Sunday, December 30, 2007

sierra leone 07

Here is the montage with pictures from our trip to Sierra Leone to meet the kids.
This song was part of my prayer before, during, and after. I was so scared about having to leave them...so scared about the uncertainty of the future. But I so wanted to breathe in the whole experience...to etch it on my heart forever.

We didn't want to miss the miracle right in front of us...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

heartbeat

I totally stole this idea from another blog.

But I had to make it my own.

So I made a video for all my blogger/mommy friends.

ALL of you have impacted my life this year in some way. All of your photos were used WITHOUT permission. :-) They were mostly lifted off of your blogs...which have been a daily challenge and encouragement to me as we make our way through the trenches of motherhood. Obviously, I have new found respect and many new friends who are adoptive mothers. The first few seconds of the video chronicle the birth of a mother...whether it be in the delivery room or with a referral phone call. At that moment, the world starts to change. A mother holding profound power and influence in her hands. And you all do it with so much grace and strength and endurance. I am so grateful our paths have crossed through the wonders of the internet and otherwise. You give me strength on days when I don't think I can pick up one more lego, fill out one more form, make one more sandwich or deal with one more toddler melt-down. You likely have no idea how each of you has influenced me...how grateful I am for you...

(I lifted as many pics as I could--filling in with my family as needed. Some of your blogs would not let me...so many of you are not seen here, but still ever present in your impact.)

One heartbeat at a time, girls. You are changing the world...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

mail.

You would of thought it was the real Santa Claus at our house the way I squeeled when the FedEx man rang the doorbell.   Court decree in my hand, I600 goes to the Department of Homeland Security Immigration office on Monday.

I know we are talking a matter of days here.  But not until you have a child on the other side of the world do you realize how long one day really is.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the missing link.

“The medical community put forth a valiant effort to end AIDS but has yet to eradicate the virus. So why do I even have it {the end of HIV} as a goal? Because I believe that when the missing link–the church of Jesus Christ–rises from its slumber, awakens to the magnitude of the problem, acknowledges its sinful absence or puny efforts (at least in the West), repents of neglecting those God is passionate about, and rallies it’s best attention, effort, and compassion, HIV/AIDS can be a disease that used to plague our world.” (Kay Warren)

I’m afraid the Church is the missing link in a number of causes–not the least of which is the fight against HIV. The plight of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the diseased, the handicap–our neglect, my neglect, of them is nothing short of sin.

I overheard some people chatting about how it’s the ‘trendy’ thing now for churches and Christians to be all compassionate and care for ‘the least of these.’ They said we have swung way to an extreme in reaction to our absence in the past. It was one of those times where I almost jumped out of my skin. Is it possible to be too compassionate? Is it possible to be extreme in our love and effort on behalf of the forgotten? I don’t have to be a Bible scholar to figure out how important it was to God. And if it is ‘trendy’–so be it. And thank God that he opened our eyes. Why must we always have excuses? When Christians make arguments like this it simply justifies our distance. It makes it acceptable to keep our distance from pain and suffering. It makes it acceptable to guard our ‘comfort’ and ’safety.’ All in the name of not swinging too far with a trend.

Swung too far in love and compassion?

I don’t think it’s possible.

it's here.

paperwork in in the US. it is on it's way to me in Iowa from my agency in Colorado. I will file the 1600 before Christmas.
Things are moving again...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

good.

It’s official. My computer’s harddrive is crashing. Which is not good. But since we are only focusing on happy things today–it’s still under warranty. Meaning a little inconveniece and some seperation anxiety (me and my computer are tiny bit co-dependant), but in the end it will be fixed and it won’t cost me anything.


And we are closing on our house on Friday! That is huge! We will be paying for it for years, but happy things–it sold! In the middle of winter! And we can finally hang curtains at our new house. (i refused to do that until the old house sold). Yeah! Many thanks to the realtor and family that kept us afloat this past year.


In all seriousness, I have had a stranger and an old friend come into my life in the last couple days to provide tremendous support and strength in the adoption. I am always amazed at the people God allows to cross my path and the blessing that they provide. Honestly, we have moments of saddness and frustration when people we expected to join us in this journey have chosen not to. It has been a lesson in grace and constant checking of our hearts to ensure we are desiring only the approval of God. But more than that, we have been so surprised at the complete strangers and the distant and old friends who have risen and provided doses of bravery and strong, unashamed support. We are simply humbled and so grateful. It has carried us through days when we are extremely weary and questioning everything. And we have watched God provide in the most unlikely of ways. And we thank you. I hope you all know who you are

Friday, December 14, 2007

update

We are at a complete standstill. Our paperwork is somewhere in the mail between Sierra Leone and here from what I understand. Once it arrives, I can send in our Immigration Visa forms and things can get rolling. But without it, nothing is happening. Ugh. I have been pretty tense and somber. I at least want things moving...moving in the direction of bringing Zeke and Kora home. I think about them constantly. Trying to remember what they felt like in my arms.

I've said it before--we have to constantly remind ourselves that the process is much the aim. During standstills, God is still moving. And I can still feel God's gentle and sometimes firm hand refining my heart so I can be ready. Ready in the best way to be mother to these broken children. My heart aches for the loss they have already endured. Sometimes I think it is too painful to imagine what they still will have to go through...it would just be easier to look the other way. To turn the channel. But I can't. We made that decision last year when we began this journey. We were done looking away. From now on, we are facing suffering head on with our eyes wide open. And we discovered that when we feel our hearts ache it is "pain that originated in the heart of God, not in mine."

