We’re coming, Sweeties!!

We are leaving tomorrow on a 24+ hour trip to the other side of the world to meet the children that were conceived in our hearts five years ago!  Michael pretty much explained everything that’s about to happen in his post from today.  I want to add to that our recent update from some dear friends whom we’ve never met. 🙂  As I type, the Braun Family are on their way back home to Texas with their new kids–a sibling group of 4 to add to their other 3 kids to make a “wonderfully crazy” family of 9!!  (Be sure to scroll down their blog to see pics!)  We have been in contact for several months as I found out they were adopting this sibling group that I met a year and a half ago on our mission trip.  With several bumps along the way, they were finally able to go this week for their Embassy appointment and bring their beautiful children home!

While there, the Braun’s graciously brought Aidan and Eva some care packages we sent a couple months ago, including a couple of those recordable Hallmark books where we record ourselves reading the books so that they can hear our voices.  Here are some of the Braun’s sweet remarks about our kids:

Your kids are so precious!!!!! ….I read your books from cover to cover with your kids individually.  Aidan loved it!  He was so surprised when he heard your voices, and grinned when Yonas told him that it was his new mommy and daddy.  He also loved the bubble maker.  I have the best pics of him.  He is excited that you will be here next week.  Your daughter is beautiful and very happy!  You will be blessed by both of your new kids….Thanks for letting me take care packages for you!  It was a joy to spend time with your children and love on them!

We are so thankful that the Braun’s got to spend time with our babies and tell them that we are coming very soon!  I know it is going to be an amazing week and that God is going to grow our hearts closer to Him, to each other, and to our kids during this week!  I am expecting great things from our great God!!!

Our third set of care packages

On the eve of our departure

It is now the evening before Suzanne and I leave for our court date appointment in Ethiopia. Our first three children are all in bed now. We’ve spent most of the day packing: Suz and I are bringing a carry on and two checked bags each, full to the airlines’ allowance. Why do we need so much stuff? It’s probably not what you think. In fact, we could probably get everything we need for the week into three small bags–and that includes a bag dedicated to camera gear 🙂

We’re bringing care packages to several waiting children from their stateside soon-to-be families. We’re packing clothes, baby items, gifts, and all manner of other necessities for kids and staff and the transition home and orphanages. Boxes and boxes of toothpaste and toothbrushes, formula, baby wipes, medicines, cloth diapers. And Suzanne has done a fantastic job of getting everything in. With lots of empty bags for the trip home, we’ll have space to bring gifts for family and friends. Coffee anyone?

During our visit, we’ll get to meet and spend time with our children for the first time. These are days we’ve anticipated for months–it seems strange that they are finally here. This chapter of our story that began two years ago is coming to an end, all so that a new one can begin.

Many thanks and blessings to our family and friends who’ve supported us up to this point. We could not have gotten this far without you, and there are two kids on the other side of the world who we pray will be blessed immeasurably because of your love, encouragement, and gifts. Thank you.

Thank you.

In the upcoming days, please pray that our court appointment on Thursday, Nov. 4, goes well. We’ve been told that the appointments are brief–maybe 10 minutes–and that we have about a 75% chance of passing. If we pass, there’s a good chance we’d return to Ethiopia in December to bring home the kids. Immediately following our court appointment, though, we may have an opportunity to meet the children’s birthmother. This could be a very emotional meeting–pray for grace and peace. Please pray that God continues to open our eyes and move our hearts and hands (and by “our,” I mean the Church: all of us) to meet needs of “the least of these.”

If you’d like to follow along over the next several days, look for the “Subscribe” box in the sidebar to the right. You can have updates sent directly to your email inbox–easy. We’ll do our best to update the site during our trip as we’re able.

Thanks again–we’ll be in touch soon.

