Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 9- TWO WEEKS UNTIL TRAVEL!!!

Today marks two weeks until we leave for China! We are getting closer, but Zack and I both agreed this morning that the time seems to be creeping by....maybe because we are so anxious to meet our sweet Emmie Grace!!

As we think about travel, we would ask for your prayers for safe travel, both to and from China, and while we are in China. We should be receiving our travel itinerary tomorrow regarding our in-country travel, but we know it will be extensive! We will be flying 3 times just while we are in country! We will fly from Beijing to Emmie's province, Guangxi, then from Guangxi to Guangzhou for our consulate appointment, then back to Beijing to depart for the US. Please pray for the pilots, the aircraft, and for the weather conditions.

Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 8

The next few days we ask that you pray for the very "basics" for Emmie once she is with our family. Tonight we pray for her sleeping. The reports that we have gotten state that Emmie is generally a good sleeper, but she will be adjusting to a new family, a new home, a new room, a new bed, a new night time routine, and of course a new time zone! Please pray that we will have wisdom as to how best help her with her sleeping habits the first few weeks she is with our family.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 7

Today we ask you to pray for the House of Love, the home where Emmie currently resides. We received this very sad message from them yesterday....

To all our faithful donors and supporters,
It is with deep sadness that the Board of Directors of An Orphan’s Wish announces the termination of our work in Guilin, Guangxi, China effective August 31, 2013.

AOW was established 5 years ago to support orphans with special needs.  In fulfillment of that mission, AOW developed a relationship with the House of Love, an established medical and residential care home for special needs orphans in Guilin and agreed to financially support their work.  For the past 5 years, the children residing at the House of Love have been the recipients of our fundraising efforts and the beneficiaries of your generosity.

The Chinese Board and staff in China, which oversee all China operations at the House of Love, informed An Orphans Wish on May 15, 2013, that they had made the very difficult decision to close the House of Love.  The directors of the House of Love believe that changes in the political, social and legal environment in Guilin have made it impossible for them to continue to operate the House of Love as a foreign-run organization with the standard of care and safety that they wish to provide for the children. They felt that they were left with no other option than to terminate the activities at the House of Love in Guilin.  As a result of that termination, AOW's involvement in Guilin will end as well.

The entire team of An Orphan’s Wish is determined to do what is best for the children in these very difficult times, while honoring our obligations to our donors and supporters.
The closing of the House of Love will be a gradual process over the next several months to seek alternative placement solutions for the current children in our care.  This will include foster care arrangements, transfer to other foreign organizations with treatment facilities in China and advocating with the orphanages for the adoption paperwork of all the children who can be eligible for adoption.
During that winding down period, AOW will continue to financially support the children who are still at the House of Love.  We hope that you will continue to support the needs of your sponsored child until he or she can be transitioned in their new situation.  
AOW will attempt to maintain many of the volunteer functions provided to our adoptive families, supporters and our donors.  We will continue to share information on all of our children until alternative placements are made for all of our children.  We will maintain our advocacy function to increase our efforts to find families for the children available for adoption. We will also continue to maintain our records so that adoptive families will receive all of the information we have on their child after they return home.

We have loved every minute of our work in Guilin and have loved each and every child who has come to the House of Love. We are so grateful to all of you for changing lives, one child at a time, for the past 5 years.

At this time, the Board of Directors of AOW is exploring other opportunities to continue our mission of helping special needs orphans.  We have been blessed beyond our dreams by a community of people who truly care and who give from their hearts and who have supported us these past 5 years.  We hope and pray that each and every one of you will follow AOW on its continuing journey to serve the orphans.  We will continue to keep you updated as we move into AOW’s next phase and look forward to the hope and possibilities of the future.
Any questions regarding this announcement can be directed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Karen Maunu_signature
Karen Maunu

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 6

Today we pray for Emmie's physical needs- those we know about, and those that we may not know about.