Warren goes on to say this about the all too familiar feeling, "I was inadvertently cheating myself out of the consolation and comfort available to me through sharing in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus."

Ours is really the tiniest, tiniest glimpse. Yet I am learning that I am not alone. It's His heart that is breaking...it comes from Him and is made endurable and redeemable through Him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

She Smiles.

It's nothing spectacular.  But you can see her smile and it is some of the little video we have.  And it makes me happy.  So here is Kora...

watch here

Friday, December 7, 2007

memories.


Kora is throwing a little fit...refusing to look at the camera. Zeke is just going with whatever...
This is Mary.  She is married to the Pastor and together they run the orphanage, school and growing church.   I loved her.  She is one of those people who I genuinely felt like would be a dear friend if we lived close.
And another one of our twins...as opposite as can be.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

practicing...

I missed Zeke and Kora a lot this week-end. I think we were flying on a high for several days after getting the chance to meet them, and hug them, and fall in love with Sierra Leone. But the reality that they are not here and won't be for a while is starting to sink in. And I just miss them.

But Quincy is getting ready for them. We overheard him several times in the last couple days when he is playing by himself. He talks to them and says things like, "OK, Zeke you hold this. Kora you stand here and I will be right back." ect. ect.

I have a feeling he will have days in the future when he misses the 'pretend' Zeke and Kora--who listened to everything he said and didn't touch his cars. But he is practicing nonetheless. Practicing to be a big brother...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

now what?

The next step in the adoption process: I have one more form to fill out. Once the appropriate paperwork is sent to us from the courts in Africa, I will mail it Des Moines Immigration office. They will process it quickly (we are thinking positive thoughts only here). Once approved from Des Moines, it will be sent to Dakar US Embassy. They have the power to approve on the spot and grant the kids their US visas or they can choose to order a field investigation (the former would be a HUGE blessing). In the recent past, they have been issuing field investigations on all adoptions from Sierra Leone. IN that case, we wait for US Embassy in Freetown to conduct their field investigation. Once completed, they will issue the children Visas and we can go get them. (all of this taking anywhere from 2 to 6 months.)

So here we are...waiting. What are we going to do?

Actually today, I am a little overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done...which makes the waiting a slight bit more bearable. So for the next 2 to 6 months we will--

*Figure out the car thing. We need a car that travels 8 and stays within our pretty tight budget.

*Get their rooms ready. The room is cleared out, but that's it. My Dad is working on a bed to go with one that was given to us. I will be soliciting the help of decorator extraodinare (Candi--you may not know this yet...but you have a job) to bring it all together. I have no sheets, curtains, ect yet. So a lot needs to be done there.

*Learn to speak Krio. I am amazed at how much the kids understood when the Nanny and Pastor would reason with them in Krio. And then it scared me--"how in the world am I going to comfort and reason and communicate with them?!" They say a few words, but understand everything. So we have some learning to do... (Sarah Saunier--we need to visit!)

*Raise some more money. Ugh. The travel ended up being way more expensive than we anticipated. We were hoping we could just absorb travel costs into our budget. But that is not going to happen. You will likely see another thermometer for travel costs...

*Become a black hair care specialist--(Sarah B. from Colorado--this is your job). I need to learn basic care and then find a professional we are comfortable with somewhere close by.

*Learn how to make fried rice and all things rice. Zeke and Kora ate rice with veggies in it for breakfast and probably for most other meals as well. We currently don't eat a lot of rice. But I would like to have it introduced into our regular diet and be an expert at it by the time they get here. (Andy said, "It's going to take you 4 months to learn how to make fried rice?" Probably, honey. Thanks for asking).

*Pray a lot. Pray for their health and safety and hearts as they prepare for major life change. Pray for a speedy process. Pray for our family to be united and strong as we face the challenges ahead. Pray that Andy and I, our boys, Zeke and Kora--that we all would make much of God.

the Strong Man

My Dad is at a Global AIDS conference at Saddleback. He reported the following story from one of his sessions. I think it holds a lot of truth in the adoption world as well...

'In China this story is told. A river flows through a village, in it many babies had been thrown. The villagers worked hard to save some of the babies but they couldn’t get to them all. Many babies died.
One man asked another, “Where are these babies coming from?”
“Oh,” the other man said, “there is a strong man up on the hill. He is throwing the babies into the river.”
“What can we do then?”
“Someone must wrestle down the Strong Man.”

re-entry

I am having some "re-entry" issues. Which I did not know was possible after being only gone 1 week. But I'm sure it is a combination of exhaustion and coming to terms with the reality of what the past couple weeks entailed.

So yesterday, I went to Wal-mart. I had a cart half way full of groceries. I stood in line for a long time. I watched everyone check out. Then I just pushed my cart up to the lady when it was my turn. She stared at me. I just smiled at her. It was awkward and I couldn't figure out why. She glanced at my cart. And then looked back at me. Then it hit me, "Oh my gosh, what am I doing?" I apologized and quickly loaded my groceries onto the belt. What is wrong with me? I have forgotten how to shop at Wal-mart? How exactly did I plan on checking out?

Then driving home on the highway, I saw a truck on the other side of the road. I literally saw a big dump truck like vehicle with the back full of African teen-age men. They were piled in there, sitting and standing. As it passed, I looked in my rear view mirror to see that it was actually a truck pulling a trailer with a blue tractor on it. But my mind saw the former. So weird. (Before you start to worry about me, it is one of those split second things where your mind plays tricks on you. This was not going on for a long time... :-)).

