Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Walk ahead

Our son found himself at an orphanage that could not care for him in his greatest needs. God sustained him. A team of doctors came in October 2010 to that same orphanage. We started the adoption process in October 2010. The team of doctors talked to billy and sarah about getting him out of there and transferred to another orphanage. They went to rescue him.

I continually think back and weep...knowing how God watched and took care of our son while we were stateside doing paperwork. Our son is God's. He is so loved. We have no words for sarah or billy...we only have tears. We are so thankful for them, their work and love for the LORD. Forever we will be grateful.

Stew visited ____ at that 1st orphanage he was at. At that point they were trying to get paperwork from his birthmom and get him to transferred to His Home for Children. There is a waiting list at His Home.

God moved mountains and ____ was transferred to His Home and had been there 2 weeks before we arrived Feb. 21st. This home is a gift to us and how they care for their children. How they start the bonding process from afar and the experience they have with families.

Our agency is a gift. They are in the race with the finish line and beyond. I am so thankful for them and the staff.
The last day and into the next journey:

The last hours we had with our son were a gift. We never put him down...we held him close and I wept as I had to kiss him goodbye. We are forever changed. We are starting ____'s Paperwork and getting our's to Haiti in the next few weeks. We will return to Haiti March 20th to spend time with him again. We do not know when ____ will be able to come home. But we ask that you will ask God and we will ask him to bring him home today.

Journal entry February 26th:

We arrived home Wednesday night. The flight was hard. A mix of grief, joy, hope and peace. The only time i can relate to it is when my mother died. The deepest grief, but the greatest peace and joy and hope. And only God can comfort you when it all hits at once. This time it is about life, not death. I am thankful for the feelings as overwhelming as they are. I know God is giving just enough to move ahead. If i felt about _____ as I will in years to come, it would not be bearable. Thank you Father.

A woman sat next to me on the flight home. She was Haitian. For the 1st time I got to share about our son. It was right. And she was touched by the gospel of Jesus. She wept with me.
The last 2 days re-entering back at home has magnified the difference and change that has already taken place. I started the flight with 3 children and came home as a mother of 4.

The Lord has put an overwhelming love and sense of belong in our hearts regarding ____. A miracle. There is no doubt and no waver that he is our son. Even our children feel it. Since we got home, they talk of their brother and where he will sleep, play and sit at dinner. Sally puts food for him and doesn't understand why he is not home. They tell everyone they meet. I am seeing how the gospel should be shared at all times.

I break down crying about every couple of hours. There is an ache in my heart only Jesus can comfort. You give just what we need, father. Thank you.

I look at the clock and automatically add an hour (Haiti time) and think about what ___ must be doing. And I pray constantly for him. Begging God to bring ____ home. I am reminded that Jesus ' timing is perfect.
When the fullness of time had come, Christ was born in a manger.
At the 11th hour Jesus died on the cross
On the 3rd day He rose from the grave and conquered death.

Father, your timing of salvation is perfect. You know what ____ needs and what we need. Help me to trust your timing. Bring him home today. Sustain me until you rescue him. You know that day he will be with us here. Thank you for that day. Help us to get there.

You are teaching us to parent completely dependent on you...fully through prayer. Teach us to parent through prayer with all of our kids. And walk this life through prayer.

I wake this morning with the Haitian church service in mind...and their songs to thee. "Jezi..we adore thee...alpha and omega.. are mighty to save and can move mountains."

Give to ____ this morning...give miracles of healing...give life...set us in his heart.

This story is of salvation...we go to rescue...but you are the are LORD...You are provider of life. Father sustain us. Move the mountains and part the sea. Bring our son home we plea!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding Our Son in Haiti Day 3 continued

Day 3 Continued

An hour after I had written my last journal entry that Tuesday morning I came down to this meeting spot above. We would meet in the mornings to pray. Sarah had gone to get the new team arriving to haiti at the airport that morning and so it was just me, stew and Christel and Neal. I was reading over Romans 5...still asking God "who is our son".

You see, stew and I have begged God to make our journey such that there is no doubt to us or others that God did this. Those were our exact prayers to Him. I think some of our hesitation was that we did not want to move anywhere on our own. The one little boy was always a possibility in our minds, but we were still blinded and needed God to show us who our son was that HE had chosen. Even in deciding on "baby moses and the toddler" to pray for and then go and see which one or both were our son....we still felt this fear that we were walking in our own choices. We wanted God to do a work in our heart and show us who our son was without us. So, it might have made sense that the toddler was our child when we arrived and "baby moses" was not available. But God had not revealed it in our hearts. We didn't even know what we were looking for. We honestly felt blind and were begging God for sight.

