Monday, September 28- THE DAY

I don't have a lot of time to write, but I wanted to let you know some brief details about our day!
When we arrived at the Thomas Center, all the children were waiting out front- holding beautiful roses for their new mommies and daddies. Zavion was the only one not standing- he was being held safely in one of his caregiver's arms. She handed him to me, and suffice it to say he was not a big fan. He spent a good 15 minutes crying and fighting to get out of my arms. We tried Mark too- that didn't work either. We went up to his room and saw his bed, and then were wisked away to our agency's office to continue spending time with our kiddos and finish our paperwork. Mark headed downstairs to work on paperwork with the other dads and the moms stayed in a room with the kiddos. There were 4 families with a total of 6 kids. The kids were all doing wonderfully- save for Zavion. He wasn't crying anymore, but her certainly wasn't comfortable. He stayed in my lap, and finally ventured down for a few minutes to play with a balloon. He played for a couple minutes, and seemed very intrigued with the other kids playing... but still no smiles. He started to whimper a bit, so I pulled him into my lap and tried to play a little game with him. After a couple minutes, he looked up at me, wrapped his arms around my neck and laid his head down on my chest. That's when the tears (for me) finally started to flow. A few minutes later he stuck his middle two fingers in his mouth, closed his eyes, and passed out. He slept for 2 hours. When he awoke, he was still uncertain- but definitely was ready not to let me go.
The rest of the day progressed beautifully. He is slowly started coming out of his shell. We actually were treated with a few smiles late tonight. He ate well at dinner, though he refuses a sippy cup, a regular cup, and will only drink from a water bottle :). He hated his bath, took his medicine like a champ, and played well after bath. Shortly after 7:30 he nuzzled up next to me and stuck his middle fingers back in his mouth. I took him up to our room, snuggled a few minutes, and laid him down in his bed awake. He kept sucking those fingers and was quiet, so I took my chances and snuck out. He was asleep in 2 minutes, no joke.
It was a blessed day. One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the other families we are blessed to be here with enjoying tehir new families for the first time too. The other kids are awesome- right now in our guest home we have a 20 month old, a 2 year old, a 6 year old, a seven year old, an eight year old and a ten year old. They are beautiful, their parents are beautiful and the siblings that traveled here are beautiful. What an overwhelming day.

Sunday, Sept 27

What an amazing day. We started the morning at Beza International Church in Bole. Our driver, Ephrim, joined us- awesome. I cannot even tell you how powerful the service was. It was everything I thought worshipping there would be and more. The service was in english, and the congregation was mostly Ethiopian- but we actually did meet a few Americans :). The worship pastor was unreal. He was dancing and clapping and singing his heart out. There was such freedom in their worship. In no way am I slamming our church (or our worship pastor :) )- but I could totally worship like that every Sunday. There was a palpable energy there- and a palpable passion and joy in the Lord. The message was absolutely incredible too. Based on Judges 15, where Samson is bound and then unleashed upon the Philistines. He talked about so often Christians are alive- but bound- and therefore unable to truly experience the freedom and joy that are ours for the taking in Christ. I was crying the whole time.
After church we were invited to our new dear friend Jared's small group for lunch. What a blessing. There were about 20 Ethiopians, Jared, us, another American and a woman from the UK. They barbequed kabobs and burgers and had pasta salad, fruit salad and chips and salsa. Hilarious. We enjoyed sitting around in a circle with all of them, fellowshipping and enjoying a meal together. They asked up to share our adoption story, It was an incredible opportunity to share how God has worked in our lives to call us to this place and share the most important thing about adoption- that it is the best picture we can give the world about our adoption into God's family through Christ. Adoption on earth is the Gospel personified in it's best representation- and we love giving God the glory for the fact that He has called us to be part of this story. Ther people were kind, loving and generous. It was susch a blessing to be invited into such an intimate gathering. As we were leaving, one of the young men told us we would always have a family to come to when we come back (which we will!) to Ethiopia.
After dinner, which included traditional "tips" (lamb) and injeera (soft bread that is very sour, used to dish up the tips with)- I opted for a coke and som almonds when we got back to our room- we had a time of worship in our guesthouse. Mark played the guitar and 4 of the other families staying here all gathered together in the living room to sing, pray and offer our hearts to God. What a blessing to gather together with people 5 days ago we didn't even know existed and sing praise to our God. It was amazing.

