The Journey Home

Monday, August 22, 2011

We Have Her!!

What a big, big day.  This morning we woke up early to a tremendous thunderstorm around 4:30 a.m. here.  This, of course, meant that the brain started to run and sleep was no longer a possibility.  It has been a long time, if ever, that I have felt that nervous.  We got up, packed a backpack full of things that we thought we may need for going to see Biruk for the first time since May 31st, and headed downstairs to wait for the van to pick us up.  We are so, so fortunate to be here with the same two couples we met on the first trip.  It's been such a blessing to be able to share such momentous occasions with these 2 families.

We hopped in the van and headed to the care center.  When we got there, they asked us to remove our shoes and put on flip-flops that they provide to try to keep the care center as clean as possible, and we went inside and up a flight of stairs to the room where we were to see our children.  It's hard to describe what waiting in that room with our friends was like...all of us (girls, that is) were tearing up just thinking about seeing our girls again.  The staff brought our girls in one at a time.  Jenn and Jay were first, and they brought in their daughter, Anaylim.  How amazing to be able to watch them be reunited with their sweet daughter forever.  Next, Biruk was brought in, and Aaron and I got down on our knees and hugged and kissed and kissed and hugged, and it struck me.  Our daughter was home, not in Swayzee, Indiana, but home in our arms.  *sigh*  Completely amazing.  Then we got to watch Abby and Roger reunite with their daughter, Wudinesh.  We got to stay for a couple of hours playing, and then they made us leave to go to lunch.  Biruk did not understand this.  It was her naptime, but she clung to me and cried, a panicked look on her face.  I asked the staff to please explain to her that we were coming back in just a couple of hours, but she was having none of it.  I had to leave her behind, crying in her room.  I had NO appetite for lunch; I just wanted to stay with her!!  This was absolutely the worst part of the day.  When we got back the staff did a farewell party for the girls, providing each of them with a traditional Ethiopian dress and head scarf, cake (which she totally hated) and a coffee ceremony.  Biruk was acting a little bit strange; she would not let anyone touch Aaron or I (especially kids from the orphanage) and kept pointing out the window.  She very much wanted to leave and was feeling quite protective of her new parents!!  We hopped in the van, sat Biruk in our laps, and off we went.  When we pulled up to the place we are staying, Biruk started to stiffen and got panicked again.  She started whimpering and we kept telling her over and over, "You're staying with us, baby girl.  We're not leaving you here.  You're coming with us and we're coming with you."  She finally started to grasp that we were not going to be separated again and calmed down a bit.

We headed up to our room where she had a banana and a bottle of water, and then we let her go through her suitcase.  She looked at every shirt, every skirt, every pair of pants (and folded it all when she was done looking.  WHAT??), and had me put a miriad of hair pretties in her hair.  Pictures will follow when we get home :)  We showed her pictures of the kids and to our complete shock she repeated after us, "Emma.  Eli.  Leah.  Kristen.  Maggie!"  The first day with her has been awesome.

I have to get off this computer...sorry for the length of the blog but I wanted to at least fill you in a little bit!  Please continue to pray. This is a big adjustment for us all and we need God right in the middle of it.  We love you all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whatever the Lord starts, He is faithful to complete

Here's the blog I've been waiting to write for 19 months.  This is the one that feels a little bitter-sweet, even as I type it.  After all of this time, after all of the praying, waiting, filling-out-mountains-of-paperwork, talking, dreaming, thinking, and falling in love with a three year old Ethiopian little girl named Biruk, I am so over the moon excited to tell you that we are picking her up.  Our baby girl is coming home.  The waiting is sweetly and finally over.  I think I may have felt this way as I was laboring to deliver our other children.  So very, very excited to hold and cuddle, kiss and snuggle this newest blessing to our family; and also feeling a little nostalgic and thinking that this was the last day that we were a family of 2.  Then of 3.  Then of 4.  Then of 5.  Then of 6.  Now of 7.  It's that understanding that things will never be the same again.  It's the letting go of what was to grasp the new that God is doing.  And it puts a small twang in my heart.

