Thursday, December 18, 2014

All the Money!

Hello All,

We are pleased to see the last payment to our agency just cleared our account!  Now we just get ready for travel...

Thank you for your prayers!

Papa

Monday, December 15, 2014

Travel!

Hello All,

We have travel dates!

We are very excited.  Papa will go pick up Ana on 12 January, and (Lord willing) be back stateside on 17 January!  There is much to do to prepare, and we thank you for all of your prayers and support.

If you have a good suggestion from personal pickup trip experience, Papa would love to hear it!

In Christ,
Papa, Mama, Took, Porgies, and Ana

Monday, December 1, 2014

Good news

We are pleased to announce that Anastacia is now legally our daughter!  The court date was successful and our petition was approved, praise God.  Now we are waiting for travel dates.

I can't help but reflect on God's adoption of us - at first we sure don't look like we are in His family, but we are, because it is not of him who wills nor him who runs, but God who gives the increase.  We look forward to having Ana home, when the real work begins.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

In Christ,
Papa

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Addendum approval

Thankfully, USCIS approved our address-change addendum with no fuss and no delay!  Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Court date!

I never knew bureaucracy could be so exciting.  We have a court date on 28 November, so we will be thankful for that on Thanksgiving.  Thank you all for your prayers and for your support on YouCaring!  We remain grateful for assistance, as we're pretty sure the heavy lifting hasn't begun yet.

Perhaps God will work the travel dates to fall within my 10 December to 12 January break between semesters.  I would appreciate prayers to that end!

In Christ,
Papa

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Still

That month before the baby comes
the world waits with bated breath
and on you go, like normal, knowing
that normal cannot last;
the pause will end, you know,
the lapse between the lives;
before and after so disresemble one another
as sometimes siblings do.

You know that pause?
While God holds fixed his baton
with fingers lightly pinched
before the crash, the entrance,
the next movement in the cacophonous symphony of our lives?

Well,
hold
that
fermata.

For months on end.
Without sight of end.
Without a timeline, that,
be it love or loss,
will deliver.

And so, we wait,
knowing that our Lord,
who has conducted better groups than us,
will make His entrance at the proper time,
and though we lose the beat,
He has it.
In His mind and in His hand.
And the baton will come down
in His time.

Paper and patience

There have been few updates because there has been no news.  We sent our I-800a Supplement 3 for the address change off to USCIS this morning, but the pacing process remains the courts over there.

We had hoped to have Ana home for Thanksgiving.  Now I suppose we will hope to have her home for Christmas.

Thank you for your prayers and your support.
-Papa

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Home Visit Update Done!

Hooray!

Today we had our SW out to the new house, and apart from fine-tuning the pool gate, padlocking it, and putting a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, we are set!  We are getting settled in at the new house - Papa and Took planted some aloes by the front walk this morning (Took later un-planted one - "I'm helping it" he says - fortunately, they are hardy plants).

The boys like the new house, which is very gratifying. Mama likes it, too, which is good for a Papa to see.  It has (and will be) a pretty big project, so seeing people enjoy it is a good reward.  We are looking forward to having Ana home in the new house.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Still Inching...

We have more rain, praise God!  We set out some vegetable seedlings (peas, arugula, kale, lettuce) in our planter box, and we are hoping the wildflower seeds will germinate and come up after all this lovely wet weather.  Took is excited about the little plants, and that may prove dangerous to their survival.

Porgies is a climber.  We appreciate your prayers.  He loves climbing his brother's stool, but is not yet sure what a "center of balance" is.

Mama and Papa had noticed that with the many, many, things besetting us busy-wise, family worship in the evenings had gotten sporadic (boys falling asleep in the car on the way home from places, Papa being at work late, etc.).  But we reliably eat breakfast together (we might miss it once in a fortnight if Papa has a particularly early commitment).  So, after breakfast today, we read from Acts and began our two weeks in Psalm 100 (hopefully everyone will have it memorized by the end of the time).  We realize that we are bad at routine, but we also realize that routine and structure provide a base from which we can work.  We know that our resources will be taxed extensively when Ana comes home, so we want to have good family time as a part of the routine.  We also know that any ideas of "regular" will probably be exploded, and we pray that we will be ready for that, too.  Our God is wise and good, and the answer is always to know Him better in the face of Jesus Christ.

Our home visit for the update for the new house will be next week!  Hooray!

Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you to those who have continued to support us on YouCaring.  God provides, and we just have to trust His timing.  We would also appreciate your prayers that we can get our old condo cleaned and sold promptly - that would ease our minds much.

In Christ,
Papa

Monday, September 29, 2014

Inching Forward

The report today:

'They said your [case] is in "the next group". They sent another group to court today, so I am hopeful that "next group" means next week.'

Praise God!  We have been very encouraged by all of you who have prayed and have supported us via YouCaring and otherwise.  Our God is a good God, most of all seen in the light of the knowledge of the face of Jesus Christ.

