Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wow...I need to post!


If youre still reading our posts...thanks! August hit the map and I cant believe how much time has flown by! We literally got home from Michigan and started football for the boys and volleyball for Caila. The picture is Eliana at the park while we waited for Ben to be done with his practice. She now can spot anything park-like from the car and starts shrieking. She has a favorite word too...Up, and it literally means...up, or down, or help, or please. Its a universal plea for something. I really should be in bed, but when I looked at the blog and realized it had been so long I thought I better say something! I will try to be better about posting!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This crazy life

I'm sure that you have heard the term " You only have one life, so make it a good one " , well one thing about following God's leading for your life is that you never know where he is going to take you....and its usually places you never dreamed you would or could go. I never dreamed I'd have a masters degree...much less live in a 100 year old house of my dreams and have 5 kids! God is giving me the strength, patience and enough insanity to cope with the demands that are placed on me...and when people ask me (and I have been asked how I do it) I often say I have no idea. That's because its not my life! I know that people look at my life and think she has got to be crazy, or what was she thinking? But that's it....I wasn't! Giving God complete control over every aspect of your life doesn't look "normal". Our normal and God's aren't the same. We are all too often lured by our culture to think that certain things in life are worth aspiring to. Comfort, wholeness, peace, security, these things all sound good, but the problem is that we will pursue these things for our entire lives and never attain them on our own. These are all things that man has tried to pursue since Adam and Eve and to my knowledge...no one has ever achieved it! Its mans natural tendency to want those things but only God can truly give us the comfort we crave, the wholeness we desire, the peace in the midst of a storm in our lives and the security that there is a plan. I may not have a road map to my life, or even for my day. But I know that having the creator of the universe writing my life plan is a whole lot more comforting, peace giving and secure than I could ever hope for myself. God promises to make all things new and in his plan I know that in the end I will have compete wholeness...in Him, and that all the whys and wondering will be answered from His wisdom..not my little brain. Is it scary...sometimes...its like riding that rollercoaster with your eyes closed and knowing that you are slowing climbing the hill and peeking right before you plunge into the dive, but in the end you loved every minute of it, and want to go back and do it again. You trusted that the ride was safe and that it was designed for you to have the thrill of your life. Trust God to do that for your life...no matter how crazy it seems to others. You have all eternity to reflect on it and rest knowing that the ride was well worth it!


P.S. Just in case any of you try to contact me at home...we are in Michigan til August 1st. So email me at lov2stamp@yahoo.com!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Emily

In case you are looking for an Emily update...go to 
http://emilyhenrichs.blogspot.com/
You can get info there from today as well as info about sending her an ecard !

Monday, May 18, 2009

Website created for Emily Henrichs


I have created a website to update friends and family who are praying and supporting Emily and her family.  Please pray and subscribe the blog so that you can be updated on any changes.  You can find a link to her blog in the right hand corner of this blog.  Please continue praying.

Please pray....

We are asking anyone who reads this to pray for friends of ours, Andrea and Wayne Henrichs and their daughter Emily.  Today they recieved the news that the strange flu like symptoms that their daughter has been having are actually the result of a mass they have found in her head.  Nothing is known at this time about the details of the mass, and they are going to Peoria ( St Francis Medical Center) tonight to be admitted and an MRI is planned for tomorrow. Please pray for peace and freedom from fear.  I will try to keep you informed here if I recieve an update. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When was the last post? What day is it?


I wish I had the words to put here for the past month after being home....the best way to say our lives is....looking for SLEEP!  Maybe its being over 4o, or transition to a new home, world, life, culture...but sleep is more valuable than $ right now!  There is a million distractions and only so many hours in the day with 5 kids ages 15, 13, 11, & 11.  So much to see and do...that naptime, and bedtime become a major challenge sometimes. Eliana is usually the biggest trouper of all. She is so patient with us forgetting her bottle time, or pushing bed time a bit past norm.  Flexible is her true nature, and patience is her strongest quality...or is it tolerance?  Its hard to tell!  Either way she fits right into our family in a healthy way.
She is amazing and so hand picked for us. Every day is a blessing to us!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eliana's Mama

