Approximately 143 million orphans in the world. We can't provide a family for all of them, but we can for one, and one life changed makes a significant difference.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hangin' in the Boat

This morning I was reading the account of the great flood in Genesis (New Living Translation), and like most everything I read, think, hear, do these days, I read it in light of our current all-consuming circumstance: waiting for the word to bring Solomon home.  So Noah and his family and a whole bunch of smelly animals endure 40 days on a boat until "the underground water sources ceased their gushing, and the torrential rains stopped."  I'm sure they were thinking, "FINALLY!  We're through the storm and should be getting off this boat soon!" (I don't care how much you love your family/in-laws and/or animals or how big the boat was, I think my assumption is pretty safe).  So then my Bible says, "after 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains or Ararat."  WHAT?  FIVE MONTHS they sat swaying on the boat before it came to rest.  If I were Noah I imagine I would be ready to do some mountain climbing.

So the boat is now on land but life in the boat is not yet over.  "TWO AND A HALF MONTHS LATER, as the waters continue to go down, other mountain peaks begin to appear." (No, the NLT does not use all caps there but I feel it's appropriate).  Next sentence:  "AFTER ANOTHER FORTY DAYS, Noah opened the window and released a raven..."  Seriously?  Almost nine months have passed since the rain has stopped and he's just now opening a window?  He's been sitting in this closed up boat for ten+ months, knowing the storm stopped looooooong ago.  Long story short, bird doesn't find dry ground, he tries again a week later, bird comes back with a leaf, waits another week, sends bird back and it doesn't return...dry ground!  Ok, so maybe I wouldn't have jumped out on the mountain top and maybe I would've waited a full week between bird tests, but I think that leaf, that sign of life would've been what had me leaving the boat.

"Finally, when Noah was 601 years old, TEN AND A HALF MONTHS AFTER the flood began, Noah lifted back the cover to look.  The water was drying up.  TWO. MORE. MONTHS. WENT. BY. and at last the earth was dry!"  I think the writer of Hebrews needed to add that it wasn't only by faith that Noah built the ark, but that he stayed on the ark for over a year! 

So now the earth is dry!  But Noah didn't say "come on kids, it's dry, let's go!"  Nope.  "Then God said to Noah, "Leave the boat..."

The torrential rains in our adoption process have ceased and we've even had some green leaves appear.  We're just hangin' in the boat waiting for that blessed word from God.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Quilt

I know I haven't blogged since we got back from our court trip other than to share opportunities to be a part of Solomon coming home, but I did allude to this wait being painful in the last post.  We expected to have brought Solomon home by early October, but each day we are told for one reason or another we have to continue to wait.  And we wait.  And we wait.  And we still don't have an end in sight.  I haven't shared details because it's complicated, confusing, overwhelming, etc.  Today was one of those hard days.  One of those days when the aching in my heart became paralyzing, literally, and I had a moment of complete debilitation as I wrestled with thoughts and emotions.  I once again found refuge and strength in the Lord, my ever-present help in time of need.  He never fails to meet me where I'm at and remind me that He is I AM.

So I wanted to share one of the precious ways He has touched me during this trial.  Shortly after we returned from Ethiopia, three very sweet friends gave me this quilt:  UPDATE - My computer froze last night at this point so I'm just now picking up where I left off.  Thankfully, today hasn't been as emotional as yesterday was. ;)

I was immediately impressed with their talent (I can barely thread a needle) and creativity.  One quilted, one outlined the design and the third embroidered.  I will be honest, though, the first thing I noticed was that Solomon was not with the rest of the family and I thought it was a little sad.  BUT (don't feel bad, dear friends who made this and are reading my confession for the first time) they explained the idea behind the design and I LOVED it.  If you look closely you'll see clouds after Solomon followed by an airplane that leads to a house and the rest of the Paladinos.  We'll take this quilt back to Ethiopia with us and it is a visual for Solomon as we travel in the plane of our journey home.

Not long after receiving this quilt we became aware that our Embassy trip would be delayed and days turned to weeks and weeks became months.  Through this whole delay I have had complete trust that God is in control and will be glorified through this situation.  Many days, however, my heart has not lined up with my head and I have struggled to cope with the deep emotions that are beyond words.  One day I begged God to confirm to me that everything was going to be ok.  Now, I knew that whatever the outcome of this whole situation, it would be "ok," but I wanted to know that it would all work out in the end.  Anyone could tell me that it would all work out and be ok and that would be a nice sentiment, but I wanted to know, from God, through a person, that it would all be ok.

I was sharing some of the complications and struggles with these crafty friends and one of them, with glossy eyes, said she had to tell me about the quilt.  The friend that embroidered the quilt had finished her final stitch and began to clean off the pencil marks.  She brought the quilt to the quilter in a panic, fearing she had ruined it and explained, "I don't know what happened...I used the same thread for all of the clouds, but when I sprayed them to clean it up the ink in the first cloud ran."  The quilter said when she saw the big, dark cloud next to Solomon she was hit with a sinking feeling in her heart that this was a big storm cloud.  As I shared what was happening in our wait to bring him home, she saw that what we are experiencing is the storm before the blue skies.

