As we prepare to leave, things continue to get more and more hectic. Those of you following us via Facebook saw this in my post from Monday.
Thank you so much for your prayers. Please keep them coming. We have definitely been under attack! Yesterday, someone hit the van - nothing major - just additional stress and confusion during an already hectic time. God took care of it. Our van is FINE, their car's bumper, not so much. Shannon Keith Ginn's car is making some STRANGE noise that will have to be investigated and fixed before it can be driven too much farther. China requires new(er) $100 for use when they exchange money. The bank here in PC says "We only have 'regular' money - not any special money. And we're just a bank. We can't order new bills." Borrowed luggage today - our luggage mysteriously has broken zippers. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to pray for us. We know we are following God's plan for our family and are choosing to see today's chaos as nothing more than an opportunity for God to show out. But again, please continue to pray friends. While most of those problems have been resolved, others have continued to present themselves at the most inopportune times. As I sat on the couch last night, unable to sleep AGAIN, I thought and thought about the verse I have been leaning on lately. Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight your battle for you; you need only be still." This is not a verse I was familiar with until last week. As I was fretting over whether we would get to travel this week or would have to endure another week of waiting, I cranked up my van and immediately heard this verse. WOW. What a strong reminder of just how needless my worry was. I wish I could say that meant that I have not worried since. However, that is not the case. It does mean that I have been able to let more go and focus more on my family and the preparations I still have to make and focus less on the "what-ifs" that come with this process. While there have been many sleepless nights throughout this journey, these last few days have provided some of the most difficult. Last night, I spent a restless night on the couch and began to think of the verse from Exodus. I also began to consider that this could be considered an exodus of sorts. Our little girl is leaving behind all that she has ever known and is coming to a strange and foreign land. She does not know the customs, traditions, or even the language. She will not know or trust us. It is very possible that she will have never experienced love, comfort or protection. It is also possible that she will not know how to accept comfort from us. We have been told to expect her to even refuse food and drink for the first few days. This is so scary for us. We are leaving both of our boys here and traveling to get her, a child that will be terrified of us. At this point, we are literally counting the hours until our departure. We will leave at 1:00am, in just over 15 hours. There are so many thoughts and emotions as we prepare to say goodbye to our boys and meet our daughter. We thank you so much for all of the prayers and supports you have offered us throughout this journey. We also ask that you pray specifically for these things: 1. Pray that our boys (and Nana) will have an easy time during our absence. We will be gone for over two weeks. This will be difficult for all of us, especially our three-year old. 2. Pray that our travels go smoothly. Neither of us has even flown internationally. This in and of itself will be stressful. Especially the flight back with Faith. This sweet girl has not ridden in an automobile, let alone flown in a plane full of strangers. 3. Pray that God will prepare her heart so that she can easily accept our love. She has never known family. While her caregivers will have been using the words "mama" and "baba", she has no concept of this kind of love. Pray that she will be able to easily transition and that her fears will be eased. 4. Pray for wisdom and guidance for the doctors that will be taking care of her once we land. She has an appointment on 4/16 with a doctor who specializes in caring for children with cerebral palsy. She has an appointment on 4/22 that will include physical care, an evaluation by a developmental specialist, and consults with physical therapy and occupational therapy. Any medical care she has ever received has most likely been at the hands of personnel who were very rough and uncaring. Orphans commonly receive only the crudest treatments, and receive that only when it is absolutely necessary.
Patience is not my strongest virtue...I'm waiting impatiently on the day when we finally get to meet Faith just as I was impatiently waiting for the day of Riley's birth. We have so much to do to get ready for our trip to meet her and bring her home, yet, we're spending lots of time these days simply counting down the time. On an intellectual level, I know God's plan and His timing are perfect. But, it's one thing to know something intellectually. It's much different to turn that faith into application. These last two days have been full of reminders from Him prompting me to trust and be patient in His perfect timing. I'm still looking forward to the day when we get to meet Faith...I'm just going to try to not be so anxious about the when and how.
"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" -Psalm 27:14 ESV
We were surprised to receive these pictures last evening. These were sent to us as the final official update prior to travel to bring Faith to her forever home. She weighs about 26 lbs and is 35" tall, according to the update. Even though we're getting closer and closer to bringing Faith home, I think this period has been the hardest part of this journey. Our Article 5 paperwork was dropped off at the U.S. Embassy in Guangzhou on February 19 and will be picked up on March 5. After that, we are simply waiting on travel approval which we hope to receive within two weeks (or so). We would ask that you continue to pray for our family as we enter this period of great transition. Pray specifically that our two boys will adjust quickly to the new "normal." Please also pray for Faith...we have had almost a year to prepare our hearts, minds, and home for her. However, bringing her into our home means that she is leaving the only home (even if it is an orphanage) and people that she has ever known. She will, undoubtedly, experience grief and fear that we simply cannot fully comprehend. Please pray that she has a spirit of peace and contentment as she begins this new chapter in her life.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." -John 14:18 ESV
Our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) came today! We are beyond excited. Today is day 84 since we got our Log-In Date. It has been a very difficult wait for us and we are so excited to move on to the next step in this process. It is an amazing feeling to hold in your hand a single sheet of paper that will forever change the lives of so many. This single document will forever alter our entire family. My hands trembled as I held it. It gives us the choice of saying yes or no to this particular child. Tomorrow, this signed document, along with the paperwork for her visa will be mailed.
Shannon and I will also apply for our visas during this time. Once the three of us have our visas, we will be ready to apply for travel approval. It usually takes about eight weeks to finish this last bit of paperwork and get approved for travel. When we accomplish that, we will schedule our appointments in China. A new countdown begins today. We should travel in 10-12 weeks! Our baby girl will be home for Easter!!!