(PS- We have been experimenting with not having internet at home, because it saves money and time.  That's why Papa has been manning the blog for the past few weeks.  Mama still gets emails and such a few times a day, but she quipped recently "with no internet and no mirrors, I have no excuse to waste time!"  She and the boys are well.  We planted some flower seed this morning, hoping to capitalize on the recent rain and the turn in the weather.  Autumn in Arizona is odd, but pleasant.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Travel - (Not travel dates, sorry.)

I'm not sure if I ever shared this on the blog, but we were absolutely floored by the excellent service we received from Golden Rule Travel.  This was (I think) a Musser-referral, and after one phone call and a quote ~$800 less than anything I could get on Kayak, we were convinced.

Here is their site: http://goldenruletravel.com/

They emphasize missionary, charitable, relief, and adoption travel, but I don't know if they are exclusive to those categories.  They were prompt, easy to deal with, and (did I mention?) much better positioned to get cheap fares than little ole me.

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support on YouCaring, and we'll see what comes from the courts this week.

In Christ,
Papa

(who is missing this place and missing Ana most)

Also, happy (old-style) independence day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rain

We are missing Ana.  Mama by proxy, Papa more immediately.  It is a beautiful gray day here in AZ, and we are praying for progress.  Thank you for your prayers and support.

    Shower, O heavens, from above,
        and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
    let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
        let the earth cause them both to sprout;
        I the LORD have created it.
Isaiah 45:8

He is our God, and we will wait for Him to move the slow wheels of bureaucracy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

That Nature is a Heraclitian Fire, and of the Comfort of the Resurrection

This is dear to me.  Read it aloud, or at least mouth the words - the sound is the poem.  Apostrophes generally signal emphasis.

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows 'flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs 'they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, 'wherever an elm arches,
shivelights and shadowtackle in long 'lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous 'ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches
squandering ooze to squeezed 'dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
squadroned masks and manmarks 'treadmire toil there
footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, 'nature’s bonfire burns on.
but quench her bonniest, dearest 'to her, her clearest-selvèd spark 
Man, how fast his firedint, 'his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
drowned. O pity and indig'nation! Manshape, that shone
sheer off, disseveral, a star, 'death blots black out; nor mark
is any of him at all so stark 
but vastness blurs and time 'beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
a heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, 'joyless days, dejection.
across my foundering deck shone
a beacon, an eternal beam. 'Flesh fade, and mortal trash
fall to the residuary worm; 'world’s wildfire, leave but ash: 
in a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, 'since he was what I am, and
this Jack, joke, poor potsherd, 'patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
is immortal diamond.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins, c.1888

Please keep the Mussers in your prayers - our God hears and answers.

Thank you to those who have supported us on YouCaring.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Twists & Turns

Hello Friends,

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement.  Yesterday, we got a new air conditioner!  This means things will be nice and cool for Ana when she comes home to Arizona, but it also means a large chunk of money.  It has been a singular year for our family in many ways, and we trust God to provide.  We also don't want to turn away anyone who wants to help, so to that end we have created a YouCaring fundraiser.

    The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
        the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
    One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
        another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered.
Proverbs 11:23-25

Papa has to confess to pride - he always wanted to stay comfortably on the "watering" side of this proverb.  But, God works in many ways to make us more holy, and He gives us no excuses for pet sins.

Thank you again for your prayers and support; please don't stop praying for the Mussers. (I'll probably just keep saying that for some time.)

In Christ,
Papa

PS - Mama is now just generally a happier person since the AC is not trying to fall off the roof and is sending its air into the ducts, instead of into the sky.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Organic Musings

There is a very good reason why the pictures given of our relationship to Christ are always organic.  We are branches on the vine.  We are living stones in a growing temple.  We are the seed growing to produce abundant yield. 

This is true in all relationships.  If the sap is not constantly flowing, we dry up.  If we do not regularly spend time with our spouse, our children, our friends, our pastor and elders - the relationships dry up and wither. 

It's hard to do this with Ana right now, because she is not on this continent.  But we pray.  And God, who hears and answers prayer, knows how to minister to her no matter where she is.  And we ask God that her baba would remember to show her the picture book we left.  That she would get to snuggle her knit rabbit and hold her knit owl.  And maybe when she comes home and sees Took and Porgies with their knit rabbits and knit owls, she'll make a connection.  We've been her family for a while now - and we're looking forward to being her family for as long as God gives us.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I forgot to tell you

We have been approved by USCIS! This means that we are just waiting on the wheels to turn in Ana's country.
Praise God!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Prince of Peace has Conquered Death

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.  And he shall be their peace.  - Micah 5:4-5a.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  - Ps. 4:8

Do not stop praying for the Mussers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adopted and Adopting

This is a more philosophical post.  If those are not to your taste, I take no offense.

