Sunday, May 31, 2009

Libby has the croup...

I'll be brief because I'm tired. Libby has the croup. She's had fever for two days and it's been a late night. She is just falling asleep and it's 11:25pm. I have been fighting off an on-coming sinus infection this week as well. I am just beyond tired right now. We leave for Ethiopia in 2 days. I am so excited, of course. But with Libby being sick and with my being so tired I am a bit overwhelmed tonight and have some concern about the long travel. Our flights (plural) getting out of the states start early and last all day and then some on Wednesday. I just want Libby to be well for what is already going to be a difficult trip for her little body and mind.


Thank you for your prayers. I'll keep you posted.
Cindy

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We Think She's "Gracie Lu" and Here's Our Itinerary:

Billy, Libby and I are feeling pretty settled on calling our Ethiopian princess "Gracie Lu". Libby continues to call her "Lulu" - that is fine by me (and cute)! Sorry for messing with all your minds and causing you all to have to think through 3 names before getting to the new/final one! But you all love me so we can get passed it, right? LOL!

The Itinerary: Here is how things will play out throughout our trip to and from Ethiopia. Family,  you may want to print this out so you know when/where we are throughout the week. You can copy it and paste it into a word doc and then print it from there if you want.

To get to ET:
1. arrive in San Antonio airport by 5:45AM on Wednesday, June 3.

2. Fly out on American at 7:40AM to DFW. (1 hour and 5 minute flight)  - land at: 8:45AM CT

3. Hang out in DFW for 3 hours.

4. Fly out of DFW at 11:45AM to NYC/KENNEDY (3 hour and 30 min. flight) -land at: 4:15PM/Eastern time

5. Hang out in NYC/KENNEDY for 6 hours and 45 minutes! Hope there is something fun to do at that airport!

6. Fly out of NYC at 11PM/Eastern Time and remain on that flight for 12 hours and 45 minutes all the way to Dubai! Please pray that Libby will sleep - and pray also that we can move to some bulk head seats where she can lay in a sleeping bag on the floor rather than laying across our laps!

7. Land in Dubai on their Thursday, June 4 at 7:45 PM (Texas Time = 10:45AM June 4). This is 9 hours ahead of Central Time

8. Try to sleep and then on Friday, June 5 we have a free day until the afternoon when we go on the Sundowner Safari - a desert safari with tents, camels, sunset and a whole meal. Oh - and belly dancers!

Then, finally on Saturday, June 6 we fly out of Dubai to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! We fly out at 8:25 AM (11:25 PM, June 5 Texas Time) and land in ET at 11:30AM (3:30AM June 6 Texas Time)! ET is 8 hours ahead of Texans.  This is a little over a four hour flight.

When we arrive in ET we will be picked up by our agency's in-country staff and taken to the Yebsabi Guest House where we can rest and wait for other families to arrive through Sunday, June 7. The guest house is actually more like a hotel with suites. Here are a few pictures I swiped from another family's blog:




MONDAY JUNE 8 - Go to the Hilton Hotel in the morning for orientation meeting and have lunch there. Then we go to meet our baby girl at the Transitional Home!!!!! This is the day we will refer to as METCHA DAY (the day we meet Gracie Lu!). We are encouraged to use those 2 hours at the TH to visit with our Gracie and the nannies there!

Then we're back to the Guest House. And then head out for a group dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant.

TUESDAY JUNE 9 - GOTCHA DAY! We shop in the morning. In the afternoon we go to pick up Gracie Lu! We will also have a chance to ask the nanny some questions, POSSIBLY meet the birth mother, hand out care packages (we have packages for 3 other families and photo consents for those 3 families plus one other) AND give the nannies/TH staff their gifts. That will be a busy day right there! I think we also have a coffee ceremony and then in the evening we are back to the guest house for our first night with Gracie Lu! 

Wednesday, June 10 - life with Gracie begins fresh and new - we have alone time with our family and new baby girl in the morning. We have lunch on our own until we have to be at the Embassy appointment. That appointment could take 1-2 hours so we were encouraged to eat a good lunch before we go. After the embassy appointment we do some more shopping and site seeing!!

Thursday, June 11 - In the morning we have the option to go visit 2 orphanages - one being Kids Care. While I really want to do that, I'm going to play it be ear. Our girls may just need to be still that day. We'll see. Then we have lunch as a group and dinner on our own. The Zebra Grill is within walking distance so I'm sure that's where we'll be Thursday night!

Friday, June 12 - we have sightseeing and shopping in the morning. But we also need to pack everything back up because we start our flight home on this evening!!!

Here's how the flights break down:
Leave Addis Ababa at 7:35 PM (11:35 AM Texas Time) and land in Dubai at 12:45 AM (3:45PM Texas Time, June 12)- now, June 13 in Dubai (that flight is 4 hours and 10 minutes).

Stay in hotel in Dubai for a few hours and then fly out of Dubai at 9:05 PM (12:05 AM Texas Time, June 13) and fly SIXTEEN HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES to Houston. We land at 4:25 PM Texas Time! Would, again, covet your prayers over that long flight with Libby and Gracie and my 6'4", hatin' cramped spaces, hubby! 

