Back at it

I have almost been back a week now and I would like to say so much has been done but that wouldn’t be Africa and I would be lying 🙂 But, we have made some progress and that’s great.

We had a good planning meeting about the type of system and configuration of the massive water system that Oasis Village (the orphanage) will need. Of course I was just planning on coming over and going straight to work as I do every year. Ha. Wrong again. But I think we have some good direction from Seeds Of Hope and we are on track.

We are also making arrangements for a couple side projects at Oasis in order to speed up their process to get the kids in as soon as possible.

We are actually going today to the village that inspired the orphanage into becoming a reality and home for kids and from where the kids will be coming from that will be going there. It has been an emotional time so far going to the site and imagining a bunch of kids running around playing and being loved on. It’s quite overwhelming really to think that Love-Water gets to play a part in that. So, thank you for your support of LW.

On a personal note, it’s been great to be back in Zambia with my friends here and my family. Our adoption doesn’t seem to be any clearer in status but holding our daughter and really processing the act of love we are going through has been amazing. Just to think that there are so many little boys and girls across the globe that don’t have a mommy and daddy to hold them and love them is heartbreaking but awesome for us to be able to do it.

Until next time, we hope this week is amazing for you and us and that we all can live and work towards a better future for our families and those around the world. Be great and do your best!

Where did He go?

Long over due but unbelievable how hard to get online. I’m actually preparing this from the plane on my way home. There are some things I am leaving out until the adoption is final and we are home FYI.
When we first arrived we had those few things happen that encouraged us and showed us that God was definitely with us and that He was honoring our steps of faith. Through the misinformation at the beginning of the meetings with Social Welfare to the passing off from one case worker to another four times. From the lying to our face and the “come back tomorrow” to a few things to be talked about later. We did work for our officer because it wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise. How did we get this officer? Every other officer seemed to greet us with smiles when we were in the hallways of this disgusting social welfare building. We spent about 24 hours just sitting in a minivan in a dirt parking lot where drunks, unemployed and disabled people loitered because he told us to. We’ve spent 3 times the amount we planned on for the entire trip in these last 3 weeks. Meanwhile, I hadn’t gotten to do any water work. I was just wasting time there in Lusaka. It seemed as though God had taken a break from looking out for us. What possibly was He doing being silent? Couldn’t he see us in pain? We THOUGHT we were honoring Him by following His plan. We were praying specifically that God would line up everything and make it obvious that He was steering this ship. We prayed specifically that He would choose the perfect caseworker for us, someone who loved the fact that we were here to help the Zambian people in water and through adoption. All the background investigations had already been done previously with the last fostering. There should have been nothing more to do except get us the girls and wait out the time. The first 2 case workers told us to have the father of Sara come in and sign a release paper. If you read previous blogs, you saw that we had to go through some interesting paths to make that happen. When he came in, 3 days later, he wasn’t allowed by the 3rd case worker because “the process is that he signs at the end. Committals are not that big of deal. We just apply and that’s that. You go and pick up the girls.” So we had to literally send the father back with a wasted trip. That worker then proceeded to pass us off to our current case worker. It turned out that our 4th caseworker, low man on the totem pole, was the complete opposite of what we were praying for. He isn’t married. He doesn’t have any children himself. He doesn’t seem to care about the kids at all. In fact, there isn’t a difference between a case worker who deals with battered children, disability payments, financial assistance and adoptions. It’s ridiculous.
Anyways, with all avenues exhausted the final answer from Social Welfare was that Hope was acceptable to pick up but they were flexing their muscle to the very end and stood their ground and wouldn’t allow us to pick up Sara until they investigate the mother’s side of the story. Again, all investigations had been done for the other case BUT because our guy wasn’t on that case he had to do his own investigations. He also said straight to me that he wasn’t going to make the effort to travel that far to talk to the father. They also concocted some rationale that said no matter that no one knows where the mother’s family is, they do have a claim to the child so they investigate. It was all retaliation for talking to superiors. The day they got the approved committals I had met with the head boss and she met with the office boss and our case worker and must have put them under the gun. A few other case workers heard the story and completely disagreed with the way He was handling our case. “The process” has been different for every story we have heard so far. But this was against policy.
So the next morning, after falling asleep and waking writhing with abdominal pains over this, we had a good time of prayer and worship with the family. I decided to pray without ceasing that He would prove himself today and that we would be at peace. We had been waiting for ANYTHING to seem like that was the reason it was going badly. Jace came up to us that morning and told us that he prayed for Gods will just then and he was trusting in God. WOW. That could’ve been enough for me but there was more. Out of a state of complete exhaustion, I threw up one more HailMary. I emailed the US embassy here asking if the documentation we had would suffice for both girls hoping that he would say yes, we would be able to tell that to Social Welfare and we would be good to go. (They were blaming the US side of things as why they were being super cautious with us.) So, we prayed in the van on the way there this morning. I asked to pray with our case worker, surprisingly he said yes. I swallowed my big American sized pride and apologized to him for thinking bad of him, blah blah blah and prayed. Much to my surprise he had no change of heart. haha. We sat in a room while he stalled and ate and talked trying to type out Hope’s discharge papers. During that time I checked my email and was blown away almost to tears.
The embassy worker told us that the US has even more strict regulations on adoptions of children who have living relatives and even stricter regulations regarding single parents. Just being poor isn’t good enough to consider the child an orphan. When I read this I was devastated at first. Then I began to process the whole thing. We believe that God orchestrated this whole dang thing. Both girls had been fostered for 7 or 8 months prior to us but didn’t work out and had to go back in the orphanage. Johanna and I promised we wouldn’t take the girls if there was a chance of that happening again. How could we do it again to them? So now it seemed as though we got a huge red flag that it definitely could happen again.
We reflected on everything. Had we gotten what WE thought was God’s plan we would have had both girls 2 weeks prior. We would’ve gotten to the end of the process and most likely denied a visa for Sara based on the embassy’s rules. Instead of getting the “right” social worker to speed the process through, we got the “right one” who stalled the process and fought against us so hard that it drove us to last resort emailing and finding out that info. It’s just AMAZING how we prayed so hard for what we thought was God’s will and we got His will but it was polar opposite to ours and now we see why it was the way it was. We sure do wish it was less expensive and easier on us but the Bible doesn’t promise that. It only promises that if you trust Him, He will guide and direct our paths. What a lesson in faith for us and our children. God is SO good!
It’s crazy to really see “God’s timing” play out right in front of our eyes
Sorry this kind of rambles, but our last 3 weeks here has completely been full of random thoughts of confusion and dispair so it kind of shows that 🙂
Where did he go??? He was right there!!!