Our family holds to the theological framework described as "Reformed" theology, a branch from the stream  of the Protestant reformation, generally by way of Scotland and England (ie - the Westminster standards).  I know of a family at a sister church to ours (also in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) that adopted a little boy from U.  Our former pastor (since retired) adopted both of their children locally.  There was recently an issue in our denominational magazine about adoption, with a somewhat breathless article about a family's recent Eastern Europe adoption, and some more reasoned articles from adoptees, etc.

But for all of that, I think Reformed people tend to have a hard time adopting.

Susanna's last family update may hit on a contributing factor.  The standing (bad) joke among some friends of mine is "Presbyterians do it decently and in good order".  The apparent chaos of God's providence can be scary (it is to me sometimes).  But if we really hold to such a high view of God's sovereignty and glory in all aspects of our lives and the universe, why can't we trust that the ways our lives may be "messed up" by adoption are good for us, and utterly necessary to our sanctification?

My wife plays the harp, and took her bachelor's degree in it.  Before I met her, I did not really appreciate orchestral music (favoring Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, who still make cameos when I am doing work in the garage).  I did not appreciate orchestral music because I had no clue how complex and textured it was.  The theme or leitmotif was about all I could remember from a piece.  After many years (and concerts), I can honestly affirm that Sibelius on a fair-to-middling day wrote much better music than Hank or Johnny on a good day.  I understand it better.  I can see the long-range order, the development of a work part-by-part, and appreciate what is being built. 

And so often I don't get God's harmonies.  They grate, I can't see past this passage to the next, and I sometimes feel like I am trapped in a John Cage concert (thank God I am not - I mean that earnestly - God actually knows where He is going with all this).

But if you fear "terrible experiences" adopting (like some might categorize the experience of our old pastor), is it not perhaps more likely that we just refuse to understand what God seeks to do in us, the children, or everyone else around?  If we elevate our idea of order, we risk making an idol of our preference (or a societal norm, or what other people might say, or whatever). 

If ever our perception of events is allowed to be normative in our thinking, we are resisting God.  The only reality that matters is His eternal, inscrutable, and most wise decree in all circumstances, and His revealed will to us in Scripture. 

If we affirm that we were dead in trespasses and sins, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us so God could adopt us, how can we be so cold?  (And I am asking this of myself most of all.)

If God the Father could make us His children in the face of our deadly (and in our old nature still continuing) rebellion against Him and His love, why do not more Christians imitate their Father?

If we Reformed claim to understand the doctrine of Adoption, why are we so slow to apply it?

So let us flee every idol, whether of comfort, custom, order, luxury, system, hobby, career, or desire, and do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God.  Then, whatever He puts in our path to do, let us do it well.

    Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    1 Thessalonians 5:12-18


PS - That the streets of the New Jerusalem are paved with gold is not intended to elevate beauty or give us an ideal to imitate.  Rather, the effulgence of beauty is inescapable in the city of God, the temple of the Lamb.  Beauty, order, system, are all effects, the cause of which is the utter dominion exercised by Christ in His kingdom.  If we want beauty, order, or system here and now, let us seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  The elevation of the secondary to the place of the primary is idolatry.  If God is first in our lives, whatever falls into place for the secondary things (like food and clothing) will be welcomed as more than adequate and gratefully received. Just a thought that was somewhat apart from the preceding, but which I wanted to note as well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You in?

I have been recently convicted that I need to spend more time studying the Bible.
I have been slowly chugging through the OT, reading a chapter of Proverbs a day, but I wanted to do something more.

So, I have resolved to copy the book of Psalms (by hand, into a notebook) before January 1, 2015. It might be crazy, but on the plus side, even if I fail in my resolution, however much progress I make will be good for me! 
Who wants to join me? I find that these things are easier and more fun with companionship, so if you want to join me in my resolution, let me know! There aren't really any rules, I have been doing two a day and I am trusting God to provide for Psalm 119 day (maybe I will be on a plane going to BLG !?)
You in?








(I am aware that many of the readers of my blog have many more children and responsibilities than I, and I don't presume to tell you how to use your time! I am also aware, however, than many of these readers are even more acutely aware of the importance and power of the Word of God than I, so I think they will accept my challenge in the right spirit.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Love!


It's been a good 7 years, and always getting better.
Praise God for that!

Thanks for being a wonderful husband and papa! It suits you very well,  and I am so excited to see what God has in store for us in the future.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Papa's Response

(See Mama's post below)

And I am thankful to have the best wife in the whole world.  Not because of what she does or who she is in herself, but because of whom she has been made in Christ.  She is the best wife because she loves her family tremendously, and loves Christ more.  And this is of God's good grace.

Q.1 What is your only comfort in life and death?                                                                

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
    “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
        we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    -Romans 8:31-39 

And yes, I miss Ana very much.  But I must also trust that God can care for her through the orphanage just as he will care for her through our family.  And it is not mine to begrudge his timing.

PS - Mama's breakfast cookies, for which she was heating up the oven with the unfortunate yogurt inside, were delicious.  Cookies for breakfast are good for you when they are nuts, dates, apricots, and a bit of  honey.

