Friday, September 9, 2011

a different "them"

caution: reading this may be hazardous to your spiritual well-being.

I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the ripe age of 21...and I have never doubted my salvation. I have known from that day on the realness of God and that He had a special plan for my life and our family.  But I sit here today, in all my honesty, doubting God's plan.

A sharp knife cut through my heart yesterday afternoon as I read this email from a Ukrainian lawyer. "Masha is in a type of foster care where IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO ADOPT AT ALL." (yes it was all capitalized) It didn't matter that the foster mother gave us permission and support. That was irrelevant. The foster mom would have to appeal to the Inspector for her to return to an orphanage to be adoptable...and that just never happens.

Then there was something said about this law and that law, then another bomb shell. Yan (the boy) was adopted by a Ukrainian family several days ago and they will pick him from the orphanage in a few days. (Ukrainian residents can adopt very quickly, usually in just a few weeks. Yan had been there for 3 years with no outside interest when we inquired.)

Wailing. That's all I could do. Literally crying out to God on my bed... why was this happening?

This was His idea. We were simply following through with what He wanted us to do...and now this. I didn't ask for this heartache...neither did Sam or any of our children. Didn't I just post 2 days earlier God's goodness in how this was all coming together?

I fell asleep with a tremendous headache, clutching the Bible to my chest. This was as close to God as I could get. I am still in the depths of grief, along with my family, as we mourn the loss of 2 children we thought would be ours. We looked forward to teaching them how to swim, how to speak Engish, what it means to have more than 3 sets of clothes. To be a family of seven.

What about all the new foods we couldn't wait for them to try? The prayers and bedtime stories we would read, the treasured Christmas mornings?  But most of all, teaching them to follow Jesus.

Yes, I realize there are millions of orphans out there who also need a home...but these were the two we had already given our hearts to. Did God change His mind? Did we not hear him correctly? all 5 of us?

Not sure what the answer is, but I do know in my head that God is good, true, loving,real and all-knowing. I'm patiently waiting now for it to travel to my heart and alleviate my 'doubting thomas' symptoms. Probably the sooner the better since the calendar is not going backwards and raising young children in our 50's might not be the best for those little ones.

I realize there are many Bible verses that speak to our pain, many song lyrics I could post. Pain has to be walked through...there is no going around it easily. Please join us in praying that Yan and Masha would one day make the decision to follow Christ... then we can spend eternity with them. For our hearts not to be hardened because of what's happened, but rather they would be open to whomever God does have for us in the future.

In choosing the name for this blog, all the titles I wanted were already taken. "Pray them home" really came from a desire to do just that...pray for Masha and Yan to come home to be with us. Now, it's a different "them."


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

who needs sleep?

Our feet touched American soil again on August 9. Again, the last flight was a blur because of travel exhaustion. When I'd least expect it...the tears would well up and the sobs would start...uncontrollably. It was literally as if we had left some of our children behind. Even though Yan and Masha don't speak English, I whispered in their ears that we'd be back for them. If God wanted to translate my message into Russian, that was up to Him. But this is how confident we were in God's calling.

None of us had ever experienced jet lag, so waking up randomly at 3 in the morning made it difficult to get a good night's sleep. This went on for a solid week...and so did the tears. 

As a family, we were mourning the loss of special relationships we had made with the children and adults, yet excited for what God would accomplish in our future. Happy, sad. Happy, sad. This still goes on...

Being that it's God's world and He knows everything and everyone, it just so happens that the lady Samantha works for has a friend who has adopted from Ukraine. Multiple times. She also has a non-profit organization that helps others do the same. We are now 'the others.'

We got in touch with her quickly and the process began. First, we would need an International Home Study and God gave us an affordable, godly woman to do this. 

Adoption is likened to a roller coaster, and our first dip came two weeks ago on Wednesday evening, 2 days before our Home Study. Just before church was to begin, I received a disheartening phone call...Masha was not adoptable. What? How could this be? We pursued her based on the premise we were told she was. How was I going to break this news to the rest of the family... this was a blow to our hearts. 

My family tends to have more faith than me and this news didn't phase them all too much. Confidence in God's plan was still strong and we were simply going to have to put up a fight. The enemy would not win! Sarah's text to me one night..."Mom, i still don't feel any different about Masha. I know we are supposed to adopt her. The Enemy wants to mess this up. She's my little sister, I just know it Mom. I can't stop thinking about her...we can not give up on her." There I go again...the tear ducts are getting a workout. 