 We know that Emmie has one leg that is shorter than the other leg due to a traumatic injury when she was very, very young. We know she requires an insert in her shoe so that she may walk, run, jump, and be active. We know that with this insert, she is able to be as active as any other child. We also know that some times children come home with physical needs that might have not been identified in the medical reports, for whatever reason. However, we know God knows all of her needs and that we can trust Him!

We have already been in contact with Shriners Hospital in Lexington, KY.  and plan on taking Emmie during the early part of August for an evaluation.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 5

Today we ask that you pray for the relationship that will be forged between Emmie, Caleb, and Noah. Though they are super excited "in theory" about Emmie becoming their little sister, you never know what may happen the first few weeks she is at home :)

Please pray that they will understand the extra time and attention that Emmie will need, that they will feel secure in their place in our family, and that Zack and I will be wise in the way we use our time with our children, now more than ever. We have been preparing the boys for quite a while now in regard to the shift in time spent with them that might occur for the first few weeks Emmie is home- we pray it pays off!

Pray also that they will find things they enjoy to do together, that they will have a heart that wants to help Emmie with her transition to our family, and that God will forge a supernatural love and bond between them,  just as he had done with Caleb and Noah.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 4- TRAVEL IN 3 WEEKS!!

Prayers for Emmie- Day 4

Today marks 3 weeks until we leave for China!!!. In some ways, 3 weeks still results in a little sting in my heart. I will be honest about it. Though I rejoice with other families traveling in the next couple of weeks to bring home their precious children, there is some frustration that remains, knowing that they received approvals after us, but will travel before us. On the other had, as I have written previously, I see the next 3 weeks being a time of preparation, a time to enjoy with my family, etc. It is a constant battle of trust vs. bitterness, flesh vs. the spirit in terms of waiting. God help me!

Since we travel in 3 weeks, today we pray the first of several prayers regarding our actual travel to China. Please pray for Zack and I as we will endure over 20 hours of actual travel in an airplane!  We will leave from Lexington, then make a stop in Minneapolis- St. Paul. We will then fly directly to Tokyo, then to Beijing! Thankfully we will have a whole day to rest once we arrive in China. Pray that our bodies will be rested and renewed for the exciting days ahead of us once we arrive in China.

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest".

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prayers for Emmie - Day 3

Tonight we pray specifically for Emmie to be able to feel loved by our family, and especially by Zack and I for the two weeks we will be with her in China. We pray that God will prepare her heart to receive our love, that she will open to accepting it, and that she will embrace it.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 2

Today's prayer is actually for Emmie's caregivers, both at An Orphans Wish and at the orphanage to which she will eventually return.  We pray that they will show Emmie love, kindness, and will care for her in such a way that prepares her for the transition she will be making soon!

We pray that they they will have patience, endurance, and strength as they care for other children as well. These nannies and "carers" as they are called have such important jobs, as they are loving and caring for our children in our place.

Ephesians 4:32

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Prayers for Emmie- Day 1

Though this is Day 1 of Prayers for Emmie, I feel as though my thoughts and prayers should first be dedicated to all those who have suffered so greatly in Oklahoma. The devastation there is unimaginable, and I grieve for the great loss of life. Life is so precious. May God's peace and comfort be with all those in this time of loss.

Day 1: Please pray that Emmie can remain at her current orphanage, the House of Love, for as long as possible before we come to take her home. It is routine for children who are not living in a government ran orphanage to be returned to their original orphanage before their forever family comes to bring them home. Emmie has been at the House of Love for almost two years, meaning that she will likely not know or remember anyone at her original orphanage. We fear this may be very difficult for Emmie to return to such a foreign place, and also will make her transition to her new family even more difficult. Please pray for peace and comfort for her whenever the time does come that she must return to the government orphange.

"May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant". Psalm 119:76

Sunday, May 19, 2013

June Travelers...

This has been one of those weeks I would not want to relive. Redo, yes. Relive, no.