I am a failure (but Christ has conquered)

Since Papa has been home, we have really felt the hole in our family. When we are all gathered together, we are not all there. We won't be all together until Ana has joined us!

Since Papa has been home, Satan has been trying to convince me that I am not good enough, and God has been reminding me to rely on Him.
It seems like every time I walk into the kitchen I cause some kind of disaster; today I nearly burned down the kitchen by turning on the oven while the towel-wrapped slow cooker was still incubating yogurt--by God's grace I noticed before open flames broke out. The slow cooker should still be usable, it is just a little fuzzy now in the places where the towel fused to it. Yesterday I managed to throw smoothie all over the kitchen while trying to cook something with Porgies on my hip... 
Because I am a sinful person, I am dying to blame someone else for all this, but nobody else is to blame. 
I feel like my life is a series of smaller disasters making up a larger disaster.
But...

"who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
Romans 9:20

My life may look disastrous (at least to me) but it is not a disaster. It is in the hand of God from beginning to end, and it is accomplishing His purposes!
Also, I feel inadequate because I AM inadequate. If I think that I can be a perfect mom, I am wrong. If I think that I can do any kind of good on my own strength, I am wrong about that too.
God is my strength, and it is by His grace alone that I can do anything worthwhile.

So I will never be good enough.  I will never be organized enough, or flexible enough. I will always end the day wishing that I had been a better mom, or a better wife, or a better friend. 

It is absolutely my comfort that God will always provide for all that He wishes to accomplish in me, my family, and His church, and I can trust him that foolishly burned towels fit in His perfect plan.
No matter how complicated, busy, or painful my life becomes, I will always have rest in Christ who has accomplished perfection on my behalf.
To Him be all praise and glory!


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30



Saturday, July 5, 2014

God is Good

Smooth travel to Frankfurt.  Ze Germans.  They don't let a German-made safety razor blade through... not even a Merkur Super-Platinum Rostfrei.  If the loss of my razor blade is the worst misfortune to befall me, I have nothing to complain of.  With the possible exception of euro-denominated overpriced kaffe. But it was good, so I concede that front as well.

I am sad to not be visiting Ana today.  That is not a complaint,  simply a fact.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Final thoughts

It has been a singular week.  Ana gave a happy squeal when she saw me this morning, which delighted her papa.  We talked and sang and said psalms and played with her rabbit and owl and reviewed her family photo book many times.  I think her baba does show it to her.  She likes the photo of mama (reaching out her hand to brush it), and small Porgies is interesting to her.  I think she knows the papa photo is me, and I asked her to remember me.  She likes her owl - when I put it away at the end of the visit, I believe she was looking for it (arching up her back to crane her head around, and lifting her right shoulder to an extent that made me think she might be capable of rolling if she really meant to, or may become capable with a bit of work).  She had good grip on my fingers, which was encouraging.  Yesterday afternoon I did feel her wiggle her toes (which are all bunched up) as I gave her a foot massage.  It was hard to say goodbye.

Now we are rounding up my fellow-travellers to drive back to S.  It has been a good week, but indeed a singular one in my life.  Now to pray for speedy courts and second travel dates.  Thank you all for your support in prayer.  Jesus Christ has conquered his and our enemies, and reigns at the right hand of the Father.  Thus, we can wait patiently and trust his timing and plan, for it will be right. 

Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?  - Gen. 18:25

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying "He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!" Mk. 7:37

Two of my favorite verses.

Now for travel.  Aptly derived from "travail".

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Last Visit

Today I will get to see Ana for the last time in a while.  It has been a good week, and I will miss her very much while we wait the second trip.  It has been good to get to know her, see her personality come through, sing to her, say psalms with her (though I cannot say them very well in her language, so we use English), and tell her about America, about Jesus, about mama, Tater, and small Porgies.  She has a book of fotos, a little bunny like her brothers have, and a little owl like her brothers have.  Hers does not have a name yet.  Maybe Tater will make one for it when she comes home (he is the namer-of-owls, his is Owlet, his brother's is Mr. Whoo-whoo).  On to the orphanage.

General Impressions

Visa fotos went extremely well this morning.  Ana did super in the car and walking through the mall (I got to carry her on this walk, which was nice). She had no issues with the middling-busy crowd, and sat for her photo like a champ, though the lady wanted her on a stool, so both the nurse and I worked to steady her, keep her head up, and point her nose generally at the camera.  Bravo, Ana.  It waa also nice to hear the staff calling her Ana and Anastacia.  Since the visa photos, I think they are generally convinced that we are serious, love Ana, and want good for her.  This has resulted in a degree of thawing in their attitude toward me.  They have made it easy to take Ana outside, for instance.

I would like to attribute as much of their reservation as possible to a concern for protecting kids from random foreigners and/or journalists, and I think this is a real concern for them.  Nobody needs a media circus, or even noise on the internet.  The direction the orphanage is heading seems positive, there's a lot still to do, and you cannot erase the consequences of the past. But you can take better care of them.

