Monday, January 30, 2012

Court part 3 - the final! :)


Court Part 3



Everyone quickly and as quietly took their seats.

Bryan, Ayden, Aliyah, and I all sat on the petitioner’s side of the table as our translator Andre and the prosecutor sat across from us.

Everyone else remained in their original seating on the benches behind the witness stand. 

The Judge sat down in her chair in the center of the box next to two men on either side of her who were to be the jury in our case.

The man to her right was an older gentleman with graying hair and he wore his glasses down on his nose as though to only look through them when reading. 

He seemingly continually peered over those gold wire frames at us the entire time that he wasn’t spending looking at the documents.

The man to the left of the Judge was a much more lax gentleman, who seemed to have somewhere else he’d rather be.

I sat there with my arm around Aliyah or rubbing her back the entire time.

I can’t really imagine what she must be feeling as a young girl in this courtroom.  Knowing that her fate is in the hands of these three people who are seated in the big box and fancy chairs; only I know something she doesn’t quite understand yet, and that is, that God already has this taken care of!  He planned this from the beginning of time.

We are here for her by God’s calling and his provision and we are going to finally, officially, legally be a family.

Today, God is going to make official in the worldly view, what he wove together in the Heavenlies long ago.



Introductions were being made and approvals being given for our family to adopt Aliyah and Aaron on this day.

Each orphanage representative and child services representative stood, introduced themselves, their title, and gave their reasoning on why this is in the best interest of the children for them to come and be a part of our family.

This is where much was lost in translation.

Unfortunately, we were not able to know every word that was said or even the outline, just the basic gist of things being said as our translator couldn’t very well yell across the table so we could hear him.

I suppose this overview would have to do.

I am one who likes ALL the details upfront.

I don’t like to be left wondering and guessing.

I suppose this is going to be a day of learning for me.

Learning to go with the flow a little bit better and not know everything that is being said.

I might not like it, but I know I have nothing to worry about because; God has gone before us and is right here with us.

Even if I don’t know what they are all saying 100%, I know what God said and THAT is all that I need to know! J

Bryan and I were each called to stand, say our names, addresses and date of birth to confirm for the record that we are who the papers say we are.

The court hearing seemed to go on and on forever.

The Judge and the juror to the right wanted to go through every single page of our homestudy out loud in the courtroom and ask us questions throughout the reading.

Some of the questions we were asked were:

Why are you adopting?

Are you broken?  Can you not make anymore of your own children?

Will you have more children of your own?

Why are you adopting from Ukraine?

Why not American children?

Why do you want 6 kids?

You already have 4, why 2 more?

How big is your home?

How many rooms?

Who will sleep where?

And the line of questioning went on and on.

I know we’ve answered most, if not all of these questions before on the blog, but I’m sure some of you out there want to know as well, so, here were our answers:

We are adopting because this is what God has called us to do.

From Ukraine because this is where God led us to adopt from.

We are not broken, God willing we can have more biological children.  They are all our children, whether born in our hearts or my womb.

We may have more children of our own, if God so chooses to bless us.

We planned to adopt American children and God opened our eyes to the need here in Ukraine and turned our hearts to these kids here.

We may adopt American kids in the future if that is what God has for us to do.

Yes, we have a home and it has plenty of room for all of us.

We have 2 people to a room at this point in time.

Boys with boys and girls with girls, well, other than Mommy and Daddy.



After our lines of questioning, they began asking questions about the children from the orphanage representatives.

It was pointed out that Aliyah was in the courtroom and they gasped- YOU are Tatiana?  Stand up please.

She stood up and spoke so well.

She told them that she wanted to be a part of our family.

She wanted to be our daughter and for us to be her Mama and Papa.

She spoke for quite a while answering each question.

Again, much was lost in translation, or lack there of.

I just watched in awe as she stood with such strength and bravery in front of all those people with all those questions and she stated what she wanted.

She sat down and I went right back to rubbing her back to help her relax and know it is ok; she did well and we are proud of her!



The judge and jury seemed pleased with all that they had heard in the courtroom today and we were told it was now over, and they would be back in 20 minutes with the decree.



Ok, over, wait, does that mean over like they approved us and we are done or over as in they are done questioning and are going to deliberate for 20 minutes?

Andre told us, no over, you are good.

Ok, opinion here or ruling?

