Moving Right Along!

So where do I even begin with this crazy whirlwind of a day… at the beginning you say?  Ok, that makes sense I suppose.

Tossed and turned on the overnight train again.  Ready to be done with those!  I’m actually counting down the time we have left by overnight train rides, only two more!  Woohoo!!  The kids slept many more hours than we did, per the usual, and were up bright and early at 6:00am.  Our train didn’t get in until ten so we had a good four hours of entertaining to do on not quite enough sleep.

We were informed upon arrival that we had a different apartment than the last one we were in.  Something about a landlord being asleep and not having time to get us a key… maybe?  Not sure exactly, quite a bit was lost in translation (per the usual).  So now we are completely disoriented in a city we thought we had our bearings in.  Our driver quickly pointed out a McDonald’s and left.  We were famished and I thought he said there was a grocery store down that way, the street certainly had enough shops, so took a little walk.

There were several restaurants and a nice park with a fountain, but no grocery store.  We hiked back and stopped at a little fast food place that was not McDonald’s… I don’t think we could stand another meal of that.  Ugh.  Then we went back to the apartment, I quick got ready for a visit with Hope.  No time for a shower, so I looked terrible after the night and morning.  So glad Hope doesn’t really care what I look like!

It was a short visit today.  We have never visited her in the evening before, but apparently her orphanage “closes” at five o’clock and her “nap” isn’t over until four so… itty bitty window there.  Hubby and the kids stayed back this time, it had already been such a long, cooped up day for them to spend another hour+ in the car.

Sweet girl and I had a good visit though, and it was so nice to just get some alone time with her!  Her new favorite game is laying on my lap while I bounce her and sing the sign language ABC song I know, holding her with one hand and signing with the other.  I promise I was safe!  But she just laughed hysterically the whole time and she was trying to track with my hands to watch the signs.

After the song was over I told her to say “Again” if she wanted to go again.  I prompted her a few times and got a little “ahhhh” out of her so we went again :)  I’m no speech therapist, but I figure prompting her to speak and then praising and rewarding her for vocalizing is probably a good start in teaching her to communicate through appropriate sounds (rather than just screaming).

Next I went on a quick grocery trip since I had our driver and could actually get to a store.  When I got home everyone was famished, so we decided to go to the “pizza place” which felt less than inviting, so Jake suggested the “other pizza place”.  We walked the other way on the street and came to a small building with huge stickers of pizza on the window and an arrow pointing inside.  It looked promising.  We walk in to tables surrounded by lush, exotic couches and middle eastern incense.  Hmm… perhaps we should have payed more attention to the Disney Genie sticker on the window?

We sat down (first mistake) and the lady brought us huge, elaborate menus that certainly did include pizza but this was no pizza joint.  The kids were restless and asking to eat the sugar on the table.  This was obviously too high end for restless, hungry, miniature people so we got up and left!  Totally embarrassing.

Our last ditch dinner effort was the “burger joint” we saw (different from lunch).  They even had cheese sticks!  How could you go wrong, right??  AND pizza on the menu! Score!  Well, we order to discover that the pizza was made with ketchup, not sauce.  The cheese sticks were actually fish sticks.  The Caesar Salad dressing was actually plain mayonnaise and the burger was actually a grilled chicken sandwich-type thing.  We didn’t eat much, but they thought we were trying to order chicken nuggets instead of fish sticks (thankfully) so at least the kids ate.

I still consider this a good, successful day though!  We are here in Hope’s region just waiting for our court date.  By the way, pretty please pray we get SDA approval tomorrow!!  This is the only thing not “moving right along” and we really need it!  If we don’t get our approval tomorrow we won’t be able to have court until Monday at the earliest.  That puts Juri and Zhanna Hope’s court dates at least a week apart, delaying our return home about a week.  We are so ready to come home, please pray we wake up to approval in the morning!!

While you are praying for that, also join with us in a prayer of thanksgiving for our funding!  We just received word that a grant we applied for months and months ago actually came through!  And the crazy thing is that they prayerfully determined to give us the exact amount we need to be funded after our Miles Fundraiser is finished!  Is God awesome or what!?!  Perfect love, perfect gift, perfect timing.  Thank you Jesus!

AND we only have 527 miles left to go!  That’s a little over $500 to finish funding our adoption and then we’ll get to reveal Juri’s new name to you all!  I cannot wait to finish this off, so excited to make that reveal!  We are absolutely praising God for His hand in all of this and so humbled and grateful to all of you who have come alongside us to bless our family and our new children by making this adoption possible for them.  It would not have been possible to do this on our own.  It is Christ’s Church that has kept us afloat the entire way!  We can never thank you all enough!

P.S. – Click here if you want to help us move a little closer to revealing our son’s new name!

God is Gracious… Hope

I promised all of you that when we met our matching grant (which we did!!) I would tell you the story of our daughter’s new name.  To preface, I believe that God whispers to us the names of our children… if we are listening.  If you give your child absolutely nothing else his whole life, but you give him a name, you can point him to Christ.

If his name is connected to the Lord, then whenever he hears it, it will point him heavenward.  Names are not just meant to sound cute or beautiful, but they have meanings and they tell us stories.  They provide us an intimate connection with those who bear them, evidenced by how excited so many of you are to hear the new name of the little girl you have loved so long!