Babas are in evidence everywhere.  There have always been a few (three to six) babas with kids out and about when I have visited.  I spied a baba reading to a group of three toddlers on our way back from the exercise room.  When the storm blew through, there was a stream of babas and kids filing in the back door.  Good things to see.  (I continue to say baba because the term lelya has not penetrated into common usage yet.)

One more visit tomorrow.  It will be hard to leave Ana, and I look forward to the next trip.  I look forward more to when she is home with her brothers and her mother and me.  I look forward most to the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,  prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place  of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  And he said to me, “It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Incidental Conversation

After breakfast, I took a stroll in the park and settled on a bench by the old church to jot thoughts and swat mosquitoes.  A resident had a similar idea, and after commenting on my shoes (Vibram five-fingers) sat down on the next bench.  I had offered a dobar-den to his comment, it being the wittiest reply available.  After a while he asked if I were from the town.  I smiled and said "ne, Amerikansky".  This is usually when people decide that I am functionally an imbicile, smile, and do their best to have done with me pronto. But this gentleman sat down next to me and started a conversation.

Turns out he has two kids, mid thirties, and four grandkids, aged 3-9.  He wondered if I was in P. on business, and I shook (shoulda nodded...darn) my head and said "adopt".  This got a puzzled look, and we attempted to talk for a while, I showed him photos of Tater and Porgies and Mama (by a dinosaur in So.Dak.), told him their ages, and then showed him a photo of Ana.  He was aware of the dom mediko-sozial, and my cartoon below helped him get the idea.  We had now spent about half an hour establishing what took you a minute to read.  He checked his watch, I checked mine, and we wished each other good day, and parted ways.  Now he knows that Americans really are imbiciles with funny shoes. But perhaps he at least thinks they are nice imbiciles.

On to visa photos, thank you for your prayers, our Gospod Bog is faithful to complete what he began.

Also, you can just buy Bibles in the bookstores now. Hooray!

Lunch and Letters

Sausages, plums, and yogurt to drink.  I like the food here.  But I was not brave enough to order a salad from the deli.

And for my language-loving boy(s) at home, a Cyrillic magnet alphabet board!  Trusting Google Translate, it says I love you, and you can arrange yourselves according to the singular or plural, as apropos.  On to the notary.

Further visits

I have now had four visits with Ana, with four more to go.  It has been a pleasure to get to know her, and to see the beginnings of recognition of me.  God is faithful, and I trust that the rest of the week will go as well or better than the beginning.

Specific conditional comments:
Her ability to eat from a spoon was encouraging. I got to feed her for an hour on Tuesday, though not today.
I met her former baba, and Ana clearly recognized her and had a positive response, which was nice to see, and gives me hope that she will eventually bond well with her mama and papa.
She will vocalize when particularly happy, and will sometimes make whistles or gurgles in her throat; I have not deduced the meaning or cause of these yet.
Her left hip has some motion, though very restricted. Her left knee does go to 90degrees, or slightly more.

Comments on the orphanage:
The bad press received because of the despicable actions of the former director and her daughter has made the staff somewhat skittish.  It is worth remembering that the majority of people think they are doing the best job they can, given the resources and demands.  This is a subjective statement, plainly, but it is the sentiment I have observed.  I also think Americans have zero conception of the psychosocial effects of a bureaucr-archy such as the east bloc endured under Soviet hegemony (and which is not easily removed).  The staff, however, mostly came of age under Z's rule and in such a system.  Obfuscation is an elementary reaction.  Outright lying (as long as it doesn't put you in a bind) is fair game.  Snow jobs are second nature.  The paramount instinct is self-advancement, because if you don't step up you will be stepped on. This does not merely relate to job or social or monetary standing, but pervades all of life. Bear in mind that communism demands atheism, and though the church was allowed to limp through that era, her witness is not strong, and her methods generally favored self-preservation over evangelism. That is a hard lesson to un-learn (even in America). 

Susanna and the early adopters from P. saw the conditions there, which I cannot pretend to fathom.  Observing it today through American eyes, it remains a sad place, with the dangers of institutionalism evident, and the neglect of (at least) the grounds inescapable. 

Put on your comm-goggles for a moment, though. There is no god, the strong are praiseworthy, life is secondary to the state.  That these children are maintained at state expense should be commendable, ne? They would be dead, otherwise. The staff is really doing all they can, their salaries are low, and things really are much better than a year or two ago.  Why are the Americans so crazy? Can't they see this is a hard job in an old building caring for these kids nobody wanted? If it's such a big deal, let them do something instead of just yelling at us.

All of this is to say that any discussion of the conditions of the orphanage demands nuance, and hysterics are always counterproductive.  There are productive ways to help improve the situation there, and they should be pursued.  For instance, someone should adopt Owen (not sure if his file is still on RR). He is plainly delayed, but spunky and interested in his surroundings like the bed of irises outside in the back - they must have been lovely in April and May. He also cannot speak, but expresses himself in moans and groans.  It seemed to me that a great deal of his delays could be reversed if he were removed from that environment ASAP.  Remember that abandoned children come from moms who chose life.  If we have less of an orphan population in America it is because we have a more widespread murder problem.  We just make it medical and pretend a great sin can prevent lesser ones.

