Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas!

Well, the Christmas season is in full force and as usual, busy.  However, we had a good home study visit yesterday, probably the last we will have in our home.  Next time, we will drive in to meet our social worker in her area.  She did get to meet our boys and they did great answering her questions, as well as listening as she sought to help prepare them for Henry's coming.  We have one to two more visits, and still a few paper items to gather.  However, our FBI background checks came in today, so two less! 

We also have 12 hours of online parent training to do; then, once the home study is approved, we can submit for immigration approval to adopt internationally, as well as apply for grants.  We do have fundraiser ideas in process, like selling flower bulbs in the new year, and doing a large rummage sale.  For me, the paperwork is abundant but easy...it's the trusting God to provide such a large amount of money that tests my faith!  However, I have seen God do it again and again and know He will come through.  Henry was His idea and He is faithful always.

It continues to be a blessing to see how well Henry is doing in his foster home; he is getting to experience the wonder of Christmas with decorations and celebrations, and from what we've seen, he is a good eater and likes American food!  We can't wait for him and Lucy to open the gifts we sent them.  We also just cannot wait to hold him and share our lives with him.  The boys are really getting excited and as God would design it, have a great big brother from Armenia showing them how to be great big brothers themselves.  God is good!

Let us remember orphans this Christmas, whether from abandonment, sickness, violence, or whatever.  Christmas is difficult for any of us without loved ones, but especially for those who have had no one to begin with.  Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song from an orphan's perspective:

All I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose, shoulders to ride on if I win
There's so much I could ask for, but there's just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family


Merry Christmas to you all; may your heart be a home for the Christ-child and full of love for the orphan-child.

Kerri




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Henry Noah Brown

As requested documents continue to arrive and references get mailed in, we are moving along very well in the process.  Our home study was cancelled last week, though, but has been rescheduled for December 19th.  We are looking forward to that and to the social worker meeting our boys.

It does seem quiet but things really are happening.  I feel that I have a grasp now on the paperwork and all that is required for this process.  I am anxious to begin grant applications but know God's timing is absolutely perfect for all parts of this adoption.  It has been fun to see photos of sweet Henry and at some point, when we get closer to the time to go get him, we will get to Skype with him.  Very exciting!

By the way, we are narrowing down his name to Henry Noah Brown.  Isn't that a great name?  Henry means, "Home ruler" or "Rules his household," and Noah, "rest" or "peace."  Our hope is that Henry would find rest and peace not only in the Brown household but in the family of God.  Just as Noah was found to be righteous, was saved from the flood, and became the father of many, may dearest Henry Noah become a man after God's own heart and be used mightily for God's purposes.  We know God has saved his life and set him apart for very special reasons.  We cannot wait to help him find out what those are!

We so appreciate everyone's prayers and encouragement. It also means a lot to us when family and friends indicate that they will embrace Henry as a permanent and special part of our family.  Adoption is forever!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pre-preparations

Isn't God good?  I've heard this saying time and again, "God knows what you need before you do." This is true because God's Word says it, and it has certainly been proven over and over as He has worked to prepare us for situations ahead; yes, even before we knew what was coming.  Well, I see God at work again in the pre-preparations of adopting Henry.

Early last summer, I started thinking I should find a part-time job to help supplement our income to help with rising costs and our exchange student coming.  As I was driving along on my scooter and approaching the high school, I had a fleeting thought that substituting would be perfect.  I turned into the district office to find out more, thus beginning the application and certification process. 

I have really enjoyed the flexibility, spontaneity, and variety of subbing jobs in our schools. It fits my personality and family needs perfectly.  However, I had no idea that it was going to do even more for us in regards to adopting a child with special needs.  My first substitute teaching jobs were mainly for special education classes, an area I have little to no experience in.  What I have gained through them has been incredible preparation for our future with Henry.  I am learning what our schools offer, what resources are available, and even the basics of working with the different needs of children.  Even tomorrow, I am going to be learning about the bus system for children with special needs.

To say that we were hesitant to adopt a child with special needs is an understatement.  We simply did not think we could manage or resource what that child would need, and so did not even consider the possibility.  But, after seeing the different kinds of needs and care of orphans in China, and witnessing firsthand God's faithfulness in providing for them even there, my heart was opened wide to adopting a waiting child...Henry!

This is, no doubt, a whole new world to us.  I firmly believe that God sees in each of us what we do not yet see and even have trouble seeing sometimes- the potential and all He intricately wove into us to be used for His purposes and glory.  It's always a little scary to step into the unknown but when hope lies in the One Who made and holds it all, courage and trust rise enough for the journey.  It is really neat to see how God has been working to prepare us all along for Henry.  Isn't God good?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Blessings Everywhere

Some neat things have occurred in the last couple weeks regarding Henry and the adoption process. First, the home study in-home visit went well and the next one is coming up on Tuesday, Dec. 4th, in which the social worker will meet the boys.  I continue to get us organized and it looks like necessary documents are starting to get completed and compiled to turn in.  It is neat how the Lord puts people in place to help with even little things like notarizing and such. 