Saturday, Sept 26 evening; Sunday, Sept 27 daytime

Saturday, Sept 26, evening

We were blessed to be invited out to dinner with our new friends, the Trier family, to celebrate their daughter Juliette's birthday. As we piled into Ephrim's car, we were delighted to see a woman from Oregon who was staying at another guesthouse and had become friends with the Triers as well. She held an adorable Ethipian boy on her lap- he was nestled into her chest with his little hand securely wrapped around her wrist. As we began to drive to the restaurant, she shared her story with us. I was fighting back tears the whole time. She had come to Ethiopia three weeks before with her husband, a pediatrician, to bring home two special needs boys. They were 18mmonths and two years. The 18 month old suffered from severe malnutrition and Rickett's and was functioning as a 9 month old. The two year old was HIV positive. They knew coming into Ethiopia that they would be here longer than most adoptions, as the paperwork for HOV positive orphans is "about double" what we would have done. They were waiting on some CDC paperwork to be completed- paperwork they were told would be finshed 10 days earlier at this point. Her husband finally had to leave to go home on Friday night, taking the 18 month old with him and leaving her with their new two year old. She is hopeful that she will get to go home within this week- she wants desperately to be with her other 7 children back home! Anyways, her testimony as to the calling God had placed on her and her husband in regards to adopting special needs children was overwhleming and beautiful (I seem to be using those words over and over again in all my posts). When we arrived at dinner I was in awe of this woman. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together, highlighted by the antics of her two year old. He is one big ball of personality, a total ham. He delighted in copying our words, playing high five games with Mark, peek-a-boo with me, and dipping french fries in ketchup (kids love for french fries and ketchup really is universal!). What moved my heart the most, even more than his megawatt smile and contagious giggle, was his obvious love for his mother. He was bonded to her instantly, and though he showed us attention and affection, he reserved his most tender moments for her. Priceless. It was an incredible evening.

Sunday, Sept 27 daytime
Will have to wait for later... time for dinner

Updates from Ethiopia

Friday, Sept 25- morning

We are about to start day 2! We had a restful night in the guest house and enjoyed spening the morning with other guests. There is one family hefre from Indiana that adopted a 7 month old girl, Kidest. She is beautiful, and I got to love on her during breakfast! There is another family from NC that is picking up their 18th child. They have adopted 5 from Ethiopia in the last 5 years alone, and their other kids are from all over the world. They are amazing. There is another family here that sold all of their belongings and moved here at the beginning of Sept with their 12 year old and 10 year old to equip churches here in Ethiopia that are being carried along by their North American denomination- so that they can be self-governing and self-sufficient. They are an amazing family. We are about to go to do some sightseeing with a friend of a friend.

We love you! Keep praying! We will find out this afternoon if we can get more info about Zavion and wehere he was found, etc. We would love to go visit- we'll see.

Friday, Sept 25- evening

We had a tremendous and full second day on our adventure. We were blessed with an amazing breakfast here at the guest house , enjoying fellowship with new friends bonded together through our deep love for Christ and Africa. A friend of a friend, Jared, met us here at the house around 11. Jared moved here fulltime in 2007 and is currently serving as youth pastor for a large church here in Addis. Spending the day with him was an incredible blessing. We secured a driver for 400 birr ($32 US) for the day and drove around Addis.

This is when the wrestling really began for me- the wrestling that I knew was going to be coming quickly as we ventured into the city in the daylight. We know nothing of the poverty that was not the exception, rather, the rule, as we traveled the streets. There were begging children, hungry, shoeless mothers with babies strapped to their backs, and men covered in burns and old blankets who couldn't even speak to ask for their handouts. 7 weeks ago when we lost my Dad, I expereinced deep pain like I never have before. However, I know nothing of the suffering that these individuals endure on a daily basis. To actually look deep into the eyes of this kind of suffering, and have no idea how to even put a bandaid on it much less truly make a difference, is a difficult place to be. Especially for someone like me, who cries at the mere thought of atrocities such as these- mush less seeing them face to face. I found myself asking "why" to God in many different ways throughout the day. And to be brutally honest, I found myself asking Him where exactly He was here.

At the end of the day, after discussing my wrestling at length with both Mark and Jared over bagels and the most delicious coffee I have ever experienced (that was our third of the day- you can't beat a macchiato for the equivalent of 30 cents US) we went to the youth service for Jared's church, Beza. "Youth" at that church is loosely defined as 13-30 year olds- can you imagine? We had the privilege of praying with the team that was leading the service before they began- a group of 20 somethings that were 100% sold out for Jesus and for Ethiopia. The service was centered around some young professionals that spoke to the youth regarding their education and how to incorporate Jesus into their scholarly and professional lives. These young professionals were pouring out their lives and their testimonies on a Friday night to a group of students who may be coming from homes where they are told their lives won't amount to anything. These kids (some were actually our age :) ) were worshipping and seeking their God in amazing, beautiful ways. Watching them surrender to their God was powerful, moving and convicting. It was awesome. God was there- just as He was in those slums I mentioned above. Sure, it was a little easier to see Him moving amongst those youth, but I still believe He was there with that poor mother and those desperate children. For it is when we are at our beaking point that He is there the loudest.

