Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I hope the joy of Christ fills your heart this Christmas. As I was singing an old familiar carol O Little Town of Bethlehem at Christmas Eve service today, the third verse really struck me.
Friday, December 21, 2007
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
Well we are trusting God to work out some details. We have sent several e-mails to the US Consulate in Liberia and have not received any replys. Also tried several times to call and reach her personally but were unsucessful and her voice mail box is full. Our understanding as to the slow down in adoptions over the past several months has been related to understaffing at the Embassy office with the implementation of many new requirements to complete adoptions. So although we didn't get the information we had hoped, we have went ahead and scheduled our flights to Liberia, trusting God to do what He does best - work out the impossible in a way only He can. The only change from the previous post, is that we will fly out Friday (Feb 8th) night rather than Sunday, so we'll arrive back in Wisconsin on Saturday February 9th (our son Caleb's birthday) raher than Monday. So please join us as we pray for God's mercy and hand of grace to accomplish the "impossible".
Merry Christmas Everyone
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The next three pictures show the house of one of the nannies that works at the orphanage (borrowed from Donna Barber who used to be the US coordinator for AoH - http://outnumberedby12.blogspot.com/ ). Take a look around you. How many people live in your house? What conveniences do you enjoy? What things do you own just for decoration to make your house look nice? This shanty is shared by 20 people and no bigger than Donna's dining room. They are so poor and we are so rich.
An observation was made that when a parent went into the baby room at the orphanage that it was quiet-with babies just sitting in cribs with their faces pressed against the bars. That their baby, who I believe was 8 months old, did not cry when picked up, and did not try to stand on their legs. I can tell you from living in Africa, that an African baby does not cry. They are raised in a culture of appeasement (even the nannies will take instruction on this, but like any African I have ever met, they will end up doing things the only way they know) and Africans are GREATLY disturbed when their babies cry. When we were fosterparenting, and taking care of special needs babies for AOH, we endeavored to put them on a regular nap schedule, to help them get ready for their new life. African babies sleep and eat when they want,there is no schedule. Well, our day guards would come to us all agitated that the baby was crying. We tried to explain we wanted to help the baby get better sleep and waking habits, but they did not understand.
I do know however, that scores of older adopted kids do have their albums with them, do look at them daily, and do know the faces of their new families. I don't think it is reasonable to think that the infants would even remember the facesshown to them in a book. Perhaps even the albums would be unnecessary for children under 1 year.
Also mentioned was the fact that the nannies were listening to 'rap' music, and had to be asked to put on praise music. This made me smile, as I know from experience that Liberians (yes, Christian Liberians) are not very picky in their music. They listen to the gamut of music, they live for the beat, and in fact, they do not prefer our western style praise music. And they don't have an understanding of problems with lyrics. Theirs is a whole different world my friends.
They are very indiscriminate when it comes to music taste. This comes from a true lack of teaching in the country on how to really live the Christian life. You find compromise all over the place(But then, we have that problem in America too!)
However, it is a fact that the children do get Bible stories, lessons, and learn Sunday School songs, as many of your kids come home singing them! You have posted many heartwarming stories of your kids talking about some spiritual truth, or singing songs. So I don't believe the spiritual atmostphere at the AOHL orphanage is lacking.
I would like to also mention that scores of AOH children have intake pictures that tear your heart out. Weak, dirty, sickly, thin, and raggedy. Many of you have these pictures. Then look at the pictures you got every few months, if you got an update. Your children are filling out, clean, nicely clothed. This does not look like a place where the children are malnourished in any way to me. In fact I personally know they children eat very well. I am not sure why the pediatrician diagnosed the 8 month old as malnourished at some time in his past, or how they could tell that, but I do know the children are fed, and fed well.
Lastly, I might add a statement was made regarding an AOH employee seen giving money at the airport to someone. I really have to smile over that one. My friends, have you ever lived in Liberia? Did you take the time to ask what that was all about? We gladly paid extraamounts to Liberian to help us through airports, and the like, because they see it as a way to earn extra money. There is an excellent book calld African Friends and Money Matters, written by a missionary, that really clearly outlines the challenges of living in these countries. It is not something that you can just take at face value and call bribery. Not at all! The Liberians have a system of taking care of your needs, and taking care of theirs. Granted it is not always good to give out money, but if you have an arrangement with a trusted person who helps you out through office situations or airport situations, then you have a working business relationship in their eyes. If someone finds you a parking place, and makes other wait while you park, well, they have done you a service (especially in downtown Monrovia!!!) They 'worked for you' and you can pay them.
