Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Note of Thanks

I have been scurrying around like crazy trying to answer messages, figure finances and catch up on sleep.  Jet lag creates the most bone wearying exhaustion.  So,  I am extremely belated in updating our story.  So much so that I think it will take two entries to catch up. 

When we came home, we were completely at the end of our resources. We had utterly and completely exhausted all our avenues at that time.  When Brock and I decided to adopt over two years ago, we had no idea the journey on which we were about to embark.  We very much felt that this was God's will for us and that has been affirmed and reaffirmed to us countless times.  We also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had all the money we needed to do what He has called us to do and that we could finish this adoption process without incurring any debt.  Up until this last speed bump, God has has provided in plenty of time for what we needed.  But those of us who know God and know His M.O.,  know that when He waits, it usually means that He is setting the stage for something huge. 

We were told that a Russian adoption costs between $40,000-$60,000 depending on whether it's one child or a sibling group that receives a home.  Now, I want to momentarily address the conspriacy theorists out there who think this is just a money grab.  This price includes two round-trip tickets to Russia.  It includes accomodations and food while a couple is in-country.  It includes a generous amount that goes to the severely underfunded baby home to take care of the children who have not yet or who may never find a forever family.  And it includes inadequate fees that pay the salaries of the agency employees who have dedicated their lives to helping children all over the world find a home.  When we came home in July, after we were certain that we would not be adopting a sibling group, we financially built our budget around the $40,000 mark.  We had no idea, at that time, the additional trips to the Secretary of State's office for all the "one last documents" required by the courts and the costs of expediting those.  We weren't aware that the one trip back would mulitply into four with additional visas.  The business visas we were so grateful to receive around the first of the year is good for only two trips into the country.  It's a miracle we received those visas or this second trip to go back to court would have been a whole lot trickier.  I don't mind saying that this adoption has cost us close to $70,000 and our savings account doesn't hold those kind of zeroes today.  But, I also learned a long time ago that money alone is never, ever enough reason to abandon what God has called you to do.  It's the very thing we tend to focus on the most, but my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4.19)  We focus on the money because the end of our bank account represents the end of us.  And, after much prayer and many requests for wisdom, we still are convinced that we must press on.

So, I throw open the door to our personal life not so you can pity us, or be amzed by us-you must know that our strength comes from the LORD.  Left to our own devices, we would be a sniffling and shriveling mess in the corner locked in the fetal position.  We are nothing without Christ.  Even our faith in Him is a gift from Him.  I deeply appreciate the sentiment behind every statement telling us you are amazed by our strength, but please, please, please know that if our strength doesn't reveal Christ's character to you, then it is for nothing.  Please stop being amazed by us!  Be amazed, strengthened and encouraged by Christ in us!  And this is the same God who loves you, too.  

When our plane touched down in St. Louis on Saturday night at 11 PM, we knew that we had about a week to find between $6,000-$8,000 for this unexpected leg.  And, it took more time out of equation we had figured for us to come home and finish raising the money for the last leg.  We simply did not have it ourselves.  There are adoption loans and grants, but most of those take 6-8 weeks to process.  We couldn't take a regular loan because, if we were asked to produce more paperwork with our finances to the courts, it could set  our timeline back considerably.  We knew absolutely nothing except that somehow God was going to have to provide.  And, boy has He started!!

We have been deeply thankful for the prayers of God's people, especially over the last six months.  And we still are thankful, but these are not the people I want to address right now.  I want to thank the people who have put feet to their faith and sacrificed for our family.  You are the people who have seen our need, been moved to compassion and have quite literally been Christ's provision for us.  Brock had figured out how to buy the plane tickets from St. Louis to St. Petersburg which were climbing in price rapidly.  Then he said, "I have no idea how it's going to happen yet, but we need $700 to fly from St. Petersburg to Murmansk."  Within two hours, our first paypal donation of this season came in for $700.  I was overwhelmed and almost dropped the bowl of cornbread batter I was making for supper.  I'm not convinced that God wasn't waiting on us to commit to faith by buying the flight to St. Petersburg, but I do know at that point, there was no turning back. We are so incredibly moved by the people who have given what they could and rallied others to do the same.  You were our voice.  There were three ladies who contacted us yesterday and asked if we would be okay with them spearheading fundraising projects and one that just decided to go rouge and plan one herself!  Every single gift, be it $10 (which is enough to feed us for a day in Russia) or $1,000 (which is enough to buy our trip to St. Petersburg and the other $1,000 gift will get us home!) has made an eternal impact in Roman's life! To the ladies and gentlemen who have sacrificed their date night this week or money they had set back for something special: you have "give[n] and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap" (Luke 6.38)  To the precious children who have felt inspired by their mommy and daddy to dig in their piggy banks to bring Roman home, I can only pray that you will spend the rest of your lives reaping the benefits of your generosity!   Donations have tumbled in faster than we can send out thank you notes and we are only halfway to our financial goal!  I'm trying desperately to keep up, so please know that you have our deepest and most profound gratitude.  Again, you are the ones who have literally been the hands and feet of Christ Jesus to us!  We came home on Saturday night completely at peace, but completely ignorant of how God was going to provide for us and just four days later, my breath is taken away by what He has done through you.  Every single time we think of what's happening, we are praying for you all as a whole.  That God would allow your tires to run longer and your cars to keep going.  That He would keep you healthy and out of the doctor's offices.  That He would make your leftovers stretch further and that you would spend the rest of your life reaping the benefits of your generosity. 

God knew exactly what would happen when we stepped foot in that courtroom on January 12, 2012.  He knew, to the penny what it would cost so that we could go back and finish what He called us to do.  He knew we were at the end of our resources.  Maybe He was waiting for that moment to show off for all of us.  This has been the most humbling experience receiving help from so many people, and if it were for anything other than our son, I don't know that I could do it.  But to bring Roman home, we'd do whatever we could.  And the point is that Brock and I can do no more.  God is, through His people carrying us across what I believe is the upcoming finish line.  You are part of our miracle.  I hope each of you receives a disproportionately large blessing for blessing us-for literally caring for the orphan we so desperately love.  You have revealed your heart to us and someday Roman will know, too. 

One more thing:  Brock and I were talking about the possiblity of more coming in than what we would need.  As I said before, we are only are about halfway where we think we need to be, but if for some reason we end up with excess, we will donate all we have left in gifts to another family adopting.  We are merely stewards of the money that God has put on your heart to provide a family for an orphan and I'm certain no one would mind if our cup were filled and the excess lapped into the life of another child. 

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world:  James 1.27

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