Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Projects 19 & 20

Craft Project #19
Recycled Tee

I've been tired of the little crochet projects that I've been doing, so I decided to try something new.  I took an old white, stained extra large tee shirt of Mark's and cut it up, dyed it, put it back together and crocheted the top part of it.  I'm fairly happy with how it turned out...I'm going to keep working to perfect it, but for a prototype it turned out pretty well.  

I used a ball and a half of yarn from my stash. 

Craft Project #20
(Another 3) hats

There are two red hats and one purple/white hat.  There are booties matching the red hat as well.  I finished up the other ball of rainbow yarn, and used up the red ball of yarn!

Projects completed: 20
Projects left: 10

Stash update:  My yarn stash is very thinned.  I also donated a bunch of my yarn to Nicaragua (more on that later) and so I'm down to odds and ends.  Somewhat fun, but also somewhat annoying because I don't have a lot of options for big projects.  For the time being, I plan to use it all up little by little.  Plus, I still have two stockings to make before Christmas because we are heading down there to spend Christmas with the girls!

As far as the adoption goes, here's the skinny:

It doesn't matter if the girls' mother signs the paper or not.  There are no birth certificates for the girls and they have never lived with their mother.  Once finding this out, the lawyer decided that we'll go ahead and start the abandonment process because it's unlikely that a letter would hold up in front of a judge.  The argument would be that we could pay anyone to say they are the mother and sign them over.  I don't think DNA tests are used there for this purpose.  

The bad news is that this part of the process may take longer.  The good news is that since there are no birth certs, we won't have to have them changed, but rather just have them issued which is quicker than having them altered. 

So, there you have it! 

Peace and love, 

Monday, August 30, 2010

My New Desktop Background

I realize it's probably not as funny if you don't know the boys, but I think this picture is a real gem.  I think what made it even better is that I didn't know it was there until I uploaded it on my camera and was scrolling through the pictures.  I laughed until I cried.  It was wonderful.  I needed it. 

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while.  I ended up coming home from Nicaragua early because we have been dealing with some family stuff that needed to be taken care of.  We're fine, don't worry.  I just needed a bit of a break from here while I concentrated on what needed to be done.  I'm sure there are going to be a lot of questions asking why we're home, but right now we're focused on what needs to be done while we're here.  I appreciate you respecting our privacy in this matter, and even more I appreciate the prayers I know you're sending up on our behalf. 

As far as the girls adoption goes, I'll have to write more on that tomorrow.   There have been a few new twists that aren't good or bad, they just are.  As I mentioned, I've been processing a lot lately!  

I hope you've been well, and I'll talk to you all tomorrow!

Peace and love, 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Boy!

Tate turned FOUR today. 

I cannot believe it.  I simply cannot. 

This is what I wrote in 2006 shortly after Tate's birth:

