Wednesday, August 22, 2012


We traveled through the night via train to get back to the capital and had a day to prepare for our return journey back to the States.  It was nice to be able to spend a day with my wife walking through the beautiful parks, cathedrals, and historic areas while enjoying a cool and breezy early fall afternoon.  For the immediate, it was a welcome distraction.

As of now, we are sitting in the airport lounge in Munich waiting for our connecting flight to the States. Reality is working its way back into our lives helping to distract us from the events of the last few days.  But it is only a distraction.  Our hearts will always have a hole in them that Duncan was supposed to occupy.  God and time will reduce the size and the jagged edges, but it will always be there.  So why did this happen? 

Honestly, I don't know and probably never will.  There will many who will offer up opinions and ideas but the ultimately reality is that only God knows.  As a human being, I struggle at times to take comfort in that.  But as a merciful and gentle Father,  He brings this particular passage of Scripture to my attention.

"And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."         2 Corinthians 12:9

His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and right now we are weak, tired, confused and unsure.We need His strength and reassurance as I know it is the only thing that can restore and refresh our spirits.  We are not defeated and will seek His face in hopes that He will place another calling upon our lives.  Our world is full of so much need and I look forward to Our Next Big Adventure.

In Christ's un-ending love,

Tim and Cathy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Home

I know many of you have been waiting and praying for Duncan to make his decision and he decided this morning that it would be in his best interest to stay in his country.  As you can imagine it was extremely  heartbreaking as we know the challenges he will face when he leaves the orphanage.  He needs prayer now more than ever.

We are frantically trying to make arrangements to leave the country and I will update everyone later this evening or tomorrow.

I can't thank all of you enough for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Call to Action

I read a passage of scripture the other day and it has had a tremendous affect on me. Perhaps God has chosen to reveal it to me now given our current situation.  As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to action and to not sit idly by until He returns.  After all, love is a verb.  What form that action takes is dependent upon the good works that He has set aside for you.  But know this, He has set aside good works for you (Ephesians 2:10).  I encourage you to open yourself up and allow God to touch your heart and then respond to that touch in such a way that will cause the world to notice and God to be glorified.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46

Below is a short video from Reece's Rainbow, a Christian organization specializing in finding homes for orphaned children with disabilities.  They are fantastic and have been with Cathy and I every step of the way on our journey.  Perhaps you too will be called to help.

I leave you with a new favorite quote.  

"I love the recklessness of faith.  First you leap, and then you grow wings."
-William Sloan Coffin

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No news is good news???

We had a great meeting with Duncan today, very relaxed, no pressure.  I had downloaded a couple of football (soccer) apps to my iPhone and iPod Touch and he and I were able to play head to head via bluetooth.  We were both laughing and having a great time trying to out do the other.  Not bragging, but the old man with little to no gaming skills came away victorious.

Another American family is at the orphanage and adopting a boy, Tyler,  a few years younger than Duncan.  We have had a chance to get to know them a bit and share a few meals together.  They are wonderful people and are adopting a great child who will grow and develop rapidly with his new family.  They were sitting with their new son today very close to us playing games on their iPad.  Duncan got bored of the football game and went to watch Tyler play his games.  It wasn't long before they were both playing together, a very basic English spelling game.  It became very clear quickly that Duncan knows a bunch of English words.  So we grabbed my iPhone, which has a much more advanced English/Russian game on it, and put him to the test.  He knows a large number of English words and was ripping through the levels on the game with very little effort. So why doesn't he try to communicate with us in English?   I think he is just shy and doesn't want to try for fear of failing and possibly embarrassing himself.   I know the feeling.  If you could only see me in action in China, very embarrassing.

Our visit was over quickly and he needed to go eat lunch.  Neither the interpreter nor us asked about his decision.  Monday is the deadline, so we will wait.  Unfortunately, he will spend the rest of his day today and all day tomorrow with his groupa who are lobbying hard for him to stay.  He knows what is a stake and is most likely tired of having everyone tell him over and over again what he should do.  We have a 16 year old son at home and are very cognisant of when he gets tired of hearing it from us, usually yawning, eye rolling, and looking every where but at you.  I have seen two out of three from Duncan on several occasions so I know he is overloaded.  He is just needs to verbalize his decision as I am convinced he has already decided.

The orphanage has an exhibit of many of the children's artwork in town, so we stopped by on our way back to the apartment. There were some beautiful pieces on display.  A boy from the orphanage was there giving demonstrations of his artwork which consists of melting crayons onto an iron and then transferring them to paper.  I took a short video of how he does it so you all could enjoy it as much as we did.

This young man was very patient and even helped me, who has zero artistic ability, to produce a piece of art using his technique.  I think the boys will be eager to try this when we get home.  Perhaps they can show their art teacher and spend a couple of classes working on some techniques.  After all,  if I can do it then they will master it quickly.

Tomorrow is a day off, no visits to the orphanage. I want to thank everyone who has been praying hard for Duncan.  It humbles and overwhelms me and I can't thank all of you enough.