I am still wrestling, and know the reality is that I will continue to wrestle throughout our trip and well into the days after we return home. Wondering what God wants us to do with all that He is showing to us about how the majority of the world actually lives is something that I know will consume my thoughts and my prayer life- but maybe that's just where He wants me.

We love you and thank you for your prayers. They are sustaining us as we experience both joy and heartbreak- both within hours of each other.

Saturday, Sept 26- morning
It is a beautiful day in Addis- sunny and probably in the 70s. We had a restful nights sleep after playing cards with a wonderful family here at the guest house. We learned a new game- Nertz. We are hooked, and will teach you if you want :). We awoke to the sunny skies this morning and some awesome news that we had been praying for- more information about Zavion's story. We discovered the district where he was found- on June 16, 2008. He was found in a section of the "merkato" (market). Our agency actually recommended we don't go into that section of town , as it can be dangerous for foreigners. We also got the name of the orphanage he was at before he was in the care of our agnecy. It just so happened (thank you God!) that Jervain, a woman staying here at the guesthouse, had hired her driver to take her to the merkato this morning. And lo and behold, he used to work for an adoption agency here in Addis and knew exactly where the area of the merkato Zavion was found as well as where the orphanage was. We hopped in the car with Jervain and Ephraim (her driver) and headed to the merkato. What an experience! Ethiopians everywhere, selling and bartering their goods. It was the picture I had in my head of a local street market- but much busier. I was thankful Ephraim was with us. He loves Jesus and speaks very good english and was wonderful to be walking around the merkato with. He helped Jervain buy the fabric she was looking for (she is outfitting their new Ethiopian home for the next 5-10 years) and then led us to the area where Zavion was found. There is no way to know exactly where he was left, however, there is a bus station in that area and Ephraim said more than likely he would have been left there. He said that many women go to the station with their babies to find shelter from the cold and rain. While I do not know the exact spot, it blessed my heart to no end to know that he was left in such a populated place. There was no way that he would not have been found there, which says to me whoever left him wanted him to be found. Praise God! It was an overwhelming experience to walk those streets and imagine what was going through the mind of whomever (more than likely his mother) left him while they walked and held him, looking for the perfect spot to leave him. In the midst of people selling their wares, children selling gum to make less than 10 cents US and women begging, all I could think about was what that moment would have been like for both Zavion and that person who loved him enough to leave him somewhere he would be found. Was he scared? Was he hungry? Did he have any idea someone he knew and loved was leaving him- and leaving him for his good? I will never know, and maybe it's better that way. While my heart was filled with all these questions and musings, it was also full with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for God's faithfulness and sovereignty. Thank You Father, that You led us to a driver today that grew up in the merkato, that came to know Your Son as Savior, and delighted in taking us to this place that is so crucial in the story of our son. Wow. After we left the merkato we headed out for lunch and more macchiatos and then to the orphanage. As it was a Saturday there was no one there that could give us any information- we were asked by the nannies to come back during the week. We are hopeful that we will find someone there that can possibly tell us a little more about him as an infant- and possibly more about his discovery. We are looking forward now to dinner to celebrate Juliette's birthday. Juliette is the daughter of Jervain- they are the ones that moved here this month to begin mobilizing churches in Addis. She is a delightful young lady, and we are blessed to be able to celebrate her with her family tonight. We feel we are making some lifelong friends here and are hopeful we can encourage Tim, Jervain, Juliette and Timmy via email when we go home and they remain here, living amongst these beautiful people and ministering to them. We are looking forward to Monday, when we will finally hold our precious son in our arms. Until then, we will continue to soak up this beautiful place, and I will continue to wrestle with all I am experiencing. Today brought more poverty, more suffering, more depseration and more brokenness face to face. We drove by a man with no legs, countless women with babies strapped to their backs, children shining shoes for a few coins, homes made of corrugated tin and mud... we drove by hopelessness. With God's help, I will figure out what to do with all of it, Until then I will be thankful for this time and continue to seek His face in the midst of utter brokenness.