With every day that passes, my mind blocks out more of the details of my son's birth, so I thought I'd write them down so that I don't forget how wonderful/painful/incredible the entire experience was.
Very rarely does anything change your life instantly.  I can remember a few specific grandpa's accident at the lake, the moment Mark told me he had feelings for me, and very few others.  Getting married was more of a process, a gradual change, and accepting that Christ loved me and choosing to follow him, while the most significant change in my life, was also more of a gradual realization than an instantaneous change.
The birth of my son, however, was an instantaneous change.  I loved him the moment I laid eyes on him.  The birth itself was awful.  I was induced at around noon on the 28th, and he was born at 1:55 on the morning of the 29th.  I had horrible back labor, so I never stopped hurting during the entire labor process.  That part was almost unbearable.  We had chosen prior to the birth to have a natural childbirth, so there was no medication to numb the pain.  I felt everything.  The last three hours of labor was the worst.  I was transitioning for about 2 hours, and that part tends to be the most painful.  After about an hour of pushing, Tate's heart rate started to drop during the contractions, so they were in a rush to get him out.  I got an episiotomy (didn't even realize it) and he was here in two good pushes.  It was amazing.  I felt like crap, but emotionally I can't even begin to describe the high I felt.  I didn't understand why the doctors were still so concerned, but I soon found out.  I had torn severely, and the episiotmy was a fourth degree (deep) one.  I was taken into the OR in order to sew me up.  Before I left I was able to hold Tate, but only for a moment.
The 45 minutes or so in the OR was the longest in my life.  I only wanted to get back to my bed and be with Mark and our son.  Mark, who was the best coach ever during the process, was all alone with our son and I wanted to be together as a family.  Soon enough we were back together and the love in the room was overwhelming.
My son, Tate, looks just like his father.  I love that.  He shares the same lips, nose, and eyes.  His feet are large, just like daddy's, and some of his expressions are identical.  I can't imagine loving any two people more.
This whole experience has brought into a new light the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.  I'm sure you have heard that before, but when you have a child, it really sheds light on the vastness of the love God has for us.  I would sacrifice myself for those I love, but never, never my son.  That is asking too much.  Yet, this is what he did.  He gave part of himself, his son, to die for me.
"How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure
that He should give his only son, to make a wretch his treasure"

And today, let me just say this:

Tate, I love you more each day.  You are smart, sensitive, loving and kind.  You like people, love cares and trains, and I believe Jesus will do amazing things in and through your life.  You are a treasure, a joy and your laugh makes everything in the world seem right. 

I am so proud of who you are growing up to be.  I will continue to guide you as you grow.  

Love always, 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He's got Skillz...

Very recently, 

Tate decided to take up dancing. 

It has been pretty much the best thing ever. 

Did I mention he's pretty good?

Or not.  

But he's good for a Stearns. 

We don't have many moves...

but apparently he does. 

And I love watching his "moves"

Because it's pretty much the funniest thing ever.

Don't you think?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Picture post

Nicaraguan Nap Time.  Or post nap time (AKA Purgatory). The boys were woken up prematurely by thunder and climbed into the twin bed with me.  It was cozy. 

Tate and his birthday cake made by Juan (not pictured).  Asner helped him eat it, Jesse did him the favor of putting some frosting on his face.  He didn't mind...

A little overwhelmed, but posing for a picture anyway. 

Pura Nica.  We don't have plates so we have cake by holding it in our hands.  Just so you don't think I had two, I was holding Stanley's piece while he took the picture. 

When it rains really hard the water comes in through the top of the Posada.  The boys slide around on the floor and get soaking wet.  It's pretty fun.  Sort of dangerous, but mostly fun. 

It rained (and poured) all day yesterday.  I almost felt like I was at home. 

Miss you all, friends.  

Peace and love, 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Abandonment process/ PRAYERS!!

Today officially begins the abandonment process for the girls and we need your prayers.

We're going to call the girls grandparents to ask them to call the mom and plead with her to sign the papers for the adoption.  If she will agree to this then the process could take months, not years.

Please pray for her heart to be softened toward the girls and the adoption.  Pray for God's timing and our recognizing his work.

We'll keep you updated, but as with everything in Nicaragua, it will probably be a couple of weeks before we hear anything.

Thanks a million, friends.  We couldn't do this without your love and support!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Family Ties

One of my favorite things about Spanish culture is the importance of family.  

Kind of ironic that I'm working at an orphanage where the families are dysfunctional or broken, huh?!

Anyway, I love the generations living close and the respect that the kids have for family.  I love that cousins stay close.  I love that brothers and sisters work together.  I love that big families are normal-and when I say big families, I don't mean ones with a ton of kids, but one where everyone is involved.   Life is what happens, not how it's planned.  I love that way of living, probably because it is so not what I would be if I was left to my own devices.  I love that it doesn't matter what time dinner is, we're all together and we just get to it when we get to it.  Not how I normally operate, but I'm trying to incorporate more of this into my everyday life.  