And then last night, I was just kind of day dreaming and I had a sudden panic overtake me. "Oh my gosh, we left them there! We have to go back!" It was like it just hit me what had happened. We left our babies in Africa. While we were there, things were so crazy. We did not understand what was going on most of the time. We were just waiting for someone to point and tell us where to go and what to do. We were on edge waiting for the next instruction. So we didn't really have time to process and get real emotional. But now that we are home, we are having the time to sort through all that.

It was a fleeting moment of panic as I understand that this is all part of the process. But I did get that feeling of fear..fear that we forgot something very important.

I think it is safe to safe that Africa and our new kids have effected the deepest parts of me. And combining the two worlds that we now know exist is proving to be a challenge...

some pics.

Kora and her nanny, Alice (who we love!)--

Zeke and Daddy

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

christmas.


We put up the tree and hung stockings...8 of them.

Monday, November 26, 2007

she's smart.


After we went to the beach with the kids, we took them to get some ice cream.  Zeke was sitting on my lap and I was spooning him his ice cream.  The Pastor and nannies sent Kora to sit with Andy.  She obliged.  But she would not open her mouth for Andy to feed her the ice cream.  She would turn her head away.  So the Pastor came over and he began feeding her.  She sat in Andy's lap and accepted the ice cream from the Pastor.  Then Andy put his hand on top of the Pastor's hand on the spoon and they moved the ice cream toward her mouth.  She turned her head.  Would not take it if Andy's hand was anywhere near the spoon.

So funny. 
She knew exactly what she was doing.

And although it didn't allow for a lot of cuddle time with her on this trip.  These are all actually really good attachment signs.  She has a healthy "stranger fear" (and strangers is exactly what we were to her) and a good sense of what it means to trust people.  And it is something you don't give away lightly.

She was stubborn.  Wanted to come to us on her own terms.  And that is the way it should be.  There will be plenty of time to win her trust and win her heart...



up and running.

OK, I am up and running again at the family blog.  I am working on a way to combine the two...because frankly they are one and the same--our family and our adoption journey.  I'll keep you posted on that.
 But for now I will be posting back about the boys ect. at the family blog and posting about our trip and adoption at both places (here and there).

Many thanks for your encouragement and emotional support and financial assistance along the way.  We are truly grateful.  

somewhere.

This is how my Dad described meeting Zeke and Kora a few months back.  He was traveling in Sierra Leone with Campus Crusade and got to go meet the kids.    It made so much sense to me now that we have traveled those same roads (and we say "roads" very loosely) to find them...

"Taking advantage of an afternoon free,  I traveled some back roads out of Freetown into one of it's suburbs (can you have a suburb without an urb?).  I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.

But meeting Zeke and Kora, I discovered that in God's economy, there are no nowheres.  That place was a somewhere, a very important somewhere to Laurie and I and especially to Andy and Jody.  It reminded me that God sees no forgotten orphans, no disregarded places.  Every person is somebody to him and every place is some place to him---and ought to be to us."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

first kiss.

Sunday

It has been such a whirlwind the past couple weeks.  From the 6 day notice of travel.  To getting the Visas and preparing in a hurry.  To getting on a plane and going across the ocean.  To a new culture.  A new language.  A new people.  To meeting our kids for the first time.  To kissing them for the first time.  To legally adopting them in a hot West African courtroom.  To saying "Good-bye."  To getting back on a plane.  To trying to readjust to time schedules and work schedules.  To being thrown right into a very emotional week-end.  To sorting through all that we saw and experienced in the last week.  To preparing for the next several months of waiting.  And still embracing this time of year with the boys.   

So today we are...we are a bit numb.

I have so enjoyed telling our stories a little today.  Sometimes I think, 'Wow, did that really happen to us a few days ago?"  It is all so surreal.  Feels like we watched it all happen outside of our bodies.  
But I so want to cement the memories and emotion of it all.  I don't ever want to forget.  

So I will continue to unpack it all as I can over the next several weeks.  

Today, we are putting up the Christmas tree with the boys.

And then going to bed...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

and more...

sleeping beauty--she apparently always sticks her two fingers in her mouth as she drifts off to sleep...
And this was right before we had to leave on Wednesday night. They had just handed out the remaining candy to all the kids. Kora actually came up to me and wanted to share hers..she would take a lick and then hold it out to me.

a few more.

This is a few minutes after meeting the kids.  We walked in and they were laying on the bed each holding a piece of bread.  They looked tired and scared when we walked in.  I started to tear up(but held it together) and slowly moved toward the bed.  I knelt down and said 'hi' to Zeke.  Kora was already shaking her head NO.  I backed off to give them some time.  The nanny got them up and we starting talking to her.  We gave them each a sucker and this is them after taking the candy...and deciding if maybe we were OK...
And at the beach.   Kora has a rag (they carry rags everywhere to wipe the sweat off) on her head that the nanny tied on.  As soon as she did, Kora started doing a little dance.  So cute...but of course, as soon as she noticed we were enjoying it...she stopped. :-)

saturday.

Suitcases are unpacked.  Laundry is going.  Bills in the mail.
Andy is at work.

I am going to take the boys on an outing.

We are back.

and zeke magar...



I wish I could describe to you how his little body would go limp and mold into my body as I held him. He would lay his head on my shoulder and occasionally look up to gaze in my eyes.

I know that at first, he was just doing it because everyone was telling him to. You could tell he was a little scared and just going through the motions...


But the last day or two, he would reach up to play with my hair and stroke my arm.

He is so sweet, and quiet, and shy, and beautiful.