Friday, August 17, 2012

No decision

I know many of you, myself included, have been anxiously anticipating a decision from Duncan as to whether or not he he wants to be adopted.  As I have mentioned multiple times in this blog, this is a difficult and gut wrenching decision for him and one that will affect the rest of his life.  I know he has been thinking about it, wrestling with it, and I am sure it weighs heavy on his mind.

Our visit with him today was relaxed and fun.  We talked about a variety of subjects as we continue to get to know each other better, building trust through familiarity.  He has told the interpreter several times that he likes us and his willingness to share more shows it.  But something is holding him back from taking that final step and making the commitment.  We had hoped it would come today, but he said he wasn't ready and asked if we could come back. What could we say? 

So, we are headed back tomorrow for another 2 hour visit with another interpreter.  Perhaps a slight shift in the routine will yield a different result.  I can't even begin to list all the emotions and feelings that are  running through my mind.  When we left the orphanage today I was upset, not with him but with a system and a situation that forces one so young to make such a decision.  My heart aches for him and his struggle.  We so desperately want him to say "yes" but it is not our decision. 

It is a challenge but we are holding firm to the One that brought us here in the first place.  Only He knows what will happen and why, we just have to trust, which at times is easier said than done.  Continue to pray for Duncan but we also humbly ask that you lift us up as well as we journey along side him.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 2

After our first day with Duncan, we were anxiously anticipating being with him without the entire posse in tow.  Honestly, all those people that were with us the first day want the absolute best for him, but it just seemed like too many voices.

Our second day with him was much more relaxing, just us, him and the interpreter.  We sat and talked for a while, taking turns asking questions and providing answers.  He seemed much more at ease and himself, a delightful and charming boy who has made the most of his situation.  My impression is that he is thoughtful and introspective, carefully and cautiously considering his options before making any decisions.  I can respect that.

At one point I offered him a Jelly Belly bean but was not paying attention to what flavor he took.  Unfortunately, he grabbed a coffee flavored one, which I now know he hates.  Whoops!  After that, he wouldn't take another from me despite our assurances that it was fruit flavored.  He probably thinks I tried to poison him.

We were treated to a tour of the grounds by Duncan who gets around amazingly well with no walker or wheelchair.  They have beautiful flower beds and a greenhouse where he gets to work. There is a soccer field, volleyball court, and all kinds of playground equipment.  Shade trees abound.

After a bit we settled on a bench and continued to talk.  He loves football (soccer) and rap music, he has never flown but has taken the train, likes Ukrainian food (which is very good), and is an advanced mathematics student.  

But I can sense the conflict within him.  He loves his country, his friends, his teachers, and his school and there is a possibility that things could work out for him if he stayed in his country. But that path is very uncertain and fraught with some very scary and real obstacles.  However, the path with us is equally as frightening and uncertain in his mind.  

Our interpreter pressed him a bit for his decision but he would not commit.  This is a huge step for him and I know it is taking a toll.  She gave him an ultimatum that he needs to let us know by tomorrow and not drag this out any further. 

I pray that God will give him peace about his decision and grant him a quiet night's rest.  We will know tomorrow.

First Contact

Well we finally got to meet Duncan, face to face.  We meaning me, Cathy, the interpreter, the assistant orphanage director, the lawyer, the social worker, and his school principal. Seven adults and I quiet sixteen year old boy with the weight of his future riding on his shoulders.  It has to be overwhelming to walk into a room full of adults that are all there to try and convince you to pick up your life and move to America with this family you only just met.

Can any of you imagine making that kind of decision at 16?   

He did not say much during this visit as most of the adults from his world did all the talking.  Some asked questions of Cathy and me,  but much of it sounded like a lecture aimed at him.  There were a couple of times where I wanted to jump up and yell "STOP",  just leave the boy alone to weigh his options.  He is a bright and intelligent boy and knows what is on the line and he is carefully weighing his options.  However, there are a number of forces at work in his life that run counter to our efforts. 

The older boys in his group constantly tell him that Americans adopt foreign kids in order to kill them and sell their organs. I know from where you sit that sounds like a complete whopper, but to these kids it is reality, they  believe that it happens. What is more concerning is that several of the adult caregivers not only propagate these lies but embellish them in an effort to keep the kids for fear of losing their jobs.  If all the kids get adopted, what would they do?  It is easy to judge them, but to be honest how often do we act in ways that are self serving, without concern for what would truly benefit another person, and often without all the facts. These people have never been to American and their only perspective is from the media when something horrific happens and that  helps to shape a distorted image of our society.

Duncan is going to have to make a decision very soon.  Please pray for him!  We are asking God to grant him wisdom, clarity of thought,  peace, and that the voices of influence be silent.  He needs to make this decision not his friends, teachers or even us.

Will we be disappointed if he says no?   Absolutely.  In fact,  brokenhearted would be a much more accurate  answer.  But we take great comfort in knowing that we are not in control and are commanded to be obedient, regardless of the outcome.  We get in trouble when we try to write the end of the story, an ending that only God knows. 

