Sunday, December 22, 2013

My ONE gift?!

Please accept our apologies for not writing in a few days. If we're friends on Facebook, you're probably aware that the last 48+ hours have been a bit of a whirlwind. Here's what God did- 

On Friday, we were at the US Embassy by 9:30 AM and by 11, we were leaving with a pink card that would allow Jonathan re-entry at 3 PM to pick up E's Visa. We immediately went back to the house we were staying in and called Delta to see about moving to that night's flight instead of the flight on Monday night. It took three phone calls (we kept getting disconnected as we were calling via Skype), and long conversations with multiple people. Finally, we got to the right person at the right time. After sharing our story, and explaining that we were in a home without furniture, using air mattresses and a small wooden patio table, and simply that we just really needed to get home- the wonderful agent waived all Mileage requirements (they were asking for 30,000 more skymiles a piece for 2/5 tickets) as well as $400 each for two of the other tickets. This is in addition to the change fees they had already agreed to waive. That's a total of $1,500 right there. Go God! Oh, not to mention we got the last 5 seats on the plane. 

E was SO EXCITED when we told her we were flying home to the US that night. Of course, J and L were also pretty ecstatic. We got to the airport in plenty of time, about 4 hours early just to be safe, only to learn that we wouldn't be able to check in until at least three hours before. It was all cool though, because the family that "just-so-happened" to be in front of us were some Missionaries that teach at La Molina Christian School there in Lima. It was neat to talk with them, share our story and hear theirs. We checked in okay, and made it through immigration and to our gate. Part of the dilemma of booking a trip last minute, and getting the last seats on the plane- they're not together. Our wonderful gate agent was gracious & patient enough to move some things around so we could have seats together. E was asleep before we took off & stayed asleep until breakfast was served an hour before we landed. I think she slept better and more than the rest of us. 

We had a great 2-hour ride back to Chatt from the airport and then just vegged around the house, enjoying time as a family with Josh, Michelle & Sadie. We're so thankful they were able to meet us at the airport and spend the day with us. 

It was both humbling and joyous to see E's reaction as we entered the house and saw the Christmas tree, and then as she saw her room. She had seen her room before via skype but now she was HERE
 and experiencing it for herself. For most of the morning, she stayed in her room and played while we were downstairs talking. Every chance she got to tell us (as we checked on her), she would remind us that she was in "my room" playing with "my toys." She's never had that before. Oh my, what we take for granted. When she did come downstairs, we pointed out some gifts under the Christmas tree and indicated that one was hers. The way her face lit up, you would've thought she was just crowned Miss Universe (which by the way, she and her Mom are front runners anyhow). She then said "one gift, mine. That's all" but she was content. We were touched at her sincerity and the realization yet again that by Gods grace, E has been given (and will continue to be) more than her little mind can ever imagine. 

What's so crazy about that, is that is exactly how our relationship works with God. When we accept His invitation to be a part of His family, EVERYTHING he has becomes ours...and we cannot and will not ever fully grasp the depth and grandeur of His love and how much he provides for and protects us. Wow. 

Well, we want to Church today. It was a blast. Great to be 'home' with the people we've called family for over 10 years now. It was so much fun to share her with everyone. Some dear friends came by after Church to share some gifts and visit. We enjoyed the time with them. Next few weeks promise to have some ups & downs as we transition to Little Rock, but we're confident this is His plan for our family.  

Michelle's family arrived this evening. My family is en route. Chrismas will indeed be special, for many reasons not the least of which is celebrating how much God loves us and how He has blessed us richly this year. 

We'll write again in a few days. Here's some pictures- 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

UPDATE- Moving mountains (Day 31)

Please forgive the lack of posts yesterday and today (Saturday), long story short- God moved the proverbial mountain(s) yet again and as I type, we're home in the US! It's been a whirl-wind 36 hours and this on about 3 hours sleep. We'll compose an exciting post tomorrow (Sunday). Appreciate your prayers and support. 


Most of you are aware by now, LOADS of things happened today with our journey. To sum it up in one word- God. That's all. Really, we could end today's post right there but for anyone that knows me- you'll probably agree that I'm usually not a man of a few words. At least not once I start to talk or write. 

On to today's events- our lawyer(s) were promptly at the main ID office today when it opened as that is where we were told the paperwork would be delivered first thing today. They were expecting an uphill battle trying to push for its printing by late morning and it's delivery to the pick-up office on the noon courier run. This way, we would hopefully have it by mid-afternoon and subsequently get the passport. Enter God. (Of course He has always "been here" and "mountains" have always been moving- it's just that these were the size of Rushmore-minus the faces, and we got to see them moving right before our eyes).

 The phone call that changed it all. While waiting to speak with someone, Karina's phone rang. It was someone from the ID office letting her know the ID had been generated and would be sent to the San Borja office. Then, almost immediately another call came in, this time from the lady we dealt mostly with yesterday at San Borja, who said "We have your ID ready, come and get it." Naturally, she did. She informed us as she was on her way and I contacted Guille so he could reach out to his contact at the Passport office. (Mountain moved)

Within 30 minutes, Marilena (Karina's mom) arrived with the ID and while we were holding and admiring this most precious piece of plastic that has taken years off the end of our lives, Guille pulled up. We piled in his car to head over to the Passport office. We first had to stop at the Banco de la NaciĆ³n (Nation's Bank) to pay the Passport fee- it's kind of nice that in any government office here, no money changes hands...I suppose it's to prevent the appearance of fraud or preferential treatment.  Anyhow, we walked into the bank and we're stopped by a line of people. Our wait there would've easily been 30-40 minutes were it not for the Peruvian version of the ADA. Since E was with us, and she is considered handicapped, we were moved to the front of the line. We walked out in about 8 minutes. (Mountain moved) 