When I close my eyes, I see his. I can still feel his inhale and exhale as he slept on my shoulder.


Friday, November 23, 2007

before i go to sleep....

I blog.  I blog because I sound ridiculous when I talk.  The fired editor was supposed to be listening and then reporting our updates in a WRITTEN, and eloquent fashion--creating the illusion that I was in fact somewhat intelligent and articulate.  But when you are in Africa, one loses a bit of control...and so now you know...I'm really a quite pathetic communicator.  Thanks for following along anyway.   

We could feel your prayers.  We felt like we had a 'near perfect' trip.  And I have changed my mind and I think Andy and I would totally win The Amazing Race. ;-)

My Mom had things in perfect order when we returned home.  Complete with Thank-You cards for all of you who helped feed and entertain the troops while we were gone.  Thank you!  She literally left minutes after we got back from the airport to head back to her own home and work (which she left on such short notice to come take care of mine).   The boys were happy and full of stories of the adventures they had in our absence. 

I will try to sort through the details of our busy week in the upcoming days.  After spending one week in Africa, we by no means claim any sort of expertise on the subject.  But we can tell you this-- 
Like never before, we could feel God's heart beat.  We could see His Hands at work.  And when we knelt down to kiss the dirty faces of some of the world's forgotten children, I believe we kissed His Face.
 

all girl

it looks like she is all girl...

and she doesn't know it yet (or maybe she does), but she has this daddy wrapped around her finger...

because we miss them already...




WE'RE HOME!



We arrived safely at home.
We were beyond happy to see the boys.
We are beyond exhausted.
We are beyond excited  about our new kids.

more later...when I can think straight.


(this is Jody taking back blogging duties...many thanks to our guest blogger-- I knew I needed to get home quickly before you all knew way too much about me...)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You have three pens.

Andy and Jody are safely in Dakar, grabbing a couple hours sleep before their 3 am departure to Atlanta. The journey from Sierra Leone was not without adventure. The helicopter company insisted that their flight was leaving much later, but Andy had talked to Bellview Airlines and was confident about the departure time. The helicopters weren't going to fly! So Andy and Jody rushed to the ferry -- but the ferry wasn't leaving in time or had just left. Hurrying back to the helicopter company, Andy somehow convinced them to fly them to the main airport.

At the airport, as they were going thru security, the security personnel opened up all their bags for a thorough inspection. The security person noticed that Andy had three pens in his bag. He turned to Andy and said, "You have three pens. Why do you have three pens?" Andy answered, "Well, er, I like to write a lot." "Sorry," the agent said, "You are only authorized one pen. I'm going to have to confiscate these other two."

Apparently, the rest of the trip to Senegal was uneventful. They should be home tomorrow. -- fed

*all italicized words above imply an African definition, as opposed to our understanding of those words in America

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hello and Good-bye in One Day

Jody called about an hour ago. Andy and Jody are both anxious to get home and see the boys. We were able to get an earlier flight home. So, of the connections work out tomorrow (and the Lord is willing), they will be back in Muscatine by Friday afternoon. Hard to believe.

Of course, they were bummed to say good-bye to Zeke and Kora---especially since they just could really say hello this morning. During the worship service with Pastor Samuel, Zeke fell asleep in Jody's arms while Kora danced in the aisles with the other worshipers. Between dances, Kora kept sneaking a peek at Andy and Jody and smiling. Andy sang "Give me Jesus" for everyone, preached a little and thanked them. He said he and Jody had fallen in love with Sierra Leone and looked forward to partnering in the future to build the nation and to bring in the Kingdom. Both Andy and Jody loved being in the worship service--so fun hearing praise choruses in English and Krio, so much enthusiasm.

After the service, Andy and Jody said a sad good-bye to the newest Landers. They'll leave for the airport in the morning, catch the flight to Dakar, then wait 10 hours til their 3 am connection to Atlanta, then home.

I talked to Jennifer from Hope's Promise this morning. She said that the US investigation that can kick in now that the court date has been met could last for 3 to 4 months. That will be a hard wait. God seems to working on this deal, so who knows.

Thanks again for your interest and your prayers. Is there any grouper in the Mississippi? I think Jody likes it. - fed

Other details

After the sought for announcement (see previous post), everyone returned to the House of Hope for a celebration lunch of grouper. Andy was laughing in the background as Jody explained how she got it down. "It was painful, but I did it." There is a saying in Africa that "when you accept my food, you accept me." So Jody did good.

I could tell that they were giddy. "Oh, we love Sierra Leone. They're ours! Six! I can't believe it. It's crazy."

This evening, pastor and his wife invited Andy and Jody to their church service. Jody said everyone is excited to show them the church and the fellowship. Andy and Jody are thrilled to experience worship with newly-found brothers and sisters from Africa.

It is in the best interests of these children that

The adventure continues:

The sought for announcement! Click here

12 Noon Sierra Leoneon Time and No Word

Got up at 5 am this morning and realized Jody hadn't called. It's 12 noon there. Hoping they made it to court and Jody is waiting to call with a good report. -- fed

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Driving thru Freetown

If you want to see somebody's youtube clips of what Andy and Jody are experiencing as they drive thru Freetown click below:

Short Clip



Link to a Longer film

Black Magic on the Beach

I talked to Jody about an hour ago. They were heading to bed. The excursion to the beach went well. Andy and Jody, the twins, Pastor N. and a nanny helper spent an hour or so playing on the beach. While still eying them warily, Kora is slowly warming up to them. She lets them hold her some as long as the nanny is near by. She played tag with Andy, chasing him around the beach, rolling around in the sand. It was a good time.

