Thursday, December 17, 2009
I laid in bed last night wide awake until after 1 a.m. running through the scenarios in my mind...playing the "guess the date of Mercy's homecoming" game in my head...thinking of all the things I want to do before she comes home. You know, like paint the walls in the stairwell to the downstairs playroom. Yeah, important stuff that she will really care about (insert sarcasm here). I'm just crazy happy or maybe just crazy. Who knows! Who cares!
Winter clothes for our sweetie are definitely in order. I've done some clearance shopping the last few weeks so she won't freeze. I also bought a heated blanket for the girls bunk bed, which I am planning to order tomorrow. I can't wait to get it all set up and ready to go. Their room is small so the bookcase headboard will be essential for extra storage. I dream of the night I get to tuck her in for the first time, pray with her, and check on her 20 times.
I got the official paper copy of our approval in the mail yesterday and it said our papers were forwarded to the National Visa Center on the 11th. Our adoption agency said we should e-mail the embassy to request a visa appointment on the 28th provided we have that passport.
I keep praying and believing that we are just a few weeks away from Mercy coming home. Excitement abounds. We are praising God for all he has done and continues to do!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Case approved! The notice is in the mail to you and on its way to the National Visa Center. It can take about 5 days for the approval notice to get to the NVC and then 24-48 hours for it to be uploaded into the system. They will then schedule an interview in Accra. Please let me know if you do not hear from the NVC in this time frame.
"Approved" is just about the nicest word I could hear. We are soooooooooooo close.
I was told we have the death letter for Mercy's father (although I haven't seen a copy), but she still doesn't have her passport. They actually ran out of passport books to print them on, which seems so "Haiti" to me.
Airline tickets are crazy high right now because of the holidays. I hate the thought of getting the OK and then not having the money to buy the tickets, but as a friend reminded me, God has already gone ahead of me and made the way for it to happen. I don't know how, but He does, and that is what I am counting on.
Keep praying! Lord willing, I believe it won't be long now!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
On the way there we talked about what kind of people we might encounter and that no matter what their outward appearance might be that they should be treated with love and respect. Smile, be friendly and most of all serve them as if you were waiting on a very special guest.
From my perspective, we live in a community where the disadvantaged are mostly invisible. A small town in the midwest with lovely parks, nice places to eat, and good schools. You generally don't see people who resemble the homeless and I don't think I've ever seen anyone hanging out in the streets begging. You can generally go about your business and not be made to feel "uncomfortable" by the less fortunate. I think that might be a bad thing.
You see there are people who society deems the have nots or disadvantaged living in every community. To pretend they don't exist in the places we live is wrong. When I looked at the room filled with hungry people who had waited outside in the freezing weather, I did not see statistics. I saw worn and weathered faces of sisters, brothers, grandparents, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. Each of them children of God. Each with a story uniquely theirs.
The reality is that any one of us is one job loss, one medical diagnosis, one bad decision or one tragedy away from being THAT person.
I don't know that a bowl of soup and a friendly smile made a difference to anyone going through our line, but I do know that I was blessed by serving. My children were blessed by serving. We will do it again and I hope you will think about doing it to.
Friday, December 4, 2009
In ways it is similar to the month or so before you deliver a newborn baby. You start to get a little more uncomfortable. You don't sleep as well. You dream about what it will be like to walk through the door for the first time with your child.
Earlier in the week we received our I-797C (notice of action) for our I-600. Basically it's a letter they send to pacify you and let you know they received your application and it is in process. I've also been in touch with our senators office to see if they can assist us with an expedited approval because of her living situation.
I also found out that the new process for filing the I-600 through the central location in Texas has an interesting twist. After you send them to Texas (instead of your local office), they forward them back to your local office. Hmmm...
So where are we at?
Praying for I-600 approval.
Praying for Mercy's passport (they ran out of booklets to print them on).
Praying for her father's death letter we will need for her visa.
Praying for continued provision.
Praying for Mercy's heart.
Praying that we will have peace as we wait on God's perfect timing.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
We'd like to have a name that meant something special. Honestly, I know it's hard to pair anything with Salzwedel and have roll off the tongue. I'm hoping you can help me out with some good suggestions!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
As we were leaving the house around 6:00 I remembered I hadn't gotten the mail today. You know, never really look forward to it. Usually just bills and junk mail, but today there was something different. A hand addressed envelope with no return address. And inside that envelope was another envelope with "Mercy" written on it. And inside that envelope was
Just like that...boom...$1,300. Just yesterday the mountain seemed huge and today not so much. That, my friends, is God. And when I doubt or have fear I need to remember this moment and all of the other moments where God has shown His loving faithfulness. He will complete this good work He began.
Thank you Lord and thank you anonymous. We are blown away by God's goodness and your generosity.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
We are praying for all obstacles to Mercy's homecoming be removed. We are praying that any approvals we need will be obtained quickly and without fail. We are praying for a hedge of protection to be placed around Mercy. Also, we are praying that the finances needed for travel will not be an issue and that anything we need for when that time comes will be there. We are trusting God for his love and protection over Mercy's life. Our hope is in Him.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I was blessed when she wrote recently to ask if there was anything I had wished I would have brought back from Ghana but didn't. I was amazed by her generous offer and wrote her back to let her know I had bought a Ghanaian clothing item for everyone but myself. She quickly offered that her husband needed a reason to shop in Ghana and that he would be on the lookout for something special.
