Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just When I Let Go...

This week has been different than the last 8. There was peace in our home. No more spiritual warfare. But I still wasn't expecting what I received today. I was told this week is the end of our government's fiscal year, keeping offices like the embassy very busy and distracted from normal work. So, this morning I just laid it all down, kind of enjoying the idea that I wouldn't expect an email regarding our visa appointment until next week.

At the same time, I had a powerful quiet time with Jesus. My reading today came from Isaiah chapters 48-50. Some of the verses that really spoke to me and led me into a powerful prayer time were:

"This is what the Lord says: 'At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them...I will say to the prisoners, 'Come out in freedom, and to those in darkness,'Come into the light.' ...They will never hunger or thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore...Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion in their suffering...Look around and see, for all your children will come back to you...I will give a signal to godless nations. They will carry your sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders...For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children'...Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame..."

I prayed in a way I haven't prayed for Sunny in weeks. And I proceeded to enjoy breakfast with me two littles. I received a text and decided to check email real quick and there it was. Our I-604 process was finished and our visa appointment was scheduled for October 11.

I shared with the girls first. Libby was concerned about my leaving and they both had questions about how Sunny would feel upon arriving home. We talked through it all and from that point on there has been so much joy in our home!

I the rest of the day I worked out travel plans, childcare and started packing. YES!!! I am packing and I an not returning without Sunny. This is for real!

Sunny heads for her medical appointment in the morning. And I will begin serious packing and planning.

For now, here's how you can pray.
1. guarding of Libby's and Gracie's hearts as they are sad to see mom leave on such a long trip (8 days).
2. preparing of every family member's heart to receive Sunny and for Sunny to feel prepared for her new home.
3. for safety in my travels - no delays, no lost luggage, nothing forgotten
4. for favor with embassy on Oct. 11
5. for speed and favor in receiving the actual Visa and the IBESR exit letter in time to head home Oct. 17
6. for joy and bonding while I'm alone with Sunny in Haiti
7. for blessings upon HCRM and its director: Jean Fritz Nicolas and his wife Missou
8. for enjoyable travel with Sunny coming home
9. for the first months of transition home - peace, wisdom, bonding and so on.

I fly out the evening of Monday, Oct. 8 and arrive in PAP on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Embassy appointment is Thursday, Oct. 11.
Lord willing, I fly out of Haiti and land in Amarillo on Wednesday, Oct. 17! AND WE PARTY for about 30 minutes at the airport before the real work begins:)

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!
All glory to Jesus on this Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

All At Once

We have been waiting for Sunny's visa appointment to be issued for over two weeks. I never anticipated a delay at this point in the process. Loving friends and family ask me how I'm doing. I never know how I'll respond. Sometimes I easily express that its hard but we're doing just fine. Other times I burst in tears. But here's what is really going on inside my heart...too much to say in passing...

All at once
A caged lion roaring for release
Calling for justice to rise from the horizon into the fullness of day
An elephant on my chest, the full pressure, shortness of breath
By the mercy of God, not crushed.
The end of a long training
Like a runner before the sound of the gun
Like a boxer before the bell has rung
Bouncing, shaking out the nerves
Amping up for the energy required
To complete the race.
And fatigue before its really begun.

All at once
Anticipation at its height
Discouragement's intimidating stare from the corner
Hope filling me up
Wrestling with anxiety
Winning and losing, winning and losing
Lifted eyes, from the problem to the solution,
Over and over again, call Him, "Jesus."
Like trying to keep perfect posture, its difficult
I naturally forget
Worry whispers, but Spirit is louder.
 "Shut it down", he says.
I wonder why it had to be like this,
Why so long, why so hard
I must imprison those thoughts,  make them right
Renew my mind...Help me trust.

All at once
I hold my two at home.
I comfort.
I teach.
I give.
All. day.
Its work: keeping my anxious thoughts at bay,
To be present for the ones already here.
Its so hard, they sense it.
My anxiety becomes their problem.
I cry from the punches of inadequacy and discouragement.
I'm empty by sunset, bruised at heart.
Refuel by the Word or cry myself to sleep,
Or both.

All at once
Its hunger to be Sunny's mother
And fright.
And anger...anger at both governments
How inefficient they are,
How unaware or uncaring they seem to be for the orphan
Where is liberty? Where is justice and freedom for the godly, the lonely?
And its selfishness
I'm completely focused on this one thing. Unaware of others.
Praying less for the things that really matter. Praying for what I want now.
Shortness of temper with my family.
Why does it take so much effort to see the whole picture...
Break my tunnel vision?