We arrived at the passport office and while getting a few necessary copies made next door, Guille went ahead to notify his contact we were there. We must've walked past 30-35 people waiting to submit their passport application. We submitted E's and had her picture taken in less than 15 minutes. Then, we walked over to the area where one awaits the printing and delivery of their passport. Guille shared a few words with someone who appeared to be in charge behind that desk and within about 10 minutes, I was handed a hot-off-the-press passport. Literally, it was still warm when they handed it to me. (Mountain moved)

We immediately went to the Doctors office to request her medical file. Long story short there, the files were expedited this afternoon to the embassy to await our appointment tomorrow morning at 10 AM. More on that in a bit. We're not supposed to be able to have an appointment at the Embassy tomorrow, and Karina was trying to get an appointment for this afternoon- but the Counsel was not going to be able to see us. They were so gracious to grant us an appointment tomorrow under the circumstances. (Another mountain moved.) 

Wow. What a day. Go God. He did all these things, and He did them in His time and in His way. I'd like to day we never doubted but if you've read this blog, you know that's not true. I'm pretty sure that's true for all of us from time to time in our lives. If you DON'T ever doubt, we need to talk. Apparently you've got plenty of money and stuff in this life and you need to share. 

Here's what's really awesome about all this timing. The Doctor's office closes at 1PM tomorrow (their normal lunch closing time) but they won't open again in the afternoon as they usually do...and in fact, they won't open until NEXT Friday. So, IF we had not been able to get the ID until tomorrow morning, and if we hadn't been blessed to meet Guille (who um, by the way is a part of a small group of 7 or 8 couples that God has flipped upside down since April of this year...several marriages reunited, several of the couples got saved...all because of a marriage retreat...and David & Lala "Just-so-happen" to be a part of this group assisting the lead couple...I could go on) we may not have gotten the passport until later in the morning...which may have caused us to miss the 1PM closing. 

I rest my case. Mountains moved. That is all. 

Tomorrow, we have E's Visa interview at 10 AM and Lord willing, we'll have her visa. If not, Mountaims will still be moved. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spiritually Bi-polar (Day 30)

*Let me start off by saying what I hope is obvious- by no means do I intend to disrespect the term or those who suffer physically from the disorder.*

Have you ever experienced times in your life where one moment you felt great spiritually and undoubtedly, God was in control, or what about a time when you felt like God was far off and your prayers were ricocheting off the ceiling above you as if you weren't worthy enough to utter such petitions? Perhaps you've been in tense moments when you've prayed silently over & over while things were being said or done right before your eyes that God would work right then and there. Well, that about sums up what we encountered and experienced today. 

In my heart of hearts, I wish I were writing that we received E's ID today but I'm not. Marilena (Karina's mom-also an Adoptions Attorney) and I were promptly waiting at the ID office when it opened at 8:30 this morning. After a few rounds with several of the office personnel, and a brief but cordial meeting with the director of the office- we left with the understanding that essentially the ID process now starts from scratch and since it won't throw any flags (the old one has been cancelled), we should have it (God willing) within 48 hours. 

While in the office threatening action pushing for information, we learned that the picture we submitted wouldn't pass through the final step before printed (PROVIDENTIALLY), so we came back to the house to get E and take her to get another picture taken. After that, we went back to the ID office to drop those pictures off. Lo & behold, we were able to speak with the lady that we started off speaking with this morning. She instantly fell in love with E and began signing to her. She didn't know many signs, but she knew a few such as "I love you," among others. As we sat there watching her remove the old pictures and attaching the new ones, she said- "you know, I had another case like this once and the day after the old one was officially cancelled, we got the new ID." So, we took that as a reminder from God that ultimately nothing happens without HIS blessing. Certainly, we want to take what she said with a grain of salt, but thankfully- we can take God's promises to heart. He promised to never leave us or forsake us. Momentary doubts and fears aside, we are confident that God called us to this journey of adoption and we're equally as confident that He will see it through to completion.

Please keep praying for the following matters:
  • God to be glorified every step of the way 
  • E's ID to be generated 
  • That we can get the passport immediately after the ID 
  • Favor with the US embassy so we can get an appointment quickly (perhaps on Friday) and subsequently get the Visa ASAP.  
All the notes of encouragement via email, FB posts & messages have been very encouraging. Thank you! 

I leave you with a verse from Paul that was just a HUGE encouragement to me- "Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

II Thessalonians 3:16

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trying to Trust (Day 29)

OWell, in some ways it's hard to believe that we've been here for almost 30 days now. I'm pretty confident to say that we've experienced every kind of emotion, and every level of tension and/or stress that is humanly possible. It's been another disappointing day, speaking transparently. We still do not have E's ID, which is the ONE thing that has now halted the process since last Tuesday. We now know that her previous ID has officially been cancelled (see yesterday's or last Friday's post for more information), but this new request has to travel BACK to the office where we requested it (by Courier) and it won't be there until tomorrow morning. Then, once it's reviewed there- it goes back to the main office where it is now so the ID can be printed. Karina hopes to kindly put pressure on them tomorrow morning to do so quickly...