Still no word on the court date. They will find out in the morning.

Jody told the following story--not sure if I got all the details right.

Apparently a man approached them on the beach wanting money for a "black magic" act. The Pastor warned him that he would not have the power he normally has, because Pastor and his friends (Andy, Jody and the nanny) were Christ-followers. The man proceeded with his act, chewing up beer bottles and swallowing the glass. Apparently, he swallows the glass, asks for money, and then throws up the glass later. Anyway, the Pastor was talking to him about the "competing powers," that God's power was greater than the dark powers, etc. The man then began to throw up the glass--it was obviously hurting him (unlike other times he has done it). Jody said she was afraid he might die -- or they might die or something. Anyway, she said, it was a bizarre cultural experience.

(Now, I may have messed this story up, got the facts wrong, misunderstood Jody's explanation ---like maybe the guy was juggling beer bottles and one broke or some more "Western" explanation. But then again, this is Africa and "the competing powers" are more visible there. We'll have to wait for Andy and Jody's corrections and/or amplifications.)

-- fed

The Kora Strategies Update

Jody just left a msg. They are back in the hotel now, resting and preparing to take the twins to the beach. The Kora Strategies appears to be working.

While playing with the all the kids, Andy and Jody were swept into a "Kiss me, Kiss me" game. All the kids lined up and and wanted Jody to kiss them (I think Andy got in line to). As Jody worked her way thru the crowd, suddenly at the end of the line, stood Kora looking up and saying "Kiss me."

I could tell from Jody's voice that she was excited to oblige. -- fed

If you'd like to hear Jody's excitement for yourself, click on the words Kiss Me when you get here.

The Kora Strategies

It's 2 am, Mountain Time; 9 am Sierra Leonean Time.

Andy and Jody are about to leave for the House of Hope -- about a 30 minute drive or so over terrible roads. They have prepared a host of Kora Strategies to woo one little girl into their web of love (too poetic, but it's the middle of the night and I'm still asleep--fed).

Anyway, the core of the Kora Strategies is to "ignore her, don't show her any interest, pay more attention to the others in hopes that she'll warm up." ( I think I used that strategy in Junior High to win over a certain Mary Lou. It didn't work.--fed)

Jody is confident, however, that this strategy works with strong-willed women. Kora is her own person and is not going to do what everybody is asking her to do. (Takes one to know one.-fed)

If that fails, they hope to find a guitar so Andy can sing to her. (That strategy would have worked with Mary Lou....but then again I guess I'd have to sing as well as Andy. Oh well. - fed)

Andy and Jody will spend the morning at the House of Hope and then attempt to take the twins on an outing to the beach. Jody is struggling with the "bonding" thing with Zeke and Kora--knowing they have to fly away on Thursday or Friday.

No word on the court appearance--need to keep praying for Wednesday or at the latest Thursday morning. Flight leaves Freetown on Thursday afternoon.

Observations on Sierra Leone:

Intermittent electricity and water. Andy had some hot water yesterday in the shower. Water is also off and on--toilets don't flush and sinks don't really run that well.

Andy's back hurts; Jody has a slight cold. But they're fine really. It's very hot and humid there--some rain during the night.

They may go to the market in Freetown tomorrow to see it.

The town had a "fear crisis" yesterday where a rumor got out that gasoline was running low. Mad rush on the gas stations. Gas rationed out.

Jody said that they've commented to one another: "You think you're in a slum area and that you'll drive out of it, but you never do. The whole city is one big slum." Nevertheless, they love the people, the experience, everything.

No way to send pictures. We'll have to wait until they get back.

-- back to bed. fed

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Voice from Africa

I thot I'd tape Jody's latest update. Click here to listen. (Sorry, couldn't get it up on blogger.com) fed
P.S. return here to comment. I'm sure Jody will want to have the comments here.

Finally!!!

"They're wonderful, perfect, beautiful."

Jody called at 4 am this morning (12 noon in Sierra Leone). We had a terrible connection before we were cut off.

But I could make out the following:

Jody said they were going to find some lunch and that Zeke and Kora were wonderful, perfect, beautiful;

that they had spent the morning with them and they were perfect, wonderful, beautiful;

that Zeke fell asleep on Andy's shoulder and they were beautiful, perfect, wonderful;

that Kora was still a little afraid of them, but we'll go back this afternoon and they were

well you get the idea. fed

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Change 1

Andy and Jody couldn't get out to House of Hope this evening....so they will be with the kids tomorrow. Jody didn't sound disappointed. I think they wanted to get a good night's rest before tomorrow. So they're headed to bed. fed

Google Location


Upper blue mark is the Cape Sierra Hotel....
Lower blue mark is the House of Hope -- and Zeke and Kora.

Yeah. fed

Yeah--In Hotel, With Kids Right Now




Heard directly from Jody about two hours ago. They were in the hotel, Cape Sierra, in Freetown. Pics of the hotel on the left here.

They made it to Sierra Leone on the Bellview flight. Pastor N's brother met them there and they decided to take the helicopter to Freetown--despite warnings to the contrary. They were so tired, Jody said, that they didn't care if they blew up.

They actually like Freetown better than Dakar. Pastor was coming to get them this evening--Sierra Leoneion time and take them to see the kids. That might be right now as I post this.

Jody also wanted me to tell you that "men's underwear is hanging from their shower and there is a bucket in the bathroom with something in it, but they're not sure what it is or what it is for."

Arrived? I think so.



