Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tired but Happy

We got to Vika a little early today, and she was so tired.  She has had a cold since we first got to see her, so I am not sure if she is getting more sick or if we came in the middle of breakfast or nap or why she was so tired.  But she was oh so happy to see us, and we really enjoyed ourselves together!  We did some bubbles, did a massage (which she absolutely LOVES), played with the ball, sat in the swing, sang, and laughed and tickled.  We had a great time together and the time to say good-bye came way too soon.

Getting a Massage

Papa walking just like Vika.  :)

If she can't make you happy, NO ONE can!  :)

Trying to blow some bubbles.

Blowing a kiss to my sisters back home.

Snuggling with Papa.

"Oh, man!  Do I really have to go already?"  :)
The Lord knew we needed some good laughs this morning because after we got back we tried to make some phone calls to someone, anyone who would help us reach anything about our German Interpol Clearance, without success.  It is so incredibly frustrating to have to stand by and not be able to do anything.  At the same time, we also know that God can do anything and that He is testing our faith through it all.  So, we have decided to give it all into His loving hands and letting Him handle it.  So many of you are praying fervently for us, and we know that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and so we will walk forward in faith believing what His Word says.  We do not know the outcome, but we can be assured that the outcome will be what is good for us.  

This afternoon we got to visit where Vika would be in a little more than 10 years from now.  We got to see the place where children with special needs will go after they have aged out of the orphanages.  To say that it is heartbreaking and eye opening is an understatement.  We were received with so much love and appreciation, it was truly fulfilling even in the midst of great despair. 

We did NOT end our day this way, in case you are wondering.  :) We were able to meet back up with our friends and enjoyed some delicious icecream and some kind of cookie dessert, and played a game of Skip-Bo.  It was a fun time of fellowship and sharing our journeys.  Please pray for Ruthann and Mark tomorrow as they will have court and Mark will have to leave to go back to the capital city and then home while Ruthann stays behind by herself.  It is so wonderful to be able to fellowship together and share in our journeys with each other.  We are thankful and we are blessed! 

Monday, May 30, 2011


We finally got to see Vika again today!  It was a wonderful reunion! :)  Vika was so excited to see us, it was amazing!  We brought her some bubbles today!  Our girls LOVE bubbles, but Vika really LOVED them.  She laughed and laughed as we were blowing them at her and she was trying to catch them.  We later shared them with another group who was playing outside, and they really enjoyed them, too.  We also found a little swing hanging in the garden area where we spend our time.  Vika LOVED being in the swing, too!  The time came way too soon that we had to say good bye again.  It really does get harder every time we have to say "Paka."  Especially because today it was very hard on Vika, too.  She was not happy to have to go back to her group.

After Vika's nanny came to take her from us, we called Max, who was not quite ready to meet us yet, so we went to the grocery store, stopped by the bank to exchange some money, and finally made it home to the apartment.  We walked a LONG way with 2.5 gallons of water.  :)  We got back to the apartment and shortly after met Max.  We had some lunch together and then went off to visit a boarding school where they are holding a summer camp for the orphans there right now.  We had a nice time of worship with the workers, then got to see the inside of a very old building in great need of many repairs and the director pleading for help to make it more livable for these children, and finally, we got to play some games with the kids.  How much they love to receive just the smallest bid of attention and love!  After we finished there, we went to another orphanage and got to have a part in a birthday celebration of 30+ kids who had had birthdays recently.  It was so amazing to see these kids, who were so thankful for such a tiny gesture of kindness toward them and how quiet they were and how content and happy they were over the small gifts and cake, bananas, and candy they received.  It stands in stark contrast to any kids' birthday party I have ever been to, where there are always some kids, who will only eat the icing of the cake, or they complain that they only like chocolate versus vanilla, that they got a smaller piece than someone else did, etc., etc.   There was not a single plate that wasn't completely empty at the end of this birthday party.  There was not a single child that complained.  And they were all so thankful that someone took the time to celebrate their birthday.  It was a humbling reminder of just how good we have it and how often we forget to be thankful for what the Lord has blessed us with so richly.  We came back "home" with thankful hearts, having been blessed by the lessons these children taught us in a very short amount of time. 

