Monday, May 30, 2011

He loves us, oh how he loves us!

This is a phrase from a worship song we sing at church that always brings me to tears.  God's love is so amazing and we are feeling it so much.

We worked so hard this week, baking treats to sell at our bake sale, organizing and gathering donations for our garage sale and preparing and planning for our church's orphan ministry fundraiser.  It was a very crazy weekend!

I became a little anxious before the garage sale, thinking about how we would have to deal with the different people coming by wanting to haggle and how stressful that can be, but I remembered to turn to God in prayer and ask Him to help me get through the day.

Overall, it was a successful day. I hate to mention that a couple of small items were stolen and some of the hagglers really got on my nerves, but I tried to remain positive and keep trusting in what the Lord would provide.  And the day was filled with many blessings.

My daughter had her friends come and help with the bake sale and scream spread the word to all the passersby.  I have to mention Katie. She is the sweetest little thing.  Last month she asked people to give to our adoption in lieu of a birthday present for her.  And now, she had been saving up items for a garage sale for her own family's adoption, but decided to donate to us.  She came over and helped us organize and price things.  She even spent the night and woke up early to help with the bake sale.  Katie, you are a treasure!

We had so many people bring over donations, even on the day of the sale! We raised almost $700 for Maria!  And another friend wants to help us with a $200 donation!  We still have more items so will probably be going another round in a couple of weeks. 

During the morning, I noticed an older lady who came by our sale.  She bought one shirt and had a big smile on her face.  I saw her walk away and realized that she was one of our neighbors.  We have over 60 houses in our new community and have yet to meet so many people.  I called to her and asked if she was my neighbor. She told me where she lived. I asked her what her name was and noticed a foreign accent. "Luba," she replied.  What?!  Where are you from? "Russia."  So, does God love us or what?  I have a Russian neighbor!  I asked her some more questions and shared about our adoption. She kept telling me "God bless you."  Guess what else? She's a Christian!  I'm so excited! I told her I would love for her to teach me some Russian and she said that I would have to help her with English.  I can't wait! I'm going to make her a cheescake and take it to her for a visit.  She has 12 grown children and 17 grandchildren.  I have a feeling Maria's going to be getting a Russian babushka.

On Sunday, the Orphan Care and Adoption Ministry made breakfast burritos and sold coffee, donuts and baked goods to raise funds too.  We were still tired from the garage sale, but the Lord gave us the energy and sent others to help.  It was cold and windy, but everyone toughed it out. Thank you to everyone who helped in some way: donations, finances, organizing, baking, rolling burritos, cracking eggs, and especially for your prayers!  We were able to share God's heart for the orphan with lots of people and share about our adoption too.

Our next fundraiser has already begun.  I will be making Key Lime Pies and Cheescakes for the month of June.  I've even tried a Key Lime Cheesecake and it turned out awesome!  Father's Day and Graduations are perfect occasions for one of these yummy desserts.  I already have 16 orders!  Keep them coming- we are getting closer to our fundraising goal!

Thank you for being a part of God's story.  He might have called us to be Maria's family, but everyone can play a role in saving an orphan.  I truly believe He put us on this journey, not to walk alone, but to be partakers with the body of Christ for God's glory. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great news!

Yesterday, both judges granted both families custody of their boys (you can read my previous post if you have no idea what I'm referring to). These are HUGE victories for breaking down walls.  The precedent that it sets for families coming to adopt after them is critical.  I can't help but think that it will assist in our adoption journey- especially since there have been no Down syndrome adoptions from our region. We are just praising God for what He has done!

And the praise continues today- our dossier was submitted!  We are not completely sure about why there was a wait. We know there was a family ahead of us and there were problems with the interim judge accepting their dossier. We trust that our agency and facilitator know what they're doing and pray for God's hand to move in the process.  We now await a travel date! Who knows how long we'll wait and how soon we'll have to go once given the date. But we are definitely feeling the excitement and the boost we need to keep going.

I've been baking today and getting fliers ready for our yard sale on Saturday.  We are praying we raise enough to cover our airfare for the first trip. Of course it will be summer and I've already heard the rates are super high.  But the Lord knows what we need and we know He will provide! Amen?!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pray now!

I kept meaning to post over the last couple of days, but whenever I had time, I kept forgetting what I wanted to post! Still new to this whole blogging world, I am. Sorry I sound like Yoda, my kids have really been into the Star Wars saga lately.