We all sat down and all 4 of us wanted to know what God would do. We talked briefly about our morning over coffee and then neal and christel looked at us and said, "well..." God was with us. I proceeded to talk about what was both in stew and I's heart. I cried and they cried with us and said, "I am afraid!" "Really afraid of choosing in my strength." "I am afraid of taking ____ from his culture and mom that he knew when he was little" "I am afraid I won't provide what he needs!" Christel gave gentle words of encouragement. And then the gospel opened our eyes and heart.

We all began to talk about how we once were far off from God. That we did not know or see God...nor did we have righteousness or anything that caused Him to choose salvation to us. We were an alien far off from God. But God, being rich in mercy, b/c of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace we were saved. He died for us while we were apart from Him. He loved us and adopted us into His family before we knew Him. (Eph. 2, Gal 4, Rom 5)

Stew said, "Let's do it. ___ is our son. I see that God has been leading us all this time." The adoption of our son was led by the gospel of Jesus. We did not choose him, God chose him for us. ___ did not know us, speak our language or give us any good merit for us to choose him. But in that moment we chose him, b/c God chose Him. In that moment it was like angels rejoicing. A peace came over us. We loved him deeply in that moment before he would ever return love towards us. We all wept b/c of what God had done. We prayed and a new race began. To bring our son home.
After we prayed, we waited for the team to arrive who would go with us. They arrived late morning. This sign above was in the wall of our house that we stayed. I didn't know what it said. When the team arrived one of the men pointed me to that sign and said, "You know what that says? Jesus did this for us" WOW! I thought! My heart said, yes, indeed HE did...
So, we headed to His Home to spend our last day with son. OUR SON. I begged God to make the time deep and wide. I expected him to give us no special attention as before. I prayed that God would remind me of the gospel the whole time. I prayed that God would lead us ahead. ____ was put in our hearts by God. It was a transformation that happened. From that moment we knew ____ was our son, he became a son in our hearts. He was felt in our hearts the same way of our son, Wesley Grant. Whatever it took, we would hold our son and fight for him to come home. ____ being in haiti no longer was right. It was broken. He was our son who needed to come home.

I have a story to tell you of that last day. My words will be too simple to help you know what we physically, emotionally and spiritually were going through. But I will tell you. We arrived at His Home. We met with the director and talked and expressed that ____ was our son. All had been praying for that. We had much favor. We proceeded to head down to the kids. My heart was beating fast. As much as i fell in love with all of the kids...all I could think about was going to hold my son. I was nervous about his response...telling myself, he has no clue..he has no clue. But God's grace was with us...we continued down the steps.

The kids all came running at us and the Gilbreaths. We looked for ____. Stew was in front of me and i watched him make his way through the kids headed for ____ who peeked around a bed post watching from afar. He looked at Stew coming for him and literaly raised his hands up with big smiles and came right up to stew. Stew picked him up and I have never seen smiles on ___'s face until then. WHAT?! Christel and I were balling our eyes out and trying to contain ourselves.

Though we didn't get the picture of that moment, all 4 of us hold that picture in our hearts. All 4 of us saw a picture of our own salvation. Of what it was like for a child to run to his papa. God chose us when we did not choose him. He loved us before we loved him. We are safe in our Father's arms.

_____ is our son. And his story is one of redemption. His story is one that will forever change us.

I pray this shares the story of the good news of Jesus. We are all made in the image of God...but sin has broken us...we are all far off. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent Jesus. Jesus died for us..the death we deserved. And He made a way for us to be with God and be adopted into His family. We have nothing for God to love us. His love is a gift...we are saved by faith in the free gift that He gives. He loves us. He is our only hope. He is renewing all things. Our son's story is one of many stories. Thank you Jesus. May your name be lifted higher and higher.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding our Son in Haiti Day 3

This journal entry was a reflexion on the day before...our first day at the orphanage. I wrote this the morning after. It was also the same morning that we decided that the 3 yr old was our son. I will post the journal entry, as it is just an hour before everything changed for us. I wanted to share with you the process in order of how we walked while there. I will write more tomorrow about our actual day after I wrote this entry. These pictures are of our first day at the orphanage.