The box arrived the other day and I opened it to find an exquisitely embroided ensemble and a figurine that symbolized "life is precious". The outfit also came with a headwrap that I have not quite mastered (yet). I plan to wear it on the day Mercy is dedicated at church.
I feel blessed that God chose to connect me with this family via the United States, Italy, Haiti & Ghana. The world is certainly feeling like a smaller place all the time.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"Stuff" packed up in boxes. "Stuff" we don't care about. Boxes and boxes of clothes the children have outgrown.
Why. oh. why. did. we. buy. all. this. STUFF!?
We do not live an extravagant lifestyle by American standards. I generally clearance shop and don't spend any money on perks like a professional dye job or manicure. We don't live in a huge house or have a new car. Our shopping and spending habits changed drastically a few years back when Jeff lost his job, but we still have work to do. Learning the difference between what we NEED and what we WANT has been good for us all - including the kids.
When I looked around at all of our "stuff" I realized how foolish and wasteful it was. I wept for the dollars I spent on things that don't matter to us. Things that get shoved to the back of a closet. I think of all of the good that could have been done with that money. A few dollars here and there would have added up to a lot that could be given to people making a difference or to people lacking the basic essentials to live.
The truth is that I have a deep desire to simplify. I want to be a better steward. My possessions have slowly lost their meaning and I am thankful.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
1) Pray for them
2) Speak up for them
3) Provide for their needs
4) Support those who support them
5) Protect them from harm
6) Visit them where they are
7) Give sacrificially to them
8) Encourage them to press on
9) Adopt them into your family
10) Mobilize your church for them
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Normally I would be semi-content to wait, but the reality of Mercy's living situation has me feeling in a hurry. I haven't said much on here, but the orphanage where Mercy was living was closed at the beginning of summer. She has pretty much been bounced around from place to place since then. She is currently being cared for by a lady I was told is her grandmother, however, the social welfare report I received says it is her aunt. Familial terms seem to be used very loosely in Ghana so it's hard to know how exactly this person is related to her. I did have someone check on her last week and was told that the "grandmother" was out traveling and she left Mercy in the care of her older male cousins (again, a guess). You can imagine that this has been very concerning. If she were in an orphanage setting I would at least feel confident that she is being supervised and fed. The reality is that I don't know either of those things are happening right now.
It was also the sad realization that one year ago yesterday Anchise was placed back with her mom. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Anchise and my journey to Haiti. The truth is that I wouldn't change any of it. I am so thankful for the people that I've met by being a part of the Haiti crowd. I am thankful that I got to love Anchise (and still do). The reality is that I think my children are best cared for by me. If Anchise's mom is able to care for her, then that is where she belongs. Maybe my role in her life was to reunite her with a mom that loves her. I may never fully understand it this side of heaven, but I am at peace with it.
If you feel inclined to pray, we covet your prayers for Mercy, our fingerprinting appointment and the final steps to bring her home. Please pray for our remaining finances needed ~ we need about $1,500 yet to buy Mercy's plane ticket and my in-country expenses for pick up. Also, please take a moment to pray for sweet Anchise. I pray God's blessings are showered on her and her mother.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Some of my time there was spent with a precious little one named Patience. This sweet girl had a deep sadness that I will never forget. When I saw the picture of me looking down at her I was taken right back to that moment and all of the feelings that went along with it.
I am thankful that my heart has been broken for "the least of these". It's good to be changed.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The best part of this gift, however, was the message that came with it. You see, this person was gifted with a ticket to visit her son last year. She, in turn, felt the Lord's prompting to return the favor to me.
It made me think a lot about how life would be if we purposefully sought out ways to bless others with both our time & treasures. I feel personally challenged to do better in this area. I think it would make this crazy world a much nicer place.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I believe that people need encouraging words to press on ~ especially since most faith journeys have their share of struggles. There have been many times recently when I have felt weak and it is the encouragement and prayers of friends and loved ones that have kept me going.
When we came home from church yesterday we found the gift of encouragement tucked in our doorway. The note said:
Salzwedel Family ~
We love that you're living out God's command to care for the orphans and making Mercy a part of your family. What a blessing for her to have an earthly mom and dad as well as the opportunity to be brought up in the Lord - her heavenly father!
We pray this gift would be helpful to your family as you bring Mercy home! We're praying for you all and look forward to the day we'll meet her.
Stay strong in the Lord as you wait on His timing! Blessings.
Inside the card was a very generous gift to our adoption fund. Praise God for this encouragement. Praise God for these anonymous givers who did more than just help financially, but ministered to our spirit to keep pressing on in faith. We are feeling grateful, humbled and encouraged.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Birth certificate...check! In hand.
Relinquishment...check! In hand.