I think one of the main reasons I love this protection of family is because I have such a great one.  Family is a great thing because you always (or should always) have a place to belong.  And when I say that I have a great family, believe me, I do, but I'm a part of a lot of great families.  I think another great thing about Spanish culture is that family is what you make it to be.  The boys here are family.  They know that.  They treat the kids like beloved and annoying siblings.  Even when there is a dispute, it's apparent that this place is filled with love between the kids.  I'm fortunate to be a part of several "families" like this, too.  When we lived in Virginia we had no one close, but we made a family.  After we made our family we never had to worry about if we belonged or not…we knew we did.  We're family.  I grew up with this "family" as well.  My grandparents and cousins were far away, but you'd never guess it if you saw us on the weekends.  We were adopted by grandparents in the church and never felt like we lacked for a grandparent's love.  We also found family with the girls I grew up with.  It just so happens that most of them are related, and they just kind of meshed us into their big mess of family.  We love it!  We love being part of all of these, as well as our own wonderful blood families. 

Now that we're living in Portland we're joining making a new family.  We've made great friends there and are really starting to feel like that's home, we're really family.  Combine that with the fact that we really do have family close, well, life is grand!

One of the things I've been reflecting on a lot down here is how the church is supposed to function like a family.  Christ's model is a family…if it weren't he wouldn't call the church his bride.  I love that there is this deep need inside of each of us to find a family to be a part of-I think finding a family to be a part of is the first step toward becoming part of the bride of Christ if that makes sense.  If you don't want to be a part of a family, you surely don't want to have anything to do with Christ (please don't think I'm saying your family.  I realize that some people don't have a functioning blood family and when I say this I mean any family…primarily the one you make for yourself). 

I marvel at how the kids here long for the permanence of family, and how through their longing they rise up to become what their 'brothers' and 'sisters' are looking for.  They have found family because they have made family.  This has never been more obvious to me than when I heard from the two boys that were sent home.  They have now been brought to another orphanage in the area and the relief in the Posada (the boys' home we're living in) is palpable.  The boys' names weren't mentioned until we found out where they were and how they were doing.  Now it seems like the tension is eased and we can talk about them without worrying about where they are, if they are safe and if they are being fed.  Relief.  

The kind of love these boys have for each other is special.  It runs deep.  It's dysfunctional at times, but always loyal.  This is true love.  It's a true family. 

We are so blessed to be a part of it. 

POST EDIT:  After writing this yesterday, one of the boys that were sent home came to visit!  What an amazing blessing!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speakin' Spanish

Theo is completely bilingual. 

Pretty big claim since he's only 18 months I know, I know.  But hear me out.  

His words in English are:
Bye bye
Thank you

His words in Spanish are:
Mio (mine)
Vaya (basically, I want you to leave me alone)
Vamos (let's go)
Suegra (mother in law…he calls our friend Erika that.  She's pregnant with her first child and if it's a girl we've already half planned the wedding)

The names he knows are:
Theo (Pronounced EEE-OOOOHHHH, super cute)

So there you have it.  He officially knows more words in Spanish than he does in English.  Names are good in either language, so I would say that my son is completely fluent in Spanish.  We're working on "pelota" (ball) and "por favor" (please) but those are a little harder.  

Tate is also making great strides.  His phrase yesterday (that he got reprimanded for) was

Callate animal!
Or, "Shut up, animal".  Yes, he's heard that several times since being here.  We've been talking about appropriate words and inappropriate ones.  He knew it was wrong and chose to say it anyway.   He was egged on by some of his hermanos, but he knows who his mom is and who he's supposed to obey, he simply chose to ignore my warnings.  

He was playing on the porch and one of the boys told him (in Spanish) "Tate, come here!"  He looked at him, held up his hands in a questioning gesture and said, "Y por que?" (and why?).  Yes, he's getting the chavalo attitude, too.  As we'd say in Growing Kids "we're working on that."  

