Lessons from Ecuador

June 30, 2009

Sorry I missed writing the blog last week. Steve and I took a group of 14 students to beautiful Quito, Ecuador. It was an amazing experience and God taught us so much there about Himself.

There were 2 things that stood out to me during the trip that brought my mind and heart towards our adoption. The first was when we pulled off on the side of the road on top of a mountain in Quito. It overlooked the valley and all of the spread across it. Ahead of me, I saw more mountains underneath a beautiful blue sky with huge puffy white clouds. We sat by ourselves for a few minutes to just contemplate and think.

Mountains

I thought a lot about how incredibly huge and creative God is. He is the maker of the mountains and the sky and the clouds. He not only knows each of the people who live in the valley, but He created them. These are people I will probably never meet in my lifetime, but they each have their own story, and they were each created by God, and therefore valued by God.

The scene reminded me that God is creative in all of His ways. Each of our stories are different. Each twist and turn, mountain and valley of our lives are known and written by Him. As I looked over the city, I was reminded in my heart that He knows me, and that He is creatively writing out my story in a way that will bring Him glory. So we continue to wait and hope and pray for our little one, knowing that the waiting is all a part of the story He is writing in and through our lives.

The second snapshot that I will keep in my heart forever is one of Steve with this cute little boy in his arms. We affectionately called him “Chanco” (a Nacho Libre reference). We met him at a place where people work in a trash dump in Ecuador. It’s a place where the lowest of the low work long shifts sorting through garbage to find “valuable” recyclables to earn an income.

There is a ministry that works with them called Extreme Response. They started a daycare for the children of the parents who work at the dump so the kids can have a somewhat “normal” childhood. (Normal in comparison to working alongside your parents in a mountain-sized trash heap).

Well, there was this little boy at the dump, Chancho. He was so cute and chubby. But he never smiled. He didn’t want anyone to pick him up or really even come near him. He was content with just his little soccer ball that he carried around with him. Steve was immediately drawn to him.

Chancho

For hours, Steve pursued him. Steve gave him his space, but was always available for the little guy. By the end of the day, little Chancho allowed Steve to hold him and he gave Steve a big hug and a huge smile. It was beautiful. It made me think about 2 things.

The first is what an amazing dad Steve is going to be. The love in Steve’s eyes for this little guy that he didn’t even know was obvious to everyone. I can’t wait to see that love come alive and be poured out on our little one when he/she comes home.

The second is the fact that children understand persistent pursuit. This is a reality of all parenting, but especially parenting an adopted child. I was reminded of the power of a not giving up kind of love. I am praying that even now God will put that kind of love in our hearts for our little one and that even in the face of what seems like “rejection”, we would continue to love with a persistent pursuit of our child.

Updates:

  • still working through all of the details of which documents need to be updated and which ones are good to go
  • we know our name is on a list in Russia…where on that list is what we don’t know

Prayer Requests:

  • for continued strength as we wait
  • for the children at the dump and other countless children in the world in need of love and hope
  • that our child would be loved and touched

Thanks so much for continuing along this journey with us. We know it isn’t too exciting to sit around and wait. It means so much that you are staying with us and praying for us! Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

One of those Days

June 16, 2009

If you asked me how I’m doing today on a scale of 1-10, I would probably say “oh 7 or 8” because I wouldn’t want you to be concerned or feel the need to follow up with questions or sympathy. But, because I have committed to being honest through this journey of adoption on our blog, I am going to tell you, I’m probably a 3 or 4.

I have been absolutely amazed how God has sustained us through this waiting time, how He has given us strength and patience beyond anything we could have come up with on our own, but today I’m just having one of “those days”.

Part of the reason I’m feeling down is because we will be leaving Friday for our student missions trip. In our planning of this trip almost a year ago, I had in my mind that we would have our little one by now and that I would either not be able to go on the trip or there would be special accommodations made for us. We went ahead and planned as though I would be able to go on the trip, but in my mind, I had my thoughts/dreams/hopes set that I wouldn’t go.

It’s not that I don’t want to go, I do. I love ministry trips with our students. I love the bonding that takes place with the team and the experiencing the amazing opportunities to serve people and love people completely out of my comfort zone. I am in awe of what God has taught me through past trips to India and have full expectation that He is going to do the same for us this next week as we travel to Ecuador. But, the bottom line is, my little one is in my heart and the thought of still not being with him/her makes my soul hurt.

This morningI spoke on the phone with our Russian case worker as well as our home study agency trying to get our paperwork figured out. As I’ve said before, we have many documents that are expiring in the next couple of months and I am trying to figure out the best/easiest way to redo them. On top of that, since we have changed regions from St. Petersburg to Pskov, there are additional paperwork that needs to be completed for a new region.

The honest truth is it is just tough and frustrating. The first time we did the paperwork it was exciting, it felt like we were moving forward and making progress. Now that we are doing paperwork the second time, it is a reminder of the long wait and the reality that we really have no control over this process….no matter how hard I try ☺

So, it’s just one of those days. I am grateful that I have a God who I can come to in all of my weaknesses. I know I have a God who I don’t have to “have it all together” for Him to love me and accept me. I love that I have a God that I can come to and say “I am a 3 or 4” and He scoops me up into His arms and holds me and reminds me of His love for me. He is so good.

Updates:

  • the updating of paperwork is a more difficult (and more expensive) than we anticipated
  • our case worker did confirm with us today that we are on a waiting list in Russia so that’s a praise

Prayer Requests:

  • For Steve and I as we lead a mission trip to Ecuador, that we can stay focused amidst this difficult adoption process
  • For our little one, that they would be held and sung to
  • For us as we wait…we need lots of prayer!

