Sunday, September 09, 2007
Part of the reason we have been negligent in this is how busy we have become since our Edgars has gone back to Latvia. Lana and I after much prayer are sure it is our mission, our responsibility, and most importantly God’s will to bring Edgars into our home. James is really positive about this decision and he even brought up the idea before we told him we had decided we were going to attempt to adopt Edgars.
We have been busy doing all the stuff needed to do to get a child adopted. Paperwork upon more paperwork for the US Government, the Latvian Government, and all of the folks we have to work with to make this happen. With so much at stake what is a little paperwork, huh? J
It is all good! Soon we will have a new son and this needy child will have a loving family to help him grow into a wonderful healthy man we know he can be.
Adopting a child is something we never envisioned, we never planned on, actually never even wanted but generally God has a way of giving people what they need not necessarily what we want or think we want and we are so grateful for that. Adding Edgars to our family child is a major undertaking and this was not something we were really prepared for.
Lana and I were both raised in rural area albeit in two different countries from very self-sufficient people. If adopting a child was something we just wanted we would never dream of asking for assistance. We would get busy and get prepared and when we were ready we would add to our family. Asking for help is difficult but there is little boy’s life that is impacted every day he is not with us getting the love, support, and medical attention he desperately needs. This boy only has one chance at life and each day that goes by is time he will never get back. Even though we will get the joy of another child, we are doing this for Edgars. If you find it in your heart to help in any way please let us know. Any and all assistance would be welcome.
We have created an email address if you would like any addition information on how you can help by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org (just a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy). We will respond to you and let you know what assistance we are needing. Also if you have questions you can contact Jennifer@SimpleObedience.org but she is just an informational resource and although she is supporting us she is not part of the adoption process.
Thank you for all your prayers and please continue to pray!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
James is missing Edgars a lot today. He said that he feels so lonely and couldn’t wait to call Edgars. All of us are missing Edgars already, even the dogs :). Well, we can’t tell what God has in stored for Edgars, but the Bible says that “His (God’s) way is perfect,” and we believe that.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Blessings,The Johannsen Family.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
The third week was wonderful as the previous ones. James and Edgars are getting to know each other better. They are spending more time with each other and their conversations are different now and more peaceful:).
The highlights of this week are: The Birds of Prey Show; The Magic Show; our visit with the Burell’s family; the laser show at the Stone Mountain Park; Jenna and Jack’s visit, and Edgars’ visit to the best dentist! (today:). As you see, we had a full week (again:). All shows and visits were wonderful, but one of them was special. My dear friend and a sister in Christ Jenna came to meet Edgars with her 6 y.o. son Jack yesterday, and Edgars shared with us how he came to know Jesus. Oh, how I grateful to our Father that HE is everywhere! It is so precious to me!
Thank you all for praying for us. Please continue to pray for God’s perfect plan in Edgars’ life.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thursday morning I took Edgars to meet my sisters in Christ. They were so glad to meet him and asked him about his country, school, …., and then Mrs. Leslie invited us for lunch in the Country Club and she wanted James and Edgars go for a swim at the swimming pool (same place). Of course Edgars didn’t want to eat because he said he would drown if he eats much. We stayed there till 4pm. It was not very sunny, just perfect. We came home, had dinner, Ineta and I went to Wal-Mart, and the boys enjoyed an evening with TJ.
Friday. The boys woke up at 10 o’clock and we started to get everything ready for a picnic. Our wonderful friends Mama Dot and Mr. Jim took us to the park near to the West Point Dam. It is a beautiful place! We stayed there from 11 till 3. Edgars fed the squirrels and tried to catch a few. He realized that they are much faster then he is. We came home about 4 and Edgars wished for a swim. James stayed home, and Ineta, Edgars, and I went with Edgars for an hour. TJ came from work and we went to Franklin, GA to visit our dear friends Gabi, Jimmy, and their family. We had Papa Johns’ pizza for dinner and all kinds of vegetables. For Edgars there was a special order: mushroom pizza!!! “Finally!” he said. We played soccer, volleyball, rode bikes, and Edgars just loved to jump over a sprinkler. Came home tired but happy.
Saturday. We had a wonderful lunch (we named it “a special lunch for Ineta”), and shortly after that, we drove to Jennifer and Joel’s house for a cook out. It was so nice to see the kids sitting together and sharing their stories with each other. Also, it was so nice for all of us, hosted families, to share our stories with each other. We had a great time. Came home tired but happy.
Sunday. Lord’s Day! Edgars met many new people. The worship and sermon were wonderful! After church, we had lunch and watched a movie. After the movie, the boys wrestled with “The Big Daddy,” I enjoyed watching them. That was all for Sunday.
Monday was slow and quiet. We stayed home, didn’t do much.
And today is Tuesday! Two weeks as Edgars is with us!
Please continue to pray for Edgars and all of us.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Yesterday it was Edgars’ turn for the foot massage before bedtime. He asked if I could do his back also. He was the first child in my career that wouldn’t move! Usually kids cannot stay still for one minute, but Edgars was just lying calmly with a slight smile on his face.
We are going to the Braves baseball game tomorrow. Edgars loves baseball. Please be praying for our safe trip to Atlanta and back. I am one of those people that pray even for the parking spot:). I simply want God in everything I do and everywhere I go:).
Blessings for today,Lana.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Also, we got everything straight with Edgars’ medicine. After being so confused, I called our wonderful friend (who knows everybody here) and he took us to the best pharmacist in town. Mr. Chuck spent over an hour calling different places and he got it right. As it appeared, here in America we don’t have dosage as in Latvia. It is different there. Though I was a nurse in Ukraine for 12 years, it was not even close what I thought it should be. I am very very grateful to Mr Chuck for his help. The Father God has provided us with everybody we needed: dentists, phatmacists…:) and I know it's not the end:). He is our Jehovah-jireh: "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
In our prayer time, Edgars said that he had a very good day and together we thanked God for a very good day.