Ruling, you are approved, they have to go do the court decree, I think.

You see, it is those “I thinks” and “maybe’s” and “I don’t knows” that drive me up the wall!

What do you mean I think?

Did she or didn’t she say that we were approved?

Approved I think.

She will be back in 20 minutes with the ruling.

Ok, so they are deliberating?!

Ahhh, what’s 20 more minutes right!?



We waited and waited.

Tanya, the orphanage director pulled out some cookies and candy for Aliyah and Ayden and they enjoyed that.

We looked out the window, and watched the light fade into the darkness of night.

We waited and waited, and waited some more.

20 minutes turned into 40 and 40 minutes into an hour.

We got permission for everyone but us to leave as it was getting late and they had long drives ahead of them back to their perspective places.

We gave Aliyah our final hugs and kisses until we come back to pick her up for good in about 2 weeks.

It was bittersweet.

This process is almost over, but here again, I am saying “see you later” for another time.

Thankfully, the LAST time!

The courtroom, now void of all others than Bryan, Andre, Ayden and I seemed barren.

We quickly called out to Sasha to make sure the other kids got to give lovins to sister before she left.

Thankfully, they all got to and we all went back to waiting.

Bryan had to go out to take someone to the bathroom and while he was gone, in a flurry, in came the judge and jury.

I told them, my husband is taking one of the kids to the restroom; he’ll be right back.

They didn’t care and said, it’s ok, let’s proceed…..

 I listened as they read off their judgement and thanked God for giving me a mild understanding of Russian.

I could understand most of what they said and finally, towards the end, I heard her say, and their new names will be…



Aliyah Elizabeth Horner



And



Aaron Michael Horner



Congratulations!



Thank you JESUS!


They are ours!!

I thanked each of them and headed out of the courtroom and Bryan was rushing back in.

I told him, it’s done!

I told them you were coming back, but they went ahead - but it’s done!

They are ours!

I jumped in his arms and we praised God together!






Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a MIGHTY GOD we serve!!!


The Need



First of all, I must give all glory and praise to God for providing in a miraculous way!!

I was set to leave Saturday for Ukraine.

Our need was still near $7000.00.

We had an anonymous donor who pledged to match all donations done on Friday dollar for dollar up to $500!

What a God send!!!

We posted it out there and you all responded.

You opened your hearts and prayed, you shared, and you gave!

For that, I am so grateful!

As a result of the matching donations, we were able to raise $1400!!

That along with some other donations that came in through the earlier part of the week brought our need down to $4600!!!

Did you catch that!?! 

God did a MIGHTY, MIGHTY thing last week and we are trusting him to do another miracle in our situation this week!

I have made it to Ukraine and am sitting in the apartment going over the budget and we have to get this $4600 in quickly!

The need for tomorrow alone is almost $1500 and that is just the first step. 

We still have a lot of paperwork to be done daily and fees to be paid daily in order to get the kids home.

This week we have to do visas, passports, birth certificates, medicals, embassy clearances and then of course get everyone back home.

If you feel God tugging your heart to help these kids, to help our family, we would be so appreciative of you answering the call.

God will truly bless you for doing so.

He cares for these kids and he said in the beginning that it was going to come about in a way that EVERYONE would KNOW that it is only through GOD that this all came to fruition.

Isaiah 41:13-20.



Please, if you can help, donate now to the right of this blog and it will come directly to us.

If you’d like to make a tax deductable donation you  may do so through www.eliproject.org and be sure to mark it HORNER FAMILY ADOPTIONS.



Thank you and God Bless!!!

Court Part 2...


Court – Part 2



As we relished in the moments we had before being rushed into the courthouse, I let my  mind wander to the future, to the time when I will no longer have to wait for her to arrive or ask permission to see her. When I will no longer have to pay for a taxi to take us to and from the orphanages to see her or Aaron and be on a strict time limit on how long we can stay and play.  To a time when we no longer have to sit in a tiny, tiny room with all of us crammed in.  To a time when we will be home!

For GOOD!



As quickly as my mind wandered off in to what will be, I was jolted back into the reality of today.

Today is the day it all comes to an end.

No more questions, no more waiting for court.

It’s finally here and today, today they become OURS!



Sasha said he’d stay out in the car with the other kiddos and play while Bryan and I went with Aliyah into court.