On our way!

We are on our way to pick up our precious boy! The morning began with a 4:15 am wakeup call. We then navigated our way through the check-in at United Airlines with a little help- the kiosk would not let us check-in without checking in our infant too :). Had to explain why we didn't have the infant with us... yet. Settled in for some breakfast after a quick trip through security and while we were eating Mark sais "Honey, I think that is Ray Pritchard over there." Ray is a pastor who resides in the south. We ministered alongside him in Cannon Beach, Oregon three years ago and have followed his ministry since. He is undoubtedly one of the most encouraging people I have ever been around. I knew from Facebook that Ray was in Washington this week (at Cedar Springs- the same place Mark officiated a wedding at earlier this month) and told Mark it had to be him. Mark ran to him and we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast together. What a divine appointment! After breakfast we boarded the plane and enjoyed a 5 hour flight (that went by surprisingly fast) to Washington-Dulle Int'l Airport. We are in the middle of our five hour layover before we begin the 16 hour flight to Addis Ababa.
Hoping to post from Ethiopia- we'll see!

He is ours!!!!

We passed. Which means he is ours.

We actually were able to sleep Wednesday night and awoke Thursday morning with a sense of anticipation. To be honest, there wasn't a bone in my body that thought we were not going to pass. After those scriptures God gave me Wednesday night... I had such a peace! We dropped the kiddos off at my mom's house, enjoyed breakfast with her, my grandma and the kids, and got in our car. I picked up my cell phone (while still in the driveway) and realized we had missed a call from our agency. It was only 9:30. I had it in my head that we wouldn't hear anything most of the day- and possibly not until Friday. We put the phone on speaker, dialed, and our case worker greeted us with the news- he is ours!!! As we began to process, I couldn't help but think of the beauty of the moment. We were at my parent's house, which obviously is a bittersweet place, and we received some of the sweetest news we will ever hear. I have no doubt that dad was there with us- and just as thrilled as we are.

We will know our travel plans next week. More than likely we will travel the second week of October. Until then, we will rejoice in the knowledge that our little man in a Wilkening, and we will praise the Lord for the way He is showing Himself so faithful in the midst of the most difficult season of my life.

Court date in a matter of hours...

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile :).

While we were vacationing in Cannon Beach, OR, I received a phone call from our case worker with CHI. We had been playing at the beach and I left my phone in the hotel room. I checked my voicemail and heard something like this: "Hi Kelsey, this is Mike calling. I have very good news for you- you have a court date. Call me when you can." I freaked out. Called back right away- but it was 10 minutes after the agency closed for the night! The next morning I called literally two minutes after they opened and got Mike on the phone :). His news brought me to tears, right in front of the Cannon Beach Bakery where my kiddos were enjoying a maple bar while Daddy was in rehearsal. Our court date was scheduled for August 20th. Whoo-hoo!

Fast forward to right now. August 19th (which just so happens to be little man's 19 month birthday), 8:41 pm Seattle time, 6:41 am Ethiopia time. Which means our case will be heard sometime while we are sleeping (yeah right) tonight. We are hoping our agency will be able to let us know the results sometime on the 20th- but at least by the 21st.

It has been a rough 11 days, as my dad was called home to be with the Lord a week ago Saturday. To be quite honest, my walk with God has been sporadic as I have processed all of this... I have been praying, but have not opened the Word in two weeks. Tonight, as I sat in the office listening to some music and praying over the court case, I was convicted that I needed to be feasting on His Word. I opened my Daily Bible to August 19th. Thank you Lord, for how You ministered to me and met me in my depeest of needs through Your Word. Here is an excerpt of what He gave to me-

Job 5:8-18 (English Standard Version)

8"As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
9whoA)">(A) does great things andB)">(B) unsearchable,
C)">(C) marvelous things without number:
10he givesD)">(D) rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
11heE)">(E) sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12HeF)">(F) frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13HeG)">(G) catches the wise in their own craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
14They meet with darkness in the daytime
andH)">(H) grope at noonday as in the night.
15But heI)">(I) saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
and from the hand of the mighty.
16So the poor have hope,
andJ)">(J) injustice shuts her mouth.

17"Behold,K)">(K) blessed is the one whom God reproves;
thereforeL)">(L) despise not the discipline of theM)">(M) Almighty.
18For he wounds, but heN)">(N) binds up;
heO)">(O) shatters, but his hands heal.

Promise to update soon...

