Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Completly Inadequate

I just got done rocking my baby and I know I am completely inadequate to be the one who will convey the message of her worth. How can I ? She is absolutely precious, and beautiful, and a gift from God! I know you will believe this when I tell you, but will she? How can I convince her of her worth when her mind will tell her she is worthless? Would you believe me if I told you of your value? Many of you probably would not. Most of us will never understand the treasure we truly are and we will believe the lie of our worthlessness! How will this precious baby believe me when I tell her she is wanted and loved and treasured. All she will need to do is look to her beginning and say to herself..."That cannot be true, no one wanted me then, why should I believe you now?" It is not unlike most of you. How many of you had a past that was less than conducive to building your self worth. I asked God tonight to grant this child the ability to see her from His perspective. If she can do that she will be powerful! She will be gracious, and giving, and she will have the ability to share herself with others. If she does not believe the message that I will convey to her throughout her life than the opposite will happen. I felt what God must feel when he looks down on His precious creation and they say about themselves, "Yuck!" His heart breaks and Satan laughs! I wrote a poem some years ago and it is appropriate now for the message I want my Beautiful Baby Meseret to know. Read it and know your worth as well:

God's Perspective

Before you were born I knew you
Be aware of my love just for you!

I saw all the others I'd already made
And began to design anew

The way that you were from the day you were born
Is the way that I want you to be

And the worth that I placed on you before you became
Is the worth that I want you to keep

When I wove you together inside the womb
I saw your delicate soul

In you I could see all that you could become
And I made you completely whole

I'm aware what you think of the person I made
You think that your not so fine

But how can you put more worth on things
Than you do on what I designed?

You can say in your head and repeat in your heart
The lies you have heard all your life

But if you listen to them and forget what I've said
You will never be done with your strife

Do you know the reason I made you? Listen to this!
It's for you to be close just to me

Because no one can love you a fraction as much
As the one who made your heart beat

You look to the hills and see beauty outside
Yet pass over the most beautiful of all

The one in your mirror that you run from in fear
The one that I long to call

Could coming to me be harder
Than the life that you already have?

Or do you think that the things I will ask you to do
Will be more than your willing to give?

So now you decide, turn to me or just hide
But my love will not go away

If you keep turning your face you can never feel my grace
Even though I'm there always

Draw near to me and I promise
I never will let you down

For the closer you step the closer I'll come
Beside when I hear your voice sound

Now look to my work and notice
That the love that I talk of was proved

So long ago I came into your world
And died on a cross to save you

Whatever in your life you've done
is not what matters to me

It's only what will happen in the future
And what you choose for eternity

So don't take too long to decide if I'm wrong
For I wish only to be with you

For the rest of your days down on earth and always
Child feel your worth through and through

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God's Timing

As you know with this adoption God had his perfect timing with its planning and completion. For instance, we had wanted to pass court in August, but since we did not, God gave us a vision to plan and execute a fund raiser. If we had passed court in August that fund raiser and the money that it produced would not have come about. We do not know the eternal results of that night, but I am sure lives were saved because of it. What amazes me most is that this is not just my experience, but so many others as well. We have some friends who are adopting for the second time from China. When they first heard about their little girl in China they had not even considered adoption. Yet the day after they heard of her they began taking steps to adopt her. Many miracles occurred that confirmed this was the decision that God wanted. While they were in China they received two photos of their daughter playing on a slide. In those pictures was a little boy slightly older than their girl with the same unusual wrist condition that she has. They were drawn to this child immediately. After they went home from China with their daughter this family began to search for this boy on every special needs waiting child list they could find from any agency they came across on the web. This search went on for a year and a half. Now keep in mind that this referral could have gone to any country that adopts out of China. If it did come to America his referral could have landed in almost any agency. Well one night as they were at a discipleship group that we attend as well, the mom overheard me telling of the AWA blog where Beautiful E's photo had been posted because they had had a birthday party and she was one of the kids in the picture. She went home and, although she was tired, that mom went onto that AWA site and looked at the waiting child's list and found that same little boy they had been searching for all that time. They are now in the process of adopting that boy and, while they are having delays just like we experienced, we can say with confidence that this boy will come home! To find out more about their story check out their blog. So for all of you still waiting to get paperwork done, or waiting to pass court, or waiting to travel, be assured God knows what he is doing and he will see it through in His timing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Fun Firsts!

As I said in an earlier post, one of the things I enjoy about this part of the adoption process is seeing the wonder and excitement as my child experiences "firsts". I thought I would share a few of E's with all of you!