All at once
Its mercy, new every morning like fresh baked bread
It smells good and it satisfies
And its grace, from God, from family, from friends
For myself, toward others
And its peace,
Ever present even in the midst of all the expectancy
And its companionship, with the One who resides in me
Who speaks to me...or doesn't
Sometimes He's quiet.
Lately, I'm quiet. No more words.
Either vacant of emotion or full of it. Little in between.
Always surprising, even me.
But He's here.

All at once
Its humility, its turning things back
Handing them over
Realizing my dependency on promises
And supernatural power.
Curiosity, what is she thinking? How is she doing?
What day will she be home?
"Curiosity killed the cat," you say.
Its not going to kill me, but it does keeps trying.
Its love. Love never fails, never quits.
I'm not quitting.

All at once
My family.
Its wiping away their tears
When all I want to do is cry.
Taking on their pain, their concerns
Because they've taken on mine.
Its relieving them of the burden,
The one I also keep laying down

All at once
Its imagining seeing her again,
Announcing to her she is coming home
Picturing her face
Measuring my relief,
Gallon by gallon of joy.
Realizing that moment is yet again deferred.

But all at once
it will be over
And we'll start the new life walk
Hand in hand.
To wholeness
Whole family, Holy parenting,
To grow whole children

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Letter to Sunny, #3

Lastly, I had this third letter recorded in Creole to give Sunny some idea of what to expect at home. I will let her listen to this towards the end of travel or maybe a day or so into being home.

Dear Sunny,

I hope my letters by way of these recordings have helped you. I want to share with you a few things about your new home.  I hope you love it!

We live in Amarillo, Texas. The weather is very different in Amarillo than it is in Haiti. It will be colder in the fall and winter months than you are used to. The land is very different too. There are no mountains in Amarillo. But we do have big skies and wide open land. The sunsets are very pretty here.

At home, you will be sharing a room with Libby and Gracie upstairs. Your first few nights may seem a little scary since you will be in a new place, but your sisters will be in beds right next to yours and we have what we call “monitors” in your room so that if you call out for me, I will hear you in my room and I will come to you if you need anything.

Your new home will be very different than where you lived in Haiti. It will seem quieter, but it will be busier. You will do school at home. Mom will be your teacher. We call that “homeschool”.  After you settle into your new home for a few days, the first thing we will begin learning is English and reading. I can’t wait for you to learn to speak and read English! It will take a lot of work and time, but I know you can do it! And we will help you!

We keep a schedule at home. We usually wake around 7 in the morning and get dressed and ready for the day and do our chores. We have breakfast shortly after that and read the Bible and pray together. Then we head to the school room and begin our studies for the day. Libby’s lessons will take longer than yours to begin with because she is already in 1st grade. But you will catch up soon!  Give me some grace as I learn how to teach you. I will learn many things as I teach you. It will be hard work for all of us, but very worth the effort! I’m very excited to be your mom AND your teacher! I am so blessed!

We have 3 meals every day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will also give you a healthy snack every two hours. We promise you will have plenty to eat and you will not have to worry about not having enough food.

We have a little dog. Her name is “Henna”. She might jump on you because she will be excited to see you, but she is safe and does not bite. You can pet her and she will be so happy you are here.

Dad goes to work during the day Monday through Thursday and is home Friday through Sunday. We all go to church on Sunday mornings. I will keep you in the service with me until you have enough English to go to a class with students your age.

We have a few house rules:
1.     Honor your dad and mom.
2.     Love one another
3.     Food stays in the kitchen
4.     Help to keep the house clean.
5.     Work hard at school each day

Remember, it is okay if you are frustrated, scared, or sad as you make so many changes and learn so many new things. You have been through many changes. Life is completely different for you now. You may be happy to have your new family and still miss your old life in Haiti at the same time. That is okay.

If you need to cry, you can cry without anybody making fun of you. We will all understand. If you need a hug from mom or dad – just say “hug”. Whatever you need, find a way to tell us the best you can and we will do our best to understand.

I can’t believe the time of having you home is finally here. You are our daughter now! What a great thing Jesus has done for us all!

I love you, Sunny.  You will never know how much.


And that sums up the translated/recorded letters to Sunny. Makes me cry just re-reading them. This is really happening. Pinch me!

Letter to Sunny, #2

The second letter recorded in Creole for Sunny is one I will give her the day before we travel. This was the hardest letter to write only do you tell a child what flying to another country on 3-4 different flights will be like? How do you explain security, luggage checks, walking through the scanner??? She is going to be overwhelmed. But hopefully, what is written here will help her....