Dad's death certificate...check. In hand. Oops...there's an error with the name. Uncheck.
Adoption Decree...nope. We were told it would be ready today, but no dice.
I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Since we have some equity available in our home we were initially told we could probably get at least a couple of thousand in cash when we refinanced. Needless to say we were thrilled at that prospect and that it certainly would be an answer to prayer! We just found out our home didn't appraise high enough because of the market so we no longer qualify for that type of loan. We can still refinance, but there would be no cash out. Bummer.
I checked with Jeff's work this week about borrowing from his 401k. They do not offer a loan program through his employer and adoption was not a qualifying event for "hardship withdrawal". Drat!
Two. doors. closed.
I've sat down several times to fill out an adoption loan application, but it just doesn't feel right. I make up my mind that I'm sick of wondering where the money will come from, I pull out the paperwork, and I just can't do it. Something deep in my gut tells me it's not what I've been promised. Plus, the thought of filling out another 10 page form to prove myself worthy AGAIN doesn't sound appetizing (although I'd do it if I felt I was meant to).
So as we reach the final stages before Mercy comes home and I compare what we have vs. what we need, I get overwhelmed sometimes. I know many adoptive parents are in this same situation. I have been trying very hard to cast all of my cares and not carry this burden. I pray every day for clarity and wisdom about finances. There is no back up plan...God WILL provide.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Frustrated with not having paperwork that I should have had a long time ago...yep, you've heard that one already.
Worried about the cost of bringing her home and how to come up with that...yep, you've heard that one too.
Sad that this time last year I was preparing to go meet Anchise and now I'm feeling raw again with that date on the calendar approaching...been there, done that.
I have many thoughts and posts swirling in my brain that I don't know how to put into words where my heart will be clearly understood. I will just say I need prayer. I am at a loss.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We are needing some specific paperwork (one of which I THINK we will get for sure this week):
~ birth certificate
~ passport (can't get without the birth certificate)
~ adoption decree
~ father's death certificate
Once we get these papers we can file our I-600 locally. I've talked to the gentleman who handles our case in our local office and he told me to e-mail him when I was overnighting our paperwork so he could watch for it. Once we have I-600 approval we will just be waiting for her visa to be issued and she can come home.
I am going to be an optimist and say she will be home in the next couple of months. I am praying somehow it is before October 29th when our fingerprints expire. Nothing is definite in this process, but all in all I would say we have had a pretty good timeline. God is able, so we just keep on praying and believing!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Let's just say Brezlan is full is personality. He has an opinion on everything. He is a total momma's boy. He loves digging in the dirt and trucks of all kinds. He LOVES pancakes and would eat them for every meal if I would allow it. You never know what he will say. He has no fear. He makes me crazy and delights my heart in every way possible.
Happy Birthday baby boy! We love you so much.
Friday, September 11, 2009
rubbed delicious smelling cream on her
Lord, please remove any obstacles to bringing her home.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
When I heard I had to go to Ghana I'll admit I freaked out a bit. As I've said before, we do not have credit cards to fall back on. I know that is something a lot of people have opinions about, but it's what is right for us. We made a lot of poor choices using credit cards when we were younger and quickly learned they were not healthy for our financial situation. God used some really hard financial times to teach us about good stewardship and I will praise Him for that trial until my dying day.
When I shared with all of you that I had to travel, a few people helped spread the word that we had an immediate need. In typical God-like fashion I was blown away in how IMMEDIATELY we were provided for. In one weeks time we received almost $1,000 in donations. Initially when I checked ticket prices they were around $2,200. After waiting a couple of additional days to book my flight and checking at a couple of travel agencies, I was able to get my last minute ticket to Ghana for $1,400. Amazing!
I called a friend to see if I could borrow some luggage from her for the trip. Not 45 minutes later someone who I hadn't discussed our luggage situation with showed up at our door with a brand new 3-piece set of luggage. Amazing!
God even provided right down to the shoes on my feet. When I went to Haiti the cheap sandals I wore were trashed by the end of the week. I knew if there was one thing I needed was a good pair of shoes to wear. I went to a local store and ended up finding a pair I loved that were even on sale. They didn't have my size in stock, but a store about 30 minutes away did. The sales person offered to have them hold them for me, but with all of the preparations going on I didn't have time to travel to pick them up. I ended up running into a friend on my way out and told her what I was doing and about the shoes. She offered to drive to pick them up for me and pay for them on top of it all. Amazing!
The day before I left we received a donation in the mail for $200. My flight to New York was delayed due first to computer problems and then the weather courtesy of Hurricane Bill. I ended up missing my flight to Ghana and had to spend the night in NYC. I was not blessed by the airlines with a voucher for the hotel and ended up spending $160 for a room close to the airport. If I hadn't had that $200 come in I would have been short on cash in Ghana. Amazing!
These are just some of the amazing ways God cared for us so lovingly on this trip. So when worry starts to creep in about how to afford ANOTHER trip back to pick Mercy up I try not to think about it. God CLEARLY has this covered. He deserves all the glory. I continue to be amazed by His faithfulness.
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.