Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's A Two Way Street

"It's an admirable thing you're doing."

"Oh, he will be SO blessed! He has no idea!"

Those words were spoken to me in the past day or two. Countless other sentiments like that have been shared with us over the past 8 months. Something inside me gets uncomfortable when I hear it, and I'll share more about that when I have more time. But, the overwhelming feeling I have when I hear those well-intentioned words is... "We're not rescuing him, he's rescuing us!" Or it could be that in some ways we're rescuing each other.

What is he rescuing me from? Among other things... from a life that's increasingly becoming more about "me" as my kids get older. From the temptation to not stretch myself or avoid effectively communicating with someone who speaks another language. From a hard heart. From complacency. From blending in and feeling comfortable doing so. From parenting within my "comfort zone." From being not as "fun" a homeschool teacher as I used to be. From avoiding grief (when I have a Savior Who modeled otherwise). He's rescuing me from missing out getting to know a huge part of God's heart. He's rescuing me from these and SO many other things.

I'm heading out the door this morning... but I just had to link this wonderful article written by a friend of ours who just joined the staff of World Orphans:

We Need The Orphan As Much As The Orphan Needs Us

It's a wonderful thing Minte's doing.

We will be SO blessed. We have no idea.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Closer Still

I FINALLY got a chance to sit at the computer just now, and couldn't wait to update and let those of you checking in know that, YES! They emailed (not DHL'd) our correct info to the Ethiopian Embassy late yesterday. Yey!!

So, that does it. We are booking our tickets to travel on the 7th, only two days later than the tickets we had to let go on Friday. We are so excited! Thank you SO much to all of you who have been praying about this with us.

I am so happy that this weekend will be Minte's next-to-last one without his family with him, and that next weekend we will be on our way. Of course, I'm learning to put "God-willing" in front of everything I say. It's all in His mighty hands and He is putting all of the pieces together in the way that will glorify Him the most.

I am thankful that it looks like one of my biggest prayers through all of this will be answered... that Minte will be with us before he turns 10 on September 22. In fact, I already booked his birthday party at one of those fun places where you jump around on all of the inflatables and slides. I thought he would think that's fun, and it's not heavily dependent on language. He'll definitely know he's being celebrated!

Today was "Kids' Clothes Day" according to my Grand Schedule And Supreme Plan. Well, we will now have "Kids' Clothes Day: The Sequel" on Friday because there are simply not enough hours in the day. But, we got some stuff for the party (Friday's category) yesterday and found some travel games/ entertainment items for the trip (which was one of my categories for next week), so we're ahead of the game in some areas. I'm simply amazed right now at God's provision for all of this... His provision of time, energy, resources, creativity... all of it. He is so faithful.

Again, thank you so much for praying!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Step Closer

We found out yesterday that the USCIS office here emailed our updated information to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire yesterday. Yey! We had to release our plane tickets on Friday, so we checked to see if they were still available. They were not. SO, we have tickets on hold, departing two days later (Sept. 7th.) We are hopeful and prayerful that we will find out in the next couple of days from the Visa Center that they have processed our information and have cabled/emailed it to Ethiopia. We don't want them to DHL it, if at all possible. They indicated that they could handle it either way, so we're trying to get them to just do the fastest thing. Because, until we know the information is in Addis Ababa, waiting for us, we just don't feel confident booking flights. SO, if you would, please pray that the info flies through the world-wide-interweb and lands where it should, SOON!

Meanwhile, I have divided my days up into "categories" of preparing for the trip so I don't stand around, wringing my hands wondering what I should be doing, and I know I have it all covered:

Yesterday was Educational Materials Day.
I'm taking some English Language materials to the kids there but have also been asked to do some teacher training at a school in another village while we're there, so I grabbed a few teacher materials as well as some supplemental materials for the school-aged kids. Educational Materials Day may occur next week, too. In fact, I'm sure it will. LOL

Today is Medicine Day. I am going to Walmart and buying every type of medicine for our trip, as well as get our travel prescriptions filled. I have a medicine bag perpetually packed for travel, but some of it is expired/depleted, so I am stocking back up. (Children's Tylenol, Pepto, first aid, etc.) One thing I also like to pack is powdered Gatorade. If someone gets a bug, you want to be able to re-hydrate and replace electrolytes quickly without the possibility of needing to be re-hydrated in a foreign hospital if at all possible. This really, really helped on our last trip to Ghana when Kyle was so sick.