Here's the kicker- the US Embassy doesn't issue Visas on Fridays (as a general rule), so unless we can have everything in order by Thursday morning (getting the ID, then the passport), chances are- we won't be able to get an appointment at the Embassy until Monday. Monday, as we all know- is the day before Christmas Eve. We don't really know how things would work if it spilled over into Tuesday, but we know for sure that if it didn't happen by then, we'd be forced to stay through Christmas. Right now, we're scheduled to fly out of Lima just after 1 AM on Christmas Eve. Honestly, it would be VERY difficult to have to tell the kids (J & L especially) that we won't be home for Christmas if this stuff doesn't happen in time.

Since our family here is flying back to the US tomorrow night/Thursday morning, we too had consulted with Delta to see about the possibility of leaving at the same time. This was initially thought to be possible before this ID hangup. It would've made sense to leave then since the house will be void of furniture, but at this point- unless EVERYTHING happens tomorrow it's not looking like that is feasible. Also, for a 5 year old girl that's being adopted, and experiencing many new feelings & emotions, trying to understand the concept that "Tio & Tia" are leaving to go to the US, but we're staying for a few extra days might be daunting.

Appreciate you keeping in touch, if you have a second to write us by email, drop us a note on FB, or comment below to let us know you're "out there"- we'd be touched and honored to hear from you...not to mention it would most certainly be an encouragement during these stressful moments.

At the risk of sounding dismal, we wanted to be as transparent as possible with today's post. We hope you'll keep us in your thoughts & prayers.

Trying to trust that God knows's just hard to do sometimes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Heart of the Matter (Day 28)

Quite a bit has happened since we last wrote on Friday, unfortunately however- nothing as it relates to E's ID. We learned today (after several emails and phone calls to our lawyer) that the reason we don't yet have an ID is because her fingerprint was flagged in the system (no, she's not a wanted criminal) but she did apparently have a "false ID" before. This is something that was likely generated for her on behalf of the orphanage so that she could receive medical treatment, etc when needed. So, now that they've researched this, her old ID has been cancelled and once the ID office's attorney and chief of the office sign off, a new one can be generated. That may have happened today- except for the fact that said attorney was.... Out sick. What a bummer! 

Our Attorney (Karina) was instructed to be at that particular office at 11 AM tomorrow to see if these two signatures have been inked on the appropriate lines. Then, she can begin to push to have the ID generated by early afternoon, God-Willing. Once that is done, we can go straight to the passport office to get her passport. That part should happen rather quickly, as a general rule it can be made within a matter of hours. 

Here's what's cool- yesterday, David and Lala (our gracious hosts) had a get-together for their small group. It was a "going away" sort of gathering since they're moving back to the US on Wednesday/Thursday. Well, they were gracious enough to invite us (we offered to bug-off for the afternoon), and their group welcomed us with open arms. They've known about us as prayer requests were shared with them over the past few weeks/months regarding our journey. Anyhow, my point- one of the gentleman in the group "just-so-happens" (Providence) to know one of the directors in the local Passport office. So, once we're ready for that step- we're to let him know and hopefully we will receive  a "fast-pass" to get her Passport even quicker than the standard issue time-frame. (There's a whole lot more to the story behind the members of this small group, no time to share here but just know God has done amazing things in each of their lives over the last 8-9 months and it was encouraging to hear such awesome stories.) 

In closing, Friday honestly was tough. We're SO close to being done and yet...NOTHING is happening (or so it seems). Add to that the stress of trying to sell a house (in one city) finding a place to live (in another), and preparing to move...all within the next 2-3 weeks, and I'm about to keel over in pain just thinking about it. We decided to get out and walk, just to get some fresh air and as I was thinking...praying...(letting God have it)... A song came to mind. I was more curious about the reason behind the song, more than the lyric itself and did some research. See, Matt Redman may have penned these words for a slightly different reason, yet the heart of the matter is this- distraction. I live my life...distracted with the shiny things. Lord, forgive me. 

Do you ever get distracted with the 'good things' in life that aren't the 'best things'? Here's part of the song- 
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus

So what all has changed since our last post? Our heart and perspective...hopefully. 

Please keep us in your prayers. 

Soli Deo gloria 

Friday, December 13, 2013

When God doesn't answer (Day 25)

Yesterday we asked all of our family and friends via social to join us in prayer that E's ID would be generated by the DNI office today. As a result we were most certainly overwhelmed by everyone's prayers and thoughtful words of support last night and today, however as it would turn out- we did not get E's ID. More on that later.

I'm aware of those who've had experiences more serious than this and not having an answer from God contributed towards a falling away of sorts. I mean, HUNDREDS...perhaps THOUSANDS of people were praying for this specifically, we ourselves were praying...we paused several times and sometimes lengthy periods to pray that this would happen, but it didn't. Why? Short answer- I don't know. Please allow me a brief moment to elaborate.

It's not that God DIDN'T answer, it's just that we didn't get the answer we wanted. What we were praying for was that the ID would come today, what we got was "No'. Now- I would think that most everyone reading this would agree that deep down inside each of us there's something that pushes back at that like a 4 year old being told they can't have something they really want. As the day progressed, and once it became obvious that today would not be the day...I began to do a self-analysis of sorts and while walking to the store a few blocks away (something that has become nearly a daily trip for groceries, etc), I was encouraged with two thoughts I'd like to share here.

  1. Be Thankful- In spite of not getting the ID today, we are still 'ahead of the game' in the process and are still well within our target departure date time frame in so far as the last things we need in order to head home. Also, as each DAY passes, we see more and more the ways in which God solidifies our family and draws us closer to each other. We are all healthy- many thanks to those who prayed for Jaiden and myself in our brief bouts. 

