Follow this link.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Follow this link.
Julie hosted a gathering for Grafted Tree and a few other folks from various churches. All told there were 5 churches represented in that meeting. Surefel came to meet face to face with people who have a heart to get their churches involved in supporting his work.
Kim and Brooke shared pictures and video from their trip to the Hope for the Hopeless facilities. They vouched for the spiritual discipleship happening there and how the children are flourishing because of it. Each of us there talked about the ways in which we plan to help raise funds for the orphanage.
We were able to gather around Surefel and pray over him. He wept. He is planning to return to Ethiopia in September. He plans to "crusade" in outlying regions. He extended an open invitation to any of us who would desire to go at any time.
There is always a need for people to sponsor children. We are working on a Grafted Tree website which will showcase available sponsor children and have the ability to accept donations for Hope for the Hopeless. In the meanwhile, if you are interested in sponsorship you can email me at Jslongier2@cox.net
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I am freaking out. Thinking about it constantly. We are now number one! I am wondering how long we will have to obsess about getting The Call. Dustin called me several times just to make sure I wouldn't forget to call him. LIKE I COULD!!!!
Today for the first time in the whole process I experienced the jitters every time the phone rang. I stalked the AWAA YG to see if more referrals had come out, and one had. Another family received a referral for a precious baby girl. I twittered to let friends know I was freaking out. I posted on Facebook to share the excitement, ran over to congratulate Rebecca and, of course, posted here.
They calls are done for the day, I'm sure. No news about whether any more referrals can be expected anytime soon. We'll just be hoping and praying and waiting and FREAKING OUT.
HAHAHA the phone just rang and Rienne shushed her sisters saying, "it could be the phone call!" She's got the bug too!!
Rebecca and Zack received their referral for a boy today. We are thrilled for them!
We are next in line for a boy under two years old. I can't believe it's so near. I don't know how long we'll occupy this slot but it sure is exciting to be here.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Kim called me and asked if I wanted to head over to Pastor Surefel's church on Sunday. It would be Netty's first time to be surrounded by Ethiopian culture since arriving home. Dustin didn't mind so I said "Yes!"
I've been looking forward to going for some time. In fact, I was so excited to go I stayed up all night praying. I wasn't praying merely about going but that excitement drove my all-nighter. While I was in prayer Saturday night God gave me two words. I knew they were Amharic. Had NOT A CLUE what they meant. I thought I should ask Surefel but I would feel a little embarrassed if it turned out to be my overactive imagination or something I ate that night.... though that was just fear and double mindedness creeping up in me once more. I knew God had spoken to me and I felt there would be a gift for me in pursuing an answer to what those words meant.
Upon arriving at the Central Methodist Church (the Methodist Church Hosts Pastor Surefel's church) in downtown Phoenix, Kim and her precious family with myself in tow headed to the little Pioneer Chapel where about 20 adults and numerous children worship the Lord Jesus Christ under the teaching of Pastor Surefel in an all Amharic service. Music had already begun.
We walked in and were greeted warmly with big smiles and deep nods. Space was made for us to sit. Soon we stood swaying with the rest of the congregation and clapping to the beat. The music was beautiful and worshipful. It was very repetitive which made it easy for us to pick up on a few words. We sang the words we recognized; "Hallelujah" and "A-meu-seu-ge-nal-lo" (I've spelled it like my Amharic Phrase Book gives the pronunciation... is "Thank You"). Netty did some dancing and clapping. It was a joy for me to be able to hold her for a while and spend more time with her.
Surefel invited "Sister Kim" to the front to introduce Netsanet to the congregation. They listened intently. He made sure to point out the rest of our group in the back of the room.
Surefel is the most gentle spirited man I think I've ever met. He's speaks in tones barely above a whisper. yet, when the man began to read from the Word of God his voice became loud and sure. He ignited in a furry of activity which included pointing to heaven repeatedly, eyes shifting an earnest gaze from person to person and utterances of Amen after points of particular interest. I couldn't understand much! But I was enthralled. His passion came across no matter what language he spoke and "Christos"........ I knew that word. He was calling on Christ's name.
As Service was over we were offered dabo (bread) in large fresh chunks. It was a spicy sweet bread. My little chunk was extremely filling as much Ethiopian cuisine is. Everyone gathered in small chatty groups eating their dabo and connecting with their friends. Buna (coffee) was brewing.