God is good.  All the time.  Last night (the night I started this post!) Michael and I had a sweet time of worship together and ended with the song Always.  Here is an excerpt:

My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord

Looking forward to the day we awake to blue skies!!!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Be a piece of the puzzle :)

This extra long wait to bring Solomon home has been, shall we say this??????  PAINFUL!  Through the pain and longing God has been graciously holding us close and despite me not getting what I want, when I want it, "my heart will choose to say, 'Lord, blessed be Your name'." 

Not the point of this post. ;)  So Thanksgiving is coming and we are looking forward to having some quality family time.  One of the Wood family traditions is to do a puzzle over Thanksgiving and I plan on keeping that tradition with my kids this year.  And since we are HOPING to bring Solomon home soon and still need the money for his plane ticket, I thought we could combine the tradition with the need in a fun way.  Friends and family (and friends of friends and family....hint, hint to share this post!), you can be a piece of the puzzle that brings Solomon HOME.  This is the puzzle we will be doing this year:
On the back of each piece, we will write the name of each individual who helps Solomon come home.  All you have to do is donate THREE dollars (that's a McLatte) to help purchase his plane ticket.  When the puzzle is done, we will frame it as a keep sake of all the people that had a part in Solomon's home coming.  Simply click on the donate button at the top of this blog and under "purpose" type the name(s) of who is helping bring S home. 
THANK YOU for being an important part of the puzzle!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Home Stretch!

We are thrilled to be in the final stages of the adoption process.  All that's left is bringing our boy HOME!  If all goes well, that could be in about eight weeks.  We have seen God's fingerprints all over this adoption, in every detail, and have gotten to see glimpses of his greatness through this process.  We are thankful for how He has provided for every need.  We would like to invite our friends and family to participate in the homecoming of Solomon as we face our final costs.  The estimated expenses for the trip to get Solomon is about $6,000.  If you would like to be a part of Solomon's reunion with his forever family in this way, you can simply click the "donate" button at the top right of this blog.  We are so thankful for the support and encouragement of our family and friends, THANK YOU!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day Eight - Chow

Today was our last visit with Solomon before we return to bring him home.  The process from court to clearing Embassy is currently averaging 8-9 weeks, but could take as many as 12+.  Saying good-bye ("chow") wasn't as hard as I expected, but I imagine the days and weeks that lie ahead will be challenging.  I am so thankful for his awesome nannies and the love and care he is receiving.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day Seven - Court

This morning we had basically accepted the idea that because our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia so late (yesterday, and it's supposed to be here at least a week in advance) we probably wouldn't pass today but still hopefully before closures.  So we went to court and the waiting room was packed.  We had heard horror stories of the judge closing down court because of people being too loud (the waiting room shares a paper-thin wall with her office) and this was no quiet room so we were all nervous.  A lady then came in and started speaking Amharic.  Everyone got quiet while she spoke but as soon as she left the room the noise level resumed.  I asked our guide what she said and he said, "basically, be quiet."  Now we were really getting anxious, but thankfully, we were the next group called in.  She asked us a few simple questions and then told us everything was there, we passed!  Solomon is now a Paladino!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day Six - Traditional Dinner

We spent the morning with our sweet, sweet boy today.  We played outside mostly but decided to go in his room for a little while.  There are about 15 toddlers in there and they all soak up the extra attention.  He was happy to show off his family pictures to his nannies (becoming a daily routine) so while he did Michael and I sat on the floor and our laps were instantly full.  When he saw that we were swarmed he went off in a corner with his pictures.  I called him over and he came and wedged himself between me and the girl on my lap, pushed me back on the mattress and layed on my chest, hugging tightly.  We've seen him not want to share his new toys and he obviously does not want to share us, either.

After lunch we went back to the guest house to rest because we knew it would be a late night and we have court in the morning.  Most families went back to the Transition Home and we were told later that he kept looking for us.  Good thing is, we'll be back tomorrow to love on him some more.  Bad thing is, after Wednesday we won't be back for a couple months.  Lord, sustain our hearts in our time apart.

This evening we enjoyed a traditional dinner, complete with singing and dancing.  It was a blast (minus the part where they pulled me up to dance).  I don't think I'll be able to cook like that for our little guy, but I did buy some berbere that I can sprinkle on everything!

Day Five - church

We went to church this morning and it was my first time at an international church.  Worshiping with so many different nationalities was like getting a little taste of Heaven.  "and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...And they cried out in a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and unto the Lamb!'" Rev. 7:9-10  Declairing His glory and singing of His holiness with brothers and sisters from around the globe was truly awesome.

After church and lunch we went to the Transition Home to spend time with our kids.  We are having such sweet times with our guy!  We can tell that our little boy is starting to make the connection that we are his, which is good but hard.  We're afraid to connect too much this week knowing that we will be leaving soon and won't be back for a couple months.  So badly want to bring him home!!!!