Day 3 (reflecting on day 2)

Yesterday was full and we were given so much. Where do i find words to write? I sit here looking over the city and find tears coming nonstop. Perhaps I am able to cry here in this moment by myself, the tears i longed to cry all day yesterday. Thank you, Father for tears. I am caught as a foreigner in this foreign land trying to find my son. I need your help. I am so weary.

We arrived at His Home for children yesterday morning. The preschoolers were waiting in the entry way. A few of them ran up to us. I looked around for ____ but couldn't find him. Then I saw him. He was smaller than I expected. I saw his smile. He had no clue we were looking for him. Other faces came up to us. It was an honor to hold these children and to see them in person and in their home. There was a sick child, so the day's schedule was not normal. They typically had preschool in the morning, but instead we were there to play with them. We held them and christel brought out her hand puppets she had brought. The children loved them, except for ____. The first thing i noticed about him was his fear of the puppets. Michael grabbed him and put him in his arms. Another child tried to play with the puppets with him but he was terrified. We took him to the side. He wanted our waterbottles. He was facinated with it...but later I realized he just wanted to drink water. We showed him videos of our kids back home. He stared and smiled. He has a lot inside, I can tell. He has been hurt a lot. But there is a strength about him. But he showed no emotion to us. Nothing given that he was choosing us. Did I expect that? yes. He does not see us, though we see him. I am confused. Is he our son?

The day went on and all the kids captured our heart. To see all their personalities is captivating. I kept thinking how good it was to see this all in person. It is so different than pictures or our perceptions we have from afar.

We went to the baby room around lunch. 16 babies...2 months to 2 yrs. It was amazing to see 2 Haitian nannies care for all of them. We so easily get worked up over in the states about all the things we think our babies need. Observing in that moment made it all so meaningless. There was a baby boy we spent some time with. (4 mos) Was he our son? I held him most of the time. It was time to leave.

I have no clue who our son is. Not what I expected.

We left from there and went to visit Port Au Prince city. It was overwhelming in moments. Unexplainable. I have no words. It was 5pm on a Tuesday. The earthquake happened at 4:50pm on a Tuesday. I tried hard to put myself in their imagine what life was like in Haiti or what happened on the day of the earthquake. I couldn't at any capacity.

I wonder how this earthquake will effect the culture and coming generations. Billy told me that one thing that changed was that those who followed Jesus, had more hope than ever. Those who did not were more devastated than ever. Many have come to Christ. Many are hopeless.

We returned home in the evening to process some of what we experienced.
I find that i really expect some emotional moment or some response from ____ to us to show me if he is our son. We admitted fears.

Lord, I am so afraid and feel like we have asked you to lead us, but we still don't know. We leave tomorrow. Oh, my faith is so weary without sight. I want you to speak audibly to me.. Who is my son? who?! I am afraid to choose! Please show us! I don't know this culture or how to help a hurting child! I am afraid!! Please speak!!

This verse comes to mind.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Is ___ our son? Is ___? I lack faith to believe your provisions. Lead us by your love and strength, Father. I will go again today. Please don't let us leave until we find our son. Thank you, Father.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Finding Our Son in Haiti Day 2

Day 2: February 21, 2011

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." (Psalm 32:8)

It was a good flight in and a good sleep yesterday. It is morning...the sun rises at 5:30am. I can't sleep and get up and out on the balcony. We wait for breakfast and then off to His Home children's home. Already in our journey, there is so much being taught.
Our flight:
We boarded the flight to head from Florida to Haiti. Full of Haitians and Americans. I found myself staring at the Haitians...wanting to get a glimpse into Haiti. I was told there would be 2 types of people on the flights to Haiti. Upper class Haitians and NGO/Mission Americans. I was struck by this reality. What must the Haitians feel as they ride on these planes? Or the people at the Haitian airport checking in so many americans on a daily basis. It didn't seem right.

The airport was packed and all I could find myself doing is trying to imagine what the place must have been like the day of or after the earthquake. I couldn't.

The first thing I noticed about Haiti was it's beauty. The mountains surrounded the city of PAP. Flowers were vibrant with color in different places.

We walked to meet our driver. As we walked a gated path from the airport to the parking lot, boys hung over the fence calling out "mama, papa, give me?" This place seemed like home...but then again, it wasn't. It was just broken the same.

