Farewell! A word that must be.

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Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been—
A sound which makes us linger;—yet—farewell!
~Lord Byron

We arrived at Chicago O’Hare at 2:00 PM and the boys were taken through security at 3:15. We spent our last minutes together playing Go Fish with V. while Jeremy tried to find out from O. more information about exactly where they live.  Airports are not furnished with a lot of seating in their Departures area, so we played cards on the floor until a minor coffee mishap led us to abandon that.  Then it was just a lot of standing around, hugging, snapping photos, and laughing at O. and Marissa goofing around.

Here are the photos from the airport.

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V. Jake and O.

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Big brother O.

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O. and Marissa

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Horsing around.

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Lizzy, O. V. and Emily

Jeremy, O., V., and Me.

Jeremy, O., V., and Me.

"It's time to go."

“It’s time to go.”

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Goodbye Jake.

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Hugs for Dad.

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Final glimpses.

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😦

The following verse is on a plaque that we gave O. for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking to know that at his age he is the father figure for their little family. We wanted to help them always remember that no matter what the future holds, they have a Father who will be with them and help them.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10).

Agony of Parting

“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”–George Eliot

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Just a typical Road Trip so far: music, reading, sleeping, and card games. But with less than an hour to go until the airport, this is going to start getting real, really fast. Thankfully we have a lunch stop to enjoy first.

Steak & Shake & Origami

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Chicago O’Hare International Terminal

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Final Countdown

2015/01/img_5318.jpgMost of you aren’t up right now to read this, but naturally, I can’t sleep.

After 4 weeks, tomorrow we bring our Eastern European friends back to the airport. They have reassured me that they are well cared for & will be happy back home. I’m so grateful for their mentor Kohl who brings them to church each week. It means so much that they are being loved and discipled.

2015-01-13 at 18-16-27While they were here we had a nightly routine at dinner time. I had a series of questions taped to the inside of their countdown chain. Dinner included everyone answering simple questions like, “What is your favorite color?”

Tonight after dinner Jeremy said, “If you have one question for us, what would it be?” The little one took the phone and typed into Google Translate, “If we can be here in summer.” (NHFC arranges summer hosting also. )

So we haven’t even sent them and their 60-ish pounds of baggage through airport security yet and already they’ve got us wondering what the future holds.

…cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord : though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭1‬:‭16-18‬ ESV)

Open Wide & Say, “Awww!”

I have been dreading this week.  This was the week that the boys would be visiting the dentist.  I have heard horror stories of the multiple-thousands-of-dollars’ worth of work that some of the orphans need.  The recommended strategy for managing that burden: Prioritize the most urgent work first, and then hop around from office to office to see if one doctor will donate  $500 worth of work here, and another donate $500 there.

Annual dental exams are heinous enough.  The possibility of spending 4-5 days in a variety of dental offices was nightmarish.

Dr. Amy Stodola of Family Smile Care Center.

Dr. Amy Stodola of Family Smile Care Center.

Didn’t happen.  Not only were their teeth in pretty good shape (4 cavities for one, 7 for another–Hey one of my own kids had that diagnosis once)–the wonderful doctor delivered their care pro bono.  That means for free.  FREE.

So if anyone is looking to find a new practice for his or her dental care–Let me highly recommend Dr. Amy Stodola and the great folks at Family Smile Care Center.

The boys were scared and the staff was so accommodating for us to be in the exam room with them, using Google Translate to communicate to them what was happening, holding hands, and generally letting them know that all the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations were normal and nothing to worry about.

They had an exam yesterday at noon, and by today at 5PM, all their work was done and we were on our merry way.  Nothing to dread after all.  Thanking God for nice and generous people.

Photo Blitz

First of all, I would like to give a shoutout to Dr. Kimberly Cruise and the staff at the 10th Street Iowa Eye Care.  They took such good care of the boys today.  Free exam, free opti-map, free everything.  And the diagnosis: Perfect vision and perfect eye health for both.

It’s hard to believe we are down to our last week together.  Now that the crazy busy holidays are behind us, we are settling in to more of a normal schedule.  Two things have definitely changed in our household since the boys arrived.  I cook three solid meals every. single. day. And we spend a lot more time together doing family stuff.  Two things have definitely not changed. Love rules. And teenage boys everywhere will play video games non-stop if you let them.

Not much else to add but I wanted to send a quick photo update.  Enjoy!

You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Ecclesiastes 11:9

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O.’s all-time favorite: Risk

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Learned another new game: Ticket to Ride!

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Bonding time over a cell phone.

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Loving Poky and Cinco!

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Marissa’s birthday!

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Birthday dinner!

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Borscht gets a a thumbs-up!

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Ice skating does NOT get a thumbs up.

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Carousel ride was a big hit!

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Group shot!

The Gospel According to Seuss

2014-12-24 at 17-02-59 Traditions are big for our family.  So even though our family is enhanced with two extras this year, our Christmas celebrations continued as usual.

We explained to the boys that the final days of December would be very busy. We began to lay out the details just for Christmas Eve:  Cooking and baking most of the day. Then many, many photos, then off to church, and many, many more photos! Dinner at the Sloans, return home to watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas, open one present on Christmas Eve (it’s always pajamas), then hang one final ornament on the tree and read our theme Christmas verse.  Hey we do it every year.  And we love it.  It brings us meaning and joy.

This year Jeremy's Mom even brought these darling Grinch Kabobs. Compliments of Pinterest & raininghotcoupons.com

This year Jeremy’s Mom even brought these darling Grinch Kabobs. Compliments of Pinterest & raininghotcoupons.com

Somehow, in listing all we would be doing on December 24, we glossed over one of the most endearing parts of the Christmas season: The Grinchy nature of our Christmas Dinner.  I, for example, always bring the Who Hash and Who Pudding.  And no matter which meat you choose for your entree–just call it Rare Who Roast Beast, if you please.

After dinner, all the cousins of all ages gather around and listen to Jeremy’s annual reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  The kids know it almost completely by heart.  They loudly chime in as Jeremy growls, “The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!”

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And as I watch and enjoy the children’s delighted faces and laughter, I can’t help but relate to that villain whose heart was two sizes too small.  I know the miracle of Christmas is that all of us can experience the same radical heart transformation–that through Jesus we have experienced it. Without Jesus we are as hopeless in our sins as Mr. Grinch. But because of Jesus we can be different. And that is the beautiful reality that supersedes the ribbons, tags, packages, boxes and bags.

And this year, our new friends got to enjoy that reality too.  We explained, “We celebrate because we have so much joy that God sent His son into the world.”  They understand and smile and nod.  We add, “And we give gifts because God gave us the best gift of all.”  Big smiles. Yes! They know. Jesus. Isusu.

And so our silly traditions and celebrations continue–because they remind us every year that “Maybe Christmas…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps…means a little bit more.”

Jesus Christ…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:13-14