It will STILL be June 13 (the longest day of our lives!) and we will go through customs/immigration in Houston and then take off out of Houston on Continental at 7:15PM. We land in San Antonio (home sweet home!) on Saturday June 13 at 8:16PM!!!! -thoroughly happy & exhausted after close to 35 hours of traveling! 

 


 

 

                                       

                                 

 


  

           

                      




1 week!

We leave one week from today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


One quick story... Libby woke up yesterday and the first thing she said was, "Mom, I'm ready to go to Ethiopia and get Lulu." 

Me - "I know, baby. But the good news is we leave in 8 days!"
Libby - "When we go to Ethiopia I want a blue plane ticket."
Me - "I don't think the tickets are blue."
Libby - "Ask Jesus what color the plane tickets are."
Me - "Okay. Jesus, what color are the plane tickets?"
A few seconds of silence.
Libby - "He said they are white."

And, indeed they are! Does she have a direct line or what? And later in the day I received an email from our travel agency saying they put our tickets in fed ex today so we will receive them today. Libby has been dead on in her timing during this journey. Amazing!

One more thing to note - and you're all going to think I'm CRAZY and be further confused about what to call our daughter.... But I'm STILL not settled on what to actually call her. We know for sure her name is going to legally be "Aria Lu Grace Foote".  I know Billy and Libby want to call her Lulu. But as time goes by I really don't like calling her Lulu. So, I've been planning on introducing her to others as  - "this is Aria Lu" and then call her "Lu" - which is okay, I guess. I love the name Aria for it's meaning, but whenever I tell people that part of her name they have a "What?" look on their faces. It is hard for them to understand AND to say.... which leaves me feeling like I really don't want to have to repeat her name to people every time I say it. So this morning I've been thinking about the "Grace" part of her name. When Duni shared our daughter's story on Tom Davis's blog, she used the name Gracie to protect her identity from the public (we had not passed court yet). Grace is from her Ethiopian name "Tseganesh" which means "you are grace." It is a really profound name to me because of her difficult beginnings. She is a picture of God's grace. I've strayed away from using that as her primary name because so many adopted children seem to have that name. But then I was thinking this morning, what about "Gracie Lu". I like that. And it just seems right to me - and then Billy and Libby can still call her Lulu (and you too if you're tired of me changing her name all the time!). I have never been so indecisive in my life! I love to make a choice and stick with it, but this one has been hard for me! We'll see.... I'll let you know our final decision soon. This is one downfall of blogging... you have to endure my thought process! LOL!

Friday, May 22, 2009

CONCRETE Travel Dates!!!!

I was brought to joyful tears by an email that said we have "CONCRETE TRAVEL DATES". This means our daughter has a birth certificate and we have an embassy appointment set! This means that the ticket change fee we had to make and then the new tickets we had to pay extra for are all worth it and I won't have to pay change fees again! This means I can set my heart on that beautiful June 3rd date that we are set to fly out! We are in travel group ETG 23 which is the AWAA Ethiopia travel group for June 6-13. But we are flying out a couple of days early to spend 2 nights in Dubai. The flights out of here were a bit more tricky as the month of June also means many more travelers in the world. So now we fly out of San Antonio to Dallas and then to New York with a 5 or 6 hour layover before we head over to Dubai (really late at night), landing in Dubai at the end of the day on June 4. We really only have one full day in Dubai, but on that day we are going on a desert safari where there will be camels, a sunset, dinner under traditional tents and belly dancers! Libby's going to LOVE that!


We will arrive in Ethiopia on Saturday June 6.  The Sweeney family was also hoping to leave this week and is now pushed back into this travel group. One of their daughters woke up sick with a high fever yesterday so they are happy things worked out the way they did. Also - with their first set of plane tickets there were too many connections and layovers to bring their 4 year old girl. But now they are bringing her and Libby will have a friend on the trip. I am SO EXCITED about that! They also have some older kids coming who Stacy says are great "kid distracters" so I am thrilled about that as well! Can't wait to meet you Sweeney family and all the other families in our group.

We are making the best of our extra time. Yesterday we worked out at the gym and then sunbathed and played at our neighborhood pool. Today we pulled weeds in our back yard for FOUR HOURS! I am exhausted from that, but my backyard no longer looks like a jungle and when I come home from ET I won't have that on my list of things to do. Next we are going to tackle the garage which is full of JUNK that was left in our old house garage. Billy wanted to take it all to a dump but didn't know where one was.... so my garage is the temporary dump... UGH!

Truly, in just 2 days time, I can see why it was necessary for us to stay home for 2 more weeks. Libby has blossomed in the last 2 days. Things we have been working on regarding manners and being a big girl and not throwing tantrums have finally just clicked. I think she just needed all the craziness to stop and to feel peace from us in order to rest and grow. I think she will mature over the next two weeks in astounding ways and be much more prepared for the big trip AND for becoming a big sister. Seriously, she is not even the same girl today that she was 48 hours ago. Ahhhhh.... 

In under 2 weeks we are OUT OF HERE!

Cindy

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not this week...

At 10:45 AM AW called to let us know the birth certificate was not ready. The office there did not do any birth certificates today. Then Duni's cell was having problems getting through to the US offices - which is why we found out so late.


We are disappointed, but not discouraged. While I really can't imagine repacking and doing this all over again in 2 weeks - it will all be worth it the minute we hold Lu. And in the mean time, I am going to love on my Libby and rest since so much work is already done! In one week's time we prepared our home, bags, our old address for closing, paperwork, and even got our new CD off to print. I have NEVER worked so hard in one week and I have NEVER prayed as much as I did in the last 24 hours. It was a crazy morning in the Foote house.