Before we left Kim said, "Hey, don't you have something you want to ask Surefel about?" yes, she had busted me. By that time I had lost my nerve and was willing to slink out of there without finding out what the two words meant.
I walked up to Surefel nervous and insecure when I asked him in a hushed voice that they meant. He told me HOPE and FLOWER. I couldn't hold back the tears when I heard this. I tried to turn and walk toward my car after saying thank you but Surefel had already asked Kim if they should pray over me and quickly he grabbed my arm. That's when all three of us began crying and I felt trembles run up and down my limbs. Surefel thanked Jesus for being my hope and for making hope flower once more then he said a few other things which were lost to me in his thick accent laced with tears. After the quick prayer was finished he repeated Amen a few more times as he swept the tears away from his eyes. By this time I had completely fallen apart and tears had run everywhere. Kim looked the same. (there's nothing like a dear sister who's willing to get her face all jacked up in public to pray over you!) So we hot footed it out of there so as not to cause any more scene than had already been made.
On the way back to the car Gary, Kim's husband, reminded us that Surefel's orphanage is named Hope for the Hopeless and it's located in the city named new flower in Amharic. I can't wait for the opportunity to visits the children st Hope for the Hopeless as Kim and Brooke have done and to meet the child the Lord has gifted me and Dustin with the privilege of parenting.
A while back I told the Lord that I would be watching for Him like a watchman on the wall. Looking for Him to reveal the culmination of His work behind the scenes regarding the adoption. I would look for the signs that things were wrapping up and that the fruit of all He had been working on through this process was coming to bear. Our time to travel is coming. He renewed my hope. Thank you Jesus.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I've posted before about how Dustin and I started off in the El Salvador program. I met a really sweet woman named Lisa in the El Salvador YG (Yahoo Group) at the time. Needless to say God redireted me and Dustin to the ET program and Lisa and I lost touch. THEN, come to find out later on that God had also directed Lisa and her husband to Ethiopia as well. Needless to say, it's a very precious thing for us to be able to rejoice alongside Lisa and her husband Ray today as they just received a referral for their son Jonas. Head on over and congratulate them for me, will ya?
This leaves only one more precious family in line ahead of us. Rebecca is also a lady I adore. She and her husband are now #1 in line. Rebecca and her hubby are first and next comes.......... You guessed it folks... US!! It's my hope that Dustin and I would have the chance to meet these two families in person. Preferably travelling to pick up our kiddos together!! I pray our referral comes close to these two so we can score a travel date with them.
Please pray for us. This level of anticipation is almost unbearable, and yet we must bear it in patience. Dustin and I trust in God's timing and resolve to honor Him even if waiting longer is a part of His plan. Lisa's referral has made the idea of our own referral being within reach. It feels more possible now than ever and that idea has me walking around in a day dreamy state. I need the fog to lift from my brain so I can live life in the space between longing for our son and the reality of referral time.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
When I was younger we lived in a neighborhood near Midway Airport in Chicago, in an apartment off a very busy street next to train tracks. This was at a time when the tracks were on the ground. Later, after we moved away, the tracks would be lifted from the ground and made into the El-way for passenger trains. I am unsure if freight trains still travel on the ground through there anymore, but they did when I was a kid.
You can imagine those apartments weren't the most peacefully quiet place to live, between the airplanes barely catching enough air to clear the rooftops, the constant flow of traffic on the street and the trains running past. Literally, there was the track, some gravel, a narrow parking driveway, and then, the front door of our apartment. The distance between the two had to be 50 feet TOPS. I have to say, though, that living near the railroad made for some interesting childhood experiences. A lot of Barbies and GI Joes were decapitated by our play group.
I remember how the tracks would begin to vibrate when a train was in the distance. The sound of the clack, clack, clack would start off so faint and grow louder and louder. As the train neared the lights would begin flashing on the red and white striped road barricades and the dinging bells would ring. Clack, clack, clack the train would keep moving unwavering from it's course while the conductor blew his ear piercing horn. I always felt a huge rush of excitement as the cars zipped past me in a dizzying furry, whirling the air around me.
I am reminded of that same feeling of anticipation and excitement today.
