Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"As I have purposed, so it will stand..."

There is a bill being passed today in Liberia. It will either be pro-adoption, or anti-adoption. Because of the recent things happening there, we can't help but think that it may not be favorable. In their (the NGOs - Non Government Agencies - that continue to influence Liberia's lawmakers) words, adoption is equated to being a "harmful practice" for children. They are very anti-international adoption, even though they are organizations that seek to better the lives of children...and they do some wonderful things for them. Their stance is that it is harmful to take a child from their culture & people group.
If this law passes with the anti-adoption verbage, we may find it leads to the end of adoptions in Liberia.

Today is the first time that I have fathomed the thought that maybe... maybe I won't be able to bring my kids home. Obviously, that tears me apart, and then brings me pleading to the Lord to ask him to INTERVENE!

God led me today to Isaiah 14:24 & 27"The Lord Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have promised, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand...For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?'"

If they are OUR children, then NOTHING can stop them from coming home. We want to be ready to yield to whatever God has planned for us & for Kelvin and Hawa. As Jason reminded me, this is not the first road block we have had, and it's not the first time that God would have to act in a huge way to bring kids to our family. The only difference is that we are a bit more prepared for the battle because we have seen his goodness again and again, even though it is very difficult. And in scripture, over and over again, God strips away any illusion that we can do anything about a situation... so that he can do it, and receive the glory for it.

We are very concerned, but clinging to the knowledge that GOD IS BIGGER AND CAN CUT OFF HIS ENEMIES! We're thankful for your love and friendship, and we ask you to stand with us in asking for God's intervention for the children of Liberia, and for Kelvin and Hawa specifically!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A few more pictures!

Kelvin, probably with his dorm buddies, and his caregiver
(He's the one in front in red.)

We were surprised last week when we received a few more pictures of Hawa that apparently didn't load. They are precious! The one of her looking at Asher's picture is so special to us!

Kelvin being asked what he'd like them to write in his
letter to us! (Which we received last Wednesday night!)

Hawa as she looks at the pictures of her new brother,

The bag of fun things & the dress we
sent her.

Hawa with her gift from us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As we learn more about the situation in Liberia surrounding adoptions, there is a temptation for me to be discouraged. These are issues I know very little about, and have no control over. These are certain government officials placing a much higher value on making money than on providing care to the children whose job it is to protect. Here, relief is being offered, whether through adoption for some, aid from Christian agencies, etc,... and it is being blocked. Why? Apparently, because there is pressure from Non-Government Agencies (NGOs) who have a problem with this kind of relief, and are fighting it at every turn. Without their support, certain government officials are out of a job. That's not cool with them. So they do what they are told, and they seek to stop international adoptions.

I don't understand why. There's probably a lot more to this than I could ever comprehend. One thing I DO know. This is not a "fight against flesh and blood." It is apparent to me that the things on God's heart, namely caring for the orphan, the poor and destitute, are coming against an enemy. I may not have the ability to change these things, but I serve one who does.

Please pray with us that the snake who is whispering lies into the ears of people who are willing to listen would be CUT-OFF. That these people would be free of the enemy's influence in this matter. That God's agenda for Liberia's orphans would move forward, and that all other plans would fail. We need you! We need your faithfulness in bringing these things to the Father! Please pray.

More than ever, we want our kids to come home, but we are content knowing that God will have his way in this situation. We know the outcome!

Psa 37:4-19
"Delight yourself in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord ; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance."

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Liberian English"

The following is from our Liberia Adoption manual prepared by Christian Adoption Services to help us understand what language differences we may deal with. Many people have asked us if the kids will speak English, and the article answers that question perfectly! Plus, it gives some fun examples of how the kids may sound when we get them home!

Liberian English vs. American English
Throughout the adoption process people may ask you if your children will speak English. The answer is, “Yes, and no.” They speak Liberian English, which is very similar... and very different from American English. Practically, what this means is that the kids will understand a lot of what you say to them, but initially it's much more difficult to understand their Liberian English. Here are some tips for understanding Liberian English:
1. The best thing to understand is that Liberians do not pronounce the end of most of their words. So, if an American says, "Give me some of that apple," from a Liberian it would sound like, "Gi me su u da appu."
2. Also, a very important difference in communicating that isn't verbal but still necessary to understand is that Liberians raise their eyebrows to say, "Yes." They only give a slight nod when the, "Yes," is very emphatic.
3. Obviously, the Liberian accent is unique. This is something that is best understood by listening to anyone from West Africa speak for awhile.
If you are adopting a Liberian child, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the accent. Get a music CD, watch movies with characters from West Africa, or find someone in your community with a similar accent. The book Blue Clay People is written by William Powers, who worked in Liberia for two years, and it has a lot of Liberian conversations in it. One of the moms who has adopted Liberian boys has a blog in which she often records conversations with them. It is funny, insightful and useful for understanding the dialect. (www.morebridges.blogspot.com) If you are able to go to Liberia to pick up your kids, the experience will give you a great advantage in understanding their language. After listening to the accent from a lot of people speaking, it gets much easier to understand. If you're not able to travel, don't worry. It will just take some more effort on your part to get exposure to the way Liberian English sounds.
4. There are some common pronunciation differences, like Liberians do not make the "th" sound. Instead, it sounds like "d" or "t". For example, "this" sounds like "dis" and "three" sounds like "tree." They pronounce our short O sound like "aw" so "God" sounds like "Gaw."
5. They have different rules for grammar, so the placement of their words in a sentence is often different or the verb form can be different or partly missing. Like "I am finished" in Liberian is "I fini." Or we may say, "Will you take me to school?" and a Liberian would say, "You carry me to skoow?" Or we say, "How are you?" and a Liberian says, "How you feeling?" Also, Liberians tend to use the present tense of verbs regardless of the time an action took place. This is one of the differences in language that will stay with your Liberian children longest.
6. Liberians will often repeat a word for emphasis. "He ha plenty, plenty toys" to refer to someone having an overwhelming amount of toys or "He funny, funny in de he (head)" to refer to someone who seems mentally unsound.
7. Americans and Liberians use different words for a lot of common things.
Here are a few:
How are you?/How you feelin? or How you comu on?I'm okay/Tryin
I'm hanging in there/Tryin small or I dry ri (I'm dry rice)
throw/chunk (As in "chunk it here")
shirt/blouse (for women) shirt (for boys)
flip flops/slippers
tennis shoes/sneaker
sokay/aw rie (all right)
a lot/plenty
cookie or cracker/biscuit
hot dog/sausage
a little bit/small or small, small
to take somewhere/carry
move or move over/dress
done/fini (finish/finished)
your family/yaw peepo (your people)
pajamas/nega (nightgown)
trash can/bucket
braid/plat (plait)
There are also the bathroom terms that are helpful to know when you are asking if they need to use the facilities. :) They say "pee pee" and "poo poo."

