pushed out by screaming, aggressive mentally challenged men and women who are also at times very intoxicated.

Here is how you can pray today as we reenter the Village of Hope:

1. House groups will be established and will function without interruption from those outside of the house group.

2.  We want house groups that have the mentally and physically disabled meeting but pray that there will be an abandonment of intoxication in these individuals as it makes for a very challenging situation.

3. Today the Lord answered a prayer without me searching for it because God is that good! :) We did not want to take our boys back to this village and today Micah and Ben's friend invited them over this evening to play and have dinner! I spoke to his mom and she knows we will be in the village for a couple of hours and is happy to have them over.  Praise God we will be able to work there today without worrying about the boy's safety.  Please pray that a permanent solution will arrive and alleviate us of this concern.

4. Pray that the Village of Hope will belong to the Lord and His children will be found there.

5. The end of Romans 12:12 says to "Pray Constantly" and this is where our brothers and sisters around the world are such a huge part of the work we are called to do.  Please never discount your place and importance in being a part of the ministry happening.  We need your prayers and we ask you to pray specifically today.  We are in Village of Hope every Wednesday and ask you to commit to pray for us there.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Adoption Update

Well I think there was some problems made today by a recent Facebook post lol We had several people calling us to ask if the picture we posted with the baby girl was our daughter and the answer is no.  That picture was a follow up to a previous post which explained that for the last five years we've been praying for a taxi driver we met our first year in Bulgaria. Our struggle with miscarriage helped him open up to us and share their struggle with infertility and desire to have a baby.  We shared about how God was beside us during our pregnancy journeys and though he stated that his beliefs were different, he allowed us to pray for him and kept us up to date.  Yesterday we got a phone call from him stating that he and his wife wanted to drive to our city so that we could meet his precious baby girl, an answered prayer.  So the picture posted today was our moment of meeting her.  So sorry for any confusion.  So here is what is happening right now.

When we do find the little girl God is leading to, we will first notify our family (so again moms and dads rest assured you will not find out on Facebook! We love and respect you too much to do that)

Right now we are receiving letters from orphanages around Bulgaria: Plovdiv, Sofia, Lukovit, and so on.  Directors of these orphanages are writing us to confirm they have our file and are working on matching us.  Literally any day we could receive a letter for a match.
When we receive a letter of a match we will only know the name and age of the baby, nothing more.  No picture, no family history, nothing more.  We will schedule a meeting at that time to go and meet her. Micah and Ben will not go with us and we will not tell anyone when this happens.  The reason being is that we want to follow God and not emotion.  The last thing we want to do is tell everyone that we've been matched and then have to tell everyone that we've said no for whatever reason to that match. Our whole life has been calling family and sharing good news of pregnancy, only to follow up with having to tell everyone we've lost the pregnancy.  When we are sure the match is the little girl God has for us then we will notify our family and set up another meeting to introduce her to Micah and Ben.
When we meet her we will have up to one month to decide if she is the baby we are adopting.  I can't foresee needing a month to decide that but it is the given timeline.  If we say "yes" then the court proceedings will begin and we can set up more visits with her via the director of her orphanage until we gain full custody. Our social worker has stated that the more we can visit the easier it will be on her so if her orphanage is close enough it would be our desire to be with her as much as possible. If it is far away (we have stated that we are willing to adopt anywhere in Bulgaria so her orphanage could be very far away) then we will get a hotel and visit as much as possible.
If we say "no" for whatever reason then we will have to wait for the next letter to arrive stating another match then another meeting is scheduled.
If two or more letters arrive on the same day or week then we will need to choose which one to visit first and go from there but we can not see multiple babies.  We have to make a decision on one before we are allowed to visit another.  Our prayer is that the first letter we receive is her and "yes" is the only thing we ever have to say.

Once we have said yes and have notified our family then you will see the biggest, loudest Facebook post ever made :) And if there is a picture, it will be a picture of a baby in my arms!  :) She's been outside of my arms long enough and it'll be clear that she is our baby because no one else will be holding her in a picture :)

So any day now we can receive a match and every monday through friday we hope the mailman is walking towards our door with a letter!  As for right now the mailman has brought six letters from different orphanages around bulgaria so we know there are currently six directors holding our paperwork and looking to match us.  In the meantime please pray that God will lead us straight to our sweet baby, wherever she is waiting.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A week of praise

This summer a wonderful team from Louisiana came to Gulyantsi and worked with the local church to pour love out onto the community.  In addition we had a great group of translators and a christian band called Rocking Chair came and held a concert in the town center.  With so many of God's children working together, the love of God was available to penetrate the hearts of men, women and children while building new relationships and telling God's story.  We are so thankful for Cedar Crest Baptist church, the translators, awesome helpers like Ivan and Hristo and all the work they did during that beautiful week.  The events of that week helped us move forward with new ideas and opened doors that will fit our family's needs in the future and a new work is beginning in small group Bible study.


The beautiful story of Gina is that God is using a girl who was often overlooked in her village and has transformed her to be the girl who is constantly sought out and surrounded by people asking her to tell them her story.  What's more beautiful is that Geicha uses each opportunity to share God's story and man do people listen to that beautiful girl! ("Geicha" is her nickname)

This week God sent a team from Louisiana to help assist launch the very first UNA club in Bulgaria.  Geicha came to work with us and train in soon leading a club on her own.  On Sunday we took everyone to a monastery and while visiting, a monk asked Geicha to tell him her story.  He sat and listened intently and gave her a gift at the end. Her contagious smile and obvious joy open so many doors for her to tell of God's powerful love in her life.

God is using Gina and her story to tell people "God is powerful!" "God can be trusted!" "God is good and doesn't forgot us!" "God does miracles!" The amazing thing is that when she talks it's like the world stops and everyone is listening and God is using her in amazing ways.
I personally love working with the children and Cameron leads adult Bible studies but often the mothers of the children I work with are standing in the background unengaged.  Gina is exactly who God is using to engage them.  While I have children surrounding me, Gina has mothers surrounding her.  God is building a beautiful team around us and answering our prayers to send us workers.
On the last day of the UNA club festival we were all taking pictures with the community and a precious little girl said "I want a picture with you" but she was holding both Gina and my hands.  We asked her who she wanted a picture with and it turned into a fun game of who she likes more.  She yelled "Gina!" and gave her a huge hug.  Soon all the kids were declaring their love for Gina over their love for me.  It's was fun and later Gina said in surprise "I can't believe the children loved me so much.  I thought you would win when we asked who they loved more but they said my name."  I said "I'm not surprised at all Gina.  You are part of them.  I will always be a nice American woman who comes and loves on them and works with them but I'll always be just that, an American but you can be their role model. You are one of them."  Gina's eyes lit up and said "Yes! I know their road and I can still say 'You can trust God, He loves you' I understand them and they know that and I can show them a roma woman who loves God. They need good roma role models who love God."
This is when Gina won the game "who do the children love most" :)