Tomorrow we are going to see TJ’s sister, her husband, and their four children. It’s about 4 hours drive so, please pray for our safe trip and for wonderful family time.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The boys were playing hide-and-seek till almost midnight! I had to calm them down before our bedtime prayer. I asked boys if they were having any praises or prayer requests; James had both: praise for Edgars is with us, and request for all hosted kids.
The boys are still sleeping.
Again, I thanking our loving Father for yesterday, and asking His blessings for today and every day.
Monday, June 11, 2007
February 1st came and went, and we normally purchase our plane tickets to Ukraine for James’ 2-month summer vacation and Lana’s mission work in Ukraine. In the last 2 years, I had been unable to go visit and this year I was going to be able to get the time off work and go also. Lana’s Grandmother was getting up there and had had a tough winter and we desperately wanted to see her again. She was such a special person and who knows how many years she was going to have left. But in spite of all this we just never got around to purchasing our plane tickets.
Then it happened. On a peaceful Saturday morning, I received an email from Jennifer about Edgars that ROCKED my world. I happened to be talking to a friend right after I received the email and in hopes of any ideas on how to break this to my wife. It took me until Sunday afternoon to tell her. She was laying out in the yard reading on a blanket when I just went over to her and told her about the email.
She took the news much better than I had hoped. She immediately was open to moving forward again but in a much different manner. The first time there was a fire, a desire to have this boy, almost like a possession; this time there was a much different drive in her. This time it is about a little boy who needed a mom, a child that needed a family, and a mom who needed another child to smother with love. Me being the know-it-all that I am had to tell Lana, I told you so, if God intended us to have this boy in our family we would. :) Lana was much more reserved about moving forward this time. She said we need to meet with three Spirit-filled people we trust. We met with two of the couples and got a great deal of guidance and advice and Lana needed to speak with one of her spiritual mentors. Again, I felt completely at peace with the path we were on. Generally, I see things very clearly, and once I make a decision, I move forward with confidence but rarely do I feel the peace and inexorable pull I have felt with Edgars’ situation. It will not be easy, and there are many challenges I am not sure how we will overcome but we are moving in the right direction. Lana began to pray many times each day looking for a sign, but there wasn’t any. Finally, she prayed one big prayer and was waiting for the Word or sign from the Lord.
Then Thursday came. (I cannot remember if I have mentioned, Edgars wants to sound more American in his name, so he calls himself Eddie). Thursday morning’s Lana goes to a woman’s Bible study and on this particular day, they had a guest who is one of our closest friends. He works with a ministry called Sav-A-Life and travels all over the country and world with the founder Wales Goebels. Wales and he just returned from Africa where they had spent a great deal of time ministering and exploring mission needs. They had taken clothes and other items to give out to the needy there and of course they took many pictures. Well on this Thursday, our friend came to share with the Women what they had seen and done. He passed around many pictures and as Lana looked through them, she was thunderstruck! On one particular photo there were many people gathered under a tree in the shade. The picture was truly way too dark; you couldn’t make out the details at all. Some of the faces were barely visible but you really had to look closely. There was a small part of this photo that stood out. One of the people held a white plastic bag like you get from the upscale retail stores with their name printed on it. Now, I have traveled quite a bit, but I have never heard of a store by the name printed on that bag that showed up so bright and clear. The name on that bag was ”Edgars”, and the name of the man who brought those pictures was Eddie. This was the sign Lana needed in God’s perfect timing. She had her sign, it felt right, we were at peace with the feeling this was the direction God was leading us. So, we moved forward.
The next step was to meet with Jennifer and Joel to get to know them and them to get to know us. We wanted all of the information we could before we officially moved forward with hosting. The meeting was both momentous and anti-climactic. Lana and I felt at ease with Joel and Jennifer, we covered all of the issues surrounding any child that would be coming to visit. There were no big problems we felt would be too difficult to overcome and we started to get so excited. The 2 largest problems we faced were this mission was totally out of the blue for us and we were not prepared financially and Lana’s Grandmother was ill and this would be our last summer to go see her. Through the generous help of Friends and people who were touched by Edgars' story we were able to come up with the support we needed to be able to host him. Lana’s Grandmother passed away followed very quickly by her Grandfather. We were all devastated by this but God was taking them home and removed all of the obstacles and guilt we might have felt.
The days and weeks have gone by, James' heart has been changing towards Edgars specifically and hosting in general. Lana and I are moving forward knowing we don’t know anything for sure except we are supposed to host this little boy. Only God knows what the future truly holds.