So please do find ways to help (like the P-project, see Susanna's site), prayer, and adoption.  Do not be deceived about the hearts of men and women (or orphans) - without Christ, there is no faculty un-corrupted, and while we may be dismayed by evil, let us not pretend to be surprised (else we display a shocking ignorance of our hearts and the cross of Christ).  And when we deal with people, especially the orphanage workers, let us by smooth speech break bones, by innocence outguile them, and by soft answers smother wrath, for histronics lead to no good, but persuasion and persistence pay off.

Today is notary, tomorrow visa photos, Friday is last visit and back to S.  Thank you for your prayers, God is faithful, as always.

Now for lunch.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Impressions from the first visit

It is a cold place.
The attempts at color highlight the dominant theme,
Soviet gray,
walls, stairs, hearts.
A man and his woman are abandoning their baby today.
Perhaps they have other errands; he seems in a hurry.
Down below I will meet my daughter.
Twelve years have passed since she was the subject of such a scene,
with her twin, though, "No information on father".
I am the first father she has had,
and she lies across my lap,
this sack of potatoes - if Fabergé made potatoes.
She is deformed,
the weight of others' sin has distorted her skull and jaw and life.
She seems to have spent years - a decade? - on her left side,
her ear folded and her legs crossed,
for so she now sits, hips twisted like the past of the orphanage.
Yet she turns her head,
her eyes like two brown sunflowers
following the sound of her name,
and catching my gaze and smile.
Her country grows many such flowers,
in field, garden, and orphanage.
And they are beautiful,
as God made them to be.

Musings jotted during travel

In a foreign country, you cannot pretend to understand the people around you.  In this way it is more honest than one's home.

As we age, our eyes grow dim while our ears and noses slowly enlarge.  There is a lesson about wisdom here.

To see both a cloud and its shadow from above is a mere pretence of objectivity.  One sun illumines us.

Overflying this country shows a variegated terrain of hills and valleys, wet and dry, grass and wood; a good place to work in the sun, see the vines grow, grapes, tomatoes, perhaps squash and kitchen gardens.  We are called to tend and keep, plant, water, and prune, souls as well as seeds.

At the Hotel Rost*v

As my inimitable interpreter put it: "It's not a good hotel, but at least it is a hotel, you know." 

Soviet charm with easy access to shops!  Who could ask for anything more?

He also said, after an inquiring visit to a disappointing smaller hotel: "There's no competition in this town."  He does have a degree in economics, after all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

He's off!

Papa is now enroute to Ana's country!

Please keep him in your prayers as he travels.
Please pray that God would prepare Ana's heart to meet her tall American Papa... He's got a friendly face but he IS 6 feet 8 inches tall...
Please pray that all the details in country would go smoothly and that he would be able to return safely next week.

Thank you!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Traveling Soon...

Our pastor's wife asked me on Sunday "Are you nervous about the trip?"

This was an interesting question to me.  I'm not worried about the travel - you go places, there are people, hotels, restaurants, taxis, and maybe you need to double-check your Cyrillic before ordering or buying food, but I figure it won't be all that hard to travel.  (The families that adopt from Ukraine - my hat is off to them.  Living as an expat for a few months is daunting to me!)

So I said "No, not really".

But while I'm comfortable that I can travel reasonably well, I won't know my heart until I get there.  We are committed to adopting and loving Ana.  That's a decision we made a long time ago, and we are very glad to have emotional progress back (it's been 18 months of paper - the emotional progress gets stalled just about the same time a baby would be delivered, then Porgies actually WAS delivered, and then there's been a long time of "well, just keep doing the next form, update, whatever, and move forward where we can").  I'll be honest - I have not had much experience caring for special-needs kids (but then, I'd had NO experience being married prior to the wedding, and God preserves us to this day), so I just don't know myself in this regard all that well.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
(1 John 4:7-12)

And in light of this, I am certain that God can work His love for Ana through even weak, sinful people like Mama and myself.  I am certain that Jesus Christ can give me some of His infinite love to show to Ana next week.  I am certain that God will sustain and provide for us, though I don't know how it will all play out, and I can't expect it to be comfortable or pretty.  However, I am certain that it will be glorious, for:

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
(Romans 8:26-30)

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)

So please pray that God inevitable glory will shine through, that I will love Ana as Christ loves, and that Papa and Mama and the boys will:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:4-7)

Even so, come Lord Jesus!
-Papa

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pictures for a book for Ana

Papa

Mama

Tater

Baby G, who isn't much of a baby. He is more aptly known as 'Small Porgies' or 'Porgies' for short :-)


Saturday, June 14, 2014

We have travel dates!