Court today!

So, it’s early Friday morning. I can’t sleep. I’m really excited! Steven and Abby will be taking our paperwork to court at 9am!!! Yes, earlier than we expected!! Yay!!
I truly thank God for Abby!!! She has gone above and beyond anything we could have asked or hoped for. We are pretty sure that this is Steven’s first ever adoption. The paperwork would NOT have been finished if not for Abby. She went to social welfare and typed the paperwork for Steven. She said he was not computer savvy at all. They tried to take it to court yesterday, thank goodness. It wasn’t done correctly. The magistrate wouldn’t accept it. I am so glad they tried yesterday, because if they would have waited until today we would have had to wait another weekend to get the girls. God is good! Abby brought us copies and we edited it and she made some other changes. She will take the paperwork this morning to put it on letterhead and take it to court. Please pray that it is excepted. Abby is truly a blessing and we thank God for her!
If all goes as planned then we should have the girls this afternoon!!!! Please keep praying!

Love and prayers,
Johanna

A lot and nothing

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. A lot and nothing has happened this last week and a half.

Nothing:
1. No warm fuzzies
2.No paperwork has been given to us
3. No paperwork has been done on our behalf
4. No paperwork was signed by the father
5. No straight answers
6. No girls

LOTS: God is Awesome!!!
1. We have been able to visit the girls
2. The Armstrong Family arrived
3. Paperwork should be done on Thursday
4. Court date on Friday??????

Last Thursday I was really discouraged and my heart was sad. We had met with our caseworker and realized right away we were not going to be his favorite people. The first words out of his mouth were a lie to us and he wouldn’t let the father of Sara sign any paperwork to release her for adoption. Frustrated we left the office, but we were able to have another social worker come and do our home study to get the paperwork done for court on Monday. Well, the paperwork wasn’t finished on Monday so we weren’t able to go to court on Tuesday. Which means we have no paperwork to give to the orphanage to get the girls.