Without going into details (which would require a book...a blog is all the time i got) we were told that our only option was to develop a relationship with Masha through snail mail and possibly the internet. Maybe one day the family would change their minds... 

Then it happened. 10:01 pm. We had just turned the lamps off and were going to sleep when Sam's cell phone beeped. Someone was attempting to Skype this time of night? 
"Good Morning Sam! My name is Elena. I am mother of Masha. She talked a lot about how much attention your family paid to her. Many thanks for warmth that you gave her. May God give you and your family health. Sincerely, Elena." 

We slapped each other just to see if we by chance were in the same dream!  just kidding. 
The adrenaline began doing it's job and we quickly responded to Elena with greetings and questions. To spare you 4 pages of conversation notes, I will paraphrase...

She asked if we were interested in adopting Masha. She has loved Masha for nearly 3 years, but she's had time to think and talk and she supports our desire to adopt Masha. It was Masha's decision and she wants us for parents!  Woah. 

Immediately, we got our girls on speaker phones so they could experience this in real time. They were squealing with excitement! Johnny was grunting...jk. We were all transported into this miracle taking place before our eyes on the computer screen. Thank you Jesus. Prayer does work and in our 'fight' of faith, You are proving to be faithful. 

Suffice it to say, who needs sleep? I was up til nearly 4 am working on the first post of this blog. Whenever God is involved, it's always newsworthy. Folks, this is proving to be quite a story God is writing...I'm simply the typist. 

Trish                                                  Masha (8)   and Yan (6)

33 hours

The Summer of 2011 began like most others, hot and humid, with everyday already planned out. Our family had been asked to travel to Ukraine to work at the Hope Center, a camp put on for orphans from around the area. After going back and forth on our decision 3 times, we finally decided to take the plunge and go! Boy, were WE in for a life change!

It had been a dream of mine for the last couple of years that before all our children graduated, our family would take a mission trip to another part of the world, so God could show them  just how fortunate they were! Not necessarily to a third world country, but just somewhere that they could all realize they had it good here in Oklahoma. Besides, I still wanted indoor plumbing and food I could recognize. There was no need to go completely overboard.

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at noon, our family boarded the first of four planes (plus a 3 hr bus ride) bound for Ukraine, along with 11 others on our team. We had no idea what awaited us or how our lives would be forever changed.

Exhaustion got the better of us and we don't even remember the last plane ride. All 16 of us then hopped on a bus, loaded our luggage and gulped down McDonald's double-cheeseburgers, french fries and coca-cola. It was also my first introduction to a squatty potty. Gross...but necessary. During the bus ride, I wasn't sure we'd make it out alive. But we did, and we're alive to tell about it.

Thirty-three hours after leaving OKC, we arrived at the Hope Center on Thursday. It didn't take us long to fall asleep and we woke up to scrumptious breakfast...Ukraine style. It was like a scene out of a movie as we all sat outside on a long porch, feeling the breeze and sunshine down on us. We were 8 hours ahead of our time zone and still a bit groggy from all the traveling.

We spent the day preparing for the children's arrival. The balloons and bubbles were ready, as well as chalk, crafts, bracelets and face paint. This would prove to be a group of children we would never forget!

There were 4 wards where the children slept, and most of us hung around with Ward 4, the youngest of all the kiddos. We enjoyed playing and getting to know them all, but by the end of the week, it was clear there were two kids in particular that we each bonded with...Masha (8) and Yan (6).

Masha never left Sam's side...literally. She clung to him and was by his side nearly every waking moment. They danced, sang, crafted and even swam together in the Black Sea. Yan was more hesitant around females, but took right to Sam and Johnny. He would often be found alone, entertaining himself with a puzzle or some small toy. His face lit UP when Kyle and Johnny each presented him with a Hot Wheels car! It was like Christmas morning!

We all dreaded leaving morning...the good-byes would be emotionally draining. Not to mention how dehydrated we were from the loss of tears. It hurt so bad, knowing some of these children we'd never see again. But spending the last 9 days loving them was the greatest thing we have ever done. Somehow, the joy of that was supposed to override the pain of good-bye.

That night, we were all treated to a special meal prepared by the camp directors to celebrate a wonderful week that God had given us. After the group sharing time, our family gathered outside near the cross, ironically where a statue of Stalin used to stand, to share how this trip had impacted each of us and what we were all thinking and feeling. We circled in prayer, all in agreement that we didn't come in search of anyone to adopt, but that two children had singled our family out. Now, it was up to us to pursue these children as God pursued us.

Before July 27, I didn't even know Ukraine existed. Now, it's all we think about. We're obsessed.