Now pour on the wisdom, folks!

Only Papa can go, how do we communicate while he is in the country?

Any advice for what to pack/what not to pack?

He will be traveling at the end of June/beginning of July. We appreciate your prayers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting

Dear Anastacia,

We are waiting right now.  We would very much like to come visit you, meet you, and know who you are.  We pray for you.  Your biggest brother reminds me if I forget sometimes (but I don't forget you).  God knows you, and God does not forget you.  God has plans for you, Ana, and for our whole family.  I don't know what those are, but I know they are wiser than I could ever imagine.

We are working on the new house - it should be the house you come home to, and we want to make it clean, snug, and welcoming for you.  Your brothers are growing fast.  I wonder how big they will be when you come home.  (I wonder how big you will be when you come home.)  You have very nice brothers, and they will help take care of you.

You also have the best Mama in the world, though you don't know that yet.  You will.

Your Papa wants to lead his family to Jesus, and that's the most exciting thing we have to tell you: Jesus loves you.  We will work on this one a lot.  Your brothers are learning it, too. Your Mama and Papa are still learning it.

We love you,
Papa


Monday, May 19, 2014

Tater on Ana...

Our oldest is now somewhat aware of the adoption process and likes to talk about Ana.


Whenever he sees the picture of Ana, he says "there's Ana! She's wearing a zyelyony [Russian for green] shirt!"

When we listen to our CD of folk music from Ana's country, he announces "Ana knows this song!" at the beginning of every track.

"She will be a baby," he says. "She will think I am funny."

When he makes 'families' he always includes an Ana character.

I am so excited to see how they interact! I think he will be an excellent brother :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Approved (again)

Our updates to our I800a were finally approved! Hopefully this is the last thing needed to get our dossier reviewed in Ana's country!



Also Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom wrote this awesome encouraging post...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Ana,

It has been a long time since we made a commitment to adopt you, and an even longer time since I first saw your sweet little face on Reece's Rainbow. I remember the excitement of scraping together everything in the bank to pay the commitment fee-we couldn't wait to get on our way to bringing you home!
Now it feels like we have been on our way forever. Your little brother G has grown from a newborn to a babbly crawly six month old and still we haven't made our first visit with you. 
I wonder about you; do you look at all like the picture that we have of you? Are you doing well? Are you warm enough at night? Do you get yummy nourishing food? Does anybody look at you and make you smile?
I pray for you, that God would keep you warm and safe and bring you home to us soon. I pray that He will prepare you for us, and that your little heart will be able to love your family.
We aren't much, just a mama and a papa and two brothers. Our house isn't that big, and we don't have fancy stuff. But we are a family. Papa and I are commited to loving every child in our family and giving them the very best. That means you, too, Ana! It won't always be easy, for us or for you, but God will take care of us and give us the strength to glorify Him as we love each other.
We hoped to have you home by August (that's when your country and every other country in Europe goes on vacation, sweetie), but now with the updates that we have had to do through USCIS I am not very hopeful. Maybe we can get our first set of travel dates before then?
Ana, I am so excited to meet you, because God has lead us to you and I know He only gives His people the very best. You will be the perfect daughter for us! You will be the perfect sister for your brothers, and cousin for your cousins, and niece for your Aunts and Uncles, and granddaughter for your grandparents! Did I tell you that we have a large extended family? We do. We will make sure that you don't get overwhelmed by them all at once and try to break them down in to manageable pieces :-)
Ana, I am praying that God will work wonders in the slow bureaucracy of our government and yours and bring you home to us speedily!
I love you!

Hugs and kisses,
Mama

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just waiting...

Doing the next right thing...

Trying not to be angry with institutions that seem so disorganized...

Trying not to feel guilty that we can't do more...

Wishing for travel dates...

Putting our trust in God that He is using all these little things for our good and His glory...

Praying for Anastacia that God would preserve her and encourage her while she waits and waits for the family that she doesn't know is coming...

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mr. Zip Exonerated

I did that thing.  That thing where you don't think, and merely send some paper (to its end?) by standard US Mail.  Three weeks or so had passed, we called the Feds, who said "No luck, it isn't here, try there" and so we did.  Praise God, today it cleared (the check enclosed), and we are cheered, and Papa knows that if you care about arrival anywhere, you spend the dough and make it go straight to the second address, which will say "ATTN: Hauge".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

For Their Redeemer is Strong.

Mr. V.P. annexed Crimea.

There are orphans in Crimea.

There are (were?) American families pursuing those orphans for adoption.

Now, they cannot.

Russians cannot be adopted by Americans.

Why?