Please tune in for further updates on our journey.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Finally, I asked her if there was someone she could talk to help her through this because my efforts were totally ineffective and I was at wits end what to do next. I listed all of her friends, my family, her family, church members, pastors, everyone. She said there was only one person who could help her, a person she had never met or even talked to, that person was Krista. Lana felt that Krista was the only one who knew what she was feeling. Because of that I was not so sure Krista would want to talk to anyone about what she was feeling because Lana was a wreck and had never met this little boy and Krista had established a relationship with him and now could not adopt him. It felt like I was going to jump from the frying pan into the fire. So, I wrote a letter to Jennifer to sound out the waters with Krista. Krista agreed to talk with Lana, PRAISE THE LORD! Krista and Lana had a wonderful call and I never got all of the details of what they chatted about, but after the phone call ended Lana felt so much better. We talked and agreed that if God wanted us to have this boy - we would have him, and if He didn’t - it would not be a good thing for us to adopt him. In our conversation we agreed to possibly look at adoption in the future once we were prepared to pursue this further and specifically ready financially. When we got the first email we had no idea of the cost of this kind of adoption; we just said this little boy needs a family. Our son James is a lot like his mom, and handles change better if he has a chance to think about it first. So, as we wrapped our conversation up, we brought James in and wanted to inform him his thoughts were important to us, but if we ever chose to adopt a child it would be Lana and my decision not his. I asked him if in the future we pursued adopting another child could I count on his support. He calmly replied, “Probably not, that’s not what I want.” The reply he gave was serious, and one that I will never forget. That was ok as we still felt a loss here, but we were moving on with our lives with optimism and joy. God had another plan for Edgars and we had to be content with that.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Lana returned from work and reread the letter from Krista. She then read this blog from start to finish. The picture of Edgars with the butterfly on his finger and the whole story on the blog touched her deeply. She wanted this boy to be part of our family. She also knew she was supposed to send the message on to others. Lana did send the email on to her support groups, friends and our church family, printed out the picture and went back to work. As she happily bounced into work, she held up the picture of Edgars and announced, “Is there anyone you know who would like to adopt this boy?” Everyone started to laugh and asked her what our son James had done that we want to place him for adoption? The 2 boys look so much alike and we have a photo that is almost the same of James. She filled them in on what was going on and in her mind we were just a phone call away from an addition to our family.
That evening Lana informed me she wanted to move forward. So, I sent an email to Krista, indicating we would like to meet Edgars. We cancelled all of our weekend plans and waited for a call or an email back. That call back from Krista never came. It never came because Krista and her family had taken Edgars to another town to meet the family who had expressed an interest in adopting Edgars also. They had received the letter before us and had already contacted Krista and Jennifer before we even knew about the situation. On Friday evening, we received a call from Jennifer letting us know Edgars was meeting a possible forever family and they would let us know how that went. The children, including Edgars, were leaving on Tuesday I believe and were supposed to return from this visit on Sunday evening. We then made arrangements to be off work to go see him on Monday because we just felt we were supposed to be his forever family. Now all we had to do is wait until Sunday evening and find out when we would meet Edgars.
Edgars Arrival for 2007 Summer Visit: 19 days and a wakeup
Thursday, May 17, 2007
It was right around the first of the year, and I was in the office at work, It was almost deserted as most folks were taking vacation when I received an email. This email was sent to me by a wonderful Christian woman about the heartbreaking story of this great little boy who had found a family who loved him and wanted to bring him into their home and were unable to due to a reason beyond their control. This little boy was from Latvia. It was a letter that Krista had sent out to a couple of people and they sent it on and on and on. My wife and I get all kinds of things like this because it seem everyone thinks all of those countries over there are part of the same country almost as if the Soviet Union was still around. So, I walked to the woman’s office who sent me the email, spun a chair around backwards, sat down, leaned on the back and said, “Ok, what’s the deal?” She calmly looked at me and said, “I was told to send it to you.” “Why?” I asked. “I don’t know, I just was told to send it to you,” she responded. Since I didn’t know anyone on the email list other than the person who sent it to me I wanted to know who told her, so I asked her. She coolly calmly said,- “God told me”. At that I got up with out saying anything else, went back to my office and sent it off to Lana.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Edgars Arrival for 2007 Summer Visit: 26 days and a wakeup
Monday, May 07, 2007
… God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The Holy Spirit reminds me of this verse every day now since our mandatory Orientation last Saturday. It is not human love. It is God’s love. The whole, endless, unconditional love of God. What a blessing it is that we are God’s channels of His love!
I pray that each hosted child will experience this love and will carry it through all their lives.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
This is the Word from the Father for me today (and probably for many others).PRAISE GOD that our lives are not our own! Oh, how I pray that HE will direct our steps and only His will shall be done in our choices, in our decisions, in our everyday lives.Thank you for your prayers for Edgars and for all of us.May the Lord richly bless you today and always!
Monday, April 09, 2007
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Hosting a child does not mean you have to adopt them. We know that God does not call everyone to adopt. Simple Obedience has events where families interested in adoption can come and meet the host children. You could be the tool that gets the child to their forever family. Some of the kids aren't available for adoption at all. Gene and I can tell you first hand that even if you never adopt the child, the few weeks they spend in your life will change them forever. Especially if you keep in touch with them after they return. Gene and I have talked with Edgar at least once a week for the past year and a half. His foster mom says that our relationship with him has changed him for the better. That is not to say anything about us, but the change that God did in his life when he came here and discovered unconditional love that comes only from God.
Some ways you can help if hosting is not for you:
*PRAY! If you would like to be on the Simple Obedience Prayer Team email me at Krista@SimplyForLatvia.org and I will add you to the prayer emails.
*Support financially a family who is hosting
*Spread the word - Tell others about the program
If you are interested in hosting you can check out the Simple Obedience website at www.SimpleObedience.org or email Jennifer Peters at Jennifer@SimplyForLatvia.org.
This program is not limited to Metro Atlanta. If you live in another area and are interested, please contact Jennifer and she can answer your questions.
To view the blogs of other families who have hosted see the links on the right side of my page for Rob and Kathleen's blog and the Murphy Family blog.
Check them out! Email me if you have questions!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Gene and I are clinging to this verse as we try not to lose hope for Edgars. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the family in Texas is not going to be able to continue pursuing the adoption of Edgars. While we completely understand their situation, it is a crushing blow to this little boy who has already lost so much in his life. Gene and I have poured all we could into helping him for the past year and a half since he walked into our lives, and it feels as if we just keep coming up short. It is hard not to lose hope. So we cling to this verse, and God's promises, and we trust His heart. Please join us in praying that somewhere out there is a family for Edgar to call his own. He needs a mommy to tuck him in at night, sing him songs and kiss his boo boos. He needs a dad to throw the football, wrestle with him on the floor and teach him how to be a man. But most of all, he needs a family to show him the love that only comes from above!