Fired Editor Update:

Jody called several times from Dakar last night .... 12:30, 1:40, 1:45, 2:15. They were waiting for the Bellview flight....the 2:15 call suggested that they were going to make that flight. Jody told me to stand by the phone. I asked her if I could sleep by the phone.

Since Jody hasn't called again, I assume they made it. Pastor is suppose to pick them up at the airport, get them to the ferry crossing (pics from fired editor's recent trip). As soon as I get word, I'll post more details. But I imagine they are making their way to the hotel. Thanks for praying. fed (aka fired editor)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Some Pics of Dakar


In Dakar!


Jody and Andy just called. They safely arrived in Dakar, Senegal. Unfortunately, their flight from Dakar to Freetown on Slok-Air was cancelled so they are booking on a Bellview flight that leaves at 11:40 Senegal time. They called me (the fired editor) at 11:39 pm to contact Jennifer. I called Jennifer and woke her up. She is calling Pastor N. in Sierra Leone. Will anybody get any sleep tonight? the fired editor

Atlanta 2

So I have taken to being a control freak. This was me so far today--and we're on a few hours into this long journey:

Ok, lets go in this door.

Now, you stand here and hold this, but don't touch anything.

We will take our malaria meds at 11:03 and 47 seconds.

Now don't bend the tickets.


Luckily, so far Andy just keeps laughing at me.

(comment from the editor: I thot maybe Jody's "control freakiness" might be because she's just nervous or scared or really excited. But come to think of it, Jody has been this way all her life. Jody's dad. PS. Pray for Andy. PSS. I may lose my editing job with this comment. If so, thanks so much for your love and prayers for these kids. Laurie and I couldn't be more proud.)

Atlanta

We are in atlanta on a long layover. Leaving the boys this morning was really hard. I cried all the way to the airport. Andy was silent. I understand the analogy breaks down on a lot of levels, but we thought it reminded us a lot of leaving the 99 sheep behind in pursuit of the 1 who was lost. In our case, I guess it's the 2 who were lost.

Friday, November 16, 2007

we're off...


...in an eager pursuit of the heart of God.

add 4.

Add 4 more to the number of times I cried today....

....one for each of the kisses I gave these precious boys tonight.

why are we doing this?

“As far as I am concerned, the greatest suffering is to feel alone, unwanted, unloved. The greatest suffering is also having no one, forgetting what an intimate, truly human relationship is, not knowing what it means to be loved, not having a family or friends.” (Mother Teresa)


'Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.' (James 1:27)

they're here.

Visas and in passports arrived at 9:00 am.
Andy is coming home from work in a few minutes to have a packing pow-wow.
And I've only cried 3 times so far today.

friday.

So my mom and I are taking turns being stationed at home waiting for the Fed Ex man.

Some final running around. Trying to have a relaxing evening with the boys tonight.


A friend last night said she was starting to panic for me because I was going to a war torn Africa without any adult supervision. :-) Although contrary to popular belief, we are THE adults.
We're ready. We can totally do this.

Another friend of mine who lives here received her referral this week for a little boy from Ethiopia (hotflawedmama.blogspot.com). He is very close in age to Zeke and Kora, and although he may likely be home before them, we can already envision those play dates. And we are thrilled! Congrats Zach and Tesi!

So I am going to take a long hot shower, try and sleep real good in my own bed, and then leave it behind for a short while. And experience a new place, a new people, a new world. Praying for the eyes of the Father as we embrace it all.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

just because.

a couple of beautiful boys...


yeah.

Visa's were literally issued at 4:56 pm (Washington DC time), within 4 minutes of closing time.
They are on their way to us overnight.

We are very thankful.
And actually are pretty proud of the very rude Visa Expediting people...

thursday afternoon.

OK, visa people driving me crazy.
I am preparing a post entitled, "When Traveling to Sierra Leone on Very Short Notice, Do NOT Use This Company to Expedite Your Visas!"
It should be fascinating...
They have a couple hours to come through for me but up until now, they have not been helpful.

I have no idea what we will do if they don't show up. I understand there are possibly ways to buy them in country...but that just would not be good for my already anxious self. And the fewer things we have to do once we get to Africa, the better.
We shall see...

Otherwise, malaria medicine made both Andy and I vomit this morning. Not good since we will be taking it each morning for the next 50 days. We will try again tomorrow with some food in our stomachs...

status report.

We are a little nervous about visas. They need to be put in the mail today. IF they arrive tomorrow, we should be good to go.

We started malaria meds this morning.

We have 'piles'---but things are not yet packed. We are trying to carry everything on and not check baggage. Which means all liquids and gels must be in 3oz or less and fit in a baggie. That is proving to be a little tricky. We are going to have to ration shampoo... My sister sent some skirts of hers for me to bring...I didn't seem to have to many of those either. :-)

My mom comes today to get acclimated and she will hold down the fort with the boys while we are gone.

So we are clear: On this trip, we will spend a couple days with all the children in the home. We will focus, obviously, on getting to know Zeke and Kora. On Wednesday, we will take Zeke and Kora with us and appear in court. We will officially adopt them in the eyes of the African court. But the US immigration will not allow us to bring them home yet.
We will go back and get them in a couple months (hopefully) after they are receive their visas from the US Embassy.

We are so excited to be going. So excited to meet these little people. A little nervous. But mostly confident that God is doing something really amazing here...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

our secret

This was written by another adoptive mom. She again gave words to my heart. It's very hard to explain to others who look at us like we are crazy.