A day doesn't go by when I don't hold Ellie and think bout the woman who carried her for 9 months and had to leave her.  I don't think we will ever have the true answer as to why she couldn't keep her daughter.  Many reasons, perhaps she was single and couldn't provide for her alone.  Maybe she was married and already had a child and couldn't afford to feed two.  She may have simply had a son already and according to Chinese law she couldn't have another child.  There is intense pressure to not go against the good of all, and keeping the population down in China is for the good of all.  Having more than one child is seen as self serving and is looked down upon.  These are just a few of the scenarios that could have taken place, but ultimately Eliana's mother loved her enough to give her life, to deliver her and for 5 days care for her before placing her at the gate of an elementary school before dawn, knowing that soon someone would find her.  It breaks my heart to think of the agony that must have been for her.  Not knowing what has happened to her baby, was she loved?  And here I sit, typing this with a sweet baby in my lap, sleeping soundly...unaware that she is loved so much, and that all of this was already planned ahead of her birth by a God that loves her more than any parent could.  Its all really hard to comprehend, but I think it really is evidence that God still performs miracles if we look for them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Proof that Maren did actually eat scorpion.

video
Many people have questioned whether Maren ate scorpion since she is pictured with an ice cream cone.  Although she did not eat her own scorpion her siblings were gracious enough to share.

Home

Wow..we made it home.  It really does feel like being on the other side of the world when you have to come home.  I realize now that we were gone so long that it started to become normal being there, because it feels strange being home.  Even been away so long that happened to you?  I am SO glad that when I walk out of the door no one was looking at me and starring!  It is also good to be able to drink water out of the faucet,  get what I need at the grocery store without having to guess at the picture on the outside, and know that the money in my wallet will be the right kind!  Its also good to sleep in my soft bed...I wasn't the only woman on the trip who complained of feeling like her hips were bruised....God bless Chinese women...I cant imagine how anyone gets used to sleeping on plywood.  That is just one of many ways that the Chinese have no idea what they are missing.  I was sent a link to a YouTube video while we were in China of Il Divo singing Amazing Grace at the Coliseum in Rome and it was blocked in China or "Unavailable in this country" is the way it was displayed,  and it made me realize that in many ways we don't know how much of Christianity and exposure to the truth is kept from the people of China.  I value my freedom now in ways I never could have before.
John 8:32  "For you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eating in China

Ok so there are plenty of options when eating in China.  McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Papa Johns, and Scorpion.  Yes scorpion.  So our last night in Guangzhou and I was ready to treat the kids to a McDonalds ice cream.  Instead they chose to eat scorpion - don't ask me I don't understand either.  (Posted by Tom)






Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on China

I havent had much of a chance to post lately, Tom has been adding video and things.  Its been hard to get a chance to think clearly, much less get online. Six people sharing two computers and all seven of us in two hotel rooms gets a little claustrophic.  Its a lot more intense outside of the hotel.  Its hard to explain what happens when you walk out of the hotel elevator here, but I will try.  When the doors of the elevator open you hear the clatter of construction, the bustle of city traffic and the noise similiar to what I have heard when watching reports on television about the closing of the board of trade....a constant chatter that you cant distinguish what is said but there are a hundred conversations going on around you.  The sights are just as intense...when you walk through the streets you notice that they are fairly narrow, some meant for only walking through, but cars still seem to try and squeeze through the people, bikes, strollers and merchandise. Right outside of our hotel there is a four block walk to Shamian Island and you walk through two different markets.  The first one is a pet market.  Lining both sides of the street are shops with simple plastic bins filled with fresh water and every kind of small fish or aquatic plant, right next to that could be a shop selling dog food, fish food or cat food with large bags open with cups and prices listed in chinese.  There are small cages of hampsters, gerbils, kittens, birds, turtles, rabbits and even puppies.  The chinese really like small fluffy dogs, and the ones that we have come across in shops are named funny things like Money...(for good fortune).  After going through this market we come to the specialized chinese medicine market (I get that from the map).  It honestly smells like walking into a spice closet.  All sorts of things are in bags lining the street on both sides, and all are dried.  Some look like dried flowers, ginger, and different mushrooms but others are not as obvious and smell a lot like fish.  I recognized a type of lizard that was dried and its tail was pulled straight and flat so that it looked like a triangular flyswatter unless you looked closely.  More than any of the strange sights the hardest thing to see is the reaction of people around us.  I know that seeing an American in China is a sight to begin with, but we are really an extra strange sight.  More than once when I have been in the back of the line of all of us making our way through the crowd I have seen in people's eyes the confusion of trying to figure us out.  In a place where there is only one child in the next generation, we now have five.  In addition to that, Nick is as tall as Tom and both tower over most chinese people.  Even Caila gets odd looks from people with her red hair and being so tall for a girl.  I have held up my hand to show "5" a few times only to see the people smile and nod back at me because they realize I see that they are trying to count how many children we have.  Its amazement... we have had people take our picture in restaurants and across from us in parks when they think we arent watching.  Its fun sometimes and sometimes its just tiring.  
We have had a number of college age students come up to us and ask if they can practice their english.  One girl who called herself Alice asked for our email and she actually has contacted me once.  It will be nice to correspond with someone in China if it continues.   
I am really glad that we were able to spend our time here in Guangzhou at the Holiday Inn Shifu, because we have had more culture of China here than if we had stayed on Shamian Island at the White Swan.  Its like a haven on that side of the water, with so much of the area being catered to adoptive families (all adoptions have to go through Guangzhou from China) but there is something neat about where we are staying. I love walking through the small streets seeing the hanging laundry overhead, noticing the small insence shrines at doorways and trying to imagine what living day to day as someone born in China might be like.  
I see so many of the Chinese young people looking like they are trying to be westernized. They dye their hair, have English written on their tshirts and when you talk to them they are eager to hear about how life is for you in America.  They see us as having all the opportunity and success that in many ways in out of reach to them.  Alice was so awestruck at how much school it takes to be a doctor, and it wasn't about the cost of schooling as much as it was about the ability to continue on at school.  Most Chinese aren't able to continue on into high school, and regardless of their desire for more, few are able to attend college.  Competition is tough, and spaces are few.  In many ways its a miracle to be born in China, and even more of a miracle to become educated and wealthy.  These are things that as Americans we have just taken for granted and hoped for our children.  I am sure that the Chinese hope these things for their children as well...and so when I look into the eyes of the people on the street, I wonder what they really see.   I hope that they see more than just 6 strange Americans.  I hope that somehow because we are different they see a glimpse of Christ, a sense of hope in something that they haven't seen before.  I hope its a seed planted.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

video
Ok so as new parents of Eliana even the simple things like a diaper change can be a lot of fun.  Maybe that is because it has been about 10 years since we have changed our childs diaper but in any case we could not help but take a video of this.  (Posted by Tom)

Eliana at her medical, boys at the garden and a day at the zoo.





Thursday, March 12, 2009

video
Eliana loves to put her tongue between her lips and spit.  There is disagreement within our family in regards to the name of this behavior.  One person says raspberries another zerbert, Ben says fart noise with her mouth.  Regardless we think it is hilarious.  

Monday, March 9, 2009

What a day!




We are new parents! As I type this the kids keep running in here saying "Mom..you gotta see this!" There is excitement in the air. I think we are all in love. I know we are, because the whole family was awakened at 4am and hasnt been back to bed yet, and no one cares. I think they are all dancing and laughing in the next room. Ben told her I love you, and I dont think I have honestly heard that from him as a spontaneous utterance before. She is healthy, hungry and all the plumbing is working...hee hee. Today we go back to the same offices we got her yesterday (I'm too eager to type to look up the name) and sign more forms for the adoption and ask any further questions about her from the orphanage director. They loved her very much. Her caregiver was there and she cried and had to leave when she handed her to me. We did get some pictures with her (I think she is in the one with our family). Today I need to find out her name. She is a sweet sweet baby. I cant wait for all of you to meet her!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In Guangzhou