Keep the prayers coming!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
finished subfloor and walls
I think I'm finally back on Georgia time...maybe. Well we had a great trip, although it was a bit on the cold side. We got to see a lot of cool things God did for us. We got to meet new friends and see old ones. And we got to be there when a young lady named Agne gave her life to Christ. All in all it was a good trip, but it did have it's obstacles. The hot water lines in our cabin froze on our 2nd day there. They probably still haven't thawed yet. I did learn something through that experience..... even a shower w/ brown water is better when Hot! Our tools didn't show up until late Wed., but God provided. We were able to use a chainsaw and hand tools to get by until our tools arrived. Then, the battery chargers survived long enough to get us over the hump w/ the power tools and we were able to improvise after they burned out. Our sheetrock mud had been stored in the stairwell- There's nothing like a frozen bucket of sheetrock mud- but it was still useable after we thawed it by the fire at our cabin. We did so much more than we ever dreamed of getting done. Our hope was to sheetrock the bathroom and to put in the sink, toilet, and shower. If we had time and they hadn't finished the floor in the rest of the rooms we were going to try to help with that. We didn't get the base of the shower set, but we did get the shower head and controls in. All they have to do is set the base and attach the drain. In addition to what we were hoping to accomplish we also finished a subfloor in one room, we hung sheetrock in another room, helped brace a floor in the main room and set the subfloor there, hung two doors, and put in all the tile for the bathroom. The grout to the tile didn't dry in time for us to set the shower and I was kind of disappointed, but then I started looking at what all we got done that we hadn't planned on. It was truly a blessing from God that we were able to accomplish as much as we did even with the obstacles we faced. The church was able to purchase a fireplace for the daycenter area upstairs, which was installed while we there. It made a huge difference in there. We had an interesting time with driving on the snow and icy roads, but God kept us safe. There was one incident where I was glad to have the experience of the skid pan at the driving track at work, and we were able to stay between the ditches. I also learned that my work boots were not suited for walking on the ice.... after three falls, I solved that issue with a power drill/driver and a handful of screws. They all thought I was crazy but it worked. I thought it best to remove my traction stability devices before heading to the airport though. Well, I guess I will conclude this message by saying thanks for praying for me and my team. We couldn't have done the things we did without God's help and your prayers.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Not much to update on Edgars for now. It is going to be a waiting game over the next few months.
His new big sister Katie (the one who is living in St Petersburg) is coming to visit him in Riga this weekend. He is very excited!
She is also going to go over to Skrunda when Gene is there in a couple of weeks. Her and Edgars will both come to Skrunda and spend time with the mission team.
The team is getting very excited! Keep praying! They leave in 13 days!
Be sure to check out the Simple Obedience website. And check back soon for the kids who will be available to be hosted for the Summer hosting! This is a wonderful experience! Even after all the hard times, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Pray for our friends Rob and Kathleen who are in Latvia for their first court date to adopt Kristine.
Also, pray for a little boy in Skrunda, Romans who God constantly lays on my heart. He is 5 yrs old and smoking! I can't wrap my mind around that!
Monday, January 22, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
He goes back to school next Monday. Please pray for him and that he will be able to hold on for just a few more months until he can come home to America!
Also please pray for Liza, Janis, and Ruta who did not find adoptive families on this trip. Please pray that God will send the family he has planned for them, just like he did for Edgars!
Gene will be leaving in just a few weeks to go to Latvia. If you have any donations, they would be greatly appreciated! Especially board games, shoes and head lice treatment. Just let us know! email@example.com
Have a great day!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
We shed some tears and promised to continue to call and keep up with him. He thought we would just forget about him. How could we? We don't know what our life was like before we met him! For the past year, so much of our focus has been on doing all we can for him. Now we will call him and be friends but we can also just step back and see what unfolds.
We also need to step back and reevaluate where do we go from here? We definetly want to devote ourselves more to ministry and reaching out to other kids. What a wonderful blessing it is to see kids come to the family that God had planned for them all along. Now I am driven to help more of them find that very thing!!
Gene will now begin preparing to go to Latvia on Feb 19 to continue work on the Skrunda Baptist Day Center. We would appreciate your prayers in that as well!
Thank you for all of you across the country that have prayed for our family and most importantly for Edgars. All I can say is Wow! Their is power in prayer and God is SOO cool!!
I will try to keep the blog updated on the progress with Edgars and his new family!
Monday, January 08, 2007
I wish I knew how to say God is AWESOME in Latvian instead of God is Good because Good does not even begin to describe how AWESOME God is!!! If only each of you could be in our shoes to see what awesome things God has done in the past week alone! Last week I sent out an email. A desperate cry from a mother's heart. A cry for a family for Edgars to call his own. Over the past year we have grown to know and love this child. When God very clearly closed the door for us to pursue him any further...we were all...Edgar included...to the point of almost despair. We did not understand why this past year was going to end like this, with no hope and no answers. And then from my heart I typed an email that reached out all over the country. Literally. A ministry called The Shepherds Crook in Ohio took my email and forwarded it out even more. Thru them...it found its way to a family from Texas. Bob and Teresa and their four girls Mary Teresa(almost 23), Katie(20), Monica(17) and Jane(9). We drove to Nashville yesterday afternoon and spent all evening and all day today with Bob, Teresa and Jane. They are a wonderful family whom God has been preparing in many ways for Edgar to very likely become one of their own. Let me just name a few...They have always been open to adopting a son. Bob's favorite uncle who raised him, is named Edgar. Mary Teresa is in Medical school and plans to specialize in Pediatric Endocrinology (which includes Growth Hormone Disorders). Katie is studying in St Petersburg Russia and working with orphans. She called and spoke to Edgars in Russian. And oh my goodness...Edgar resembles their family!! The picture of Edgar and Jane is unreal at the resemblence. Gene and I have a wonderful peace that can only come from the Lord. We KNOW that this is God's plan and his PERFECT timing. Thank you so much for everyone who has prayed for us and for Edgar all along the way. Don't stop now! This family has a long road ahead of them. This has happened very, very fast. Two days ago they did not even know Edgar existed and now...they are possibly gaining a son!!! WOW! Isn't God AWESOME??? Thank you to everyone who passed on the emails...you played a part in something that may have seemed small but will make a forever difference in Edgars life! I will close with the Bible Verse in Bob's devotional for yesterday. Galations 4:4-5 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
We love you all!!