It was very exciting to receive notice that Henry received our family photo album!  Doesn't he look happy?  We sure are!
 
We also received a letter and photos this week from someone who went on a mission trip to New Day in October where she met Henry.  It was so sweet and encouraging, and yes, it seems that whoever spends any time with him just falls in love with him!  It really is such a blessing to know that many wonderful people are entering his life and loving on him as he waits to come home.  We can not wait to spend lots of time with him ourselves!

Along this journey, I am realizing just how unique and special the adoption community is.  There is an instant bond of shared experience...the paperwork, the trusting, the waiting, the hoping...and no doubt, adopted children connect on a deeper level with one another.  It really is a blessing to be becoming a part of this community. 
 
That is all I can think of for now.  In the preparation and waiting period, small things really are big things to celebrate!  Blessings,
Kerri
 
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Labors of Love

Things continue to move along here in the adoption process.  I am trying not to be overwhelmed by the mounds of paperwork to gather and fill out, nor by the financial need to complete this process.  Prayer cards and support letters are in the works...if interested in receiving either one, let me know! 

We are excited, I have to say, to be having our first home study visit by our social worker this coming Tuesday morning.  Paperwork is ready for that part; the children will be in school so this initial visit is just with my husband and I.  The home study approval is a really important part of the adoption process and is a requirement for many grant applications.  The Lord keeps reminding us that He cares very much about orphans and will see us through to bringing Henry home.  So good to know!

The online family photo album I put together was mailed this week and we can not wait for Henry to receive it. 

I also have become a part of the CCAI Be the Voice community, meaning I want to do my part in informing others about the option of adoption.  I can not recall the source or numbers, but I have heard that quite a large number of people consider adoption, yet only a few percent actually do it.  The paperwork and cost are a huge reason why, but good education and preparation can be a great encouragement and help with this.  I know for us that it was difficult to even know where to begin.  But God is in the small steps of faith!

Thank you for your continued prayers!  Henry is developing well and getting good medical care; his current diagnosis is MED, a bit of a change from what he was diagnosed as a baby.  He enjoys singing as do I, so perhaps we will make music together one day. Please remember us on Tuesday morning for the home study and the days ahead as we labor to bring Henry home!
Blessings,
Kerri

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Small Steps

We've made little steps of progress this week in our adoption journey.  I finished and ordered Henry's photo album, our FBI background check requests have been sent in, I've done some research on grant possibilities, and our first home study visit has been scheduled for the 20th.  In addition, I got Henry and Lucy's Christmas gifts mailed off this morning (I spent the day with Lucy from New Day foster home while in China).  Our boys had fun shopping with me for them, so we hope they are very blessed by the gifts!

Perhaps one of the biggest steps was just getting all the paperwork organized into a folder that could keep us straight and meeting deadlines.  We're working with three different organizations in this process: CCAI, CHI, and New Day.  Other institutions come into play along the way, like CCCWA and CIS.  So, you can see that organization is very important!

We know that delays or changes could occur along the way, but practically speaking, if we get our paperwork and finances in, and everything is approved and moving along as usual, we really should be clear to go get Henry early this summer...Lord willing!!!  A number of people have asked about the timeline- it is a lot quicker with waiting children, those who have special needs, are siblings, and/or are older.  We have a lot of paperwork to gather but as my husband would say about me, it's a good thing I like filling out forms!

Thank you for your continued encouragement, support, and prayers!  There is much still yet to do but we certainly want to celebrate the small steps along the way.  So much to be thankful for!

And by the way, November is National Adoption Month.  Are you interested?  Check it out and see what God may have in store!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Communicating!!!

It has been such a blessed week being in touch with the foster home where Henry is.  What a gift to get to send him a family photo immediately and receive back photos as well as video footage of him seeing us all for the first time.  He did seem to remember me and that makes my day!  I have inserted the video so everyone can see how precious he is and celebrate with us this milestone in his adoption journey.  Enjoy!!!

I am also putting together an online photo album that is almost finished and will be sent to him.  It will introduce more about us, where we live, and what to expect; communications with Henry are going to be important in the next months to develop attachment while we are working on all the logistics and he is waiting.  There is a lot of paperwork to fill out and funds to acquire, so please continue to keep all of these things in prayer.  We are committed but must now put in all the footwork to see it to completion.  We are coming, Henry!  Our hope and God willing, we will be able to go get him during the summer.  We just can not wait to bring him home where he belongs.

video

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Henry

Words cannot describe my elation yesterday upon receiving the e-mail that the CCCWA has pre-approved our adoption of Henry, or Wang Long Qian, of China.  I have been ready to tell the world but now that I can, I am wondering how much I should!  My blog is fully public so that anyone can follow along, but perhaps I should be more protective and private for his sake...something we need to look into.  At any rate, you can celebrate with us that this major step in the process has been made and that we can now contact Henry with a care package and information about us.  We cannot wait to do so! 

