23 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

Sunday kicks off our string of Christmas celebrations, so we probably won't be posting here for a few days. We just wanted to take one last chance to wish you all a wonderful Christmas. We hope your shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and you're relaxing by the tree with a cup of your favorite hot beverage as you anticipate the birthday of our Lord. We're not quite there yet, but we're only a batch of corn muffins and a pile of gift tags away... so off we go!

22 December 2006

a day full of good news

After the earlier news about passports moving again, we didn't think today could get much better... but it did. We just got 2 new pictures of Joshua and Patience! It appears that Patience has enough hair to braid now, which means Becky needs to get her act together and learn how to do it. In the second picture, they're looking at their albums we sent. If you look carefully, you'll see that they both are looking at them upside down. However, we're still remaining optimistic about their intelligence. Melodie (who oversees the kids in Liberia) said that the kids absolutely love them. On a not so good note, Garty has a cold and is teething this week. If he has to be miserable though, it's nice that we can still get a good night's sleep. We are just so in love with our 3 adorable kids and can't wait to hold them tight!

21 December 2006

passports are moving!

Finally some good news regarding the Liberian passport office. Our agency tells us: We have had 9 passports signed last week and expect 4 more by the end of this month. They seem to be signing 100 of them a day. Keep in mind that these are done by hand in calligraphy. Of the 1000 they are completing, AOH has 4 left in that group. They are releasing the list of the next 1000 soon-- I expect by the end of the week. I will know then how many of our families made the list. Our Liberian staff says it is a good sign when you are on the list as then you will know you will have passports within a few weeks of that. Imagine that... actually having a clue when to expect passports for the kids! We might even be able to make some plans for our life. Hooray!

20 December 2006

disturbing silence

There has been absolutely no talk about the passport situation recently among the adopting parents. We're not sure what's going on over there, but no one wants to talk about it. It's really a bit eerie... like everyone's afraid to say anything or is just too depressed to make the effort. With the holiday coming, the passport office will be shutting down (as if it's open now). Please continue to pray with us for a quick delivery of passports for the families waiting so long, but please pray also for a miraculous issuing of passports for our kids. We're hoping for a January homecoming. Barbara-Jo is anxious to grab Garty and run to the hospital to get him fixed up!

18 December 2006

malaria prevention efforts directed toward Liberia

We just learned that last week the President's Malaria Initiative added Liberia to the list of countries where they are working to prevent malaria. Laura Bush is encouraging Americans to donate $10 to purchase a mosquito net and help save a life in Africa. If you want to be part of this national effort, you can donate through Malaria No More and make a difference. Go, President Bush!

great gift tags

On 12/6 we posted about the cool gift tags some kids at our church made to support the orphanage in Liberia. Now that we entered the 21st century and purchased a digital camera (in anticipation of Christmas money from our family and an upcoming trip to Africa), we thought we'd post a picture. Double click on the picture for a close up.
Aren't they great?! The reindeer is Becky's personal favorite. We still have 5 packs left, so if you want cool Christmas gift tags with a purpose behind them, email us right away. We can drop them in the mail immediately, and you'll just need to send us $5 for the assortment of 20 tags.

While we're at it, we thought we'd post a picture of our $20 Home Depot Christmas tree... because now we can! It was a great find. They even trimmed the stump and wrapped it for us free of charge.

17 December 2006

reflections on Christmas

We both appreciated this thought-provoking post about "preparing room in our hearts so that Christ truly comes."

15 December 2006

little details

Due to some confusion about paperwork, we were never approved by the US government to adopt our 3rd child. We discovered the problem a few weeks ago and sent in the money (everyone wants money) needed to update our files. We're happy to say that today we received our approval, and we won't have to leave anyone behind in Liberia! Now we need our visas (which we'll send for on Monday) and the passports for the kids. That's it! Well, that and a bunch of kid gear, shoes, formula, diapers, and 4 suitcases worth of necessities for our time in Liberia.

scary situation

We learned late last night that a few nights ago our adoption agency's office in Liberia was robbed at gunpoint by 5 robbers who climbed a 10 ft wall and cut razor wire to get in. They stole all the computers and camera equipment, but the most disturbing part is that they threatened the lives of the Liberian staff. Such is life in post-war Liberia-- robbery and petty crimes abound. Please pray for the staff there as they recover from this incident.

12 December 2006

very good report

Tonight we received news on Garty. He is doing remarkably well. He has gained a lot of weight in the past month and has become more and more cheerful and "talkative." We also learned that they were able to put him on the antibiotic that Barbara-Jo recommended for the duration of his time in Liberia. It's great to hear that he's doing so well, although it's hard to hear that he's changing so much and we're missing it! Here are today's pictures. In the first one, you can see that the photo album we sent for Garty is lying next to him in the crib!

preparing for Christmas

I (Becky) am finding it difficult to focus my heart on Christmas this year with so many distractions all around. One thing that has stuck with me though is a blog post I read by Scot McKnight. His perspective has really helped me to remember why Christ came and the great hope extended through him.

passport office progress?