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy New Year! We had a great first day of the New Year! I hope you did as well! We baked muffins, the kids made stepping stones for the yard, and we finished off the day with Edgar's favorite meal...Shishkabobs! As you can tell from the picture he was thrilled! He ate about 5 helpings!! If only we could cook that for every meal, we would fatten him up in no time! hehe! In 8 more days the kids go back to Latvia. Please pray for them and the families this last week. It will be the hardest one. Most importantly please pray for a family for Edgar. He really needs a family to call his own.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
We took Morgan to Speech and while she was in there we went to Target so the boys could pick her out a gift. Edgars thinks we are made of money and asks for everything he sees. I keep telling him that Christmas is only a few days away and that he doesn't need any of those things. He tells me "Just put it on your credit card" We have tried very hard not to give him the impression that it is all about the money. I can tell that is going to be something we continually work on this time!
I will try to update the blog more frequently now that things have calmed down! Have a Merry Christmas!
After we left the school we came home and hung out for a while. Edgars had no problem entertaining himself with Rusty, Shiloh and Bo. The dogs love him and they get plenty of play time when he is around.
Wedensday night at church the kids found out their parts in the Christmas Eve play. Edgars is going to be a wise man, Patrick a shepherd and Morgan a sheep. They are all very excited!
Over all our day was uneventful but we had a good time anyway.
Sorry that I have been slow to update our blog. Since Monday everything has been CRAZY and my To Do List is a MILE long!!
Tuesday my mom and I flew to Detroit to meet the kids. We had a great flight and got there around 11:00 and immediately started trying to find out what we could do to meet them. Sometimes in customs it gets confusing if you don't know where you are going and you can easily get lost. We were hoping to meet them down in customs like Jennifer is able to do if they fly into Atlanta. We tried to find an information desk that was shown on the directory but we had no luck. Finally we just went to one of the gates and asked someone. She told us we needed to go down to International Arrivals and they would let us in. We grabbed a bite to eat and then asked someone else. She told us that no way would they let us back there and that our best bet would be to wait for them outside of the customs area. When we got down there we asked someone else and she said that since they had a connecting flight they would not come out where we were standing but that there was a hallway on the 3rd floor where they would come out. So back we went to right where we started. We asked an airport policeman where the hallway was and he showed us. Once we found it we decided to go sit at their gate so we could at least see their airplane land. When I got up to go to the bathroom the board said they would be landing at 1:20. When I was walking back it said they had landed. Then the excitement began to build!! We were watching to see their plane come to the gate and there was a guy sitting there waiting to take that plane to Amsterdam. We started to talk to him and found out he is from Romania. He has been in the US for 8 months and doesn't like it. He said that in America everyone smiles all the time even though they don't mean it. You ask them how they are and they say they are fine even when they are not. He said that even though he can make more money in America, he would rather be with his family and in a country where people say what they mean. It is funny because Jennifer is always telling us that in Latvia they call it the "american smile", when you smile even though you don't mean it. It is sad that we hide behind our smiles and don't let people see who we really are. I apologized to the guy who was quite content to talk for hours and told him we had to go meet the kids. We walked over to the hallway and waited...and waited...and waited. Since we had received so many different answers we were afraid we were in the wrong spot. We were also afraid that they would not know where to go and go to the wrong place. But at the same time we were afraid to leave and go check anywhere else knowing that as soon as we left they would arrive!
Finally about an hour and a half after they landed we saw them walking down the hall. They couldn't see us and so we just stood trying not to be noticed since we could not get into the hallway to run to them. Finally Ilga spotted me and started to wave and then Edgars saw me. He ran and jumped into my arms and hugged me and then he hugged Nana. Then he said "What are you doing here? This isn't Atlanta!" He was very surprised! All the kids were just standing there staring at us not quite sure what was going on. After meeting everyone we asked if they were hungry. They said No. But then I said "McDonalds?" and they all instantly changed their minds. So we went to McDonalds and got fries and drinks. Then everyone had to go to the bathroom so we showed them where it was and Janis, Olegs and Edgars ran right into the girls bathroom! We realized it and started to run after them but they also realized it and ran right back out! hahaha!
There was a cool fountain in the center of the terminal and the kids were fascinated watching the water dance around. Eventually we made it to the gate to wait for our plane. When we got there Ruta realized that she left her bag. So Liza, Kristine and I trucked all the way back to the other side of the airport to McDonalds where her bag was waiting for her! Thank Goodness!
We had a good 2 hours before the plane arrived at this point so we just sat at the gate talking. The kids were cutting up and goofing off and having a good time. They were giving us chocolates and little things they had made on the plane. Ruta was cracking me up. She had a balloon and she would blow it up and put it under her shirt and say "I have a baby!" Then she would let it deflate and say "No Baby! No Baby!" Edgars didn't stop talking from the time he saw me to the time we landed in Atlanta! He kept saying "Oh Krista..." "Oh Krista.." The kids were trying to teach me how to say things in Latvian and cracking up laughing at the fact that I didn't say it right!