Thank You, Father, for this precious gift, not only of Henry but that of adoption.  "Because of His love He had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this..." Ephesians 1:5 (GW).  We have chosen Henry with God's leading without him even thinking of choosing us...may we realize the great love our Father in heaven has lavished on us by giving all He could give, His only Son, so that we may be called His children!!!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Approval!!!

Our adoption application has been approved!!!

As well, our child request and family info have been sent to the CCCWA (Chna Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) and the child has been locked in (meaning he is not on the availability list for other agencies and families).  We are now waiting for pre-approval from the government, then will be able to publicly display his information.  I can't wait to share him with you!

We now have a whole lot of documents to gather and paperwork to complete, as well as a home study to do and finances to begin raising.  It's an exciting time but also a lot of work.  I have been able to lighten my load so as to focus in better on what the Lord has for me and my family at this time.  Thank you so much for prayers...I will be updating soon!

Kerri

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's in!

Our adoption application has been received by CCAI and is currently being processed.  We have also been assigned a social worker through Children's House Int'l for the home study process.  Once our application is accepted, all of the collection and compilation of paperwork begins and we continue to move forward.  Of utmost urgency is the submission of our Letter of Intent and other family information with photos to the Chinese government so the child can be officially matched to us.  Once that happens, he will be taken off the availability list and no one else can pursue him.  Please pray for us with all these details and tasks along the way...we have the child's photo framed in our house to remind us daily to pray for him and to keep pressing on!  Thanks so much,
Kerri

Monday, October 15, 2012

Officially Begun...

So, I wanted to write an update before the week gets busy and too much more time passes...we are sending in our CCAI adoption application in the next few days.  Everything is coming together as we are in touch now with an agency that does home studies and has assigned to us a social worker for that part of the process.  This application step is huge and makes this adoption journey officially begun!

I have much to tell about the precious child we are seeking to adopt but alas, must hold it in until the match is made and he is removed from the eligibility list...but yes, the child is a 'he'!  This, in itself, is a God-thing as we always thought if we adopted, it would be a girl.  Having two boys (three temporarily), we do love having boys and perhaps one day the Lord will provide for us a girl.  Only He knows!  But for now, the Lord has given His clear direction and as I wrote previously, He is Lord and can interrupt our plans whenever and however He chooses.  We are excited about this interruption though and can simply not wait to tell the world; even more so, we can not wait to go get him and bring him home!  

We are enjoying our exchange student a whole lot for many reasons; and as the Lord would have it, this experience is also preparing our family to be one of five instead of four...and to be living cross-culturally in our home.  It's amazing, and beautiful, to me how the Lord knits our hearts together so quickly when He is present...

I recently attended the Women of Faith conference in Portland and the theme 'Celebrate what matters' continues with me in a profound way.  First of all, I knew, just knew, that the Lord would affirm our adoption journey by throwing it into the conference somewhere.  Well, He didn't just throw it in; one of the speakers was Jennie Allen, a pastor's wife (like me) who learned to say 'anything' to God (like me), and was led into the adoption journey of a boy (like me).  And out of the theme, the Lord reminded me to not just celebrate but to celebrate the things, the life, that really matter; and to not forget to celebrate!  So, along with His encouragement, refreshment, joy, love, inspiration, direction, and comfort, I left with a renewed mission to celebrate what matters...as I do love to celebrate and gain great strength by doing so! (Check out Nehemiah 8:10).  

I will keep you all updated on this journey...thanks for following along, or better yet, joining in!  

Much love,
Kerri

"Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name." Psalm 33:20-21 (NKJV)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Good News!

Between starting a new school year, a new job, adjusting to a new family member, and being sick, life has been pretty crazy and just plain tiring.  But God has a way of getting our attention in such times, of drawing us into to the green pastures and quiet waters of His presence for the refreshing that we need.  When God adds to our life, He is not trying to overload us, He is wanting us to adjust by cutting out the "good" for His "best."  As Lord of my life, He can, at any time, interrupt my plans and activity for any reason...I have learned this well over the years of walking with Him...and right now seems to be a period of adjustment, not only for what is but in preparation for what is to come.

During this period of adjustment and preparation, He is reminding me to "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).  His heart is that I know Him more and more, and that my life lift Him high throughout the earth.  To stay focused is not easy- so many worldly distractions and nasty attacks from our spiritual enemy...and so much to be busy about.  But to be still, there really is no substitute for this in the Christian faith.  "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).  I find that I am desiring quietness more than I have in a long time, and we will definitely need trust and strength to walk this journey of adopting a special needs child from China.  So, please pray that my family and I trust wholeheartedly God's leading and will as we move forward into this unknown territory.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV). 