The whole country runs on 'contacts.' In fact, you get nothing done in Africa with out your contacts. And of course, they are doing a job for you, so you do give them something. Remember in Liberia some of these poor friends work day after day and no paychecks come for months at a time. There is SOOOOOOO m uch Liberian history to all of this, it isn't possible to cover in this post.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Prayerfully,Corey and Jamie
To Whom It May Concern:
Concerns we had:
The Care of Children in Acres’ Custody:
Concerns we had:
So what does all this mean for Kim and I? The most important thing we needed was credible information about our adoption and what the status of our children really is. So Kim called the AoH office in Wisconsin. She spoke with Aaron. Aaron Wilson and his wife Rachel have been placed in an extremely difficult position taking over all these adoptions with all of us wanting/needing info all at the same time. Plus we are dealing with a 3rd world country who is trying to recover from a 20 yr Civil War and a US Embassy in transition. So please remember them in your prayers. They are our brother and sister in Christ who are serving God from a sincere heart.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
We've been silent on the blogging front because we have really not had any news to report. Of course we had hoped we would have had our little ones home by now, but that was not part of His plan. So Kim decided to take out her frustration on our bathroom and began destroying it this week. We live in a wonderful 94 year old home with lots of character. But with lots of character comes lots of old "stuff" that needs modernizing. Our downstairs bathroom was one of those things. When we first moved in 9 years ago, the first thing we did was redo the bathroom upstairs. But it was finally time to do the downstairs one. It was a full bath, but just a bath tub and old fixtures and tile and the works. So we are putting in a wrap around tub shower to meet the needs of our expanding family. I grew up in a house with 5 kids and just one bathroom and no shower. So you couldn't always wait until the last second. And our kids our just realizing that. I've seen them run to the downstairs one, before remembering it's out of commission and then running even more frantically to the upstairs one. But in one short week we are down to studs, have insulation up, and some basic framing. Tomorrow we are getting it re-wired, and on Saturday the plumbing. We are switching the location of the toilet and sink and building in a small closet for towels so hopefully it will continue to progress quickly.
Friday, November 30, 2007
We received official word that Gabriella finally has her passport. 2 weeks ago we were told she would have it by the end of the week. They had applied for 13 passports and within the week had 9 of them. But of course Gabriella's wasn't one of them. They have to hand caligraphy them, and there is no reason why she didn't get hers with that group. But without the passport we couldn't progress to the next step. But we have hers now and are ready for our final step before we can travel.
That final step is birth family interviews. There are 11 children coming home in the next two weeks. We are at the top of the list after that group (mainly because we have been waiting the longest of all remaining parents at this final phase - today is the 1 year anniversary of us travelling down this road of adoption). So tenatively on the 15th or 16th of December our cases will be reviewed by Liberian Social Workers to make sure everything is in order before the US Consulate interviews the birth moms. So depending on how long it takes them to accomplish this and whether the interviews at the US Embassy go well, then we travel 2 weeks later. Now this could take a day, a couple weeks, or a month or two. The Embassy closes for 2 weeks in January sometime, so that will add to the delay if it doesn't happen before that. So the absolute best scenerio is we travel that last week of December. The most likely scenerio is we travel in February.
So we are in our final phase of waiting. We appreciate your encouragement and prayers. We look forward to the future with much anticipation. We know a much more difficult period awaits us once we get the children home. But it is our hope that a year from now that Gabriella and Josiah will be a well-adjusted part of our family and we'll be trying to remember what it was like before they came.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In celebration of National Adoption Month have you considered how you might become involved. You might not be in a position to where you are called to adopt, but there are so many ways that you can still support or participate in the support of the orphans. Perhaps you might feel lead to start an adoption ministry at your church like we recently have at ours. Or maybe you have what it takes to be a foster parent. Perhaps it is with your financial support of our adoption or some other adoption or by supporting wonderful organizations like Acres of Hope or Compassion International which are on the front lines ministering to the world's neediest children. I would encourage you to pray and consider what blessing might await you if you do. I know first hand through our participation in foster care and Compassion, that there has been much blessing in giving to the children God has connected us with. And we hope to know first hand, very soon, the blessing of Josiah and Gabriella. The biggest hurdle is yourself.
P.S. On a side note, if you get a chance and they are showing this movie in your area, I would encourage you to see the pro-adoption movie name "Bella". Kim and I saw it this evening and really enjoyed it. Make sure to bring kleenex. Greatest line from the movie "if you want to make God laugh.... tell Him your plans".
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
They ran out of booklets for Passports so Kimberly does not have hers yet, but they have promised she will have it by the end of the week. So that's good news and puts us one small step closer.