Gleaning the fields

While we were riding in the combine the other day, “helping” with the last of the harvesting, God was making some connections for me to his Word and to my studies.  I was reminded of the research I have done lately for my thesis: “God’s Heart for the Fatherless.”  It seems that so much of the Israelites’ life was tied to and formed around the harvest.  Their social status was determined by whether or not they owned land, the widows and the fatherless being at the bottom of the class system because they had no property or land.  Their understanding of God’s blessing was displayed by how well the harvest did that year, and many of their prayers revolved around that blessing.  Every seventh year, the land was to have a Sabbath: no one was to plant or harvest on the land but the widows and orphans were allowed to pick what sprang up voluntarily.  The tithes and free-will offerings were mostly given from their harvest, and God instructed the landowners to give to a storehouse every three years enough to provide for the widow and fatherless.  Some of those tithes and offerings went to a community feast that God made sure included the widows and the fatherless so that they felt a part of the covenant community as well.  And God gave explicit commands to His people on how to provide for the widows and the fatherless by leaving the gleanings behind for them to harvest themselves.  The landowners were commanded not to go back to a wheat field or to the olives and grapes a second time to make sure they didn’t miss any.  Some especially generous landowners, like Boaz, actually left extra behind on purpose to provide for the poor.

As you can see, Israel’s life was intimately tied to the harvest and the orphans and the widows depended on it.  As I experienced the harvest the other day, I realized that some very generous, gracious people have left behind some of their gleanings, purposefully, to help provide for the fatherless children we are bringing home.  Thank you, Father, for that connection and for that very tangible display of blessing in our lives.  You are truly “Father to the Fatherless.”

Helping with Harvest

Our friends Tim and Connie own a farm just west of Lincoln.  Tim and his brothers are the fourth generation of their family to farm on this land in central Illinois, their great-grandfather having emigrated here from Ireland in the 1850s.  “In those days, it was either leave or starve,” Tim told me.  In fact, Tim’s brother still lives on the property that was originally owned by his great-grandfather.

They have been in the corn and soybean fields 12-14 hours a day for the past several weeks bringing in his crops and we had the opportunity to ride along in the combine yesterday.  Tim was gracious (and trusting) enough to let each of us take a turn at driving the combine, too.  Though it was a fun novelty for us, I imagine it becomes wearying to do it day in and day out for weeks on end.  Still, Tim loves his work and considers himself grateful and blessed to be able to do it.  We’re grateful to have had a chance to join him on this new learning experience for us.

Suzanne and the kids are packed into the cab of the combine while Tim reaps the soybeans.

A soybean plant before it is harvested.
The combine moves through the field, collecting the crop.
Soybeans after they've been collected by the combine.
One of Tim's dogs stands alertly by the semi-truck, waiting for the combine to return.
Suzanne takes a turn at the wheel.
The combine empties its load into the semi trailer. From here it will make a short trip up the highway to offload at the grain elevator.
Tim watches as he carefully maneuvers the combine to offload the harvest.

Court Date and Garage Sale!

Last Friday was so crazy I haven’t even had a chance to post this yet!  But we got a call from AWAA for our court date!!  We are finally going to get to “touch our kids,” as our 8-yr-old boy put it!  Our court date in Ethiopia is Nov. 4 and so we fly out Oct. 31 and return Nov. 9, while Grandma comes to stay with our other three here in IL.  We will get to spend time with Aidan and Eva a few hours everyday, as well as do some sight seeing and visiting other orphanages, etc.  Families do not always pass court the first time (usually because the court wants some Ethiopian paperwork written differently), but we will have made our appearance and will not have to stay for the following court dates.   After we pass, we will return to Ethiopia again 4-12 weeks later for our US Embassy appointment and to bring our kids HOME!!!  (We are praying that is before Christmas!)  We are SOOO excited!!!

Our wonderful phone call came during our busy garage sale we had that weekend!  We explained that everything was “for donation for our adoption” and people were very generous!  We made over $1100!!  Thank you, Lord!  Our two upcoming trips will be about $5-6,000 each, so if you are interested in helping with that, please click on the fundraising tab above.

Please be in prayer for our upcoming trip and for our first meeting with our kids!  Keep watch on our blog as we will post a video of them when we officially pass court!  We will also try to journal our trip some on the blog if the internet in Ethiopia cooperates.  Pray also for all the planning and packing and thesis writing that needs to happen between now and then!  And lastly, please pray for Aidan, our 4.5 yr old boy who has the mumps.  🙁  Our hearts yearn to hold and take care of him and to love on them both!  Thanks again for being a part of our journey!