 Last Friday we were filled with unbelievable excitement at the news that we would travel May 16 to bring home Emmie. Over the weekend we hustled and bustled getting ready to depart on an adventure of a lifetime. Monday we found out about the crazy happenings at the Consulate, and Tuesday we were saddened with the news that we would not be traveling May 16, but hopeful we would be able to travel May 30 to bring home Emmie. Wednesday went by with no major news and with hope that we would be able to travel May 30...those two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) were  quite stressful and filled with anxiety. Thursday came, and so did news, but not the news we wanted.  We woke on Thursday morning filled with hope as we learned that the Consulate had reopened and was set to be back on track by the following week. We felt that this was a positive sign that we would indeed be a given a Consulate date that would allow us to travel on May 30. However, by midday we soon learned that our travel would definitely be June 13, returning on June 27. This was not good news, and in our case was the worst possible scenario in terms of waiting to travel. The latest date, almost 5 weeks after we were approved to travel, and also getting us back into the US at the end of the July, leaving only one month with Emmie before it will be time to go back to school and work.

The reasons for being delayed into June for travel to China are numerous and I honestly have exerted so much emotional energy over the past week that I do not have the mental capacity or energy to  detail the entire story here. The easiest way to put it is that there was a perfect storm that came together at the perfect time to keep us from traveling in May to bring Emmie home. First, the crazy happenings at the Consulate, then a miscommunication, then a Chinese holiday, and finally a new request from officials in China for "more time" to prepare for families arrivals.  These are the factors that were stacked against us. If just one of the above mentioned factors had not occurred or were not going to occur, it would have been very possible, if not almost guaranteed, that we would have traveled in May. But, sometimes life is not "fair" and  that is just the way life goes. I have had to remind myself of this almost every minute of the last few days as we have tried to move beyond the disappointment, anger, and sadness that we feel at knowing that it will be another month before we meet our beloved Emmie, and that she must remain in an orphanage and without her forever family for another month.

It stinks. It hurts. It is no fun. I hate seeing all our suitcases packed and ready (almost) to go. But, there is nothing we can do to change the date of our departure. It is what it is.

So what do we do now? I had mentioned in my previous post that God is a God of redemption in the midst of the evil, sadness and hurt in our world. I truly believe that now as much as I ever did. In the midst of our hurt, God is there, redeeming our pain with his grace, and helping us to move beyond what we currently feel to a hope and peace we find only in Him. There is a reason why we chose the word "Grace" as Emmie's middle name :) Without it, we (well, me, Rebecca, for sure) would still be filled with anger, resentment and bitterness. I would be unable to love my family the way I am called to, perform my work duties the way I am assigned to, and live a life that honors God the way I am instructed to. I would be a sad, dark, person (and trust me, I was on Thursday).

I was praying and thinking about the situation last night and this morning, still wondering exactly what purpose God would want these extra weeks of waiting to serve in my life. The word that the Lord kept bringing to my mind was "preparation". I truly feel that God desires for us to use this "extra" time as a time of preparation for Emmie's homecoming. To do this, Zack and I are going to sit down together and come up with different prayer needs for Emmie, her current caregivers, her orphanage, the people of China, and our family. Each day, we will share this need on our blog, and would love for you to be praying along with us. There will be 24 different prayer needs, as this is how many days it will be until we depart for China.