We are actually here! What a day, we awoke again having fallen asleep before dinner (poor Tom) and awoke again before the sun. We waited until 6 to venture out and get breakfast at Hing Fat. We ate breakfast there on our second day, and they were great to us, I actually like having my eggs and sausage (hot dog) in a bowl of macaroni and broth. Things we have eaten have been different but all very good. I couldnt explain a lot of them to you, because words just wouldnt do it justice.
After our breakfast Tom, Caila and Nick went to the Botanical Gardens. I stayed back with Maren and Ben and did some reading and homework. I just wasnt in the mood for sightseeing. We left the hotel in Hong Kong at 11 and took two cabs to Hang Hom Trainstation to meet up with our adoption staff and the other families. There are 5 other families plus ours with our group. We rode the train here and enjoyed the peace and quiet and getting to know each other a little, as well as having our briefing about what to expect here in Guangzhou. We have the most amazing rooms at the Holiday Inn Shifu. They are huge and modern, and you look out the window and see small houses with small balconies and peoples laundry hanging from lines drying outside. It humbles you to think how much we have and how complicated our lives are compared to so many people in the world. We are truly blessed to live in the United States, and yet I see how much these people really have.
We ate at a chinese fast food place that looks like KFC, but has a Kung Fu guy as its mascot. We have no idea what we ordered, and it was an interesting meal. I'm guessing beef (lots of small bones though) with rice. Some spicy and some sweet. Boiled lettuce salad with a clear broth. Soup that none of us tried, because we just couldnt stomach what color it was. I cant say I will run back, but I'm glad I tried it.
Tomorrow around 2:30 we get Eliana. The kids are already fighting over who gets to hold her first. I was told I get to hold her first, then Tom and I forget who is after that. I think it was based on age at that point. I cant wait to blog about her to all of you , and give you new pictures of what she looks like. The fuzzy dream will be over tomorrow and it will be real!
Good night!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday

Last night after a day at ocean park and the Historical Museum we went back to the hotel for a little downtime and we all crashed except Tom. When I say crash I mean we all slept thru dinner and beyond. We all woke up early (5:30 ish) and went for an early breakfast and head out to the star ferry to go across the bay to Hong Kong Island. It's too early for Stanley market so we road the streetcar to Happy Valley (seriously). The Hong Kong Jockey Club is right there, and it's a huge racetrack/soccer/field hockey/park. There are a lot of British here so we don't stand out as much, although we must look American because we still get looks from people. While we were all sleeping Tom went out for a walk and came back having been fitted for a suit, and some shirts. Our plan is to go to Stanley Market and then hopefully to Victoria Peak, but it's so foggy right now you can't see the tops of the mountains so I don't know if we will make the trip. I'm looking forward to getting to Guanzhou. I would enjoy the sightseeing but I just want to be with Eliana, then who cares where we go!
Oh just an interesting observation, you cab get your eggs and sausage in a bowl of noodles and broth at McDonalds here... Litterally eggs and sausage in the bowl.. So all of you chicken soup lovers will enjoy the food!




We are taking a short break to dry off and grab some lunch so I thought I would download some photos. We went to the Ocean Park (kinda like the Oceanarium/Six Flags) but it was pouring...so we saw the pandas and rode a few rides and came back. We are going to McDonalds for lunch because the last two meals have been pretty local food and the kids are a bit leary of another bowl of noodles and something...all were great food but they are looking for something familiar. We rode the subway as well..piece of cake! Thanks for all the notes...it helps us all feel connected to familiarity!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We are here!

Its 7:4am here on Friday in Hong Kong...and its 5:45 at night Thursday by you...the night before. We jumped into the future as Nick says. It is raining buckets here and will for the next couple of days, but thats fine because it will keep my allergies and Caila's asthma under control in the city. I'm thinking of the difference between Moscow and Hong Kong...and right of the bat I would travel to Hong Kong alone but never to Moscow. Hong Kong is friendly and has a lot of English! Overall people here try to please you and in Russia you are invisible unless they know you. I loved Russia, but would not go by myself.
The flight was bearable, God worked out our seats on the plane so that instead of being scattered in three rows we were all together, and the row behind us had the most adorable twin babies to distract us. I will post later about more in detail, but we need to get some breakfast. Three more days until we see Eliana!

Friday, February 27, 2009

We are headed to Hong Kong!