We later received the news that we are still awaiting our clearance from the German Interpol.  It is hard to accept that for the second time on this journey, we may be held up because of where we used to live!  We spent some time praying and pleading with the Lord, and here we are almost ready to call our girls and then to head to bed for another day tomorrow.  We know that the Lord has it all under control, that He in his infinite wisdom already knows what is BEST for us, but right now, it is still hard to understand!  Please continue to pray with us!  Also, please pray for wisdom if we should try to pursue making contact with some authorities in Germany to possibly help move the process along or leave it completely for the Lord to handle.  Thank you for carrying us through in prayer.  This journey is not easy.  It is emotionally extremely draining, and we find ourselves completely exhausted in every way each day! 


I will update on Vika in a little bit, but right now, we really need your prayers.  We have a court date for Friday; however, we have not yet received our interpol clearance from Germany.  Since we have previously lived in Germany, we cannot go to court until we have been cleared through Interpol.  The German Interpol has not given any response to our request, and if they do not respond, we cannot have our scheduled court date.  We know that prayers can move mountains, and if it is His will that He can move that mountain.  Please pray that the Lord would move that mountain and we would have our clearances in time for court, but if He does not, we will accept His will, that our girls back home will understand and that the people caring for our girls will be able to handle it a while longer!  There is another family here, the Colemans, who submitted to German Interpol before we did, and their court date already had to be postponed.  Please remember them in prayer as well!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Sunday to Remember

As you know, we did not get to see Vika today, but I am going to post a couple of videos at the end of this post, so you still feel like you are getting something "new" about Vika today.  :)  God gave us some renewed strength for what lies ahead of us today as we got the chance to sleep in, listen to a sermon, and just relaxed some today.  We also enjoyed a yummy homemade Pasta Dinner (again, I believe you can have that in any country), and tonight, the Lord blessed us with some wonderful company. 

We had the privilege to meet Max with this ministry.  Max has been working in orphan ministries here in town since he is eleven years old.  It was clearly the Lord's leading in his life, and it is amazing how much his ministry has grown since the Lord first allowed him to meet the very first orphan.  The best part is, he speaks perfect ENGLISH although he is a native of Vika's country!!! :)  We enjoyed some delicious icecream together, and we got to know more about his ministry.  We stand in awe of how the Lord is using him in the life of thousands of orphans here in this city, and we will get the privilege to get involved within his ministry during the remainder of our time here.  It was always our desire that the Lord would use us on this trip to not only be here to bring Vika home, but also to be able to somehow be used by the Lord in the life of these children we have to leave behind.  Through our wonderful friend Andrea, we found out about Max.  Max just recently visited the States and is now back home to begin his full summer program in many different orphanages.  God has really blessed us in so many ways on this journey, and we are so thankful for how He is carrying us through each new day!  Thank you for all your prayers!  Please continue to pray for a quick court date for us and that Vika will understand why we did not get to see her this weekend!  We cannot wait to see her again tomorrow and tell her just how much we love her!  Now, for the long awaited videos: 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

He Knows Our Needs

 "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches
in glory by Christ Jesus." Phillippians 4:19
Had I written this blog post this morning, it would have had a much different title and a much different content.  One day, I will write what I had on my heart this morning, but not today!  :)  I am sorry to say that there will not be any new pictures of Vika today.  Sadly, we were not able to see her today.  Her building was locked, and we were not able to get anyone to come to the door to let us in.  We were disappointed and sad for Vika, and wondered how she may handle us not coming today.  And then, we remembered that this is life as she knows it.  She has been living this life for the past almost five years, and this is her "normal."  We are about to change her life forever, but it will at first be a HUGE adjustment for her. 