Because, amid the serious business of jockeying for power and (mostly) appearance of command, our president, Mr. B.O., has been rolled.  Again.  And again.  And again.  How serious the dungaree phone call photo-op was!  Too bad for the little people.  They get lost in the cracks between the egos (or the ids?).  But anyway, they couldn't have voted for him (whom? anyone?) anyway.  They weren't that important, you know.  Not like the clashing paper titans, the shadow-puppets of geopolitics, projecting themselves onto a blank world (or was it inhabited?  hmm, didn't notice, must not have mattered) and squabbling just as jerkily and inconclusively as a two-bit wayang-kulit

But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields. - Eccl. 5:9

Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. - Zech. 7:9-10

    Do not move an ancient landmark
        or enter the fields of the fatherless,
    for their Redeemer is strong;
        he will plead their cause against you. - Prov. 23:10-11

Kyrie, eleison,
Christe, eleison,
Kyrie, eleison,
Kyrie, eleison.
 Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
Deus Pater omnípotens.
Dómine Fili Unigénite, Iesu Christe,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus, tu solus Altíssimus,
Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.
Dominus vobiscum.
(Et cum spiritu tuo.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I am a lame blogger

We are all still alive here, enjoying summery weather while the rest of the country is cold...

All our docs are in (or on their way to) Ana's country and we are now awaiting travel dates. We need to figure out which and how many of us will travel as well.

Both of our boys are doing well, and I am very thankful for that. I expect a difficult adjustment when Ana comes home and it is good to have some time to establish a rhythm and convince Tater that I still love him even though I had the audacity to give birth to baby brother.

I am honestly a little scared; how will I be able to show love to all of my children if I am stuck in a hospital with Ana for weeks on end? Or just completely overwhelmed by every day life? I am praying for both my little boys NOW, that God would prepare them and strengthen them. I know God will not put us in any situations that He will not also give us the grace to survive (and give Him glory while doing so ;-)

Also, a friend found a dictionary in the language of Ana's country (not so easy to find!) so I have been enjoying that.

For now, enjoy my busy boys :-)




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rejoice with those who Rejoice!

The Huizingas, I mean.  They have their girls home safe and sound, praise God!

We are so happy that Penny (who was the first little girl on our radar) has a happy, safe, God-fearing family to be a part of.

Our paper wheels continue to turn slowly, we think.  There's a document (HS amendment) to apostille (when isn't there?), so I need to get down to the capitol sooner or later...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Please join us in prayer

that a certain ministry in a certain country would find a certain paper that they ought to have in their possession. Also that, if not, we can find a manageable backup plan in time for said ministry's 31 January deadline (can you even DO 2nd-day-air to this country?  On to the FedEx site...)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Early Morning Blessings

Short-sleep frazzle-face shambles out.
I put pencil down and close the book,
enfold a tiny person in my arms,
as back to bed she goes.
Smiles swapped, grins given,
no more study for now,
we will off to the grocer,
just the morning, the infant, and me.
Apples, oranges, spinach,
and so much more, one-handed,
careful not to bump or drop
the produce or the person
cuddled elbow-close and
open-eyed amazed, the big wide world
has piñatas on the rafters!
Back home, clear morning light slants and brightens
the world we have enjoyed together.
And he watches me make breakfast
for his brother and his mother and for me,
selfless, I suppose; he cannot yet eat omlets,
delicious though they are;
so working, I sing God's songs
to my morning son, and he smiles,
more reward than I deserve,
O gracious Father,
thank you.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A New Year's Experiment

We have started 2014 off with the first serious attempt at getting a routine in our house.  Papa gets up at 6am so he can drink tea and study (or go teach his M-W 7:30am class which starts next week).  Mama and boys get up around 8am, and if Papa is still home, he has breakfast ready around 8:15-8:30am.  Dinner is around 6pm, (it had been slipping later and later since Baby G. came), and we start bedtime around 8:30pm (which means lights-out closer to 9:15pm, as we do our family worship at night).  This means everybody is rested adequately (except poor Mama who is up feeding Baby G. a couple times per night - but this, too, shall pass).

This is a sea change in our house.  I've never been good at routines, so we are very curious to see how this one plays out.  However, it was adopted for a few good reasons (and not the bad one that wants us to feel in control of every minute - we've learned (and will learn) how laughable that idea is).

1) We were feeling stretched but not really doing that much (though with a newborn, which does count) - this is a cue for organization

2) Eating late was not healthy, and made it hard to get to sleep at a reasonable hour (which cascades to the next day, etc.)

3) Our older son is like a combination of me and one of Mama's brothers - he's particular, likes predictability, and gets upset when reality does not match the vision in his head.  So we want to cultivate a vision of a "normal" day and then meet it pretty regularly.  Christmas nearly ruined him - our schedule was whacked out beyond recognition, between visits to family, illness, church services on TUESDAY! 

So we began our experiment on Monday, and so far, so good.  We almost got in trouble Monday night, when we tried to do both laundry (coin op, requires some planning and effort) and Costco.  We got to bed half an hour later than we wanted to, but seemed to recover yesterday, and agreed that we should only do one thing after dinner.  Yesterday that was a trip to Home Depot for more renovation supplies, today that's Papa off on diaconal work.

As a rather damning side note, Tater gleefully declared "Costco says 'cost-cost-cost'".  How true...