Tomorrow is Kids' Clothes Day. The older two have clothing, but not enough for a 12-day trip, so tonight we are taking an inventory of jeans/t-shirts/jackets/etc. and grabbing whatever else we need tomorrow. Also, thanks to the wonderful gift cards from our shower, I can go buy Minte enough clothes for the trip. I packed him a bag back in July, but it's got summer shorts and shirts... and it's cooler there now! (The shorts will be put to good use when we return to Texas where we wear shorts through October...) I've got his "feet" in my wallet so I can buy him some shoes. Anyra traced around them while she was there and yesterday I cut them out and folded them up to take with me. Fun! (I made a copy of the original because I couldn't bear to cut the page where his actual feet had been!)

Thursday is Parents' Clothes Day, with a fun shopping trip with my Mom who has graciously offered to buy me some clothes for the trip and for life in general. I also need to buy a few things for Luke (like maybe some more of the awesome carpenter pants he always wears on mission trips so that he has ginormous pockets...).

Friday is Orphanage Party Day. We are preparing a party for the kids at the orphanage, and my older two have been planning a puppet show. We will put the finishing touches on the puppet show and go to the party/craft store to buy the rest of the supplies for the party. This will be fun!

Saturday is Finish the Boys' Room Day (involving a trip to Ikea! Yippee!!) We have put off buying an extra dresser and doing wall shelves for the boys' room, partly waiting for the whole thing to be final and partly due to busy-ness and procrastination. WELL, he is officially ours and this is potentially our last weekend at home, so it's time to head to Ikea for two new dressers and some shelves for the wall. And closet organizers. And whatever else I find.

SO there's my Week In Categories. (In the meantime we are doing school!)

Thanks for checking in on us and for your prayers. He's almost home!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just What This M.O.M. Needed

Several weeks ago I found another family (actually in our area of the state!) who is adopting a precious Minte. So, she and I have been emailing back and forth and have begun calling ourselves "M.O.M.'s" for "Mom of Minte." Isn't that fun? Please pray for her. She's over there now, by herself, having flown over with her oldest son to join up with Minte and wait for the baby to pass court. Her husband will be joining them soon. I wanted to mention her and link her blog so that you could join me in praying for them. Their Embassy appointment did not go well yesterday (which very well could've happened to us if our case worker hadn't caught the age discrepency in our file at the embassy).

On our end, we have been contacting the National Visa Office every day this week, and my proactive and awesome husband even contacted our congressman's office yesterday. Please pray that the visa office would send the appropriate addendum to the US Embassy in Ethiopia quickly. We cannot book airfare until we know this is taken care of. And it's time. It's time to bring him home.

So, here's what I got this week. So fun!!

These are his school books for third grade. It's hard to tell in the picture, but they are about the size of composition books, and each are FILLED with writing. Lots and lots of copying and writing. All subjects. All I could think as I thumbed through them was that if Kyle had to do that much copying for school his arm would fall right off. Wow.

Isn't this fun? This DOES look like a 3rd grader's notebook, for sure! Lots of doodles.

For the most part it is in Amharic, of course. I am impressed! It looks like he has neat writing. :)

Some of his work is in English. One word in particular caught my eye. Look at number 3 above. He had no idea when he wrote that word months ago that he had one. And she's getting there as quickly as she can!!!

We haven't had time to capture the video and edit it, but I just had to show you some glimpses of him finding out about us.

This is a little boy reacting to the news that he has a family. He is crying tears of joy and Tegist (the director of his orphanage) is lovingly wiping the tears from his eyes.

Here he is, seeing the faces of his new mom and dad for the first time. I have watched this over and over, trying to imagine what must have been going through his mind. This is amazing to me.

Here is his big smile after he had gone through the whole book of pictures and it was given to him. I imagine the news was still sinking in!

This is the part that makes me stop breathing. He looks right at the camera and says, in English, "Mom? Dad? Thank you so much."

