2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
Saturday May 1, 2010
Today, we praise God. We praise Him for creating the shining stars and the angels (both high and low) who have stood by our sides, lit up our world, and surrounded us and lifted us up from the very beginning of our adoption journey.
Our little family of six is home, safe and sound. Our little Serbian superstar is officially an American. Well, we have to wait for USCIS to send her citizenship certificate, but other than that formality, she is an American.
We spent all of Thursday afternoon at the US embassy. We traveled back to our apartment that night with no visa and no idea who, if any of us, would be traveling home on Friday. Our flights were booked through Golden Rule Travel about five hours before we left for Serbia, on April 12th. We had planned for months to fly space-A on a military flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. We were planning to travel from Frankfurt to Belgrade on a train. It was going to be a grand European adventure. In hindsight, it was probably not a wise plan, but you know, hindsight is always 20/20. For the past two months, we checked the flight schedules for both Andrews and Dover Air Base and both had almost daily flights to Germany. The weekend before the 13th, that changed. The nuclear summit was taking place, and all of the military flights were grounded. We were packed and ready to go by noon on Monday, we were beginning to panic a little about how we were going to make our ministry appointment in Belgrade on Wednesday. We had already come to terms with the fact that there would be no great adventure by train. The flights from Frankfurt or Munich to Belgrade were almost as much as the flights we were finding from DC to Belgrade. Around 1pm on the 12th, we sent an email to Golden Rule. They provide travel agent services for humanitarian purposes. Within minutes, a dear angel had booked flights for all six of us, for less than $5000, with changeable tickets, one stop each way, and no long layovers. For this man, I praise God!
We were told by USCIS that everything was taken care of with our daughter’s visa approval, the week before we left. We had a hard-copy of the approval with us, along with copies of all of the documents that were submitted in order for us to receive it. After our third visit with our daughter, on Friday April 16th, we rushed back to Belgrade, in order to go to the US embassy before the closed for the weekend. We learned that all was not okay and that the lovely lady at USCIS had never sent our approval to the National Visa Center.
So…on Thursday, April 29th, the day before we were supposed to fly home, we packed our bags and went to bed, with no visa. Golden Rule is only open during business hours, central time. That meant, that if we arrived at the embassy on Friday morning and still had no visa, they would not be open for us to call and change our reservations. When we fell asleep on Thursday night, it was with total faith that God would provide. We had no alternative. God knew that we had no money to buy new tickets or move to a hotel and He knew what time we were scheduled to leave.
Earlier in the week, we asked for help from our local representatives and our state senators. We received no response from any of them. Our associate pastor, is also a congressional attorney for a representative from Kansas. I don’t know that we will ever know what all was done in order for our paperwork to be sent to the embassy in Belgrade. We do know that when our borrowed cell phone rang on Friday morning at 8:15am Serbia time, we received the best news we could have possibly received. For us, it was a miracle. Once again, God delivered our requests at the 11th hour. Thank you God! For our dear friend Matt, and for those in his office who fought for us, we praise God!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
During our two and half weeks in Serbia, we often felt like we were swimming in darkness. Everything just seemed much bigger than the people involved. I cannot fully explain the spiritual battle we were (and are) in. There are many things that took place while we were away and that we continue to witness in our child that I do not feel free to blog about. I do feel free to tell you that we crave your prayers! In the midst of the darkness, what we experienced over and over again, was the power of prayer. There were moments when all of us were completely overwhelmed and when I could look around and see each of us swimming in our own little cesspool. Chad and I were each dealing with our own battles, which made it really hard to reach down and pull our kids up from the stuff that they were dealing with. We watched so many of those moments transition, sometimes instantly, to moments of peace and joy. That is the power of prayer! Your prayers put shields around us.