(playing dolls with Big Sister)

(listening to a piano duet)

(coloring with Little Sisters)

(swinging on the swings in our backyard)

(first beauty salon expeirience)

(awesome braids!)

(first day of home school)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbyes and Hellos!

How does one say goodbye forever to a child they love? It is hard for me to speak to this because it is a difficulty I have not had to face. But from these photos taken by Ray of the parting at the AWA Transition House I would say these women instilled themselves into my child and sent her to her new life with a great deal of love and hope. That is what I see in the eyes of this and hope! What gracious, selfless women these are!

(One of the nannies lovingly gives Beautiful E a send off kiss)

(Fortuna, the TH nurse and a second mother to Etsegenet)

(Etsegent and Zenesh, the older girls' live in nanny. They love her so!)

(E's school teacher)

(Where it began...and now the goodbye)

(A new adventure!)

(New Friends with a warm welcome)

(New sisters with plenty of love to share)

(And of course, a sweet reunion!)

Although sometimes we must give something very precious up and take a leap of faith, let's learn the lesson that Beautiful Etsegenet has learned so well. Our mighty God never leaves you empty, and he always provides abundantly to overflowing! E is safe now. My prayer and longing has been answered and satisfied. This journey that we began seventeen months ago has come to completion. We are forever grateful to our Lord for growing our family not according to the world's standards or expectations, but according to His. I want to thank all of those who have sustained us with prayer. The battle has been won!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Straight From a Dad's Heart

Day Six, Friday, November 21st

Ray emailed me as soon as he landed in Washington DC. This is his note to me, it speaks volumes! He is on his way home and we will see them at PDX at 6:00pm. Let us Rejoice!!

Etsegenet and I are doing really well, we just landed in Washington after a very long flight from Ethiopia (as you know). Still to my amazement Etsegenet is so happy to come to America without any sadness in leaving Ethiopia and all her relationships. Saying good-bye to Barrett and Rachel was tearless, Rachel had tears of happy/sad emotions, but I think she will be okay.

This trip has really been the trip of many lessons for me:

1. Trust God with everything, Big or Small. HE actually knows what HE is doing!

2. Ethiopian culture is completely kind to all types of people and situations. The poor in this country probably give more than 10% of their wealth to their neighbors.

3. To be a better Father for all my children, Etsegenet really loves me because she now has a father who will provide and protect her...she has shown me her on-going appreciation through her action...she holds my hand everywhere we go, rubs my hairy arms, kisses me on the cheek with thanks, and smiles at me and says "I'm happy".

4. Acknowledge that truth in my life is you Theresa. I know I have been "gray" in my relationship with you and the kids and that will change. As we have done many "truth" projects in our life, they all have been driven by you! Thank you for enriching my life with opening my eyes to real purpose.

May God continue His work through us...

Love you and all my children very much,

Raymond John/Dad

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Etsegenet's Peace

Day Five, Thursday Morning, November 20TH 8:30am
(Wednesday Night, 7:30pm Ethiopian Time)

A sweet note was sent to me this morning from Rachel. It sums up the answer to my prayer: That Beautiful Etsegenet will be confident and contented heading off to her new life in America. We have prayed for her for many, many months and the Lord is good! Here is the email that was sent:

I'm totally thinking about ya'lls big family reunion at the airport. How fun!
I wanted to share this with you....I hung out with Ray and Etsegenet for the couple of hours before they left. Towards the end Etsegenet and I were in the kitchen, and she started singing "I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul....I've got joy like a fountain, Ive got joy like a fountain......"
it just made me cry....that was just a total expression of how she is feeling. She is SO excited to get on that plane and get to her family! She is feeling totally peaceful and joyful about it. So I was crying in amazement at this little girl, thankfulness for her, etc.

Lots of love,

This note reminded me that while I was in Ethiopia two and a half weeks ago Etsegenet did a similar thing. After we left the transition house and all the families were getting on the bus to go back to the hotel( E got to stay with us at the Addis View for the week), Etsegenet burst into song in English,"My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!" She sang the entire song and the adults that were on the bus began to sing with her. If there ever was a moment in this adoption process that I doubted the sovereignty of my God I apologize! This child born across the sea, was placed first in my heart, then tomorrow she will be placed in my arms as a blessing to me, and although I am sure I do not deserve such a rare gift I will most gratefully and humbly accept her for the glory of God and His kingdom to come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finally Some News!