So, after leaving the orphanage, we stopped at a big Wal-Mart type store and picked up a couple of little things, enjoyed the sights a little, and then rode the bus home.  Soon after we got home, our friends who are here with us called to take us down to the market.  So, Ruthann, Mark, Jay, Trina, Abe, and I left for the market.  It was not at all what we had pictured for the day, but it was just what we needed.  The Lord knew how much we would need to have these two couples here for such a time as this, and that is why He brought them here. 

We walked down to the market, and experienced life as people know it in Vika's country.  There was pretty much anything imaginable there that one could buy-all mixed up together.  It was very interesting. 

This city we are in has many children, many playgrounds, many families, who were out enjoying the weekend today.  In many ways, this culture is similar to Germany and maybe most European countries.  At the first appearance, people do not appear very friendly.  They are busy with their own lives, and are very suspicious of strangers, but when you observe their lives from a distance, the communities are closely knit together.  You can see people and families getting together to play and talk and eat.  Neighbors helping each other make the most of the places where they live. 
Our apartment is on the 9th Floor
The people work very hard to make life as beautiful and as comfortable as it can be.  Yes, the buildings are very old and the roads need to be repaved and redone, and yet, people do the very best they can to keep it clean.  And although people appear to be less friendly, everyone has been so kind to us.  After all, we come to their country without speaking hardly any of their language or understanding their culture, much less reading their words.  In contrast, within our own culture in America, people are outwardly generally very friendly even to strangers, and yet when it comes to our personal lives, we often choose to keep to ourselves, to live our lives without interference from other people.  We live in organized neighborhoods, and yet how many of us can say that we actually really know our neighbors?  We greet each other in passing, and yet, we spend little time getting involved in one another's lives. 

View from our apartment
After we got back from the market, we got to Skype with the girls!  What would we do without this lifeline?  We are so blessed!!!  My sister, Becky, had just arrived, so they were in Aunt Becky heaven!  :)  Hopefully, Ms. Wanda will get a chance to recover from a very busy week and Becky will survive the next six days!  :)  We are so thankful for their friendship and for their willingness to sacrifice so much so that our girls could stay at home in their own beds with their own things! 
How much we miss you, girls!!!

Ruthann brought over this beautiful cake
After we skyped, we rested a little and then we fixed pizza and dessert to have with our friends.  There was a big festival in town today that was supposed to be broadcasted on TV, and everyone came over to our apartment to watch the festival.  Too bad, we did not get the local channel on our TV that was broadcasting the festival!  We had to settle for Father of the Bride, Part 2 instead.  :)  We got some good laughs together and enjoyed homemade pizza (yes, you can have pizza in every country!), a beautiful cake from this country and some kind of chocolate oatmeal bars that I made with whatever ingredients I could find on our kitchen table.  :)  It was a fun time, and again just what we needed.  We are so thankful for the fellowship!  Tomorrow, we will not get to see Vika, but we will try to make the most of our Sunday, and I will be sure to fill you in on the details!  :)  Hope you all are having a happy and blessed weekend! 
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. (Psalm 126:2)

Friday, May 27, 2011


There are so many things that I could be blogging about and sharing today, but one thing that is very heavy on our hearts are FACES today!  Faces of beautiful children that very few will ever get to see.  Faces of children longing for their mama and papa to come for them, who know that they have no chance to ever have a family unless somehow, someone will find them.  Faces of children who are curious to find out who we are.  Faces that are smiling and happy despite the circumstances they have lived through.  Faces that long to be picked up and carried away never to return.  There are faces of so many beautiful children, who deserve to have a part in society, who have so much to give to us, and yet they are hidden away where no one can ever discover their beauty.  Andrea G., a missionary friend, who we met when we first began our journey to bring home Vika, shared a beautiful quote with me today, and I think it pretty much sums up just how we feel today.  It comes from David Platt:
"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

We knew going into this journey that it would be extremely hard for us to leave those children behind that we cannot bring home with us.  We tried to prepare ourselves the best we could for those days to come, and yet, no one can truly prepare himself for the look in those faces that we have seen. 