My sister is here visiting and helping me get ready for our big garage sale this Saturday. The kids are having a lemonade stand and will sell baked goods, too. We also will be passing out flyers/order forms to our neighborhood residents and anyone else we can for our Key Lime Pie (thanks Ashley for the recipe) and Cheescake Sales for the month of June. Then Sunday, we are making/selling breakfast burritos, baked goods and coffee between the morning church services. Makes for a very full and exhausting weekend! But it's all for Maria! We love her so much already and just ache to get to her!  We are praying that our papers get registered and we get a travel date soon! It's been almost 8 weeks now :(

But the real reason I finally came to update my blog is because there are two families in two different countries fighting for the lives of two boys.  One family was already denied by a judge and now will go before the Supreme Court. The other family will be the first adoption case heard by the local judge and much hangs in the balance. Please Please Pray for them! Pray that God will be glorified in the outcome! Pray for justice for these two precious children who deserve a family!  Pray that the families get to go home with their new sons! Pray NOW!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I want my baby

I just want to go get Maria. No, I don't really care for airplanes or taxis or a being in a place where I don't speak the language. But my heart aches for this little girl.  I watched a video of another family bring home their daughter and I just lost it. I couldn't hold back the tears. I want my baby. She needs me. She needs her sisters and brothers. She needs her daddy.

But we're still waiting for a travel date that we should have received already. These things just happen. International adoption is unpredictable, long, arduous and costly. But we press on because of this:

She needs a family and God had planned out long before He formed her that she belonged in ours.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. Although several doors were closed for help with our financing, God opened up another.

We received a $6000 grant from Show Hope! I cried when I read the letter because we had been receiving bad news for several days. I was expecting (another) rejection letter.  I couldn't believe it, I really thought it was a long shot, but would try anyway. We are so humbled by God every day that He provides what we need. He is faithful!

That means we only need around $2000 more for our first trip!  We will be having a yard sale/bake sale on May 28. We are accepting donations of items for the yard sale or baked goods.  We would also welcome help organizing/setting up/selling on the big day. 

I will leave you with the passage our Pastor taught from on Sunday.  The greek word for "redemption" means: to deliver by payment of ransom.  Sounds like adoption to me! We're coming for you Maria!

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.    Colossians 1:13-14

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We received an update about our dossier today. Not good news. Not the news I was hoping for. This is what the email said:

It appears as though they are looking to hire a new Head of the Judicial Department, and in the interim the individual who is temporarily filling this position is delaying the registration process for "special needs" cases because nobody wants to take the responsibility to sign off and consequently is stalling by asking for corrections.  This is not unusual for [Maria's country] adoption cases we had the same problem in [other region] last Summer but eventually the dossier's were registered soon afterwards.

Maybe the Lord was preparing me for this news the last couple of days. Maybe all of you praying has lifted me up. I feel peaceful.  I'm glad to finally have an answer.  I'm not happy, but I know God is in control and am looking to Him for comfort. Oh, how glorious that we have the Holy Spirit to fill us!  I feel the Lord's presence and His love.

And I know what happens when His people pray!  Please pray for Maria's country and the justice department. That the scales will fall from their eyes and they will see God.  Pray for their hearts to change in the way they look at "special needs". Please pray that they give Maria a chance to have a family who will love her!

Here is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, Casting Crowns:

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's all about prayer

This is what the Lord has been gently reminding me about over the last several days.  Yes, I already know how important prayer is, yes I am praying constantly. 

But He just had to tell me over and over through people, through His word these last days: you have to give it over to me in prayer!

Oh, how stubborn I am. I pray and say, Lord, I just want to talk to you about this burden I have. He says ok, now give it to me!

I feel so much like an Israelite.  They couldn't wait for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai. They couldn't see him and didn't know when he'd be back. So they took matters into their own hands: literally- by making a golden calf!

Oh no! I can't see how God is going to work and I am losing my patience and start thinking: ok, so maybe I have to start doing something to help God out! AHHH!

Well, so the Lord told me to just come and lay it at His feet and trust.  So simple! We're going back to basics. We knew from the beginning that we would need faithful prayer warriors to lift us up through this journey. We passed out over 100 prayer cards. Well, we're going to pass out more and ask:  Will you commit to praying for our adoption?

Yes, we will be actively raising the needed funds to get Maria out of the orphanage. But we can't do it without prayer!  And we KNOW God will be glorified and He will provide like He promised He would!