Yes, it's time. It's time to bring him home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday's Menu and Mishmash

First of all, happy birthday to our precious niece, Gracie! Here she is with her Uncle Luke and cousin Bethany last week at a shower for her new cousin Minte. She looks so grown up! How quickly they go from the little girl on the left to the grown up girl on the right. Time flies!! Gracie, your smile and your spirit bless us all (and you can catch fish like nobody's business!) We can't wait to celebrate with you tonight at Peter Piper Pizza! We love you!

So, I haven't posted a menu or, well, anything at all in the past few weeks. As I always say, sometimes I'm too busy living it to blog about it! I haven't stopped menu planning, though, as it is always a sanity-saver for me.

This morning we are having these awesome waffles and homemade syrup. Yum!

Here's the rest of our week:

Monday: Pizza
Tuesday: baked potato soup, salad, bread
Wednesday: pan-fried tilapia, stir-fried vegetables, pasta, salad
Thursday: Bar-b-cups, green beans, corn
Friday: leftovers

For more menus and some GREAT organizing tips (perfect for this time of year!) visit Laura at


Okay, on with the "mishmash." I looked up that word earlier to make sure it was a word. Yes, I am a geek that way. Here's what it means: "n. A collection or mixture of unrelated things; a hodgepodge." That's exactly what this post is!

First of all, a Minte update.

Our case worker has been in Ethiopia for the past couple of weeks. Before she left, we put together another photo album and a folder of notes that we and some of our friends and family had written to Minte. I printed the notes and emails on colored paper and put them in page protectors, then decorated a folder with his name on it. Of course the notes will have to be translated or read to him, but we wanted him to know he has a whole group of folks here waiting for him! We also sent him some black soccer shorts and a bag of dum-dum suckers. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

A few days after she arrived, she sent us a couple of pictures and an email update:

"Most importantly, Minte is doing GREAT! Is so excited about ya'll coming. He has watched your dvd over and over again. He sends his love and is very interested in getting to know you. I have asked him the questions you had for him on video. BTW he likes to be called Minte. What a wonderful kid! He is a natural leader. All the children look up to him, even the babies. He is very good with the kids and is a good example for the children. He is silly, like we thought but can be serious when necessary. He loves history. He was so excited about the picture/letter book you sent and his shorts and he made sure to share his candy with everyone. You are very blessed! He can't wait to meet Bethany and Kyle."

Just LOOK at this picture! I LOVE IT!!!

I love seeing him holding what we sent him. I have pictures of him, and pictures of the stuff, and there are he and the stuff together! (Maybe that's weird, but I get a kick out of that.) I also think it is SO cool to see him holding a picture of us holding a picture of him! (The picture in the photo is here.) And, he looks so grown up. Oh my goodness!

And here is that fabulous smile I have come to love. SO fun.

Our caseworker is back this week, and she has the video of him finding out about us, as well as a video of him answering a whole page of questions I sent. We are SOOO ready to meet with her and get those videos!! Those will be gold to us! She also has his clothing sizes (I asked her to trace his feet on paper so I can cut around them and fit them into shoes to take to him) as well as his school books and report card. I am beyond excited to get all of that this week... I'll feel that much closer to him!

We had an itinerary reserved to travel on the 29th, but there's a small glitch with one of our papers at the US Embassy, so until that is resolved we did not book it. We had to let that itinerary go on Friday, so our next reservation is to leave on Sept. 5th. Please pray that the matter at the embassy is resolved and we can have a Sept. 9th embassy appointment! (For those of you who speak "international adoption", the glitch is that our 171 still reflects that we are adopting a child up to 5 years of age, they need the addendum that states that he is over 5. We don't have to be "re-approved" or submit a new 171, they just need to update the one we have. And they can do that electronically. If the immigration office here checks their email. Because you can't talk to them in person about it. No sirree.) SO, we've gone from 4 inches of papers away, to one paper away, to an email away. We're still getting closer and God is sovereign over it ALL.


We recently went to dinner at a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant with two other couples who are adopting from Ethiopia through our agency. It was so much fun! A. had made the most beautiful Ethiopia-shaped cookies for each of us (including all 3 of our children!) using cookie cutters that she got here. I forgot to take a picture before we ate ours. Luke and I shared one, and Bethany and Kyle shared one. The other 3 are in the freezer for the kids to share when Minte gets here. (That'll be an even better picture!)