The kids were disappointed they wouldn’t be in court like they got to be last year; however, it would be better this time, for little did we know.. we were in for a WAIT..

A very, very, VERY LONG wait.

Ayden was not happy about it and we decided it would be better to just take him in with us rather than have him out there upset.



Our hearing was to happen at 3pm.

We headed into the courthouse and made our way to the court room where others were already waiting.

I immediately recognized the inspector from Aaron’s village, there was a representative from his orphanage there too –the attorney I think, I hadn’t met her before. 

There was a young woman seated right by the door who was constantly watching my every move.  She smiled occasionally and it was usually when Ayden said something silly – so I figured out she must be able to understand some English..(still no clue who she was)

There was a young man that bolted in and took his seat at the table that was back to back with another perpendicularly aligned in front of the judge and jury’s bench.

As our group entered the room it seemed to get smaller and smaller.  Our entourage consisted of Bryan, myself, Aliyah, Tanya (her orphanage director), and Andre (our translator).

We all took a seat on the two bench rows that were lined up in sequential rows consisting of only 2 benches each.

Aliyah, Tanya, and I all sat on the front bench which was directly behind a witness stand that lined up with the tables before the judge’s stand.

It was still so cold that we all had on our coats, hats, and scarves inside even!

One would think the adrenaline of the day would have kept us warm, but in the coat my shivering body remained!

We patiently waited until about 3pm when we were told we should sit at the table across from the prosecutor, as that was our place in the courtroom.

Bryan and I made our way over to the wooden table and took our seats on the bench.

Other than the obvious uncomfortable nature of having to sit directly across from the prosecutor who was continually jotting down notes, we now were separated from Aliyah and could not see her as the witness stand hid her small frame on the bench.

We sat there for a bit and I kept leaning over to wink at Aliyah or make a silly face to her.  Tanya nodded at me as if to say, it’s ok, bring her over with you.

So, that’s exactly what I did!

I motioned for her to come over to us and we schooched closer together on the bench to make room for her to sit with us.

She was so happy to be with us.

I just held on to her and played with her hair, which is growing quite a bit by the way, yay for no lice this time!

At about 3:30pm the boredom and frustration began to set in as we had now been in the courtroom for almost an hour with all these people just watching us and taking notes.

Not to mention, the growls that were coming from our bellies that were so hungry at this point!

During the previous 30 minutes we had tried to entertain Aliyah and Ayden with the camera, making silly faces and taking pictures of anything and everything in sight.

We watched out the window and watched as the huge snowflakes fell from the sky and coated the trees and ground.

I’ve said before that I just really like Tanya, the director of Aliyah’s orphanage.

She really likes us too!

We had a ball with her in the courtroom as Aliyah got us together to take pictures.

There may or may not have been bunny ears involved.. yes in the adult pictures!

Oh and some crossed eyes and tongues out too J

We had a good time!

As much fun as that was, we wanted court to happen!

What on earth are we still waiting for?

At about 3:45 we all headed back to our seats as we heard footsteps coming down the hallway and the call was made..

ALL RISE….

We immediately rose to our feet as the Judge and Jury (2 men) came in and took their seats.

Andre was now seated across from us, next to the prosecutor.

I wondered how this was to work, as last year we had our translator seated right by us and she would translate every word to us.

How is it going to work with him sitting over there and us over here?

Here we go….



TAKE YOUR SEATS PLEASE….

Friday, January 27, 2012

MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN!

I am so excited to tell you that....

We have been notified that we have a contributor that will match your donation today!
They will double your donation dollar for dollar today upto $500!!

This is HUGE!


We still have a need of almost $7000.

Flights have gone up.

Visas, passports, medical clearances, embassy clearances, final payment on the adoption, birth certificates and airfare all have to be paid this week.

We need your help!

God has sent this amazing gift today to double what is given upto $500!

If we get the $500 in, it is doubled to $1,000!!

That is a huge dent in our need!

Can you help make this happen?

Starting now!

Donate to the right of the blog through paypal and it'll come right to us.

If you need a tax deduction for larger amounts, if you'd like, you can go to www.eliproject.org and mark it HORNER FAMILY.

THANK YOU!!

I leave on a plane in the morning to go pick the kids up on Monday.

We need your help to get them home!
God says he will provide!
We are trusting and obeying.