We're in the middle of canceling our flights (and paying those cancelation fees! UGH!) and we just canceled our June camp with Student Life since we will most likely be in the travel group for that week. 

My house is virtually spotless - That's nice! Will have to stock the frig today since I've been emptying it out all week. 

I'm rambling now... I'll end with this - lyrics from one of Billy's new songs that will be released this summer:

WE WILL TRUST
All we need, it is found in the Lord
Perfect peace, and the King is the source
In our trials and tribulations
There's no need for desperation
We will trust in the Lord

Our God will deliver us
Our God will deliver us
In his faithfulness, will deliver us
We will trust

We will call on the name of the Lord
Standing firm, in the truth of the Word
For his glorious appearing, 
It is closer it is nearing
We will trust in the Lord

Our God will deliver us
Our God will deliver us
In his faithfulness, will deliver us
We will trust

In his name, Unchanging
Almighty, Most Holy

Our God will deliver us
Our God will deliver us
In his faithfulness, Will deliver us
Our God can be counted on
Our God can be counted on
Yes the mighty One, can be counted on
We will trust!

And now I'm off to get the luggage out of the car and go have a HUGE breakfast with my favorite 2 people.

Love,
C
PS - Thank you so much for all your prayers!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Case We Leave Tomorrow...




In case we do get to head out tomorrow, I thought I should add a few pictures and share our in Ethiopia itinerary!


Above:
1. a picture of SOME of our luggage! We have 5 checked bags and 4 carry ons! That's one less checked bag than allowed and expected. To the dear family shipping 3 cases of Nutramigen - they have not arrived yet! But - no problem because some other ladies in San Antonio are headed to ET in June and they will be able to take it.

2. Libby sitting in her new big-girl-twin-bed right before bedtime.  Isn't she so cute!

3 and 4 - Libby went to a birthday party on Sunday. A couple of boys were getting their faces painted like pirates so that is what she wanted. She also received a "balloon sword". Well, about 10 minutes after that I heard the moms of the boys talking about Libby being so tough and I looked inside the big moon bounce and Libby had pinned all four balloon sword carrying pirate boys in a corner. She ROCKS!

We have packed EVERYTHING besides a few toiletries we will need in the morning. We have taken out trash, cleaned most of the house (minus the floors but oh well!) and worked our little tails off. We have every detail taken care of down to friends housesitting, new CD off to print, power of attorney for closing of our house all done (we close May 28!!!), utilities turned off at old house, bills paid.... and the list goes on!

So - IF we travel tomorrow (oh please Jesus please!!!) here is what our itinerary will look like once we are in Ethiopia:

We fly through Dubai and stay in Dubai for 2 nights so we arrive in Ethiopia on Saturday May 23. Most of the other families traveling will arrive on Sunday, I think. Sunday (24th) we just eat and rest in the Guest House that is actually more like a hotel with suites!

Monday, May 25 - Go to the Hilton Hotel in the morning for orientation meeting and have lunch there. Then we go to meet our baby girl at the Transitional Home!!!!! This is the day we will refer to at Metcha Day (the day we meet Aria Lu!). We are encouraged to use those 2 hours at the TH to visit with our baby girl and the nannies there!

Then we're back to the Guest House. And then head out for a group dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant.

Tuesday, May 26 - GOTCHA DAY! We shop in the morning. In the afternoon we go to pick up our baby girl! We will also have a chance to ask the nanny some questions, POSSIBLY meet the birth mother, hand out care packages (we have packages for 3 other families and photo consents for those 3 families plus one other) AND give the nannies/TH staff their gifts. That will be a busy day right there! I think we also have a coffee ceremony and then in the evening we are back to the guest house for our first night with Aria Lu! (typing that just made me cry!)

Wednesday, May 27 - we have alone time with our family and new baby girl in the morning. We have lunch on our own until we have to be at the Embassy appointment. That appointment could take 1-2 hours so we were encouraged to eat a good lunch before we go. After the embassy appointment we do some more shopping and site seeing!!

Thursday, May 28 - In the morning we have the option to go visit 2 orphanages - one being Kids Care. While I really want to do that, I'm going to play it be ear. Our girls may just need to be still that day. We'll see. Then we have lunch as a group and dinner on our own. The Zebra Grill is within walking distance so I'm sure that's where we'll be Thursday night!

Friday, May 29 - we have sightseeing and shopping in the morning. But we also need to pack everything back up because we start our flight home on this evening!!!

Saturday May 30 - we arrive home on this evening thoroughly happy and exhausted after close to 35 hours of traveling (including lay overs)! 

And then we have exactly one week off before we fly to Colorado to lead worship for a Student Life camp there for one week. Our drummer's wife and girls along with our electric players wife will both be at that camp so I will have LOTS of help with Libby and Lu will mostly sleep and eat (I'm guessing) since she will only be 4 months old! And then we have several weeks off before more camps.... WHEW!

So - I'm hoping you will read "We're headed to ET" in my next blog post in the morning! If not -we'll have to go to Sea World or something and reward all our hard work (and Libby's endurance of all our work) in some fun way! God is good either way... but I'm still his little girl begging for what I want - TRAVEL TO ET TOMORROW!!

