Thursday, January 29, 2009

Then Came Yesterday...

So, on Tuesday, because of some letters from our Liberia director, I was getting the feeling that it was gonna take several months longer to get Kelvin and Hawa home than we were expecting. I struggled with that. From a purely selfish standpoint, we have been waiting for a year and a half to bring children into our family. And, here, as we were 3 to 4 months away from having them join us, we were being advised that it would be even longer. I felt unsure what to ask of the Lord anymore. I've been asking him for big miracles for the last year and a half. I've been sure that He is able to accomplish amazing things... but He has not chosen to say yes to me in those big ways. I have, however, been blown away as he meets me right where I'm at... in my need... and calms my heart and reassures me, and restores peace. That to me is miraculous in it's own way. So, anyway, I'm just not sure how to pray. Do I keep asking big things, even though the temptation for me is to be discouraged when He chooses not to do them? Or do I try to accept the reality of the situation and weather through whatever He chooses to allow?

I think the answer is both somehow, but I needed to ask him to encourage me. S0, I spent some time with him, and he, as usual, met me right where I was and gave me some amazing verses that were just like having him next to me, speaking them to my heart.

Psalm 111:7-9 "The works of his hands are faithful and just; all of his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness."

2 Kings 23 - speaks of turning to the Lord with all of our heart and soul and strength

Isaiah 40:25-31 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (emphasis mine) He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

That last passage in Isaiah was like a chastizement to me. Why am I complaining that God does not "see my cause"? He is the everlasting God. Enough said. But because he's not only firm with me when he needs to be, but also gentle because he loves me deeply, he goes on to tell me that while I will grow tired and weary (which I am), he does not. And if I hope in him, my strength will be renewed and I will be able to go on.

He was once again reminding me that this whole adoption thing is not about me. It's not even about Kelvin and Hawa (which goes against everything I feel). It is really just about Him. He will do what he will... and he has a purpose for it all, and he will refine us and grow us and test our faith the whole way.

So, Jason and I spent some time praying that our faith would be tested, and that we would pass that test and please the Lord. And also that he would do mighty things to get Kelvin and Hawa home soon, no matter what the world says... because our hope is not in the US paperwork, or in the Liberian government. Our hope is in the Lord.

THEN came yesterday...

...and I realized that what the Lord had impressed on us the night before was a preparation of what was to come.

We learned yesterday afternoon that adoptions in Liberia have been suspended. There will be no adoptions again until the country of Liberia re-writes their policies and procedures. We are still reeling from this very unexpected news, and don't have all the details yet, but it means that our adoption process halts right here, right now. It sounds like we can choose to pursue adopting Kelvin and Hawa... but that we do so with the knowledge that it will most likely take a very, very long time. Many, many months ... to maybe years when it's all said and done, we just don't know. Unless the Lord tells us to stop things altogether, we will not change course. Kelvin and Hawa are already a part of our hearts and our family, and we cannot imagine walking away from the hope we have to bring them home.

We covet your prayers. This is very painful. It feels very much like the miscarriage I had many years ago. We'll be OK, we know God is faithful. But this is hard. I am concerned about all the kids in the orphanage... the money they receive from the adoptions goes to feed all the children, so if adoptions are halted for a year or so, that will affect them significantly. I am concerned for Kelvin and Hawa... we already love them, and yet will not be able to be a family to them. I am also sad for us. All of the things that I have thought of and dreamed of... of beginning our lives with our new kiddos... it's all very painful to think about now.

Yesterday I cried a lot. Today I feel kind of numb. Disbelief. I want to handle this right. I want to take what I learned from the Lord on Tuesday, and apply it now. He knows our cause and he does not grow weary. Yesterday he led me to Zephaniah (not a place I usually spend much time).

Zeph 3 "Do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. ... I will deal with all those who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. ... At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home... "

As Jason said yesterday, nothing has really changed. We still do not hope in the US paperwork, or in the Liberian government... our hope is in the Lord. He is still in control, he still knows the outcome (He was not surprised by this), and we can still trust in his faithfulness. Now, if he chooses to do miracles, it will be that much more apparent to all those watching. I pray that's what's going to happen... that we will be in awe of how he works this out despite that it looks impossible.

Here are the details of this decision in Liberia:
"On Monday evening, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, gave the following statement in her annual speech to the nation:"The gross mismanagement of the adoption program (which aims primarily at placing orphans in homes in the United States), by both Liberian and U.S. personnel in the concerned NGO is the subject of a report by a Special Committee which I appointed for this purpose. Essentially, we have discovered that many of the children in these orphanages are not in fact orphans but children taken from their living parents on the promise of support and a good life in America. Moreover, we found that young children were being sexually abused at some of these orphanages, while others including officials of government, have used the program to extort money from potential adoptors. We have thus suspended the adoption program until laws, policies and proper guidelines have been established and we have asked our concerned friends and partners in the United States to be patient as we try to correct the serious malpractices which exist. We expect the National Social Welfare Policy and National Adoption Act which will be submitted to you during the course of the year, will provide guidance and prevent such abuses in the future."