(Truth be told after a couple of weeks of being here we went on a huge discipline kick to get him back into shape and it's worked wonders.  He even prayed to ask God to help him not disobey-this was without me asking him if he wanted to do that.  He's doing well, we're just doing regular tune ups). 

Anyway, the kids are doing great, picking up a lot of the language.  I'm trying to speak in Spanish with them (since we're here) and then repeat in English if there's a question as to what I am saying.   It seems to be working!  Now if only we could do something about the whole diaper changing thing, cuz I'm about burned out on that...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Hole in Our Gospel-A New Favorite

I just finished the book, "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns.  I was toying with the idea of doing a book review, but instead decided to add it to the list of My Favorite Things.  You know with a last name like Stearns the book is going to be great…so it's an easy choice for me to add this to my list. 

Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision, sees things a lot like I do-he just writes much better than me (or he has an awesome team…probably a combination of the two).  Stearns addresses the problems with the way Christians today are living: like the only thing that matters is the afterlife.  This is summed up well by a quote from Dallas Willard:

Faith today is treated as something that only should make us different, not that actually can or does make us different.  In reality we vainly struggle against the evils of this world , waiting to die and go to heaven.  Somehow we've gotten the idea that the essence of faith is entirely a mental and inward thing.

Quite the contrary, Stearns suggests.  Jesus was clear about to whom he was sent in Luke 4, including the poor, sick and downtrodden, fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy from hundreds of years prior.  We are making a huge mistake by not attempting to change our world, by not showing compassion to the sick, poor and needy.  When we judge people who are sick with AIDS or trapped in poverty rather than trying to heal and restore, we are perverting the very gospel that we proclaim brings freedom and eternal life!

Stearns weaves his personal story into the pages of the book, making it very relatable.  If he were writing from the perspective of Mother Teresa we'd have loads of respect for the man, but very little ability to relate.  To the contrary, Richard gave up the position of CEO at Lennox, a fine china company to become the CEO of World Vision…a significant pay cut.  His leap of faith is inspiring and encouraging; he's not at all showy or pious, but rather upfront with his moments when he lacked sufficient faith.  His arguments are compelling, and even though I find myself very drawn to help the poor and downtrodden, I was overwhelmed by the number of exhortations in the Bible commanding us to do so.  After all, as St Teresa of Avail said,

Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet for which he is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands for which he is to bless us now.

I had every intention of keeping the book and reading it again when I got home, and passing it onto Mark.  I even thought about doing a giveaway on the blog when I was done with it.  But as I got to know one of the women in the last group, it became clear to me that she was supposed to be the recipient of the book.  I wrote down several of the quotes I had underline and highlighted in order to remember them, and then passed it on.  She's concerned about taking what she's learned on the trip and changing her life at home (the best purpose of short term trips, IMHO) and I thought this book would help her not burn out, but rather cement the need in her mind and encourage her to do something.  There are also a ton of resources in the back of the book and lists of practical things that you can do to make a difference, even without a mountain of money.  

I'm also feeling convicted about what I'm doing with my time in the states.  I think I want to start giving more of that to combat poverty where I live.  I've been pretty clear about where my heart is, but the truth of the matter is that where ever I go, that's where I am.  I am going to be intentional about getting involved with Bridgetown Ministries here in Portland.  While I'm living there I need to serve there.  This ministry lines up well with how I would want to serve so I am going to get involved when I get back.  That will probably involve hiring a babysitter on Thursday nights and planning to serve alongside my husband without my children being there.  Or, it could mean serving with girlfriend while our husbands are with the kids.  I'm not sure how it's going to look, but I know that I need to follow up on it.  I wanted to serve once a month this year, and even though that's not going to happen, I can still start when I get home.  So that's my plan and I am writing it here to help hold myself accountable for my actions.  

