We received our provisional approval from the US government last week and have the hard copy in hand now! We are waiting a few days for our file to be transferred to another government office and then we will be completing a visa application for our son, and from there, our documents will go through several more steps being sent between government offices and we’ll receive travel approval! We are in the home stretch now are just so excited to meet Rowan.
We also have the exciting news that we will be able to facetime with Rowan this Thursday evening. Our agency and the orphanage where he is have given us permission to be in contact with one of his nannies, and she has been sending us a lot of great pictures and information on Rowan (through our Chinese tutor of course!). Pray for our Thursday “meeting” with Rowan. We’re a bit nervous, of course, and aren’t expecting much more than to just smile and wave, but we pray it will be a good step in preparing Rowan to join our family!
We’ve also received official updates from the orphanage, and want to share our absolute favorite picture so far of our son. In everything we are hearing about him and in literally every picture, he is smiling so big and is described as a cheerful little boy. You can’t help but smile when you see his face! Of course, we’re already biased, but he’s pretty much the cutest little guy around! I have told my friends to just consider me 36 weeks pregnant at this point…all I can think about is going to meet our son. But, of course, work continues here! And not just regular work…summer work. My prayer is that my longing to bring my child home would transfer into deep compassion for the children we work with here, to love them and serve them the way I want Rowan’s nannies to be caring for him!
We received an email yesterday that our official letter approving us to be Rowan’s parents is on its way to our adoption agency! This is a HUGE step, and we are so thankful to be here! It still looks like we could travel at the end of August (latter 2 weeks, hopefully, coming back “home” in the very first few days of September), providing all the other paperwork goes through in the “average” timeframe or slightly faster! So, what’s next? We will sign the paper stating we accept Rowan, and then we will start our US immigration paperwork. We’ll need to get our approval from USCIS, then we wait for a letter from the National Visa Center, then we need something called our Article 5 (final approval that everything is done from the US Embassy. It will be delivered to CCCWA, China’s central authority. The Article 5 lets CCCWA know that we are approved by the US government to adopt our specific child and have appropriately jumped through every hoop and paid every fee the two governments could think of.) After this step CCCWA issues travel approval. Once we get that travel approval, we can make a consulate appointment in China for our visa interview with Rowan, make sure we have our visas lined up, and then we will know when we are actually traveling (so, in a nutshell, we won’t know the exact date of our travel until about 10 to 21 days before we go!). You can imagine, I’m sure, that this process is patience building. Basically, we’ll hurry up and submit paperwork, then wait, then submit more, then wait, etc. You can pray with us that everything proceeds smoothly. It sounds more overwhelming than it is. The steps are actually quite clearly defined and laid out for us. BUT…we are doing all of this in the midst of a super busy summer season for us here at the Ranch! Pray for patience and energy, and most importantly, pray for Rowan’s heart. We won’t be able to immediately come to Mexico with him, we’ll have to be in the US for a bit while we process his US passport, etc., which is more transition for our little guy! We’ll need creativity and wisdom as we walk through this with him as a family. But, we all know that God does work through our prayers. The fact that we are even here where we are today is a testimony to what God can do! Thank you all for your many prayers and love for our family! I’ll try to post a bit more in the coming weeks so that you know where we stand in this process!
If you’ve ever been playing in the ocean waves or gone boogie boarding or surfing you know the feeling…
The wave was bigger than you expected…it crashes over you…before you know it…all goes dark…you are pushed and pulled under…you toss and spin around…thinking about how long you can hold your breath you wonder which way is up…and then you are slammed into the sandy bottom knocking out the remaining air you have stored in your lungs…you wonder how long you can stay under…and then…all goes calm…you can see the surface…and you pop up to the surface for a life giving breath of air.
This has been our experience this past two months…
A wave bigger than we expected comes crashing toward us…we undergo a number of significant-unplanned changes in our Ranch Team. Hurrican Odile hits. We are thrown into crisis and disaster relief work. The regular ministries of the Ranch continue…retreats, kids club, bible studies, project management, a short term team, a training event for area youth leaders…and the list goes on…
But we are coming up for air…God is good and faithful and sustained us during this time…and we are getting the rest and nourishment we need.
We appreciated all your prayers, letters of support, and calls of encouragement during this time. It is a blessing to know that what is done here is not done of our own efforts but is truly a community effort. We thank you all for our support.
We’ll be in touch shortly with some pictures of our past few months.
Check out one of the “taller” speakers!