One more step

Found out today that our paperwork was filed in the courts. This does not mean we have a court date yet, but our paperwork is filed and it is up to the courts to assign us a court date now. There is no "standard" timeline for this- nothing is "standard" when it comes to this process. Please pray with us that we will be granted a court case- SOON!

New pictures...

but I cannot show them to you. Sorry! Not my call. But we were so blessed to receive 8 new photos of the little man taken this week, as well as updated measurements. He is growing! I am more in love today- and my arms ache more to hold him today too. Trusting, trusting, trusting God's will in this timing. What a gift that He gave us today in sending those photos!

"Wait" does not equal "waste"

It has been a difficult 6 weeks, to say the least. We went from the incredible high of receiving, and accepting, our referral to an incredible low whereby our process was put on an indefinite hold. During the past six weeks I have cried buckets of tears, had plenty of heart-to-hearts with the Almighty as well as my dear husband and a couple dear friends who have graciously put up with me and spent countless hours on the internet (thank God for google).

It is super easy for me to view periods of life when God says "wait" as wasted time. Take for instance this season. In my humanness I think that any day we are not with our adopted child is a wasted day, for him as well as for Mark, me, Markus and Halle Joy. I think that any day we are not seeing progress toward bringing him home is wasted time. However, if there is anything that our gracious and patient Father has been teaching me during this season is that nothing is wasted in His perfect plan. We are promised in Romans that He "works all things for the good of those that love Him" (Rom 8:28). If I truly believe that, then I must claim that He is working all things through this difficult season for the good of the Wilkenings. But the fact remains that although nothing is wasted in God's economy, the CHOICE still falls on me to not only believe that but to apply that marvelous truth to my current situation.

It is in this daily, sometimes hourly, choosing that I find God doing a mighty work in me. I have always been tenderhearted, emotional if you will, when it comes to the plight of the orphan, the poor, the oppressed. During this season as we wait for our adopted child to come home, God has taken my tenderheart and broken it time and time again as He feeds my mind and my heart with stories and images of the broken around the world. Those that have no voice. I have found myself on my knees over and over again, crying out on behalf of those around the world who are currently starving, being beaten, sold in the sex trade as children, dreaming of mommies and daddies who will never come for them... the list goes on. God has taken my "emotional" heart and made me realize that those emotions that are stirred in me when I see the plight of the oppressed are a direct result of the way He has wired me. I cannot help but think that if I currently had three children under foot it would be quite difficult for God to be revealing the things He is revealing to me. As much as it pains me to not have our boy home- and to have no earthly idea when that will even be a possibility- I am choosing to rejoice and grow and learn in this season of wait. And I am so eager to see what God is going to do with the knowlegde that He seems to be unceasingly filling me with! My heart resonates with David in this season as I "wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Ps 27:14) and I choose to allow God to work in me what is pleasing to Him that I may "be an imitator of God... and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph 5:1-2). That at the end of this season I may be better equipped to love and serve my family, my community and the world however He calls me.

So I wait. And as I wait, I continue to humbly ask for your prayers. That God would continue to reveal Himself in mighty ways to Mark and I. That He would continue to care for and provide for the child we so desperately want to bring home while he is away from us. That He would bless those currently caring for him. That we would daily choose to abide in Christ, "so that (His) joy may be in (us) and that (our) joy may be complete" (John 15:11).

Please pray!!!!!

We received an email two days ago from our agency... for protection of our own case I cannot share details, but I ask that you would pray with us. There is the potential for a significant delay in our process. Please forgive me for being so vague, but I trust and know that the Lord knows the specifics as you pray with us!


Imagine my shock and joy as I opened my email on Saturday morning (April 24th) to see an email with the subject line as follows: Referral!!!!!! (including all t hose exclamation points). My heart pounded furiously as I weighed the options- open the email or wait, as Mark was at an overnight with some buddies. It didn't take me long to decide to open the email without him. After all, everytime I took a pregnancy test he wasn't there to read the lines with me... it's kind of the same, right? Anyways, I opened the email and there was our referral. I am sorry to say that I cannot communicate any of the details of our referral (age, name, etc) at this time, but I can tell you he is beautiful and as healthy as could be! We are thrilled to now have a face and a name to go along with our prayers. Please pray with us that we get a court date before the court closures in mid-late August.

Moving on up...

I spoke with our program coordinator this afternoon. Our agency does not release an official "waiting list" of families and the order in which you are in wait for your baby. However, our rep told me today that we are "very close" to the top of the wait list... and that means our referral could literally come any day now! We are one step closer to finding out who this precious boy is that God has chosen to be a part of our family!

On the way to Ethiopia...