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

The Notebook

June 9, 2009

It’s so amazing how God always gives me a story to share on the blog each week. So often on Saturday or Sunday, I wonder…”what in the world am I going to write about this week? Nothing has changed. No progress has been made. What more can you say about waiting?” As always, God gives me something to write about.

Sometimes it is a thought that He brings to me, or a reminder of what He has been teaching me over the past week. Sometimes it is a conversation with someone. This week is a little different.

We had our big student gathering last night at the church – the ending of a great day of ministry which included morning church, grad parties, worshiping with the students at night, topping it off  afterwards with half price appetizers at Applebees with a huge group of teenagers. It was such a great day.

So, when we got home,  I opened my bag only to find that someone secretly slipped a package inside it. It said on the front: ”To Steve and Kate…we love you”. So, we opened it up and I am still absolutely overwhelmed, humbled and deeply encouraged by what was inside.

It was a notebook that was beautifully decorated with pictures depicting Russia, adoption and the sharing of stories. We opened the notebook and found it to be filled with letters from our high schoolers, leaders, and college students who were encouraging us in our lives and through this whole process.

100_2498

This is how the notebook began…”Dear Steve and Kate, I hope this journal encourages you on your adoption journey. It’s been a little over a year since you announced to the youth group you were adopting and we are all behind this and so happy for you and excited to welcome another Garcia into our family.” And then page after page we read the most encouraging, loving, caring words, words that we will cherish in our hearts forever.

They were filled with words that spoke truth, words that encouraged, words that brought hope, words that brought laughter and words that brought tears. It was the honest cries and prayers of our students on our behalf. Talk about humbling. Teenagers often get a bad rap for things like being selfish or loud or irresponsible. But, I have to tell you, some of the most amazing, encouraging, prayer warriors I know are teenagers.

As I read their prayers and their hearts in this journal, I wept. Not out of sadness, but out of deep joy and fulfillment of how God has directed and orchestrated my life. Would I have envisioned it the way it is right now 10 years ago? No. But, has He given me more than I could have ever asked or imagined? Absolutely. Although God has not given us our own “children”, He has given us so many younger people to love. And so many younger people to show us love.

We are so blessed. So, I want to say thank you to Sara Scarcella, who is one of the most encouraging, creative and thoughtful people I know. She put this together and got everyone to write something in this journal. When we wonder if people are still remembering our journey, God answers with more than we could ask or imagine.

Thank you all for journeying with us – for walking with us when the road seems uneventful and unchanging. Thanks for encouraging us, for loving us and letting us share our lives with you. We could never do this alone!

Updates:

  • we continue to pray through the silence as we keep waiting
  • continual updating of expired paperwork now that we’ve passed the 1 year mark

Prayer Requests:

  • for our agency workers on the ground in Russia, that they would labor effectively on our behalf
  • for our little one, wherever he or she may be, that they would be loved and touched

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Bigger Dreams

June 2, 2009

A shattered dream is a discouraging thing to think about. Aren’t our dreams, thoughts and expectations about life what we hold closest to our hearts? Our culture reinforces this: “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” “Reach for the stars.” “Dream impossible dreams.” Even the Psalms talk about God “giving us the desires of our hearts.”

I’ve often thought if I pray for what I want, and and pray hard enough, or long enough for it, God will eventually respond. But, what if He doesn’t? What if the dreams we dream aren’t His? Does that make Him an unloving God? Does that make him a God who withholds good things from His children? These are questions that I have been thinking through a lot in the past few weeks.

I remember in one of the adoption classes Steve and I went to a few months ago, our instructor, (a long-time social worker) talked about children who were removed from their homes. She said she would walk into bad situations like houses filled with trash, insects, drugs scattered around and parents no where to be found. They would come to rescue the children from these dire circumstances.

You would think that the kids would embrace the chance to escape and say to the social worker “thank you for rescuing me”. But that isn’t what they would experience. Instead they told us,  the children would often try to run out the back door when they saw the workers coming?

Why? Because although their home life was horrible and filled with neglect, it was all they knew to be home. The fear of being taken away from what they knew blinded them from a life that could be so much better for them. These poor children didn’t know there were bigger dreams and better opportunities than what they had in life.

In many ways, I feel like this story is great example of what God has done with my dreams of parenthood. Surrendering my infertility to God was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. The pain of the loss of a dream, of an expectation, of a deep desire of my heart, was overwhelming at times. I wanted to “run out the back door” and say to God, “you are not going to take me out of this desire, out of this comfortable dream I have been living in for my whole life.”

The dream of having biological children was all I knew. But, I believe that God chased after me and allowed my dream to be shattered. He allowed this, not because He is an unloving God, but because He is a God who has a bigger dream for my life. There is deep pain in shattered dreams, but God continues to teach me that there is deep joy and intimacy when He replaces those dreams with HIS dreams.

The other day I had a great conversation about this with my mom. It was so amazing for me to say ”there truly is nothing I want more than to meet our adopted baby, wherever he or she may be.” God has given Steve and I a new dream of international adoption.

In the process He is showing me that He has bigger dreams and better opportunities than I can imagine on my own. But I need to be okay with the shattering of my own “self-made” dreams. I believe if I can make it through the pain of the shattering, what is left is my God who still loves me and is walking with me down new paths.

So my prayer is, “Lord, keep shattering and keep remaking.”

Updates:

  • just working through updating paperwork that is expiring
  • we have crossed the 1 year mark in our journey of adoption

Prayer Requests:

  • we’ve been feeling very discouraged lately
  • strength as we continue to wait
  • that God would lead us to our child soon

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.