Many of the children were outside today either helping in the garden or simply enjoying the beautiful day that we had here today while we were visiting Vika.  One little girl (I believe she was  girl-everyone has their heads pretty much shaved right now) sat down on the bench where our things were while we were walking the gardens with Vika.  I observed her from afar as she picked up a little puppy my dad had given us for Vika and rubbed it against her face.  She was in love.  I came over to get something out of our backpack, and gave her a little doll that our friend Ulla had brought us for Vika from Germany.  She was immediatley in love.  I also blew up a balloon for her, and she was so happy to get to hold it.  She tried to communicate with us, but we had a huge language barrier.  :)  We were unsure if we were allowed to interact with her, so we only interacted minimally.  It is very important for adoptive families to walk very carefully because not only can we jeopardize our own adoption but also the adoptions of families who will come behind us.  We are earning the trust of the people in charge of our orphanage and we cannot jeopardize it. However, none of the caretakers seemed to mind our interacting with the kids, and now that we checked with our facilitator, we will hopefully get to interact more with the kids.  Yes, we are there for Vika.  We want to spend as much time as possible with Vika, but Lord-willing, we will get to bring Vika home with us for a lifetime of showing her the love we have for her.  The children we have to leave behind may never get to experience the love of a mama and papa, and they so much deserve to know that they are LOVED and that they are BEAUTIFUL and above all that they were created by our God in His image, who loves them so much more than any earthly papa ever could.

And then, there are the faces of our beautiful girls on the other side of our computer screens when we get to Skype with them!  Oh, how we miss them, and how much we long to wrap them up in our arms every time we get to see them!  Soon, VERY soon, we will finally be reunited!  :) 

Okay, now on a much happier note, I know you want to know all about Vika.  :)  We brought Vika a banana today and after asking the caregiver if it was okay, she could not wait to open it.  She held it in her hands and took big bites right off the banana.  It was gone in no time.  She also finally showed more interest in some of the toys we had brought her, and I finally figured out the one thing that will probably be one of her most cherished little treasured "toys."  I will make it for her while I come back to wait out our 10 day wait, and then I will show you. :)  We also brought a ball with us today.  She LOVED it.  After one time of showing her to throw the ball, she became proficient at it.  Vika has a great sense of direction and loved throwing the ball back and forth.  She also really started bonding with Abe today, which was so nice to see!  It is very obvious that she has not been exposed much to men, so it takes more time to earn their trust.  We love her more with every time we visit her (although we loved her already infinitely before we met her) and it is becoming harder and harder to leave her there.  We only get to see her once a day from 10-12, and we are not sure yet if we will be able to see her tomorrow, but we will try!  :)  We will also take some snacks for Vika's groupa tomorrow.  Vika was really tired today, and I thought she would fall asleep on me before they came to get her, but she was fighting going to sleep with all her might!  As soon as her eyes closed she pulled herself up and started getting busy again.  It was really funny!  In many ways, she is still like a baby in a four-year-old body.  Okay.  Now, I will leave you with some pictures.  I am still working on getting some videos uploaded, but I have to do it at a time when not a lot of people are on the network because it takes a very, very long time.  Hopefully, in the next couple of days.  Please pray that we will find out our court date soon.  We are praying for June 3, but we are not sure that it will work out, yet.  We should know on Monday. 

Listening intently to "Jesus Loves Me."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are you sure???

I am very sorry, it has taken me so long to update!  I know you want to know all about Vika, and I promise I will fill you in on most everything we know about her in a minute and of course, if our internet allows post some pictures, but first let me back up to where I left off.  So, on Tuesday night, we got on our train.  We were met by our wonderful facilitator Y and her husband, who helped us get all of our stuff onto the train.  We got to share our cabin with the other RR family who is currently in our region, which was a real blessing as we spent only half the money we would have spent otherwise and we had some Christian fellowship.  Poor Y had to share her cabin with unknown people so she did not get much rest.  She has been running around for us every since, and I know she has to be exhausted!!!  The train was not very fast and had several stops along the way, but we all got at least a little rest. 

