Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Judah and Jewel come home!

"Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10


What a blessing it is to write from this side of the story. We have been home 7 weeks tomorrow. Praise God for His sweet, constant grace as we have and are still wading through all the emotion, physical sickness, exhaustion and pure, raw joy that comes with adoption. I cannot express with words what a joy it has been to have the never fading support of our family and friends during this time. To each of you who have prayed, given, cooked yummy dinners, cleaned our house, rocked babies, played with Caitlyn, taken care of Nathan and me while sick, folded laundry, sent Scriptures and words of encouragement, listened to our cries of, "I don't think I can do this" and "What have we done?," etc: THANK YOU. Truly we, the body, are the hands and feet of Christ. 

We embarked on this journey to be exactly that, the hands and feet of Christ. Oh how we have been reminded that we are also so desperately in need of those hands and feet. Thank you for being love to us. What a privilege to be a part of this spiritual family that is like no other. 

Many have asked, "How are things going?" To say this is a loaded question would be an understatement. I have thought for a couple of weeks about what to share in this post and decided I would just sit down and write. So please forgive the possible scattered sections as my mind and heart are on overload to feel and process all of the emotion and events that have transpired over the past two months. (I am also currently wearing two babies =).)

As a wise friend has continued to remind me over the past years, "Kimberly, you are doing this in your own strength. Rest in Him and He will work all things together." I seriously need this carved in to every possible surface in my house. It's so true. When Nathan and I try, try, try in our own strength to possibly care for all the physical and emotional needs in our home, we fail miserably. However, when His sweet voice reminds me (usually in my completely exhausted state) to rest in Him, reach out my arms, and let Him love through me.. all is well, calm.  It's amazing. You can feel and see the difference in all of us when this becomes reality- if even for only a few moments. It is beautiful. It is in these moments that worship transpires in my heart. I have little time or energy to spend with Him and trying to actually listen to worship music is a joke (so loud over here!). But when I rest, reach out, and hold a child in His love.. to watch the insecurities melt away, even for just an instant, leaves me in awe of my Father. His grace is sufficient, not only for me, but for them. Their little hearts are held in His great big hands and He is NOT worried that things won't work out for them.  He has their stories written on His heart and His love is unfailing and unending. He will never leave nor forsake them. To be honest, I haven't cried for them and their stories since we have been home... until this moment. Wow, what a Savior.

Whew.. okay. Moving on =). Africa was tough in different ways than I expected. Every detail and process went very smoothly (until our last flight from D.C. to Alabama). We had no trouble from anyone. God went before us and behind us and was very gracious to us.  I think the exhaustion and emotional stress are things we thought about, but had no idea to what extent they would take their toll on us. Overall, we are so thankful for the ease of events.  We were able to spend quite a bit of time with the missionaries, which was more than a blessing. We got to share about Christ and His peace with the babies' birth father at his home. (He is not currently a believer.)  We were able to bring them food to feed their family for around a year. Also, we were told that no question was inappropriate, so we learned lots about their mother who passed away. We were even told by a sister that Jewel looks just like her. So neat! Though we don't have a picture, we will know what she looked like as we watch Jewel grow. We told the family that we would love them because God loves us and we would care for them. We said we would feed them, educate them, and most importantly teach them about Jesus. They were very thankful for these things and hope to see them again one day. The birth father's father (who has passed) had the opportunity to be adopted to America, but the family turned it down.  They said they have regretted it ever since; so the babies getting to come and grow up here was a fulfillment of that "loss."  We were sent off with a gift and their support. I hope to write more about this time in detail one day, if we have a peace about doing so.

The orphanage was incredible. Isabel, the director, has Jesus all over her and her love for the ministries and those children is unbelievably inspiring.  We so enjoyed meeting the workers and learning about the kids and the ministries to the country that go on there. They work so hard there. This wasn't new to me, after spending a summer in West Africa a few years ago. But I was reminded me that we, in America, often have no clue how easy we have it. I can be so incredibly selfish. 

Because of your giving, we were able to bring them many gifts.  We worked with Maritza, another missionary, who secretly told us some things that Isabel wanted and blessing her with those was so fun!  Also, some ladies at our church made around 90 dresses and shorts to give to the kids. When we gave the suitcase to Isabel, she said that they had been praying for clothing, as they were running low. So fun to see and be a part of God working in these ways!  The kids wore the dresses and shorts on Sunday morning for church and were so excited about them. So sweet.