Will YOU be a prayer warrior for the Zuzunaga family?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's all George Muller's fault

In September 2010 we began homeschooling. The curriculum we use is called Sonlight. One of the reasons I chose it was because of it's strong emphasis on missionaries and global missions work.  Since we are a multicultural family, we were very excited to study about places all over the world and to learn about how God was working in them.  That fall, one of our Read Aloud books was the biography of George Muller. Now, I had grown up in a Christian home and attended a private Christian College, but for some reason, I couldn't recall anything about him, except from the short from the VeggieTales movie about how the children prayed for food and someone knocked on the door with food for them. 
George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

Well, this book might well have changed my life. (See- homeschooling is not just teaching the kids...)  In summary, for those who haven't heard the whole story: George Muller was a minister who became deeply moved to help the orphans in Bristol, England and began several orphanages and schools for them. He never asked people for money- he only prayed that God would provide whenever there was a need. Buildings, furniture, money, food, you name it- he prayed for it.  It is such an uplifting testimony of miracle after miracle.  At the time I read the book, God had already been dropping messages about adoption and orphans.  And I didn't go looking for this book- it was scheduled into our curriculum. This book broke me for orphans and for stepping out and living by faith.

When we started our adoption journey, we felt like God was telling us to have George Muller's faith.  Let's not ask for money- God knows our needs and He will provide. So far, we haven't asked anyone directly for money and He has provided.   But this has been very hard. We have sold things and held some small fundraisers- so we didn't ask directly for people to just open up their wallets.  But we're starting to feel the tug of urgency. Ok, so do we write a letter asking people directly to give and trust God to move people or should we continue to only pray and depend on God to send the money?  I want to be careful that I don't become self-righteous, I want to have a pure heart. But I want to have unwavering faith and trust in God's power.  Do I not believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Do I not believe that He will fulfill His promise to give Maria a family?  But what if He wants me to do everything I can so that He can then do the rest? 

So, this is my dilemma. Why I stay up at night and think and pray and negotiate and pray and plan and pray.  One of our goals is to bring awareness to our church so they can be passionate about caring for orphans.  We started an Orphan Care, Foster and Adoption Ministry last fall and God is giving us a vision. Our first opportunity is coming up SOON! We are very excited to be able to do the coffee/food sales between the Sunday church services on May 22 and 29.  We also will be holding a Parent's Night Out Fundraiser on May 28.  We will be getting the orphan's message out to the church body and hopefully also gain some new prayer warriors!

But I still don't feel like God is blessing my letter sending. I will keep praying and seeking Him. I really want to be a vessel for Him to use and man, does this vessel sometimes feel soooo fragile.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What I Learned from a Celebrity

Ok, so we have no news- still waiting for our paperwork to be submitted so we can get a travel date to go visit Maria.

So I get to post on Brad and Angelina finally. A couple of years ago, everyone started to pay attention as several celebrities began adopting.  At first I was curious and then intrigued and then I really started thinking about adoption. I would see the magazines in the grocery store checkout aisle and see Angelina carrying her adopted son from Cambodia.  Why is she carrying him?, I would wonder.  He's big enough to walk.  I worried about these children being brought up in Hollywood.  I'm sure paparazzi isn't a positive thing for adopted children. 

Well, now that we're knee deep in this adoption process, I've learned some things.  Although I don't necessarily agree with their lifestyles and as much as we might want to judge Brad and Angelina, or Madonna or others, there is something that they are doing right. THEY GET IT!  They understand the orphan's plight and they took action to give that child a family.


I'm sorry, but it is just frustrating.  We are the ones who are supposed to know what love is. We are the ones who know that while we were still sinners, God poured out His love for us, sent Jesus to stand in our place and brought us into His family. We are the ones who are supposed to love Jesus by loving the least of these.  But we just can't, or we won't, or we're too busy with our own problems and it's not convenient and the timing isn't right and maybe in a few years and what if it changes your life.  Well, since God gave us life, maybe He should direct it.  Maybe He wants us to completely surrender to do His will, and use us in mighty ways.  Maybe He wants to bless us through adoption.

I have more respect for the celebrities choosing adoption than I did before we started this process.  Angelina probably carries her adopted children because they didn't have a mommy to carry them for the years before she adopted them.  It takes extra time and effort to bond when there has been loss and life disrupted.  I think of Maria and how she will receive us, total strangers, as her new mama and papa.  If I have to carry her, swaddle her like a baby, rock her to sleep, let her sleep in my bed- I will.  I was more structured with my other kids and tried to help them learn to sleep on their own- but it will be different with Maria.  She has not had a mama for 3 1/2 years!  My heart breaks at this thought- how is this possible? My biological children have been with me and have known my love for them ever since God formed them in my womb. Maria doesn't know what a family is or how much a mama and a papa could love her.  It will take effort and time- but, oh, will she learn what love is.