We just learned that the passport office is conducting meetings all day Monday and Tuesday. Then we are supposed to learn the official plan. In theory, they will publish a list of upcoming passports to be signed. They are saying it will be about 2 weeks for those on the list to receive passports. Keep in mind that plans are always negotiable in Liberia, but feel free to pray that our kiddos are on the list. That would mean that we would probably be traveling sometime in January if everything goes smoothly (which it never does).

09 December 2006

why we're happy to be Americans

Sometimes it's hard for our brains to understand the way much of the rest of the world functions. Here's the latest passport update from our adoption agency... NO passports again this week. Because they formed a committee and are now handling the passports differently, it will take a few weeks for them to get that process in place. Diku [from our orphanage] has still said that they are to release a list of 1500+ passports to be signed. When asked how long it will take them to then sign those, he said a couple of weeks. No one knows how this will go... How we wish we could get our task oriented selves on a plane and go "help" them issue these passports. It's hard to be an American when you spend much of your time working with the developing world!

our adoption story

We've recently learned that there are some of you who check our blog regularly who we don't even know. There are others who we've met since we started our adoption and still others who just never knew how we got to the place we are now. Last week we wrote our adoption story for a mailing that Open Hearts-Open Homes (an adoption advocacy group that is helping us raise funds for our adoption) will be sending next week. We thought we'd post the story for those who are interested.

08 December 2006

no passports yet

It feels as if everyone waiting for passports is just holding their breath until something happens. As far as we know, none of the children from our orphanage received them this week. Does that mean the passport office won't deliver, or are they going to issue a ton of passports next week???? Your guess is as good as ours. What it does mean is that we will definitely be here for Christmas (unless something crazy happens with Garty). It's a relief to know one way or the other. Now Becky can plan her cookie baking, and we'll be decorating this weekend.

06 December 2006

why we hate toys

We're now the parents of 3 kids, but they're not here yet. However, I (Becky) and my mom spent a good chunk of the day sorting, in some cases washing, and putting away a pile of toys. Did we put them in a toy box? Of course not! Most of them are too big to fit in a toy box. Did we play with all of them while they were out? Some of them, but many of them don't work yet because they need batteries. Will we be able to play with them 6 months from now? Probably not because by then many of the tiny little pieces will have been carried off and hidden by the cats or eaten by the baby. Peter firmly believes in gift wrapping empty boxes and plastic storage containers as Christmas gifts while the kids are young. I'm starting to think that his plan is a good one. On a positive note though, I had a wonderful time dancing with Barbie on our pretty dance mat. I'm so out of it that my 50-some year old mother had to explain that you plug it into the TV and follow the instructions. I just thought the mat would play music!

kids can make a difference!

Thanks to the creative vision of our friend Melody, a bunch of kids from our church have been making really beautiful Christmas gift tags to help the Acres of Hope orphanage in Liberia. A pack of 20 hand stamped tags sells for $5, and 100% of the donation will buy formula, medicine, and vitamins for us to take to the orphanage when we go. We're so impressed by the desire to help and the commitment of these kids. It's no small job. Melody is quite the task master, making sure that the gift tags are absolutely gorgeous! If we had a digital camera available, we'd post a picture for you. If you really want to see them (or maybe buy a pack), let us know so we can get a picture for you in the next few days. Isn't it great that no matter who we are or what our situation is, we really can do something to make a difference in the world?

04 December 2006

I'll be home for Christmas????

The situation at the Liberian passport office caused quite a stir in our world this weekend. Though we've been waiting a year to bring the kids home, we now feel totally unprepared. We're packing our bags and filling our malaria med prescriptions "just in case." Various family members are getting really excited. People are wondering if we're really going to show up for Christmas celebrations.
Here are the few things we do know. First, if they tell us we can travel, we're out of here Christmas or not. It actually makes one of us extremely sad to think of missing Christmas (you know how sentimental Peter is...), but we'll do what it takes to get the kids home. However, we don't want to assume that the job will get done. President Ellen wasn't messing around with her demand, but it may not be physically possible to complete so many passports in such a short time. The passport office has failed with commitments various times before. Finally, if they put out a ton of passports in a short time, our agency will not be able to have all the families travelling at once. They wouldn't be able to house us all, but the larger issue is that there are only a limited number of US Embassy appointments that can be completed in a week. There are families that have been waiting months for their passports, so they would probably travel before us unless Garty's situation takes a turn for the worse.
So what does that mean for our schedule? We have no idea, but it's time to do some more laundry "just in case."


Sunday Garty hit the 1/2 year mark. He's now 6 months old. Where has the time gone?

01 December 2006

riot in Liberia?

The news from Liberia today is that a group of Liberians stormed the passport office demanding to know what is going on. President Ellen had more meetings with the powers that be and is requiring them to produce 1000 passports in the next 2 weeks!! We don't know what that means for us, if anything. Please pray that God's hand will be on our passport applications so they will be issued at the perfect time.