If you haven't read the book, I encourage you to read it now.  It's a longer book, but not a hard read (except for the statistics that sometimes made me nauseas.)  Reading it now before the holidays and letting the words and truths change you and your family…what God could do is beyond comprehension.  

If you have already read the book, let me know what you thought.  If not, would you consider reading it?  I know the libraries around here have it if you can't see spending the money on it.  Heck, if you can't swing it I'll buy it and sent it out, just promise you'll read it. Drop me an email at thestearns (@) hotmail dot com (without spaces).  

I'm going to leave you with a quote from the book that really inspired me.

"Live as if Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning and is coming back tomorrow." -Martin Luther

Monday, August 16, 2010

Because it wouldn't be as fun...

...if Tate didn't get it too.

So he did.  He's coughing and running a fever.

Since I already have the meds from Theo's sickness we're on top of it.  Not to worry.  His fever is easier managed because (I think) he's not teething like Theo is/was.

More prayers, please.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today we're feeling sad. 

My parents left.  It was wonderful to have them here, and we are really feeling the effects their departure.  I cried.  Tate cried.  My mom cried.  My dad may have teared up.

Theo slept!  

I don't think I'll ever forget what my parents each said to me as they left.  Since words of affirmation are my preferred method of receiving love, I will just say that I will always treasure the word jewels they gave me.  Having them here was so important to me.  Nicaragua is our home, our lives, our family and having my parents honor this ministry we've chosen by making the sacrifices necessary to enable them to come down and see our kids and our work here means the world to me.  I know that Nicaragua isn't the place that most people would dream of coming on their vacation…let alone, in August when you're from the pacific NW.  I mean, really, is there a better time to live in Seattle? (Maybe September, but that's it).  

God really blessed my parent's time here.  My mom was able to reach a boy that I have yet to be able to…he has suffered a lot of hurts and my mom was like a balm of his soul.  Watching him open up to her was like watching a flower open.  You know you're waiting for something that is going to be beautiful, but you just  aren't sure what the colors will be like, the shape it's going to take and how long it will take until it starts to open.  At first his response to her was slow, but by last night he was initiating conversation and even asked for her email to keep in touch.  It was breathtakingly beautiful to see this hurt boy respond to love.  At lunch today Tate (whose name means 'Cheerful peacemaker') walked up to him while he was sitting on the bench at lunch.  This boy always sits at the end of the bench by himself with his music on.  Tate says to him, "Can I sit next to you at dinner please?"  He shook his head yes and quickly bowed it again before we could see too much of his smile. 

This whole interaction made me smile.  I've been praying that God would use me to touch this boy to get him to open up and he is-by using my parents and my son!

I was impressed by my dad's ability to remember the boys' names.  I loved watching him speak the truth into these boys' lives.  One boy in particular wants to be a plastic surgeon and make a lot of money.  He's a capitalist to the core of his being.  My dad told him that after working for 10-15 years he should consider working for Mercy Ships, Intl.  He talked about the kids in Africa who have growths and such and need plastic surgery to return to "normal" after their medical procedures.  I saw this boy take in the idea and start to chew on it.  I know this boy was impacted by the stories that he heard about my dad working in Mongolia and Africa.  I saw him start to think about living a little beyond himself.  A big concept for a boy whose goal in life is to make as much money as possible to offset the childhood marred by poverty.  

I had the joy of introducing my dad to his granddaughters.  

Although my mom had met them last year, this year it was a little different.  Better.  This year we're family and can act as such. 

It was a great week we spent together.  I didn't want it to end.  

The only good thing about them going home is that I'm one day closer to being with Mark again. 

Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!  We miss you already!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Enough Already

In the three or so weeks we've been here...

-Theo had a 24 hour bug
-I got the 24 hour bug
-Tate got it after me
-Mark got the 24 hour bug his last 8 hours here (bummer on the plane!)
-Theo had a bout with external parasites (LICE!)
-Theo and Tate got haircuts.