I (Pete) am flying out today to Mexico City to participate in the “Cumbre Nacional de Lideres de Jovenes” or the National Convention of Youth Leaders of Mexico. It’s going to be a great time as I will be able to connect up with an old friend and co-worker Scott Hill. I will also be meeting with 5 interns who live in Mexico City and who will be joining us this summer in our intership program. It will be a good time to meet them and their families personally. May, one of our Ranch staff, will also be coming with me and participating in the conference and meeting our new interns. …BUT here is the real kicker….check out the picture and see if you can recognize one of the workshop speakers…that’s right I have the opportunity to present a workshop at the conference…and I’ll be giving the workshop in Spanish! The theme is “Developing a spiritually transformative environment for your camps and retreats.” I am excited about this opportunity to share about something I am passionate about and for the ability to be able to do it Spanish. It has been a long-hard road in learning Spanish and I have much, much more to go but it is nice to feel confident enough (with quite a bit of preparation!) to be able to give a workshop. If you think about it pray for May and myself this weekend as we connect with youth workers all across Mexico as we seek to grow in our capacities as youth workers.
We had a great Christmas vacation with Pete’s entire family. It was the first time we had all been together in two years and although it was a short experience it was packed full of adventure. The girls made a cheer all on their own that went like this…”We are adventure girls. We never fear. We climb mountains. Yaaaa!!!” They certainly deserve the label of adventure girls. Here are some of our pics of our time together.
We are adventure girls!
Christmas morning. Thanks Mimi for the matching pjs!
Pete’s family behind the ranch.
Cousins sporting ranch swag!
Nothing says adventure like swimming with whale sharks…yes, we did!
A little taste of Christmas in our home.
Family Christmas pic.
I love my girls! 🙂 And…I love that they are wearing summer dresses in December (when this pic was taken). This picture is from our trip to La Paz. We had to stay a night in Mazatlan while we waited for the ferry. It was a fun little family adventure! Our girls are great travelers and we have fun with them on the road (most of the time…I am refraining from posting a picture of all 5 of us in our little cabin designed for 2 people on the ferry…yeah, the ferry ride…not going in my list of top 10 favorite things to do with little kids!).
In other random update news:
1. We ate fish tacos the other day, and when Pete came back from putting all the toppings on his tacos, I was telling the girls they needed to eat more of their chicken before they could play. Pete gave me a weird look. The girls LOVED their “chicken” tacos, actually. I don’t know when we’ll inform them that they’re actually eating fish tacos.
2. We visited DIF (the social workers) in Marquez de Leon on Monday! It went really well and I’m excited to hopefully start volunteering for them soon. They want to start a painting class for kids at the end of this month and said they could use my help with that. I want to get to know them and the people in Marquez….relationships are a priority and before I suggest anything at all we need to take the time to all get to know each other…although, they were also pretty excited about the chance to have some English classes soon!
3. I took the girls to a library program yesterday! It was so fun, and I met a lot of other women. We’re having a little party on Thursday, and the girls can’t wait to go back!
4. I’ve updated our prayer request page on this blog…and we’re working on our January newsletter…I know you can’t wait, lol! 🙂
5. Please keep us in your prayers. To think we were worried last week about filling our days/getting into ministry, lol! We need wisdom as we make decisions about what God wants us to be involved in, etc., and we’re also sooo excited to be here and meeting people and beginning our work on the Ranch in in Marquez.
Here are three more book reviews from books I finished this past week on break between language sessions.
Leadership is a great book exploring the issues of cross cultural leadership. I’ve been on the search for a book like this for some time and finally found a bit of what I was looking for. This book doesn’t just skim the surface of cross cultural issues like many books do but rather dives deeper into the philosophical, sociological, and theological issues surrounding the issues of leadership in a cross-cultural setting. I think anyone who is in a leadership position could benefit from this book whether they are serving “internationally” or not. The fact that our world is getting so much smaller and our culture so much more fractured into smaller sub cultures warrants this much needed topic. If you are in leadership today you will be in a cross-cultural situation more than once. Whether, ethnically, generationally, across social barriers, differing parts of the same country, differing professions, etc… This book can help.
It’s hard to argue with Barna and with facts. He certainly does his research and has a proven track record. With that said this is Barna’s interpretation of the spiritual landscape across the States today…in what Barna calls a Spiritual Revolution. Although I am certain many people will be dismayed by what Barna lays out in this book, I found it uplifting and encouraging. God is certainly still working but just not in the areas we traditionally think he is. If you are wondering whats going on with the next generation or where the Church is heading then I think you will find this book both challenging and helpful. I for one believe what he describes because I’ve seen it with my own eyes for the past 8 years working with youth in a church and now devoting the next segment of my life to what some may call a “revolutionary” new way of being the Church.
As an in-home counselor and youth pastor I worked with numerous kids you were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and now as a parent of one of those potentials I found this book extremely helpful and balanced. In the ADD/ADHD world opinions abound from parents, counselors, doctors, psychologists, and all the highly educated know-it-alls who post comments on message boards. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one!) This book is written from the middle of the road and gives a great holistic view of what ADHD actually is and how we as parents and educators can respond. It provides very practical tools and suggestions for parents about dietary concerns, medications, schooling, home discipline, and more. If you have a child who you think is on the ADD/ADHD spectrum or work with a child who is this book will certainly help point you in the right direction and help you be and sound more educated about the issue than most people talking on the airways. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one either!)
