We're off to take a road trip in the morning! We'll be visiting with a family that my parents traveled with in Ethiopia. We're all pretty excited to spend time as a family, and also with friends around this holiday season. A dear friend of my mom... Her parents are letting us stay in their duplex, which is just about 30 minutes away from where are friends are staying in their hotel.
God has blessed us to go on this trip, and we're thankful for that! Erin and I are packed, and maybe the boys... not sure yet. Just to finish packing everyone else and everything else for our 12-13 hour road trip. Dear Lord in heaven give us all peace, and patience!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We definitely did!
Between Wednesday afternoon and this morning, it has snowed (just a little dusting) about three times. It is December 23rd, the eve of Christmas Eve. Here in MN there has been only one (end of november) big snow fall. With the temperatures dropping, and the excitement of the holidays you'd expect it to snow really soon. [AND STAY] God has a good sense of humor, and we are "Dreaming of a white Christmas"! Here are a few photos I quickly took.
Some snow or not... He still show's his beautiful creations to us everyday! Sunsets and all...
I know that many, many of you are following Jonathan's unfolding miracle! I cannot even begin to tell you how much we appreciate your continued prayers as his family works hard to bring him home.
Over the last few days there have been many obstacles to overcome. At times his adoption has almost seemed impossible.
He who sits upon the throne has heard every prayer on behalf on this precious young man! He truly is mighty to save the orphan.
This is an update from the precious family trying so very hard to bring Jonathan home:
"The Embassy in his country has made Jonathan's case priority. They emailed back quickly! All we have to do....get this....all we have to do is submit our I600a before his birthday to USCIS. We don't even need to update our home study to submit it! I'm overnighting it today! That is for his visa. One thing down.
Now, we are working on making sure the orphanage doesn't release him. We should know more about that today! I'll update you as soon as I hear anything! Praise the Lord! His hand has been on this the whole time! Even when I couldn't see through the fog! It almost doesn't seem real. I'm so humbled and blessed that we serve a God who cares so much for us, so much for Jonathan!
The prayers of God's people! That is what led us in the right direction. Thank you!"
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. There are still a few hurdles to jump over, but things are definitely starting to look more positive. Please keep praying! Pray that they will be able to keep Jonathan in the orphanage until his family gets there. Pray for a heart of compassion for those who make decisions on his behalf in his country. Our God is ABLE.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Our 'J' turned 9 just over a week ago! I honestly can't believe it... It's always on my brothers birthdays that I can't believe they're a year older. (Must be a big sister thing) I was only 6 years old, and announced that my mom was having another baby! That 'baby' is now 9 years old! We had a blast watching him open his presents, hear about his fun day at school, and help him celebrate his special day!
'J' you are such a blessing to us! You are smart, and keep life interesting! Can't imagine not having you as my little brother! Hope you felt extra special on your birthday!
Oh my goodness gracious! What an outpouring of LOVE we have received for Jonathan. It truly has been an amazing thing to witness. Thousands and thousands of people have read his story in the last 48 hours--only because so many of you cared deeply enough to link on your blogs and facebooks. So many people shared his story. The army of God took up the mandate to care for the orphan!
I am so, so thankful.
As of yesterday we do have a family who has stepped forward and who is qualified to adopt Jonathan. That is the GOOD news. However, as things so often go with international adoptions, this is truly going to take a miracle. Definitely not impossible (for NOTHING is impossible with the King of Kings!), but it is going to take us all praying and believing that this young man WILL come home!
Many have asked me how they can be praying specifically for Jonathan and his adoption. Obviously with time being so crucial in this case, there are many obstacles in the way and we covet your prayers. Every day counts!
~~ The family who is trying to adopt Jonathan will have to have an update done on their homestudy. While this is typically a very simple and easy thing to have done (usually just a paragraph or two which needs to be added), unfortunately with the holidays upon us everyone is busy and they are struggling to find someone to do the update in a huge hurry. Please pray that the Lord, even now, will be moving on a social worker's heart to jump in and get the job done as quickly as possible. Pray that the Father will lead this potential family to the right person who can help them.
~~ Pray for great favor in applying for and getting the visa Jonathan needs to enter the country on. With so little time before he turns sixteen at the end of this month we really do need to pray that God will move this mountain too.
~~ Finances. With no time to fundraise (because adoption is insanely expensive!), his family will have to come up with lot of money super quickly. Again...not impossible. I know that many of you have said that you would love to help. I'll keep you updated on ways that you may be able to do that later.
~~ Timing is crucial here. Please pray that things will happen in the Lord's most perfect and amazing timing.
~~ And for Jonathan. Every time I think of him, my heart aches. He knows all too well that time is ticking by and that with every day that passes his dream of finding a family diminishes. I cannot even imagine all that must be going on in that young man's head right now. Fear, uncertainty, anxiety. Please pray that the Lord would put a hedge of protection around him and that He would keep him safe.
So, things ARE moving forward and there is definitely hope on the horizon for Jonathan, but getting him here truly is going to take a miracle of God. Thankfully, we serve THE God of miracles! Please keep praying that every mountain, every obstacle, and every plan of the enemy will NOT stand in the way of this boy coming home. It's a known fact in the adoption community that if you want your faith to be tested like never before...adopt a child! Why? Because this is spiritual warfare! Adoption is about rescuing children out of captivity--taking them out of darkness and bringing them into HIS glorious light. It is about the Kingdom of God advancing on the earth and many, many children being rescued from the most horrific situations our hearts could ever imagine.