 We got to the train station and our driver was waiting for us!  He is very, very nice and brought us to our apartments.  Both of our apartments are very close to each other and also very close to the baby orphanage where the other family is adopting from.  Unfortunately, there are no apartments close to where Vika's orphanage is.  The apartment we are in is beautiful and way above anything we needed!  We are blessed!  We will get to learn to ride the bus or enjoy walks in the city.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had some time to get a quick shower, reorganize some things in our suitcases, and get a bite to eat before we were picked back up to go to a government's office to do some paperwork.  We waited there for a while for another lady to come with us to the orphanage to observe our meeting with Vika.  Everyone here has been very, very friendly.  Yes, people don't smile often, but they are always very kind.  We are used to people not smiling at strangers coming from Germany.  :)  And off we went to Vika's orphanage.  We got to talk a little bit about our motivation to adopt Vika on the way there, and then we met the orphanage deputy and some of the staff and shortly thereafter, we were walking into the gardens to pick up Vika.  We saw her form afar and immediatley got to take her from her play yard to a wheel chair and into another part of the orphanage garden so we could spend some time with her. 

At first she was very occupied with a piece of a "treasure" she had found somewhere and was holding onto very intently while several people of the staff came to meet with us.  We spoke with the psychologist and later with the doctor and the deputy.  They were very emphatic about how "severe" Vika's condition was and that they want to be sure that we understand the burden that she will be on our family and that she is the one we "want."  From the moment, the Lord opened our eyes to Vika until we made a commitment to adopting her, we knew that we would be going into this not knowing all there was to know about Vika and her special needs.  We also did our best not to have any specific expectations of her.  When I first found out that I was pregnant with our oldest daughter, Annalee, it was nothing short of a miracle placed inside of me that I would have the opportunity to grow and nurture and love and raise as God's child.  Did I know at that moment all of the heartaches and hard times we would have to go through with her and that still lay ahead of her?  Did I know that I would put her through implant surgery as a very small child?  Did I know she would be lethally allergic to nuts?  NO!!!  Would it have changed the way we felt about her and the miracle she is?  NO!!!  We love her unconditionally, NO matter what!  And that is how we feel about all four of our girls.  We rejoiced and were blessed beyond measure with each new life the Lord blessed us with. 

And it was that way with the blessing the Lord brought into our lives a few short months ago-the blessing of Vika.  Yes, we knew more about her than we did about any of our other blessings!  Yes, we knew some of her diagnosis and what she may have to overcome when she finally comes home, but did it really matter what her diagnosis would be and how severe or mild her needs would be?  NO!!!!  It would not change our love for her!  YES!  We are sure!!!  We will not abandon her when the tough times come!  We will love her no matter what hurdles may come along our way!  And we also know that it will not be that we are saving her, but that she is blessing our life more abundantly than we could ever ask or think.  Will we be able to give her what she needs in our own strength and not "neglect" our other girls?  NO!!!  But we are confident that God will give us ALL that we need.  We learned that Vika actually has a shunt due to hydrocephalus after birth, and this will likely be our first order of business when we make it back home.  Vika was also born very tiney at 3.5 pounds and at 30 weeks gestation.  She was discharged from the hospital and placed directly into her baby orphanage.  From there she was transferred to where she is right now last year. 

After making it through trying to explain our love for child we never knew and that no matter her disability, we will love her for who she is, we finally got some time just with Vika.  And as you can see in the pictures, she GREATLY EXCEEDED all of our expectations.  We saw her walking independently!  We got to make her laugh because she is sooooooooo ticklish and in exactly the same places where our other girls are ticklish. :)  And above all, she LOVED to be held and snuggled!  She soaked it up for all it was worth, and was on the verge of falling asleep on me while I was singing to her when they came and had us bring her back!  Even after this very first short meeting, it was extremely hard to leave her where she is although the workers do the very best that they can and genuinely care of the children!  There are just so many children! 