These two couples are so precious to us, and we feel so blessed to be walking this road together.


Last week some dear friends gave us a "shower" for Minte. It was so much fun! So many generous family and friends gave us gift cards so that we can buy some clothing and some of the other things he needs. We are taking some things with us, but I look forward to taking him shopping sometime after he gets home and letting him choose what he likes to wear. I was looking at a picture of him recently in which he was wearing a donated "Grand Ole Opry" shirt and bright pink flip-flops, thinking that I bet he's never really chosen what *he* likes. He's always been given clothes (which is a blessing) but by age 10, certainly he has preferences. I can't wait to stand in Target with him and watch him decide which jacket or pants he wants. So, thank you to all of our friends who gave us gift cards and will be part of that day for him.

Isn't this fun? It's the Ethiopian flag made out of cupcakes! And and star made out of M & M's... "M" for "Minte" of course.

They had a big basket of popcorn from a wonderful gourmet popcorn shop in town. Someone told them that popcorn is popular in Ethiopia, and it must be because there was a recipe for spiced popcorn in the "Foods of Ethiopia" book I recently ordered. I have begun buying things that have the word "family" on it... picture frames, wooden signs, etc. because I want that to be one of the first English words he learns. I loved how Kristin used this as a centerpiece. It was very meaningful to me.

Everyone brought a photo of their family and a note to go in a book for him. Kristin had printed out the email update (from above) and framed it so everyone could read how he is doing. She also decoupaged a couple of photos of him onto canvases, and they perfectly match our decor in our house. What a treasure!

Many precious people came, and it was so moving to see so many people come who are excited to meet Minte. Luke made a wonderful video of him that played throughout the party, so everyone could see him, watching him sing and play with his friends. I would post pictures of the people, but in every one of them either my mouth is open or my eyes are closed. (Maybe that's vain, but hey... this is my blog, LOL.) I thought we got a picture with the hostesses, two of my very favorite people in this world, but it must have been on someone else's camera. **(Edit: Here it is!)

It was a very special day that meant the world to our family. Thank you to all of you who were there!


The week before that we had my brother and his family staying with us. We had such a fun visit! They have three precious kiddos and we had fun going to Chuck E Cheese, Hawaiian Falls, blowing bubbles, making snow cones, playing with the toys, and laughing and LOTS of eating. They recently moved out of the area, so this was the first time we had a "visit" where they stayed for a few nights.

Helen Montellin

Kyle and Thomas in the tube at Chuck E Cheese

Bethany making snowcones for everyone

Enjoying snow cones and time together!

It was a blast! We have decided to make this an annual event!


Last but not least in this Monday Mishmash... how about those Olympics??? Wow! We have had so much fun watching them, especially the gymnastics!

This banner is hanging above our TV right now. It's from China and it's what they would wave when the torch came by. Bethany brought it home from China a few weeks ago because we are Olympic NUTS around here. (That actual banner was waving as the actual Olympic torch went by on the actual street where Bethany actually stood about a week later. A brush with greatness.) The kids and I even have the Olympic music on the iPod we listen to in the car, and listen to it even in non-Olympic years. Did I mention that we LOVE the Olympics?? We will be sad when they're over, but at least we'll get to bed at a decent hour!

Well, if you've hung in here for this entire post, thank you! I can't believe I haven't posted all month long, but I've not been on the computer as much. SO much to do. And it's all wonderful.

God has shown me that He is a God of preparation. There are so many scriptures with the word "prepare" in them. I have found that as I prepare... meals, clothing, schoolwork for the year, Awana, everything for Minte's arrival, learning some Amharic words and phrases... He has been broadening the path under my feet and enabling me to do it. He has actually seemed to multiply my time and make it enough, IF I'm careful to be doing what I know I need to do. Which most days involves less time on the computer, at least for now. I feel like so much of what I'm trying to do is over my head, but I remind myself that it's ALL under His feet.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our sweet son and for our upcoming union with him. (I almost typed "reunion" because it feels like we've been with him before!) I'll post more about him after our meeting with our case worker this week. Yey!

Have a great week!