Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Precious Children

So thankful to have these people in my life...God has blessed me so much.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

They Are Almost Home

I am sorry I didn't give the expected update when Jay was travel to get Adelia. Life just got so far away from me. Here are some of the big reasons:

1.We have some medical issues we have been dealing with in some of my children.

2. We are selling a house (had one contract that fell through, got a 2nd one 48 hours later).

3 Packing to move into a temporary rental for 2 months in Aug and Sept at least, and then hopefully moving into our last, and completed new house in October.

4. We have been hosting our sweet, 12 year old boy from Latvia since the middle of June. Sadly he leaves August 8th. I wish he did not have to go back.

5. Then of course the biggest news of adopting Adelia.

Jay left on June 20th with my 11 year old Moriah. I literally packed their stuff beginning 48 hours before they left, which is not my typical scenario. I just am finding that sometimes I have to let things like that go more and just trust that God has given me bigger priorities. Plus, there are stores in China and credit cards and a guide to help shop if I forgot an essential.

So I have been a single mom to 9 children for 13 days which is very hard, rewarding and focused work. But it is exhausting too. I am thankful and blessed to have the awesome help and support of my 3 teens. They cook, clean, babysit, hold crying kids, read stories for bed time, mow lawns, take out garbage, play games with littles, and then sit with me at the end of the day and share stories and dreams with me. I LOVE My kids. I am so blessed.

Well in about 15 minutes I head to the airport to pick up my handsome husband and amazing father, my sweet, selfless 11 year old and my new, spunky and confused 3 (almost 4 year old ) daughter from China.

She did Skype with me (well watching me and saying a few Chinese words to the computer screen). But she did say "bye bye Mama" one time with a big smile! She also watched a couple of short videos of me over and over and over again. Jay said she would get upset if it had to be turned off. So at least she will know my voice.

She seems to be doing well. I am a bit nervous how she is going to accept me after beginning to attach to her new Baba (Daddy). However, I know that God will give me patience, endurance, love and wisdom as I learn to parent her and understand her. I know he will help us bond forever. Your prayers are so appreciated.]

Here are a few photos I received from Jay while he was in China.

 The most nervous time for parent and child. "Gotcha Day" it is indescribable and so precious. She did cry for a bit, but not too long.

 She liked the toys I sent her, thankfully. Reluctantly going with her new "baba".

Adoption Day~ She is ours forever!!

Playing on the bed with some new toys. Her foster family told Jay that when she throws a fit to give her a new toy or buy her a dress. Apparently she was spoiled ! (he got to meet them and let her say goodbye, which was hard on her but we believe will help her too. We have video of them blessing her and telling her to go with her new Baba. She cried when she left but then was over it soon later)

Sitting with Daddy at breakfast time.

On the way to the airport from province.

Now she is an official US citizen!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy Birthday My Sweet Ellie

One year ago today we were in Guangzhou, China waiting for our day to come to fly home. We had 2 more days to go. Elliana had been in my arms (literally, didn't leave them but clung to me) for 9 days already. She was very scared, malnourished, and angry. She also had her fun moments where we got little glimpses of smiles and laughs, especially when she was swung in the air. She slowly began to trust me, nesting in the Ergo, letting me hold her close and helping her to feel safe.

For three years, Ellie had little opportunity to succeed or be valued. She grew up in an orphanage with many crib mates and nannies (albeit loving nannies too) but never a Mama to love her unconditionally, tell her how beautiful she is and to meet all her needs. She could not speak therefore was frustrated with no one to hear her attempts at language and listen to her cries. She had no voice. She couldn't feed herself easily but was left with a bottle alone in a crib to receive most of her nourishment. She was hungry. She couldn't keep up with the other children due to her disabilities which made her frustrated and try even more, with minimal reward.

This is probably the youngest photo we have of her besides her newborn photo and she was 8 months old here.

Because of a strength given by God Elliana is a fighter. She is a survivor.
Today, she is learning to be gentle. A year ago I had bought her this adorable little Asian dolly which I had planned to give her at home for her birthday celebration with the family. However, I decided to hold off as right away it was obvious she didn't know what to do with a doll and was afraid of it. She did not know what to do with most toys. She did make a game with our suitcases though, she loved clothes from the start. A true girly girl.