The final leap we need is an appointment with the Consular at the US Embassy in Liberia. Because of them further limiting adoptions to 2 per week per agency, that means 8 per month - 96 per year. Because Josiah has been ready for 2 months now, we discussed the possibility about just getting him, but with the further restriction, it doesn't make sense for us to use 2 of those limited appointments when we really only need one. That being said we do not expect to get our children home this year. We are planning to that end and we are at peace with that.
But we would really appreciate your prayers. Every family is affected by this and it is a very difficult thing. But God is bigger than all this and He will be glorified in this in some way. We are in a position to see God at work and to see how he will take care of His less fortunate children. Please pray for God to direct you on how you might get involved to advocate for better service from the US Embassy.
Our kids WILL come home and they are healthy, and for now, we must trust in God's timing for all this. Thanks again for your support.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
We have just received word this morning that the US Consulate in Monrovia has chosen to further limit adoption-related appointments at the US Embassy. She will now take only one appointment (for the required biological family interview OR for the adopting family to file their I600) per day, and only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That means rather than four appointments per week, there will now only be two. To this date, every Acres of Hope-Liberia family has received their child/ren's visa from the Embassy. And, we expect that trend will continue, despite having fewer opportunities to apply for visas.
Please understand that this is out of our control and our hands are tied. However, Patty and this agency are doing all that we can to advocate for change in this policy. Upon Patty's return to the US later this month, we plan to fly to Washington, DC to see what we can do to effect change. And, in the meantime, we will be contacting our network to explain the situation and require change. We are extremely disappointed in the Consulate's decision because we have been face-to-face with mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers who are desperate to provide a better life for their children. Thousands of children in Liberia remain in need of loving, permanent homes, aside from those we are able to care for in our programs.
Acres of Hope-Liberia exists to serve God through serving the children who truly are the "least of these" in the world. We stand together with you in that commitment and we will not be daunted. We recognize that our struggle is beyond that of flesh and blood. We have an Enemy who hates the uniting of God's most precious ones with committed, loving, Christian families. Indeed, we are in battle "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12b) We are united with you and with Christ in this battle, and we will carry through our commitment before God.
Throughout our lives and the life of this organization, we have found that spiritual growth thrives on challenges. Every obstacle we face is an opportunity for personal growth and for our growth as an organization. In fact, one of our goals for Acres of Hope-Liberia is that we would be constantly improving in our ability to meet the purposes of Christ through this organization. We are encouraged that our organization, as well as the entire process of adopting from Liberia, is being sharpened, honed, and improved through these challenges.
We are more than grateful for your dedication to the nation of Liberia, particularly her children, and your commitment to Acres of Hope-Liberia. We know that the families that partner with us in adoption and humanitarian work pray for the nation and orphans of Liberia, and for this organization regularly. We cannot thank you enough for standing and battling with us in this most significant way. We feel the power of your prayers. Now is the time to band together, to encourage one another in faith and hope. In the face of this challenge, we ask you to reflect on your original desire to invest your lives in Liberia. Draw strength from that commitment and expect our God to do the marvelous and miraculous on behalf of his beloved children in Liberia.
I responded to Kim with the following e-mail
I’m praying for you and us. I don’t want you to be hopeless. This is a the perfect situation where only God can work. In spite of our situation, we must just trust in God and not lose heart.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7.
Please know that God knows our entire situation. God is protecting us and God will provide for us. So please just stand beside me, and we’ll continue to give God glory through this all, and wait to see how he works it all out.
On a side note, November 12-16 is Cry of the Orphan week on Focus on the Family. Follow along on-line or on your radio or check out their website.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR US
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Kim's best friend Cari hosted a surprise baby shower for Kim today for Josiah and Gabriella - and trust me, that was no easy task. Kim and Cari have been friends since high school(over 25 years) and her whole extended family are our adopted family. They have become aunt and uncle to our kids and vice versa. Also Cari and her husband adopted a sweet little girl from China, and two of her sisters have adopted from Ethiopia. So not only do we have a great resource for questions, but a wonderful source of encouragement.
So about a month ago, Cari called me on my business cell phone, but I was on another call at the time, so instead of listening to the voice mail, I proceeded to tell Kim "could you call her back and see what she wants, i think she meant to call you". She replied "Cari wouldn't make a mistake like that, perhaps she's planning a surprise birthday for me" because Kim turned the big 4-0 on Oct 13th. So i listen to the voice mail as Cari explains she's planning a surprise shower for Kim and that I can't let Kim know. So here I thought I blew it before it even started.