Ready to see him show himself strong in this opportunity!

Please give, share and spread the word about this great matching donation!!

TODAY ONLY!

THANK YOU!!!



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Court part 1...


The day started out as any other.
Everyone got up, ate breakfast, played around and eventually got ready for court.
People were in and out of our house coming to get money for this or that.
(meaning court fees and taxi fares)

We anxiously awaited the time the call would be for us to get in the van and go!
The boys all got their nice collar shirts on and Lexi and I got in our skirts.
We all primped and were ready to go!
We all gathered in the living room/kitchen/little one's bedroom and prayed over the day.
We prayed for court.
We prayed for favor with the judge and jury.
We prayed for peace and comfort during the process.
We prayed for the right words to say when we are asked to speak that would show God's glory and grace in our lives.
We prayed for Aliyah as she had to come and represent herself and her little brother in the courtroom.
We prayed for everyone that would be involved to have their hearts open to see what God was doing in our family and with these kids.

Shortly after the prayer, one of the kids hopped up and shouted:
"He's HERE!! Oleg is here!! It's time!! Let's GO!!!!!"
And with that, we were in a frenzy to get everyone and everything out the door and in the car!
The time had FINALLY come.
All we had left to do was go to court, wait out the 10 days, finish up paperwork and get HOME!
FINALLY!
Our court hearing was set for 3pm.
We arrived to the court house at 2:35pm and I took a few pictures of the snowcovered evergreens that filled the grounds.
We sat in the van and early looked about for any sign of Aliyah.
About 10 minutes later we saw Sasha's car pull in.
I couldn't get out of that van fast enough!
I hopped out and ran to his car, flung open the door and reached out for my girl!
There she was, as beautiful as ever in a nice, long black puff coat with a big ring of fur on the hood and wearing the tan flower hat I like so much.
Her big smile said it all.
I'm ready to do this Mama!
I'm ready to come home!
There were a few things in the seat and the floorboard that were between us but that had no bearing on her flying out of that seat and over those things into my arms!
What a joyous moment that was!
I was laughing as she made her way over those hurdles and into my arms.
Nothing was keeping us apart.
We've fought long and hard and this is the day it all becomes final.
They will be ours, we will be theirs.
Legally, officially, in every sense of the word.
Family.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Bryan's back!!!

Daddy's coming back!!!
HOORAY!!!
We were all so excited when the day finally came for Daddy to come back to Ukraine!
We spent the day cleaning...

And getting all prettied up...

Mommy, too: )


Adrian even let me fix his hair with all those pretty curls!!
So handsome! :)

Austin decided he wanted to get his hair done up too so...

He got to work...

Ayden's hair is so long we could do a Fohawk all the way to the back..

I'M SOOOOO EXCITED TO SEE MY DADDY!!!!!

Austin decided he might need some help since he couldn't exactly see himself in the mirror...

We lovingly referred to his creation as "the bird's nest"


A little water and some quick hands later..
We had this handsome look : )

I swear I was like a bride on her wedding day awaiting the time her prince would arrive.

I stared out the window and jumped to see if it was him everytime I heard someone coming.
It seemed to take forever!

I had a feast prepared...
Only, I forgot to take pictures of the rest when he got there.. LOL
So this is the the starter - yummy stuff..
We also had borsh and dumplings.. his favorite Ukrainian foods :)


I even went out in the snow to write a message.


He's here!!!!!!

Time for lovins!

They were so fast I couldn't capture all the hugs...

So, they posed for me :)

SO cute! :)

Ayden had to do a complete re-enactment :)

He even brought treats from Nana and Pop Pop! 

We are so happy for treats from home!!

Yup! Happy!

He loves me!!

He REALLY loves me!!

Oh, and of course you wanted to see what it was like when I saw him right??


I LOVE MY MAN!


 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A committment and a quarantine...

How about we start this post off getting to know me a little better?

For those of you who don't know me well, and even some of those that may think they do, here's a side of me that I don't like to show.
Although if you're my FB friend, you probably know b/c I post on your wall or comment on your status or share a funny video at midnight or later in the morning.

I have a habit.
A bad habit.
Of course, not all habits are bad, but this one is.
I enjoy late nights when everyone is in bed and I am free to blog, read, relax, watch TV, do school.. just do something for me.
While taking time out for myself is a good thing, WHEN I do that is key.
A late night for me means a grumpy early morning for me and the fam. 
So, I chose to change this habit the other day.