No, not us. But our dossier is! Praise God we are all done with all the paperwork! It has all been authenticated and notarized and signed and photocopied... and on Thursday, February 19th our agency put it in the mail to Ethiopia! Now we wait :).

Tonight, our amazing friends and huge supporters, Jeremy, Hope, Jeremiah, Jodi, Zach and Jennifer, blessed us in a totally awesome way- along with the help of 70 other close friends and family. They put on the "Wilkening Baby Bingo Bash", a Bingo themed fundraiser for our adoption. I am thrilled to write that $2300 was raised to help cover the costs of the adoption. It was such a fun night- lots of laughs (with Jeremy E. at the mike can you imagine?), great fellowship, amazing prizes (thanks to Carl and Aida, Randy and Beckie, Zach and Jennifer, Treasury of Memories, Jeanie and A Picket Fence, Cutter's Point Coffee, Matt and Starbucks, Jonathan... and if I forgot you, please forgive me!) and most importantly, a room full of people who love us and love our baby. What a blessing to have so many already celebrating his life! If you were a part of tonight in any way, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are a gift.

Dossier update- and a PRAISE!

The dossier is at the US Dept of State right now! The Assistant Stork said everything looked great and were planning on picking it back up today or tomorrow... we are one step closer!

Mark and I were blessed to have an opportunity to go to a conference on the power of prayer this past week in Oregon. My mom (bless her heart!) stayed here with Markus and Halle Joy and off Mark and I went for three and a half days. We had an amazing time as a couple just enjoying some alone time, spending time with a dear friend from college and her wonderful family and sitting under the teaching of a delightful and committed man of God. On our last evening we attended a concert of prayer that included both the conference attendees as well as members of the church. It was a powerful evening of music, praise and prayer. At one point I was praying with 7 other people, two from other churches and five from the host church. Those of us visiting were asked to share a prayer request; I shared of our financial need for the adoption. We prayed, and as we finished, one of the gentlemen leaned over, shook my hand and said "May God bless your adoption"... and slipped a $100 bill into my palm. This man was a complete stranger, but saw it fit to bless Mark and I in an amazing and overwhleming way. Isn't that awesome?

In the mail

Our dossier is on it's way to the Assistant Stork in Virginia! They will take it to DC to have it authenticated at the US Dept of State... Please pray that everything was completed correctly and it will make it's way through this part of the bureaucratic process smoothly!

Where do I even begin?

It has been way too long since I gave an update- please forgive me! I'm going to post in a really lame, bullet point format to ensure I get all the neat things God has done and all the details of the last few months written down!
* God provided a minivan for us! We have been praying about how we would purchase a vehicle that would hold three carseats... and out of the blue my parents showed up on our doorstep with a new-to-us Toyota Sienna minivan. What an amazing blessing.
* We were given an opportunity to share our adoption testimony as part of our senior pastor's message on adoption at church. What an amazing gift to share our story with our entire congregation, and to know that we are part of a church family that is excited about adoption. There are many in our church praying about the ministry of adoption/orphan care and we are so excited to see what God is going to do through the body at our church for the cause of the orphan.
* Mark and I traveled to Yakima in November for our USCIS clearance stuff. Yes, the only state office for customs/immigration in Washington is in Yakima. We split up our kiddos amongst dear friends and headed across the pass and back in one day to hand over one form, a bunch of money and our fingerprints. It was a long day, but worth it, as our I600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) was approved in December! Praise God!
* We have received a few more financial gifts, again totally out of nowhere and exactly when we needed them. Praise Him.
* We began our partnership with LifeSong for Orphans, a non-profit group that partners with adoptive families to aid in the support raising process. We sent out prayer/financial support letters at the end of December to many loved ones. By partnering with LifeSong, anyone who desires to give a financial gift toward our adoption can do so directly to them, and thus it becomes a tax-deductible gift to the giver. LifeSong will then disperse the funds as necesary on our behalf for our adoption. Most improtantly, our letter went out to many families that we are confident will be PRAYING with us- that is the most precious gift anyone could give us in this journey.
* We recently received two documents from the Washington Secretary of State's office. Two days ago, I completed (I think!) sorting all of our documents for our dossier (and the two copies that we need as well). We are waiting for one more form from our agency, and then it will be off to a lengthy appointment with our notary to complete our dossier. Once that is done, we will ship it off to an organization called the Assistant Stork, who will take our dossier on our behalf to the federal level. They will do some processing, send it back to us, and then it will be off to our agnecy where they will then send it off to Ethiopia! Then... we wait. And pray!