Letter #2:

Dear Sunny,

It is almost time to leave the orphanage and Haiti and head to your new home. Are you excited?! I know I am! I want to tell you some of the things that will happen during your travel home so you will have some understanding of all that is happening on our busy travel day.

When we leave the orphanage and when we leave Pastor’s car to walk into the airport, Mommy might cry. Do not worry. My tears are tears of joy and relief. The journey to bring you home has been long and hard. I will be so grateful to fly home with you at last!

We will have to show our passports and plane tickets several times to security guards along the way. You must stay with mommy at all times. I will put a name tag around your neck with your Haitian name and new last name: Keemberlie Julien Foote. I will put my name and contact information on the back. If you get lost at any time, find a woman who works at the airport (they will be in uniform) or find a mom with children and show them your name tag with my information on the back. They will find me for you.

We will put our luggage through some machines along the way and after standing in line for a while, we will leave most of our luggage with an airport worker. They will make sure our luggage gets on our plane. We will keep backpacks with us for the journey. We cannot take any water or liquids through the security check points. Trust mommy when I say “no” or “not yet”. I have many rules to follow for our travel day.

When we are finished going through several lines we will sit in seats, maybe eat a snack and wait to get on our first plane. Once we are on the plane everything will be new to you. It may feel overwhelming at times. Just hold my hand. I will help you and pray for you. You can hold my hand at any time.

We cannot use my telephone or iPad until the plane is high in the air. We also can only use the toilet at certain times on the plane. Any time I take you to “pee pee”, please try to do that because we may not have a chance to do so again for a while.
We have to wear seat belts on the plane and keep our luggage under the seat in front of us as the plane takes off. Once we are high up we can get things out of our bags to do together – color, listen to music and more.

When we land in the United States you will be a US citizen! We will have to go through several more lines and talk to more security persons. This will take some time.  We will also have to pick up our luggage again and then give them to another airport worker.

There will be at least 2 more flights before we arrive home. It will be a long day or 2 of travel, but you can sleep on the plane so that’s good!

Once we fly into Amarillo, TX (your new home city!) you will be done with planes and the best things will be right around the corner!

Many, many people have prayed for you during the 2.5 years we have been working to bring you home. Many of those people will be at the airport to welcome you to your new home. Daddy and your sisters will be the most important people there and they will be so happy to see both you and me!!

You may feel scared, overwhelmed or just plain tired when you see all the people who have come to celebrate your arrival. This is normal and understandable. Just hold my hand. I will help you. I can hold you if you want me to. Everyone will clap and cheer when they see you and some will come up to us to give us a hug. We might even take some pictures. This will go on only for a little while. After we get our luggage we will walk to our car with daddy and your sisters and we will be alone as a complete family for the first time!!! It will be a very special day!

I will write you more about what to expect at home in the last letter. I know this is a lot of information, but I want you to feel prepared so you can enjoy this special time as much as possible.  Do not feel overwhelmed. I am here to help you with everything.

We have all longed for this time to come for so long. You are coming home! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!

I love you so much.



Letter to Sunny, #1

In preparation to bring Sunny home there are many swirling activities going on around our home. But the one I'm about to share with you is my all-time fav!

When one is adopting an older child who does not speak one's language, who has lived a relatively sheltered life in an orphanage, who is shy around new people and who has never seen modern technology such as self-flushing toilets - it comes to mind that some things need to get said clearly before hopping on a plane to a new country.

So, I began writing a few letters to Sunny to help her navigate her last days in Haiti, her first big travel day and her first moments/days at home. I had these letters translated by the awesome Shane Wendel. Since Sunny is illiterate even in Creole, we had Mandaly, a native Haitian friend of Shane's, record the letters so Sunny can listen to them over and over again as needed.

I knew I was excited about having this done. But when the recording of these letters was emailed to me I could not hold back the tears. Hearing Mandaly's soft, compassionate voice deliver these priceless words in Creole for my sweet Sunny was an overwhelming experience.

There are many families currently adopting older children from Haiti so I want to share my English version of these letters to give those adoptive families an idea of the things I decided to say to Sunny. I'm sure I forgot something and I'm sure the letters are not perfect. Its hard to know what to include and what not to say or how she will receive it all. But I did my best to prepare her for the things to come and to encourage her along the way.

Without further adieu, Letter #1. This letter will be given to Sunny a few days before we depart for home.