I decided to go to bed at a decent time and get up earlier than normal and make breakfast for my kiddos. 
I used to do this all the time and really  miss the rewards of doing so! 

I wanted to hold myself accountable on this so...

I left a note on the counter where they would see it when they got up.. just in case I was not up and down there yet.


The excitement from them when they saw it was amazing!

They were telling eachother over and over "Mommy's making breakfast!!"
I got down stairs and boy, we made a FEAST!

It took quite a while but we had all of their favorite things we could make in UA.
We had pancakes, fried taters, eggs, cheese, and sausage.

I TRULY enjoyed this time with my kids!

Here they are enjoying their BIG breakfast.  : )






I didn't post all of that to say, hey, look at me.. I did good.
I did it to show you that, we are all human.
We have our places we struggle and we fail.
I fail in this area most days.
Well, not anymore! :)
It was so worth it to listen to the conviction I felt in my heart and to do something about it!
I hope that will encourage some of you to do something different that will make a difference in your daily lives / families as well! :)

Switching scenes now..

This was our last visit with Aaron.
We arrive to the orphanage and it had been snowing all morning so there was enough to play with.
We got there and I went down the corridor to his classroom and was told he was outside with his groupa.
I got the kids from the lobby and we headed out to meet brother.

It was so neat to see the excitement on his face and the other kids as they shouted MISHA'S MAMA!!

I love it!
We played outside with his groupa for just a few minutes before they were all being hurried off to another area with the caretaker using her outside voice to tell them exactly what she wanted them to do, which was to get away from us.

Why??
What is wrong?
We are ok with them playing with us!
We love to spend time with our kids friends.
Let them play, it's ok!

 









I wasn't quite sure why they took the other kids away, but we stayed and played anyway.
Then another group of kids headed out to the area we were in and we thought they must have just been moving for the other groupa to come play in that area.
We decided it was a bit cold anyway and we'd rather play inside for the rest of our visit and warm up!

We headed inside and this is when it went haywire!
We headed in towards the little room where we usually have our visits and we were met by a caretaker who literally shoved me back and told Aaron to go to his class and for us to get out.
I was getting yelled at from every direction.
They were trying to take Aaron away and tell us to leave.
They were getting in my face and yelling and I had no clue what to do.
I called our facilitator and asked him to please find out what on earth was going on.
They were yelling over and over QUARANTINE.
Ok, quarantine, that hall is on quarantine, fine, we'll go upstairs or play here in the lobby.
That wasn't good enough.
They wanted us gone.
They tried to take Aaron down the hall and I asked them to wait and to talk to Sasha.
He talked to them and they said that he was sick.
Ummm, sick and outside in the freezing cold?!
Then they said that it was a virus of some sort that was going around the orphanage and they were on quarantine till Thursday and that we had to leave.
This didn't make sense.
If they were all sick, why on earth was EVERY SINGLE child outside playing in the snow?

I held on to Aaron until we could figure out what was going on and what to do.
Sasha said he'd call the director and find out where we could go and call back.
We were to be fine in the lobby for now..

So, I finally let him down and we decided we'd just sit there and have our visit if we had to.
Time was running out and I wasn't going to waste it arguing with them.

He was looking in the mirror at himself as though he'd never seen one before.

I pulled out the coloring books and some paint and he really enjoyed that..

For the (literally) one minute that he got to do it before they came and snatched him up and took him away despite my pleas.

I was so upset and confused.

I was informed that they did not know what was going on but that some kids had gotten sick so they quarantined the place and it is going on for one week.
They said we could visit with him OUTSIDE if we wanted to but not inside.
Umm, ok, he's "sick" and you want him outside!?
No thanks.
I don't want to make him sick!

After much questioning and pleading, they said they thought it was measels.

To avoid any issues with this situation, we decided it would be best if we just said our see you laters and headed out.  We'd already spent the majority of our visit on edge with them.. trying to communicate, and keeping them out of our faces.

I was devestated b/c I knew that this was now going to be our last visit until Gotcha Day since this quarantine was now in effect.
We had planned to come back with Bryan on Tuesday and now, we won't see him for a couple of weeks. :(

I told them I was not going to take him outside because if he is sick (which we know he wasn't) that will make it worse and of course, we have court on Wednesday, I don't need them saying I put him in danger by doing so.
So, we asked for a few minutes just to say our goodbyes and then we'd leave.

