In the last year there has obviously been one life event that has taken the majority of our time, energy, and resources. I almost feel bad that everything comes back to talking about our adoption, but reality is that this time last year we'd submitted our paperwork and were waiting on a travel date knowing that the child we were trying to get to was in an institution somewhere. Those thoughts didn't consume our days, but they did partially consume our thoughts. I spent three months in a state of constant prayer- probably the most I've prayed in my life. From October 30th until January 23rd I knew that Sasha was transferred, but we had no idea where. Some institutions in Eastern Europe have low staffing, very little food, and little knowledge of what children with disabilities could accomplish. If a child is mobile (as Sasha was) then they are placed in a cot and literally tied to it to "protect" themselves and others. After all, if they were up and walking then they'd need to be supervised...
Every minute of every day I think a prayer for Sasha was going through my mind.
Of course, I still had to function, still had to care for the two children I had at home, still was doing childcare for a friend's baby during the day, and still had things to do.
During this time I sent my first e-mail out to our church prayer team letting them know our plans to adopt and the current way things were going. Those next 3 months I received our travel date then left for Ukraine and the overwhelming support of our church family was wonderful. They covered us in prayer including praying over us before we left for Ukraine. They called, offered babysitting, they listened to me ramble on when I just needed to talk.
Aside from those things that they did in an outward fashion, many people from our church put a financial blessing toward our adoption as well. Some did it online through our family sponsorship page, others mailed us a gift card or even a check, and others walked up to us and handed us a bill or a check for any range of amounts. Every one held the same message though- We believe in what you're doing and we want to be a part of it. Even our church staff (Mike is on staff there) did a collection personally and the day before we left gave Mike a card at his staff meeting including a generous amount of money.
When we were overseas many church members left messages on here- the blog- encouraging us, answering some of our many questions, and just saying "hi" and that they cared. When we had to reroute paths, more prayers, support, and tears were brought forward for us and shared through comments on here and e-mails.
When Mike made it home he was met with excitement from our church, offers to help, and continued to be covered in prayer. Three weeks later when I brought our new children home our church stepped forward again and provided us with dinners for several days, people dropped by with diapers, formula, hand-me-down clothing, and always a prayer, a word of encouragement, and again, sometimes a financial gift for some of the 'essentials' that we'd now need with two infants. Someone offered to grocery shop for me those first few days, someone else offered to keep Kristopher and Brianna for some of our earliest appointments, and even to attend an appointment with me to help with the multiple kids being seen.
In the past 8 months being home our church continued to provide us prayerful support through the prayer chain, encouragement on here and in person. One person took it on herself to provide us with formula since we came home and has continued to help with the pediasure/ensure that we give to Emma. When Emma went for her tonsils and then heart surgery we again were overwhelmed with support both prayerful and physically as people stepped in to help with the other kids at home. Some people stopped by randomly and brought a meal for Mike and the kids or dropped by a card for gas to help us with the trip to St. Pete.
Our church family has been a vessel of God's love and in a very tangible way has been Jesus' hands and feet to us this year.
I'm thankful for our church family!