"I remember during the adoption there were times when I was tempted
to feel crushed by the weight of trying to think of some scheme to
try to come up with the money to pay for it. But when I gave up
control and manipulation and trusted Jesus to provide for what He
had whispered to Brad and I then life seemed much easier. I also
felt that man-pleasing spirit rise up in me that wanted people to
approve of us and what we were doing. I could feel the pressure of
trying to persuade people we really had heard from God bear down on
me. When I crawled closer into my Father's arms and was content to
let the adoption be "our little secret" that no one else understood
then I felt light and free again."

I want to be free to embrace this trip and this whole process. That has been hard sometimes when I feel disapproval and the need to convince everyone. But as the Jenny said, freedom and peace comes when I simply obey, crawl into my Father's arms, and let it be 'our little secret."

not helping.

The email from the Embassy office about our visa today said, "we are hoping the visas will be issued tomorrow." Uh, hoping? They must be in the mail on their way overnight to us tomorrow! This is not helping my stress level...
I can feel myself getting sick. I have been drinking orange juice and airborne all dayand pretending it isn't happening. Also not helping...
Add that to the hovercraft crashing and our failure to get a price and or confirmation on our last leg of flights and what you have is a tense Jody.

Let it be said...6 days is not enoegh time to plan your first ever trip to Africa.

We were certainly willing to do it and would do it again. But I know I would be sleeping more if visas were in hand and bags were packed for a couple days before loading...

classic.

I'm seriously not trying to be dramatic. But this is 'too classic' for Sierra Leone not to share.

So when we fly into Freetown, Sierra Leone. We get off the airplane (puddle jumper that has brought us in from Dakar) and then we have to get on a helicopter, hoovercraft, or ferry to get across a channel of water. On the otherside is the city from what I understand.

Anyway, the ferry apparently can be delayed and take a really long time to cross...plus being jam packed with people. The helicopter has had problems recently because it was flying even though it didn't meet codes ect.
So yesterday, we get an email from our agency saying, "We suggest you take the hoover craft over to the city. It is a little more expensive, but is your best option."

And I kid you not this morning we get this email, "The hovercraft caught fire on the sea yesterday and sank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone was rescued, thankfully. Pastor said so now that is not an option! (Ya think?)"



We'll likely take the ferry....Don't worry about us...but possibly say a prayer or two.
:-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

my team.

My amazing race partner and our support team...

This is What We Call 'Africa Shoes'

I know this is silly. I know these are border-line ugly. But for your viewing pleasure, my "Africa Shoes."



They are Crocs. ALMOST cute for Crocs, right? But light and practical and comfortable. Will be worn without socks.
This is the only pair of shoes I am taking...I can pair them with my skirt for court or to run around with the kids at the home.

(I actually saw them on another blog of an adoptive mom who was traveling soon to Africa. I'm a copy cat. Because clearly, I can't think straight. And the proper shoes was not something I could come up with on my own.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

no time.

I am having trouble finding time to double post.
So if you want to hear the boring details of my frantic preparation for travel...you can read about it at our family blog-- jodylanders.wordpress.com
Once we leave, I probably will be sending updates to this site I believe. I'll keep you posted on that. For now, I'm rambling over at jodylanders.wordpress.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ok.

So I didn't make it. Didn't make it to the mailboxes place to overnight by 1:00 today. I needed to find a place for the boys for a couple hours (THANK YOU, AMY!--we literally left 4 little boys on her front step with no notice), fill out visa applications, print out bank statements, get a letter of invitation into country, get more passport pictures taken, find 'contact in country' addresses, get a cashiers check for appropriate amount from the bank and book tickets in 3 hours. (booking the right tickets ended up taking some time...considering price and route and schedule of court.) Just didn't happen. So we will overnight the visa stuff on Monday and pray it gets back to us by Friday.
I booked tickets to get us to Dakar, Senegal. Am working on getting us to Freetown now. We will leave Saturday. Be gone one week.
I called many of my family and friends and starting delegating...you figure out what time the bank closes, you figure out where i can apply for the visa, you figure out what phone i can use while we are there, you figure out when you can get here to help with the kids, you call the airline to ask about adoption rates, you listen to rant for a second ect. ect.
Craziness. Once I get the logistics in order, I will relish in the fact that we will be holding our babies in just over one week....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

yikes.

Got an email this morning. We are going to Africa next week. Freak out in progres...

Friday, November 9, 2007

no date.

So it looks like there will be no travel date today. They are saying it still could come any day and then we will have 2 weeks to make travel arrangements.
We will not be headed to Africa next week. It will be a little longer before we are able to meet and hold these precious kids.

Besides being frantic, and panicked, and pretty pathetic all week, I did realize--I am not afraid to travel to Africa. It can't come soon enough. I would do anything. I really do love these babies more than I know how to express.

So we will wait.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

we're trying!

We usually hear word from Sierra Leone first thing in the morning. Nothing came this morning which means we probably won't know any more today. So we will wait until tomorrow morning when I will pace by my computer until an email comes through. Was looking at these pictures this afternoon and wanted to scream, "We're trying! We're trying! We're trying to get there!"
They don't know...but my arms ache for them....


woohoo??

Never mind the 'Woohoo!' and 'We Did It!' next to the thermometer. I didn't put those there...it must be standard when the thermometer reaches it's peak.
But yes, we received a $105 donation this morning, putting us at exactly $20,000.

We again are so very grateful. We are amazed at your generosity and God's faithfulness. I cannot tell you the weight it lifted knowing we can pursue the next several hoops in getting Zeke and Kora home without having to fret about the financial strain. It's huge! We know how very blessed we are!