  2.  Be Trusting- God knows best. After all, if God was one that catered to my every whim & wish- I would probably be in a miserable state. There's an old hymn that contains a line- "oh for grace to trust Him more..." Truthfully, I don't like the fact that we didn't get the ID today- but I'm at peace with it...During my prayers today, I (by God's grace) had to get to the point where I could say (it wasn't easy) "no matter what God, if you don't want us to have the be it." Evidently I (we) needed to be reminded that ultimately this process HAS reached this point...and will only move further HOW and WHEN God wants it to. It all goes back to the lesson I shared in this post last Friday. I wouldn't want a God that was predictable, one that gave me EVERYTHING I wanted when and how I wanted it...essentially, I wouldn't need to trust...I think that's called entitlement. 
Although we didn't get E's ID today, we did get word that it should be Monday. We are praying that God would orchestrate that...again, if it's His will. We are still on track to have everything completed by Tuesday or Wednesday if all goes well on Monday. Also, we had E's TB site checked today after the 48 hour period and thankfully, it was negative so no further testing is needed. All medical 'work' is now done and once we have the passport (after her ID), we can pick up her medical report for the Embassy to get her Visa. God be praised!

Lala was gracious enough to take us downtown to the main plaza where we were able to see some gorgeous buildings and the Presidential palace. Here's some pictures of our day-

Much love to all of you. Most likely we'll take a weekend blog hiatus. Talk to you on Monday- with LOTS to report God willing. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Day of Nothing (Day 24)

Good evening dear friends!

This morning we were told that Mrs. Bartens, our lawyer's mom, would be going by the DNI (ID) office around 10am today to see if she could pick up the ID.  Our lawyer told us to enjoy the day as a family until we heard back from her.

So we headed out with Aunt Lala for at the Indian Market.  We spent several hours there walking around and checking out all the neat handmade items from Peru.  The kids really enjoyed looking around and trying to figure out which 1 item they wanted to buy at the end of our time there.  Jaiden & E chose a small hand-sewn Peruvian pouch and Levi chose a pair of fingerless gloves.  He wears gloves around the house all the time at home so we weren't at all surprised by his choice.  Aunt Lala spoiled them a bit more and bought each of the boys a slide whistle and bought E a Peruvian doll.  They were all so excited!

                                                          slide whistle similar to boys

Levi gloves lol

      E with the doll that Aunt Lala bought her.  She was so excited that her doll looked like her so 

Indian Market shops

Once we arrived home, we ate lunch and the kiddos headed down for a nap.  It was now close to 3pm and we still hadn't received an update from Karina or Mrs. Bartens.  Jonathan called Karina but had to leave a voicemail.  Unfortunately, she didn't call back with an update until after 5pm.  She said that they were unable to get the ID due to some logistics that we don't really understand.  Honestly, we are a bit disappointed because we were unable to get E's ID today but we know God's timing is perfect so we are holding onto that truth as our Thursday comes to an end! 

As I was finishing up that last paragraph, Karina called (10:12pm) to ask me to print a document she needs.  She asked that Jonathan & I both sign it and have it ready for her to pick up at 7am tomorrow morning.  She will be heading to the DNI office early in the morning to try and get E's ID.  

I know most of you probably saw Jonathan's FB post a few hours ago about the ID "situation" but for those who didn't, here it is:

We need everyone to pray specifically for the staff in the DNI office that they'll generate E's ID TOMORROW so we can get her passport & visa by Monday. Please ask others to join us in praying and let's watch God move this "mountain." Thanks!  

Thank you to those who are praying and for those who have rallied other prayer warriors to join us in prayer!  Please also pray for Jonathan.  He woke up this morning not feeling well due to his allergies and he progressively felt worse all day.  He went to bed before the kiddos this evening so he really must be feeling bad.  Please pray that he will be back to 100% in the morning so we can hit the ground running after Karina picks up E's ID.

 We are SO thankful to have you guys joining us on this journey!

Btw, Jonathan and his AMAZING blog posts will be back tomorrow LOL

*Here is the photo that was missing from yesterday's post about Levi & the pig

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Step by step...unless you're a dead pig (Day 23)

As we approach the end of our 23rd day on this Providential journey, we are again amazed at God's provision and guidance each step of the way. The bulk of today's time was spent in one of two medical facilities getting things in order for E's US Visa clearance so we can return to the US. The first visit was with a Doctor who was very cordial and spoke great English. She was very patient with E and us as she asked many questions and examined E thoroughly. Since we moved from the Orphanage, she has gained about two pounds (which makes sense, she LOVES to eat), and is within range on the growth chart in that area. She is on the lowest end of the chart for her height, but the Doctor wasn't concerned about that.

From there, they sent us for E's TB test. For that we ventured over to another Clinic(it's actually a VERY nice hospital) about 5 miles away (yet it took us an hour to get there by taxi...that's what you get when you cram millions of people, thousands of cars, buses and lots of construction into a small area) only to find that the Vaccination office we were directed to was closed for a THREE-hour, we thought Doctor's offices in the US were bad. No disrespect intended towards our Medical professional friends. Rather than waiting there for an hour, we walked a few blocks to get some lunch. It was nice to sit down and relax for a minute, anyhow. When we arrived back at the Clinic, the individual that greeted us in the Vaccination office informed us that we had been misinformed by the Front Desk. We actually needed to go to the off we went. Only to find out that we needed to go to the Blood lab first to register...but before that we needed to go to registration to get verification that the Doctor's order was sufficient and legit, then back to the blood lab to register...then we could and DID finally return to the other lab for her TB test shot... and THEN, the day was done. Well, not really but we were able to leave the Clinic and come 'home.' By then Daddy, Mommy & E were all pretty worn out.