We are all finally here in Guadalajara! It was a crazy adventure for both of us in terms of travel: Pete’s road trip with his friend, Dan, went really well! They enjoyed the drive down Baja, the boat ride to the Mainland, and arrived without problems to Guadalajara. I (Emily) was delayed for 2 days in Dallas because of the tornadoes that hit the area. The girls, my parents, and I spent some time in “shelters” in the airport while the storms went through. (Shelters being bathrooms b/c there are no windows…). But God really used the delay to comfort me about a few things…the biggest being that my girls will be fine! The girls were great. We had 2 LONG (as in 16 + hour) days, and they didn’t complain. We also got to spend some time talking with the others waiting for the Guadalajara flight. Specifically I had some great conversations in Spanish with 2 women while our children played together. God was gently reminding me why we are moving, that kids don’t really need to talk in order to play, and that He wants us to share His name and life and joy no matter where we are…in Mexico, in the airport, in the grocery store…wherever.
Anyway…now we’re here. There is a lot to get used to and we’re looking forward to sharing our journey with you as you join us in prayer as we learn and grow so as to be more effective in ministry here, and ultimately in La Paz on the Ranch! Our first job this coming week is to continue to get settled before language school and all of our orientation activities begin.
Some praises and prayer requests as we come to mind in your prayers to our King.
1. We are so very thankful for the house God has provided for us here in Guadalajara for the next 7 months or so. We are close to a park where the girls can enjoy a lot of activities and we have some wonderful neighbors. There are also a lot of families who spend time at the park, so God has put us in a place where we can build quite a few relationships. We’ll get pictures up soon.
2. We have a lot of great memories of our last week with all of you, and your encouragement and support has really encouraged us! Thank you!
3. Please continue to pray for our adjustment. Pete will begin language school on April 30, and Emily will begin meeting with a language tutor and continue developing relationships in the neighborhood. (As a reminder, our first months here in Mexico are devoted to learning the language and culture so that we can be effective in ministry on the Ranch. (It’s like “boot camp” for you military folks…only hopefully no one yells at us, lol.)
4. We have already met some neighbors: Alicia, Laura, Esther. Please pray as we continue to get to know them. They have been a huge blessing to us as we have asked them many questions already in the 5 days we’ve been here. We pray that God will give us many opportunities to share why we are here, why we have the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
5. We have so much to learn about life here. Please pray for daily energy and strength!
We will post pictures as soon as we can. (We are using our co-workers house to borrow their internet and do this post. We will hopefully get internet in our house in a few days or so, we’ll see). We just wanted to give a quick update. We love you all. Thanks for your prayers and support!!
I spent 3 days this past week at a workshop in SC put on by the people of 3D Ministries.
It was a workshop geared at thinking about Church, discipleship, and creating missional communities…things that I like to think alot about. It was a great time of thinking and chatting about these topics and helped a ton to put into words alot of my feelings about the Church.
If you want your view of Church rocked watch this video… I would highly recommend it…seriously…carve out some time…turn off the TV and watch this instead…I promise it won’t be a waste of your time! And if you want to watch more you can catch more at their website HERE.
In addition to thinking about issues of discipleship and the Church it was also a great time of spiritual renewal… I went on the drive down frankly, scared out of my mind. We are no longer just hypothetically talking about going to Mexico…now we are actually making plans to do so. As a result I was contemplating all that we would be facing in the year ahead and I was pouring out my heart to God (as if he didn’t already know my heart and mind). I was letting him know that I didn’t think I was really up to the task….doubts and fears of inadequacies abounded…
Anyway, at the workshop in the midst of a learning community, God quieted my fears and spoke into my life in a number of ways. He brought a few people my way at the workshop who spoke words of encouragement and prayed over me. He brought clarity of thought to issues surrounding Church and discipleship. And He gave me a renewed sense of His Kingdom and our calling to be participants.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I would highly recommend anyone who is in the church world of leadership to attend one of their events if you ever get the chance.
And of course I picked up two great books pictured in this post!
Slugs and Bugs!
We were introduced this past month to these CDs and with all the driving we were doing…believe me when I tell you we listened to it more than you could possible know…Hours….and….hours!
We wanted to share our new family theme song (Ali calls it “my song”) that comes from this CD….
Click the link below to go to the slugs and bugs blog page where you can listen to the song…believe me its worth it! Oh…and make sure to turn your speakers up!
End Note: These are actually great CDs and won’t have you pulling your hair out like other kid CDs. Emily and I actually really enjoyed these CDs and found ourselves laughing out loud frequently.