-Theo got a cough
-Theo cut four molars
-Theo began running a fever
-Theo had an ER visit
-Theo got a mouth infection (like cold sores or something)
-Theo shared his cold with me, I now have a scratchy throat and cough
-Tate now has ringworm.

Would you believe we've never been sick here before?  I guess we're just making up for lost time.

Please, Lord, have mercy and let us heal soon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick Post

I don't have time for a long post today so I will just say this:

Theo's fever is down.  He is cutting a few (3) molars.  He has some yucky virus in his mouth (think cold sores) as well as this crappy cough.  Please pray that there is no new problem...quite honestly I'm tired of having new things pop up.  Last night he was up until 1am playing.  He was up at 6 this morning, but did get a good nap.

That's about it for now.  I'll keep updating.  Miss you all!

Peace and love,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adoption/Theo update

Adoption in Nicaragua has been difficult for a long time.  Now, it's super duper difficult.  We talked to a lawyer a week ago (who came highly recommended) and were encouraged and overwhelmed.  Here's the gist of what we learned/affirmed:

Before we can go on, our lawyer needs to talk to the psychologist here to make sure that the girls are good candidates for abandonment/adoption.  If they are then:

-Our girls have to be declared abandoned for this whole thing to even get going.  
*in order for them to be declared abandoned, their mother has to either sign them over or her rights have to be terminated.  We're praying for her to sign them over because it's much quicker.  The entire family is working to convince her that this is the right decision.  She has another family now with her new husband and he treats the girls poorly.  Maricela is the only one who has ever even lived with her birthmother, so the girls and the grandparents are very indignant that she has to be consulted in the process. 
*If for some reason she won't sign, we still have quite a bit to go on.  She neglected to get birth certificates for the girls and that is in our favor.  Not to mention the fact that she only parented one and that one was taken away from her. 
-Once they are declared abandoned the process shouldn't take "that long".  We have no idea what that means. 
-We have heard that the once mandatory fostering period (up to 4 months) is being waived.  We'll see how long that lasts. 
-As far as everything goes on the states side, we have our documents and need to get them stamped by the secretary of state (basically s/he is saying that the notary signature is actually the notary's signature) and then send them off to the Nicaraguan consulate.  I don't know how long that will take but I can't imagine it taking too long.  It's government, but like anything I'm sure you can pay a fee to expedite it. 
-Before I leave here our goal is to have sent a letter to the ministry of family asking them to start the process of abandonment for the girls.  

So that's what has to be done, in a nut shell.  Somewhere in there we'll have to meet with the ministry of family and such, but that's a ways a way.  For now we just want to get the girls side of things done.  We're almost done on the state side (and when I say done I really mean that we are certified to bring orphans into the country).  In fact, there could be a paper waiting for us in the mail telling us we're OK to go ahead, but we don't know.  I'm fine waiting until we get home because we don't need it yet.  

Our prayer requests are simple:
-That the girls birthmom would sign over her rights. 
-That the state would process our paperwork quickly

I'll keep you updated on how things play out for us. 

In the mean time, the girls are really bonding well and are asking really good questions about what life will be like when we are all together as a family.  They want to know about life in the states, our house, our pets, where everyone sleeps, the schools (they are super stoked about homeschool which scares me to death…I was only planning on homeschool until they were ready to go to public school), clothes, the weather, what snow is like, etc.  Maricela informed me today that she wants to share a room with Theo.  I told her that he still wakes up in the middle of the night and she changed her mind.  Now she wants Tate.  She got to talk on the phone to Mark today and cried when he hung up.  I got a little teary too. 