Our court appointment is coming soon and we're praying we pass at court. (Tuesday morning here, middle of the night Monday in the US).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 4 - Transition Home

Market in Mekele
We got to spend the morning and afternoon with our boy at the Transition Home and I don't have much to say about it other than he's awesome and we love him and we can't wait to bring him home.  So I thought I'd share some postable pictures from the trip so far.
Mud huts made by the kids at the orphanage.

Attempting to make injera at the orphanage.
The expert injera maker.
typical traffic in Addis - notice there are no designated lanes
A street in Mekele.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 3 - Mekele

Mekele is a city in northern Ethiopia.  This is the where the orphanage our boy was in before he was transfered to our agency's transition home is located.  He lived here for 1 1/2 years and we came to see the orphanage and the area he is from.  It was a hard day emotionally, but a very good experience.  The staff at this orphanage are wonderful and the kids are happy and well cared for.  They also have a support program for mothers who are HIV positive.  Because these women can't feed their babies breast milk without risking transferring the infection, Bana orphanage gives formula for one year to HIV+ mothers.  It is a private orphanage and we were thankful to bring two tubs of donations and a lot of formula to them, thanks to the generosity of our church family.  While at the orphanage we got to see our boy's file, including a picture of him at 8 months old, watch injera being made (I even tried to make some but for some reason they were snickering at me?!), participate in a traditional coffee ceremony and play with the kids.  I felt very thankful for this orphanage and the people God is using to care for these little ones.  We have met some incredible, hard-working people with the purest hearts and I feel humbled.

Driving through the city was a little overwhelming, as it is so different from what we know in the States.  I couldn't help but look at each woman we passed and wonder if she is our boy's mother.  I am still processing all that we saw and am having a hard time putting words to my thoughts and feelings.   

We are very anxious to get back to the TH tomorrow after another orphanage visit and love on our little guy some more!

Meetcha Day!

Yesterday was the big day and it was perfect.  We arrived at the Tranisition Home and our little guy came out to meet us.  They had told him we were coming and he was sooo excited to see us.  He has the most fun, lovable personality.  We brought him a light-up ball that he wasn't sure about at first but soon was giggling the best little giggle as we played together.  We got out the photo album we sent him a couple weeks ago and he said all of his brothers and sisters names and then wanted to show it off to everyone who would look, guards, nannies, other adoptive families.  We had such a sweet time with him but it was very short because we had a plane to catch. 

Before we went to the airport we went to lunch.  This was our first restaurant experience in Ethiopia.  The food was delicious and the portions quite large.  Our total bill for two dinners, including tip was 190 birr which is equivalent to just over $10.  We went on and on about how cheap the meal was.  As we were at the airport waiting for the plane we were asking our guide about his family and he told us about his mother, whom he is very proud of.  She has been working the same job (maid, basically) for over 30 years and when she started she only made 30 birr/month but she now makes 600birr/month.  I instantly thought of our lunch and my stomach sank as I thought about how we bragged about the cheap meal, which actually cost 1/3 of a hard working woman's monthly wages. 

We got to Mekele, the region our boy is from, in the evening and went right to sleep.  I will write about that experience in the next post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day One - Travel

So I've officially decided I'm not one of those people who enjoy world travel.  Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing Germany (ok, maybe just the airport and what we could see from the plane window) and Sudan (again, from the air/airport) and am loving that we are FINALLY here (after 2 1/2 years of day dreaming about this trip), but the traveling itself was nothing to rave about.

Twenty eight hours after leaving our house we were finally on Ethiopian soil.  I may have been a little tired and dillusional when I refused to go with our driver who had been waiting at the airport for an hour to bring us to our guest house.  Remembering all the attempts to be taken advantage of on our last international vacation (Mexico) I was determined to have hard core proof that he was who said he was, continually pushing our bags back to the ground as he tried to patiently and graciously convince us that he was our Job.  So the night ended with a good laugh and we safely arrived at our guest house, enthusiastically greeted by other America World families who are wrapping up their court trips.

Tomorrow (today - can't sleep and it's all starting in a few hours) will include meeting our son for the first time in the morning and then flying up to the northern part of the country (yeah, more travel) for an overnight visit to the orphanage/region where he is from.

Sounds like the dogs have stopped barking just to have the noise replaced by a snake-charmer sounding recorder melody.  I think I may be able to squeeze in a little more sleep before getting this day started (maybe...).

Neglected Blog

Ok, so I didn't keep up with this blog very well (at all) and one of these days would like to go back and fill in some of the missing details (more for my own sake than anything else), but here's a quick update:

July 5th, 2012 - REFERRAL RECEIVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 23rd - call that we have a court date!  August 7th!

Today (Aug. 2nd) - in Ethiopia waiting to meet our boy in a few hours!

But for now I think I'll use this blog to hopefully give daily updates on our trip...we'll see how much it actually happens. :)