With joy!
cindy






Praying for ONE DOCUMENT!!!

Prayer warriors, we just received word that our agency's staff in Ethiopia are still waiting on  ONE PIECE OF PAPERWORK to be completed so we can travel tomorrow. They are waiting on our daughter's BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!! Please please, go before the Lord with us and ask for that paperwork to be completed by the time we wake up tomorrow (Wednesday) morning!!! AW staff said they would even check their emails from home in the morning before going to work to see if they have a final answer. 


So - we won't know until tomorrow. But I have a lot of hope this can work!

Thank you for your prayers!
Cindy

On hold until the last minute!!!

I was out on a "final date night before the baby comes" with my hubby tonight when I realized I never let my blog readers know what was going on. 


This morning America World called to say that the paperwork on Ethiopia's end was not complete just yet. They went on to say that if we're open to waiting until the last minute, they are hoping the paperwork will be completed by Wednesday morning and they can let me know first thing that morning. My head started rattling around with questions and I was rendered virtually speechless. I was expecting either a  "yes - go!" or a "no, sorry, but we'll get you in the next travel group." I was NOT expecting... "can we tell you Wednesday morning if you can leave Wednesday afternoon?" OH MY! I was frozen after the call - not sure how to feel. My main concern was taking all this time to pack and be absolutely, totally ready to go knowing that Libby would completely understand what we're packing for only to find out that we can't go just yet and then have to explain that to her. She is very perceptive and she gets so excited when we're packing the final items for any regular trip, so I know she will be super excited Wednesday morning. I sure hope they call with good news by early that morning so we can get ready that morning with assurance that we are starting the long trip.

Right after AW called, my friend Cristie called. Then I called a few family members to let them know. Then our real estate agent called needing to know if we are going because if so we have to get a power of attorney to sign during our house closing. She had set up an appointment for 12pm (at this point it was 10:30AM) and we decided we might as well set it all up and be prepared to be in ET during the closing. I had to quickly get dressed and ready so we could be there on time. 

Then my friend, Shelley, drove down from Austin to give me something to deliver to a person in ET and I got to meet her precious ET baby boy. He is ADORABLE!!! Libby was in the sassiest, rude mood as she had just woken up from her nap. So embarassing! Sorry Shelley!

And by the time she left our babysitter had arrived so Billy and I could go enjoy each other and forget about packing for a little while. We saw the movie "The Soloist". It made me cry. It reminded me of how we feel sometimes when working with the refugees in our city. We want so badly for them to do well, but their needs can be overwhelming and at the end of the day we have to be okay with just being their friends and trust that God has a plan of hope for them too.

And now we're back at home doing everything we can to mark off that "to do" list in hopes that we really are leaving on Wednesday. Oh - and one wonderful thing is that the camp we are supposed to lead worship for in June is giving us 48 more hours to find out whether we can head to ET this week or not. If we do head out, then we will be back in time to do the camp. If we don't head out this week, we will be in the next travel group which is right during that camp. Student Life is being SO KING to give us the extra time to figure this out. It is only 19 days before their camp begins and I know they need to get details nailed down. Thank you STUDENT LIFE!! Hopefully we will all be rejoicing on Wednesday that we can go and that we will make it to that camp!

There is a chance we could hear news tomorrow. That is what I am praying for tonight as Ethiopia has entered it's Tuesday work day. Come on ET! You can do it!!! Otherwise, we will hear something around 8 or 9AM Wednesday and we have to leave for the airport no later than 11AM! Seriously - this is as last minute as it gets! 

Hopeful,
Cindy

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Praying for travel confirmation in the morning!

It is almost Monday in Ethiopia right now and on Monday Ethiopia will hopefully complete the necessary paperwork for us to travel. If they do - our agency will call in the morning and tell us that travel is a go for Wednesday! If the paperwork is not all ready and the embassy appointments and such are not made then our agency will delay our travel. Delayed travel =having to wait to see Lu, having to cancel our first week of camp for the summer, having to miss Jackie's wedding, and having to pay expensive fees to change our booked flights to new dates.... so we're really praying for travel to be a go for this week!


I can not explain how hard we have worked to pack this fast. There is A LOT more packing to do for this trip than there was for China. For starters, we have Libby going with us - so we have all her things, some toys and some familiar foods to take along. Also - there are more people on staff at the TH for whom we are bringing gifts. AND we are taking all the donated formula cans! We are going to have 6 HUGE checked bags (hopefully staying under the 50lb. weight limit) and 3-4 carry-ons. 

I have small gifts for all the TH staff. They are small bags stuffed with lotions, some have jewelry, chap stick, and crocheted flower pins. We are also taking a box of CDs to give to various staff there and our guides. BUT I still wanted to have something special to take as a gift to the transitional home as a whole. I called the organization "Faith Comes By Hearing" and they are giving us a "proclaimer" -  which is either solar powered or hand cranked (can't remember which). It is the entire Bible read in Amharic for them to listen to!