J & L were glad to see us, as we were them and they quickly informed us of their day's adventures with Aunt Lala. Those adventures included another trip to the food store where they saw frozen (whole) pigs. Levi is even quite confident that one of the pig's legs twitched. He was kind enough to lay on the floor and re-enact this for us after dinner. Sorry, we don't have a picture of that but here's a few from our adventures today. Then, please see our prayer requests below.

We appreciate your continued prayers! Here's a few specifics we'd like to ask you to pray with us about:

  • E's ID will be ready tomorrow and we can get her Passport
  • Peace for all of us and comfort that God has all this timing orchestrated perfectly (We also have a big family transition awaiting us quickly after we return to the US...much still needs to happen in that regard). Essentially, God needs to make the way. 
  • A buyer for our home in Chatt
  • A place to live in Little Rock
  • A second family vehicle
Love you all! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"It's not for you, it's for her" (Day 22)

These were the words uttered by our Attorney's mother (also an Attorney) just after 5 PM as we were leaving the Identification office. In a nutshell, we were able to submit all the necessary documentation to receive her ID, now we wait. The office we went to was instituted in order to process IDs in a 48 hour period versus the standard week or so turnaround. However, we were told that because E is being adopted, it would take an extra few days. Mrs. Bartens wouldn't have it. She immediately went to bat, explaining that this had been three years in the making and that we want to get home ASAP for Christmas. She cordially pushed the envelope and although she was unable to get a definitive "yes", she did get the director's name and phone number whom she will call first thing tomorrow. Please pray with us that she will be able to get the ID promptly so things aren't delayed any longer. 

While we were taking care of E's ID, Karina (our Attorney) was busy working with her contact at the US embassy to get the medical form we need in order to proceed with E's TB test. This isn't supposed to happen until after we have her passport, but that can't happen until we have her ID. However, we have all the documents necessary and since its just a matter of when, not if... Karina was able to get permission to procedure with the medical stuff while the ID and passport are in the works concurrently. We are so thankful for two attorneys that are working hard to try and get all these things done quickly. Everyone knows the closer we get to the Christmas holiday, the harder it will be to get things done. We are confident that God will make a way and provide the things we need in His perfect time. 

E did so well in both of the offices we were in today, she was patient and enjoyed the attention from several of the office personnel. The boys enjoyed some adventures including but not limited to a visit to the store, a walk in the park and ice cream with Aunt Lala. 

Mrs' Bartens words still ring in my ears. I had just offered to pay for her taxi ride home when she said those words. She is working hard to help us rescue an orphan... What she is doing pales in comparison to what God did for ME. He offered His own son, to die on the cross in MY place so I could be "adopted" into His family and have the promise of eternal life. Wow. 

Here's some pictures from today's adventures- 

Talk to you tomorrow. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tired (Day 21)

That's the result after a long day of going from here (by taxi) to there (several miles on foot) and after waiting for someone to sign a paper here we had to wait yet again there while they printed this and that so we could have what we went for. Got it? Anyhow, it took the entire day to get E's birth certificates, but praise The Lord we have them! 

If you've ever dealt with a government in a froeign country, you understand that many times one has to call repeatedly seeking a specific document before they get it. This was the case initially today as we awaited the official sealed document from the adoptions office that allowed us to proceed with getting the certificates. At one point, as we got closer to mid-afternoon, our Attorney feared we may not get them today. We threw up some "flare-prayers" (as I call them) and God moved In a mighty way providing them just before 4PM today. We moved quickly from that office to get E's passport photos printed. 

Tomorrow our goal is to get E's ID process underway. This is the step needed before we can get her passport. Please pray 1- we can get yet another document needed from the adoptions office early tomorrow and 2- that the ID can be ready in less than 24 hours versus the 48 that our attorney suspects. 

We are all doing well, by God's grace. Jaiden seems to be coming along better now that he is on meds for his ear infection. We've begun to take note that physically, E has better days than others. At times we can see where a CP diagnosis may be accurate, yet she doesn't always have the control issues that one often sees in a CP patient. We're certainly anxious to get back to the US to have her evaluated so we can get her whatever therapy/assistance is needed. Thankfully she doesn't let this 'clumsiness' slow her down at all, just moving right along to keep pace with her brothers and to enjoy the next event in life. God knows. 

Some pictures from our day...


Hard to believe we arrived in Peru 3 weeks ago tonight. At times it's flown by, and at other times...well you know. If there's anything we've learned along the way- it's been a reminder time and again to be grateful for the freedoms we have in the US and also the hope we have through our relationship with Jesus Christ. If you're reading this, stop...and give thanks. You could be somewhere else right now, without the people and things you cherish the most. If you don't realize or agree that you are where you are by God's grace, let me tell you- a life fully submitted to God isn't always easy, but it's definitely peaceful and comforting even at times when things just don't make sense. I'd love to share more with you, please message me via this blog and I'll be in touch. 

Keep us in your prayers as it relates to getting E's ID. Thanks! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hands & feet (Day 20)

Most of us have them...I'm using mine right now to write this post. (For all you smarty pants, no I'm not using my feet to actively type...pretty sure my typing would stink. "Ba-da-dum")  Although we use them constantly we most likely take them for granted. I know I do. However, in today's post I'm speaking metaphorically of these often "forgotten" appendages.