Shortly after taking off from Detroit Ilga and the kids were all asleep except for Edgars and Alex. I am sure Alex wanted to sleep, but he was sitting beside me and Edgars and I don't think he could sleep thru all Edgars talking! hahaha!
When we landed we took the train and then stopped at the bottom of the escalators so we could let all the families know we landed. Our phones wouldn't work so finally we just decided to go up anyway. The kids were anxious and I know the families on the other end were as well!
Edgars ran and jumped into a HUGE hug with Patrick. Then Morgan. Then Gene and Papa! It was so neat to see from the other side of things. The kids coming up meeting their families, some of them for the first time.
We left the airport and Edgars and the kids talked the whole way home. I could tell his energy level was drifting though and he went to bed with no fussing! I wasn't too far behind him because I was exhausted too!
We are so glad to have him back. Even if for only 3 weeks!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
We were of course devastated to find this out. Everyone had told us that the Orphan Court has Edgars best interest as utmost priority. We never thought for one minute that they would not see it as his best interest to be with us. It baffles me that they would think that he is better off where he is than with us. But...we have prayed and prayed, and so have so many others for God's best for Edgars. And for whatever reason, unknown to us at this time, it is not God's will for him to be with us. We are saddened but we will press on.
The orphan court did approve for him to come for Christmas. So we will take him for 3 weeks and love him up as much as we can. He will be here December 19th. My mom and I are flying to Detroit to meet the host kids and Ilga. He has no idea. I can't wait to surprise him!
When I look back over the rollercoaster last year since we first signed up to host this boy for 3 weeks last Christmas, never knowing the journey it would bring us on, I am amazed. God has changed our lives so much. I would have never guessed that bringing an 11 yr old boy into my home for 3 weeks would change my world forever. It hasn't been easy at times, many times. I have sat in my closet and cried until there were no tears left to cry. But I have also been given a much deeper joy and a compassion I never knew. Never be afraid to let God take you on a journey, even a difficult one. Because on the other side of the valley...is a mountaintop with a view you could never imagine!!!!!!!!!
Keep praying...and if you haven't already...reach out to someone else this Christmas...and find the blessings that can only be found in helping others.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Edgars went to court this past Saturday and he said it went very well. They asked him questions about us and if he wanted to live with us and go to school. He, of course, said he did and that he considers us his family. Tomorrow will be the final orphan court hearing to decide our case. The court will meet at 3 pm which is 8 am our time.
Please join us in praying that the court will rule in our favor!
I will update when we know more.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Helen asked me to go ahead and type up a letter inviting Edgars to come for Christmas and return in January. If the courts deny our request for him to come to study, then she wants to have the invitation ready so that they can at least approve him to come for Christmas. So I typed that up along with a letter stating how the courts can check on him while he is here. I am sending these papers with a family that is leaving on Wednesday.
Within just a couple of weeks, we will know the outcome. I pray that the courts rule in our favor and Edgars can finally be home!!!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
He also told me that Natalija, Edgar's foster mom, is going to court on Thursday so they can interview her about our case. One of the court's concerns was how Natalija felt about Edgar coming to be with us. I was happy to hear that at least some progress is being made. I pray we have a decision soon. I know they still have to interview Edgar. I have emailed Helen to find out if she knows when they will interview him.
The guy who helped me book our tickets was awesome! He made sure Edgar got "good seats" on all the flights. He also made sure that even though I was booking separately from the other kids that Edgar was sitting by them on every flight. It was nice to have GREAT customer service from an airline!!
Keep the prayers coming! A lot has to fall into place in the next month!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
We talked a little about his interview he will have with the Orphan Court. I told him to be honest and to tell the truth. I asked if he knew what the truth was and he said yes, it was not lying. He said "Krista, I tell them YES! YES! I want to come to America!" I explained to him that it will only be for one year. This was very hard for him to understand. He asked me why it could not be forever. I told him that the Orphan Court wants to do what is best for him and that right now if they approve it, it will only be for one year.
We were talking about Kristaps, his brother, and how he was doing when I hear a lady come and scream at the top of her lungs in Latvian. I asked Edgars what was going on and he just started to cry. I asked him what was wrong and he just kept saying "I miss you. Please bring me to America. I miss you soo much." I asked what she said but he would not tell me. Then he said he had to go. It was so hard to hang up with him crying like that. It was hard to not be able to hug him and tell him everything is okay. I just told him that I loved him and I would try to call tomorrow and that I would pray for him. What else can I do from 6000 miles away but put him in God's hands.
I tell you what, this experience, while it has brought many joys, it has also been one of the hardest experiences of my life. I will be glad when I can look back and see why God has brought us thru all of this. I know that it is coming one day. Please pray for Edgars!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
She is going to take the documents and review them and get with the other members. Helen explained to her the urgency due to Christmas but she said that it could take as much as a month or longer...
After I got off the phone with Edgars I thought of several ways the court could check on Edgars and I sent an email to Helen. I suggested that the chaperones who come on the hosting trips could check up on him and write a report. I also suggested that she tell them that we have a webcam and she can call and see Edgars and checkup on him anytime. I also offered to have the social worker come out at whatever intervals the court would like to check on him and write a report. Hopefully these suggestions will help eliminate the court's fears.
Please pray that the court will see that this is Edgars home and where he belongs. Please pray that they will do so quickly so that he can be here for Christmas!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I also gathered all the documents for the Embassy - A letter from us explaining why we think they should allow Edgars to come, the I 20 (document from the government/school showing that he is accepted), A wonderful letter of acceptance from the school, The I-134 form (document stating that I intend to support him and he will not become the responsibility of the state), letters from our employers and the bank backing up the I-134. We got all of this notarized. We did not have to have it apostilled because it is going to the US Embassy and not an International Court.