I've heard the clack, clack, clack of the wheels gliding over the rails ever so faintly this week with the news of 5 referrals being handed out through our agency. I was shocked to look at my little tracking list and find out that Dustin and I are further ahead in "the line" [a] than we had imagined. According to my records[b] there are really only two other families ahead of us in line who are requesting a child that would fit into the same category as the child we are requesting and would therefore go ahead of us for a referral. All others are requesting children older than we are or a siblings group or girls. This means that our referral could come very soon.
My pulse raises just a bit at the thought. Butterflies begin fluttering around in my tummy. As the sound grows nearer I begin to anticipate the rush. There is a sort of nervous energy radiating around me and Dustin. To come near us is to be touched by it. We're trying our hardest to contain our emotions but it's SO hard. The girls sense it too. They've asked a few questions about who's gotten a referral and when it will be our turn. We are all wondering when will the referral train roll on through our home and who is the child coming down the tracks with it. Only time will tell.
............. In the mean while clack, clack, clack, clack
[a]The line is something unto itself and could possibly require another whole post just to explain it's intricacies. Just know that it's not like waiting for your food in a fast food joint. Being number one doesn't mean your order will get "filled" first. A family must wait until the child who meets the sex/age requirements becomes available. As kids become available for adoption they are matched with families. Both the child and family have to be a fit for each other. By it's very nature the line is unreliable and can only be used for approximation.
[b] According to my records there are two other mystery families ahead of us in line. We don't know who they are nor the sex/age range of the child they are requesting so they have the potential to be ahead of us making us 5th in line for those requesting a male child 2 years or younger.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I was doing some reading over at the LPM blog (a favorite of mine) when low and behold Beth posted about my mom and didn't even know it. You have to go read the comments and giggle along with me and the funny malapropisms.
I may be a bit biased but I truly believe my mom could win a malapropism smack-down any day! I think she'd agree.
My dear friend Kim came over today with her four kids. It was my first opportunity to meet Netsanet since she came home from Ethiopia and have an opportunity to get an idea of her personality. Kim and I had several conversations about how Nettie was adjusting and every time Kim would tell me story after story of what a funny, charming and happy a child she is. After meeting her myself I can safely say I am enchanted by her.
The child is a diva, a drama queen and a comedian. She is UBER-girly ( I must say I love that about her!) and walked around our home in dress-up shoes and accessories. She warmed up to me much quicker than I had expected and soon began to chatter and giggle. Not too long after that she began cracking little Nettie jokes with me and making silly Nettie faces. She has a FUN personalty and seems to really enjoy teasing. I was also graced with a couple of her darling dances as well.
Netty exaggerates her faces and mannerisms and is able to express herself quite well despite the language barrier. I was impressed at the number of English words she was using. And as is the tradition of all children learning language her first English word used with consistency is "No!" Hahahah I found that so funny.
Nettie minded her mommy very well and when things didn't go her way she had herself a quiet pout session typical of children her age and then laughed at Kim when she tried to tell her to share in Amharic as if to say "you're NOT saying it right!" That amusement helped her to forget that she was ever upset and off she went onto the next event.
Netsanet is a gem. It's an honor to get to know her. It is obvious that she was dearly loved and well cared for before she came to be relinquished. Nettie's interaction with her new momma is loving and sweet. She appreciates her new momma's sense of humor. The two of them laughed and made jokes with each other using their funny facial expressions. It was so entertaining to watch the attachment growing between the humorous mother and daughter. God sure knew what He was doing when He put them together!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
We're heading to the mountains for vacation. I won't be posting while we are away but I plan to take lots of photos and share them when we get back.
love and blessings to you all,
When I called the USCIS national customer service hotline earlier last month after having fought with Info Pass unsuccessfully(the USCIS online processing service) I was trying to find out how to go about getting our fingerprints updated for our form I-171h and whether or not there would be a fee associated with that. The people on the hotline didn't have any answers for me and couldn't direct me to someone who could answer my questions. They basically told me we can't help you..... so good luck. (oh, but hey said it in a kind way so that should make it better, right?)
Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call out of the blue today. A really friendly and uber helpful woman from USCIS called in response to an email I mailed off into cyberspace over two weeks ago to a general Q/A email address fo my local USCIS/DHS branch. She is the adoption coordinator at DHS/USCIS and she gave me the best, most thorough customer service ever. She was cheerful and downright delightful. I tell you I believe she was nothing short of a miracle sent my way, for I have NEVER come into contact with a government employee like her. God bless you Government Employee Lady! ( I know her name I am just not sure whether I should post it on my blog)
So here's the real scoop from someone who's on the inside and who told me directly. I pronounce this the post to end all the rumors on I-171h extensions and re-fingerprinting. Tah-dah! This is so exciting. (you just have to know that in this stage of the adoption I am SO thankful for any news that makes the paper chasing easier and so I am excited to share any tidbit I can with other families in process)
There is an adoption coordinator for every state. The hard part for any of you others out there reading this is that most people within the agency won't know who that person is. So you'd have to start with your local DHS/USCIS branch first. My lady told me that she doesn't even have a list of the those in her postition in other states so that tells me it's disorganized. Just know that a person is out there who's job is to help you with your forms. Begin there.
You are entitled to receive ONE FREE re-fingerprinting for your I-171h form. If you are mailing your forms in to USCIS without having a contact person be sure to include in your cover letter that you already have an I-171h form(include the a copy of the form) and that you are requesting your free re-fingerprinting. DO NOT SEND A CHECK or they will cash it. They don't do any investigating into your status to determine if it should be free. When they receive the letters with checks they just cash them like robots so it's your job to tell them that you want a free re-fingerprint. So, in our case, I had sent a check being unsure whether or not the really offer one free re-fingerprinting. Lovely Government Employee Lady is making a note to tell them to reject our application and return our check so that we won't have to mess with trying to get a refund out of them.
I am told that in AZ it takes about 3 weeks from the time that you have your fingerprints taken for her to issue the updated I-171h form.
You are also entitled to ONE FREE extension of your I-600a form. So if your I-171h is about to expire this is what you need to do: fill out a new I-600a form and send a copy of your expiring I-171h form. She did mention that an updated home Study (HS) would be required. She didn't know if that would come at a cost to the adoptive family or not. I haven't asked AWAA so I don't know what that would entail. She, again, advised that included in the cover letter should be the request of the free extension.
If you need to extend your I-600a application you cannot to do it any earlier than 90 days before it expires. Again, Lovely Government Employee Lady tells me that it takes roughly 2-3 weeks for turn around on that processing once it's received.
Our gal on the inside gave me her email address and phone number so that I can contact her a little later to schedule our appointment for re-fingerprinting. If you live in AZ and need that info leave a comment w/ you email address and I will get it to you.
Oh the joys! This lady made my day. Hope it helps you too.
Monday, July 7, 2008
With some follow up questions I was able to learn that his eyes feel "yucky and all wet" and that "he really does blink alot."
"Um Yeah, when he has your finger jammed in his eye!" I told her.
In honor of completing 5 months waiting for the referral of our son today I thought I'd share these five-tastic photos with you from Flickr.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Here we are in great anticipation of the night's events while driving to Chase stadium (Rory took the photo of me)
In front of Chase Stadium:
The view from our seats:
We had tickets to the Diamondbacks game for the 4th of July. Never you mind that they lost to the Padres. We had a good time anyway. The kids ate more junk food tonight than you can imagine. They each had their own 24oz rootbeer to drink. GASP! I know.... that was all their dad's fault.
It was the girls' first baseball game ever. (I know we make for some pretty sad parents!) I think they really enjoyed themselves. We joined with the extended family on Dustin's side and made it a family affair. We each enjoyed a hot dog and drink included in the ticket price of $15.00. You can't beat that deal plus there was a fireworks show afterward. Does it get anymore all-American that that? I don't think so!
<>They shut off all the lights and opened the roof up for the fireworks. I am a horrible photographer so I don't have any of the fireworks to show you but I thought I would include the open roof for you to see.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Someone we know has been trying to write you all week.
If one were to be entirely honest in a transparent type way one would write you and tell you that a person that we know was in hysterics the day before the retreat because she was feeling left out of the fun of travelling to Ethiopia with two of her favorite women on the planet. That person would also tell you that while that woman COMPLETELY understood that God would have made a way for her to go if He had really wanted her to be there she couldn't help but feel deep pain. There was something to that pain though. Something more than just an earnest hurt. Something uglier than she imagined at the time.