Along our adoption journey, we've had COUNTLESS people bless us with their kindness and love as we raised funds through garage sales, a car wash, a VERY involved and fun "Both Hands" project, jewelery sales, t-shirt sales, and among other things, a "36-Hour Drive to Peru" fundraiser. We also had friends donate funds outright at various stages along the way to help us. Truly, MANY people have sacrificed both financially & physically to help us get to this point, and for that we're truly grateful. Although the following lyrics come from a song that largely speaks of a Believer's responsibility in reaching others for Christ, I feel they're fitting in this context as well:

"But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is away?
There is a way"

In the context of this post however, MANY of you have (and are) showing Edyn and our family the love of Christ by your sacrificial love and prayers. There is one couple though, that have, over the last 20 days gone ABOVE and BEYOND for our precious family. I sit here fighting back the tears at the memories that have been forged within the walls of THEIR home which they've so graciously opened up to us. I've referenced them here and there throughout our time, but we wanted to publicly share our humblest gratitude. "Uncle David" and "Aunt Lala" (Tio & Tia for short in E's case) have showered us with Christ's love by their hospitality and generosity. It's one thing to open your home to a few people, but to open it to a family of 5 to LIVE in for 30 days or so...that's incredible! Its not just that though, they've ensured that we're well fed, they've taken us to great restaurants, and neat places here in Peru when we've had time to kill. They're related to Michelle's Uncle, so although there's no direct relationship to us- I'm pretty sure we've just kinda joined our circles. Here's the best thing- having their spiritual encouragement through prayers and godly conversation has been AWESOME. It's been so incredible to hear about how God has worked in their lives here in Peru to reach others for the risk of making this post even longer, TRUST me when I tell you this is a PROVIDENTIAL thing (or as Lala taught us- a "Diosidencia" translation-God incident).

We humbly pray that God would allow us to somehow bless others along life's journey, just as David, Lala and you have blessed us.

Today was wonderful, a GREAT church service, time with our extended family & time to relax. Here's some pictures-

David & Lala

Before a delicious lunch at Pizza Hut...for the after picture, add a few pounds.

Please pray for us tomorrow as we hope to get E's birth certificate. This is the first of four "big" pieces of documentation we need before our return back to the states. Talk to you soon. Meanwhile, keep letting God reach people with your arms, heal them with your hands and teach them with your words. 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Grateful for Green Bows (Day 19)

This picture was taken on our 2nd full day with Edyn- she absolutely LOVES her green bow...or any bow for that matter. It's a very simple, cheap (as in cost-Michelle made it for less than $1), yet lovely hair piece. However, it doesn't always match; but that doesn't matter to her. What matters to her is that one- it was a GIFT, second- it is HERS. She would wear it every day if we'd let her.

She also doesn't take ANYTHING for granted. No, she doesn't say it in so many words; but she LOVES her outfits, and she LOVES her shoes, she eats ALL her food, she enjoys playing with her dolls, and she enjoys being held & loved on. She has helped us to realize how difficult we make life out to be at times...and for that- we're grateful. All too often, I think we all make life more difficult by taking things for granted, or by not being satisfied with where we are in life and what we have.

This Christmas- we have the best gift of all (besides Jesus), a complete family. What have you taken for granted? Do you need to be grateful for green bows? I do.

Please keep Jaiden in your prayers- he's developed an ear infection and is on an antibiotic. Also, please continue to pray for all the paperwork that needs to be done (birth certificate, ID, Passport, Visa) for Edyn, that process begins on Monday bright and early!

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Buggy"ing through life (Day 18)

Well, our first full day as an official family of 5 is drawing to a close. It's been a great day! Our blog and video on YouTube has been viewed over 1,000 times! Wow. Thank you all so much for following along on this incredible journey! 

Today, as it relates to our journey is known as the "day of silence". Apparently the adoptions office personnel feel as though a given family going through this process needs a day to let it all sink in before beginning the fun process of getting a new birth certificate, ID, passport, etc. On our day of silence, we enjoyed some downtime, playing outside together, making hair bows, watching movies and going for a long, leasiurely stroll. We anticipate much of the same over the weekend in anticipation of a very busy week next week getting all of Edyn's documents in order so that we can make preparations to return to the US. Please pray that we can get everything done in a timely & efficient fashion! 

At one point today, we ventured a few blocks over to the grocery store. We're so grateful there is one close so we don't have to take a taxi each time we need to go. Anyhow, as you can imagine- the kids were highly interested in helping push the shopping cart (or as Michelle- my awesome wife and best friend would say: buggy) and as usual, it's a challenge keeping them from knocking the stuff off the end caps onto the floor. As we were leaving, and Jaiden was pushing the cart along, I redirected it at the last minute from a collision with an innocent pedestrian. As I did, Jaiden reminded me- "Dad, I can push it, I'm strong enough." I reminded him that even though he could push it, there were things I could see that he couldn't and I needed to help guide him. At that moment, it hit me- that's what God wants to do for us. However, too many times we're like the 7 year old that wants to keep pushing the cart along without any help. As we walked the few blocks back to the house, I had to ask God's forgiveness for all too often, for "buggy"ing through life without His guidance. 

Thanks again for all of your prayers & support. Please keep praying for our adjustment time and for provision as it relates to all the paperwork we need. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Meet Edyn Grace (Day 17)

She's now a Walterhouse!!! Enjoy this video-

(Lyrics to the song playing behind the video are below). Mark Shultz wrote this song about his mom giving him up for adoption, we thought it was very apropos.