I havent realized how behind I have gotten on posting, but this past week the cloud lifted! We recieved news on Monday that our file had been reviewed and our clearance had been granted. I was told that it was processing and that I should receive it in the mail on Friday or Saturday. I went to the mailbox Tuesday and saw an envelope from Homeland Security and my heart sank at first because I thought that I had probably received faulty information if I had a letter the next day. Low and behold it was our clearance! Jesus was driving a mail truck on Monday night from Chicago to Bloomington because there is no way a human could have gotten our letter from a desk in Chicago to my mailbox in less than 24 hours! I faxed the clearance to our agency, and they faxed it to China and within hours we had our visa appointment.

Here is our general itinierary:

Tues March 3~ Stay overnight at Hilton OHare

Wed March 4~ Fly to Hong Kong (15 plus hour flight)

Thurs-Sun Stay in Hong Kong at Holiday Inn Golden Mile (sightsee and adjust to time change)

Sunday- noon ...meet the Chinese Adoption staff at McDonald in the Hung Hom train Station (a short walk from our hotel)
Travel to Guangzhou and Stay at the Holiday Inn Shifu Guangzhou

Monday March 9~ 2:30 pm Head to the Adoption Registration Office of Civil Affairs Bureau of Guangdong Province to get Eliana!

Tuesday March 10~ paperwork day

Wednesday~ Doctor appt for Eliana for her visa and passport

Thursday & Friday~ paperwork processing

Saturday & Sunday~ play days

Monday ~ passport processing

Tuesday~ more passport processing

Wednesday March 18~ 2:45pm U.S. consulate visa ceremony

Thurs March 19~ take the train to Hong Kong!

Friday March 20~ Fly Home!!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Needing a miracle!

Anyone who reads this blurb on the web knows we have been paperchasing, planning and waiting for adoption for our daughter Eliana from China. One large reason it has taken three plus years in waiting is of course the wait for all adoptions right now in China. However our submission of paperwork took longer than usual because our government kept adding requirements to our adoption paperwork. Well...they are still doing that! I will not bore all of you with the details, but early in December I submitted a refiling of our paperwork for Homeland Security and Immigration. We have gotten fingerprinted 3 times, filed paperwork 3 times (all of it) and paid that expensive filing fee AGAIN. Our paperwork was in well before it needed to be, and our "file" expired at the end of 2008...but you cant get a response from anyone at the office unless you have waited the requred 6-8 weeks. So I when we got our referral on new year eve (thats all the info regarding Eliana from China) I sent off an email asking about our file. You cant call their office unless you are traveling in the next day. What I recieved back was an email stating it hadnt been my full 6-8 weeks. Anyway...we finally get a letter in the mail last Friday (the 30th) asking for more papers! No one had ever heard of this new requirement...my social worker even asked me to send her a copy so she could have something to show people after us with this issue.!One of the documents had to be notarized. Since we didnt get the letter until after 3 on Friday, and the earliest we could get to a notary together with our documents was today Wed. So we sent them off....breathing a sigh of relief. Checking my email tonight we heard from our agency that we recieved our letter of invitation from the Chinese government....we can come get Eliana. But wait! We cant make any of the immigration appointments we need while we are there (hence we cant travel at all) until we get the clearance document from Homeland Security. So whats our miracle? When I call tomorrow morning that I will get the sympathetic ear of someone who can actually do something about our file without those two documents that are in US postal service la la land, or that our paperwork flies into the hands of the right people ...tomorrow. Both are a longshot, but nothing constructive will happen on Friday and I dont want to wait another month to hold my baby! If we dont get this clearance we cant travel with our group...please say your prayers for Eliana....thanks!

Saturday, January 24, 2009




Its been a whirlwind few weeks, but we would like to introduce to all of you who follow this boring blog,..that we have recieved our referral from China of our little girl. Eliana Zi Hua (chinese for we think either graceful or purple flower) . She is in Maogang China, a coastal area of south china ...with palm trees! It is likely that we will be going to China in either late February or early March. We are just thrilled and cant wait to get there and hold her! We are ALL going...the whole Brander clan...so pray that we dont scare the Chinese people! We will keep you posted!