The Lord will provide...
We received an anonymous check in the offering at church yesterday. For our adoption. For $5000. Overwhelmed is not the word. We are praising the God who led in someone's heart in a mighty way to lead them to give in such an awesome way. If you read this, thank you, thank you. There really is no adequate way to express our gratitude.

Praise God!

All glory be to God, who goes before us and knows all things. Our homestudy has been approved. One of the blessings of the last few days of craziness is definitely that God called us to put our story out there. We have invited many people into the story of what He is doing in our lives- way more people than we thought we would invite into the process at this time. What potential there is for more people to be impacted/ministered to through this journey that God is taking us on! And God is hearing the prayers of His saints, and we are so grateful that so many are partnering with us. Another blessing of the "roadblock" was that it sent my tail into high gear to complete our LifeSong application. We are most excited about the possibility of partnering with this organization for support/grant/loans and I was waiting to work on the application until our homestudy was totally finalized. But in the midst of this hurdle I spoke to a rep at LifeSong who was an amazing encouragement to me and extended the invite to submit our application without the "finalized" homestudy. So our application was sent in the mail today- which means now we are one step closer to seeing how God is going to reveal Himself through our financial need. Keep those prayers coming and thank you so much for partnering with us. May He be glorified.
I just read this verse in my Bible study and thought it would be appropriate:
"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours" (1 chron 29:11).

Urgent prayer request

I just spoke with our social worker. She submitted our home study to the agency committee, thinking we were going to be approved with no difficulty. Upon looking at our finances, the committee is concerned that we cannot afford the approximately $25,000 price tag and they may not approve our homestudy. They're right- we can't afford the price tag. We are planning on writing a support letter as well as applying for an adnoption grant and possible adoption loan. But we cannot apply for those things without a completed homestudy. Our social worker will present that information to the committee next week- and she is unsure what they will have to say. I am trying my best to not be discouraged and to trust... I know that God desires this for our family. I know that He has already provided the money for the adoption. We just don't know where it is yet. Please pray with us. Pray that we will be approved. And pray that we will find God's provisions for this adoption. Thank you for partnering with us!

Please pray with us

We found out this week that we have an extremely large amount of money due very soon. We don't know what it means if we don't come up with the money right away, but as I wrote in the previous post, I don't want anything to delay this process of at all possible. We don't have the money we need just laying around. We have been waiting to apply for grants/loans until our home study is completed as they require completed homestudies for application purposes. But as soon as our homestudy is completed (which could be as early as this week) this large amount of money is due. Please pray that God will show up in a mighty way. That He will show us where this money is going to come from. And that we will be one step closer to bringing our boy home.

Long Overdue Update

Is anyone still checking this blog? I'm so sorry I haven't posted in almost two months. Time flies in our household, let me tell you! Here's an update...

1. We are finished with our home study. We enjoyed our three visits with our social worker. She was super friendly and kind and knowledgeable about the whole process. She wrote us an amazingly favorable report that approved us for adoption of up to two children ages newborn to 18 months. Right now our home study has been sent to a committee at our agency, where they will review it, make any needed corrections and hopefully approve it! Once that is done our social worker will make some notarized copies and we should have our completed home study in hand next week!
2. We are also done with our online adoption courses. They were very informative- preparing us for some things we hadn't really thought about in terms of our child's adjustment to his new world and how his previous living experience will/could really impact him both long and short term. I am looking forward to going back to the courses as resources once we have him home and we are actually experiencing the challenges/difficulties.
3. Notice I keep saying "him"... we have decided on pursuing a boy from Ethiopia. We were led to decide on a boy for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we felt that is what God laid on our hearts. We feel like it will be valuable for Markus to have a younger brother, and knowing who Markus already is, we feel our adopted son will probably have a best friend and protector instantly- and throughout life- in Markus.
4. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had gone into autopilot mode a little bit when it came to moving forward with the adoption. It wasn't as if my excitement was gone, however, I was really enjoying Halle Joy and Markus and not feeling any sense of urgency to add another baby to the mix. Then I went to my Perspectives course (AMAZING course by the way... but that's another topic) and God rebroke my heart for the plight of the orphan. It was during that class that I realized our baby boy could already be born. He could already be in an orphanage. He could be cold. He could be hungry. He could be WAITING for me. And I broke. And I got to work. If he is out there already, I don't want him to have to wait ONE MORE DAY than he absolutely has to before he comes home to us, his forever family. So I have been frantically working again (I completed all of our adoption courses in less than a week) and I plan to do everything I can to keep the process moving along. There will be a lot that is out of our control in this process, and I am okay with that. But as much as I can do I am doing, so that our son can come home. And I am praying. Daily. Sometimes hourly. For him. For his biological mother. For his caretakers. For his heart, his mind and his body.