I had Sasha tell him why we had to leave and that we love him and will miss him like crazy!
He also was able to tell him that in about 2 weeks we will be back and then we will be able to take him out of there for good!  We will be together forever and be able to go HOME soon!


We had 5 minutes for everyone to say there bye's and to explain what was going on.

I don't think he's ever been on a phone either.
He had no idea what to do!
He just nodded and smiled continually.



I love this face!

It finally hit as the caretaker came walking across the snow covered path to get him.

We had to leave.
He was so sad.
I was crushed.

He wanted so bad to come with us.
We wanted him to come!

He just kept giving hugs and looking up at me with those big puppy dog eyes.

My  heart was breaking.

I hated this.

I held him, which he's only learned how to be held in the last couple of weeks (at first he just would be straight as a board but all smiles as he was feeling loved).  Now, he cradles around me and really cuddles in.

I told him I loved him and Papa loves him, we all do.
I told him we will miss him but we will be home soon!

I cried and cried and tried to smile through the tears as he was so upset..

This picture was the last we'll have until gotcha day..
It can't come soon enough.
He wants his family and his family wants him!!


Soon, buddy, soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Short and sweet!

Short, sweet, and to the point for this post..


We are OFFICIALLY the PROUD parents of Aliyah Elizabeth Horner and Aaron Michael Horner!! Thank you all for your prayers and support!!  Thank you LORD for showing yourself strong in our family!  :) :) :)


I promise to do my more detailed update with the entire scoop as soon as I can.

I have a lot of catching up to do, for now, it is get ready to fly HOME after a LONG journey in UA.

I will be back to get them after the 10 day wait.

Thank you all!!!


Ps.. Yes, we still need funds to fly everyone home and pay the final adoption fees. 

We'd love your help!

Tax Deductable Donations can be done through www.eliproject.org Be sure to mark them HORNER FAMILY ADOPTION.

Don't need the deduction?  You can also donate to the right of this post through paypal. (not tax deductable there)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Not sure what to title it...

We got to see Aaron the other day and it was so great.
There was another program at his orphanage so we had just a short time to play before going to it.
We took advantage of the photo op in front of the tree. :)
  


I snapped a few pics on the way back from the orphanage of the countryside.

This was a beautiful view in real life..

Look at the back, do you see the line of trees?
Notice they are all about the same height.


As we were driving on the way back from Aaron's orphanage, I saw lots of trees.
It was amazing to me how they were all so close in stature.
They were like soldiers lined up in a row.
Row after row, after row.
They stood tall.
Stood strong.
Stood TOGETHER.


It reminded me of how we are to be in our Christian lives.
We are to stand tall, strong and together with one another.
There is a saying that says that you are who you hang around.
Well, these trees that were strong and tall, they weren't on their own.
They were next to other tall, strong trees.
There was a tree along the way that had been uprooted.
It was all alone in on the side of the pasture.
It was on it's side.
Dead.
Uprooted.
Alone.

God reminded me that no matter how tall the tree is or how large and strong it may seem, it's the roots that matter.
If that tree's roots are not strong enough, deep enough and wide enough; it will fail.
That tree will not survive.
It will be uprooted and die.
Such is the same with our lives.
We must have our roots running deep.
We must KNOW who we are and where we belong.
We must trust our creator in his plans.
We must align ourselves with those of like minds and faith to help spur one another on to even greater faith and even greater things.
I know one thing for sure,
I do NOT want to be that uprooted tree!
I am going to make sure everyday that my roots are getting watered and plenty of SON shine!
I will do this by praying and reading my Bible everyday.
Not just to read it.
But to SOAK it up!
To take it in and take each life breathed scripture to heart and ask what can I do with this information to change my life to make a bigger, better impact on this world for Christ and my family?
And then, I will do it!
No more sitting by the wayside where strong winds may come and blow me over.
I want to be rooted in the Word and be surrounded by others who will help hold me up and keep me growing UP towards the woman of God that I am called to be!