There is a small chance that we will get to meet our daughter's birthmother if she chooses to come and meet us. I have been thinking and praying a lot about what to say, what to ask. I have no idea if we are allowed to give her a gift. I still need to ask about that. But just in case we can, I have a beaded necklace with a locket that has a picture of Lu in it and I also have a photo book with pictures of our family and Lu's crib/room. From "Faith Comes By Hearing" we were able to purchase a "Bible stick" that is about the size of a pack of gum and comes with little ear phones. It also has the entire Scripture in Amharic for her to hear. I am really hoping I can give that to her. I don't know the laws and then, of course, she has to want to meet us and show up. So, we'll see.

Well - we're going to have house church tonight and we're going to keep praying for travel this week! Oh - lastly, please pray for Libby. She is sensing our being a little stressed and she knows change is coming so she has been really clingy and emotional. And honestly, I have not had much patience with her. So pray that we can get all the emotion and stress out of they way so we can enjoy the trip and meeting Lu. This is going to be a really tough transition for Libby and my heart is sad for her a little.

Thank you again for your prayers! I'll post tomorrow when I have the news!

Cindy


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Baby Shower !!!

My dear friends Cristie, Elissa and Terry put together a fabulous baby shower in just one week's time!!! The flowers, the food, the decorations, the friends, the prayers and the gifts were all BEAUTIFUL!!! Just see for yourself... in all the pictures below everyone is smiling, laughing and having a good time. The prayer time was especially wonderful. I just love these sweet ladies - they are amazing friends! Many thanks to each and everyone of you for showering me with your love and support! Love, Cindy
Enjoy the pics!

























Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WE PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And more great news!!!!!!

All glory and praise to God. He has done mighty things for us!!!


After 17 months of paperwork and waiting.... Today we passed court and Tseganesh became legally our daughter who we call: Aria Lu Grace Foote!!!!

Enjoy the video and then read on for more GREAT news!!!  Don't forget to turn off the music playing on the right side of the screen (you may have to scroll down a little to see it - just click the stop/pause button and then push play on the video!

Anna, the director of programs at AWAA, was the one who called us this morning 
around 8:45AM! She went on to share that our daughter is completely on 
Nutramigen and has gained ANOTHER POUND!! She is now 7.7 pounds!!! 
This is AMAZING NEWS!!
Also - we would like to ask for your prayers one more time! 
There is a chance that AW could get us into the next travel group on May 23-30. 
Our tentative travel dates have been June 6-13, but that is the only week in June 
that we have a camp scheduled. We have been committed to that camp and to 
our band for over a year. So we called AW back when we received those travel 
dates to request their effort to get us travel earlier. They were not able to do 
that at that point in time, but they think now that it might could happen. 
There is a lot of paperwork and things that have to fall in line for that to work 
out so we are asking you to pray once again!!! If we can travel early then we 
can come home and rest for one week and then drive up to Colorado for the 
Student Life camp! This is important to us for so many reasons! Please pray for 
all our paperwork to come in FAST, for travel on May 23 to be reality and for our 
health and strength throughout the trip and even when we come home so we can 
get to that camp! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lastly, Anna said that we won't know 
for sure if we can travel on the 23rd. until as late as Monday May 18!!! So, pray 
for Student Life as we won't have a firm answer for them until then. And pray for 
us because we may be packing with only a few days notice before we have to leave. Also - I am having to check on airline prices today.... YIKES! 
We are packing to head to Houston where we are leading worship tonight. Have to 
leave the house by noon, so there is a lot to do!!

Love and Thanks!!!!
cindy

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Words of Hope....

In my Scripture reading tonight I have found several passages full of hope, encouragement and needed reminders of God's faithfulness. I thought I would share some of them with you.


From my "One Year Bible" daily reading for May 12 - Psalm 108:1-7, 12-13
"My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Wake up, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power. God has promised this by his holiness...Oh please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless. With God's help we will do mighty things..."

From tomorrow's reading (May 13) Psalm 109: 30-31
"But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them."

There have been some specific things on my heart for our daughter's biological mother. Tonight I came across a verse that I KNOW is for her and I am praying it over her now. It comes from Hosea 1: 14-15 "But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope."  

From I John 3:21-22 "Dear friends, if we don't feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him."

Psalm 99:4 "Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established fairness. You have acted with justice and righteousness throughout Israel."

Psalm 86:5 "O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help."

Psalm 82 3-4, 8 "Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them... Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you." 

Proverbs 20: 24 "The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?"

And lastly, I have dwelled on and smiled over the passage from Acts chapter 8 where Phillip is sent to the Ethiopian Eunich. God did some mighty miracles to get Phillip to the Ethiopian eunich so that this Ethiopian Jew could know the full measure of Jesus' sacrificial love and carry that good news back... TO ETHIOPIA!  (btw, I believe our daughter is from a Semetic/Cushite background so that makes this story even more awesome!) 

And at the end of the story is the brief but certainly astonishing mention of God snatching Phillip up and putting him in the next place he needed Phillip to be. Just - poof! - done - in a totally different location! And the thought comes to my mind about how many times I've prayed for a miracle to take place if that's what it takes to get our daughter's biological mother to that court room. Well, he can certainly do it!

It is now 8 AM on May 13 in Ethiopia. May the dawn bring the Light of God and his love for justice and for orphans with it!

Good night!
cindy

Time to PRAY! Tonight is THE Night!

Last night I was incredibly showered by dear friends here in San Antonio and I want to share ALL those details with you, but I have some things on my heart about our court date that I want to share right now and then later tonight/tomorrow I will post pictures and details of the shower. It was amazing, so check back in for that story soon!