We truly pray that this time will be a sweet time of connecting with God, and we look forward to seeing God's transforming  work in our lives and Emmie's life through the prayers of his people.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Adoption.....A Reflection

So much has happened since the last post that I will just have to combine it all into one big emotional post! The day after I asked for prayers for our Travel Approval (TA) a wonderful thing happened.....we received our TA! Friday around lunch time we received an email telling us our TA had been received by our agency and that we had two May 16 (yes, less than a week later!!) or travel June 13....of course we chose the sooner date, and began immediately working and making plans so that we could travel to China in 6 days. Everything seemed to be in place. I had the sick days I needed, the plane tickets were in place, arrangements had been made for the boys, etc. The only thing missing was our Consulate Appointment (CA). The process of requesting a CA takes place after TA is received, and is usually a very uniform, simple process. Because our TA was not received until Friday by our agency, they would have to wait until Monday to request the CA. Monday morning came.....8am, 9am, still no word from our agency. Anxiety began to creep in. Then we heard.....No CA today. The Consulate had been closed due to a security threat, and our agency would check on Tuesday to see what could be done. We heard that someone sent an envelope with a "white powder" in it to the Consulate. Really people? Of all the places on earth to send it, and now??? (selfish thinking, I know).

Needless to say, Monday was a long day, as we had no idea if we would be going to China in a few days or not! We also were told that if our agency could not secure a CA appointment for us on Tuesday, our next available date to travel would be May 30 or possibly June 13! Tuesday morning came....8am, 9am, 10am, 11am! Still no word!! Finally an email came telling us that again the Consulate was again closed and we would not be traveling this week. Our agency assured us they would do all they could to secure an appointment that would allow us to travel on May 30, but there is no guarantee.

Today was a rough day, where we all plummeted from an emotional high, to an emotional low. I admit, I was angry, sad, frustrated and disappointed the majority of the day. I kept thinking how one silly person could cause so much hurt for so many people- families in China are having appointments cancelled and having to stay longer than they had anticipated, missing flights, missing work, missing time at home with their families, spending lots of more money, etc. Families waiting to go to China aren't able to go, having to reschedule childcare, jobs, flights, etc. And worst of all, children are waiting longer to come home to their forever families because of some crazy person!!! Okay, enough ranting.

This whole situation today caused me to think back to our previous two adoptions, and I realized that in each of those adoptions, a similar situation had occurred.

First, with Caleb- We received his referral at the end of July, 2007, and had to wait through court closures in Ethiopia to receive a court date. Court closures then were from the end of August to the beginning of  October (I think). We expected to have a court date in October, then travel to bring home Caleb in the first part of November. We were especially excited because he would be home with us for his first birthday!! One day in October, our agency called. I will never forget that day. They told me that today had been our court day in Ethiopia and that we had.....not passed. This was pretty rare back then, and besides being completely devastated by the news, I was also concerned as to why we had not passed! It turns out that a simple mistake had been made, and the wrong file had been taken to court. Caleb was given a very common Ethiopian name in the orphanage and there were two babies with his name. The other child's file was taken instead of his, and this child passed court. I remember his adoptive parents emailing me and apologizing that they passed instead of us. It would be another month before we would have a shot at court again. Turns out it was the first few days of December, and we would not be celebrating Caleb's first birthday with him. At the time, I was devastated. On December 4, 2008, I was waiting nervously for a phone call to tell us if we had passed court or not. We knew our court date was on that day. I had checked my phone and email all day until I had almost driven myself crazy! I finally could take no more and I went into the back room at work and got down on my knees and prayed to God to hear our prayers for a successful court date. When I came back into the office, I had a missed call. I could tell the number was from our agency, and that they had left a message. I thought the worst, as most people heard they passed court with an email....and the last time they called it was bad news! I picked up my phone and listened to the message- it was the voice of someone from our agency I had never spoken with....the travel coordinator! We had passed! We traveled to Ethiopia 2 weeks later, and met our precious and wonderful son, Caleb. When I look back at that time in our lives, the fact that we didn't get to bring home Caleb before he turned 1 doesn't even come to mind. What does? The faithfulness of God. I truly believe he used that moment of praying in the back room and coming back in to see a missed call to remind me of his sovereignty and faithfulness. It has stuck with me ever since.