I struggle with the fear sometimes that I won't feel as motherly toward them because they are older and don't seem as vulnerable when you're just watching them, but I am definitely starting to feel that momma bear protection thing in regards to them.  I'm getting a little panicky about the thought of leaving again without taking them with us.  I know that this bond has to form, but it sucks that bonding requires hurting as well.  I also struggle because I'm not their mom yet, I don't necessarily feel like I've earned the right to parent them, but the more I do lovingly correct little behaviors, the more they cling to me.  I think they long for loving (very, very loving) correction because it acknowledges that I notice them, I'm thinking about what they are doing and I care about how they are perceived and how their choices might affect them.  

Our daughters have a long road ahead of them.  As their mom, I have a long road ahead of me.  But we're forming bonds right now that will hopefully be strong enough to pull us through the tough times that are coming.   I am thankful of this time we have together to get to know each other without the constant nagging of a upcoming goodbye looming in our minds. Now if we could just all get healthy enough to enjoy it!!  On that note, Theo has turned a corner and is doing better, praise God!  Thanks for all your prayers!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prayers Needed

Theo is sick.  Please pray for his temperature to go down and his cough to go away.  We are hoping it's not pneumonia.  As of now it's not, so we're just treating his symptoms trying to keep his temperature below 102 and believing his body is fighting it.  We've seen the doctor (a great doctor) and had a consult with nurses and pharmacists in the US.  We are in good hands, it's just hard being here with a sick baby.  Please pray for a quick recovery and that this doesn't get spread to anyone else.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Family Pics

Mark is in Korea.  He made it last night (after a brief hiccup with a misplaced passport) and is tired but there.  Here are some pictures of his visit and also of my dad meeting the girls for the first time.  The girls are warming up, although Ana was concerned about already having grandparents.  Once we explained that grandparents are there to just love and how I have two grandmas and when Mark and I got married I had another one, she seemed to relax a bit.  Since their grandmother is the only one who has ever gone to bat for them, I understand her concern.  

Anyway, here are the money shots...

Tere and me

The kids (minus Ana who was on my lap)

Mark and Ana

Mark, Tere and Maricela

Dad, me and Maricela

Things are going very well.  We are blessed beyond words.  Hopefully this week I'll know more about the adoption and I may be meeting the girls' grandma today...I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for your prayers!

Peace and love, 

Monday, August 2, 2010

This is Nicaragua

Today I had a uniquely Nicaraguan experience.  We had to leave the Orphanage for first service (meaning we left at 8) in order to make it to church because there was some big party planned for afterwards and Managua and everyone was worried about the streets closing and not being able to make it home in time for lunch.  We made it there with about 10 minutes to spare.  I got to see Myra Trolese for a quick second, which was wonderful. 

The service went well.  I sat with our daughters and Theo, while Tate wanted to spend time with his hermanos.  We sang some great songs and I really enjoyed the worship!  I definitely see the benefits of attending a Spanish church when it comes time to worship here.  Anyway…about half way through the worship the kids were dismissed and Theo and Tate both went in the nursery (one willing and one not…in that order).  

I enjoyed the sermon without the constant squirming of Theo, only to have that replaced by the constant squirming of Ana.  Since I don't get to experience her squirminess very often I really enjoyed it.  At one point I think she fell asleep on my lap.  

We left fairly quickly after the sermon, Tate and Stanley in the bus and I was in the truck with The Vargas family and several of the chavalos and three gringos in the back.  We got about 10 minutes down the road and I saw the bus take a different route on the round about than we did.  I was instantly nervous.  I'm not thrilled about being separated from Tate (even though I know he's in good hands with the boys, there's just something about that protection instinct that a mom has) and I don't really know what to expect because the other road is more familiar to me and we seemed to be on a more residential route.  