After three trips to the school I finally got an I-20 that is correct. The first trip the lady was out and forgot to leave it. The second trip the I-20 had a school completion date of May 2007 and the back page wasn't signed. Because we weren't sure if the May 2007 date would pose a problem, we decided to have her extend it to May 2009. I am not sure if it will make a difference, but I would rather cover all the bases.
It is a lot of legwork just to get everything together. I was going to overnight the documents to Latvia which costs $100 and really isn't a true overnight but more like 2-3 days. However, my friend Wendy is leaving for Latvia today and she took the documents in her purse so that they can be hand delivered to Helen. She should arrive in Latvia tomorrow morning.
Helen will then take the Orphan Court documents and have them translated(to the tune of about $20 per page so about $200). Once the translation is complete she will go to the Head of the Orphan Court and talk again about our situation.
Please pray for us. There is a lot that has to fall into place and quickly.
First the Orphan Court has to approve for Edgars to come to go to school. Once they approve that, then we have to pay a $100 visa fee and a $100 SEVIS Fee (SEVIS is the system that keeps up with International Students). Three days after she pays the VISA fee she can make an appt with the Embassy. At the Embassy they will interview her and Edgars to find out why he wants to go to America and why they should let him go. She has to convince the Embassy that we are not trying to "immigrate" Edgars. We hope we accomplished that by the letter we sent them. But who knows...We have heard from others that the interview is tough. Once the Visa is approved then we can book his plane ticket. We would like for Edgars to fly with the Simple Obedience host children who are flying on December 19. They are booking their tickets on November 15. Ideally we would like to book his by then. Tickets are very cheap right now, only $600! If we could get his plane ticket booked soon, that will save us a considerable amount of money.
As you can see...a lot has to come together. We know that God has a plan in this and we are trusting for his perfect timing. Please pray that things go favorably and we can bring Edgars home. I am not sure how I can bring him again and have to put him back on a plane in January. Pray for our strength and our patience.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I rewrote the letter to the Orpahn Court and emailed it to Helen. She gave it her stamp of approval. Now all I have to do is get all the documents gathered up and on their way. Helen didn't think I would need to have everything notarized and apostilled but I think we may anyway just in case. I would hate for the process to be slowed even more by something as small as a stamp that costs $3. Also the school mailed me the I 20 and a letter of acceptance last Friday and I have not received it. My notary mailed me some documents I had forgotten last Friday and I have not received those either. I called the post office to inquire about the delay but they were no help. It seems like roadblocks every way we turn. So tomorrow I will go hand pick up the I-20 and I guess I will go back to the bank and get another copy of the letter and get it notarized again. Oh the joy of paperwork!
Edgars is doing fine. He is out of school this week and loving having all day to play and goof off. Even though it is very cold every time I call he is outside playing! At least he is getting a break from the rough time he has been having at school lately.
Well..until next time...keep the prayers coming!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Helen called this morning to let us know that she did go to the orphan court this morning. The lady she talked to in the department for Foster children was not sure the process of bringing a child on student visa. She said she would have to consult with her colleagues before giving Helen any kind of answers on whether this would be possible. Helen seemed confident because she said the lady seemed especially sympathetic to the situation. We should hear something back from them in the next day or so.
We are still waiting to hear from Furtah about the I 20. I will call them tomorrow if I do not hear from them today. Other than that we are just gathering the documents we think they will need and waiting.
Please pray for us during the waiting...its hardest for me. However I know that we are going to have quite a testimony to share when we get on the other side of all of this!
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Until next time...
Sunday, October 01, 2006
We had lots of people send Edgars birthday cards. He said that everytime his foster mom Natalija goes to the mail there is more mail for him from America! He was so excited! I can just imagine how special that must make him feel to have so many people think of him on his birthday!!
Morgan sang to him "Happy Birthday to you, you live in a zoo, you look like a Monkey and you smell like one too!" He didn't know what to think about that! He said "Krista, she called me a monkey??" haha! I had to explain it was just a silly song. He said "Yes, Morgan is a silly goose!"
Tomorrow he has to go back to the boarding school so we are hoping we will be able to call him on his official birthday on his teacher's cell phone. It is very hard being so far away. I want to be with him on his birthday. Hopefully next year we will be!!
As many of you know we met this wonderful boy thru an orphan hosting program. It changed our lives! If you are interested in hosting you can contact Jennifer Peters at Jennifer@simplyforlatvia.org or visit the Simple Obedience website. The winter hosting is coming up soon and there are some wonderful kids available to host. Even if you are not interested in adoption you can host a child for 3 weeks. It is life changing for the child and for you!
So far there is no updates on the process with the Student Visa. We are just waiting to hear if the school gets approved. It has only been 2 weeks so I am trying to be patient!!
Thanks to everyone for your continued prayers and support!