Then I began to think about Noah's adoption. It happened much quicker than Caleb's. The first part of the process sailed right along. With Noah's adoption, the laws in Ethiopia had changed and we were now required to make two trips. The first trip both parents had to travel, but the second trip only one parent was required to travel. Zack and I accepted Noah's referral in June of 2010 and traveled to Ethiopia the first week of August, 2010. We met  a very sad and scared boy who barely smiled the entire week we were with him. We left very frightened and unsure of how to help our son adjust to his new life. We should have returned in late October/early November to bring home, but it was not to be.

During the months following our first visit, my grandfather, who had just turned 91 and had always been very healthy, began to fall ill. His condition continued to deteriorate, and much of the responsibility of taking care of him fell to my mother. She made visits back and forth to the hospital and often stayed all night. She was depleted emotionally and physically. I should have been able to return to Ethiopia during some of the most difficult times for my grandfather, but a mistake was made with some paperwork, and the day before I and one of my best friends were scheduled to get on an airplane and fly to Ethiopia, my phone rang. I will never forget that day either. I was sitting on a school bus with Caleb. We had just left a nearby pumpkin patch with his headstart had been a great field trip. I could barely hear the persons voice on the other end because of the noise on the bus, but I did make out the words, "You can't leave tomorrow." Seriously?? So I took the necessary and expensive steps to cancel flights, plans, etc. My poor friend had to rearrange her work schedule. I was so frustrated and angry, and worst of all, we didn't know when we were going to be able to go get Noah. He was already afraid and scared, and now I feared that he probably thought we were not coming for him! Little did I know that in the next several days my grandfather's condition would worsen and he would go to be with God. I had the honor of being with my grandfather during his final few moments on this earth. It is something I will cherish the rest of my earthly life. I was also able to be with my mother during what I know was one of the hardest times of her life- saying goodbye to one her best friends. On the way to the burial, my telephone rang, once again. It was our agency. They told us we could leave the next day to go get Noah. The day after my grandfather's funeral.

When I look back at that time in our lives, again, I don't think so much of the frustration I felt that day on the school bus, I think about God's impeccable timing in allowing me to be with two people I love very much in some of the most difficult times of their lives. I think of Noah smiling at me the moment he saw me again in Ethiopia on the second trip.  Again, I am amazed at God's sovereignty and faithfulness.

I don't want to get into a theological debate about God's will, evil in the world, etc. What I know is that where we see a fallen world, we see a redemptive God. We know from His Word that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. As I sit and type this blog post tonight, I still feel the sting of disappointment and have an ache in my heart. I still have a little self-pity happening here people :) But I know that God's faithfulness will show itself once more in my life and that I will be able to look back and see how all of  this craziness has a purpose. I look forward to that day, and trust that the God who loves me so much that He gave His only son for me, will bring it to fruition. Amen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

One Week Left!!

We have one week left to get our TA (travel approval) in order to travel May 30!!! We are feeling the ''crunch", but also trusting in God's timing, as we know He is in control! All we have to do is think back to our prior two adoptions to see God's faithfulness to our family throughout. The difficult thing about waiting for TA is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the timing. Some families have received their TA's in a week, and others have been waiting almost three weeks. This does make us anxious, but our agency has projected our TA to arrive around May 14, which would mean we would be able to travel on May 30th.

We would so appreciate your prayers for our family, and that our TA would indeed come in the next week. As I have stated in previous posts, we would be so thrilled to have the majority of the summer to be with Emmie, and if we leave May 30, we will return June 12, which would allow us to have the summer with her! The other alternative, leaving June 12, would mean that we would  be home at the end of June, only having July to be with Emmie (before I would have to return to work). We know from our previous experiences that the more time we can be home full time with a newly adopted child, the easier the adjustment/transition process is for all involved.

Yesterday evening we received a wonderful email updating us on Emmie! The following pictures were included:

The email also said that Emmie was beginning to show signs of being a leader, that she loves to dance, and that she has been learning to recognize colors! We long for the time when we will be able to experience these updates in person, and not just through email. Hope to be posting good news soon!!