Friday, July 1, 2016

They Call Me Mommy

We're on day five of thirty-eight days of hosting "Big Bro" E and "Little Sis" E.  While I want to share all the wonderful things about these children God has so sovereignly ordained to be in our home for the summer, I can't help but think about the road that brought them to me as their "Mommy" for the summer.

God weaves our story in such an intricate way.  It is so complex we never can fully see all the details of the journey until we reach heaven.  While watching these six beautiful children entrusted to me, ages 4 1/2 to just turned 11, play in the pool yesterday, I started thinking back to how we got to where we are right now.
Kris and I had three biological sons in just 3 1/2 years.  It was a high-energy, keep you on your toes kind of life back then.  Why God brought my children to me in that time frame is hard to understand, but right now I'm seeing a piece of the answer.  If they weren't that close together, I would have never been conditioned to handle the demands of children at such an intense level.  If they weren't all boys, I would never have felt a piece of our family was missing.  I wouldn't have sat dreaming of adopting a girl one day and wouldn't have purchased the book Orphanology.  If Kris hadn't read that book, God wouldn't have an avenue to convict his heart about adoption.  If we hadn't chosen China, and God hadn't led my eyes on that Waiting Children page to see Anna Faith's photo that discouraging night after we didn't get a match with a child that month, we would have never been able to choose her.  If we hadn't chosen her, we'd have never had a child with congenital nevi, and joined an online support group filled with families of children with nevi.  If I hadn't have been on that support group, I would have never seen the opportunity to host orphans through a host mom who friended me and whose hosting story I read about last spring.  If we had been chosen by a birth mom last year we would have never decided to host orphans.  If we hadn't  hosted "L" last summer, we would have never thought we could love a child and let her go, and would have never pursued fostering children. If we hadn't been delayed three months by a busy social worker to be certified as foster parents, we would have never had the opportunity to host again.  On that last night of matching when we inquired about hosting, knowing the child or children's last chance of being hosted likely rested with us, the interviewer encouraged us to choose E and E over any other child we could logistically have in our home.  And here they are.  And they are thriving.  And they are lighting up our home with more love, more laughter, more hugs and more "I love you's".  And we are blessed more than they ever could be.
The financial sacrifice, the immense amount of energy required, the trading of a relaxing summer out of school for a summer filled with investing love, cooking and serving food every hour to ravishing little bodies, and answering countless questions and requests in a different language are all worth it.
And putting another piece of our hearts on the plane in less than five weeks, well, we know what that feels like now.  And it will be worth it too.

Little Sis is a communicator.  She mixes her own language with English quite often, because she gets excited about something and can't get her words straight.  So we use a translator app on my phone quite regularly.   She can be a tough girl and get right in with the boys to play, but enjoys playing with Anna Faith with dolls and crafts as well.  Big Bro is more stoic, with a tough exterior but a gentle heart.  He has a soft spot for hugs and being a gentleman, and loves getting pumped up with compliments about his character and sports skills.  While he seems to understand quite a bit of English, he is more reserved about talking and leaves it to his sister unless she isn't around.  Both of them are very bright and are building on their English very quickly!
I don't want to compare with our previous hosting experience.  Each orphan has their own story, their own trauma, their own makeup and personalities, and every experience with orphans is going to be different.  However, I can already see that these two kids are forming a bond with us like I haven't experienced before.  Just this morning I was given this:
Last night we were told "I love you" before we could say it first.  Every morning I am greeted with a bear hug from each child as I walked out of my bedroom door.  This first week is called "The honeymoon week" where most children are on their best behavior and aim to please their host families.  On week two behaviors are usually at their worst, as the children test their boundaries and see just how much their host parents love them.  We experienced this in the past and are ready for it, but in the meantime it is wonderful to see good manners, appreciation, courteousness, immediate obedience, and no whining or complaining!

These two are so brave.  They have come across the world to strangers who speak a different language, eat different foods and have different customs.  Why did they want to be hosted?  We will ask them that eventually.  I do know this.  It wasn't for stuff.  They would rather be with us playing in the yard and just hanging out together than shopping, looking over their gifts in the closet (though they are very appreciative!), or doing big outings.  They have never even asked about what we have planned.  They just want to be with their family!

I know what many of you are thinking.  Believe me, we've already been asked, by several people.  Please let Kris and my decision about our future with these children be kept private, without outside opinions, and please do not assume we will make a huge decision simply because we absolutely adore these children.  So many factors come into play when permanency is pursued, and while we know God called us to host them, that is all we know and have decided to do right now.  The "A" word can not be mentioned in their presence so please do not mention it!
What we do want to talk about with you is how we can pray for them, how we can encourage you and those you know to host orphans, care for orphans, and how we can love them best.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from this week:

As for the children's status spiritually, we have yet to find out what their understanding of the Gospel is.  They do know how to pray memorized prayers and Little Sis volunteers to pray before meals.  They also have an affiliation with some sort of Christian church in their country (I was told this by the interviewer who met them in their home).  We have been and will continue to pray for a clear understanding in their hearts of what Jesus has done for them and what it means to be a true follower of Christ.  And we pray we may be a part of their journey to come to know the Lord if they haven't already.

Specific prayer requests:
- Please pray for continued bonding with E and E
-Pray that our children will learn to show each other grace and will be able to model obedience and forgiveness to E and E.
-Pray for strength and energy for us, especially me (Tonya) as I am with all of the kids almost every hour of the day.  I have to devote almost every moment of their waking hours caring for the children, and it takes its toll on me physically and emotionally.
-Pray for improved communication between us and rapid English learning.  They have so much to say!
-Pray for good vision and dental visits!  We really don't want to have traumatic, potentially expensive dental experiences again this hosting.  It can cause so much fear when these children come from a country with very rustic dental treatment.
-Pray for their salvation!!

Thank you all for your encouraging words and prayers!