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Edgars is doing pretty good. He spends Monday thru Friday and school and then comes home on Friday afternoons. I had an interesting time trying to call his school for the first time this week. Natalija, his foster mom had given me two phone numbers to call. I called the first one on Tuesday and said "Edgars Ludzu" which means "Edgars please" and the lady said something in return that I did not understand. So I just repeated myself "Edgars Ludzu." Well, I guess she realized we couldn't communicate because she hung up on me. I called the other number and got no answer. So I gave up for that day. On Wednesday I decided to try again. So Jennifer helped me to figure out how to say in Latvian "Do you speak English?" And "I only speak a little Latvian" So once again I called the first number and I said "Hello, Do you speak English" (in Latvian of course) and she said "No" and so I said in Latvian "I only speak a little Latvian" and she said "Edgars?" and I said "Yes Yes Ludzu!" and she just started laughing and started talking to someone in the background and laughing and then they just hung up on me. I was so defeated. This Language barrier is HARD! I was trying to find someone who could help me find out how to talk to Edgars but noone was available. So finally I decided to try the second number. So same scenario...I call and when this lady answers, I say in Latvian "Hello, Do you speak English?" And she says "Oh, yes, of course" and I was SOO Thankful! I said "Good, Good! Thank You!" She says "Edgars?" and I said "Yes, Yes" and she says "One minute"
Finally I got to talk to him! He told me that his daytime teacher was the one I called first, she doesn't speak any English and she isn't at the school at the time I am calling. His nighttime teacher is who I will be calling and she speaks English! YEAH! I was so happy! He says he likes school, he likes his teachers. He said that school is very easy and he can do everything they ask of him. This is apparently a big turn around from his previous school! The entire time we were on the phone his friends were in the background saying "Kreeeeeeesta! Kreeeesta" He kept saying "They like your name!" hehe!
Gene and I both got to talk to him on Thursday. He said some kids were kicking him and chased him up a tree and then he got in trouble for being in the tree! We were so upset. I am sure he is being picked on because of his size. Me and Gene were both like We HAVE GOT TO GET HIM OUT OF THERE!
I know we can't shelter him from everything, but I hope we can give him a better environment!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Keep the prayers coming!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Helen confirmed that Edgar is starting a new school on September 4th. It is a boarding school but it is in Riga. He will stay there during the week and go home on Fridays. This is better than last year's school where he only came home for summer and Christmas! I asked her if they would be refrigerating his medicine and she said she would make sure they do! Edgar seems excited about starting school which suprised me. He is usually opposed to anything involving school. This school really seemed to make an impression on him. Helen said that it is a new type of school in Riga and doesn't seem to be as formal. Schools in Latvia are apparently a lot more formal than American schools. Fun is not in the schools' vocabulary. Hopefully Edgar will do well at this school!
I have gotten accustomed to talking to him and seeing him on Skype almost every day. It is going to be hard to only get to talk to him on weekends.
As for an update on the Student Visa - The Language school is still waiting on approval. Helen said that once the school has approval she will go the head of the Orphan court and discuss the situation. This way we will know how things are going to go before we even have an official court date. We are all praying that things will go smoothly and he can be home by Christmas!
I will keep you posted. Keep praying! Phil 4:6-7
Monday, August 21, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Just yesterday I got an email from the principal of The Language School stating that she had received the money to apply to accept international students and she would be starting the application process today. Typically the process takes 90 days. So it is looking like November before the school can issue an I-20 for us to send to Latvia. We are hoping that this will allow us enough time to bring him here by Christmas and he can start school after the Christmas holidays.
I will keep you updated as we know more but right now it is just a waiting game!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Last year a survey was taken of over 1000 children in Latvia. Here are the results:
- 54% of surveyed children do not have enough to eat
- 62% do not have sufficient clothing
- 44% don't have electricity, heating, hot water or cold water at home
- 39% said they cannot turn to doctors for help with medical needs
- 52% cannot afford to buy the medicine they need
- 80% live in families where parents/guardians drink heavily
- 79% said they don't wish to study
- 53% don't have the study materials they need
- 66% said they don't have anyone to talk to, to share their thoughts with, ask advice of
- 32% think of commiting suicide
- The older an orphan gets, the chances for his/her adoption drastically decrease.
- Each year many orphans between 15 to 18-years-old leave the orphanages.
- Most of these orphans have no one to turn to for help.
- About 10% of them will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday.
- 60% of the girls will end up in prostitution.
- 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime.
- Only 27% of these youth will find work.
From an article titled "Plight of Orphaned Children in Latvia":
Latvia is one of the smallest countries in Eastern Europe and also one of the poorest, with children often bearing the brunt of chronic poverty. Since the fall of communism, the ex Soviet Republics have struggled to move towards true democracy and a free economy. Living standards have declined dramatically over the past decade and many families Â particularly those with single parents - are living below the poverty line.
Amid these tough social and economic conditions, some mothers cannot cope and either abandon their children or give them up to orphanages. Hundreds of thousands of children in Eastern Europe and post-Soviet countries currently live in such institutions.
These post-Soviet childrenÂs homes and orphanages are overcrowded, run-down, and under-funded. Even in some of the Âbest equippedÂ orphanages, children are undernourished and physically small for their age. Education standards vary wildly due to limited budgets and other priorities, and children have very few life or work skills to enable them to integrate back into society. Most lack the proper education needed to be admitted to the secondary educational facilities, or they drop out quickly if they manage this feat due to the pressures of providing for themselves without proper support. The majority of youths have nowhere to go once they reach the age of 18 and must exit the only home that most have ever known. A life in the streets leading to crime, prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse is the destiny of most of these young people.
These orphans are easy prey for sex and slave traffickers. According to Amnesty International, young women and girls, often vulnerable because of economic deprivation or for having already been physically abused, are easy targets. They dream of a better life, which the traffickers promise when they offer them "work" in the West. Instead of getting a proper job, the women and girls find themselves trapped, enslaved, forced into the sex industry.
Trafficked women and girls are exposed to a series of human rights abuses, including abduction, deprivation of liberty and denial of freedom of movement, torture and ill treatment, including psychological threats, beatings and rape. To escape their devastating life, suicide is unfortunately the only option some of these children feel is available to them.
"We know what love is because Christ gave His life for us. We should give our lives for our brothers. What if a person has enough money to live on and sees his brother in need of food and clothing? If he does not help him, how can the love of God be in him? My children, let us not love with words or in talk only. Let us love by what we do and in truth."
1 John 3:16-18