God is Awesome!!!! Thursday when we got home I noticed a woman getting bags out of a safari looking vehicle. I really didn’t think anything of it and went to our cottage to have the social worker look around. Well, little did I know that God had brought us the Armstrong family. God knows just what we need, when we need it! The Armstrong’s are a family of 6 from Washington state. They have 3 boys and a beautiful zambian daughter. They are just finishing their adoption-Which has gone smoothly and quickly. They have been such an encouragement and wealth of information! Jace is loving playing with the older boys and Lola is having a blast with the younger two. God is so good! We have been able to sit in the courtyard and watch the kids play and chat about the process of adoption and get to know each other. It’s neat to watch their family and see what our family may be like in the future.
This morning in devotions I read Ecclesiastes 7:8- ‘The end matter is better than its beginning, patience is better than pride.’ We met with Steven, one of the social workers, yesterday. The meeting went better than expected. Thank you God!!! He was nice to us and smiled and tried to explain why everything was taking so long. He said he would have the paperwork for court finished by Thursday. We hope that is true. If the paper work is finished then we will go to court on Friday at 2:00 our time. We’re not to excited about going to court on Friday because if things don’t go as planned we’ll have to wait another weekend before we get the girls. God knows and He has a plan. We’ll just pray and see how this all plays out.
We have been able to visit the girls a few times. Yay! It was amazing and sad at the same time. Hope has been very quite, but each time we come she has been a little more talkative and smiles every once in a while. She enjoys reading books and coloring with us. When we tell her we are leaving she will wring her hands or ours if she is holding them. Sara was very friendly from the first visit. She really likes to play with Jace and laughs at him. She’ll call his name to come and play with her. She cries when we leave. My heart hurts when we leave and I can’t wait until they get to come ‘home’ with us. Please pray for that time. Please pray that it is a smooth transition and a happy time. I can’t imagine what they will be thinking and feeling-leaving with people they hardly know. Please pray that they have a peace and an understanding that we want to love them and make them a part of our family.
Thank you so much for your prayers! We really appreciate them.
love and prayers,
Johanna

HOLY COW!!??

Seriously… HOLY COW!!!
I met with the only person on the face of this Earth (LITERALLY) that could locate Saras father, today. We talked a bit of his story and how Sara became an orphan. Her mother died around childbirth. The mother’s family walked away from the father and left him in care of Sara by himself. The father himself was a poor and very sick man always in and out of the hospital and couldn’t care for her. Recently he had moved far away from Lusaka and was unable to phone. Social Welfare would have never found him!
Our friend then told me what she would have to do to go and bring him to town in order to sign over the rights to Sara. She had to take a bus a few hours away to meet a taxi. She then would take a taxi to a far off intersection where she would then proceed by cow pulled cart through farmland to where the father was staying. She would have to stay the night out in the country and come back in the morning the same way she went out but with the father in tow. We have been praying that everything works out fine and that the father can meet with Social Welfare this morning and we would be able to go get the girls today or tomorrow.
Another process that God is showing us that He is control. Who would have thought cow travel is still a valid means of transportation. haha

While we have almost been here a week and without seeing the girls, it has been a nice time just hanging with our little family here in Africa before it all changes. I have been a little underimpressed with the system here but maybe it’s ok 🙂

-jake

Not a chance!