Thank You, God

God is good. Wow... sometimes it's the big things that get my attention, like new pictures of Kelvin and Hawa. But just now, I saw his goodness in a seemingly small way.

We have been writing letters to our government representative trying to enlist US help in getting Liberian adoptions to move forward. Today, for the first time, I called. I am WAY ignorant about government procedure... so I was intimidated to call and try and make myself understood to someone who really might care less.

I dialed. Someone picked up ( a real person, not a machine like I was expecting). I stated I was calling to follow-up on some letters I had written regarding our adoption situation. The woman on the phone said she was so glad to have gotten the call b/c she is the one who deals specifically with immigration and adoption issues! How amazing is that? See... small, but mightily showing God's goodness to my insecure heart. She will be sending us something to fill out to release our official info to them to check into. In the meantime, she will look into the possibility of there being something already in place that our representative can sign onto, or if something needs to be created.

I am just so thankful! I didn't have to fight anyone to be heard. She actually remembered our situation and was willing to look into it! Thank you, God.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holding my breath

I have felt like I have been holding my breath. Or maybe I'm breathing a bit, but my anticipation for my children is so great that I can't exhale until they come home and are in my arms. I have checked my e-mail at least 4 times daily (OK - maybe more like 8) since Angel and her team got home from Liberia on the 14th. Waiting... Waiting to see Kelvin & Hawa. Hoping to see a smile in the pictures this time. Wondering if they are OK.

Yesterday morning God let me exhale as I saw my beautiful children. (Scroll down to see them for yourself!)
I'm telling you... there is nothing better than a deep breath like that.

Here's what we know:

The kids were told they were being adopted by us, and were given the photo albums that we made for them. The letters we wrote to them were read to them. They know they have a mommy and daddy and a sister and brother waiting for them. :) They were very happy to learn they were being adopted, according to Angel - the one who told them. They were thrilled to receive the little package we were allowed to send to them... an outfit each, book, stuffed animal, lollipops, stickers. Apparently, being one of the youngest girls in the orphanage, Hawa was held almost constantly by the missions team members, and her smile was contagious, I'm told. :) Kelvin was also very smiley, and it was especially cute because of his missing front teeth! :)

One of the mission team members took down "letters" from them to us... and we should be getting those in the mail sometime soon. I can't wait! (Well, actually... I CAN wait. I've gotten pretty used to waiting in the last 2 years. God has worked me over on that one! I may still not like to wait, but I see His goodness in these past years, and I will choose to trust him in "the waiting".) So- I WILL wait... but I am super excited for that letter!! Can I put in a RUSH order, God?

The missions trip went very well. According to the team, there are many, many needs to be met in Liberia. There are overwhelming needs everywhere, including at the 2 orphanages that ACFI runs, but the smiles and joy of the children and staff gave the team the confidence to know that God is bigger than than Liberia's need. Angel was able to meet with MANY people to talk about the adoption suspension, and really feels that the Lord set up appointments that she could never have arranged herself. She believes that this issue is moving up on the agenda of President Sirleaf. We sure continue to hope and pray that this is so.

Please thank God with us for his GOODNESS! So many prayers have been heard and answered surrounding this trip to Liberia. Healing, protection, safety, the ability to accomplish what God laid on their hearts, divine appointments for Angel, and of course, the news that OUR CHILDREN KNOW ABOUT US AND ARE OK!!!!!!!!!!!

The long-awaited pictures!

Our pretty girl...

Silly boy - he'll fit right in! With his bottom 2 teeth filling
in in top 2 empty spaces, he's almost got one complete set! :)

I just can't get over her eyes! She's so beautiful!

Angel showing Kelvin our album...
he's seeing his new family for the first time!

He looks tiny here to me!

Oh, how handsome!

Asher's favorite picture of Hawa :)