Because the orphanage staff wanted us to be sure what we were getting into and because there have been very few adoptions from this orphanage to date, this was all that we could get done for the day.  Of course, we want to get all our paperwork submitted so that we can get a court date as quickly as possible, but we also know that the Lord has a much bigger plan than we do!  He knows what we need and when we need it.  We came back to our apartment and rested a little and spent much time in prayer.  We could not get on the internet which was also very discouraging, but also gave us time to spend with the Lord instead.  Around 5 p.m., we got picked back up to go to a grocery store and to figure out what was going on with our internet connection.  It is a very interesting experience to shop for things when you don't have a clue what anything is!  More on that another time!  Everytime something does not work on a computer, it is usually a BIG headache!  So, Y spent several hours trying to get us up and running both in the store and then in our apartment after we got back to discover that it was still NOT working!  She is so nice and patient and we are definitely so blessed that God allowed her to be our facilitator.  She finally got her own modem to work on our laptop and is letting us use it while we are here.  What a blessing!  I had quite some work to catch up on after missing almost two whole days, so I was busy with that most of the night last night. 

This morning we got to spend about another hour with Vika and it was even better than the day before.  She was so happy to see us, it was like she had been waiting for us all her life!  She walked and walked the garden with us and we played with some toys, but we have not yet found the toy that will really keep her attention.  She has a lot of the same frustrations that Annalee had before she was able to communicate her needs.  Of course we have a language barrier, too.  She again laughed a lot, snuggled a lot, and even remembered how to blow us a kiss when we said good bye!  She was very proud to show us!  :)  She is a very special little girl and we are so blessed that God would choose us to be her parents! 

We left the orphanage to do a little more paperwork, but Y has been running around for us all day trying to get the paperwork done that needs to be done.  We were hoping and praying that our petition would be submitted to court today, but as of right now, we were not able to accomplish that yet.  We know it is in God's hands, and He knows what is BEST for us!  As hard as it is to trust Him sometimes, we are completely dependent on Him in every part of this process.  Most of you know how much I like to be in control of everything!  Well, this is definitely a very humbling experience as I have NO control whatsoever!  :)  Okay, I know this was VERY long!  I will try to do a better job at updating daily from now on, so you don't have to endure so much writing!  :) 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick Update

I promised to update and I am very sorry, it is just now coming.  We were having some internet problems which are now resolved, but I am way too tired to put anything sensible in writing right now.  :)  I will leave you with one picture to sum up the day. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leaving to Get to Vika's Orphanage

In a couple of hours, we will be getting on a train to travel to Vika's city! We have our referral and our dossier in hand, and are waiting to be picked up by our trusty driver!  God had His hands of protection over us today, and we are so thankful!  When we get there we will likely get to stop by our apartment to drop off our luggage and then we will be off to a full day of paperwork, meeting Vika, etc.  After almost six months of preparing for this day, it seems so surreal that this day is really finally come!  To say that we are excited does not begin to describe it!  To say that we are thankful for how the Lord has worked everything together so we could get to this day, does not come close to describing how truly, overwhelmingly blessed we are.  To say that we are thankful beyond words for all of you who have made this possible and who are standing behind us in prayer is just the very tip of the iceberg to describe our thankfulness.  God has been so good to us and I know that He will continue to work all things together for good as we finish up the rest of this journey!  I promise to update everyone tomorrow, but please be patient because it may be a long day before we will get to come back to the apartment to update you!!  :)

By the way, Abe thinks he died and went to heaven because he can watch soccer here!  :)  At least he has something to keep him entertained while I am getting my work done. 
Like many other big cities around the world we have been to, the difference between wealthy and poor is so dramatic, at times is seems impossible.  Here is just one tiny example:

There are people and children that live like this!