That person admitted to having to fight hard against feelings that she was not invited to the party. Now by saying "party" our girl doesn't intend to suggest that heading over to Ethiopia and seeing the magnitude of suffering her favorite ladies were going to see was by any means a fun party. What she means is that she KNEW God had big things planned for them during the trip. She KNEW that God would draw near to them even as they drew near to others. She TRUSTED God had BIG, life changing things planned for them. That's the kind of party our girl wanted to partake in. The seeing God move and experiencing Him kind of party. So this person was wrestling with the question of why the Sovereign Almighty had deemed it to not be her time to go when she so desperately wanted it to be.
Our friend, you know the whiney one, well she also likes adventure and she thinks that this also had a role to play in her pity party. There's something in her that sorta clicks over when the odds seem to be against her. She knows that something in the adventure and the challenge causes her heart to pump a bit harder. She barely admits it to herself. It's just that there are times when she knows things could topple over and, deep down, she wants to see if she's up to the challenge. Not that she thinks she's got the stuff, but she happens to follow someone Who does and He loves her. To use a bad analogy: she's kinda like that girlfriend who picks a fight with a huge guy just so she can watch her boyfriend defend her.
Now this person was blessed to have a seat reserved for her at a retreat scheduled to happen in her life at the time when she had otherwise planned to have a pity party for herself. Wanna know what the topic of the retreat was? It related to being like Mary in a Martha-like world. Our girl, very unfortunately, is much more like Martha than she has ever been like Mary. Now, don't be too hard on our girl, she does have some pure motives but God knew they needed to be sifted, and sift He did! He shook her up real good. Some of the shakin' was hard for her to swallow. There are a BUNCH of reasons why it was hard for her to swallow but the nasty, bottom line truth is that there was a lot of pride involved.
God understood so well what our friend didn't; that she needed to let His love for her and His approval of her be her ONLY validation. He wanted her to realize that often she seeks validation not only from others, but from her own self and that the measuring stick she was using was a faulty one. Jesus wanted her to accept His love as more than sufficient. He had no problem with denying her what she desired and allowing her to experience discomfort due to shortsighted vision and impatience. He was loving her and doing what was best for her. Like Mary, Jesus had invited our girl to sit at His feet and to find rest in His company. He offered His very Self as her reward only she was in danger of trading all that for her own version of Martha's busyness.
Well folks, here's where the battle ensued. Which (or should we say whom) would our girl choose? She had a few options. 1) She could delude herself into thinking it was all about her. She could imagine herself being more important that she really was. She knew that would be a bad choice but she'd be lying if she didn't confess that her fleshy pride really gives sanity a run for it's money. 2) She could refuse to accept God's sovereign plan and stubbornly lock her knees instead of bowing and accepting that His plans didn't include her preferences. 3) She could grumble and be discontent. 4) she could trade the invitation for intimacy with Jesus for activity and the busyness of doing. 5) she could do ALL of the above at once or 6) She could let it all go and just submit. In her submission she could receive Christ.
Well folks, our girl wanted you to know that she's choosing submission. Don't think for a moment that it's easy or that she's submitting in every area constantly. She wanted you to know that it would be a HUGE mistake to think that she's all cleaned up with a nice bow on top. She doesn't want to make herself seem like she's got this one pulled together. Sometimes her emotions sorta straddle a few of the options. Ultimately, though, she's cast herself before the throne of Mercy. She's seeking a transformed heart and pure motives. She wants to be Mary even while the Martha in her is fighting tooth and nail. She's given up resisting being shaken up and sifted through. She's trusting in Redemption and Hope. She's a mess apart from Jesus and she knows it. She doesn't like herself any other way than in His care. She has only one hope and that's in Christ alone.
PS- A while ago our friend wrote this:
If you want to know why my blog is named be BOLD jen here is why: I intended to write personal things that would be nearly impossible for me to speak to you face to face. I wanted to just be me, to write about my heart, what I am learning and all that is swirling around my brain. I wanted to honestly track what the Lord is doing in my life. To do this requires boldness. So I meant to remind myself every time I went to blog to be BOLD. There ya have it. The title pushes me on to write some sentences that otherwise wouldn't have made it on the page. I hope there is some benefit for those who spend some time here reading
That never fails to bite me in the rear end when occasions like this arise.