When adopting from Ethiopia you are given your referral and then your paperwork, agency, and the MOWA (ministry of women's affairs) go before a judge on your appointed court date to determine that the child is a legal orphan and that all paperwork is in order. If the judge approves, the child becomes legally your child and THEN you can travel to Ethiopia to get him/her. That is a REALLY basic overview as there is much more that goes into it than that, but in a nutshell - that's it.

There are 2 different kinds of cases (again, keeping it really simple here) - there is a "relinquishment case" in which the child is relinquished to the orphanage by a parent or family member through signed paperwork, etc. And there are "abandonment cases" in which the child's family/relatives are unknown or are deceased. I may even be oversimplifying those definitions, but that's how I understand it so far. Our's is a relinquishment case because one of the biological parents is known. Until yesterday, that was kind of the least desired case because the biological parent has to show up for court and in Africa that is way more difficult to have happen than it is here. Many of the biological parents are from remote villages with no transportation, no sense of being on time and sometimes they can be difficult to locate to communicate these needs.

As of yesterday, I was praising the Lord for having a relinquishment case and crushed in spirit for those families with abandonment cases. Here's why - we received an email from our agency saying that due to an unusually high number of abandonment cases, Ethiopia is suspicious of corruption and must do an investigation to make sure agencies are not just saying "abandonment" in order to ease through court and -well - be involved in criminal activity resembling baby trafficking. In order to do that investigation the MOWA is refusing to write "Letters of Recommendation" (which is necessary to present in court in order to have a successful court appointment) for all abandonment cases in Addis Ababa. That means that families who received their referrals 2 and 3 months ago - who have waited all this time for their court date (which many are this week - one was supposed to be last night!) - and who have looked at their baby's faces change and grow as they wait - now cannot received that necessary letter from the MOWA and therefore cannot pass court until this investigation takes place. This in an indefinite delay as we have NO IDEA how long ET will take to do this investigation. There are A LOT of families in complete grief today as they were SO CLOSE to getting through court and getting their babies and now they have NO IDEA when that will happen.

To make sure you know this - it is NOT our agency who is under investigation. It is the entire system. I KNOW with certainty that our agency is above reproach as I have met the president of our agency and know his heart is above all concerned about integrity and making sure the babies being adopted through our agency are TRUE ORPHANS. 

And second - this does NOT directly affect our case. HOWEVER - Ethiopia's judges are, in light of this new problem - being VERY STRICT in court. I know of about 7 families with our agency who have had court in the last 2 days and only ONE family passed the first time and one other family passed on the second day. Most of those who did not pass are either indefinitely delayed or now have a second court date in late May. 

I am sharing all of this with you for several reasons...

1. For you to pray for the families and babies/children caught up in this court issue who are heartbroken and grieved.

2. For you to know that while I am ready and hoping to celebrate a successful court date tomorrow, I am beyond burdened for these families and am having a hard time understanding it all.

3. For you to realize the DESPERATE NEED FOR PRAYER on our behalf and on our daughter's behalf over the next 24 hours. Anything can happen. International adoption is hard and requires a lot of endurance and miracles!

4. For you to pray for Ethiopia as they are trying to do the right thing to protect the children of their country.

5. For you to pray for MIRACLES to happen for our daughter's biological parent to arrive in court tomorrow (our nighttime tonight!).

6. I am specifically praying that our daughter's biological parent will know that miracles have happened to get her there and from that she will know Jesus.

7. And lastly - pray specifically!! There is some incredible spiritual warfare over adoption, particularly with adopting from Africa. Pray as the Spirit leads. Pray specifically for a successful court date tonight. Pray that all our paperwork would find favor with the judge. That the judge's heart would be full of compassion and certainty for our daughter's situation. That the biological mother would be SOMEHOW blessed in this process.

8. And pray for us... these last hours counting down to this moment are harder than I had anticipated. And yet - we trust in the Lord. He will deliver us. He will deliver Aria Lu Grace Foote to us.

If we pass court, I should find out tomorrow morning. At that time I can post pictures of her and tell you her full story. I am also hoping I can find a way to post a new song off our not-yet-released EP that is so fitting for this night, this moment.

Thank you. 
Cindy


Saturday, May 9, 2009

3 more days!

After tonight, we only have 3 days left before our court date on May 13! Ethiopia's May 13 comes during our Tuesday the 12th. night! So please pray with us before you go to bed Tuesday night, that God would give our paperwork, our family, our daughter, our agency favor! And also, pray that our daughter's biological mother will show up to court and be in agreement with this adoption. We need her to show up to that court date! We also need to pray that MOWA (ministry of women's affairs) in Ethiopia will have all their paperwork in order and God will give that paperwork favor as well. There is a whole lot that goes into a successful court appointment. Mostly, I am praying for the judge's heart to be persuaded to make our daughter legally ours!!


This is a fabulous Mother's Day for me as it leads into this exciting week! But please remember those women who have not received their referral, or who have not become pregnant or who have lost a child. Mother's day can be so painful for them.

Thank you again for your faithful prayers! 
Blessings,
Cindy

Friday, May 8, 2009

Children's Hope Chest's Goal MET!!!!

YOU ALL DID IT!!! As of this morning Children's Hope Chest's formula drive raised the $12,500 goal amount and will be purchasing 400 cans of Nutramigen formula for the malnourished babies in the America World transitional home in Ethiopia. 


