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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting Well

Let me update you on the progress of Ella’s visa…(deep sigh)...well…there is no real update to give. She has an appointment at the Embassy tomorrow, August 29th, and we hope to know something after that appointment. However, we have learned that this Embassy is completely uncommunicative and only gives us conflicting and confusing bits of information via e-mail. So answers and timelines are extremely hard to come by.
We have been in a period of waiting. Who likes waiting? Not me! This is not the way I wanted this thing to go down. But God is truly sanctifying us during this time of waiting for Ella to come home. I pray we look more like Christ because of it.
A friend and elder at our church wrote an article several months back about waiting well. They were waiting for their baby to come home, in the painful waiting period of their adoption process. I was so glad my friend Lindsay sent me that article to read this week. Her husband Kyle wrote, quite articulately, about what it meant to wait well.
This was a good jumping off place for me this week in my time with the Lord and journaling. I decided to share my own thoughts of what God has shown me concerning waiting well, and how I’ve failed to do so at times.
Here are my five points, inspired by my friends, in what it means for us to wait well right now:

1. Waiting with truth. We need to be meditating on scripture, on God’s goodness, His nearness, and His love for us during this time. I also have put on scripture that reminds me that God can be trusted, and that our hope is in Him, not in man. The passage I’ve clung to the most is from Psalm 33.
“We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
For we trust in His holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us,
O Lord, even as we put our hope in You!”

2. As I wait, I need to be making the most of the waiting days I'm given. This means being productive, present with my husband and children and the people around me, not just living for the future. I need to take advantage of the days of preparation this allows me. I found this very difficult at first. Moving on with our life as normal without our daughter felt wrong and painful. Our life is not normal. We did not just go on vacation to Ghana and come back the same. God did the amazing thing He does with adoption, where He takes our hearts and knits them together with a child that does not look like us, does not share our DNA, does not share much at all in common, come to think of it! But in two weeks time (and this is a bonding process that can vary in time for every family, every adoption, but the end result is the same), we gained a daughter that we love like we love our other children. Something drastic happened to our family. And it was invisible to everyone who saw us because we did not bring her home with us. God had to force me to get up and move and be present in my life during this waiting period and grief I felt in leaving her behind. I think this is true for many people who are grieving, period. We have had a summer filled with grief. Just to recap this summer, we lost Rusty's Mom, and 10 days later, lost my grandfather. A few days after the funeral, we left for Ghana and started the emotional roller coaster of our adoption. It's been intense! And everywhere we turn, we feel grief. But people who have grieved much more tragic losses than ours can tell you, we have to move on. I need to take each day of this waiting period as the gift it is, and live the precious life He's given me.

3. Waiting in prayer. I'm going to be honest. Sometimes it's easier to seek distraction rather than focus on prayer. Don't get me wrong, I think distraction has it's place in seasons like this, but my focus need to remain. Prayer. It's all we have. Pleading to the God of the universe that holds all things in His hands. He is good and hears our prayers.

4. Waiting in community. Even when clinging to the truths about God and being in prayer, pain exists. Real pain. It's tempting when you are feeling pain to want to crawl inside a shell and hide from people and community. I have had to force myself at times to be with people and to be real with people. I have found myself gravitating toward the people I feel freedom to be the most real with. Being in community in these times can be challenging, but the alternative is withdrawal from community, and isolation. I believe isolation is exactly where the Enemy wants every one of us. That is where he does his best work. The truth is, I need people in my life I can hurt with, be honest with, cry with, and live this life with. This is the Body of Christ. This is what I need desperately.

5. Waiting with perspective. Grief, pain, loss, and waiting can be consuming. It tends to be the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing when you go to sleep. It can fill your thoughts every minute in between if you let it and your dreams at night. But I need my thoughts to be outward, remembering others who are hurting, some in far more severe situations, and some in far less. I need to force myself to draw my thoughts and attention to others and always to Christ. Thinking about myself and my emotions 24/7 is not the answer. Isn't honesty lovely?

I know these are just my thoughts as we wait, but maybe someone else is in a waiting season. I mean, who isn't waiting for something? And maybe some of you are grieving something as well. This has been a strange time in our life. We have so much to learn about waiting well, and honoring God in all we think and do! But that is truly our desire.