Finally, we do have good news! Though unable to share publicly any specific information or photos of the child we sense God leading us to adopt, until a match is made, we can share that he is available and that we will be starting the formal adoption process shortly!  I will keep the process updated here and as soon as we are matched, will post photos and information on the child.  You are on this unfolding journey with us and we so appreciate your support.

God bless,
Kerri

Saturday, September 22, 2012

In Touch

I just wanted to give a short update on the adoption process- we connected with CCAI yesterday and they are going to make inquiry at New Day about the child we are interested in.  Once that is made, we will know where to begin in the process- whether we are applying for a specific child or at the very beginning so that one can be matched to us.  Anyway, I will let you know!  Thanks for your prayers and support.

Kerri

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Do You Gather?


Some would gather money
Along the path of life,
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin,
I would seek a golden curl,
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day,
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven
I can take them in with me!

Author Unknown

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Big Picture

We received our CCAI packet today.  While watching the introductory video to the organization and their work, my heart filled up again with that knowing that we're on the right track and that longing to welcome our own adopted child into our family.  

Having never heard of CCAI before the China trip, I am so impressed with what God has done through them.  We are at peace about pursuing adoption through CCAI and are making little steps in that direction; the first one being an online family info form in which we inquired about one of the children I met at New Day.  We are waiting to hear back on the availability of that child to show us the next step.  We are always open to whatever God has for us, but our hearts have been drawn to this specific child even though my husband hasn't met him, so we were compelled to ask about him first.  If God has another child for us, that is okay, as long as he gets a wonderful forever family as well!

We continue to need and appreciate your prayers!  The Lord has already provided for up-front costs to begin the process...we will be applying for grants and such when the time is right in this process.  Just for your info, the process (and it's a big one) goes something like this:
  • Application
  • Compilation of Dossier materials with home study (5-6 months)
  • Dossier Review and mail to China (2 weeks)
  • Child match (ave. time of 6-12 months)
  • Travel (approx. 10-14 weeks after match)
  • Post adoption services and adoption validation
I am a big picture person even though administration requires dealing with details; this helps me not get so bogged down with the small things that I have trouble seeing God at work in the bigger scheme of things.  And as this adoption process moves along, I see God's hand in so many ways, big and small, and I love that.  He's so much bigger than our limited understanding and vision; sometimes we need to step back and take a look at the bigger tapestry He is creating in, through, and around our lives.  I am utterly blessed to be woven into a small part of it.  

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'”  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’"  Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Step

We made a big first step today by printing out the application form and submitting a request for more information with an adoption agency that specifically works in China- CCAI, Chinese Children Adoption Int'l.  You can find out more about it at http://ccaifamily.org.  

We also pulled out adoption information we received from a Focus on the Family adoption conference we attended last year or so, of which we found a nice poster with checklists for each stage of the process.  I like checklists!

Isn't walking by faith fun?  It can be a major stressor but it can be a total blast, depending on how you look at it and in whom you place your trust.  As it is, I know too many people who must have everything so controllable and comfortable that they would never step out into the unknown without being able to see.  I have no doubt this new journey of ours is considered crazy in some eyes, but what does Hebrews 11:6 say?  "But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him."  So what is faith really?  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that "Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see."  We who follow Christ are told over and over again in Scripture to fix our eyes on what is unseen, not on what is seen...and to be about the will of our Father no matter where He leads and what it costs!

I was singing "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)" for practice the night before the Sunday morning worship when I would give my China trip presentation.  We never did get to singing the song that morning but God spoke to me clearly as I was singing these words of Chris Tomlin's chorus:

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace.


He, in essence, said, "Adopting you and all others who call on My name was at great cost to Me...not a little, but much sacrifice. I bought You not with money but with My Son's blood.  To adopt a little one in My Name will require a purchase as well, and I will provide.  Nothing you give or spend costs too much to bring one of Mine home."  I was deeply moved to say the least and knew then that whatever this adoption process would cost, in time, energy, money, etc., it would be worth it and a testimony to the purchase God ultimately made for us on the cross.

So, friends, God is already providing for this journey in faith, joy, and peace as we trust in Him.  I love the adventure He calls us to when He calls us to Himself.  I have never been disappointed!  Let us not forget the ending to the song I mentioned...a beautiful picture of adoption:

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Questions

We are so ready to begin the adoption process but do not know where to begin. We know about the process itself but other things, the specifics, we are seeking the Lord on and have more footwork to do. We are resolved to do it...but here are are our questions; would you pray over them on our behalf?
1. What agency do we work with? Which agency will advocate for us for the child of our choosing and with the government regarding regulations and our qualifications?
2. How will we pay for the process, when do we begin fundraising, and how much should be there before we begin the process?
We trust the Lord fully for the child He has planned for us (or as my Dad would hope, "children":) and for His timing b/c He knows perfectly who and when is best; we are just a bit clueless about the logistical process we need to be about.  So thanks for your prayers...now, when I see the children from the foster homes in China, my heart fills with longing and readiness to welcome and hold our adopted child.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chosen for Adoption