At this time, all adoptions from Liberia have been suspended. This includes adoptions in process as well as those that have been finalized in the Liberian court system and are awaiting visas at the U.S. Embassy. We do not know at this time how long the suspension will last."

"Oh Christ, be the center of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes."

Corrie asked me (Jason) to write a little bit too. I think there isn't much to add, but just a few of my own thoughts, much of which is similar to Corrie's. In all things (this included) I want Jesus Christ to have the pre-eminence. I desire to push on and lay hold of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This present time seems like hopelessness and suffering, but we know that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope. That is pretty neat and worth pressing in for. Part of me doesn't know how much of this is a spiritual battle because we know we don't fight against flesh and blood. I believe that there are many lofty opinions and arguments that oppose God. Much in this could be part of it and so it is a time to be prepared to do sipritual battle. In the end, we submit to what the Lord has, and find joy in being obedient. If we are not, we trust always that he is faithful to refine us and bring us to where we need to be. God is good!

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Tooth Lost.. FINALLY!

So that family can see Asher's greatest cause for happiness recently, I posted this picture for you. :) He was in anguish as a newly-turned 7 year old never having had lost a tooth yet. Ah, the relief of being like everybody else...


You know how when people are pregnant, they have these random moments when they NEED to put things in place, and get things ready, and prepare? Apparently in our extremely LONG "pregnancy" of adoption, it's the same... and,well, I'm nesting.

Since we are not adopting infants... I can't be sure about their clothing sizes because I have no idea how tall they are, so with only a few exceptions (like the clothes we need to bring for them to wear home), I can't go out and buy a couple of cute outfits, or shoes. I have no idea what they like to do, or what their favorite colors are, or the sort of personalities they have, so I can't satisfy myself with preparing things that might be fun and enjoyable to them. I can't really learn how to do Hawa's hair since I have no one to practice on besides Anika. Tried that... you just can't do teeny-weeny braids in silky hair. But, I have watched some great videos on hairstyles, and read up on the products I need to use. You'll all have to be kind when we come to church and I've tried my best on Hawa's hair; please just try to make it down the hall before you laugh at my attempts! I have a feeling I will fail miserably much more often than I will succeed at first! I do feel somewhat ready to cut Kelvin's hair. (Thanks to Cindy who let me come observe Tito's haircut... and will allow me back when I need a refresher course! :)

I LOVE being prepared, so as you may imagine, it is difficult for me to stand by all these months, and feel like I can do nothing tangible. So, today, I found something tangible to do. :)

First of all, let me back up. Last weekend, I painted the bunk beds we had in Asher's room white. (Interestingly, these bunks have been alive and kicking since Jason and his brother slept in them since boyhood. How they both fit in them through their early 20s, I'll never be able to comprehend.) Alive and kicking... but not so pretty. SO- I decided we'd paint them white, and put them in Anika's room, which will eventually be the "girl's room". So, I painted them and Jason put them back together, and viola! We have a much "prettier" look goin' on.

Asher's empty room will be Kelvin and Hawa's room until it later becomes the "boys lair of adventure and destruction". We were given these awesome storage-type bunks, with drawers and shelves and stuff from our friends, the Wellmans, a while back. I was going to paint those too since I'm not a huge fan of oak, but nah... WAY too much work, since I'd need to sand them and such. So, tonight, Jason & I hauled all the various parts upstairs, and set them up. (Thank you Marshall & Lisa!) All we need now is one more twin mattress, and we're set!

Then, I lovingly put the new sheets & comforters onto the beds that Jason's parents gave to us for Christmas (which match ones that they got for Anika & Asher). I was so stinkin' excited to get those, because I couldn't justify buying them myself... I mean we've got mismatched sheets and blankets we could have used... but these MATCH, and they're warm and comfy and made of down, so my little Liberians won't freeze their pa-tutties off! So, thank you, thank you, thank you to Mom & Dad! (Anna, I know you're laughing at me for STILL not having a bedskirt on our bed after 11 years of marriage... I have one for the guest bed though!! :)

Earlier in the day I had gotten inspired to make decorations for their room... again with the nesting. Anika and Asher each have some canvases in their rooms that I've made for them especially, so I wanted to do the same for Kelvin and Hawa. So, I found "frameless" frames from IKEA that weren't in use around the house, and scraps of fabric that were used to decorate at Erin's baby shower this past summer, pulled out my paints, and got to work! Again, not knowing what the kids love made it less personal than I'd like, but I did my best guessing. Hawa got a butterfly in girly colors, and Kelvin got a soccer theme, since soccer is THE thing in Liberia. (No, it was NOT done freehand, I printed a picture and traced. Asher told me I cheated. Nice. ) So- here are their new "spots" all ready and waiting for them!!