Today, she is learning pretend play. So I gave her that same dolly for her birthday today and now she can hold it, cover it with a blanket, give it a spoon for food and ask for help in changing her clothes. Another thing she likes to pretend is playing "kitchen". She will even "make" meals and deliver it to you while she does her bunny hop on her knees to get around and pushing the food to her friend. It is such a joy to watch her flourish.

Today, she is learning to use her walker and peddle a trike. Yes, she can peddle a bike for short distances. She can't crawl yet but she can peddle a trike. She LOVES to play outside and do anything her brothers and sisters do. It actually can be quite a challenge to keep her safe and happy. She will do anything whether she gets hurt or not and will have tantrums that last an hour if she can't do something that everyone else does. Oh...the joys of parenting a child with special needs. I love this little girl.

Today, we celebrate her life, her joy for newness, her fight to live, and tenacity to overcome all odds. When I got her a year ago (May 27, 2013) it was obvious that there was a severe neurological issue going on that we were not aware, I did feel anxious at times. However, I knew without a doubt that she was my daughter and that God had brought her to me to be her Mama. I also knew God did not mistakes. Even though I felt so inadequate for the job ahead of me, I knew He alone would equip me. I still believe this way today, even more so , seeing the huge transformation in Elliana in just one short year. Even with a Mama who is very busy but loving, a bit forgetful but with intentions, and so inadequate but willing! I am willing Lord, I always will be.

Elliana is 4 years old today. Here are some photos as we celebrated her life.
I am more than blessed by this precious girl.

Elliana loves opening presents and this was no exception. She also happens to love clothes!

This is to give a perspective of our one year's time. This was Elliana on her 3rd birthday last year in China!
We were signing "Happy Birthday" to Ellie and she was smiling so big! Almost as big as I have ever seen her and laughing. She was so excited we were celebrating her!

Here Daddy held her arms back as she isn't trustworthy with lit candles. But she did attempt several times to blow out the candles. There was some movement which I call success. Next year, she will get them.
And this is the best for last, we started a tradition a little while back of everyone clapping for the birthday person to stand on their chair and take a bow. Ellie is very aware of us doing this. Daddy helped her to stand and she did her "bow". It was adorable and we all were so blessed by her elegance.   

God has amazing plans for this little girl, Elliana Kate Jun!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Trip

I am so behind in posting about our amazing, special time we had visiting my son and daughter in love. So here is the overview and some photos. 
We went in March for 12 days. We took two days to drive to Tyler and Emily's place near Phoenix and stayed 3 days there. Then we all drove (including Ty and Em) another 6 hours to San Diego to the Naval base where we got the stay in a hotel, on the beach. One of the perks of being retired military. I must say it was gorgeous. I grew up in California where I had the blessing of visiting the beach regularly. But it has been many years since we have been back to the beaches of California. In fact, all of my children, except my oldest, have never seen the beach. Oh how I miss the beach. It really just does something to give my soul peace and rest to be there. I really need to visit more often. 

While we were in San Diego Jay had to work. His home office for his employer is there and they paid for our gas to drive out there and his hotel, which was the only way we could afford to do this trip. But he had the evenings with us.

I also drove the kids up to Carlsbad one day to Legoland. We are a huge Lego family and none of us had been. Besides the shock of the cost factor (and we had reduced tickets for military as well!) it really was a cool and creative place. They had rides, mini Lego buildings, giant Lego buildings, and other attractions. We were there most of the day one day and the day we were to head back to AZ Jay took the kids there for a few more hours (we had a 2 day pass). 

So all in all we were in San Diego for 4 1/2 days. It was great. I went to San Diego State University the year before I met and married Jay, so I have always loved that city!

Then we headed back to AZ. This time we drove a little more south to see our longtime and close friends. Their son was Ty's best man in his wedding and Darlene (Lynn) is my best friend, and the one we are naming Adelia after (Adelia Lynn). We had the joy of spending 2 days with them and their precious foster children. It was quite the rowdy and loud house with the 13 of us and the 6 of them! But we had a blast. 