Please read on to the end for a great surprise!!!
Have you taken to time to read and meditate on Ephesians 1:3-14?  Wow...from the  Contemporary English version, in Christ we have been:
  • gifted with amazing spiritual blessings
  • chosen to live with Him
  • chosen to be His holy and innocent and loving people
  • chosen to be His adopted children
  • the objects of God's kindness
  • set free by His blood
  • forgiven of sin
  • shown His mysterious ways
  • chosen to bring honor to Him
  • chosen to have hope
  • brought the truth of how to be saved
  • given the promised Holy Spirit
  • shown to belong to God
  • assured we will be given what God has stored up for His people
Psalm 68:5 says that "God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless..." This is not only true of orphans, but of us Christ-followers.  The truth is, before Christ we are spiritually Fatherless and not only so, but Scripture teaches that we are enemies of God the Father due to our nature to rebel against Him.  But hear this: "See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children—and so, in fact, we are..." (1 John 3:1 GNT).  

God continues to teach me so much through the special needs orphans I just had the privilege of meeting in China.  What the world discards and considers worthless, God has made invaluably precious and vital to our lives.  Through children such as these, God is imbedding upon my heart this great plan of His for adoption.  God not only likes to adopt, His plan from the very beginning has been to adopt!  And to adopt me!  

Randy and I had a discussion a couple of days ago on this: As marriage is God's glorious picture of the relationship between Himself and His people, between Christ and His bride- the Church- so earthly adoption is a glorious picture of God bringing rebellious, sin-ridden people into His cleansing love and forever family.  And so, if adoption is God's heart, should it not be ours?

So what does the adoption process look like? Well, from Scripture we see that it involves a plan, choosing, sacrifice, purchasing, and a whole lot of love.  Practically, it requires faith, paperwork, funds, time, energy, meeting requirements, and yes, a whole lot of patience AND love.  Randy and I are at that point of saying yes to adoption for our family unless and only unless GOD says "No."  God's heart is adoption and because He has put His heart in us, ours is becoming adoption as well.  We have had this desire for many years actually but it seems that it is time, God's time, for us to walk it out.

So, as we seek God's wisdom and guidance, step out in faith for His provision, and open our hearts and home to the child God has already chosen for us, please PRAY for us and the process.  May our lives be a radical picture of what it means to be adopted in Christ.  Thank you!

Kerri

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Now?

So what now?

I was both exceedingly thankful to be in China and anxious to return home to meet the newest addition to our family, an exchange student from Armenia, and to reunite with my family who I missed terribly.  The boys are all off for their first day of school this morning and as all the school preparations wind down, I am able to go back through my China pictures and process the trip.  I am overwhelmed by the experience the Lord has just granted me and can not help but ask...what now?  Surely it was not just to have a good time, to revisit Chinese culture, to eat some great food...no, it was so God could weave my life with those I met along the way for a greater purpose.  This trip wasn't about me- it was about Him and His unfolding plans for His people...for His most precious and vulnerable children.  I can not help but return changed, and a question in the depths of my soul is this...what now?

Will you pray that I hear clearly God's answer? that our family hear the Lord's call?  and that we wholeheartedly respond in faith and obedience?  

Thank you!
Kerri

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home!

I made it home last night! The trip went very smoothly with no problems at all.  Thanks so much to everyone for praying for me and the team.  I had the time of my life and cannot wait to share photos and stories with everyone this Sunday, 10:45 a.m. at First Baptist Church.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Almost Home!

The team left Beijing this morning and arrived safely at San Francisco! I am waiting here for my 5:19pm flight to Portland, and cannot wait to see my guys! Appreciate your prayers as we travel home.
Kerri

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Last Day

It has been a good last full day in Beijing. I finally got my beef noodles for lunch that I have been craving since Taiwan and the team really liked them. We cleaned up the new foster home for the children to move in to; we didn't have an opportunity to see them again but are excited for them to see their new home in a few days. I, personally, am ready to get home to see my guys and meet Gurgen. 

The team has been great and we've shared a lot of memories together here. The staff and workers living in Beijing are truly amazing and have been so hospitable to us. This has been one amazing trip with some very special children as well. Wearing a motion sickness patch has made me a little sleepy and such, but I have not had any sickness in all our traveling. Praise the Lord!