We were sad to leave the orphanage, but looking forward to reuniting our family at home.  The next step was Dakar, Senegal and God did great things there!! There have been few times where I felt and saw the specific love of God toward my heart, personally, as I did there. The missionary family that a friend and I worked with in Niger, Africa for a summer in 2006 were standing inside the gate of the guesthouse when we arrived!! I was literally blown away, as I never thought I would see them again. The love I felt from them while there 7 years ago and the love that grew and continues to grow in my heart for them over the years is one I cannot express with words.  There are just some people in your life that you love very deeply and that God doesn't let you forget.  This family is that in my heart.  I paced around our apartment that day saying over and over, "I can't believe they're here, I can't believe they're here.." Haha. God did that for me. He truly did. I felt right at home. We were able to spend some sweet time with them and watch their youngest daughter feed and care for my babies after I baby-sat her when she was three! So neat!

The Embassy appointment was very intimidating, but went very smoothly.  We met new friends at the guesthouse and Nathan played ping-pong and became friends with one of the guards at the guesthouse. He is a believer and full of joy. He was such a blessing to us! Even though our trip was exhausting physically and emotionally, being around these people made my heart long, once again, to live on the international mission field one day.

Coming home was more than my heart could bare- we were finally here- all together as a family of 5!! The airport gathering was so sweet to our hearts. THEN.. we got sick. All five of us. And over the course of two weeks had 4 doctor appointments and 2 hospital visits. Craziness. Dealing with this and all the physical and emotional stuff with the changes and exhaustion was most definitely one of the most trying times of mine and Nathan's life-- and definitely the hardest two weeks of our marriage. We needed each other (and everyone else) more than we ever had. We were sad, happy, exhausted, scared, depressed, hopeful, regretful, etc all at the same time. It was hard. Hard to support each other and love and provide for kiddos when experiencing all of the emotions and physical sickness. We literally could not do it. Praise God for family and friends during this time.

It sounds as if my time at the computer needs to be done, but I will hopefully be able to write more details soon. For now I will post lots of pictures! Enjoy!

At the airport, waiting to board our plane to Africa

Our plane in Bissau

The streets right outside of the orphanage walls

In side of the orphanage walls.

I love that the "older" girls help out and love on the babies

Some of the playground equipment at the orphanage.. this one looked like fun

What we saw as we walked up to meet our babies for the first time

Little Judah

Jewel was asleep while being held by a worker. Maritza got her and handed her to Nathan. She went right back to sleep.

Picking up Judah for the first time!

He smiles so much :)

Our first picture together!

Maria with us. She was such a huge help to us on our trip. 

I love this picture. Thanks for all your help over the past two years, Maritza!

Jewel woke up while Daddy held her and she saw him for the first time.

The baby rooms at the orphanage. So nice!!

Judah and Jewel's cribs at the orphanage

Hallway right outside of the babies rooms. These rooms are for some of the older girls.

Our first day with the babies-- playing in Mommy and Daddy's room

Sweet Maria serving

The workers give baths after the kids have poop-y diapers..

So thankful for these ladies that have cared for our kids day in and day out over the past year

Presents for Isabel!!

The lady in charge of clothing for the orphanage looking through the dresses and shorts.. she LOVED them.

Soccer in Bissau

A typical day in Bissau.. and I think my work is hard. 
(She has at least one baby attached to her)

Fish for sale by the water

A nice guy working hard to fix shoes

Buying food and supplies for the birth family. We were able to give two bags of rice (the size of the bags the child in the picture is laying on) and extras

Driving through a market

Amazing.. the strength of the ladies

Riding through the streets of Bissau

Shopping at the market in Guinea Bissau

Some of the kids in their dresses made by ladies at our church

Nathan reading the verse on each piece of clothing

Had to try on the flower bow

Playing while Mommy and Daddy pack

Saying goodbye

 Leaving the orphanage.. bittersweet.

 New friends

Sweet, sweet friends

Our sweet girl, waiting


I love this one.

 Family of 5- all together!

Thanks for coming everyone! What a blessing it was to see you.

Sweet sisters

Thanks to Cindy Shaver Photography for all you love and great images throughout this adoption!!

Thank you for all your support. What a blessing you each are to our family.

In Him,