But, adoption comes with a price. It is hard! It takes every ounce of faith you can muster on any given day. It takes courage, a huge heart, obedience, and a promise to your child waiting on the other side of the world that you will NEVER give up on them--no matter what the enemies camp throws your way!
All that to say that we need your continued prayers until Jonathan is safely united with his parents. Please pray church!
I will continue to keep you all updated on specifics as Jonathan's miracle unfolds. Thank you for all you have done to ensure that this young man does NOT become another statistic!
I read a blog post this morning that has my heart breaking :(
[I'm re-posting it below]
You see, I'm a momma to many, including a 15 year old ... and my heart aches at the thought of any sweet child being set "free" at such a young vulnerable impressable age ... 15 or 16 is still a CHILD! A young person in need of love, connection, hope, care, provisions...
Please join me in praying & sharing the needs of this young man ... Jonathan!
A couple of mornings ago I woke up to an e-mail in my inbox. "A boy needs help!" I read through the information and my heart broke. Not really knowing what my role was at that point, I prayed and trusted the Lord that He would send the right family.
I prayed the entire day on Monday for him. I checked in later that night to see if the many prayers being prayed on his behalf had been answered yet.
No, they hadn't!
Tuesday morning came and all I could think about was this poor young man. I started thinking about when I was a teenager, and what a blessed life I had--a warm bed, food in my tummy, the opportunity to go to school, and people who loved me. I put myself in his position and I felt physically sick.
You see, life as this one young man knows it is about to change. Drastically!
It was then that I knew that I knew that I needed to come to you, the amazing readers of my blog, with another rescue mission. I realized that, knowing all I know about him, if I choose not to advocate for him, well, I may just regret it for the rest of my life. I knew I had to try to help, and I also knew that you guys would be so faithful to rush in and help.
Friends, this time a young man, just fifteen years old, is literally on the brink of an absolute catastrophe!
This is Jonathan. I don't know anything of his history, only that he is an orphan in Eastern Europe.
On December 31, 2011, Jonathan will turn sixteen. A huge birthday for most teens. But a dreaded day for this young man. Soon after the day of his sixteenth birthday Jonathan will be given the "gift" of his freedom. Together with a small bag which contains all of his earthly possessions and about $30 in cash, he will be set free--no longer to be taken care of by a state orphanage.
Unfortunately, most of the children like Jonathan who "age out" of the system literally have nowhere to go. They are left on the streets to fend for themselves. With nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to, many end up in the trafficking industry. The majority never make it past their teen years. It is the sobering reality of most orphans who are forced to leave the only place of safety they know. The statistics are staggering. It is one of the many reasons adoption advocates fight so very hard to get children out of orphanages before it is too late. They know.
Here's the thing...
Jonathan has a matter of DAYS to find a family. Mere DAYS!
In order for this boy to be rescued from a life that few of us can even begin to imagine, a family needs to step forward in the next few days and commit to him! I'm told that as long as there is a commitment and the I600 visa is applied for, he will be kept where he is, and the adoption can be completed later. That's the good news.
Right now what is needed is a family who has adopted internationally before. From the contact I have been given, "He needs a family that is married, can travel, and has a homestudy that can be used for immigration approval and is willing to apply for immigration in the next week. If a family is ready to apply they will work directly with the facilitator who knows him."
One week! A visa HAS to be applied for in the next week in order to save this boy!
Here's a little we know about Jonathan:
"Jonathan is apparently a very, very good boy. He has a great sense of humor which has been confirmed by other kids in his class and two children who were recently adopted to U.S. He loves to work on a computer, takes part in virtually all theatrical performances organized at the orphanage, just a great actor, very calm when not on stage, never gets in trouble, loves sports and plays soccer, played basketball and trained in light athletics, studies at good level. Jonathan is respectful to adults and older children. He is obedient and always ready to help. NEEDS A FAMILY to file for immigration ASAP, can adopt later. BEGS translator when he visits if he has found his family yet, desperately wants to be adopted. Can be chatted to on Skype as well as email."
Oh, God in heaven, surely someone can go for this precious young man before it is too late? Surely he can be rescued in time? My heart cannot even bear the thought of what the alternative is.
Many, many people have joined in to spread the search for Jonathan's family as far and as wide as is possible. Many are praying and interceding on his behalf. Will you please join in? Would you use your blogs and your social networks to share Jonathan's desperate need for a family? It is only going to take ONE family to rise up and say yes. Just one. Surely between all of us we can help one boy to be united with his family...and spared the future he is rapidly heading toward? I have to believe it.
I believe with all my heart that we serve a God who LOVES to show His miracle-working power through seemingly impossible situations. He loves to show His power, His glory, and His faithfulness when all the odds are stacked up against us and things seem so dismal. Of course He can do this!
Thank you so much for joining us in the search for Jonathan's family! I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
Please, I'm begging you to share his story wherever you possibly can! It is the only way his family will find their son.
We've been staying busy at home today! Together, we've acomplished a lot, and have had fun doing it. We were hoping to maybe make the trek to get a Christmas tree, but we're probably going to wait until tomorrow after church.
I was able to spend the night at a friend's house last night, and had a blast! When I came home, the house smelled like someone had been baking. Of course, that was Erin and her little helpers 'J' and 'S'. They had made some chocolate-chip cookies! Christmas season is definitely here, when the baking has started!!
Erin and I are also staying busy with our projects! I've already finished one towel, and am going to start another one as soon as I'm done on here. (I'm easily distracted) Erin has started a pink scarf, and is hoping to do a couple more as well. As for our tie-blankets? Those will probably have to wait until after Christmas.
I hope you are all relaxing, and having a great Saturday too! The sun is just starting to set behind the trees!