We will get to meet with him with only the interpreter tomorrow. I know it will be much better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peace Train

Today has been our busiest and most enjoyable since we have arrived.

Last night was an all night train ride down to the region where the orphanage is located.  I had visions of a peaceful and restful night as our train slipped though the country side.  Well, you know what they say about the plans of mice and men.....

The train, while dated, was very nice.  We had a sleeper compartment all to ourselves and even enjoyed a nice freshly made cup of instant coffee before turning in for the evening. 

They even had a cool infinity mirror setup to keep us entertained.  From Cathy's perspective, you could see my bald spot a million times over.

However, the tracks that were travelling on/over were probably cold war era and were not laid with peace and comfort in mind.  Our train rock, bounced, rolled and jerked its way through the night.  Sleep was very difficult to come by, but mercifully about 4:30am both Cathy and I finally dozed off.  At 5:30am, we were both jerked awake when someone ran through our train car screaming "FIRE" at the top of his lungs.  I don't know about you, but that word usually solicits a rapid and heart pounding response.  Before we could even think clearly, we were rounding up our belongings making sure we had all the important documents related to the adoption in our possession.  It was a this point that Cathy's mind snapped into gear and she questioned why "fire" was said in English?  So we sat and waited, sniffed the air, and listened to see if there were any further cries of alarm.  There were none; we had been victimized by a hoax.  So, we settled back down and enjoyed the last 90 minutes of the trip, wide awake.

When we arrived we were met by a driver and a translator and driven to our new apartment.  The apartment was still occupied by a couple form the States who is also adopting from the same orphanage.  They had their court appointment yesterday and are starting their journey home this afternoon.  They are a wonderful couple from Virginia who are adopting two children with Down's Syndrome, totally amazing.  After quick hellos and a change of clothes we were off again with the promise to get together later before they left.

Our next stop was the regional office of what is their department of Social Services.  Our first government appointment gave us permission to travel to this region, now we needed permission to go to the orphanage.  It is nice to see that their government functions much like ours, S..L..O..W..L..Y.  After more that 90 minutes of standing, sitting and waiting in general, our petition was granted and the area social worker gathered us up and we were off to the orphanage and our first meeting with "Duncan".

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Laundry Room Update

Thanks to our friend Chris , my father-in-law Paul , and my son Holden the remodeling project in the old laundry room and the bathroom is nearing completion.  Our old laundry room is now Holden's new bedroom and the bathroom was slightly enlarged to accomodate a stacking washer and dryer.  We are doing all this so that "Duncan" can have a bedroom of his own. 

Our friend Matt will be coming over this week to tape and mud all the new sheet rock so Cathy's folks can paint. After that, we will install a closet rod, shelf and the bifold doors.  While we are running a bit behind schedule the project will be wrapped up before we get home.  Thanks to everyone for all the help!

Monday, August 13, 2012

We made it

The Lord was with us on Saturday and Sunday as our travel went incredibly smooth.  There were no  delays, smooth flights, an upgrade to first class, and our luggage made it.  What more could anyone ask for? 

Our driver picked us up from the airport, although he was a few minutes late and had us wondering what we were going to do, and hauled us and all our gear into the city.  I think we brought too much stuff.  After a quick stop at a grocery store to gather supplies, he brought us to our temporary home for the next couple of days.  While it is a small apartment, it more than meets our needs and has wireless internet which is an upgrade from home. 

This morning was our first official meeting with the government officials who oversee international adoption.  We were shown our child's very limited bio and asked if we wanted him, why we wanted to adopt him, and if we had any concerns about his physical disabilities.  It seems a bit odd to ask if we had any concerns given the fact that we just flew 5,000 miles to come and get him.  The appointment is really just a formality and was over in 15 minutes.  Tomorrow we pick up our "referral" and then it is an all night train ride to his region.  We hope to get to meet him on Wednesday!

Cathy and I had a chance to go for a brief walk this afternoon.  It started raining late Sunday night and hasn't stopped since, so we spent must of our time in an local underground mall.  If not for the Cyrillic signs and the lack of English,  you would have thought you were in an American mall.  We even had an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins. 

We are planning on taking a sightseeing tour tomorrow and hope to be able to share some photos in the next couple of days.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Let it begin.......

Actually it began 5 months ago. Cathy showed me a picture of a boy in desperate need of a home and a family and thus began an amzing and quick journey that has led us to this point. And where are we? Sitting in an airport waiting on the first flight of a long day and night of air travel. It is hard for me to believe this is actually happening. In fact I laughed out loud while I was packing my bag, I can't believe we are really doing this, we must be crazy! But nothing has ever felt more right and I have a complete and total peace about it. As confirmation, last night was the first night in a week that I had a great and restful night's sleep.

Please keep us in prayer as there are many things that still need to happen in order for this adoption to be completed.

Hang on, this is going to be great!