Due to some unique circumstances, our agency asked for us to be pushed through quickly for Article 5. That was the very last thing we needed before the much anticipated Travel Approval (TA). We got Article 5 last Monday, 5/17, after only 4 days, when it normally takes exactly 2 weeks.
And now, just 8 days later, this:
I'll post again as soon as I know our exact dates, they have to get the consulate appointment confirmed and that will determine the entire trip, as that's the very last thing we have to do (it's when we pick up her visa to come home). But it's looking like we'll leave mid-June!
Well, this Friday marked a very big milestone in our adoption journey. The event we've been planning for several months....stressing over, worried about, praying for, consumed by, and so anxious to get through. It was the Mark Schultz concert fundraiser at our church.
I dreamed big with this idea and was so incredibly humbled and blessed to see it all come together. This adoption journey has been a long one for us, (with many unexpected turns along the way), and in my mind, besides bringing her home, this was sort of the culmination for me.
I had this idea before we ever saw Jenna's face and now, in doing this event, it means we are very close to getting our girl.
I think it all hit me as we stood in the foyer before the doors opened- the entire group of volunteers (about 40 people), our pastors, our closest friends (who we absolutely could not have done this without)- we all prayed together. Not just for a successful event, but for Jenna, for her joining our family, for the orphans of the world, and for God to be present and glorified in all of it. It was an incredible night. Very personal, emotional.
The night was one of those memories that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. I got to share it with many of the people I love most in this world and through this event I pray that many lives will be touched. From the proceeds of the event, we are able to 1) get some financial help with our adoption expenses, 2) purchase a large air conditioning unit for the baby room of Jenna's orphanage, and 3) start a seed fund for the Grace for Orphans ministry at our church to hopefully bless another family who may adopt in the future. I believe that when people seek to care for the orphans of the world in the name of Christ, He shows up in a big way.
We took some boys to an Iowa baseball game Friday night to celebrate, then had baseball all weekend, and so last night he got to choose the spot for dinner. He chose Texas Roadhouse and Uncle Brian came along. Then we came home gave him our gifts and had oreo ice cream cake, Matthew's choice again. yuuummmmm.
At the Iowa game, they introduced Matthew before he threw out the first pitch of the night. This is what they said about him: "He loves baseball; the Hawks, the Cubs and somehow, the Yankees ;) He also enjoys Hawkeye football and soccer. Matthew plays for the 8u Trojan Gold baseball team." In addition to all of that, Matthew is a very sweet boy who is very laid back and a ton of fun to be around. He is a goofball and makes us laugh often. We are very blessed by Matthew.
So this weekend was our first weekend with both boys in a tournament. Ben's team has had a couple but this was Matthew's first go-round with a tournament. Between both boys, on Saturday and Sunday, they played 10 games. And yesterday included the most intense baseball game I have ever personally witnessed with Matthew's 8u team in sudden death that went 3 extra innings; and he was pitching throughout those 3 innings. He did amazing; didn't give up any runs and struck out several. "We" ended up winning by one run!! His team ended up getting 2nd place in the tournament overall.
Ben's team played some really good teams and tougher competition than they had probably seen before, so that's good for them as a team to be learning to play up and rise to the challenge. On top of all of that, we took a group of boys to the local University baseball game Friday night to celebrate Matthew's birthday. (I know, more baseball, we must be crazy, right?) That was a ton of fun too and I'll post more about that tomorrow.
So, needless to say, I'm exhausted! Happy Spring to all of you! Happy Baseball season to us!
I've been working on the little girls' room. I think it's helped Emily to grasp this upcoming change in a tangible way also. She'll be sharing her room with Jenna, so we put the bed up in there, and now I've gotten the bedding and everything just how I wanted, pictures and letters hung and all. I *love* the artwork on the wall. It's a series of 3 with 2 birds in cherry blossom trees (remember "jenna" means 'little bird' so I love it all the more!)
Now we just need Jenna home to sleep in this darling bed! I was telling Jason how weird it is to see this empty bed sitting there. He responded, "think how it will be to see it filled."
I can't wait! All these small steps feel like they're adding up and I'm ready to bring this girl home to her bed, and her room, her toys, clothes and FAMILY!
Meanwhile, everything paperwork-wise is plugging right along. We got our NVC letter yesterday saying that we were cabled 5/4 (basically that our immigration approval was sent/wired/cabled from U.S. to China so that they know we're cleared and can issue her visa while we're there) and so our agency representative will hand deliver some paperwork in China on Thursday and then it should be 2 weeks until we get Article 5. I don't really know what Article 5 is, but I know that it's the LAST thing we need before they will issue our TRAVEL APPROVAL (TA)!! So, we are getting there!