After that we headed home sweet home. The two drive was not so fun, as about 15 out of 18 hours was constant high winds and our van doesn't seem to tolerate it well. My strong and diligent husband was faithful in bringing us home in safety.

The day after we got home was back to the same. 

Here are the photos.

 Tyler (my 22 year old) meeting his youngest brother (Isaiah age 3) for the first time. They easily became friends, which blessed this Mama's heart.

 Makenna (19) and Emily (20) two sweet friends from 11 years ago, who had no clue that one day they would become sisters!

 Me with my sweet Ellie (age 3)

 Me with my handsome Isaiah (age 3)

  Lenea (age 6) loved Emily's dog (Ella).

 Ellie loved the sand at the park!!

  Moriah (age 11) swinging herself the "fun way".

Our first stop in San Diego was the air craft carrier the USS Midway Museum. It was very huge and spectacular.

 Adorable man, Asher (age 4) posing for the camera.

 Toby (age 9), Isaiah, Makenna, Asher and Eliza (age 16) posing inside a big helicopter.

Isaiah posing on some ejector seat thingy? I actually didn't see this so not sure what it was. 
 Legoland! Asher riding a horse as a jouster, It was a very cute ride. I think one of the most creative fun ones for his age.

 Makenna and Lenea (Toby and Moriah also rode this ride) road this crazy thing. It whips you around every which way, and you have no clue what way is coming next. I was surprised they road it. I could not bring myself to do it.

 Toby in a lion's mouth!

 Jacob (age 13) and Lenea flying a helicopter.

 Lenea and Makenna riding some up and down ride? I went on one like this and it feels like you are going over railroad tracks very fast, over and over again.

 Asher and Eliza flying a police helicopter. We like helicopters :)

 Everyone in front of mini legoland. This was so cool. Right here was the US state Capitol. 

 Emily, Lenea, Moriah and Tyler riding a boat scenic ride.

Asher loved driving the car!

 Emily hanging out with Ellie and Isaiah on the beach. They loved it!!

 Asher had the greatest time with the waves. Here Emily caught him running and jumping at just the right time (see his cute feet in the air). Lenea and he kept saying they were afraid of the "jelly fish". which was actually the seaweed. I did take the time to show them a small seaweed and let them hold and examine it in hopes to comfort their fears. :)

 The next photos are all taken by my beautiful, aspiring, and awesome daughter in love and photographer, Emily! Thanks Em they are amazing!

Lenea and Tyler, sweet sister and brother.

Our desire was to take a photo with all of us. While we found a great spot for photos, the sun was going down and it was very cold. Emily was able to get a good one with everyone except her in it. Phooey! Anyway, here is all my kiddos except Emily and Adelia. Maybe next time ~

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Boy From Tanzania

For the last 2 years we have had the joy and privilege of sponsoring several children through Compassion International. It is for only $38 each month. This cost provides school supplies, medicines, food and bible training along with discipleship and more through the Compassion program that works locally with the missionaries or church in the child's neighborhood.

We have the blessing of sending them letters and photos as often as we like. We get letters in return, sometimes hand written in English even; as in many countries when the children get older they learn English.

We can send them small care packages of paper goods.

We have the joy knowing they are being taught about God and being loved upon by the ministries in their poverty stricken areas.

We have the honor to pray for them and know that while our place in their lives might "seem" small to us, it is huge to them. I have read and heard story after story of sponsored children stating that because of their Sponsor their lives were changed for the better. It gave them a hope and courage to know that someone loved them enough to care, pray and know them.

Two of our children we specifically chose because they shared birthdays with Lenea and Toby. Lenea's girl is just a year older than her but same birthday, and lives in Tanzania. She is a precious girl who lives with her mother and younger sibling.

The boy, Jumanne, we chose because he too shared an exact birthday with Tobias. He is from Tanzania as well and is his Mama's only child.