Some Ethiopia stats and an update

There are approx. 4.6 million orphans due to AIDS and poverty
One in six children die before they turn 5
One in ten children die before they turn 1
Millions still die of starvation each year
Half the children in Ethiopia will never have an opportunity to attend school
Some parts still practice female circumcision
82% of the population survives on
less than 1 dollar a day
Only 1/4 of the entire population has access to safe drinking water
Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to
Children and family are honored above all else there
1 in 3 people are HIV+ , the average life expectency is between 37-42.

We love knowing that we will be adopting from a country where children and family are honored and placed at high value. After we bring our child home, there will be post-placement studies at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months as well as once/year until the child turns 18. I actually love this requirement (from the Ethiopian government) because it communicates how important their children are to them.
We completed our first home visit on Saturday. We really enjoyed our social worker and are looking forward to working with her. She has adopted internationally as well so I am sure she will be of immeasurable value as we journey together. She gave us a lot of information and took a tour of our home. Now we just continue to do paperwork and wait on paperwork... and pray. We did find out that we need to decide if we want a boy of girl baby. We think we know, but we are going to take some time to pray before we make a firm decision. I feel like we are playing God a little bit, but I just have to trust that He will make His will known to us.


I was surfing the internet tonight and I stumbled across an interesting project called the "Mocha Club". They are working to support Africans with HIV/AIDS by way of nourishing food, education, medical care and most importantly, sharing the love of Jesus Christ. I didn't spend enough time navigating their site to say whether or not I would endorse it- that would take more time than I have tonight. But there was a video on the site that moved me and shook me... there was a 14 year old woman with her baby who showed up to receive medical care for her baby, who was covered in sores from head to toe. When the representative asked her what the baby's name was, she told her. I don't remember the name, but I will remember the meaning for the rest of my life... the baby's name meant "NO HOPE". The woman asked the young mother why she gave her that name. The young mother responded, "I watched my mother die of AIDS. I will die of AIDS. She has no hope". Wow. Through subsequent visits to the clinic, the young mother was introduced to and accepted the truth of Jesus Christ. She renamed her baby Lelethu, which means "Jesus is our hope". I can't stop crying. According to this website, $7 can give 9 orphans 3 meals in one day, pay for 21 orphans housing for 1 day or gibe 7 Africans clean water for a year. I shudder to think I spent $6 today on lunch and a snack for Markus and I today while we were out running errands. I can't help but wonder if our baby is out there already, with a mother who is heartbroken thinking there is no hope for her baby. I can't help but wonder if our baby is hungry right now. Or in pain. Or cold. Or lonely. And I can't help but think that although I know we can transform and give the life giving hope of Jesus Christ to the baby that God has for us, there will be millions that will be left behind. And the enemy whispers in my ear that we can't make a difference, that our one baby out of the millions left behind isn't enough... and yet I know. I know that God is bigger than all these statistics. I know that God loves these babies. And I trust that He has a plan. But I still cry.

Saturday, July 19

Received a check for $300 in the mail today to "use as needed". We are 2/3 of the way to the $1500 we need ASAP. Awesome.

Thursday, July 17

I am sharing with another individual today about the amazing $500 gift we received and what a blessing it is as we have to come up with the $1500 ASAP. This person takes out their wallet and hands me $200 "for our new baby". GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 16

After a great day with the kiddos at the Judy's, I return home to a note taped to our door. Someone who has asked to remain anonymous has written, saying that their hearts were tugged when the Chapmans' daughter was killed, and they have been praying that God would use the tragedy for good. They were led to contribute toward our adoption... $500. I am in tears with God's goodness and faithfulness.

Thursday, July 10

I communicate with our rep with CHI- we are good to go! We have begun. He tells me he will pass our information on to our social worker in Tacoma to begin the home study process. He anticipates we will hear from her in a week or so. Two hours later, my phone rings and it is our social worker! She promises to email me all the paperwork we need to complete/compile. When I check my email that night, it is there. It's a daunting list of things to do, but so exciting! No we just need to come up with $1500 to move on to the next step. We continue to pray.

Monday, July 7

We receive a receipt via email from CHI for our check. We are assuming this means we have officially begun with CHI.

Wednesday, July 2

The paperwork is complete and mailed to CHI along with our first check. We pray and wait.