Dear Sunny,

Greetings in the name of Jesus. This is a letter from mom. The voice you hear is a friend of mom’s who speaks your language. She is simply telling you what I wrote down in a letter to you. This is the first of 3 letters.  The other two will be given to you at later times.  You can listen to these letters as many times as you want.

The time for you to travel home is finally here! Your family is very excited to have you home! There are a few things I want to share with you before its time to leave Haiti.

This week, before you leave the orphanage I want you to know that you will not see your friends here for a long time. If there is something you want to say to any of your friends please take time to do that this week. I know that you are excited to come home, but I also know you will miss your friends very much. It is okay if you cry. Be who you are. You are loving, kind and thoughtful. Love your friends with hugs and sweet words while you have the chance. Mommy knows this is hard.

I also want you to take some time to thank your nannies as well as Pastor and Madame. Have someone write a letter for you if you do not think you’ll see one of them before you leave. The nannies, Pastor and Madame have cared for you for many years, so it is important to thank them and bless them.

I want you to know that it is okay to feel many different emotions about coming home. You may be happy one minute and scared the next. That is normal. Like I said, it is okay to cry, to laugh, to hold mom’s hand. You can trust mommy. I’ll do my best to understand all the things you are feeling.

Probably one of the hardest things to come in the next days and weeks is the difference in our language. This will be hard for all of us, but we will be patient and will give each other a lot of grace. Learning English will take some hard work on your part and quite a bit of time. It will be hard for you to share with me what you are feeling in these first days/weeks. Know that mommy, your daddy and sisters are all trying their best to understand all the changes happening in your life. Our family motto is: “Love one another and work towards peace with one another”. Together we can do this!

For now, look around you and remember the things you see and hear. Maybe one day, when you can speak English and read and write, you will be able to tell me what you remember about this special time before leaving Haiti.

I’m so happy to be here with you! I’ve missed you so much. I love you.

Love, Mom

The Lo Down and the Right One

The Lo-Down... 2 years and 9 months into this worth-it-all journey....

Our dossier entered the embassy on July 25th, glorious day! On July 31, we received an email from the embassy saying they needed the archived death certificate of Sunny's biological mother and they were also requesting an interview with the biological aunt. Bum day.

At the time we thought it would be easy (quick) to get the death certificate (that blasted thing has haunted us in every step one way or another). But alas, I forgot  - this is Haiti. Nothing happens fast in Haiti. 

The aunt's interview went well. Five and a half crazy weeks later the long-prayed-for death certificate was delivered into our director's hands. That was September 3.

On September 4, the death certificate was in the embassy's hands and finally they had all they needed to give us I600 approval. I expected approval within a day or 2.....How do I forget what country we are working with?!!

On September 11, the I600 approval came by way of email late in the afternoon! HALLELUJAH!!!!

There had been 2 other families with us at each step until the death certificate fiasco. Both of those families received a visa appointment email (giving them their visa appt. dates) 3 business days after they received I600 approval. So I had hoped to receive the visa appointment email on Friday, Sept 14. But, my tricky God (he laughs when I call him that, I'm sure) decided I needed to wait through another weekend. 

So, here I sit on a Sunday night 2 years and 9 months into this crazy journey...praying for that visa appointment email to cyber-float its way into my life tomorrow.

Seriously though....
God's timing (albiet tricky) is ever so perfect this Rash Hashanah night.
If Sunny had come home last fall she would have been in the throws of our big move to Amarillo. And to be honest, the move to Amarillo all the way through the adjustment months were hard enough on this momma without adjusting to an older adopted child.

And if Sunny had come home mid-summer as once hoped, there are several things that would not have happened (that I can't share publicly out of respect for others) that needed to happen.

And if Sunny had come home late summer - I would not have come to an eye-opening, parenting-changing revelation that has beautifully altered my life with precious Libby. And what God taught me in that revelation will certainly impact my parenting of Sunny. The changes I've seen in Libby in just one week's time have been AMAZING. Its just another - "ok, God - you were right" realization that Sunny will come home at the perfect time when the entire family is really, really, really ready to love her fully and train her up whole-y/holy. I mean - we've always been ready in our hearts/minds to receive her, love her and be her parents...But Jesus knew the deeper things that needed changing - like entire attitudes, philosophies and concepts. So he made us wait.

Now, I know there is more to learn. I know one can never be entirely ready for the unexpected, unknown strongholds that are inevitably attached to an older adopted child. But, I'm taking responsibility in a whole new way and that place of humility and gentleness are exactly where I need to be to parent Sunny into whole freedom.

So there you have it. God was right all along. But you probably already knew that:)

Blog Design by Delicious Design Studio