After finishing cleaning the new foster home this afternoon, we went out for Peking duck dinner. It was so good! Then we went to the Chinese acrobat show and that was absolutely incredible...a great way to end our trip! Tomorrow, we will participate in a church service here on our guesthouse grounds, then leave for the airport around noon. I will arrive in Portland around 7pm Sunday. I really am anxious to get home to my guys. I have a whole lot of pictures that have been too much trouble to share, but I will be posting them soon after I return. Blessings and see many of you soon!
Kerri

Friday, August 24, 2012

Second Foster Home

I was just able to post the entry I wrote this morning about yesterday but want to update you on this day as well. We headed out right after breakfast for the second foster home. It was in a two level house with about 10 children with special needs. A number have been adopted out recently and because they are looking to move to a new location soon, have not been taking in new children. The owner/director had just gotten into town so we got to visit with him; turns out that his foster home was visited by Steven Curtis Chapman which inspired the song "What Now" and the adoption of Maria from there. How neat to be in the very same place!

Today we played with the kids a bit, did the windsock craft with them, and did some cleaning. I specifically did some weeding outside. We went out for more amazing Chinese food for lunch and then had some pizza for dinner. It was fun and informative to see a different kind of foster home than the first home- both doing the same work but just in different ways.

That's about it for now. I'm pretty tired so am heading to bed. Tomorrow we may be helping clean the new foster home location and playing a bit more with the kids before enjoying a Peking duck dinner and Chinese acrobat show for our last night here. I can't believe I'm even saying that...the last night here!
Kerri

Foster Homes Update

Yesterday was an up and down day as we served the last time at the first foster home on this trip. The baby's death was the lowest point but there were also a lot of highs. One was seeing the preschool kids' excitement as I pulled out the craft activities. They decorated little bags and then made foam windsocks. I hadn't thought about this but they actually resembled chinese lanterns. That was great fun for them. Then they had their monthly birthday party and music therapy session. I had a great time watching them.

At the afternoon playground time, I made balloon animals for them as well and that was a big hit. These children may be orphans and they may have severe medical needs, but their joy and love for life is beautiful and contagious. The Lord knows each by name, knows how many hairs on their heads, and He holds their precious lives in the palms of His hands.

Today we are headed out to the second foster home, unsure what we will be doing exactly but excited and ready to serve. I am growing more tired each day and missing my family at home, but I would not want to be anywhere else right now. Thank you for continuing to pray!
Kerri

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Answered prayer

Well, the Lord answered prayer today by taking the precious baby home. It is very sad but he certainly is in a better place with no more suffering. These children's lives are very fragile and sometimes healed on this earth; other times, for reasons only known to the Lord, they are healed by going to their eternal home. God is indeed a Father to the fatherless.  We grieve but not without this hope.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prayer need

I'm not sure if prayer will still be needed by the time you read this, but please pray for one of the babies who is currently on oxygen to live but will soon be removed from it. The Lord knows who he is. Thank you much,
Kerri

Day 3 Flies By

Today started off as normal but quickly changed direction as it got going. Instead of going to help out with the preschool children and babies, I was asked to accompany and supervise a precious little girl for checkups at the hospital. I was honored to be asked for flexibility and Chinese language ability, as limited as it may be. Another child was going to get tests and such as well. I had no idea how long it would take but we were gone from 9am - 4:45pm. The afternoon was hardest as I tried to entertain my girl while the boy cont'd with doctor appointments. It was fun but a bit challenging and tiring as well, as my girl with special needs would not slow down even though she was exhausted. I am thankful she had no major falls! 

Tomorrow should be a regular schedule where hopefully I can provide craft activities that I brought, as well as make animal balloons for the children. Tomorrow is actually the last day at this home before heading to help in another for two days. We will still be at the same guesthouse and hopefully be able to say goodbyes before leaving.

Only four more days until departure! Seemed slower in the beginning and now, going way too fast. I'll check back in tomorrow!
Kerri

The Great Wall of China


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Kids!

Today was wonderful as our team got to meet the children and staff. I was assigned to preschool in the morning and babies in the afternoon. They are more precious than words!  Special needs range from very major to minor. This home specializes in caring for the most severe of illnesses and special needs- caring for them, providing medical care, and seeking good adoptive homes for them. In fact, this home is technically a foster home. I am amazed at the structure, passion, and care provided for the children that come through. I feel utterly blessed to be here and can't wait to love on some more tomorrow.

People may wonder why I came when I could just pray and give from home. Well, it's because true love, God's love, enters into the pain and chaos of others. It's too easy to "love" from a distance, to stay where it is comfortable and safe. But Jesus didn't do that; He left His throne in heaven to become one of us, though without sin, so that He could save us. To be His heart, hands, and feet, we can do no less. This is where mercy enters in and most clearly demonstrates the love of God.

I must get to bed and I cannot wait to share my trip with you all when I get home. Thanks again for prayers. The guys are doing great and don't forget...Gurgen comes in Wed. from Armenia! Can't wait to meet him either. Blessings!
Kerri

Monday, August 20, 2012

DAY 2

Today was another amazing day in China. We walked a part of the Great Wall which was one of the neatest things I have ever done. I am hoping to post a couple photos from there.

We also ate some delicious Chinese food and then did some shopping at the silk market. Tomorrow we at last get to meet the precious children we came to serve.  I am super excited about that!