I must have felt your tears
When they took me from your arms
I'm sure I must have heard you say goodbye
Lonely and afraid had you made a big mistake
Could an ocean even hold the tears you cried

But you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And you made the only choice you could that night

You gave life to me
A brand new world to see
Like playing baseball in the yard with dad at night
Mom reading Goodnight Moon
And praying in my room
So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me

And if I saw you on the street
Would you know that it was me
And would your eyes be blue or green like mine
Would we share a warm embrace
Would you know me in your heart
Or would you smile and let me walk on by
Knowing you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And I hope that you'd be proud of who I am

You gave life to me
A chance to find my dreams
And a chance to fall in love
You should have seen her shining face
On our wedding day
Oh is this the dream you had in mind
When you gave me up
You gave everything to me

And when I see you there
Watching from heaven's gates
Into your arms
I'm gonna run
And when you look in my eyes
You can see my whole life
See who I was
And who I've become

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Guest Post- "Smitten" (Day 16)

Thanks to my awesome brother for writing today's post. Hope you enjoy. Tomorrow is the big day, can't wait! 

I'll admit it. No shame here. I'm smitten.

You see, over the past three years I have anxiously awaited this great event. I'm not a very patient person. In all reality, I like things done right away. Have you heard the saying, "good things come to those who wait"? In this case, it certainly has come true. About a week ago, I was able to see C for the first time (via Webcam). It was kinda frightening, I'll admit. Not through any fault of C's, I guess it was just surreal to finally see this little girl (whose finger I am already wrapped around) after three long years of waiting, fundraising, and praying. 

What I really wanna brag about is how far C has come in these last two weeks. I cannot imagine going from no family to having a mother, father, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. I have been so honored to be able to see C warm up to her mother, father, and brothers. It has been so neat to see her communicating with and loving on her brothers. She has gone from being shy with me and Michelle (my wife, C's Aunt...yes, Jonathan and I both have wives named Michelle) to having conversation and laughing with us. In all reality, it is probably really overwhelming for her at times. Here's the thing though, God is a big God, and he is a gracious God. Grace- that would make an awesome name ;)

The grace of God is an awesome, incomprehensible thing. Grace is what has been and is at work in C's life. Grace is the reason that C has been able to warm up to and learn to love her family so easily. 

It has been really neat to see my brother become the father of a daughter. As a matter of fact, I saw my brother holding a baby doll tonight (there's a first time for everything I suppose), but I digress. Seeing Jonathan interact with C got me thinking. Just as C will never stop being her daddy's girl, we will never stop being God's children. When is the last time you took time to talk to God as your Father? Not as a wishing well, or a lucky charm, but as your father (we all do it). Join me in taking time to thank God for being the loving Father who loves and provides.

-Uncle Josh 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Educating a Professional (Day 15)

Today we had our final visit with the Adoption's office Psychologist. It was a great meeting, involving great discussion and we even had an opportunity to talk about how awesome our God is. Although things continue to move along nicely with C and our adaptation as a family of 5, we were admittedly still anxious about it. We knew that if all went well, this would be the last meeting/review that would take place before everything becomes official on Thursday.

As with any meeting of this nature, there were lots of questions and then subsequently discussion based off of the answers. Rosa (the Psychologist) was once again in awe of how well the transition is going- not only for C, but also for the boys and us as Parents. She was astonished as to how well the boys have adapted to having a new sibling, so much so she asked if we had been preparing them for this. I think I was equally as astonished at her question, but we answered none-the-less 'of course, we've been talking to them about this for three years.' Granted, I'm sure that there's been times when well-meaning folk have gone through an adoption and there's been struggles with their other children...but by God's grace, Jaiden & Levi have and continue to do remarkably well. We truly believe (and were able to share with Rosa) that the reason things are going so well is ultimately only because of God's grace. We've spent YEARS bathing this process in prayer, and our boys have uttered requests to God asking Him for help at different stages of this journey. Thank YOU for joining us along the way in prayer!

 Rosa thanked us for 'teaching her' some things and we were able to once again give praise to our God for His guidance and provision. We may never see Rosa again (our visits with her are over), but please join us in praying that she will encounter other believer's along life's journey and that one day she'll find God's grace to be sufficient and trust Him as her Savior.

On that note, I read an article today entitled "Open Your Blinds" that was very thought provoking. The premise of the article is the reminder/encouragement that we are to live our lives before others in such a way that they are intrigued by what they see in us by our words & actions. It was a great reminder in that no matter if we like it or not, we are being watched- question is, how open are we going to be? If people aren't asking questions...then we must not be giving them any reason to. If God IS God (either He IS or he ISN'T), then we must believe that he puts us in specific places, at specific times, for specific reasons- ours is Lima, Peru for about 30 days at the end of 2013. Specific purpose may SEEM like it's only to finish an adoption, but along the way...there's people that need a tap on the shoulder and a pointing to Jesus Christ. May we continue pointing towards Him as we keep walking along this journey.

Hard to believe that in a little over 24 hours...C will have our last name.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Un Dia a la Vez (Day 14)

These days we've been given to focus on bonding have indeed been extra special, although at times we've wished time would pass more quickly (hurry up court date so we can get all the other paperwork underway), we realize that God has us here for a reason- and that these days have been precious in the overall bonding process since we've been virtually distraction free.
C, the boys, Michelle and I had a wonderful day in that we enjoyed time with our host family, David & Lala (they're related to Michelle's Uncle and we feel that in a short time, God has begun knitting our hearts together and they may as well be family), time playing together, and going on a leisurely walk.