I hope to give a good news update very soon on Ella's visa. Will you continue to pray with us?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Waiting on a visa

So, I know I've neglected to update here, as I promised I would.
Do you ever feel too sad to go public with all your emotions and tell cyberspace exactly how you're feeling?
That's been a lot of this summer, and I chose this time to revive my blog. Ironic.
But I know it's time to update so many who are praying for our Ella to come home, and ask you to pray specifically.
Obviously, we left our Ella in Ghana.
That was one of the hardest things we've ever done, to sum it up simply.
We tried to explain governmental bureaucracy to an eight-year-old for two days, explained where she would be going after we left...in ASL/ Ghanaian signs...but our explanations fell flat.
She didn't understand, and we don't understand it really either.
Our experiences with the U.S. Embassy have not been all pleasant. That was disappointing.
Everything I knew about U.S. Embassies was on the movies. Like everything else in movies, it's not quite the same.
We brought our little girl to the airport. She and I both had started crying about two hours before the airport.
I held her and cried with her right up to the very last minute.
I would sign things to her like "You know we love you, right?" She would shrug.
I would sign, "when you come to America, we will celebrate! We will have a party! I don't know when it will be, but we will be waiting for you!"
She would shrug.
She didn't know those things. She doesn't have a context for parental faithfulness. She doesn't really know if we're people of our word.
Right now, she waits at her school, in the care of her headmaster, but I don't know how she's feeling. I don't know if she expects us to come for her at all? Has she written us off yet?
I pray she hasn't.
I am praying that God would whisper in her ear, "They're coming back for you. They're coming. Just wait."
We are waiting too.
It felt completely wrong to come home and move on with life as usual.
It was wonderful to wrap our arms around our four little ones here at home! Wow! We missed those kids!
However, jet lagged parents should not be allowed to parent unsupervised upon arrival.
We were completely unfit parents! Rusty came down with a fever in the first hour we were home.
We both had felt sick, but I thought it was just that youth group lock-in feeling from "sleeping" on an airplane, traveling for 24 hours, and eating the airplane snacks and what was left in my disghusting backpack.
But when I saw Rusty with fever and ASLEEP when we arrived, I knew we were in trouble.
I thought for sure he'd brought the souvenir of MALARIA home with us.
He ached, had a headache, chills and fever. You know what that's called in Africa? Malaria.
But thank the Lord, his fever came down, and he assured me it was some other virus. Still a virus picked up in Africa. Not very comforting.
Rusty has since recovered, thank you dear Lord.
We have spent time with our attention starved children.
The giant pile of LIFE waiting for me has been waded through and sorted into piles, some of it accomplished.
Life is moving on in this house with our four children.
BUT WE HAVE FIVE. We have five children. One is missing. We left her on another continent across the ocean.
We are awaiting her visa, and then Rusty will be on a plane to go get her!
We don't have a way to communicate with her, so pray with us that she knows we are coming for her.
But we don't know when.
Let me try to break this down as best I know how.
There are two main parts to getting our little girl a visa.
The first falls under the Department of Homeland Security. They can take up to 60 business days to review her file. Yes friends, that is about three months.
They can interview all of her birth family, and anyone else they want. It would be about a 10 hour trip, a long bus ride, to get them from their village to Accra and the Embassy. But it happens all the time.
We have a great praise to report, in that we received our approval from the DHS on Friday!!! I sat shocked with my coffee and hardly awake at my computer Friday morning! There it was. I read it, reread it, and then called Rusty! Wow! It only took 8 business days! Praise the Lord!!!
Next, we have the Consular Dept. They should contact us soon and tell us what we need to do and when we can come for her exit visa interview.
We have heard of people getting appts. within two weeks, or two months. There's no way for us to know when.
We hope to hear from them soon!
Please pray with us for an appt. very soon, and for Rusty to be able to go and get our little girl and bring her home!!!
Friends and Family, you have no idea what is about to hit you! This girl is one BIG personality! I'm ready to introduce our world to Emmanuella Bacak.
I'm ready for her to come home!