We had sent a special "Family Gift" a few months back and we received a photo with his mother and him on it. It showed a mattress, some food, some new clothes, fabric all that they were able to buy with our really, not so large donation. These precious people had likely been sleeping on the ground. How selfish I felt, how spoiled I felt for the times I complained about something I "didn't have".

Sadly, we found out a few days ago that Jumanne died from malaria just a few weeks ago, and on his birthday. Oh what sorrow came to our hearts thinking of the many prayers we sent for his mother and him. Thinking about what his mother must be feeling right now, losing her son. Thinking about the sweet last words we read from him (Compassion sent us his last letter written to us just 3 weeks before he died.)

"Praise the Lord. I am real glad to receive your letter. I am doing well at school and at the center. I am glad to be learning about Tobias. I also wish to see him and be a close friend. Also thanks for the gifts that you sent me. May God bless you."

Jumanne was a precious child and important to God. Even though we only had the blessing of sponsoring him for almost 2 years, our small part of his life was a joy even if it was only for our benefit.

Right after we heard of his passing I went on Compassion's site and picked another little boy with the same birthday from Rwanda. Jumanne left a legacy in the hearts of our family. We are so thankful He is today sitting with Jesus.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One Step Closer

"LOA" Letter of Acceptance from China!!!

After 99 days of waiting for this step..we onto the next one.  Now we are waiting for USCIS (immigration) to approve Adelia to become our daughter and a US citizen upon landing on US soil. This next 2 steps (sort of combined..USCIS approval and Article 5 being sent to Consulate in China) takes about 5-6 weeks. Then we wait for Travel Approval from China.

We are still praying mightily for the Lord to grant travel in mid May. It is possible, but it would only be His sovereignty to make it happen.

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Equipment

Isaiah got his ventilator, which is used for a CPAP for him. The FDA has not approved CPAP machines for kids under age 7, so they use this fancy ventilator that has settings including the CPAP. It has a little humidifier attached to it, that heats up the water and then cools it. It is computerized and very fancy. I am on a huge learning curve trying to remember all the details for how it works.
We turned off all the alarms, except for the one for power (it has back up batteries) and when the water is empty. Unfortunately, the water only lasts about 8 hours maybe, at least that is what we found last night. So it will need to be filled up part way in the night so we don't get woken up to a loud beep located by all of our heads.

Children's told us the only way to get him used to this mask and machine was to introduce it slowly and playfully. We tried that a couple of times during the day but while he tolerated it for a few minutes I knew it was going to take a long time and my gut just felt he needed to just try it at night and I felt he would handle it well. So last night was our first night.

We put it on him and right away he became quiet (not like him at bedtime). His pressure is almost as low as it can go right now and the oxygen goes through the machine. He began shutting down in a way, no crying though. This was similat to what he did when we began the oxygen. However, I just encouraged him and asked him if we wanted me to hold him. At first he said "no" but then he allowed me to. I held him until he fell asleep, well actucally we both fell asleep.

About an hour into sleep I moved him onto his bed, which is next to mine. He slept without waking the entire night!! Not even a complaint about the mask. In the morning he woke up pretty cheery too. While this contraption mask is quite cumbersome and awkward, it does seem to help him breath a lot better and get better rest, so far. At nap time again today, he put it on, quieted down quickly and I held him until he went to sleep which was only a few minutes this time and he slept 2 hours without a peep. Now mind you, this is the child that has not had a night like that but maybe a handful of times. Typically he whines, tosses and turns, cries, reaches for me or kicks off his blankets numerous times at least, not to mention the snoring and gasping for air that often happens. None of this has happened since using the CPAP. I pray this continues.

 It is not his favorite thing. However, today when talking about it with the kids he said it was to help his heart. Such a hero of mine. I think I would have such a hard time wearing this mask. I put it just  briefly up to my mouth to see what it felt like and I already felt too confined and like I was choking with it. I always hated it when the put the oxygen masks on me during labor when I wasn't breathing so well. 

Isaiah was also a good sport to pose for these photos. I asked him to get into his bed to take a picture and he climbed right in. I love this little guy.