Between the team members' donations, each of the two orphanages we are serving will have a good bit of great items added to their supply.  In the morning, we have team orientation before meeting the children. I brought crafts and balloon animals to make with them. Not sure yet what everyone will be doing but it will be a blessing no matter what.


Thank you much for prayers. The team is getting to know each other and has had fun already. I, personally, am handling the time change quite well and with the help of motion sickness patches, have not had any illness. I really do sense your prayers and God's power...so keep praying and watching for more blog news!
Kerri

Sunday, August 19, 2012

1st day

It has been a great first day in China with worship at the Beijing int'l church, Sechuan lunch, and tour of Tienanmen Square and the amazing Forbidden City. We have a quiet evening at the guest house tonight to eat and sort donations.

I am tired but slept well last night (we all did) and hope to do so again tonight. China is 15 hours ahead of Pacific time. Beijing is beautiful as is the orphanage and guest house where we are staying. Tomorrow we leave bright and early to see the Great Wall...I can't wait!


Thanks for prayers everyone. I'll check back in tomorrow.
Kerri

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Made it!

Except for a slight delay, the trip to China has been smooth and fun. Tired but here!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heading Out

This will be my last post before heading out early in the morning.  I have had a nice quiet day at home to pack...I am thoroughly tired but am pushing on so that I am ready for the trip and able to get a good night's sleep.
I have appreciated the phone calls wishing me well, and the encouragement that people are praying and planning to follow my blog along the way. I think I am just as excited about sharing this journey with you as I am anything else.
Donations, crafts, and misc. items have filled the first suitcase.  The second is underway with personal items for the trip.  I hope to bring some souvenirs back in the emptied suitcase!
Please lift up one of our team members who is having visa problems; she will not be able to fly out with us tomorrow but Lord willing, will join us in a few days.  That is very disappointing I am sure.
Again, thanks to everyone for your support in a number of ways.  I have watched my Father provide exactly what has been needed for this trip with little effort on my part, simply because I have been so busy about His work here!  What a gift and dream fulfilled to spend time with orphans in mainland China.  I can not wait to see HIS purposes for it.  Blessings and see you soon!
Kerri
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TWO DAYS!!!

A reminder: My trip is August 17-26 and will be spent touring in and around Beijing with the goal of visiting orphans and their caretakers in two different orphanages.  I am on a team of nine meeting up from different places; tourist destinations include the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace, and Chinese Acroboat Show.  Thank you so much for prayers! I plan on keeping my blog updated throughout the trip, so keep checking in!

TWO DAYS and I leave for China. This is surreal to me...is it really and finally here??? Packing today and tomorrow, getting the guys ready for my absence (stocked them up on groceries last night), and spending time in the Word and prayer to prepare my heart for what God wants to do in and through me. I so appreciate your prayers and support...there is some element of risk getting on a plane to cross over the deep wide ocean and entering another country. Leaving family is the hardest part. I wholly and absolutely trust my Lord with all that is to come, even with those brief thoughts in the back of my head of "what if?"

I am very excited to meet the team in person, be back in East Asia, and to especially meet and love on the children.  Whatever else God has planned, may I be flexible, teachable, servant-hearted, and bring honor and glory to my King!

Here are some Scriptures on my mind today:

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life"  Matthew 19:29

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed."  Psalm 82:2-4

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:20-21

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Week!

I leave for China one week from today!  This blows my mind and I think I can finally get to packing.  
Our team had a conference call yesterday to "meet" each other, talk about ministry plans, and get last questions answered.  I can't wait to meet everyone in person!  
Looks like we're going to do a variety of things, whatever is needed in the orphanages especially, and provide opportunities for music, crafts, games, and learning English. 
I'm sure there are more details to share but VBS just ended and my brain is very fuzzy.  So, I will write more as it clears up!
Thank you so much for prayers! They are greatly needed and appreciated over the next few weeks.  Blessings!
Kerri 

 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Orphanage Activities

Twenty days until I leave for China!  The time is flying by and I can't believe it's coming so soon.
Donations are starting to come in and the team will be having a conference call in about two weeks to solidify what we each will be doing in the orphanages.  I am taking my oral Typhoid medicine (with no side effects) and have all my paperwork ready.  The Lord has graciously provided all my trip costs plus some for extra travel expenses and souvenirs.  So, besides the team lessons to work on and preparations for packing, I am ready!

I have had some inquiries on what we will be doing specifically, and while that is still developing, these are the general needs from the orphanages themselves:
  •  Interact with the orphans, play with them, take them on walks, do crafts or games together, teach them English, provide them with activities and stimulation needed for healthy development.
  • Physical therapy for developmental-challenged children.  Medical missions.
  • Outreach to poor families in the community and an English school.
  • Medical workshops and outreaches, yard work.
  • Training caregivers, holding babies, work projects, and helping around the home.
May I just say, All God's Children Int'l is incredibly thorough and helpful with their trip logistics!  They have done a great job in getting us all prepared and I am really looking forward to meeting my China team.  Blessings!