I never could have guessed what either of our new children’s names would be before we came to adopt them.  Their names were literally given to us at the time God had planned, through His Church and His gracious promptings.  So… with no further delay… we are quite pleased to announce to you the name of our oldest daughter…

Zhanna Hope

Zhanna is pronounced (Zjuh-ah-nuh).  We will call her Hope for short.  Now for her story.  When I first learned what our daughter’s birth name was (months ago actually) I didn’t like it much.  I was pretty certain that we would change it, until we heard her birth family’s story.  (P.S. – Yes we did know what her name would be by the time we wrote that post if you want to have a bit of an “I see what you did there…” moment.)  Knowing that her name was given her by a loving mother and father who lost their dear child, I was much more reluctant to take away the one remaining legacy they had given her – her name.

We also learned while we were here that Hope was indeed baptized, and that we will be able to get confirmation of that.  Taking away a child’s birth name is one thing, but the name they were baptized with?  That is something else entirely.  Knowing she would not need to be baptized once we get her home, and also knowing her family history, sealed it for me.  Her name would stay.

And anyway… we were all very much getting used to the sound of it by this point.  :)  Once I knew that this would always be a part of her identity I did what any mother would do… I looked up the meaning of it!  Well, if I wasn’t convinced before I was now.  Zhanna means “God is gracious.”  It was as if God was speaking directly to my heart, for indeed there is no more perfect, succinct way to describe our girl’s life than with these three words – God is gracious.

With that settled, all we needed was a middle name for her, which came right on time shortly thereafter.  My husband’s lovely, godly, beautiful mother sent us an email the very day we were making the monumental decision on whether or not we could accept sweet Hope’s referral.  Now, before I share with you the delightful ending, let me provide a bit of background story.

JannaMy sweet mother-in-law (and I assure you she was not alone or crazy!) never had peace about adding Hope to our adoption.  We had some very difficult conversations about it, and she prayed for months, but peace about this very needy and delayed child never came for her.  We prayed that she would find peace, and we hoped it would come.

On the eve of our decision, it was certainly not far from our minds that our parents, whom we are called to honor and obey, were not on board with us adopting this girl.  It took our peace about it and made us quite uncertain.  After meeting Juri we were already unsure if we would be able to meet his needs and her needs and the needs of the two children we already have.

As much as we loved this girl we had met, we needed to be sure.  We both felt 100% that she was ours after the visit that day.  But we were not fully at peace.  And then… we checked our email.  Jake’s mom had messaged us and told us that the night before she had been looking at our little girl’s picture for an hour and praying over it.  What she said next brought tears to my eyes and still does: “I found myself thinking, “Lord, you really are The God of Hope and somehow through the lives of these little ones, especially Jana, you are going to be demonstrating just that: “I am The God of HOPE.”

She wondered if we had thought of the name Hope for our girl.  We hadn’t, but it only took us all of ten seconds to agree that it was the perfect name for her.  God has knitted our family’s hearts together, after months of tears and prayer, in His wisdom He has mercifully given us all oneness of mind and spirit.  Not only was this name a reflection of our family’s wrestling with one another and becoming closer and stronger for it, but it is also a perfect reflection of God’s love in Hope’s life and in the life of all mankind.

I titled this post “God is Gracious… Hope” and that is the story I want to tell with our daughter’s name.  Ten years ago I began dreaming of giving a little girl a home who had none.  About the same time, Hope was conceived, and she has spent all this long time alone.  Unbeknownst to either of us, we were both waiting for the culmination of God’s gracious love, waiting separately yet also together.

There were so many delays in my ability to start the adoption process, so many snags, so many days that it seemed it would never come.  When I first saw Hope, there were so many times it seemed impossible that she would come home with us, so many detours and bumps in the road.  Yet through it all I dared to hope.  I dared to pray, to beg God to give me the desire of my heart.  For He has said that He will do this.  God is gracious… and so I dared to hope.

I cannot wait to witness and share with the world the beauty of Hope’s new life, her redemption, her new birth into our family.  And as I do I pray that most of all people would see through her story that God is gracious!  Not so we can hope for things on this Earth, for truly there will be so many who never come to their earthly homes… so many whose hurts will not cease in this life… so many for whom injustice will not be corrected.  And yet even in the midst of these realities… God is gracious, and we still dare to hope.

Our daughter’s story is a miracle unfolding, a beautiful story of redemption in which God has honored me to play a role.  But her amazing story is nothing more than a reflection, a foretaste of the greater and more glorious story being told – God’s redemption for all people, for the entire world.  For He has promised to return, and when He does all the hurts will be healed, all the injustice will be corrected, all death will be turned to life and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!  Because we know God is faithful and we know that He is gracious we can dare to have hope in this Truth!

To all mothers who are still waiting to bring their babies home… to the mothers who have lost their children by death or tragedy… to the mothers-at-heart who so desperately want children and have been given none… to all the sick and dying… to the depressed and anxious… to all the poor and downtrodden… to the addicted and lost… to all the broken and afraid… to all who hunger and thirst and yearn for more than what they can have in this life…

May our daughter’s story bring you one precious Truth.  God is gracious… Hope!

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