Kelvin's Bunk

Hawa's Bed
So, there you have it. Some successful nesting accomplished! Of course, the serene made-up bed and immaculately clean room thing won't last past 8:30 tonight, when the kids will get home from volleyball with Jason. They already asked if they could sleep there tonight. :) Ahhh, the joy of new-to-us bunk beds, and fresh sheets!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sick at Heart

Wow. I'm at a loss for words right now. I just received an e-mail from our Liberia program director about a theft that has occurred at Kelvin & Hawa's orphanage. We know that thefts have occurred before, but to think that the orphanage had just gotten back on their feet again after their food running out in November, only to have everything taken.... it just makes me so sad.
It should not surprise me, I suppose. People who take food and clothing from children at an orphanage are desperate people. I don't imagine that plain old greed drives that kind of act(although I could be wrong)... it seems like desperation. So many Liberians are in that place of extreme need, and in that situation, make choices we can't understand. (Her e-mail is attatched toward the end of the post here, if you'd like to read exactly what took place - and how.)

Obviously, we would love for you to be praying for all the children and workers to be protected, for their food and supplies to somehow be replaced, and also to thank God for protecting everyone this time.

I guess I have just struggled more than ever in the last year and a half over the duality that exists in our world. While I prepared a Thanksgiving meal a while back that fed a group of 8 people 3 times over... all the kids at "our" orphanage in Liberia were completely out of food. While I have a comfortable bed to lie in at night, many people in our world sleep in the dirt. While the media tells me to buy that new luxury car, or this new movie, or that hot new outfit beacuse I "NEED" them... there are millions and millions (probably a gross underestimate) of precious people who do not have basic neccessities like safe drinking water or a meal for the day. While my sweet Anika and Asher have safety and protection... there are little ones (as young as they are!!) who prostitute themselves to earn a meal, until they are used up and diseased and they die.

I wrestle with these things now. I appreciate our freedom and our plenty in this country, and yet I can't help but think that we allow it to blind us to the larger reality that exists outside of our insulated walls. Our excess seems to breed complacency. I'm guilty. I just don't want to be guilty anymore.

People always ask why God allows such pain in this world. I won't even begin to tackle that one, except to say that I believe his solution has been before us all along. He gave the world "salt and light". He gave the world his people, the church... us. If we don't step up to be his hands and feet, and in HIS NAME offer hope... then we are missing something.

I'm really not trying to preach here, I just feel so deeply that we must take part in God's agenda of loving and offering tangible help to the hurting and broken. I feel like he's opened my eyes to know things that I didn't want to know, and to see things that I am uncomfortable seeing. It's all so starkly different than the life I've known, but I don't ever want to go back to the way I was. I don't want to close my eyes and "move on" and get back to life as usual. I want to be affected and moved by the hurting children in the foster care system, by the orphans around the world, by the lonely and the hopeless. Jesus was. And he did something about it. I can't change this world. I am overwhelmed by the things that I CAN'T do to help the masses because I am small and weak. But being aware of the needs has brought me to my knees, and I suppose that's a pretty good place to start. :)

Angel's e-mail:
"Prospective Adoptive Families,
On Tuesday evening we received the email below from Ed Kofi, the
founder of African Christians Fellowship International. ACFI is the
church planting ministry that runs the Daniel Hoover Chidren's Village
in Liberia.
As you will read, the orphanage was the victim of a well-coordinated
theft on Monday evening. While thefts are common in Liberia and the
orphanage has been victimized before, this time it was especially
devastating as all of the children's supplies and food were taken.
In the midst of such a troubling event, we do have several things to
be thankful for:
1. None of the children or caretakers were hurt during the robbery.
2. There is a small amount of money that has been raised through thenew sponsorshop program ( that had not
yet reached Liberia. Hopefully, it will arrive in a day or two and
provide a small amount of relief.
3. The police in Liberia are working to find the theives.
4. We are taking a missions team to Liberia in March and plan to work
on this security issue. Please pray for this as we are still in need
of a construction leader for the team.

As we receive more information, we will forward on to you. Please join
us in praying for the children and the workers in Liberia.
Angel RutledgeLiberia Program
CoordinatorChristian Adoption Services

Email from Ed Kofi:
The children and workers at the Daniel Hoover Children Village got an
unwelcome new year visit by armed robbers on Monday night, January 5,2009.
Right now we are not asking or pleading for any help. Instead, perhaps
we could together thank God for protecting the lives of the Children
and workers. Somebody could have got hurt. Please, this should not
discourage you though the thought is agonizing. Let us know that our
God is in control. The watchmen at the village are now in the hands of police for
questioning. According to reports, all of them did not report to work
Monday night and did not tell anyone that they were not coming to
work. Their absence made the situation very grave. The armed men
raided the village, going from storage to storage taking everything
they saw including the children's food, clothes as well as the school
chairs and working tools (wheelbarrows, shovels, etc). The village has
always been the target of armed robbers because the property is not secured.
We fear for the lives of the children and workers because perhaps this may one day turn violent.We know that what has been taken God will replace, so let's only thank
him for protecting the lives of the children and workers. Though we
grieve in the national, yet, we hope in God that all is well. Thanks and kind regards.
Ed Kofi