We traveled over broken roads through the city to our place. Chaos. I scanned over every person we came across...looking in their eyes. Some had hope, some did not. I kept trying to imagine what that day must have been like, January 12, 2010. I couldn't. I saw families living in tents, cement homes, and many just standing on the street. I had one lesson i was learning in those moments of observations. Patience.

Billy, his wife Madam billy and Sarah...we met. Soon would i come to know the role they played in our son's story.

I asked Billy for his story, while we drove. What happened the day of the earthquake for you? He said he was getting ready to go to a church service. and everything shook. He said, all you have in that moment is God. You can stay in your home. You could die. You could run away. You still could die. Only God knew, could help and was your protector. He told us more stories of his family. Amazing stories of survival.

Michael asked about a 3 yr old boy we were praying about. Billy told us the story of his life. Tears. Is that our son, Father?

We arrived at the house in the mountains. Sarah shortly arrived and greeted us. "You are here for ____, right?" "no, we are praying about him and another little boy". "____, the baby." we said. "___ is no longer available...i am sorry to say." That news hit like a ton of bricks, at first, but then peace rested in my heart. Father, you know. We ask and trust that you will lead us. Okay. "baby moses" is not our son.

We went to sleep. It was hard to sleep but finally rest came.

So here we are today. We will go to His Home. Father, what do you have for us ahead? Give grace to walk forward. Go before us. As the mountains surround Haiti, so you will surround us. We trust you , Jesus. Lead us forward today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding Our Son in Haiti

Stew and I just returned from Haiti. There is honestly so much to tell and so much that we can't express in words. I journaled while I was there and wanted to share some of what I wrote and take you through the process we went through while there in Haiti. I will blog each day of each day in Haiti. I will not leave you in suspense as to who our son is. Here is a short video. Our son is 3 yrs old. He is precious. I will give you my perspective before and after knowing he was our son. and then give you more of his background.

Day 1

On the plane for Haiti. Finally. First of many, I am sure. The last week seemed to give things I couldn't handle, but His grace came and hope and trust came once more. I am continually reminded that this minsitry, to orphans, is God's ministry. I can't do this, but He can. I wonder what I will be thinking or feeling as we return on this flight. The days to come...i am in wonder of them.

We just lifted in the air. In 1 hr and 35 minutes I will see Haiti with my own eyes. I find myself as I have before. In one moment I am looking at my flesh...finding nothing to move me forward. It feels lonely and I want to quit...i can't do this. But then I see light...I see Jesus and know this is why He came. Taking care of orphans, adoption and our family has always belonged to Him. I find grace, hope and love rise and I find my steps to move forward.

He alone is able. And He is faithful.

I will go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Starting the Adoption Journey

Ephesians 1:4-6

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

June 23rd 2010. It was our youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday and Stew and I were in Chicago. We went out for dinner and Stew pulled out a map of the world and said, “it is time.”

For both of us, adoption had been a part of our lives. Many of our mentors have adopted children from all over the world. We ourselves had been adopted into God’s family as we both came to the saving faith in Jesus Christ, whom all salvation is from. Adoption was a part of our own lives. And we both desired to adopt a child when the time was to come.

So over dinner as Stew said those words to me and we looked at the map of the world, I knew that the time had come. So we prayed over all the countries asking God where our child was. We asked God to do the “impossible” and lead us forward no matter where that may be. We were excited and scared at the same time. The “timing” didn’t fit our “readiness” according to human logic. We were in the middle of paying off all of our debt. No savings for adoption fees. Not perfect parents or people. (that one is totally ludicrious) but, we continued praying.

And God has been faithful.

In September my husband met a man in a work meeting who was starting an adoption agency. That day he was getting license and needed families to begin the process. “where do we start”, stew asked. “I will send you an application”. Thus, we started the second step. We filled out an application and attended an adoption conference the next week.

Our steps have not been magical. They have been ordinary. And God has done the extraordinary before us along the way.

We are now in the process of adopting from Haiti. Everything about us adopting from Haiti doesn’t fit, except in God’s plan. We are learning that adoption has always been His ministry and His plan. And it is changing us each day.

We have a running list of what God is doing. He has given us favor with those in Haiti…shown us a few children to be praying for…provided over $4000 in 2 months…and sending us there in a week. And it keeps going with small stories that show us that this is HIS plan. We pray that God will do all things so that when times ahead get hard, we can look back and be certain God called us to this and will provide ahead to the end. We pray that our story will tell other, ordinary, unfit families, that God’s gift of adoption can be their journey too.

To be continued....