I was in such awe of all the beautiful trees that surrounded me.
There were some tiny trees and some massive.
There were some that were beautiful and green, while others were barren and brown.
Still others were withering away.
Evergreen.
That's what I want to be.
I want to be alive and growing and producing new growth all year round!
The most healthy evergreens were not only green, they had bright yellow-greenish growth on their ends that was making them reach farther, grow wider and taller.
There's a lot to learn from God's creation.
So glad he took the time to show me this beautiful thing!


Ok, now onto the visit.
As I said, we had only a short time to play before the program.

If I haven't mentioned it before, 99% of our visits take place in a tiny room that is about 6'x6'.
It has 4 little beds in it and a table in the middle which takes up any and all "free space" there might have been in the room.
Now, let that process for a minute.
6 feet by 6 feet room.
4 children in this room to sleep at night.
The other thing is the lock.
There is a lock on the door that has a key that can lock it from the inside or the outside.
I have tried not to think much about this, but these doors are always locked.
We have to get them unlocked each time we have a visit.
I can't imagine how horrible it must be to be a little person who is living in this tiny room with 3 other little people and being locked in there every night.
No hugs.
No kisses.
No bedtime prayers.
No bedtime stories or talks.
No love.
No room.
Going to bed with no love and no family and no hope and hearing that key turn and the lock engage as you are put away for the night.
Put away.
It. breaks. my. heart.
I can't wait to bust these kids outta here!
My heart will forever be changed for all of the other kids left behind.
The ones who have no family that will even look at them because they are from overseas.
The ones who will never be tucked in at bed time.
The ones who wake up in the night with a bad dream and have no one to even cry out to for comfort.
The ones who wake up to pee in the middle of the night and cannot even leave their room to go so they urinate in the beds and roll over and go back to sleep.
Yes, this happens.
We've seen the pee pads.
We've been on the beds.
We've seen the locks.
We've spent time in the rooms.
I will never understand why.
I will never understand how people can justify that these children are useless.
I will never even begin to comprehend how these children are any less deserving of a family that loves them because they were born in a different country than America.
My. heart. breaks.

As we were taken to this room as we have been every other day, we were yelled at on the way.
We were instructed that it was not a room to play.
We were not to be loud laughing and playing.
No wrestling.
No pillow fights.
No loud laughing and tickling.
No being loud playing with bubbles.
Be quiet and sit still.
That is what we were told to do on our visit or we would not be allowed in this room any more.
I'm sorry, allowed in this room?
This is a priviledge?
You stick 2 adults, one teen and 4 little kids in a 6 by 6 room and complain about anything that they do?
Don't laugh?
Don't wrestle?
Don't be loud with bubbles?
Lord, help us.

We had a good time anyway.
We were not still and quiet by any stretch of the imagination.
But we didn't play bubbles or wrestle or pillow fight.
Since we only had a few minutes we mainly cuddled and colored.
I cannot wait till we can get him home!
We will SOOOO have pillow fights.
Our house will be FILLED with LOUD LAUGHTER!
That is the best sound in a home after all!!
We will blow lots of bubbles and we will wrestle and tickle and play!
We will eat yummy foods and we will tell funny stories.
We will cuddle, we will love, we will play.
We will read stories, play games and dance around as though no one is watching.
We will LIVE!

Here's what Ayden thought about those rules:




Cute boys!


The big brothers were working on translating things.
Yeah, we've been here that long.
Austin and I know MOST of the cyrillic alphabet and can translate just about anything that is an English word originally.
 Lou Lou being such a young lady!
She was having a snack :)
We made sure not to leave a single crumb behind.
We take snacks to every visit b/c he ALWAYS seems to be so HUNGRY.
He loves to see what Mommy brought today and chow down.


Here's all the boys:


Me and my little guys waiting for the performance to start.

 BIG SMILES!

ha ha- Crazy hair

When the performances are over, the people coming to do them (sometimes a church group or another orphanage) brings the kids a gift.
It is usually food of some sort.
Mostly candy.
Today, however, it was tissues, a bag STUFFED FULL of candy and an apple.

They even gave our kiddos some b/c they had extras.
In case you were wondering...
YES, I let him dig in!
He ate his apple and then had a piece of candy too.
This time we pulled the candy from Adrian's bag so that he wouldn't get in trouble if he gave his bag back with it already open and missing some.
Just a little while longer buddy and we won't have to worry about this any more!
I love you!
Can't wait to have you HOME!