It was on said walk that the Lord reminded me of a very profound concept. It was as though I could once again take a deep, relaxing breath. Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Like when there's SO much going on in life that you can't see straight? If I can be transparent for a bit- that's us right now. Yes, we're ECSTATIC about being here in Peru right now going through this final leg of the adoption process, but there's so many things coming down the pike that it's getting to be overwhelming if we spend time thinking about it. Back to this profound concept, WAY back when my family lived in Mexico (when I was a young lad), I heard a song and the lyrics have stuck with me all these years. Coincidence? Nah- Providence!

Here's the song (With Lyrics)-
Beautiful, isn't it? Well, for those who don't understand Spanish- click here for a link to the English Lyrics. Here's the part of the song that I sang over and over (in my head...I wouldn't dare put those around me in that kind of misery...although now that I think about it, I can sing to C all I want and tell her it's beautiful...hmm)-
"One day at a time sweet Jesus that's all I'm asking from you
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time."
To top it off, when we rounded the corner near the house, I saw a car parked across the street that I haven't seen here to date. On the back of the car was this phrase- "Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece." Again, for our non-Spanish speaking folk- that's Philippians 4:13, which if you're familiar with it you know Paul pens those words after having talked about Rejoicing. But, not just rejoicing when things are going great and when everything makes sense- he spoke of being able to to rejoice and be content, (the opposite of anxious as he mentioned a few verses prior) no matter his circumstances. I'm so grateful for God's subtle reminders along life's path that He's got me, and He's got THIS!

What do you need to let go of and trust God with today? Please message us and let us know if and how we can pray for you, we'd be honored to do so.

Well- nothing earth shattering happened today in the grand scheme of things but in the end- I'm just living "Un Dia a la Vez" (One Day at a Time). 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Promised Provision (Day 13)

Today was a wonderful day, in that it was essentially a 'normal' Sunday for us. We were able to take our time getting ready today, as a family of 5 since we elected to attend the 12PM service at the Church that our hosts attend here in Lima. They themselves are returning back today from their Thanksgiving trip to the US, so we went on our own and met up with some friends of theirs, as they so graciously arranged for us to do.

 It was truly a joyous thing to be in a place with Brothers & Sisters of like Faith. I believe I can sum up our experience like this- there's no doubt that God has HIS hand of blessing on this group of believers and just as I have experienced when worshiping with believers from other cultures- they're NOT AFRAID to voice (or show) their love for their Savior. It was refreshing to be a part of a gathering where people obviously knew how broken they were/are without Christ and that HE IS WORTHY of all our affection and praise! Honestly, it reminded us of our home over the last 10 years at Crosspointe and it solidified the desire within us to continue seeking God's will as it relates to Church/ministry in the next assignment of our lives as we move on from Chattanooga in the coming weeks. (That should not be news to most of you, but if so- please contact us directly if you'd like us to share more about Sum- God.) Back to my point- we enjoyed a great time of Worship, then a beautiful baby dedication and then a great message by one of the staff Pastors. The essence of today's challenge was a reminder that God's agenda for our lives is singular- reaching those in our 'world' for Him. He put it like this- we're to 'repair' the world around us by sharing the love, hope & peace found in a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. He ended his message with a challenge, reminding us that we can't effectively reach others when we're not IN THE WORD...such a simple, yet difficult concept for us (well, I'm assuming I'm not the only one) to grasp. In the end, it was a refreshing experience to have spent time corporately worshiping our Lord & Savior. Indeed, we were never meant to live our Christian faith as if we are alone...we MUST gather with other believers to both encourage and be encouraged.

Here's a few pictures...

Baby Dedication (A great encouragement to see parents desiring to commit to raising their child in a godly fashion!)
After Church, we walked a few blocks over to a shopping mall/area called "Larcomar" where we had been on our third or fourth day, for lunch. Before we left the Church, we asked C what she wanted to eat. As we threw out some options (types of food), she responded (with a smile nearly from ear to ear) "Chicken." So, we located TGI Fridays- surely they have Chicken. It was a joy to be able to take our boys to a place they would somewhat recognize and to give C the CHOICE of several different things from the menu. To think- here's a child that for MOST, if not ALL of her life hasn't had the PRIVILEGE of CHOOSING something to eat. (Not intending for this to sound harsh, she's ALWAYS been taken care of, but naturally there's been limitations being in an orphanage). How many of us take that for granted? A subtle, yet poignant reminder that you and I are TRULY blessed.

We are looking forward to a great week- for those familiar with 'adoption speak' it's "Gotcha week." We are becoming more positively anxious about the finalizing of the adoption and all that comes along with that. We are so ready to share pictures/video, etc with the WORLD as soon as we possibly can. C seems to be growing more and more excited about the coming days/weeks as well as she has been talking more and more about getting on a plane and flying to the US to her new home. What a humbling phenomenon- she is EXCITED and ANTICIPATING going to a place she's never been...with 4 people that she (for all intents and purposes) has just met. First of all, THAT is a God thing. Secondly, beyond that, how is it possible that she TRUSTS us enough to know that we will protect and provide for her in a place she's never known?! Wow! Yet again I'm reminded of my relationship with Christ in that no matter what lies ahead, God loves me too much to do anything less than provide and protect me as His child.

As I write, and reminisce on the message I heard earlier (referenced above), I'm convicted that I've missed too many opportunities to tell others about this God that loves everyone and that wants to have a relationship with anyone that places their trust in Him. Essentially we're to do for others what our family has done for C- befriend them, show them love, sacrifice, honor...BE REAL and just point them to a holy, righteous God that demands only one thing- a submissive, repentant heart. Who in your world needs 'repairing' today?

Thanks again for coming along on this awesome ride! Our prayer for you is that you have a tremendous week...and that as you go about, those you encounter are better off for having interacted with you.