What I love to think of is when we were finally introduced to our newest additions as they came into the world.  All of the wondering, the asking of questions, (will I be able to do this well?  will I be able to love this one as much as I love the one who came before?  how will this change our little family?  what will "everyday" look like now?) fled out of my mind and I just knew.  They were always meant to be with us.  Such a short time after birthing our children into this world I remember thinking, "What was life like before them?  I honestly can't remember."  It will be that way with Biruk.  We will get her home and we will say with all honesty, "She was always meant to be with us.  I can't remember life before she came."  

We leave on a plane Thursday afternoon.  We arrive in Ethiopia on Friday night.  We come home a week later, forever and blessedly changed.  Our missing puzzle piece will be home...not just a picture on our refrigerator but a sweet baby girl padding down the steps in a Tinker Bell nightgown holding blankie in early morning sunshine.  It has been a year and a half I will always remember.  I think I understand Mary, the mother of Jesus, a little bit better now.  I, too, will be pondering these things and treasuring them in my heart for years and years to come.  How I praise the Giver of all good gifts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We've been submitted!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I opened up my e-mail today to do what I do everyday.  Check to see whether or not our adoption agency contacted us about Biruk.  The past 2 weeks we've not heard anything so I really wasn't expecting anything different.  Instead, we got this little gem of a message :

Dear Travis Family,

Congratulations! We just received word that your case was submitted to the US Embassy today.

Once they have reviewed your case and cleared your family for a visa interview we will be in contact with you about travel dates.

There really is a light at the end of the tunnel!!  We are praising the Lord for His goodness and perfect timing!  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank you, Lord!!

Just a quick note to let you know that last night the boy's soccer team assistant coach position was filled!  Thank you for praying with us about this...I wish you could have seen the relief on Aaron's face when he talked with me about it last night!  I love watching God's people pray together as a family and I love even more watching our Daddy take care of our needs for us.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  Matthew 7:9-11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good News!

Hello, friends!  It has been a long, long time since I've had a little time to sit at the computer and give an update on our adoption.  My sweet husband and I took one of the coolest groups of high school students we've ever had the privilege to serve with to an Indian Reservation in South Dakota last week.  What an incredible experience.  I am so grateful to the Lord for the unexpected opportunity to go.  Here are just a few snapshots, and if any CCC students read this feel free to add your own in the comment box!

~Almost the entire group playing Apples to Apples on the nearly 20 hour bus trip and laughing their heads off (Thanks, Megan for bringing it!!)
~Learning from God's Word together
~Praying at the foot of the cross each morning and writing Scripture on prayer poles
~Sitting outside in the perfect spot, overlooking wheat fields and rolling hills, watching one of the most spectacular cloud-to-cloud lightening shows I've ever seen
~Spontaneous worship bubbling out of students as we watched in awe
~Serving a meal to the homeless and hopeless
~Taking in the wonder of God's creation

~The church bus breaking down just outside the tiny town of Custer, South Dakota; kids and leaders alike praying fervently that the Lord would provide a mechanic who would know how to fix it, AND HE DID!!
~Girls playing frisbee with 2 sweet little girls
~Girls snuggling together in the upstairs bedroom scarfing Jolly Ranchers and talking about how to love God and be godly women

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  How good He is.  One of my favorite snapshots has to do with the adoption.  On Thursday our oldest daughter Emma called to tell us that we'd received an e-mail telling us that Biruk had been moved to the capital!!  We, of course, told the entire group who clapped and celebrated with us.  What a precious moment to share with them.  The other two little girls whom I asked you to pray for were also moved!  We ask for your continued prayer as moving is very hard on them.  They also have to undergo doctor's examinations and blood draws so they can be given a clean bill of health to enter the U.S.  Only a few more weeks and we should be able to go get her!!  Please also pray that the Lord provides an assistant soccer coach for Aaron.  We really, really, really need this so that when we get the call he will have someone to stand in for him while he's away.  Thank you for praying!!  We're getting closer!