Day Four, Wednesday Night, November 19Th
(Thursday Morning Ethiopia time)

Finally I received a call from Ray tonight. He was not able to call yesterday as the guesthouse attendant did not allow it. Apparently he did not understand that Ray would pay for his own call. Bummer. Well better communication today allows us to talk!
The embassy appointment went well and all documents are signed and the visa and passport should be ready today sometime. After the embassy yesterday, Ray was able to get a little shopping done. He purchased many more scarves for all us women in various vibrant colors(all of us love these scarves!). Apparently Etsegenet does as well as Ray told me she confiscated the fuchsia one for her own(smart girl...she grabbed it early). After shopping Ray got a taxi and he and E went over to the Sheraton Hotel for a swim. The original plan had been the Hilton, but the pool was closed. Etsegenet had never been in a pool before and briefly went under while in the shallow end. Although the water only came up to her waist she was disoriented for a moment. Ray grabbed her and she clung to him. It was a little fright. After that he took her to the little kids swim area where there was a slide and the water was a little more shallow. Once she was there she had a blast! Her new red swimsuit and matching cover-up look great Ray said.
Just a side note for any of you thinking of adopting older kids. One of the most enjoyable aspects of older child adoption is when you get to see one of their "firsts". For example: Riding an elevator, trying on new clothes at a department store, skiing, seeing the ocean, sleeping in a full length twin bed with new sheets, their first pet, Christmas with the family! The list goes on and on.
Today Ray was going to do a little more shopping, visit the orphanages and distribute the gifts we had brought for Fortuna(the TH nurse), Rachel and Barrett. We had bought a few clothes for Robel, our guide, and they were a hit. Everything fit and he loved them. The Lusse family sent some glow sticks for him. He had seen them and thought they were great when we came last time. Thanks to the Lusse family he now owns his own! I'm sure this day will fly by for Ray and after he receives the final passport and visa he and E will be heading over to the airport. They will get their by 6:30pm Ethiopian time and fly out at 10:15pm. Please, please pray for a peaceful and safe trip for my sweet husband and newest daughter. We miss them so and are praising God for his powerful hand as this adoption is finalized and completed. You know Ray and I both agree that once the adoption is finished it is all just good parenting from then on and I cannot wait for Beautiful E to get home so we can do just that!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is That the Finish Line?

Day Three, Tuesday Morning, November 18Th
(Ethiopia Time: Tuesday Night)

I heard from Ray this morning. He finally made it to Addis with almost no sleep. He is working on negative energy. When he arrived at the Addis Ababa airport he was met by Justine Gamble who was there retrieving her luggage that was delayed by a day. All her baggage is now in her custody. All Ray's bags arrived safely.
The transition house goodbyes were beyond sad. ALL the nannies were bawling and poor little Meti (Etsegenet's best friend at the TH) was very sad, as we all expected. Our only comfort is that she will be very much doted on by all the loving nannies until her mommy and daddy pick her up in January. E's birth mother was there for the send off. Ray was able to get photos of E when she was younger. This goodbye was sad, but not as painful as we expected. It was the nannies that were the most difficult for her to leave. As you have heard so often, they REALLY love these children. This is not just their job, it is their life.
Ray and E are now at the second guest house some five blocks away from the rest of the AWA families. This is not the best situation for them, but he will manage just fine with lots of Uno and coloring. Angelina sent her newest sister her last care package. It had games, candy, new fun socks and a teddy bear. We were able to talk to E on the phone today and she thanked Angelina for her gift. She is such a sweetie. I can't believe she will be home in just three days!!
Ray is planning on emailing me and calling me tomorrow night. They will be sleeping today and by the time I wake tomorrow they should be preparing for their embassy appointment. I will keep you informed as soon as the information comes in. Keep praying, we are almost at the finish line! Praise God!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Updates from Ray

Day One, Sunday, November 16TH: Check in United Airlines at PDX:


The blue tote full of the donations was 74 lbs and the first United personnel said "that will not work!"...but once again God sent the same angel, actually the same lady that checked us in two weeks ago. She wanted to hear everything that happened two weeks ago and her associate next to her remember us as well. They both wanted to see pictures and I told them both that on my business travels that I would swing by and share them...once again "no charge" for the bags that according to the first point of contact this morning stated "that will not work!"

All things are possible when God is in control. I really need to remember that on this trip.

Love you,
Raymond John

DAY TWO, Monday, November 17TH: Check in Ethiopian Airline at Dulles

Good morning my wife.....

Same guy checked me in from two weeks ago, no discussion took place he just processed the ticket and checked-in the charge. Only bummer right now is that I have a center seat.

I love you,

PS. Manute Bull, the basketball player is on this flight...he is so tall! I asked him if he remembered you from the sidelines:)
By the way I was able to obtain an aisle seat!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To the Rescue!