So I got Cari a list of friends and family and the ball was rolling. She picked today - Oct 27th as the best day that worked for every one. Now the trick was to get Kim to Cari's house. Cari and Kim meet quite often for lunch or go shopping but they typically don't meet at each other's house, because Cari and Kim are 45 minutes apart. And in the past they've gone away over night once a year for a "girls getaway". So Cari thought she could pretend to have a getaway south of her house (because she lives south of us), so that Kim would have to drive to her house on the way there. So the plan was to go shopping just south of the Wisconsin border at Gurnea Mills Shopping Center. Kim said "that sounds great, we are going to be at my mom's that weekend and you can swing by Waukesha and pick me up". On the side, Kim was planning an early Thanksgiving in Waukesha because of some family things going on. So Cari's first attempt was foiled. So she quickly had to devise two plans - one to cancel the fake shopping trip that wasn't going to happen, but also to still get her to her house. So due to some scheduling conflicts that came up in her family, they could only go shopping in Oshkosh (still south of her house). But Kim was still insistent on going to Waukesha early (because the kids were off a school thursday and friday). So we had to arrange for Kim's mom to become suddenly sick with the stomach flu, so that Kim would not be in Waukesha until after the party. Shortly after receiving the "unfortunate news" my mother called to see if Elizabeth could spend the night, so that she could join my mom at the surprise.
So Kim arrived at Cari's house around 1:45 this afternoon. Cari said, "come in I have to get something", and as Kim walked in there was a large group of women in the kitchen that yelled "surprise". There were no cars in the drive way so Kim was trying to figure out what was up before it finally clicked. A lot of time and effort was put into it. Everyone brought a bead for a necklace for Kim. They had a special cake. Cari made a framed african themed collage of our children with an African runner on the table. After they ate there were a couple games they played. 1) 20 questions about Liberia 2)Multitasking - they had to balance a basket of rice on their head while hanging up clothes on a clothes line 3) sculpt Josiah and Gabriella out of play dough. And then the gifts.
We were tremendously blessed by people's generosity and thoughtfulness. Kim and I had given away most of our younger clothes to friends having kids because we knew we were done having our own. That was before God changed our hearts about adoption. So many of the gifts were clothing which were much needed and appreciated. Kim said "now I just wish we had our children to put in them". We also received a double stroller and gifts of money. We plan to purchase a dresser for the clothes with the money. Anyways, Kim had a wonderful day, was completely surprised, and we were humbled by the generosity.
Unfortunately we received the following news today regarding scheduling our kids pre-visa interview at the US Embassy in Liberia. Once this appointment is scheduled, we will most likely travel two weeks later: "This date has been pushed out a little due to some emergency cases (Darling Boy, Johema...) where these children needed to get home due to severe medical conditions. This has bumped everyone's appointments at the Embassy. I know it is hard to keep waiting, but know that waiting a few more weeks to get your child home has saved the lives of other children. You can be sure that you are on the schedule and we will let you know as soon as possible when you can schedule travel."
We would rather wait knowing our children our healthy in order to save and help those who are much needier. If you have a moment, I would encourage you to read the story of Darling Boy at http://internationalmommy.blogspot.com/ - (post from 10/15 The News-Charity is Home)regarding the Alonso's incredible journey. I was deeply touched through their testimony.
Again thanks to all of you who support and encourage us, many of who blessed us today with your generosity. We appreciate it all so much!!!!!!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:3-5).
So the next time you kiss your burdens good night, Thank God for the blessing they truly are. And someday very soon, we hope to experience kissing Josiah and Gabriella good night. And soon after will come the runny noses, and dirty diapers, and spilled milk, and we'll thank God for each of those too!
P.S. Saturday night we carved the pumpkins we picked a couple weeks back and wanted to share them with you.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Outgoing, very active, and still a baby at heart, Boimah adds a lot of spice to the toddler room. Boimah (pronounced Boy-muh) is a strong willed boy, who is also strong physically. Boimah is very active and energetic. Whether indoors or outdoors, Boimah is almost constantly on the move. He prefers being outdoors, but if he's allowed to run around inside, he's content with that too. Outside Boimah really likes sports. Though he's young, he's already learning how to play soccer and loves participating in relay races. As far as toys goes, he loves cars, balls and just about anything designed for little boys to play with.
Kimberly Peters Calm, even-tempered and reserved, Kimberly is a sweet baby who loves to be held. Kimberly, which is pronounced by the Liberians like
"Kee-muh-lay" is smart, playful and a very good-natured 18-month old. Kimberly is quiet and easy going. She is quite shy in new situations, acting even quieter than usual and not saying a word. But when she's comfortable she will talk to herself, smile, and play with her friends. Kimberly loves to be held and if she had her way she would almost always be on a lap or a hip of one of her nannies.