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One month!

One month from today, I leave for China! I cannot believe the time has come so quickly.  Donations are starting to come in, I make my last trip payment on Friday, and I'm starting to think about packing and other travel preparations.  I'm definitely getting excited!

I will say that it has been hard to focus though, because our family vacation and church's Vacation Bible School are right before this trip.  I will have one week between VBS and flying out to finalize everything.  It's a bit daunting but I know all is in my Lord's hands and He will see me through...He always does!

So, what do I expect from this trip? I have no idea, honestly, except that it will have a life-changing impact in my heart.  I know many go on mission trips to serve, to give, to touch lives with Christ's love and truth.  I do so also, but I feel more deeply that I am going as a learner more than anything else...to learn how to "do" a quick 10-day turn around trip with all the jet lag that such a trip entails (anyone who knows me, knows that I love my sleep and wear down easily without it!); to learn how to jump into a group of strangers, albeit sisters and brothers in Christ, and work as a team with a servant heart and willingness to do whatever is asked of me; to learn firsthand about mainland China, China's orphanages, China's orphans, and the special needs that many children live with; and probably, most of all, to learn to love well the "least of these" as I love my Lord.  He, Himself, said, "'I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me...when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (NLT).  The least in the world's eyes, however, are often the greatest in God's kingdom, and I will be honored to spend time with these "greatest."

No doubt I will return feeling that I received more from my time in China's orphanages than I gave.  Isn't that how it often goes?  So, I will be content with going as a learner even as I serve, understanding that I will be encountering some of the most beautiful of all God's children. In fact, I may very well see the face of Jesus...this reminds me of words from the song "What Now" by Steven Curtis Chapman that has stayed close to my heart:

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember, this is right where I said I would be
You've found me
What now?

Most certainly, I expect to return from China with this question heavy upon my heart...what now? 



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Collecting Donations

I am officially collecting donations now to carry over to the orphanages with me.  The main needs are medicines and they should not expire within a year's time. Children's DVDs, puzzles, clothing (ages 5-10), and various other items are needed as well.  Please contact me for more specific information on these items. I will collect up through August 12th.  
Happy 9th Birthday to Joshua today! Blessings,
Kerri

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Great Progress

I have my passport with China visa in hand and have an immunization consultation scheduled for Monday.  Only 48 days before I am off.  Interestingly enough, our exchange student from Armenia will be arriving around the 21st of August so my family will have to introduce him to our home and community without me.  At least I will be returning not long after.
I have been slacking on Chinese language study and need to get back into it...where does the time go???
For those interested, our group will be doing some sightseeing at the beginning and end of our trip.  Some of the sites we will see are the Great Wall, Tienenmen Square, and The Forbidden City.  Next to meeting the precious children at the orphanages, I am most excited about seeing the Great Wall and eating some of those Chinese foods I have missed.  
If anyone has any specific questions, let me know!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Last Preparations

There are so many other things going on that it is hard to focus on my upcoming trip, however, after completing a second updated application, a China visa has now been stamped in my passport and is in the mail on the way back to me.  Flights have been booked for Portland to San Francisco to Beijing.  Last things in preparation for the trip include collecting donated supplies for the orphanages, one last payment to AGCI, and immunizations...oh boy!  I remain more than excited and deeply grateful to get to participate in this trip.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support!  Blessings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update

I just started online Mandarin Chinese language courses and am having a blast with it!  I actually remember some of the language from my time and studies in Taiwan but sure do need the refresher as I returned early 1999...can't believe it's been that long!
I also have to redo my Chinese visa application as it turns out the one I used is outdated.
I do have prayer cards just about ready to mail though!
I also have a donation list if anyone is interested in providing supplies for the orphanages for me to carry over.  I'll see if I can post it.
Have a great day!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moving Along

Things are moving along...my prayer cards are done (I just need to get them out), China visa application has been sent, my flight from Portland to San Francisco has been booked, and the flight from SF to Beijing is in process.  Thanks for your continued prayers!  

BTW, I will be sharing about my upcoming trip at church on Sunday, 6/3 @ 10:45 a.m. for anyone that would like to come on out and hear about it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Click here to find out more about All God's Children Int'l.

The Journey Begins...

Hi there! Thanks for catching up with me and my upcoming trip to China on my new blog. This is my first blogspot so I hope to develop it further as I go along.  I am currently underway getting a prayer card out to my supporters for the China trip.  You can learn more about the orphanages I'll be serving by going to these websites: www.harmonyoutreach.org and www.newdaycreations.com/foster.  Preparations are underway- I appreciate your prayers as fundraising continues and I work on getting the immunizations, flight arrangements, China Visa, and more that are needed.  August 17th will be here before I know it!  Blessings.