Two weeks ago while we were in Ethiopia Ray met his nine year old daughter for the first time. A bond began to form between them and by the end of our week it was clear Etsegenet was happy to have a father.
Ray played Uno at least twenty-five times, gave Etsegenet Sees candy, made her a spaghetti dinner from our store of dehydrated camp food, and colored with her. For part of the time Etsegenet just wanted to watch her dad color in her new Barbie color book.

So one day Ray colored a beautiful picture of a prince riding through the forest to rescue the beautiful princess. He crossed out the names on the page and inserted Dad for the prince and E's name for the damsel in distress. He gave this color page to her with a promise that in two weeks her daddy would indeed come to get her and bring her safely home. She carefully stored the picture in her new carry on. The look of hope on her face is an image I stored carefully in my mind.

Well tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn Prince Dad will begin his arduous trek to bring our Beautiful Etsegenet home. He said to me this week that the only cure for the plight of the orphan is to give them a home and now their in one less fatherless child in the world. I don't know about you, but I think every girl wants a daddy just like this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Birthday Baby!

Tuesday November 11Th was our Baby Meseret's first birthday! I thank the Lord that she is here with us on this day. She decided to give her family and birthday surprise by taking her first steps. She dazzles us with her laughter and brightens our home with her presence. The transition into her new life has been incredibly smooth and I attribute this to the excellent care she received at the AWA Transition House. Meseret Joy means a foundation of joy, and she is just that!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bringing Etsegenet Home!

Well here we go again! Just 10 days until Ray makes the long trek back to Ethiopia to pick up our Beautiful Etsegenet. As we parted last week her tears were flowing as she clung to us. She kissed us and Baby Meseret goodbye and we promised her it would be just two weeks before she would come home forever. I did not think I would have to experience leaving another child in a foreign country again as I had to with our son Denis in Russia. It hurt just as badly this time. As we left it was bittersweet. I had my Meseret in my arms cooing while by Beautiful Etsegenet faded from sight as we drove away! Such agony. After we got home our Ethiopian coordinator wrote what happened with Etsegenet after we left the hotel:

Its 8:15pm here….i just dropped Etsegenet and Meti off at the TH. And ya'll probably haven't boarded the plane yet! Etsegenet cried for a long time…she wouldn't even talk to Meti. We went and got dessert…she didn't want ice cream but she ordered a piece of cake. But she didn't eat it. On the way back to the TH I called Furtuna…she was at a cafĂ© that was on our way home. So we stopped, so that Furtuna could talk to her. It was only about 5 minutes, Furtuna came out to the car. Immediately after that Etsegenet was feeling better…we could tell because she started talking to Meti. Back at the TH she took her suitcase up to her room….I peeked in and all the kids were gathered around and she was showing them every item. Then I saw one of the kids go to the kitchen to get a serving tray….so I think they were breaking into the food. She gave Furtuna the whole bag of apples. I love that about their (Ethiopians) nature… they love to give whatever they have, whatever they receive.
She's gonna be okay.

My only comfort was that we did pass court and we have custody of Etsegenet. It takes about two weeks to get her paperwork in line. Well the paperwork is coming together and the tickets will be purchased today! We are so close to having this battle for our child be over. Rachel our coordinator in Ethiopia is fantastic! She cares for each case as if it is the only one on her plate. I don't know how she does it. We will keep you posted as the time gets closer. Continue to pray for protection over E as she waits for her Daddy to save her and that nothing hinders Ray's quick return to Ethiopia to bring our child home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Formula Trip

After the Project Impact fundraiser Ray and I were asked to speak at a midweek family discipleship group. At the end of our talk there was a gracious outpouring of funds that, when all was said and done, came to close to $1000.00. We bought 200lbs. of formula, repacked it into airtight, vacuumed-packed bags to reduce the weight, and lovingly placed it in 18gal tubs to make the long trip to its final destination....Kids Care Orphanage, Ethiopia. Here is a photo essay on the trek of this precious commodity that I am sure will save more than one child's life. Thanks to all who participated financially and prayerfully in this endeavor!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We're Home

After a grueling thirty-four hour trip we made it back home! Our family and friends were at the airport to greet us and one family lovingly took photos and video of the entire welcome home. What a gift! We stayed at the airport and visited for a short while then Ray, and I, and our children went home to just be together and love our new baby. She is the perfect center of attention and had no problems fitting into that spot!

Tonight we had a birthday celebration for our 15-year-old daughter. All the family came and brought food and we enjoyed the togetherness. We missed our children so much and it is good to be reunited with them. But a huge piece of our heart remains in Ethiopia until we can bring Beautiful Etsegenet home so she can be in our next family photo. It won't be long until our hearts sing for joy!