Starting at the beginning of this year AW began seeing some of the most malnourished baby cases they have seen in years past. The famine is severe, especially in remote villages. Pray for the people there. And thank you for your contributions to this effort.

Let me go on to say this.... the job is not done. We can still continue to take this formula over to the transitional home. I will be taking 2 suitcases full of formula you all donated to us. And there are other families who can take more.... So don't stop! Some of you have had the desire to do your own formula drives since before CHC began theirs. Do not think, "well, I can't do what they did because they had a bigger "audience" to appeal to." No - think this.... If God put it on your heart - obey his command. That's how we show him we love him. "If you say you love me, do what I say." Did you hear him say something.... then be blessed in the doing and know God has his purpose in it - no matter how small it may seem to you.

Blessings,
Cindy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Travel Packet!

Fun Fun! Our travel packet arrived in our inbox this afternoon. My heart was racing hoping to see tentative travel dates at the end. But the end announced that dates are not chosen just yet because our court date is happening so fast and there is a lot they're having to do to prepare our travel. However!   - the email did mention that we should be receiving tentative travel dates by the end of the week!!!! The dates will be tentative mainly because we have to pass court in order to keep those travel dates. If we don't pass - travel will be delayed too. 


So - We keep on praying! Praying for May 23 travel dates! Praying for a successful court date on May 13!!! (And ET's May 13 comes 8-9 hours before ours, so pray on the evening of our 12th!!) And pray for favor on all our paperwork, travel plans, travel expenses, packing... you name it! We are in full throttle right now!!! ZOOM!!!!

And - KEEP SPREADING THE NEWS ABOUT CHILDREN'S HOPE CHEST (WWW.HOPECHEST.ORG) FORMULA DRIVE FOR ORPHANS IN ETHIOPIA! 

Miracles Are Happening for Children's Hope Chest Formula Drive!

Thank you Kari Gibson for the update.... Here's what Kari shared on her blog today:


Spread the word...we're at $6110 as of 10:30am this morning!
Lets keep donating for the valuable formula for Ethiopia babies!!!! The goal is to raise $12,500 by mother's day!!
Formula miracles today:)

To donate money for the purchase of Nutramigen formula for malnourished orphans in Ethiopia click HERE and type: Formula for Ethiopia in the "notes" section.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just answering a common question

Before I address the common question - just want to post some exciting news... The buzz today is....HopeChest has raised $3,000 in the first day of their fundraiser. That's about 100 cans of formula for the transitional home! Want to spread the news?? Go to Tom's Blog: www.tomdavis.typepad.com and copy the blog button code and then paste it onto your own blog!

Now - about the question...Several of you have asked if we have contacted the company that sells Nutramigen to see if they would donate any of the formula. The answer is yes. Unfortunately Mead Johnson will not donate the formula  (even to another non-profit) if they know it is for a cause outside of the country. As soon as they knew that it was a request for Ethiopian orphans they said they could not do that.

There may be reasons for which we are unaware. I know when I tried to have a particular company ship an item to China for some friends of mine there they said they could not do it because of some customs issues... who knows... Hope the reason is a good one because there are a lot of orphans in need of this formula. We tried!

But hey! God is bigger than Mead Johnson and Tom Davis's non-profit, Children's Hope Chest, is getting a lot of action over their fundraiser for this formula. Don't miss out on the action! If you haven't read our previous post, read it now and click on the link to donate and participate in getting this life saving formula to severely malnourished babies!


Monday, May 4, 2009

I Think This Article is About Our Baby Girl!

If you've been following our journey you are aware of how we became aware of the need for Nutramigen formula for malnourished Ethiopian babies in our agency's transitional home. It started with our daughter. She came to AW's transitional home severely malnourished. They started shipping soy formula to her and she responded to it, but after some research and talking with our pediatrician we realized that a formula like Nutramigen was needed in order for her to be able to easily digest the nutrients she so badly needs. We immediately started shipping formula to her through other gracious adopting families who were traveling to ET to get their own children. 


Then AW wrote and asked if we wouldn't mind rallying our AW/ET/Yahoo Group together to start collecting a supply of this formula for the many other malnourished babies who have come into the TH since our daughter. Our yahoo group took that rallying cry seriously and on top of that - YOU all took it seriously when I blogged about it. I am amazed at how God can take a simple story, a basic need and turn it into a triumph story of his provision and our obedience. I am humbled, as well, by all your generosity. I currently have 19 cans (donated by you all) of Nutramigen waiting to be packed and taken with us to ET for other malnourished infants in the TH, and it's only May 4! 

But the story gets better! I don't even know all the details of how this came about but this is what I know.... Tom Davis - author of "Red Letters" and "Fields of the Fatherless" has a non-profit called Children's Hope Chest and this non-profit organization is doing a formula fundraiser. Get this! - It is JUST FOR NUTRAMIGEN and JUST FOR THE MALNOURISHED BABIES IN OUR AGENCY'S TRANSITIONAL HOME!!! Their goal is to raise $12,500 dollars in order to purchase 400 cans of Nutramigen for these needy babies!!! 

Let me pause here to say that if you have not purchased cans of this formula yet, but have planned on doing so - instead of shipping it to me you can now simply participate in this fundraiser. Just click HERE!