We have dreaded our trip home. We have not seen our daughter be still for more than about five minutes, unless she is sleeping. Most of our outings have included episodes of complete hysterics with her biting, punching , scratching, pulling our hair, pinching, kicking or throwing objects at us. I would love to say that those episodes were in anger, fear or frustration over the sudden change or lack of communication, but that is not always the case. She often has episodes that are spontaneous and unprovoked and most of the time, her outbursts are accompanied by laughter. And….she screams. A lot. Some of you may remember our episode with the fisher cats near our house. They make the most awful noise and they seem to be able to screech for two or three minutes without taking a breath. Our daughter does a great fisher cat imitation. Hence the worry about our flight home. I have a history of being “anti-meds”, when it comes to my children. That being said, I had no problem asking for either anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives for my new daughter in order to get her home. We have already accepted that she is going to need some detox, so a couple of doses of ativan or xanax added to the mix of junk in her body, seemed relatively harmless. Our requests were not granted and we boarded our plane in Belgrade, at 1 in the afternoon (not even close to bed-time), armed with nothing more than our brute strength, dramamine, benadryl, and your prayers. We only had a forty minute connection in Munich and we did not want her to be sleepy, when we would be running through an airport, so we did not give her anything before we left. Her very first trip on an “aviona” was wonderful. It was only a one hour flight, but she was very excited, and she did great. She even ran cooperatively to catch our next flight. The flight from Munich was nine hours long and we were leaving at 3 in the afternoon. Once again, it was nowhere near her bedtime and we had no idea, how we would entertain her. For the first flight, she sat by the window and clapped and squealed over all of the things she could see (in between visits to the very interesting bathroom). For the second flight, we were in the center section of an airbus. This, in itself, was a miracle. When our angel at Golden Rule booked our flights, the trip from Munich to DC was pretty full and he had to put us in seats all over the plane. When we walked up to the counter in Belgrade, the agent was able to find six seats that were all together. We had three seats on one row and three seats on the next row and the only empty seat that I could see around us, happened to be right behind our daughter. Praise God! She napped for forty-five minutes. That’s it. That means that she was awake for the other eight hours and fifteen minutes. She had her own screen on the seat-back in front of her and a great selection of movies, cartoons and music. Unfortunately, none of this was available in Serbian and she had absolutely zero interest in hearing it in English. On my second or third attempt to put her headphones on, she pulled them off, leaned down, aimed, and hit the target on the temple of the gentleman to my left. So much for the in-flight entertainment. She did have a couple of ‘episodes’ and I lost a fair amount of hair to her little fists, but I would estimate that at least five hours of the flight were uneventful. She rocked and sang to herself and on occasion, she even asked me to sing to her. Progress! Chad and I remarked several times, that we could feel the power of prayer around us. There is no other explanation for how smoothly our trip went. We arrived at Dulles, eleven and a half hours after we left Belgrade, tired, but with no doubt that we are walking in God’s will and without having to put our daughter in restraints or a muzzle to make the journey. 😉 For each of you that has lifted us up in prayer, we praise God!
Last weekend, one week before we were scheduled to return home, our church family and friends, gathered at our home. They cleaned our house, both physically and spiritually. They prayed in and over our home. Those same angels stocked our pantry and refrigerator. They made posters and planted gifts in our home for each member of the family. They met us at the airport, helped us get our luggage home, and brought over the dinner that we have craved for the past three weeks. They also scheduled meals for our family for the weeks to come. I can not put into words how big this is. I have complained about the house we live in on more than one occasion, but when we walked in the door last night, all I saw was the presence of God. He put angels in our lives when we first moved here and he continues to add to that list of angels on a pretty regular basis. He has used those angels to bring healing and blessings beyond measure. For each of you (and you know who you are), we praise God!
Along this journey, we have had unexpected glitches and many expenses. Our adoption budget grew and grew and every single time that we needed additional resources, God used his angels to provide. Some of those angels we know well, some barely at all, and others have been completely anonymous. Our daughter needed us. She needed an opportunity to be set free and to excel. God has a plan for her and He used each of you in the plan to get her home. We look forward to the day when she will praise God with us for you. Until that day comes, for each of you who have helped her become our child, we praise God!
One of our many angels sent me this verse today for Sofija (still not certain about her name):
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He
will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His
love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
I claim this! I cannot explain how I have so much love for a child I just met and who has tried with all her might to push me away. God allowed me to see her as my child. He gave me a mother’s love for her. He has already rescued her. He will take great delight in the person she is called to become. He will quiet her with His amazing unconditional love. And even if she does not allow her Mama or her Tata to sing to her, Her real father will sing as He rejoices over her. That Mama and Tata that God gave her…will continue to praise Him for all of His angels.