Thank you. Really. Thank you all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

TIA

From the email this morning, there is still a chance we will be traveling by the end of next week.
But we won't know for sure...which means we can't really do much for preparation...until the end of this week.

TIA. This is Africa. (which basically means none of should hold our breath on this one...).

Monday, November 5, 2007

'don't get too excited'

That was the in the last email the agency sent me. HA!
So apparently the date keeps changing every time she talks to the in country people. So I am supposed to relax until we have something definite.

She doesn't know me very well....

losing it.

So I wasn't going to blog this yet...because we really don't know anything.
But I got an email this morning that made it sound like we could be traveling next week. Now, I am kind of wondering if it is a typo or something. Nonetheless, it is making me a little crazy and I am clearly losing it.

Evidence #1--I lost half a loaf of homemade bread. How, how does one lose such a thing?
Seriously, I cut a piece this morning. Ate it.
The house has been empty all morning. Andy took the kids and I have been cleaning.
And now I cannot find the loaf of bread anywhere. And the house is totally clean. I have searched the trash can to make sure I didn't accidentally throw it away--don't worry, not to recover it, but to ease my mind.
This is literally driving me crazy!

Evidence #2--
i started making a list about travel arrangements...if for some crazy reason we are going to Africa next week. There are 3 million things to do--fill malaria meds, apply for visas, book tickets, learn to speak krio, arrange childcare, pack ect. ect. And so what do I do? I think I need to go to Wal-mart. I go to Wal-Mart and buy new mop tops (because clearly I should first mop the floors again) and folders (because I obviously need NEW folders to arrange all my needed paperwork for court). I don't know why these things made me feel in control of my life...because I'm still not.


I can't think straight. My mind is racing. And I can't find my bread!!!


*Updated: Andy came home to find me in a tizzy. I was so upset about the bread which was really just indicative of my shrinking brain. He found it! In the freezer. He found the remaining quarter of the bread in the freezer... Losing it, people. I'm losing it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

breathe.

"this is the only moment we can do anything about..."
I mindlessly sang those words this morning in the car to the song as it played over the radio. But I stopped for a second to try and soak in the truth. "Breathe it in. Breathe it out. This is the only moment we can do anything about."
I have been consumed the past couple days trying to control things...trying to educate myself and be so pro active in order to ensure a favorable and speedy outcome in our adoption of Zeke and Kora. It can be so overwhelming to try and control the future...maybe because we can't. Maybe because we are not supposed to.
This moment is what I can control. Today is what God has given me. I don't know what the future holds. I don't know how soon Zeke and Kora will be with us. I don't know what we will have to do, what we will have to surrender in order for us to bring them home.
But this I do know--I am a different person because of this little boy and little girl across the ocean. I can see the transformation of my own family...I can see the boys' eyes opened to a world that they would not otherwise know. For Andy and I, we are literally watching as our hearts expand and our self dies. As I look back at my full car, I can see this moment. A moment where a family in the middle of America is on the adventure of their lives. I can see how little God cares about our comfort and our safety. I can see how much God cares about our heart and our transformation...at any cost.
This moment. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. We are in for a ride. And the process is as much the aim as the safe arrival of these precious babies in our home.

Friday, November 2, 2007

friday morning.

I'm thinking the sun is setting on this Friday in Sierra Leone.
Which means, no court date for us this week.

It's all part of the deal. I knew this wasn't going to be easy.

Our agency worker sent me this quote...

"Prayer is the most aggressive, pro-active, offensive, invasive action one
can take in any situation. Prayer reaches into the spiritual realm and
accesses all the power of heaven for the circumstances of earth."
(Jennifer Kennedy Dean)

Which to me was kind of like the surgeon telling us over Quincy's post-surgery, and still broken body, "Say your prayers and I'll be back tomorrow."
I hated that. I wanted to scream. "No, you fix him! You make him better!"
But again we find ourselves in a place of forced surrender--we have no other options. We have no control.
Prayer is the only action we can take at this point. And so today, as it should be with everyday, we will start and end there.

---

'A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, "In every life there is a terrible fight--a fight between two wolves. One is evil; he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and deceit. The other is good: joy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion." A child asked, "Grandfather, which wolf will win?" The elder looked him in the eye. "The one you feed."'
(Cherokee Proverb)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

---

'I've heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I've never heard of an unplanned adoption.
That's why adoptive parents understand God's passion to adopt us. They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future. If anybody understands God's ardor for his children, it's someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.

God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.'

(max lucado)

more Sierra Leone.





Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the biggest "THANK YOU!"

What a precious, precious support team! We have maxed out the full potential of the matching donor. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We are truly, truly humbled and so very grateful for all of you who have joined us in the last 20 days. We feel a huge burden lifted as the financial fears and strain no longer loom as heavy.

We know how very blessed we are. We know that we are not doing this alone. And we know when God resources a call, he uses people like you all.
We promise to tell Zeke and Kora someday about all the people that loved them and helped to bring them home.

Thank you. The words fall so shamefully short to expressing our hearts. Yet we don't know how else to say it. So, thank you.

Sierra Leone

These pictures were all taken by my brother-in-law, Taylor, on their trip to Sierra Leone over the summer. They went as our initial connection for families for africa (familiesforafrica.com). These pictures are stunning, capturing the beauty of the country and the people who have endured so very much. To me there are glimmers of hope in a place where it is often hard to find. (These are his property, so please don't reproduce...we are hoping to compile them somehow someday.)
So here is the birthplace of our babies...