BUT!!! The story is even more personal than that to our family.... I can't be 100% sure, but I am 99% sure that the article on Tom Davis's blog includes a story about OUR BABY GIRL!!! You can click here to read the entire blog post for yourself. But just so I have the story on this blog for my memory's sake I have cut and pasted that portion below. Read for yourself. I can't share all the details of why I think this is our girl until we pass court, but when I can - I will. The part that is about our girl is where Duni shares a story about a girl she calls "Gracie" - which is NOT her real Ethiopian name. I've bolded the print to highlight it. If you click on the link to read the whole post - know that the picture on that particular post is NOT our daughter and is NOT a baby in our agency's transitional home.

Aria-Lu, your life is already impacting so many - I am just AMAZED! I can't wait to meet you and see for myself what everyone else has said about you who has met you face to face. You must be so inspiring! Love you, baby girl! Can't wait to hold you!

From Tom Davis's Blog: (www.tomdavis.typepad.com)

May 04, 2009

URGENT NEED: Forumla Needed for Malnourished Babies in Ethiopia

Famine and poverty are increasing the rates of malnourished infant babies in Ethiopia. Children's HopeChest has worked with the America World Adoption Agency (AWAA) on projects in Ethiopia and Russia over the past five years. This request came to us from their transition home where they are receiving severely malnourished babies into their care. This month, in honor of mother's day, I want to raise $12,500 to provide specialized baby formula to this transition home for these malnourished babies. (Please put "Ethiopia Formula" in the note section of the donate page.)

To kick this off, a friend of Children's HopeChest has offered a matching gift for the first $500 we receive toward this project. 

Here's a view from the ground from Duni, an Ethiopian woman working for AWAA at their transitional home:

Even though I grew up in Ethiopia, I never knew just how badly babies suffered from malnutrition until I returned to Addis and started working at the AWAA office there.   The children at our Transitional Home come from very remote areas. Their families are unable to feed themselves let alone their children and usually relinquish them to their local orphanage when it becomes evident their children will die if they don't.

It is hard to see malnourished babies, so tiny, with just skin and bones. I remember the first one I saw, we will call her Gracie. She looked like an old woman in a baby's body. She had big eyes that seemed so wise and testified to what they have seen in the short months Gracie has been alive. 

That was a few months ago, since then we have admitted many more babies in such condition.  And looking at Gracie today, I can't believe she is the same baby. I knew she was a beauty but it really came out once those cheeks filled up. She is still tiny but the pound she has gained in the past week has made a world of difference in her appearance. 

I look at the others and feel the same way I first felt with Gracie, dejection and fear that she may never make it.  The right type of formula for such babies is hard to come by. In fact any kind of formula is expensive and hard to come by. We have babies who need this today so we work tirelessly to get the best formula possible for malnourished babies shipped from the US.

It is not fair for a baby to have sad eyes like Gracie's or for a baby to cry out of hunger and not have that need met.

Worse yet, it is not fair for a baby to die because of malnutrition. And yet, that is what happens daily in Ethiopia.   Today, I am praying for the babies lying still in their cribs. I am praying I will see them feed soon (they are now on feeding tubes). I am praying that their tiny lifeless legs will slowly fill with flesh and will wiggle and play like normal babies do. 

Here's what we can do to help. CHC will raise $12,500 to purchase what is known in the U.S. as "Nutramigen" formula. This type of formula is necessary because traditional formula cannot be digested by malnourished infants.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE:

You can participate by making a gift of any size. A gift of $30 will buy and ship one can of formula to the chidlren in need. Right now if you give $30 it will be doubled to $60! The first $500 we raise will be matched dollar-for-dollar. If we hit our goal, we can send 400 cans of formula to starving infants in Ethiopia.

Good news!

The situation with USCIS does not affect our referral, court date or travel to ET. It's just something that has to get fixed here in the States and our social worker is already on it!


YEAH!

One more thing that I forgot to post about last night..

Would you pray with me that I can fully enjoy these last weeks with Billy and Libby alone in the midst of juggling all that needs to get done? I want to be steady, hard working, ready - but also - play and laugh and enjoy and be full of joy. Thank you! - C

The Countdown!

Starting today - we have 10 days until our court date - MAY 13!!!!  Join with us in prayer for a successful court date - for the judge to find favor with all our paperwork and MOWA's paperwork. For our daughter's biological family to show in court if necessary and for everything to be just right in order for us to pass and travel to ET!


Continue to pray as well for Lu's health. She is doing great right now!

Lastly - we have run into a slight paperwork snag. USCIS sent a letter that I received over the weekend saying that our home study addendum (which was just for an address change) is missing two points. Our social worker says that she did not include that info because it is in our original home study. So, I'm hoping to contact someone at USCIS tomorrow and get that all cleared up. If our social worker ends up having to resubmit our addendum it could take USCIS a while to process it and that could potentially affect our travel time. Please pray that it all gets cleared up first thing Monday morning!

Oh - and one more thing. Some families who have a court date just one day before us have travel dates of May 23-30. That means there is a possibility we could travel that early. The next travel group would be June 6-13 and that is the one week we have a camp in June. We are praying we can make the early travel group so we can keep our commitment to the camp where we are supposed to lead worship. 

Okay - it's late, gotta go!
Cindy