We get about a half mile up and it just gets ugly.   We're at a four way stop and our light is green, but we can't go anywhere because directly across from us are cones blocking off the road.  There's an onramp to the road though, and it's not yet blocked off so there are about 15 cars flipping u turns to get onto the road via the onramp.  Our light turns red and several of the cars in front of us do a mad dash across the intersection and go in between the cones.  The guy setting them up (I'm sure fearing for his life) just gives up and picks up the cones.  I watch as the road ahead becomes congested as everyone tries to go in the same direction, cutting across 2 lanes of traffic in the middle of an intersection.  Don Jorge and Yamilett are discussing what way they should go when I guess Don Jorge decided he was tired of waiting.  He heads out into the intersection in spite of our red light.  I see a huge cement mixer coming toward us.  They have the right of way times two…they have a green light and more importantly here in Nicaragua, they are much bigger than us.  They honk at us (not a big deal, honking here isn't rude, it's a way of life) and keep coming.  So do we.  At this point I'm more concerned about the 12 guys in the back of the truck.  I doubt the cement mixer would hit us on purpose just to prove a point, but you never know.  He finally slows down and lets us pass, albeit with a lot of honking. 

Finally we're on the desired road but we aren't moving.  All of the cars are stopped because the road is supposed to be closed in both directions.  We aren't moving and our truck is full of hungry adolescent boys and a grumpy 18 month old.  What do we do?

We drive over the median that is at least as wide as a car and is basically a huge curb.  We drive over the median and start passing all the stopped cars because we're driving the wrong way down a one way street.  Several cars follow our lead.  At first it's fine, and then we have to start swerving cars that are going the right way on this road.  They had been forced to turn around at the stop, which is why we were all waiting anyway.  This is Nicaragua, my friends. 

About a mile down the road we have to merge with traffic because a policeman is there.  We see another truck of people holding up their Bibles and getting through traffic.  We realize there is a church just past the turn around point, so the directors get out their Bibles.  So now we're driving like maniacs and willingly identifying ourselves as believers…and claiming church attendance for our reason to be such bad drivers.  Awesome. 

A police man sees us and tries to let us through to the church parking lot, but a big bus cuts us off.  There's a lot of pointing to Bibles and honking.  We finally manage to get through.  At this point I'm really confused as to what we're doing…I doubt the parking lot has a back way out and everyone is hungry.  Hopefully this church serves communion!

We see people washing the cars in the lot (amazing servant evangelism idea!) and head in.  Don Jorge says to everyone that we have to wait anyway, so we might as well hear the word of God while we're waiting, and we get to stretch our legs a bit.  Makes sense to me. 

The church is called Hosanna church and is huge.  It's a very traditional looking American church.  There are huge floral arrangements in front and the entire pastoral staff sits on the stage with their wives.  There's about 20 people total.  It seemed a little out of place to me, a little too American in a place that doesn't need to be Americanized, Nicaragua is beautiful.  The culture and people are beautiful.  I love the dancing while worshipping.  I love the heinous rhythm of the clapping that sounds more like an applause than clapping to the beat.  This church seems too perfect.  To the point that when Theo threw our bulletin on the ground (5 times in 10 minutes) it was immediately picked up by and usher and handed back to me.   THe people were nice and sincere, but it just seemed out of place to me.  

About 10 minutes later Theo was done playing nice, and an usher showed me where the air conditioned nursery was.  I sat in a rocker with Theo and looked around.  There was a beautiful mural painted on the wall.  I think it was farmers or a campesino theme but all the people were white.  Odd. After five minutes of staying there I saw our group get up and leave.  Luckily the church was huge so 20 people leaving wasn't a huge number, but we were still obvious.  I felt awkward. 

When we got outside I felt even more awkward.  They were rinsing off the truck and here we are leaving 5 minutes into the sermon.  I cringe at the whole situation, even now.  

Thankfully the road was open and we were able to get home quickly.  Tate was fine and I was relieved to see him.  I don't think he's going to get to go without me again-this is Nicaragua and I'd rather have him close.  

Anyway, we made it home safe and got to be blessed by a beautiful song while we waited.  I thought it was crazy at first just to crash a church service for a few minutes, but I'm sure there were people there like us who didn't plan to attend and were super blessed!

This is Nicaragua, my friends!!