I would like to go a little deeper into the meeting of Evans at the market.
So, a local Zambian girl, Abby, was recommended to us from a family who has made this journey previously. We have been in contact with Abby for months and have now spent much time with her. She is our local “expert”…so we thought. Knowing we would have to wait thru the weekend, we would have thought that she would have told us about that market that was held down the road at the local mall parking lot. We have walked there everyday so far for something to do. She, however did not mention it.
We just happened to meander over to it in the afternoon. We thought how cool it was that we stumbled upon it. Maybe 60 vendors had booths set up with all sorts of very standard tourist items and some with custom handmade items. We had some other stuff to attend to in the mall so we finished that before we began to look through the booths. We sort of took our time and spent almost every last dime. Looking back I made one last little stop at a booth that “for some reason” caught my eye. I spent several minutes “randomly” looking through some old country coins. I found a few American nickels and pennies that made me chuckle. I found a few pretty neat African coins no longer in print as well. Either way I have never bought anything like that before and i didn’t that day either. BUT… after I had finished looking and we proceeded to the grocery store is when we “by chance” walked right by Evans. Now mind you, we were in a random market we didn’t know about, we previously only knew Abby and Evans who lived in Lusaka, Lusaka is a population of a couple million, Evans hadn’t even planned on attending the market until the last hour to meet co workers, simply that is amazing but what happened the next day is more amazing.
We arrived in Lusaka on faith God was in control. We had no transport from the airport, but Abby came through. We had no place to stay, but Abby came through. One other big key to the adoption process here is a lawyer to file court hearings and finalize the process at the end. We didn’t have lawyer either. Well, wouldn’t you know, Evans’ wife is a very powerful attorney here with a well known firm. He passed along their info and we met with an attorney the next day. It gets better!
After meeting with the attorney and sharing our mission and hearts with him, he was seeing how because of our “noble cause” that the firm could represent us Pro Bono and only have us pay court fees. AMAZING!!!! We had not come with a lawyer planned because the previous families really couldn’t recommend their lawyer because of lack of confidence in them after paying them thousands of US dollars. So, what an amazing God we serve.
We just looked at each other, held back the tears of joy and thanked God for once again showing us that we ARE doing His will and that He is in control and He deserves all glory. It is NOTHING that we can do. Praise Him!!!

-jake

Another early morning

It’s 12:39 am Monday, July 9. I’m the only one up now. Which makes me very happy. So to catch you up on our weekend:
1) we have no Internet anytime, ever!
2) Jace is feeling better
3) God is awesome!

We had a fun family day on Saturday. We went to watch Madagascar 3 at the “arcade” (an outside mall). Loads cheaper then in the states. We tried to get the little thing that is suppose to give us Internet to work, but no such luck. We went to the store to try and find food for Jace. We came home with frosted flakes which cost us $5.00. I’m not talking the family size, jumbo box. Just a regular small box. I’m amazed at some of the pricing here. A roll of paper towels was right around $5.00 and so was a child’s sweatsuit. I think I have found a substitute for my “meningitis pills’. Which I have ‘meningitis’ again because of sleeping in the airplane seats. They are cream filled biscuits and they are only about 30 cents for 8! I think I will be stocking up before I come home. The power went out again on Saturday night. It was only for about 1 1/2 hours. It was right as I was about to put the pasta in the pot for dinner. Thank goodness I hadn’t put it in yet. We ended up eating the box of frosted flakes for dinner. Lola loved it. She’d eat cereal for every meal if I’d let her. I won’t let her because I would want to eat it with her and I can’t. Speaking of which eating Paleo isn’t really happening here in Africa. After our dinner we played games and then I gave everyone NyQuil and cough medicine.
It worked! Everyone slept through the night. Lola woke up at the crack of dawn, but drew until I said we could get up. The boys didn’t get up until after noon. I think we are finally caught up on sleep. We hung out around the house for a bit then headed to the arcade. We tried to figure out the Internet again, but she told us we should have it Monday. We’ll see. We had a great lunch at the ‘food fair’. Jace actually ate, YAY!! After lunch we walked through the market that was in the parking lot. They make such beautiful bowls and spoons. It was fun to look at everything.
As we were leaving the market Jake saw the only person that we know who lives in Lusaka. Jake and Paddy met Evans their first trip. We didn’t have anyway to contact Evans and planned on asking people at SOHIP for his information. Jake looked up and there he was. Evans wife is a lawyer. We need a lawyer. He wasn’t suppose to be there, but someone from SOHIP had asked him if he’d go with him. We chatted a minute and he gave us his contact information. Thank You God! We were a little worried about finding a lawyer. We wanted one that was honest and knew what they were doing. His wife is in the States now, but he said he’d set us up with her partners. It is so awesome how God works!
After that the kids and I had lime ice cream and Jake went to an Internet cafe to check stuff out.

So this is what we hope happens on Monday:
1) we get the paperwork to get the girls and a social worker is able to go with us to pick them up
2) we are able to find sara’s father and have him sign a paper
3) we speak with a lawyer and they aren’t way expensive And are knowledgable about adoptions
4) we make it to the embassy

I know my girls are praying for us and I am so thankful for that. It’s hard not to be able to text and share what’s happening and ask for prayer. Thank you ladies for your love, support and prayers!!! You mean the world to me!

Love and prayers,
Johanna